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My 1 Y/o Hatchling Has Refused To Eat For Over 4 Weeks - Advice Please?


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#1 joanna_spanner

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 08:15 AM

Hi, Hopefully i could get some advice with my 1 y/o hatchling. She's refused to eat for 4 weeks now despite me putting dandelion leaves and a variety of different plantain in her enclosure. She's currently in a mix of 30/70 soil and play sand (has been this way since we got her and has worked well) and under a UV/Heat lamp. For the first year she's been thriving, eating plenty and gaining weight nicely, also loves being bathed. She's still full of energy which is why i can't understand if she's not eating where is her energy coming from?

I've put a very small piece of pear in her pen which she did nibble on but i'm reluctant to give her anymore due to fruit containing high sugar levels and i don't want her to become dependant on it. Been kinda hoping i could out stubborn her and she'd get so hungry she'd eat again but just doesn't seem to be working.

I'd be really grateful for any advice - I will obviously take her to the vet if she continues this for another few weeks and starts to slow up. I've tried googling if this is quite normal for Hermanns but just can't seem to find any information on it anywhere.

Thanks in advance :)



#2 Beermat89

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 04:07 PM

Hi joanna,
Im no expert but torts can go for weeks with out eating food,more importantly is to keep bathing her regular to keep her hydrated.has anything changed in her set ups,lighting or heating?temps ok?id keep a close eye as 4weeks does seem a little while with out eating at this time of year!hopefully someone will come along soon to give better advice

#3 Guest_Wizzasmum_*

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 09:39 PM

The most important info you can give us is details of how you are keeping her ie size of enclosure, size of tortoise, temps under the lamp and at far end of enclosure. How old is the lamp? What substrate are you using and where did you get her from? Sorry for all the questions, but all are relevant to be able to help you. As Matt says, keep her well hydrated, but if she has been OK for 12 months and this is a new thing, then there has to be a good reason and I am sure we will get to the bottom of it for you.



#4 Beermat89

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 10:47 PM

Agree with sue that details of her and how you keep her would be great.little changes can make a big difference in their behaviour.have you recently in the past few weeks been taking her outside to an outdoor encloser and bringing her in at night,as this can have a big impact due to stress?seems odd that shes just gone off her food if everything hasnt changed :/

#5 joanna_spanner

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 07:46 AM

Ahh firstly thank you both so much for taking the time to reply :)
We bought her from a registered breeder and had all the official paperwork for her. She is in a pen my husband built (i've attached an image of when it was first built although we've since added plenty of straw and a few more large stones), It's a mixture of 30% play sand and 70% soil. It measures approx 1 metre by half a metre.The lamp was bought as we got her so will be a year old in September. We've been turning it on for 8 hours a day for the last 10 months. 
I'm not certain on the temps at the minute but will check when i get home later and update you on that one - It's been really warm lately so i'm sure it has increased by a few degrees.

Thinking about it, we did put her in the garden (again image included) about 6 weeks ago as we had some really warm weather and had time off work so she was in the garden with us for about 4 hours a day for 3 days running. She's not been outside again since as i don't usually finish work until 5pm so the sun is not warm enough for her (if i leave her outside when i'm not at work i would worry as she's so small i couldn't bare to lose her - Plus my neighbour has 3 cats and i'm not sure if they would injure her). She carried on eating ok after that but in hindsight definitely around that time began eating less. Would i have stressed her out by putting her in the garden for those few days? We did actually look after my friends 1 year old horsfield for those few days too - Although we never actually let them see each other they were both in seperate pens in the garden and i washed my hands between handling each tort as i'm aware different breeds can cross contaminate parasites etc. I wonder if this has had an affect on her then? 
Do you have any suggestions on what i could try to tempt her with to eat? Or should i try putting her back out into the garden where the weather is warm this time of year?

Thank you both again for offering advice i'm really grateful  :)

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#6 Beermat89

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 04:09 PM

Hi joanna,
The indoor encloser looks ok but id would defo take out the straw as this can cause respiratory problems in reptiles,not good for them at all.I would definatly check the temps,under the heat lamp it should be between 30-32c,if its not reaching these temps then this could cause her not to eat due not being able to get her body temps up enough.As for putting her out in the harden a few weeks ago and not since i would rule that out!with the horsefield,if they didnt meet then cross contamination would be very low risk.To be honest mine are out side grazing at 5pm when i get home as at the min the mid-day sun will cause them to hide away until later on in the evening when temps drop a little.even on a overcast day,this time of year will be fine for her to be keep outside if safe to do so.hopefully Sue will be on later to give you some advice.
Regards matt

