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sick tortoise

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#1 Guest_sarahschool_*

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 05:29 PM

Hi all. I have a tortoise (breed unknown!) which has been in my family for over 25 years. He has recently fallen sick and i'm not sure what to do. He has stopped eating, moving and is cold. We have taken him to a vet who have told us that his metabolism has slowed right down but they have not come up with any suggests as to what to do, except to consider putting him down.
At the moment we are keeping him warm and giving him warm baths every day, i am also trying to get him to eat. I was just wondering if anybody else has experienced a similar problem and would have any ideas as to how to raise his body temperature and get him eating again.
You help is much appreciated.

#2 Guest_Jo_1984_*

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 06:41 PM

Hi, do not consider putting this tortoise down before he has seen a good tortoise vet...Where abouts do you live? We can try to suggest one in your area. Normal vets usually have very limited knowledge about torts...
Are his nose/eyes clear?
Also what type of heating are you using to keep his temp up?
Jo x

#3 Guest_sarahschool_*

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 07:20 PM

Hi, thanks for the reply. I live in north London. My sister has taken our tortoise to see a specialist but they didn't appear to be very helpful. He has only just come back from the vets and have put him in a carboard box by a radiator with a blanket under him and shredded paper over him. We need to get a proper heating system for him tomorrow- what would you suggest we use as we've never had to do this before!
Thanks again,

#4 Guest_Henry_Flash_*

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 09:36 AM

If he is slowing right down he could be winding down for hibernation(depending on species). A heat lamp is needed. A 60 watt bulb will surfice for this. Pictures would help so we can Identify the species for you.

0.1.3 Hermanns
1.0.0 graeca graeca
1.0.0 Horsfield

#5 Guest_Jo_1984_*

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 05:56 PM

Hiya, how is your tortoise doing? Have just had a look on the list of vets on this site and there is one in charlton if thats near you? Maybe they would give you better advise...
It does sound a lot like he is beginning to wind down for hibernation, but its best to get him checked over for reassurance.
Does he normally hibernate? It would be very advisable for you to identify your tortoise as some do not hibernate.
Jo x

#6 Guest_arnhib_*

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 01:58 PM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 11-10-06 AT 02:28 PM (GMT)]Hello Sarah.
Don't you dare put him down, I can't beleive that vet.

Go to
Asda or Argos and buy a reading lamp about 4 and you need a spot bulb while your at Asda there about 2 make sure you get a screw in fitmant as these reading lamps are that type, they have a weighty bottom so just stand it at the side of the box and angle it in.
keep up with the baths.
Still trying to get my jaw off the floor.
How does he normally hibernate, just asking as a lot of torts are going down early this year, but with the vet saying that I want to make sure he's ok first

#7 Guest_sarahschool_*

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 11:29 PM

Hi - thanks for your very positive & helpful reply. This is Sarah's mum speaking, using her log-in.
We now have Albert in a wooden box (home-made, MDF) in shredded paper with a 60watt bulb close over him, in our study. We are giving him 1-2 warm baths each day. I'm sorry not to attach a photo, not sure how to. We were told by the (specialist) vet he has been to that he is a 'Greek' tortoise(?). Am feeling rather ashamed not to know more about his species, also that the vet has informed us that our Albert is actually female... We have had him since 1974 and we are all extremely fond of him. He has always hibernated in our cellar, double boxed up and this has always worked. Why he has suddenly (over the past 4 weeks or so) deteriorated we just don't know - except that the vet we took him to said that his body fat is very depleted. His weight is 3.5kilo. He is a good size - shell length approx 25cm and width 17cm. The vet tube fed him and kept him for a few days and then (as Sarah said previously) gave a pessimistic outcome, implying that he was not really expected to survive and that possibly putting him to sleep would be better. They had done loads of tests, results of which I have here but are probably too lengthy to list in an email - uric acid, glucose, albumin, sodium etc etc etc, with results-but pretty meaningless to us. The vet also said that she thought he may be in some discomfort (not real pain). This is very unsettling for us - it is so hard for us to interpret his situation and can only hope that we are not making things worse for him and/or unwittingly leaving him in pain. We are concerned about him as we are managing to get him to eat a little (tinned peach & similar) but he is hardly moving. Also, one eye appears to swell up occasionally (and then go down again).
If you can through any light, we would all be most grateful. If you would like a photo of him to determine species, please confirm this and perhaps I can get some help to do this.
Hope you can get back to us.
(PS others have also replied to us, but I don;t know how to reply to all, otherwise would have done so. Any help we can get would be really welcome & appreciated).

