Bladder Stone?

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tortoisenerd

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Today after his bath while having his snack, Trevor urinated, passing some normal-looking soft urates. Then, he strained off and on for about 5 minutes, and passed a small round white stone. I couldn't give a size estimate, but it's probably about the biggest that could have fit! It didn't break up when I picked it up and tried to squish it. Was it a small bladder stone? Do I need to get him checked out for more?

He's only five months old and otherwise very healthy and active. He was especially feisty today (don't suspect anything else going on). His eyes look a little sunk in today but my fiance thought they are just growing like every other part of him is (they are still bright and clear). He even has little tortoise love handles where his shell is expanding on the sides.

I wouldn't suspect dehydration as he gets soaked three-four times a week (I plan to increase it for a bit). I take him out after about five minutes when he usually gets antsy. He urinates at least a few times a week that I notice in his enclosure (urates maybe 1-2 times a week), but I can't tell if he goes into his water on his own. I also dampen his greens as he usually doesn't eat them until later in the day and I leave for work early.

Lately he's been fed mostly: cactus (10%), spring mix (30%), dandelion greens (40%), and russian tortoise mix (20%) of clovers and broad leaf sprouts. While he passed the stone he happened to be eating Mazuri but I've actually forgotten to feed him it for over a week (I usually do a bit once or twice a week). Before this batch of produce he had a bit of kale as part of his diet but he couldn't have been eating more than 25% or so of his diet of it as he usually left it on the plate. I don't plan to buy it much for him anymore if he doesn't like it.

Do I need to cut back on the dandelion greens or change his diet? He can't manage the stems of much of anything which I've heard are higher in the oxalic acid (dandelion greens at least). He's getting more of those as I bought a bunch this week (usually do spring mix plus a bunch of something else).

Thanks! Hope I don't have to worry about him.
 
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Maggie Cummings

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I would cut back on the cactus, and use it once a week as a treat but not as a regular part of his diet...I buy some Spring Mix and then add other stuff like the kale and collard greens whatever is happening in the produce section that week. Variety is really the most important part of their diet. So I use the Spring Mix as the basic part then add different stuff to it. You should also be able to add blossoms and different leafs, aren't you in Calif and having decent weather? By that I mean not freezing? I know that others don't cut the stuff up, but I do. I cut it into small pieces for small mouths and that way they can't be so picky and pull out the best pieces. I added radicchio to this batch of 'tort salad' and they went insane! They really went for it big time!
 

tortoisenerd

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I'm the one in the frozen NW (Seattle)! It has gotten a little above freezing though this week. Apartment, no yard, no safe plants for him from anyone I know. We usually have him work at the food a bit when he can manage it. I usually cut up the cactus really small, and don't put in tough stalks. He has a pretty good bite now and has learned to use his arms.

He gets a pretty decent variety for winter--spring mix, russian tortoise seed mix (doing amazingly well inside once it got going), cactus, kale, green leaf lettuce, escarole, and dandelion greens all in the last couple weeks. I've also been switching up the spring mixes as they have different stuff in some brands. I'm planting some turnip greens and baby lettuce this weekend and planning to get a hibiscus plant going this Spring. He loves radicchio but I read that it has the Calcium:phosphorus of 0.5 so I don't let him have so much (just what is in the spring mix).

I just looked up the cactus--no idea it was high in oxalic acid (can't find an actual amount though). I guess I'll cut back. I usually give him maybe two pieces adding up to the size of a dime though a day. No effect on his stool so I thought I was in the clear! I might have overestimated the 10% even. It's more of the cherry on top of his sundae everyday if that makes sense. Previously I had heard it was a great food for the fiber and calcium and bodily functions were the only limiting factor, and that some people fed it in large quantities when they could get it. Just found this:

http://www.tortoisegroup.org/new/infosheets/infosheet12.html

...which says: "Mature pads are not for feeding. They contain harmful concentrations of oxalic acid."

I assume in the grocery store I bought a mature pad since it had been harvested and sold (about the size of my palm). What I've fed this week is also on it's way out...wonder if that matters too? I guess I should start my own plant and feed him the little pads that grow.

How long does it take a bladder stone to form anyways? Could it have been from his diet even before I got him? I've had him less than two months. The first couple weeks I had him he was eating only Collards and mustard greens as I wasn't as well-informed, so that could be as well.

Maggie-Should I get him an x-ray to see if it's a bigger problem?

I've also read that they can be caused by high temperatures. Anyone else agree? I do keep his basking spot nearer 100 because he doesn't bask directly under it, but to the side where it is more like 90 (partially under the hay or right next to it as he's a little shy). He also recently got a heat emitter for night and supplemental day heat. My personal opinion is that his heating is adequate and not overboard but I'm open to disagreement (just want a healthy tort).

This is confusing because russiantortoise.org says too much Calcium can also cause bladder stones (I supplement 4-5 times a week).
 

