Quick Start: Redfoot Veterinarian Finder Guide

If it feels like I am over-emphasizing how important it is to find a qualified exotic veterinarian to provide health care for your redfoot tortoise, that is because I am. This is one thing far too many keepers simply overlook. We assume because it is relatively easy to find a “dog and cat” veterinarian these days, it will be equally easy to find a veterinarian that is trained and qualified to treat exotic cold-blooded species like the redfoot tortoise.

It isn’t. It is very, very not easy.

And it may just make the difference between whether your redfoot lives or dies one day not long from now.

You need to make SURE the veterinarian has expertise with tropical tortoise species and sees these animals regularly in their practice.  Do not take their word for it. Do your own research to find out. Ask around. Read online testimonials. Ask questions. Dig deeper.

Because I can’t assume you already know this (I certainly didn’t when Malti first came home with me), I also need to share with you that veterinary students generally get only a few weeks’ formal education (if any) about exotic species during their normal school curriculum.

This means that any veterinarian who chooses to specialize in exotic animals in their post-educational practice has to actively seek out additional information and hands-on experience in treating these species on their own. Seeing companion birds or even exotic small warm-blooded mammals is not enough to qualify a veterinarian to evaluate and treat cold-blooded exotic species – you need a veterinarian who specifically and fully understands the complex care needs of cold-blooded species.

When your redfoot tortoise comes home, the first place you must go together is your exotic veterinarian’s office for a “well tortoise” exam. Your redfoot won’t enjoy it (I can personally vouch for this).

But this first “well tortoise” visit will give you a health benchmark to refer to in every important health area, identify any existing health issues your tortoise may have come to you with and – most importantly – give you a local expert to call or visit whenever you have care questions or health needs.

NOTE: If you are unable to locate a local exotic veterinarian that is taking new patients, PLEASE do not get a redfoot tortoise.

The following resources may be able to guide you to a local exotic veterinarian OR (in a pinch) an exotic specialist who is willing to work with you virtually/remotely.

If you have a local exotic pet shop, you may also want to reach out to their staff to ask for recommendations to a local qualified exotic reptile veterinary specialist.

American Veterinary Medical Association

United States Listings only

Tips for selecting a veterinarian for your pet

Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians

United States & International Listings

Find A Vet(erinarian)

American Board of Veterinary Practitioners

United States & International Listings

Find an ABVP Specialist

Association of Zoos & Aquariums

United States Listings only

Find a Zoo or Aquarium

NOTE: Your local zoo or aquarium’s herpetological (Reptile, Amphibian) program directors may provide you with a referral to a qualified exotic veterinarian)

American College of Veterinary Nutrition

United States listings only

Find a board-certified veterinary nutritionist (choose exotic animal nutrition)

American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association

United States listings for integrative medicine

Find a vet (choose exotic)

Turtle Survival Alliance

United States & international conservation group

Visit the TSA website

NOTE: The TSA may be able to point you in the direction of a trained turtle and tortoise veterinarian practicing in your local area.

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