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Advice on ill Horsefield :(

Discussion in 'Tortoise Health' started by LMBD88, Feb 15, 2017.

  1. LMBD88

    LMBD88 Member

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    Hi all,

    Long time lurker so first post here.

    We adopted a horsefield (Tello) around 4 years ago. I think he was about 3 at the time he came to us.

    He's a very cheeky fellow, lots of personality. He lives on a huge table inside (we live in a flat unfortunately), with a 50/50 play sand topsoil substrate, UVA/UVB lamp giving temp of around 32degrees, large shallow water dish and is fed on a mixture of mixed salad (kale,red lettuces, rocket - no iceberg etc), herbs and dandelions (I live in london so other wild bits that aren't polluted are hard to come by).
    His shell looks good, no pyramiding and he's always been lively.

    Last week, I noticed he was very quiet even for this time of year and on Saturday I took him to the vets as he was unresponsive to me more or less and even after a soak was listless and kept eyes more or less closed.
    Our vet treats tortoises fairly regularly, she noted he was a little dehydrated, checked inside his mouth, nose and eyes (all clear and clean) and weighed him noting he was a little under weight.
    She advised twice daily extended soaks with reptoboost and antibiotic injections once every 72 hours - a course of 8 incase he had an infection.

    4 days later and his condition has improved slightly - he will not wake on his own, but when I wake him and bathe him he is coaxed to open his eyes and will eat when hand fed. He does not like being under his heat lamp so moves slightly to the side of it, even though it's not too warm and I have been instructed to keep his temp slightly higher to help with abx.
    He did not poo/wee for a while, which left me tearing hair out but this morning he did a tiny little poop. I bathed him in carrot purree this morning too. I have also been gently rinsing eyes with saline. I notice he is rubbing them slightly and this morning he blew bubbles from his nose (first time) but I dont know if that was just a result of the bath as it was water and nostrils and mouth are clear of any mucus that I can see.

    I am besides myself with worry that somehow I have let him down in my care of him and that is why he is sick. I have ordered coco coir and intend to switch his substrate tonight if advised this will not stress him - I am concerned if bacteria is lurking in his table.
    I guess my quesiton is - when should I expect to see improvement , am I being impatient? I don't want to stress him with another vet visit (30 mins in car) unnecessarily but also not sure if he should go back as he hasn't improved massively.

    what other info can I give.. back and front legs have got strength returned from Saturday, I've ordered a ceramic heat emitter for night time (currently having to leave lamp on to keep temps up but have been popping him inside a hide at night to shield him) , I have been damping his substrate down daily to keep humidity up slightly.

    I've never had a tort before (only rabbits, which are weirdly similar), but hope I am doing all I can.. can anyone advise on what may be the issue? Should I push for an xray at this stage?

    Best,
    L
  2. LMBD88

    LMBD88 Member

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    IMG_6020.JPG Here he is yesterday :(
  3. crimson_lotus

    crimson_lotus Well-Known Member

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    Let's get this question out of the way - what type of uvb bulb are you using? Have you changed it recently?

    The bone looks exposed on the front of his shell, is that new or did he always have that, and how close is the heat lamp to the substrate in the enclosure
  4. LMBD88

    LMBD88 Member

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    Using an exo-terra solar glo, have used these since we got him years ago. This bulb has probably not been changed for well over a year, seems to have lasted a long time. I bought a new one yesterday - do you think I should switch it?
  5. crimson_lotus

    crimson_lotus Well-Known Member

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    Nope that light is fine, just wanted to make sure it wasn't a coil
  6. LMBD88

    LMBD88 Member

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    My vet said that everything is in 'tortoise time' so recovery from illness can take a while, but I was hoping to see some positive steps after his 2nd injection but de nada so far. Just so worried I can't even work at the moment!
  7. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hello and welcome to TFO from Kent... depending on which bit of London you're in, not so very far from you.

    My tort Joe had a respiratory infection after decades of no problems and this lethargy and subsequent runny nose are classic symptoms. Recovery is long and slow unfortunately - it seemed to take forever.

    Your vet seems to have said all the right things so far. It would be worth putting in a call to notify your vet that the runny nose has developed.

    I too use reptoboost in soak water on my vets recommendation. Just in case your not sure (apologies if you know this already):
    -Soak twice a day for at least 30 minutes each time
    - Use a high sided, flat bottomed bowl that your tort can't see over or through. A washing up bowl is ideal.
    - The water needs to be warm, but not hot; think baby bath. Change the water if it goes cool
    - The water needs to be deep enough to come just up over the line between the shell and plastron.

    Your tort needs 35C directly under the basking lamp in order to raise its body temperature and digest food, you have it a bit cool, and temperatures generally should not to dip below 25C day or night while your tort is sick.

