Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

'rescued' Two Tortoises, Need Help!


  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 Charlie84

Charlie84

    Tortoise Forum Newby

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 15 February 2016 - 01:57 PM

Hi Guys,

 

A friend of a friend had these two tortoises for two years and then decided she couldn't really look after them so she gave them to a guy with a lot of experience with reptiles (lizards and snakes mostly).  He has been looking after them for years now and my understanding is that they were in a tortoise table for maybe 4 years and have been in a viv for around 6 years.  Now I know very little about tortoises, so please be gentle with me - I'm learning as fast as I can (which is why I'm here) but as soon as I heard they'd been kept in a viv for so long I bought them both.  I heard about them two weeks ago and they've been with me since Thursday last week.

 

Now, we never planned on getting tortoises but these little guys have never felt grass under their feet and their diet has been largely dry food, with a little greenery (brussel sprouts or lettuce I think) once or twice a week and it broke my heart.  We're fairly well equipped, they live in our den (it's a separate building to the house but it's fully functional and heated) and we have a lovely large garden for summer which is secure (we'll make some adjustments to make it 'extra' secure of course) and we are aware that they will require time, money and care over the next 75 years or so.

 

What I could really do with is some help to make sure that from this moment on they have absolutely the best possible care.  Here's what we've done so far and perhaps you could help with some advice on what we should change and look out for.  I am worried about them, the little one (one is much smaller despite them both being the same age) hides a lot and whistles when she breathes. 

 

We've built them a tortoise table, which is 2m x 1m and we've filled it about an inch deep with coconut husk bedding which I'm watering daily.  The end of the table has a lid so they can hideaway if they want to.  They have two dishes for water which are big enough for them to climb in and are refilled at least daily.  Their claws are really long so I also put in two tiles (upside down) so they can walk on them if they want to.  There's also a hollowed tree bark type hideaway (from pets at home) which the big tortoise loves.  They have two heat lamps - one is a basking lamp and gives off no light but is very warm and the other is a UVA/UVB light which is pretty bright - I've set them up so that they point towards each other and the point at which they intersect is 31 degrees.  The tiles are not under the lamp, they're at the other end of the table.  I switch the lamps off at night and so far we've had the central heating for the room on at night because I was worried about them being too cold - but I think I need to swap that so the heat is on in the day along with the lamps?

 

They've had a bath (we literally put them in our bathtub) in very shallow tepid water for 20 minutes and then I scrubbed their shells with a toothbrush.  They were a lot more active after their bath!  I give them a mix of food each day, usually a combination of dandelion leaves, carrot, romaine lettuce (but we'll get a seed mix to grow in the green house to give them variety) and I've kept them on dry food as well because I didn't want to give them too much of a shock by changing their diet completely in one go.  I have started 'planting' dandelions around the table so they can stumble across them like they would outside.

 

They both eat well, they have both pooped and peed (in our tub, thanks for that tortoises!), they're not scared of us and they are very friendly.  Francis (the big one) is a bit slower but seems OK in herself, she wanders around the table) but Jet (the little one) wheezes when she's excited/nervous.  It stops when I pick her up, it seems to be getting marginally better every day.  She doesn't wander around the table much, she likes to hide in a corner in the covered bit of the table.  She sort of digs at the corner to get as far into it as she can and then just stays there - I'm worried she's dehydrated or perhaps too cold?  The room is usually about 21 degrees but maybe she's used to it being hotter?

 

Apologies for the really long post but I just want these ladies to have the best life they possibly can - I appreciate any advice you can give me and I'm continuing to read up using this forum and the tortoise trust.  Oh, and I am taking them to the vets for a check up and microchipping but I wanted them to settle a little first and watch them and see how they behave.  We have very little prior knowledge as the guy is quite defensive that he's looked after them fine and he's a good friend of my friend (don't worry, he's not getting any more tortoises).  They haven't been weighed for years, we'll have to start that from now.

