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Poorly tortoise

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#1 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 10:59 PM

New to forums, and to Hettie, our beautiful new Hermanns, please help!
We have had Hettie since just before Christmas, I have phoned a vet as she is still loosing weight, she hatched in 2004, she weighed 286g when we got her, she is now down to 268g, I had previously phoned the vet, but he said not to worry as she is probably just settling in, this little princess is very important and we love her already, she seems quite bright and lively, but only eats a very small amount,only a few mouthfuls a day, she has been offered everything I have read is suitable, she only poos a couple of times a week, she is being wormed tomorrow but the vet doesnt seem to know much about tortoises, I spoke to a man in a pet shop and he casually informed me she must be dying!! I'm devastated, please help.

#2 Guest_lorrylou_*

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 11:51 PM

Hi Hettie

your average pet shop knows less than nothing about tortoises and how to care for them so ignore what you have been told there.

On this site you will find the Jackson Ratio, this tells you roughly what the ratio between length and weight would be for a healthy Hermann. I'd suggest you weigh the tortoise and measure the straight line carapace length by placing him up against a straight piece of wood and mark at the rear on the floor, with his head inside. Then check if your tort is about right on the Jackson ratio. This would give you an idea if the weight loss is a very serious problem or not. When a tort is hibernating they can safey loose over 10% of bodyweight. I know your tort is not hibernating but this might re-assure you a bit.

I think you need to find a reptile vet that is local. The vet you see might know someone and there are vets listed on this and other tortoise websites. Or you could just phone some in the yellow pages and ask if they know about tortoises. From what you say this tort might have problem and it might not, but there is no evidence for anyone to say this animal is dying and they can go without food for long periods.

Torts often don't eat a lot for a while if they are moved and it might still be that. If the eyes and nose are clear then these are good signs as is pink tongue. Keep this tort hydrated with a daily luke warm bath for 20 minutes. Hav eyou checked your temperatues as a Hermann will not eat if its cold. You need a hotspot at about 30C and always the chance to get away form the heat to a 20C area.

If the tort is active this is a good sign. Do you know what she was fed on before? If they have had a wrong diet they might not take to healthy weeds at first. If the poo is firm and dark this is also a good sign.

It would help people on this site if you told us more about how you are caring for this tortoise - have you got a UV lamp, what temp is he kept at, and whatever you know about how he was looked after before. If you got this animal from a pet shop then its possible he was wild caught and has worm or other infestation. Some keepers don't agree with worming unless the animal is actually known to have a wrom infestation. A good vet will look at a poo sample under a microscope and see if there are worms etc.

The weight loss you mention is significant but not a very serious problem unless the tortoise was underweight already.

If you tell us where you are in the UK someone will know a reptile/tortoise vet nearby.

Hope this helps a bit. Also, tortoises on the whole do thngs slowly including when they become unwell - prompt action is essential but tortoises often live with ailments for long periods and recover. Sometimes an underlying health problem comes to the surface when they are moved.

#3 Guest_victor22_*

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 09:37 AM

A month or so after I had Victor he started losing weight. The vet wormed him by putting the stuff into his tummy by tube. I had his poo checked in case there was anything else and it just showed the worms. If you put a sample of poo in a plastic container in the fridge, it will keep ok till you get it to the vets. (that cost me 35, as he had to send it away, but some vets can check it themselves, although I doubt they can check for the whole range of nasties). I got the money back from the pet shop quite easily, so it's worth trying.
If you do have him wormed, you will probably find his poo is infested with worms after a few days, as they pass through, so you need to change his bedding frequently, so that they don't re-infest. Some keep them just on newspaper during this time.
Try not to worry, I'm sure he'll be ok.

#4 Guest_lilacgeorge_*

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 12:07 PM

Hi Hettie, I posted you a reply on your other post you put this message on (feeding a new tortoise) and also pm'd you...;-)

#5 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 09:02 PM

Wow! Thanks to you all for your advice and reassurance... most welcome!

Hettie has been for her tortoise MOT, she has been wormed, and has a follow up appointment in 2 weeks time for a 2nd dose, she has already passed a poo full of live worms... my 1st experience of this too!

She has had a vitamin injection, has drops for her eye which was very slightly puffy and prone to stick while she first wakes up, oh and she had her nails clipped while we were there, a very busy day for my princess... it's not all glamour you know!

Hopefully her weight will stabilize now.

Hettie is living in a vivarium at the moment, her temperatures are 30C under her lamp and 24C at the other end of the enclosure, it drops by 7C at nightime, she has a UV light approx 17inches above her head and on the bottom we were advised to use bark chippings from the pet shop.
She has a small flatish bowl for her food and a larger one with water in, she sits in this.

Are these good conditions? We were considering a tortoise table but were concerned Hettie would not be warm enough in the winter when the heating in the house is switched off?
The garden is currently being thought about for the summer.

Will keep you posted on Hettie's progress.
Any suggestions re: reptile vets in West Somerset?

