Beak won’t open?

jackielhogan

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Hi! I am new to tortoise care-taking and I’m very worried. My new guy/girl hasn’t eaten since I received him as a Christmas gift. I initially thought it was just the stress of the move so I thought I’d give it more time. I’ve started to worry because I’ve never seen him open his beak. This weekend, I’ve been able to handle him very easily and he has let me touch his beak. I’ve put my fingernail against it and he kind of pushes back. I’m taking him to the vet tomorrow but would appreciate any advice you could give me.

These pictures aren’t the greatest. He has some food paste on his face. I was trying to get him to eat. I’ll try to get new pictures tomorrow.
84BD2DC5-5F88-4839-A395-F6782A5C7911.jpeg 27E436D8-5E7B-4497-AC70-3153E197F6CA.jpeg 6D492FA9-1F81-4163-B05A-C7F608324AED.jpeg 098DBB63-FCC2-4857-A2AE-7ADEE0EE95C1.jpeg
 

TechnoCheese

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Welcome to the forum!
Inactivity is usually caused by temps that are too cold. What are your basking, cool side, and night temps?

Keep in mind that hay or anything similar is not a suitable substrate. Your tortoise should have a deep, damp layer of fine grade orchid bark, cypress mulch, or coco coir.

I would be hesitant with the vet. If you are set on bringing him, do not allow the vet to give any injections if there is no diagnosis or reason for giving them, and definitely don’t let the vet give any vitamin injections. However, since this tortoise is likely wild caught, getting him checked for worms wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Keep in mind that this tortoise requires a minimum enclosure size of 8x4 feet.

Be sure to give these a read :)
Russian Tortoise Care Sheet https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/Russian-Tortoise-Care-Sheet.80698/

Beginner Mistakes https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/Beginner-Mistakes.45180/
 

jackielhogan

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Libertyville, IL
Welcome to the forum!
Inactivity is usually caused by temps that are too cold. What are your basking, cool side, and night temps?

Keep in mind that hay or anything similar is not a suitable substrate. Your tortoise should have a deep, damp layer of fine grade orchid bark, cypress mulch, or coco coir.

I would be hesitant with the vet. If you are set on bringing him, do not allow the vet to give any injections if there is no diagnosis or reason for giving them, and definitely don’t let the vet give any vitamin injections. However, since this tortoise is likely wild caught, getting him checked for worms wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Keep in mind that this tortoise requires a minimum enclosure size of 8x4 feet.

Be sure to give these a read :)
Russian Tortoise Care Sheet https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/Russian-Tortoise-Care-Sheet.80698/

Beginner Mistakes https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/Beginner-Mistakes.45180/
Welcome to the forum!
Inactivity is usually caused by temps that are too cold. What are your basking, cool side, and night temps?

Keep in mind that hay or anything similar is not a suitable substrate. Your tortoise should have a deep, damp layer of fine grade orchid bark, cypress mulch, or coco coir.

I would be hesitant with the vet. If you are set on bringing him, do not allow the vet to give any injections if there is no diagnosis or reason for giving them, and definitely don’t let the vet give any vitamin injections. However, since this tortoise is likely wild caught, getting him checked for worms wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Keep in mind that this tortoise requires a minimum enclosure size of 8x4 feet.

Be sure to give these a read :)
Russian Tortoise Care Sheet https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/Russian-Tortoise-Care-Sheet.80698/

Beginner Mistakes https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/Beginner-Mistakes.45180/
Thanks for your quick reply. He is pretty active. The temperature in the basking area was about 97F when I took the picture. The hay is just thrown over top of the coco coir. He seems to like to bury himself in it at night. The other side of the enclosure has cypress mulch. This is a temporary space as we build his new home. Any ideas why he wouldn’t open his mouth?
 

jackielhogan

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Thanks for your quick reply. He is pretty active. The temperature in the basking area was about 97F when I took the picture. The hay is just thrown over top of the coco coir. He seems to like to bury himself in it at night. The other side of the enclosure has cypress mulch. This is a temporary space as we build his new home. Any ideas why he wouldn’t open his mouth?

The cool side ranges in the 70’s, depending on how far it is from the heat. Nighttime drops to about 68-70.
 

TechnoCheese

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Also, the vet I’m planning to bring him to specializes in herpetology. He works with a lot of rescued reptiles.

