We were driving through town and stopped at this PetCo at about 6:30 pm on a Saturday night. I have a Russian Tortoise, so of course am attracted to the reptile department. I was really concerned to see a large female that had claws so long that they curled beneath the tortoises feet and made it difficult for her to walk properly. (They tend toward long claws, which is normal, but these were severely too long!)
They are a burrowing tortoise, but there was only a dusting of substrate in the tank, which I think helped lead to this issue. Furthermore, they had 1 female in a tank with 3 males. Ideally, Russians are kept alone. If females must be mixed with males, the recommended ratio is ONE MALE to 3 FEMALES so that the mating attempts can be spread out to avoid stressing and physical harm to the females!
When I told the PetCo employee that the nails are far too long, she tried to make me believe this is a recent thing. Claws don't grow that quickly. I told her that if they put a piece of slate, a flat rock, or an overturned ceramic tile in, it would help wear claws down to prevent them from growing so long. She said she had to follow "PetCo policy" and couldn't put that in. I told her certainly PetCo policy isn't neglecting their tortoises. I referred her to www.tortoisetrust.org for proper tortoise care and she rolled her eyes.
She then said the shell wasn't looking right (it was fine on the female, though the males did show some signs of possible old damage. Tortoises sold in chain pet stores tend to be wild caught and in shipping, they often suffer damage and shell rot, so this is to be expected.) and said she better take it to the vet, whisked it out of the tank and walked to the back room. It was a Saturday night-- why wouldn't she leave it in the tank until Monday?
Also, these tortoises sell for 139 dollars. I very much doubt they are taking it to a vet, which would cost more than their profit margin. Beside, it didn't need a vet, necessarily. It needed some nail clippers (the same kind you use on a bird) and some substrate in it's tank, and a place to hide from the males.
I live an hour away from this town, so will be unable to check what they have done with this beautiful tortoise that is probably at least 20 years old. I have contacted the local humane society and sent pictures and did write PetCo, but they had no where on their site to reference pet store animal-care concerns, so I do not know if my email will be seen by anyone that matters.
Russian Tortoises have 4 toes/claws on their feet. The front feet claws were very long, but probably not to the point of neglect quite yet (but LONG!) the back feet had both innermost and outermost claws that curled beneath the feet (which is why you can't totally see them in these photos) Also, at least one of the males (I could only see one) had rear feet with long claws (but not yet curled under) as well.
Notice, also, the extreme lack of substrate for these burrowing animals. There were no places to hide.
Product or Service Mentioned: Petco Shipping Service.