I see a lot of people say, “Well, I heard (insert bad tortoise advice here). If that’s not true, then why did I hear it/see it online?”
There is a TON of bad tort info out there. It continues to spread for a lot of reasons. Sometimes pet stores lie to sell torts. Sometimes a person had a tort 40 years ago and followed the recommendations of the time and didn’t realize that some recommendations may have changed (we know a lot more about tort care now than we did in the past, and there is a good chance we will learn even more in the future). Sometimes people make really nice looking websites but then fill it with a bunch of bad info either because they don’t know better, or because they didn’t update their site when recommendations changed, or because they’re trying to sell you something you don’t actually need, etc. Don’t forget that anyone can make a website. Anyone can make a facebook group too. I was in one tort facebook group. Their Russian care sheet recommended feeding them carrots. It recommended the water dish that’s called “the death trap.” And, under examples of good enclosures, it showed three Russians in an enclosure (and eating grape tomatoes nonetheless) that didn’t even look big enough for one Russian. When I pointed out those issues this morning, I was removed and banned from the group. I’m assuming that my post was deleted too. The owner of that group would rather put your torts at risk than have someone tell her she’s wrong.
So, with tortoise information, keep a bit of an open mind. Don’t assume you know everything, or that the person who gave you information knew everything, or that everyone else is wrong, or that the current recommendations can/will never change. Keep an open enough mind that, if anything does change or if anything you heard before is actually wrong, you won’t be so stuck in your ways that you won’t believe it. Don’t get caught in the, “Well, I’ve been doing it this way, and my tortoise isn’t dead yet, so it must ok,” trap! Torts have such long lives that sometimes when something is bad for them, you might not see the ill effects for years, or even decades. So incorrect tort care is a lot like smoking. You’re not going to drop dead after your first cigarette, or even after your 100th. But that doesn’t mean that cigarettes are good for you or that your life isn’t being shortened as a result. So a live tort doesn’t prove that a person is doing everything right just like a live smoker doesn’t prove that smoking is good for us.
But be skeptical too. Anyone can say anything, especially online or if they’re trying to sell you something! Anyone can have a website or can run a facebook group. So be open to learning new things, but be smart about it. Look for other sources. Ask for second opinions.
And, seriously, ask those questions. I hear so many people say, “I wanted to ask a question, but I was too afraid of getting my head bitten off.” I’m a sensitive person (like REALLY sensitive), so for me (and people like me), it can be really difficult to hear someone say, “Hey, your care sheet is wrong,” or “Hey, you’re taking care of your tortoise all wrong.” But you know what? I’d rather have my feelings hurt than put my tort (or anyone else’s tort) in danger. If I’m doing something that’s going to hurt him, I want to know ASAP. If you ask a question and someone gives you a snarky response for not knowing it, either ignore the snarkiness and take it for what it is (someone who’s really passionate about tort care and gets frustrated and didn’t express themselves well as a result) or let an admin know. But never let your fear of hurt feelings endanger your torts.