 

Thank you in advance,

 

(Please note the basking lamp in the picture is over the tiles - I put it there, took the picture, thought that it might be a bad idea and then googled it and moved it back - we've been experimenting with lamp locations to get the temperature right.  The chicken wire above is protection, we have two cats who can't get in the same building as the tortoises but we thought it was better to have the chicken wire top 'just in case')

 

 

Attached Files



#2 wizzasmum

wizzasmum

    Advanced Tortoise Member

  • Moderator
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,106 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Shropshire/Welsh Borders
  • Interests:Family
    Tortoise keeping and breeding
    Gardening
    Greyhound rescue
    Reading
    Walking
    Travelling

Posted 15 February 2016 - 02:48 PM

Lots of things to reply to, so hope we can sort things for you. Firstly you appear to have two different species there but pics are small, can you take pics of the undersides please? Your 'expert' hasn't been caring for them properly either as a tortoise of that age should never be living in such confinement. If they were sold to you I'm presuming they have papers and are microchipped! It's good that you have them, but there may be problems ahead as one certainly is showing signs of MBD. Do they walk on tiptoes or low to the ground?
The whistling could be respiratory or to do with the metabolic problems. Don't take to a normal vet for now if they are eating, as medication will make things worse if not needed. Let them settle first for a while. Most problems are husbandry related, which most vets don't seem to realise, sadly and many a new acquisition has been lost yo overmedication. Your substrate is ok but you need to remove the covered area to encourage them to dig under the soil, which helps with healthy shells and thermoregulation. You need to remove all night heat, this is confusing to tortoises as they get really cold in the Med at night and again this encourages them to dig down. Don't give carrots, they don't eat root veg in the wild and it will upset the gut like fruit. I would not stress them out with chipping for this year, it will only encourage illness, they need a few months to settle into their new routine. The digging in the corner is the tortoise trying to dig into the substrate, hence the need for deeper substrate. Looking forward to plastron pics.

#3 Charlie84

Charlie84

    Tortoise Forum Newby

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 15 February 2016 - 03:14 PM

No, unfortunately I don't hold our 'expert' in high regard - hence taking them off his hands.  They have papers but we agreed to microchip them, I know the law changed in the last few years to say they should be chipped before being sold - I just wanted to get them out of that vivarium as fast as I could.  They're safe and cared for now so we'll get them to the vet later in the year when they're settled, unless any problems arise.  Poor things.  :'-(

 

The MBD - is that the pyramiding in the little one (Jet) you're referring to?  She does walk low to the floor, I'll see if I can load a video.  Francis walks 'normally' I'd guess, but I've never seen them in the wild, she looks more natural walking whereas Jet looks like she's pulling herself along (she's quick though and a proper explorer).

 

All heat will be removed this evening, I'll add more substrate and the carrots are gone.  (My other half read that tortoises love carrot and they do chomp it down but I doubt they'd stumble across them in the wild so I'll swap for weeds - thank you).

 

I'll see if I can add pictures to the original post, thanks again!



#4 Charlie84

Charlie84

    Tortoise Forum Newby

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 15 February 2016 - 03:27 PM

I don't seem to be able to upload the pictures to a subsequent post - erm, I put them on a pinterest board in the hope you can see them there...

 

https://uk.pinterest...73112761423615/

 

https://uk.pinterest...73112761423598/

 

Thank you again for taking the time to help, there's a lot of information out there to read through and so it certainly helps if someone is able to point us in the right direction!



