1. Welcome! Are you interested in tortoises? If so, we invite you to join our community! Our community is the #1 place for tortoise keepers to talk online. Once you join you'll be able to post messages, upload pictures of your tortoise and enclosure, and discuss any tortoise topic with other tortoise keepers. Get started today!

Intestinal prolapse on my Russian tortoise - cautionary tale

Discussion in 'Tortoise Health' started by Ali Richardson, Jul 22, 2017.

  1. Ali Richardson

    Ali Richardson New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2017
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Dana Point, CA
    Hi everyone,
    My name is Alison and about 2 months ago I purchased a 1 year old Russian tortoise from backwater reptiles in Northern California. She arrived healthy, seemed to love her new home and all was well. A few weeks after we got her I noticed she had a small prolapse. I followed the advice of from some members here on the forum and other info I found online. I even contacted backwater reptiles for advice. I soaked her in a warm sugar water bath and added more fiber to her diet. She seemed to be on the mend and the prolapse went back in. About 2 weeks later the prolapse was back and it was larger. Also, the tip was black. I took her to the vet and he said her prolapsed tissue was becoming necrotic and his best advice would be to put her to sleep. If I went the surgical route it could be $1,000 without any health guarantees. If I let her be, she would surely suffer a slow painful death. So we made the hard decision to put her down .
    I just wanted to tell my story here as a cautionary tale. If your tortoise has a prolapse, even a small one, go to a reptile vet immediately. I feel like if I took her in sooner, we maybe could have saved her.
    RIP sweet Clementine. We miss you!!

    The pictures below are of her first prolapse and then the second larger prolapse with a dead tip.

    IMG_6448.JPG IMG_6696.PNG IMG_6699.JPG
  2. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    32,787
    Likes Received:
    9,077
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois, USA
    (These ads do not appear for registered members.)
    So sorry this happened.
    All I can say specially for those reading this. The sugar was suppose to be made into a paste and applied to the prolapse, not sugar added to the water. Then while the paste is on you keep them on a went towel or something to keep it moist. Never letting it dry out. If the prolapse dries that's when the tissue dies. Then also trying to carefully push it back in. If another prolapse happens for a second time, do the same thing to keep it moist and try to get it to go down but also take to the vet.
    Again, so very sorry.
  3. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    69,396
    Likes Received:
    26,086
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Clovis, CA
    I'm so sorry that you lost Clementine. That's always a bitter pill to swallow.

    A couple notes to clarify - Clementine is a full grown Russian tortoise, not a yearling, and the other thing is, if you don't find the cause of the prolapse and fix that cause (worms, constipated, stones, etc.) it will keep happening.
    Kasia likes this.
  4. Ali Richardson

    Ali Richardson New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2017
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Dana Point, CA
    Thank you very much . I felt like I did tons of research prior to getting her and once this began I really felt like I was scrambling for information and had no idea. They really are quite complicated little creatures. I wish it turned out different.
  5. Ali Richardson

    Ali Richardson New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2017
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Dana Point, CA
    Thank you . The vet told me that she was an adult. So strange that the breeder said she was 10 months to a year. Yikes. I'm assuming the only way to determine the actual cause is a vet visit, right?
  6. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    69,396
    Likes Received:
    26,086
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Clovis, CA
    . . . or a necropsy. You can probably see stones and a full colon on an x-ray. Otherwise, you just have to be really observant. If the tortoise stops eating, acting lethargic, etc. you can suspect worms or some sort of blockage. Then you de-worm or feed juicy things to get the stuck items moving.
  7. Ali Richardson

    Ali Richardson New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2017
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Dana Point, CA
    Question for you Yvonne, I appreciate your insight a lot....once the tip of the prolapse was dying, was surgery the only option? Or if I kept doing the home remedies of sugar paste and keeping it moist and clean and gently pushing it in, would she have been ok (I mean once we determined the cause and changed her diet, etc)? would the dead tip eventually come off and she could have become healthy again? Just struggling with my decision to put her down because at the time I didn't feel there were any humane options that would spare her suffering and death seemed inevitable.
  8. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    69,396
    Likes Received:
    26,086
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Clovis, CA
    Once tissue dies (turns black is a good indicator)it doesn't regenerate. I suppose if left alone and no more dies, it would eventually harden off and fall off the good tissue. But I think you may run the risk of infection. I have taken in a few sulcatas over time that had penis prolapse that wouldn't go back inside. I had the surgery to remove the penis and it only cost a couple hundred bucks. But if your tortoise really was female and that was her female parts that were exposed, I would imagine it would cost more.