#8 Guest_Jo_1984_*

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 01:43 PM

Aww my fingers are crossed for the little guy.
Feeding him wet foods like peach will go staight through him. Have a look at this site:
It has a good list inc pictures of edible weeds for your tort. Also if you don't already have some invest in some nutrobal vitimin supplements and use 3 times a week lightly sprinkled on food.
Best of luck
Jo x

#9 Guest_sarahschool_*

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 05:26 PM


Thanks For your advice, will look at the website.
Here is a photograph of Albert taken about 3 weeks ago.

#10 Guest_arnhib_*

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 09:27 PM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 12-10-06 AT 09:32 PM (GMT)]Hello
Sarahs Mum, I'll put a photo of how to measure Alberta :-)
25cm looking at the photo I wonder if you have measured her over the top, where as to get a true reading you measure form head to tail on the bottom shell but head and tail have to be in their shell, torts don't like this so don't stress her out to much with her not feeling well. get it as near as you can.
Don't worry too much about her not eating, they can go months with out food, the most important thing is she drinks and this will only be acheived by baths, shine the lamp on her while she is in the bath to keep the water warm, unless she soils it then change it but 10/15 minutes a time would be ideal.

I must admit I didn't realise she had so many tests done and it doesn't look good.
Judging by what you offered her for food today, I imagine she has been on a bit of a junk diet, please, I'm not condeming you, it's all down to ignorance on our part, but thankfully we are learning.
The best diet is a weed diet, and fruit is a definate no no they are not built to take fruit, even a tomato is a fruit.
Hopefully she has lived in the garden and weeded it for you on her own.
With all this rain there are some nice soft juicy dandelion leaves about, offer her this, nothing else, don't bombard her with food just a couple of leaves will do.

She should pass white creamy urates when she wee's, can you tell me has she wee'd and if so what colour were they.
I have seen vivid yellow and bright turquoise so it won't shock me :-)

This will tell us if something is going on with her Kidneys and if it is, it means baths, baths, and more baths.

I really hope we can get her through this, but lets take it a day at a time.
If you don't understand the photo for measuring go to
Page 15

#11 Guest_Char1lie_*

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 08:30 PM

Alberta looks good in the picture bright eyed and even some good reserves of fat by looking round her shoulder area.
She looks like a North African type possibly a small whitei from Algeria or a Graeca gracea type from northern Morocco.

Has she been xrayed to check if she is carrying eggs at all just a thought.
Fingers crosed for a full recovery.


#12 Guest_sarahschool_*

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 11:54 AM


Yes we have had an xray done and it is all clear of any eggs ect... We feel that "Alberta!" (very hard getting used to the idea that your "male" tortoise of 30 years is a female!!) We are hopeful that she will get better as she is moving her legs and head more which I feel is a good sign?, however we have seen no signs of her going to the toilet which is a bit of a worry.

Jo (Sarah's Sister)

#13 Guest_arnhib_*

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 01:55 PM

Hello Jo
That's good, her moving a bit, torts are slow at recovering, just keep on with the baths and keeping her warm, When (and I speak with a positive note now) she goes for a wee, it will be more than likely in the bath, it is important that you get back to us about her urates, the colour and texture, we can tell so much from this, it, to me, all points to her kidneys, and I think you caught her just in time before she went into kidney failure, so hopefully when she is betteer you can all take a pat on the back for being observant.
Did she eat any dandelions?, don't worry if not, that will come when she feels a bit better, her baths and warmth are the most imortant right now
I hae eveerything crossed

#14 Guest_sarahschool_*

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 05:03 PM

I am giving her two baths a day at the moment so I will keep an eye on her and let you know when she does a wee. She feels nice and warm since she has been under the 60watt bulb and she really enjoys her baths!

Yes we tried giving her some dandelions but she has not eaten any as of yet. We very much hope that she will get better as she really is one of the family!!


#15 Guest_arnhib_*

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 08:19 PM

Just be patient it could take weeks to get her well, but all your hard work will be worth it, it's amazing how they can go for years without lamps, but soon get used to them, there not as stupid as people think. I have 2 old ladies I rehomed never had much of an heat source and they love their lamps, I have to kick them outside some days :-)

#16 Guest_sarahschool_*

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 06:48 PM


I am very pleased to report that Albert went for a wee today! However we are not quite shore of colour/texture as it was in her bed rather than in the bath, but from what I could see (Which wasn't very much as it was on newspaper it seemed rather clear but maybe a bit cloudy. we are so pleased about this, it feels like we may have turned a corner!!

She is still not eating by herself but she is drinking a little bit when in the bath.

Jo :D

#17 Guest_arnhib_*

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 08:57 PM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 21-10-06 AT 08:58 PM (GMT)]Hello Jo
That is great news, I'm really pleased, keep up with the baths and offer her just a small amount each day, I think she could shock you quite soon and eat something.
Please let us know won't you :-)

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