#5 wizzasmum

wizzasmum

    Advanced Tortoise Member

  • Moderator
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,106 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Shropshire/Welsh Borders
  • Interests:Family
    Tortoise keeping and breeding
    Gardening
    Greyhound rescue
    Reading
    Walking
    Travelling

Posted 15 February 2016 - 04:54 PM

Looking at plastron so, they are both hermanns, what do your certificates say? Not sure of the tail angle of one ( could be angle of pic) but the appear to be male and female, which would account for the chasing. Yes they do like carrot, but dogs like chocolate and that kills ;) MBD isn't always pyramiding and vice versa. Pics from the side profile will help to see if it looks likely. If your 'expert' is a commercial dealer/pet shop, then he has knowingly broken the law and DEFRA are clamping down on this sort of thing now. That applies to buyers too, so you would be unlikely to get certs for them unless you were willing to say who sold them to you. Normal walking, is where they are on tip toes and you can pass a hand underneath easily without touching them, unless they are tiny of course lol. I'd say when foxed with all the conflicting info out there, bin all the commercial stuff and that of vets that are not exotics specialists and stick with recognised long term breeders. This is a useful site for Med species too www.tortoises.net Hope this helps.

#6 Charlie84

Charlie84

    Tortoise Forum Newby

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 15 February 2016 - 05:29 PM

We didn't buy them through a pet shop, I've never met this man who has been looking after them - I think the original owner trusted him because he is the sort of person who is adamant he knows best.  The important thing is that they are now out of the viv and with people who will care for them.

 

The certificates say they're both Hermanns.  We were told they're both female but the larger tortoise has a much larger tail, we'll keep an eye on their behaviour - hopefully they're both the same gender and get on well.  They've lived together for ten years now and they seem happy together, but we'll watch them closely.

 

Thanks for the link.  I've made those changes to the table and I'll watch their walking.  Francis seems fine, but Jet does seem to be walking low and also is quite 'bumpy' which is why I wondered about pyramiding in particular.  I don't know specifically what would have caused this as in the last 6 years she's probably ticked too many of the 'don't' boxes to figure out which one, if not all of them have caused her problems.  She's probably not been able to regulate her temperature, I doubt she's had enough exercise (nigh on impossible in a viv), I suspect her diet has been all wrong and she's probably been dehydrated for a long time.

 

We'll look after them now, we'll keep learning and watching them and weighing them and I hope they have a happy and healthy life from here on out.  Thank you for your help :-)



#7 wizzasmum

wizzasmum

    Advanced Tortoise Member

  • Moderator
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,106 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Shropshire/Welsh Borders
  • Interests:Family
    Tortoise keeping and breeding
    Gardening
    Greyhound rescue
    Reading
    Walking
    Travelling

Posted 15 February 2016 - 06:41 PM

They are definitely not both female. Two males may well fight, especially if one is weaker. If one tortoise is submissive it will be stressed by a dominant male and will not thrive. Stress leads to illness and weakened immune system, which is most likely why it's not grown. Having said that MBD can be present without any outward signs and if a growing tortoise has had neither in date uvb or D3 supplements then it's very likely they both are suffering from it. The previous owner should be ashamed to pretend to be knowledgeable. Are you giving daily high dose supplements now?

#8 Charlie84

Charlie84

    Tortoise Forum Newby

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 16 February 2016 - 11:19 AM

They've got some cuttlefish to nibble on and a new UVA/UVB lamp in addition to a basking lamp for calcium and vit D and the room gets lots of natural sunlight.  I think the previous keeper gave them calcium but I don't know in what form so I'm a little concerned they've had a high phosphorus diet (given he's a snake/lizard keeper) so I'm giving them Vetark Nutrobal which I dust over their food daily but I'm also thinking of giving them Vionate.

 

We're growing their food in the greenhouse now to be sure they're getting a good variety of food, in the meantime we'll do our best collecting weeds from the garden.

 

So you think that the bigger one is a male?  (The one with the bigger tail)  I hope we don't have a problem keeping them together, I might build Jet a small extension (with a small doorway that only she can fit through) so she has the option to get away if she wants to.