    The best way to measure temperature under the basking lamp is with a temperature gun type thermometer like this

    If you post pictures of your enclosure and lighting it will help us to spot anything else that might help your tort.
  8. LMBD88

    LMBD88 Member

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    Thank you for your reply! I will lower his lamp slightly to raise the temperature. Although he keeps weaselling out from under it (the only time he voluntarily moves at the moment!) so I was worried he was too hot.

    That's what I've been using for soaks so pleased to hear I'm doing this correctly. I will take some photos tonight and upload, do you think changing his substrate is wise? I was planning on doing this this evening. I have also restricted his area inside his table (it's quite big) so that he remains in the warmest part. Lastly, his abx is Fortum and I have been injecting this into muscle of front leg (alternatively) as direct by vet. Worst job ever , but much easier than injecting rabbits I can tell you.
    Thank you for your assistance.
  9. LMBD88

    LMBD88 Member

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    p.s. thank you, just bought one of those thermometers to arrive this evening (praise the lord for amazon prime)
    JoesMum likes this.
  10. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I think it unlikely that bacteria in the substrate has caused the problem.

    The URI usually kicks in after a tort has been run down for a while due to stress, for example a bullied tortoise kept with others (or taken on play dates) or incorrect husbandry parameters.

    With Joe his started as a reaction to losing a lot of weight rapidly due to a hormonal problem. It took over a year to sort both out.

    In your case, it could be that temperatures haven't been quite right ... and/or humidity and/or dehydration ... and/or being allowed to roam the house away from heat lamps and UVB and/or ...

    Let's have a look at things later on in photos and get your enclosure right to remove the guesswork. We'll sort it out for you. :)
  11. LMBD88

    LMBD88 Member

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    Thank you so much for your support. I didn't want to leave him at the vets as an inpatient as i felt this would have been more stressful. I just don't want to lose him. When he hadn't poo'd I was convinced he was impacted. Just want my lively little man back.
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  12. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I actually did leave Joe there for a week and then did the rest of the treatment at home. I honestly felt like I was the most useless, irresponsible, incompetent pet owner in the world at the time. I was so worried. My vet was fab at reassuring me through all the treatment Joe required.
  13. LMBD88

    LMBD88 Member

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    Yep, that's kind of where I am emotionally at the moment.
    I am just pleased that he is eating a little each day currently.
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  14. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    Could he be trying to hibernate?
  15. Kasia

    Kasia Active Member

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    Did Vet took a blood sample/ X-ray him or examined his stool? If Vet did not test your tort ask him to. That could help to rule out louds of stuff. Good luck for your little guy:)
  16. LMBD88

    LMBD88 Member

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    I don't know - not seen/been through hibernation with a tort. It's not super cold though in my flat so not sure why he would be trying to randomly? No tort pun intended but can you shed some light on what happens to them when they try to hibernate and what can be done to stop them?

    No bloods or x-rays done yet. It's been 4 days, do you think I should push for these tests if no improvement by this Sat (1 week since first visit)?
  17. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    The days are getting noticeably longer here and I think it unlikely that this tortoise is displaying a hibernation urge. Such an urge would have been a possibility a couple of months ago, but not now. Also this tort has started blowing bubbles - another URI sign.

    I cannot see a point in returning to the vet before the end of the prescribed course of antibiotics unless things deteriorate. The same applies to humans prescribed antibiotics by their doctor. Obviously, a phone call to the vet costs nothing if you want their opinion on whether a return is necessary.

    If you are the right side of London and feel you need a second opinion at any time, I can recommend my vet Mark Rowland at Trinity Vet Centre in Maidstone which is easy to get to from the M20.
  18. LMBD88

    LMBD88 Member

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    Ah I actually took my poorly rabbit to Trinity a while ago and remember them being excellent. I phoned them yesterday and asked their advice and they said they suggested we stick with our vet for now and they can offer advice to them if needed (thought that was quite nice). I've called my vet yesterday and again today (expect they're sick of me) and they advised to complete abx and that change takes time, but to bring him in if he gets worse or stops eating.
    I just want to see some positive signs :(
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  19. Kasia

    Kasia Active Member

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    Except this one time bubble blowing how is he breathing? Is it loud/more laboured then usually? You wrote that Vet did not find anything wrong during examination of his nostrils/mouth. Everything was clear but tort was letargic. For me it would be logical to run some simple tests to see what's going on with the animal.
  20. LMBD88

    LMBD88 Member

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    Tello has had 3 baths today. He seemed, I think, a little more lively but no more poos. He's eaten a fair bit too but still hand feeding only. Photo of enclosure attached. I got a new ceramic heat emitter - they only had 150W so it's a little too hot directly underneath (just checked with my new laser thermometer and its saying 38C) so I've moved him to just next to it where it's about 35 and will try and lift the lamp up to reduce temp. No more bubbles and nose looks clear. Still debating taking him back for xray.

    Attached Files:

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