Doc's turtle tricks help patients

December 14, 2007 | By Rebecca Andrews | Category: Strange But True | 545 comments
Tags: strange but true, reptiles

FLORIDA – A psychologist from south Florida has found a unique way to treat some of his younger patients. With the help of his pet turtle, also named Florida, Dr. Mitchell Spero uses tricks he has taught the reptile to demonstrate some of life’s hardships.

The turtle has an array of tricks up his shell – like rolling over, playing dead and shaking hands.

Dr. Spero said people think he’s kidding when they learn of Florida’s tricks. But when it comes to helping patients, this turtle is no joke.

Dr. Spero and Florida helped one young patient understand her parents divorce.

Spero put a doll on Florida’s back and the turtle carried it back and forth between two dollhouses. This was to show the young girl that her mom and dad would have separate houses and she would be going back and forth between houses.

He compares the turtle’s speed to the progress of therapy – slow at times.

But a lesson can be learned for a turtle and children – rewarding good behavior works.

“You know turtles; they can be pretty difficult,” said Spero. “Kids are easy.”

Tell us what you think under this story. Post your favorite pet videos at the zootooTV tab. E-mail us your story ideas at or call us at 877-777-4204.

Comments (327)

add comment

Bonnie K.

Bonnie K.
5 years ago

I didn't think a turtle's brain was big enough to learn.

Good Point | Reply ›

Wanda & Veronica ;.

Wanda & Veronica ;.
6 years ago

so very neat. another thumbs up to animals.

Good Point | Reply ›

Add Your Comment

Already have an account? Log in now for faster commenting or Join Zootoo


You might also enjoy:

Top Stories

We’ve all grown accustomed to the many fundraisers and charitable events that the pet industry produces for homeless pets. From pet food companies… more ›

Helping Pet Rescues is Good For Business