 

Thanks again for your help, we just want them to be happy and healthy now :-)



#9 wizzasmum

wizzasmum

    Advanced Tortoise Member

  • Moderator
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,106 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Shropshire/Welsh Borders
  • Interests:Family
    Tortoise keeping and breeding
    Gardening
    Greyhound rescue
    Reading
    Walking
    Travelling

Posted 16 February 2016 - 10:55 PM

Don't give both supplements, violate is better for adult fully formed torts. The best one for these would be Nekton MSA, available from Amazon. It's German and not available in pet shops. The bigger one is definitely male just not sure of the second one because of the angle on the photo. You won't get any uvb through the window, but the higher light levels will help with mobility. You could leave a little dish of limestone out for the added calcium but don't dust the food with it as they won't have the choice then and there is only so much calcium the kidneys can handle. Too much calcium will cause even more problems

#10 Charlie84

Charlie84

    Tortoise Forum Newby

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 24 February 2016 - 05:35 PM

Good news is that after some researching it turns out we have an exotic specialist vet nearby, so we took the tortoises along today.  They are both girls, Francis is overweight and her shell is not as solid as it should be and Jet has pyramiding and they both have problems with their legs (they've grown out like a turtle, not up like a tortoise) and they both have upper respiratory tract infections and potentially a small amount of sepsis.  Our table is fine, their diet is fine and the vet feels confident that they will be fine after spending time with us - we just need to keep an eye on them and continue doing what we're doing.

 

For reference, the Vionate is just once weekly in place of the Nutrobal to ensure they get a full range of nutrients and their new food is planted up and growing in the greenhouse.

 

Thanks for your help :-)



#11 wizzasmum

wizzasmum

    Advanced Tortoise Member

  • Moderator
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,106 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Shropshire/Welsh Borders
  • Interests:Family
    Tortoise keeping and breeding
    Gardening
    Greyhound rescue
    Reading
    Walking
    Travelling

Posted 24 February 2016 - 08:52 PM

Well, have to say I'm surprised with the double female diagnosis. The vent and anal scutes say otherwise. Also surprised if the specialist has agreed to alternate supplements! Nutrobal has all the ingredients you need and violate supple ration is def not conducive to torts with shell or metabolic deformities. Hope the vet is not on my list. Feel free to pm me with details ;)

#12 Charlie84

Charlie84

    Tortoise Forum Newby

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 26 February 2016 - 10:46 AM

Thank you so much for all of your help Sue, I really do appreciate it. 

 

I do hope you can understand that given I know you only by your reputation on this forum, that I do supplement the information you provide me with other reputable sources such as the Tortoise Trust and my vet (who comes highly recommended, has rescued several tortoises close to death, has raised tortoises from hatchlings and has tortoises herself, a veterinary degree and a GP certificate in exotics and has been a practicing vet for over 15 years), both of whom have advised that tortoises in captivity are unable to self select their food as they would in the wild and consequently benefit from a small regular supplement of vitamins in addition to their diet.  While we all endeavour to do our best to provide a good variety of fresh food, it's grown in the same soil and carries similar (not the same) vitamins and minerals (regardless of species of weed); whereas in the wild tortoises would travel long distances to find the vitamins and minerals they need for a balanced diet. 

 

As you know, Nutrobal is a calcium and D3 supplement.  Vionate contains twelve different minerals (Ca P Na Mg K Cu I Fe Mn Zn Co Se) and twelve different vitamins (A D3 E K3 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B12 and Folic acid), which is not necessary for everyday, but is useful on a weekly basis according to the Tortoise Trust.  My vet suggested if they will eat dry food, it's also beneficial to supplement their green diet with a little dry food which contains similar vitamins and mineral as an alternative to Vionate, echoing the advice given by the Tortoise Trust.

 

With regards to the male/female dilema - my vet has examined them in person and her credentials above do give me confidence in her assessment.  Of course, if we end up with babies we'll know for certain.

 

I did feel the need to reply with a justification as many of your comments are a little dogmatic and defensive and make me feel as if I am being judged for not giving them a good home.  Giving them a good home and rescuing them from that tiny viv and poor care are the only reason I took them on and the reason I am doing so much research and am on this forum is to ensure that they get the absolute best care and attention from now on.  Once again, thank you for your help - it has been genuinely very useful and we've made many changes based on your recommendations and I hope I have caused no offence. xx






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users