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Lethargic Hermann


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#1 Chchjen

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 07:26 AM

Hi everyone, we have had tim since the beginning of June. He is 15 months old and kept on a tortoise table with sand/soil substrate and a combined bulb. Up until 2 weeks ago he was so lively, walking endlessly and climbing up over his log bridge, stomping through his water and eating everything in sight. Recently he has slept more and more, doesn't walk around hardly at all and barely eats. I have taken him to a vet recommend for tortoises and she couldn't see anything obviously wrong. She was reluctant to do any invasive tests as Tim is so small. She did test his poo and reported that he has very small amounts of pin worm eggs but nothing high enough to cause concern. Tim seems to be fading before our eyes, I bath him daily and he drinks and drinks when he's in the bath but then doesn't move for the rest of the day. Any advice would be gratefully received. Thank you, Jen

#2 wizzasmum

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 05:22 PM

First of all, where did you get him from? If from a recognised breeder then the breeder needs to be told as they might have suggestions for you. Sand is not good as it causes impaction, so best to get rid of that and just use topsoil. Is he well hydrated, as this is also a problem with tiny ones if his substrate is too dry. Dehydration can cause bladder stones, which is not good and can cause them to stop eating and become lethargic, although it's possible it's the time of year as they do gradually slow down at this time of year. Is Tim losing weight at all or just remaining stable?

#3 Chchjen

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 09:24 PM

Thank you for your reply. Tim is UK bred and we got him from the tortoise shop in hull. I'm wondering if the substrate is too dry? If I change it to all soil (only about 20% sand at the moment) and spray it daily to keep it moist will that help or is the damage already done? Tims weight is stable at the moment, thanks again

#4 wizzasmum

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 11:11 PM

Thank you for your reply. Tim is UK bred and we got him from the tortoise shop in hull. I'm wondering if the substrate is too dry? If I change it to all soil (only about 20% sand at the moment) and spray it daily to keep it moist will that help or is the damage already done? Tims weight is stable at the moment, thanks again


Although this commercial outlet 'claims' UK captive bred, they have large amounts of babies in close proximity with each other and close to other species, so cross contamination is a real possibility. If the substrate has been too dry all along there may be an irreversible problem, but without X-rays it would be impossible to say, so changing things possibly could work. Spraying substrate doesn't work as it's the base that needs to be damp, not the top, the same as in natural habitats. Has he grown smoothly so far?

#5 mildredsmam

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 04:29 AM

Thank you for your reply. Tim is UK bred and we got him from the tortoise shop in hull. I'm wondering if the substrate is too dry? If I change it to all soil (only about 20% sand at the moment) and spray it daily to keep it moist will that help or is the damage already done? Tims weight is stable at the moment, thanks again

Hi welcome to the forum. :)

I water my enclosures with a small watering can, when I have the babies in the bath, this seems to work really well, as Sue has said spraying the soil doesn't really do any thing.

Do you have a picture of Tim, we would love to see him. :)



#6 Chchjen

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 06:30 AM

Thank you sue and Karen. I'm feeling really sad because I researched the best care for Tim for ages before we picked him up. I read care sheets and looked on websites and felt sure thT a tortoise table with soil/sand substrate was the best way to go, same with the combined bulb, growing my own food and misting the substrate. How wet does the soil need to be? Tim is still pooing when I bathe him, is this a good sign or could he still be permanently damaged? Tims shell is smooth, I will post pictures this morning. Thank you, Jen

#7 Chchjen

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 07:09 AM

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#8 Chchjen

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 07:12 AM

Just changed all substrate to soil, bathed Tim and he drank loads (went from 62 to 67grams) added some pics I hope you can see them. Thanks Jen

#9 wizzasmum

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 08:38 AM

Thank you sue and Karen. I'm feeling really sad because I researched the best care for Tim for ages before we picked him up. I read care sheets and looked on websites and felt sure thT a tortoise table with soil/sand substrate was the best way to go, same with the combined bulb, growing my own food and misting the substrate. How wet does the soil need to be? Tim is still pooing when I bathe him, is this a good sign or could he still be permanently damaged? Tims shell is smooth, I will post pictures this morning. Thank you, Jen


I think it is Important to realise when buying a tortoise from any commercial outlet, that there is going to more danger of contamination problems, than if you buy than from a breeder as they are purely in to making profit, which breeders don't. The way applications for certs are worded, means that it's really not possible to know the origin of your tortoise on the new certs and these companies do buy the majority of their tortoises from abroad, they are just registered in the UK. Pooping is no indication to dehydration. The soil mustn't be wet, just damp

#10 wizzasmum

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 08:43 AM

Just changed all substrate to soil, bathed Tim and he drank loads (went from 62 to 67grams) added some pics I hope you can see them. Thanks Jen


If he is drinking this much, then he is certainly at risk of dehydration. Remember that in the wild they don't get regular drinks, but stay hydrated by digging down to maintain hydration. It's difficult to see, but from the pics he looks as though his eyes are slightly sunken, another sign. His shell is also not growing smoothly, which is another sign. Keep his enclosure watered but not wet like Karen says and hopefully things will pick up. It needs to be damp enough so that it looks dry on top, but if you poke your finger in, it feels damp, like a plant in a pot.

#11 Chchjen

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 08:56 AM

Thank you. Tim is currently walking around his table, more than he has for the past weeks or so. Hopefully the bathing daily and the new moist soil will help. I am determined to help tim and feel so bad that I have potentially harmed him but I will water the soil religiously from now on.

#12 mildredsmam

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 11:53 AM

Thank you. Tim is currently walking around his table, more than he has for the past weeks or so. Hopefully the bathing daily and the new moist soil will help. I am determined to help tim and feel so bad that I have potentially harmed him but I will water the soil religiously from now on.

Hi Jen,

Don't feel bad there is a lot of bad information out there, and even myself years back read some rubbish, the thing is your doing what's right for him now, any questions you have just ask were always happy to help. :)






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