Megan Kirchgessner, Mark A. Mitchell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter covers the basic anatomy, physiology, husbandry, and health issues of chelonians. Chelonians represent one of the most unique and recognizable groups of animals in the world. For husbandry of chelonians, the shape and size of the enclosure should be selected based on the chelonian's habitat preference. Aquatic species should be provided deep, leak-proof enclosures, whereas tortoises can be provided shallow containers. All chelonians should be provided the largest enclosure possible. Maximizing the surface area of the enclosure is important for ensuring ample area for exercise and an appropriate thermal gradient. Chelonians are ectotherms and depend on the environmental temperature to regulate their core body temperature. If these animals are not provided an appropriate temperature range, their metabolic rate slows. Chelonians with reduced metabolic rates often present with a history of being anorectic, lethargic, and depressed. An inability to maintain an appropriate body temperature can also result in a reduced immune response. Substrate selection for chelonians is also an important consideration, as many of these animals are geophagic and can develop foreign bodies if provided an inappropriate substrate. Aquatic species must be provided access to a clean water source. A chelonian vivarium should mimic an animal's natural habitat. Accessories or "cage furniture" can be used to create an environment that reduces the stress an animal may otherwise encounter in captivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationManual of Exotic Pet Practice
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages43
ISBN (Print)9781416001195
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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  • Manual of Exotic Pet Practice

    Mitchell, M. A. (Editor) & Tully, Jr, T. N. (Editor), 2009, Elsevier Inc.

    Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook

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