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 05:41 PM

Yes, I agree with Matt, no type of bedding is necessary, just the soil which is what they would have in nature. Straw and hay serve no purpose anyway as tortoises are cold blooded. Taking them in and out to suit us humans is definitely a big stress factor and I would think this is likely your problem, coupled with the fact that at her size, she needs a lot more roaming area, so a bigger habitat might help. If you are worried about leaving her outside, why not try a large indoor rabbit habitat, which you can take in and out at will which will minimise stress, although having higher ambient temps overnight will not help as they really need a considerable drop in temps at night as part of their natural lifestyle. Try making the soil deeper too, so that she can dig down and disappear, then when you bring her back in, she will not notice the change in temps and will wake up and emerge as normal in the morning, which should encourage her appetite too. Is her mouth nice and pink and not pale? It could be that she has built up a parasite load and she might benefit from a summer worming schedule. Try giving her a nice warm bath - warm as possible without being hot, this sometimes stimulates appetite. If this does not work, get back to us, there are other options, but the natural ones should be tried first ;)



#8 joanna_spanner

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 09:55 AM

Thank you both :)
I've removed the hay from her enclosure now and will deepen the soil so she can burrow much deeper - Thanks for the heads up on this.
Did a temp check yesterday - Under the basking lamp it was reaching 40oC and in the cool area was at 25oC, i hope these are suitable for her. It has been so warm in the evenings though perhaps the temperature is just not dropping enough for her as i have seen her roaming around occasionally at about 9pm! 
Going to buy one of those large childrens sandpits to put her in the garden during the day as they're much bugger and she can burrow deep without getting lost in the garden. Hopefully this will stimulate her enough to feel hungry, What time in the evenings do you generally bring your torts indoors? And do they just go in their indoor pen basically to sleep or do you keep them under a basking lamp for a bit?
I bathe her every 2-3 days in warm water which often makes her wee so thinks are working ok in that department :) Her mouth looks fine too but interestingly you mention about worming. We took her to the vets for worming again about 6 weeks ago (it all seemed to happen at the same time!) but they were unable to worm her as she retreated into her shell so far the vet explained we should wait for her to grow a bit more before she would be able to do it. Poor little girl  :(

The only thing she's willing to eat at the moment is pear so would you recommend me putting a bit of that in for her over the next few days? I know its full of sugar and not great for torts but wondering if it's better for her to eat something rather than nothing at all?

 



#9 Guest_Wizzasmum_*

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 10:13 AM

The temps under your basking lamp are far too high Joanna. 40 degrees is conducive with death and so she will be avoiding the main basking area. You need to reduce it to 32 degrees by raising the lamp or getting a lower wattage bulb. The cool area could do with being lower too, or at least giving her a chance to burrow into moist substrate. As you say, she would be far better outdoors at this time of year or she could well stop eating for far too long, which is fine if she is buried but not if she is active. It's all about giving them a choice, so they can thermoregulate properly. I don't bring my torts indoors, but they generally go back to their hides around 4- 6pm. On very hot days they might stay around for a bit longer, but it's usually around our tea time ;) Don't offer basking lamps in an evening as this is not what they would have in nature. Think of the Med, where you will rarely see a tortoise after 4pm ish. I would look for a new vet if I was you as worming is a simple thing. He should have been able to do it easily enough - I went to worm a tiny little one a few weeks ago for it's owners and it was over in a flash. Did your vet not realise that if she has worms and is not eating, she's not going to grow! I would not give her pear as it will only affect the balance of her gut and if she does have any parasites, then they will flourish and make her more unwell. If she is eating pear then she hasn't exactly lost her appetite and is probably hanging out for you to feed her junk food - remember she can only eat junk if you give it to her. Weigh her and keep her hydrated and so long as she is not losing weight, she will eventually give in and eat normal food - do get that basking spot sorted though as if she were to fall asleep at those temps, it could be a much bigger problem. Good luck :D



#10 joanna_spanner

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 06:45 PM

Thanks again wizzasmum.
A little update, I've put her in the garden all day today in a secure pen. She chose to eat some salad cress (hurray!) So think she is definately happier now. My husband has lifted the basking lamp much higher for when she is indoors on cold days. I hope this will be the answer to our problems and owe you a huge thanks for your incredibly helpful advice!
And you'll be glad to know I've changed to a different vet who specialises in amphibians - worming treatment is booked in for next week :)

#11 Guest_Wizzasmum_*

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Posted 06 July 2014 - 11:39 AM

Make sure your vet is also experienced in chelonian as amphibians can be very different. Some of the wormers used for amphibians are totally different and even some that are used for some reptiles can be lethal tortoises. The main one to avoid is ivermectin ;)  Good luck






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