Sounds great, just be a little wary. Sometimes vets, even exotic ones with reptile experience, can do more harm than good when it comes to reptiles.

Your temps definitely aren’t bad, and I am not sure why it wouldn’t open it’s mouth. Someone else might be able to give more input :)
 

LaLaP

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Do you soak him? His mouth and face look a little dry but I'm just throwing out ideas.
What are you trying to feed him? Maybe he is picky.
Also he/she looks like an adult so if you post a pic of the tail we can tell you if it's a male or female.
 

jackielhogan

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Since you mentioned it, is it okay to have the Timothy hay as a top layer over the coco coir? I have about 4 inches of the coco coir for him to bury himself in. He makes a real mess of it all.
 

jackielhogan

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Do you soak him? His mouth and face look a little dry but I'm just throwing out ideas.
What are you trying to feed him? Maybe he is picky.
Also he/she looks like an adult so if you post a pic of the tail we can tell you if it's a male or female.
I’ve been soaking him every other day since he hasn’t been eating. He had a half hour soak just before taking this picture. I’m trying everything I can find that is safe. . . Dandelion, kale, pellets that he was supposedly eating from the pet store, spring mix, cabbage, any vegetable I have in the house or can buy that I see on the safe list.

I’m going to buy melon tomorrow, just to see if I can tempt him.

I will get more pics of the other end tomorrow! Thanks for your help.
 

LaLaP

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Here is another thing that comes to mind... is it possible that he is eating the hay (while you aren't watching) and that's why you haven't seen him eat?

Russians aren't naturally grass/hay eaters but some people feed it to them and some of them will eat it.

If he just enjoys burrowing in the hay I'd say it's fine but if he's eating that and nothing else I'd probably take it out so he gets a variety of food but first you have to figure out if he's eating it.

Does he poop? In the bath or otherwise?
 

jackielhogan

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I have sat and watched him for a very long time and haven’t seen him eat it at all. I didn’t put it in initially but did as another option since the pet store had some in his enclosure.

I’ve not seen any poop, even in his bath.
 

jackielhogan

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Here is another thing that comes to mind... is it possible that he is eating the hay (while you aren't watching) and that's why you haven't seen him eat?

Russians aren't naturally grass/hay eaters but some people feed it to them and some of them will eat it.

If he just enjoys burrowing in the hay I'd say it's fine but if he's eating that and nothing else I'd probably take it out so he gets a variety of food but first you have to figure out if he's eating it.

Does he poop? In the bath or otherwise?
He pushes at all the food options with his beak, moving everything all over, but never opens his mouth. He seems very interested in food.
 

jackielhogan

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Do you soak him? His mouth and face look a little dry but I'm just throwing out ideas.
What are you trying to feed him? Maybe he is picky.
Also he/she looks like an adult so if you post a pic of the tail we can tell you if it's a male or female.
Do you have any ideas for foods that are irresistible to a hungry tortoise?
 

LaLaP

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Well that IS strange.

My Russians are most interested in Belgian endive, romain lettuce, pumpkin, cactus pads from Mexican groceries and green leaf lettuce. I'm not saying this is a healthy diet, these are like tortoise candy to my guys.

The fact that he seems interested in food but doesn't eat is weird. I'm out of ideas. Maybe you are right to take him to the vet. A jaw problem?

I hope the vet has answers. Please let us know what they say. Good luck :)
 

Kelly.324

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If you can get any edible flowers they might be worth a try, my Russian tortoise goes mad for the edible violas I can get from the shops. Hope the vet has some answers.
 

jackielhogan

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If you can get any edible flowers they might be worth a try, my Russian tortoise goes mad for the edible violas I can get from the shops. Hope the vet has some answers.
I will try some apples before I go to work in the morning. I’ll look for some edible flowers and let you all know what the vet says. Thank you all for your suggestions.
 

TriciaStringer

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Thin slivers of cucumber worked for mine. I also put a cucumber in the blender and then poured the juice over all the greens.
 

Maro2Bear

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Greetings.

The other thing to think about is that it’s only been o/a three weeks since this tort was rousted from the pet store, hustled to a new house, environment, food, keepers, lighting, temps etc. This tort might just be settling in. Id be tempted to give it another nice warm soak, make sure all the parameters are dialed in, provide a big pile of food, and let it alone for a week. It might just be totally adjusting and just needs some settling in time. Too much dsily fussing and attention might be stressing it out.

Good luck!
 
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