Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Oh, the ignorance ... !!

Just have to rant a little bit about some blatant ignorance on display on prime time television tonight. But first, ignorance in a local paper. Tanumine found this article in the paper edition and saved it for me. :-)

As I've posted about before, it's the Food Authority that is the be all and end all when it comes to reptiles in this country. They are responsible for enacting the ban on reptiles in private ownership. Since what they do means literally life or death for the animals that end up with them, it would have been nice to know that they had the basic knowledge in place, at least. But no. The FA representative in this article is actually quoted as saying that because land turtles (tortoises) are the only type of reptile that they give dispensations for, if we get an aquatic turtle handed in, then we know that it's been illegally imported. ARGH! NO, you don't know that!! This would probably come as a shock to a lot of FA employees - and not only to them - but enough reptiles are bred in this country to pretty much fully cover the domestic market. Yes, some reptiles are imported as well, because people sometimes want something they can't get here. (Which is probably due to the ban, yeah.) But the supply of lizards, snakes and turtles that is bred in this country is sufficient to cover the demand. So no, you don't know that they've been imported illegally. This species, Trachemys scripta elegans, is easy to breed - they're the rats of the reptile world (yes, it is Raphael's species :-) - and I think I can pretty much guarantee you that this particular specimen was bred and hatched in good old Norway, birthplace of giants.

This article is kind of sad. Could have been worse on the scaremongering front, but could have been so much better on the actual facts front. >:-(

But back to the TV show. The new season of Dyrlegene ('The Vets') on TV2. Trude Mostue is on it, blech. She's not doing any veterinary work, though - she's just the host, like any random stupid TV personality chick. Way to waste an expensive education. In tonight's episode, someone had dumped five turtles (again, T.s. elegans, or RES - red eared slider) that they apparently no longer wanted to keep, in the turtle pond at the garden center Plantasjen in Asker. They had eight RES and suddenly there were thirteen, and the new arrivals didn't seem quite healthy. So, call in the vet. In all likelihood a vet with no real knowledge of reptiles, alas. (See the comments of the earlier post I linked to above if you need an explanation.)

This vet showed her ignorance by saying several things that were pretty much ... just ... wrong. First she says that the turtles are slimy, and that this is a bad sign. Hello, they're slimy because the water is filthy! Indeed, when the pond had been emptied out and cleaned and given a full water change, the turtles that were left were not slimy. Gee, I wonder if there's a connection. She said that both their shells and their skin was slimy - if the latter is true, then that may be bad, it may be a fungal infection. I didn't get a chance to see, there weren't any good closeups. I couldn't see any sign of it, as far as that goes. But 'sliminess' isn't an objective quality. I hope there aren't any ignorant or relatively ignorant turtle owners out there who saw this show and are now thinking Oh no, my turtle is slimy too, it must be sick! No, that is absolutely not necessarily true.

What else? She said that they had algae on their shells and that that is bad. Well, they had hardly any that I could see, and algae is not bad. It's not in itself a problem. It can only be a problem if the shell is covered to such an extent that it hinders vitamin D uptake during basking. But for that to happen, it has to be a really extreme case ... like this guy. :-D Just a few bits of green, that's absolutely not a problem. Don't worry if your turtle has a little algae. :-)

She claimed that four of the turtles were so ill that they had to be put down. So, a sad ending. I personally, from what I could see from the TV footage, would have kept the animals for observation for quite a while before passing a death sentence on them. They did not seem at all that sick to me. And I wonder what kind of experience she has that allows her to say this, all things considered. In fact, I question her experience.

Most especially when she said this final thing - that something else she was worried about was salmonella. Because turtles often have salmonella and then, if they do, that's a disease in these animals, and they can end up infecting humans. Bah, humbug!! How on earth can a veterinary professional say something like that?? No, turtles carrying salmonella do not have a disease. The key word is carrying. They are carriers of the bacterium, but it doesn't make them ill. This is exactly why reptile keepers need to be so careful about hygiene - you can't tell if your turtle or other reptile has salmonella in its body, because they don't show any symptoms, because they don't have a disease - they're just carriers.

You see, miss doctor lady, salmonella isn't a disease, it's just a germ. Salmonellosis is the disease.

It's one thing that laypeople mix these terms up, we don't know any better. But when medical personnel do so on prime time TV, that's another matter.

This is what happens when authorities issue blanket bans without scientific foundation. The result is one big mess. >:-(

1 comment:

Paz said...

they must be in a state of bliss all their lives