    I think you did the right thing to put this tortoise down.
  9. Ali Richardson

    Ali Richardson New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2017
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Dana Point, CA
    Thank you so much Yvonne, I know you are very knowledgeable and hearing you say that gives me some peace. It was not an easy decision to make on the spot but I really didn't want her to suffer. Thank you again.
  10. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    32,787
    Likes Received:
    9,077
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois, USA
    Don't second guess yourself. You did what you had too with what you knew to stop her from suffering. It's hard to say what could have happened. Heck, it's hard to tell if these are sick, hurting, full, hungry, etc, etc. We can only take our best guesses with what we know at that time.
  11. Ali Richardson

    Ali Richardson New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2017
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Dana Point, CA
    Thank you, I appreciate it. I agree. I was geared up to love her for 50+ years and she's gone after just 8 short weeks. Hard to wrap my mind around it. Thanks again!!
  12. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    38,416
    Likes Received:
    14,578
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Southern California
    Great tips and advice on this thread.

    Backwater is a broker that sells other people's animals, not a breeder. That animal looks like an imported wild caught adult to me. I've heard mostly bad reviews from the people who have done business with them. A forum search will turn up all sorts of awful stories. I'm sorry you had to learn this one the hard way.

    If you ever want to try again, there are some excellent breeders on this site that start their babies very well.
    wellington and Ali Richardson like this.
  13. Ali Richardson

    Ali Richardson New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2017
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Dana Point, CA
    Thank you!! Such a bummer about backwater. I wish I would have known. I joined the forum after she arrived (like a true rookie I guess). I actually had a good experience with them in regards to shipping and customer service. Many of the bad reviews I saw had to do with lack of communication. They were actually very attentive with me (but apparently are either deceptive or not very knowledgeable about the creatures they are selling). Lesson learned. I'm feeling like I'm out of my league with tortoises now and after what I went through, I think I may always be an anxious tortoise mama if I attempted to do it again. We'll see how it goes. Thanks again!
  14. Ali Richardson

    Ali Richardson New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2017
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Dana Point, CA
    Do you know of anywhere in SoCal that I can donate my tortoise supplies? I have calcium powder, zoo med tortoise food, cypress mulch, even a custom tortoise table. I'd love for someone to get some use out of it. Thanks in advance.
  15. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    38,416
    Likes Received:
    14,578
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Southern California
    It drives me crazy when good people who are so eager to get involved with tortoises have a bad experience like this. This is one reason I am so pushy with the advice when it comes to new tortoise keepers. I know what is going to happen, but they don't. Some times I push too hard and it upsets people. But if I don't push hard enough, things like your experience can happen. I'm just speaking in general terms here, not necessarily addressing what happened in your case where you joined the forum after purchase. I'm so sorry this happened, but tortoise keeping is really not hard. When dealing with any wild caught animal, all sorts of weird and unexpected things can come out of nowhere like this. With a captive bred animal from a good breeder who starts them right, its really a breeze.

    I'm just rambling on now... I wish I could go back in time and warn you before this tragedy took place. In any case, the tortoise forum is here for you whatever you decide to do in the future. Best wishes.
    eric joranson likes this.
  16. Ali Richardson

    Ali Richardson New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2017
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Dana Point, CA
    lol I totally appreciate it. I've read through the forum a bit now and I've seen where someone clearly has no clue and you guys (the knowledgeable ones) are trying to help the best you can but end up seeming frustrated because the person isn't answering direct questions or totally getting defensive when they are in the wrong. I feel for you guys and 100% wish I could go back in time and do things differently. If I get my tortoise courage back, I definitely know where to turn now. My heart is still pretty broken but I now know that it was completely out of my control. That helps ease the pain a bit. Thank you again, please keep doing what you're doing!
  17. Ali Richardson

    Ali Richardson New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2017
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Dana Point, CA
    Hi Tom,
    I wanted to reach out again to see if you knew any good people to buy a Russian tortoise hatchling from in Southern California (I live in Orange County)? The breeder list I saw on the forum doesn't really say locations so I thought I'd reach out. My daughter really wants to try again with a Russian hatchling and I want to take your advice and start off with one from a reputable breeder.
    Thanks in advance, Alison
  18. Carol S

    Carol S Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Messages:
    2,138
    Likes Received:
    914
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Alta Loma, CA
    Hi: I have some Russian Baby Tortoises for sale which are 2-3 months old. I sent you a private message.
Similar Threads: Intestinal prolapse
Forum Title Date
Tortoise Health INTESTINAL PROLAPSE HELP Sep 7, 2015
Tortoise Health Sounds Gross, But Intestinal Worms Can Actually Be Good For You Nov 21, 2015
Tortoise Health Huge intestinal blockage passed by rescued redfoot tortoise Oct 12, 2013
Tortoise Health Medication Side Effects?? (intestinal parasites) May 16, 2012
Tortoise Health Male leopard reoccurring prolapse. Help May 21, 2017

Share This Page