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Who to trust

Discussion in 'Help *General*' started by jinx.13, Jan 24, 2008.

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  1. jinx.13

    jinx.13 Elite Member

    OK, I've got a question for y'all.

    When seeking advice on care for your pets (specifically reptiles, but this could apply to any pet), how do you determine who to trust advice wise or which pieces of advice to follow from someone.

    For example, I've been trying to revamp my turtle's enclosure. The way I had it before was making it too dry and it was doing bad things to her shell. So I went to a local pet store that I know specializes in reptiles and from whom I've gotten good advice in the past (like giving her cuttlebone to chew on).

    A product called Vitashell was recommended to me to put on her shell to help it because it looked so "funky" after being dried out. And it worked wonders....her shell looks gorgeous. Now I find out that, essentially, all I'm doing is "waxing" her shell. Pretty to look at but not really healthy for her.

    And the substrate for her person said to use wood chips designed for reptiles. Another suggested just sand. Now someone has told me that it should be "organic top soil" and peat moss.

    One person says to get her beak trimmed. Another says that, unless it is affecting her eating, leave it alone.

    I dealt with the same thing with my cats when I first got them (everyone said Feline Pine was the way to go cats made their opinion on THAT idea clear super quick).

    And Dexter, my ball python. There are people who swear up and down that I should only feed him in a separate feeding box. But he's quite content to eat in his enclosure and he's never tried to strike at me.

    Now, of course, I'm struggling with a substrate issue there.....started using reptile woodchips for him too (having a real battle with keeping up the humidity in the bigger tank)......but now (when he finally decides to eat again), I need to use a feed box so he doesn't ingest the wood chips (which aren't even helping to keep the humidity up, btw).

    Now, I really want to do what is best for all of my pets. But I'm starting to feel like I'm dropping a LOT of money (which I can't really afford to do) on stuff that isn't helping, isn't working, is completely wrong and, in the case of the Vitashell, may even be detrimental.

    So I'm do you figure out who to listen to? It's not like I listen to ever Tom, Rich and Harry that offers an opinion. I try to seek out people who are knowledgeable and who have provided good advice in the past......but STILL I'm not doing right.

  2. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    Sadly I find a lot of it is trial and error and what the animal seems to like. I use a lot of common sense and researching products. I also tend to go with what the majority says, not just one or two people. I go by care sheets as well and do a lot of my own research. I usually only ask after I can't figure it out on my own.

    I'm not a turtle person so I can't give you my 2 cents on any of it.

    Good luck in figuring everything out. I know how frustrating it can be.
  3. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    It's true. You should search as many avenues as possible and see what they all have in common. Don't forget about books as well. They are a very valuable resource. Just because someone breeds a certain species means nothing. They might have only had them for a very short time.
  4. fire2225ems

    fire2225ems Subscribed User Premium Member

    I personally would ask at least a few people and then research the answers they give prior to acting on their advice. I hate to say it, but you should also always keep in mind when you are dealing with someone at a pet store, that they are employees and there are certain products that they are supposed to push. Not saying that every pet store associate is going to be like that, but if you keep that in the back of your mind as a possible motive for the advice you are getting it may help you reach a decision.
    Books and caresheets are also another good route to take, just once again keep in mind where they come from. The ones that most pet stores hand out are crap... anyone can write a care sheet or book and put it out there, it doesn't always mean its right. Overall any time I have questions I would check as many resources as I can.

  5. ryanpb

    ryanpb Elite Member

    I try looking for experience, look for people who have already faced what your looking at. If its turtles, anyone can read a caresheet off the internet and tell you a turtle needs one two and three, when in reality maybe they really need 1, 3 and 4. dont know if that makes sense but hey.
  6. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    It can get confusing at times. And to add to the confusion things often change as new knowledge becomes available!
    Pet stores have a vested interest in getting you to buy their merchandise, The petstore caresheet is often written by the owner to convince you that you just absolutely must use THIS product if you are to succeed! Amazingly it is the product that they carry. Anyone who has a monetary interest in what you are talking about should be taken with a grain of salt. Not to say that there aren't reliable honest petstore people out there but they seem to be few and far between.
    Websites-Any 12 year old with a computer and internet access can throw up a website full of caresheets. They may have never owned a reptile in their lives!