Many, Many Thanks, for all advice given.


#6 Guest_lorrylou_*

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 09:17 PM

Good news Hettie. Watch out for those vit injections though, many say its just not needed so question the need for any more.

We are not at all keen on vivariums on this site.

I use combined heat and UV lamps and an open table top enclosure. I mainly don't have the heating on during the day in my house and the temps are fine. Unless your house is totally freezing freezing then your tort can stay warm near a lamp even with the central heating off.

At night your tort is quite happy even down to 10 to 12C which is Baltic. 24C is too warm for your cool end. Ditch the viv.

Our torts are in an open top table in the dining room, its easier for me to talk to them that way, and keep a constant eye when I'm in.

#7 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 10:52 PM

Spent the whole evening reading about vivariums... looks like I'll have to come up with a plan b to keep Hettie happy!
I now feel like a bad mother!!
Will look at some of the tables spoken about by other users and see if her vivarium can be adapted, or extended somehow so that she has an open area. Otherwise will get her a table. Just as well I love her to bits!

#8 Guest_victor22_*

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 02:42 PM

I use a dog crate for Victor when he's in the house (asleep in the fridge at the moment). This is useful if you go on holiday and need to take him to a friend's house. You've also got something from which to hang the lamp/uv light. Also useful to keep off cats/dogs/small children. They can be picked up second hand. Indoor rabbit cages are good too.

#9 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 08:37 PM

Thankyou for your advice, I will have to look into it carefully!

Firstly though I'm just desperate for her to get better!

Hettie has been wormed and they are currently passing through.. she looks very sorry for herself and is still hardly eating, I took your advice, cleared out the chippings and replaced them with newspaper.

She is having a daily bath.

The vet recommended alfaalfa, a dried grass, I dont know if she will like it but right now I'd settle for her eating anything, I put some in with her, she had a sniff and has just settled down for the night on it!

I've read that tomato isnt good either, but she will eat it, do you think I should just let her have some as she is poorly?

#10 Guest_squirrelann_*

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 12:19 PM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 25-01-08 AT 12:21 PM (GMT)]It isn't that tomatoe is bad but it has no nutritional value apart from an extra means of water, it can be given as the occasional treat like cucumber but as it will be taken over the good food then really should be a treat not part of the diet, compare it to a child with the choice of a sweet or an healthy meal, depending on where you live there are still plenty of good weeds,plants about with lots of lists on variuos sites on which are ok to feed, get him eating a healthy diet before introducing treats

#11 Guest_victor22_*

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 12:35 AM

When Victor wasn't eating properly, I used to rub a dandelion leaf with the inside of a cucumber and hand feed it too him.

#12 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 07:52 PM

Ooooh worth a try! Thankyou.

Yesterday she actually showed an interest in eating...phew!

I tried her on dandelion leaves and she seemed quite impressed,

I rang the centre where she came from and to be honest what they were feeding her was not really the best choice,

so both Hettie and I are on a steep learning curve about weeds!

Another one I have found in the garden is cleaver? a sticky plant,I read that this is ok and she had a try of this too.

I've bought a tray of pansies but she is not interested in those just yet.
We have a lot to learn!!
Many thanks for your advice... I can do with all the help I can get!


#13 Guest_Highlight_*

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 05:47 PM

Hi Paula

Re weeds, I grow my wild weeds from seeds, get the seeds from Herbiseed, New Farm, Mire Lane, West End, Twyford RG10 0NJ Telephone 0118 9349464, Fax 0118 924 1996, email info@herbiseed.com and finally web sit www.herbiseed.com, they do a special tortoise wild seed mix and I'm a useless gardener but have no problem with growing this.

Hope this helps ;-)

Helen of Leicester

#14 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 11:41 PM

Thanks Helen,

I am learning so many new things since getting Hettie, my little lady sure keeps me busy! I will give them a try, sorry to be a stoop, but can you grow them all year long?


#15 Guest_lorrylou_*

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 10:41 PM

Hi Hettie

yes you can raise weeds from seeds in trays throughout the year and in the coldest months it can be done indoors on a windowledge. Sometimes I grow some seedlings in small trays and let the torts eat them whilst they are growing. Its possible to let them have a feed then remove the tray and let the seedlings recover for a few weeks then offer them again.

There are also quite a few plants you can grow in the garden that are nice to look at and also suitable foods for tortoises. e.g. fuschias.

#16 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 11:50 PM

Thanks for that, I will be sending off for some immediately!

Hettie really has taken over my life.... and now my windowsills!!

So much stuff needed, for such a little lady,
she's gorgeous and worth it!


#17 Guest_Highlight_*

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 12:33 AM

:-)Yes it is an all around thing, I find it useful, I think it is all too easy to fall into the trap of just giving grass which simply is not enough. Folks are so right to say get advice from tort owners not pet shops, they have such a limited knowledge is many cases and are really a danger. I'm quite disgusted with them and love it when I see that they have sold out of torts in the hope that they will have got a better home.

Helen of Leicester

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