Very sorry about your loss. It's never easy, especially with hatchlings.Sunday morning Olivia didn't come out of her hide. I found her still buried and dead. She had been fine. Very active, eating well, etc. Newt soon started acting odd. He'd open his mouth like he was trying to expel something, would attempt to bite at this neck/shoulder area, and kept flipping himself on his back as though he was suffering from something neurological. No nasal discharge, no gasping or "guppy breathing" - I'm a respiratory therapist so I was able to auscultate his/her breath sounds with a tiny neonatal stethoscope - air movement was not impeded and it didn't sound like a respiratory issue. No visible wound where he was trying to bite, and I could not visualize a blockage in his throat. I called our only emergency vet (I've had lots of experience with them with the Greyhounds I rehome and adopt) and they basically told me they would not be much help - no reptile vet on staff. I was hoping Newt would make it overnight so I could get him into my reptile vet the next morning. I separated him into a smaller "hospital" enclosure while I started to tear down the tortoise house. I found lots of tiny centipede looking creatures in the soil, and had noticed a lot of fungus gnats the day before. There was no visible mold or fungus. Newt passed early Sunday afternoon. The third hatchling is doing ok. Vet couldn't find anything wrong with him and his fecal was clean. Neither of the two that passed had acted as though they were ill (until Newt that morning). All eating well and gaining weight.
I'm stumped, heart broken and feeling really guilty. My husbandry was just as suggested on the care sheets here with temps, humidity and lighting all where they should be.
I've raised baby Chameleons and thought these guys would be so much less challenging. Really upset that this is happened.
Edit: Not sure if the insects in the soil was an indicator of something wrong, but I've switched all the soils out. The organic "nothing added" soil I originally used was mostly compost - not sure if it is to blame or not.
Thanks. Yes, it is Chris's care sheet that I based this set up and my care on. As I said, it is the care sheets here that I used. I try to avoid the numerous opinions posing as fact that we all encounter in FB groups.Very sorry about your loss. It's never easy, especially with hatchlings.
There are a number of things that could have gone wrong...
I noticed in a prior reply that you only quarantined for 10 days. That's definitely not long enough when introducing new tortoises. New tortoises being added could have an illness or disease that gets passed to other tortoises. Babies are so small and more vulnerable that it's easier for them to get sick.
You also mentioned in your last post that your substrate contained compost. It's my understanding that compost contains fertilizers and chemicals that are harmful to tortoises. If your third hatchling is still doing okay, I would definitely change the habitat and provide substrate that is safer.
Here is a very detailed Hermann's Care Sheet. Definitely worth reading, and Chris (the author) has a ton of experience with this species, so I recommend this over other information on the internet.
Looking good! The first time they poo in their soak is magical!! I felt like my kids were babies again.Yes, there’s been a lot of burrowing around here. Also quite a bit of basking. Soaks are going pretty well. I have seen them eat some Mazuri in their soaks, and caught them in their food bowls a couple times. Pooing well during soaks. View attachment 281065 View attachment 281066 View attachment 281067
Thanks. Yes, it is Chris's care sheet that I based this set up and my care on. As I said, it is the care sheets here that I used. I try to avoid the numerous opinions posing as fact that we all encounter in FB groups.
I guess I didn't explain it well: As soon as the second tortoise started acting weird, I stripped their tortoise house and replaced the "organic - fertilizer free" soil with new soil. I called a friend who is a legal grower here in WA and got some quality soil from him - fully cured compost he sources himself, no ferts no additives and replaced the old soil that day.
It is a challenge to find potting or gardening soil that doesn't contain compost. Compost is not added fertilizer. It is simply composted organic matter - the ingredient in all soil.
I never did get an answer on how long I should keep them separated and in quarantine when I posed the question here. So I called the breeder, he said they had all been housed together at his facility and that there was no need to quarantine. I still feel I should have followed my gut there and kept them separate for at least 30 days.
One mistake was not saving any of the centipedes that were present in the soil to see if they could have been venomous and bit the hatchlings. They had to be present in the soil I originally used. I think the soil could have been the culprit - either something toxic to a tiny hatchling that was present in the compost that was in the soil, or the centipedes? It really is disheartening. A house full of reptiles and I haven't lost any in decades.