    It basically comes down to YOU doing a lot of research. If the same information is touted over and over again it may actually be true,...then again it may not!
    Try and look at basic information regarding the areas that the animal comes from. If an animal lives in arid desert type areas you wouldn't keep it on moist leaf litter with high humidity.
    Talk to the people and use your common sense. If you talk to someone long enough you will start to get an idea as to whether they actually know their stuff or they are just blowing smoke up your skirt!
  7. AnnaRW

    AnnaRW Elite Member

    I have had the same problem, especially settling my turtles. There are some very good turtle forums out there, but like everywhere, there will be differing opinions.

    As to substrate, I was told FROM THE BREEDER to just use the reptile bark (no cedar or pine, because it's poisonous to them), and then from all of my research and forum reading, I decided to oust it for soil - down the drain was the bark money, but there is good news. Eco Earth, which came recommended from several experienced turtle people, is about $8 for a pack of 3 bricks. 2 bricks gives 3-4 inches of soil in a 40g tank. At the nature center I used to work at, this is what we used.

    So here is what I do. I mixed some of the bark in because I already had it, especially toward the bottom, to add some drainage and extra digging space. The majority is EcoEarth, and this was a big improvement in many ways because the natural soil holds a lot of moisture, making it easy to keep humidity at the 60%+ range.

    In general, I guess it's just a matter of going with the majority of opinions, especially from experienced people combined with what seems to be working for your animals.

    Good luck, I hope that helps
  8. Typhanie

    Typhanie Elite Member

    You've gotten a lot of good answers here. I'm just going to chime in that half of it is common sense and a LOT of research, and the other half is trial and error.

    For the research, online care sheets are only a beginning point. Try looking up a number of different books on your species. A very good way to go is to research their native habitat. What area of the world do they live in? What is the environment there and what are their habits in the wild? This will help to sort out a lot of conflicting information about caring for them in captivity.

    Common sense comes in after some research has been done. If they're a tropical animal and need high humidity, you will be able to reason that they probably won't do well on substrates such as sand, or bark that can lend itself to mold. Also you can ask yourself what the chances are of them swallowing it and getting impaction, and how difficult it will be to clean. Many times that will lead you to the right substrate.

    And half of it is trial and error. Pets are a lot like kids. We know the basics, but what works for one doesn't work for another, and we have to be very flexible and adapt to their needs. You may get a recommendation to try organic soil - but when you do use it, you find it messy, hard to clean and your animal doesn't seem to like it. So you switch to another until you find what really works. Or you may feed the snake in his cage every day for a long time and know it's working well - until you get bitten when you don't have food for him. We just have to be willing to work at it until we get it right.

    We can't possibly know everything in advance. But having the basics down is the most important. Tempertures. Humidity. Food. Size of enclosure. That's the stuff that's the most important at first. Most of the rest of it is constant fine tuning until you find what works the best.
  9. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    And I might add, when you look at books, check the copyright dates on them and whether there have been any revisions.
    There are still books in circulation that were printed back in the 60-70's and the information is badly outdated.
  10. Typhanie

    Typhanie Elite Member

    Good catch Merlin! :)
  11. prismwolf

    prismwolf Well Established Member

    The copyright is always something to look for. That's an argument I've had with people before. "It's a new book!" "Ya...but look at the copyright".

    Also - keep in mind there are several right ways to do the same thing. There is often no set one way for many care options. Some are obviously constants such as the temps, diet specifics, UVB, etc. Some are what work for you and your set of variable and conditions. What works for one may not necessarily work for someone else.

    It really is taking good suggestions from others - applying it - and if it doesn't work - go to the next idea and hope like **** it works!

    Before trying any product from the store you haven't tried before - nor have heard of others using with any frequency - take a minute and do the research before purchasing. This will save you money, wasted time, and the possibility of the health of your animals being compromised.
  12. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    I think the main points have been made.
    Just a quick comment on feeding the ball python in the enclosure. Getting bitten is one of the reasons people tell you not to do it, but some BPs may never bite.
    The main reason I feed in a separate container is that I don't want my BP swallowing any of the substrate that sticks to the rat. If you have your BP on newspaper or papertowels, it's safe (for the snake) to feed inside the terrarium. You may or may not get bit by mistake when reaching your hand in later.
    If you have loose substrate, you take a risk that your snake could swallow it and get a blockage in his digestive system. This can cause death or be a very expensive thing to treat. (A plastic sweater box is a cheaper/safer alternative all around).
    Also if the rat ruptures or bleeds, it's a lot easier to clean up a plastic box than the whole terrarium (especially if he tends to drag his food around while swallowing --like mine does.)
    Good luck! Generally I find this forum a good place to start. There are a lot of keepers here that have done the trial and error and research and I have profited from their experience many times. Not that we're all experts, but I think what we have in common is the desire to offer the best care possible for our herps.
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