Abandoned Exotics
February 26, 2010

On Wednesday, two red-eared slider turtles were brought to us by a Lawrence Animal Control Officer.  They had been abandoned outside in the snow, not even in a cage or aquarium.  One turtle had already died by the time he was brought to us, and the other is starting a long and intensive recovery with a specialist at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.  Red-eared sliders are more common in the southern parts of the country, and aren’t equipped to protect themselves from the bitter cold.  More native turtles, like common painted turtles and snapping turtles, hibernate during the winter months.


this photo shows the surviving turtle at the beginning of his treatment, as his body temperature was slowly raised to prevent shock


One of the reasons that animal adoption centers like the MSPCA exist is that there are simply too many pets being bred and born, but another is the popular belief that it’s okay to get rid of a companion animal when they are no longer convenient.  A family might get a dog during summer vacation because their kids are free to care for it, but by the time September rolls around they feel the heavy responsibility of dog guardianship and may give the dog away.  The idea that pets are “disposable” is completely outdated.  Regardless of what might be happening in our lives, our pets need continual care and that is a major commitment.  To help make the world a better, safer place for pets everywhere, you should think long and hard before getting a pet.  You should ask yourself if you have the time, money, and lifestyle needed to provide responsible care.  Click here to learn more about the considerations to make before acquiring a companion animal.


Even making the best choices, changes can happen in our lives that make it very difficult or impossible to keep our pets with us.  When this happens, it’s important to find a responsible new home for your animal.  This may be a family friend or relative, but often the best place to bring your pet is to a responsible animal adoption center, breed rescue (primarily for dogs), or herpetological society (for reptiles and frogs).  Responsible adoption centers will carefully evaluate animals and potential new homes to find the best match possible.


There are some popular pets that are frequently brought to adoption centers simply because they aren’t great pets for ANYONE to have.  “Exotic” pets like parrots and reptiles aren’t domesticated like dogs, cats, and rabbits.  Most are caught from the wild, which is illegal, and sold to and from pet stores.  Many of these animals can live more than 30 years, and some larger parrots may even live as many as 80 years.  This makes them poor pet choices, as they frequently outlive their adult owners.


Regardless of the type of pet you have, or the reason you can’t keep it, you should never abandon your animal.  Many adoption centers, including the MSPCA, have an open-door policy and will take any pet that you cannot keep.  While some animals, like rabbits, have wild cousins who are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves in the wild, pets should NEVER be left outside to “live free.”  These animals are not equipped to care for themselves, and are likely to die due to exposure, natural predators, or the inability to find food, water, or shelter.


If you have any information regarding the abandonment of these turtles, please contact the MSPCA Law Enforcement Department at (800) 628-5808.  If you would like to donate on their behalf, please click here.