Tim/Robin

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The whole cactus thing can be very confusing. There are so many types that fall in to the "opuntia" or prickly pear category. An article about the chemistry of cactus can be found at http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cach...+cactus+oxalic+acid&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=14&gl=us It contains way more information than you will want but the take home message is Opuntia sp. has a much higher oxalic acid concentration (35g/100g fresh weight) than that of Nopalea cochenillifera, formerly known
as Opuntia cochenillifera (oxalic acid was only present in trace amounts)
We feed the Nopalea kind as a supplement to the spring mix, endive, escarole, veggies, etc. We buy the Nopalea in bulk from Rivenrock.com and have found that it stores very well in the cool basement (several months).
Regardless, it is hard to know what it is that could have caused the stone. It seems like you are feeding a variety and that are low in oxalic acid. It seems, to me, that there could be some other cause, but I am not sure what. Puzzling.
 

nrfitchett4

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I would just work to keep him well hydrated. I doubt that over calcium would have done it. They used to believe the same thing with human kidney stones, but then found out different. If he seems to be o.k. I would just watch him, but if he passes another I would look into a vet visit.

I wonder if some torts are just prone to them the way some people are???
 

Yvonne G

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Are you sure its a stone that was mfg'd by the tortoise? Or could it have been a stone he swallowed?

Yvonne
 

egyptiandan

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It's very possible to get stones from the dandelion greens, cactus pads and the spring mix (if you leave the spinach in). When the oaxlic acid combines with the calcium to make it unusable it forms calcium oaxilate, which can cause stones even when watering everyday.
Kelly (Stells) has been having trouble with a Greek tortoise getting stones. She soaks everyday, but still this small female passed a huge stone. She was feeding an all weed diet and most weeds have an oaxlic acid content. This was the only conclusion that we could come to was it was the weeds that did it. She's feeding more lettuces now and she's finally getting better, though she has her good days and bad days.
So you really do have to watch what you feed your tortoises and how much your feeding of one or two things.

Danny
 

tortoisenerd

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Thanks for all the input! You all are awesome.

Tim&Robin: I will have to look more closely at what kind of cactus I have, as I just picked up some in the produce section, unlabeled. It looks like it has spines that are taken off, leaving only stubs, which I cut out.

I plan to at least eliminate the possibility he is dehydrated. Upping the soakings to daily and I have bird vitamins (thanks Danny!) to add and then keep on hand.

Yvonne: He hasn't been outside to have got the stone from nature, and nothing in his enclosure resembles the stone. There could be a very odd possibility that it could have been mixed in with the aspen (I spread it out by hand and didn't see anything, but again the stone was tiny). I doubt it was mixed in with any of his food as I touch each piece several times with the washing, drying, storing, feeding, etc. The rocks in his enclosure are much bigger than his head and he's been uninterested in them.

Danny: I don't get any spring mix with spinach. I'll cut out the cactus until I can figure out what type I have, and cut back on the dandelion greens as the two times I've bought them they become a large part of his diet due to spoilage. I got them this past week and then probably a month prior. I even help to eat them too, but I end up tossing a lot, and the stalks as neither of us will eat those.

The only question I have left is how long a stone takes to form (months or weeks or days)? That could help pinpoint the culprit more. I think I'll keep him hydrated, cut back on foods with oxilates, watch for more stones or straining, and take him to the vet if I'm still worried or see any more signs/stones.

I found a cool mix at Trader Joes today of organic micro greens. Ridiculously expensive ($3 for a couple ounces), but it looks perfect for a baby tort, and Trevor is spoiled. He eats better than we do! Also have the spring mix and some green leaf on hand to mix with the tort mix seedlings so he won't go hungry if I cut out the dandelion greens and cactus.

Here is what's in the seed mix (Carolina Pet Suppply), which mostly is weeds, but I've heard the seedlings have a lower oxalic acid count anyways: Crimson Clover, White New Zealand Clover, Red Clover, Plantain, Turf Fescue, Orchard Grass, Fescue, Creeping Red, Chia, Chicory, Turnip Greens, Timothy grass, Buck Wheat, and more. All the stuff looks the same to me, and I've identified some type of grass as well as the chia and clovers. I don't think all of the seeds took.
 

nrfitchett4

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wizzasmum said:
nrfitchett4 said:
I would just work to keep him well hydrated. I doubt that over calcium would have done it. They used to believe the same thing with human kidney stones, but then found out different. If he seems to be o.k. I would just watch him, but if he passes another I would look into a vet visit.

I wonder if some torts are just prone to them the way some people are???


Bladder stones are nothing to do with calcium and are simple excess urates combined with insufficient hydration. Enen when bathed regularly, if poor substrate is offered this can happen. I have seen it most in vivarium torts with insufficient depth of substrate.

what does substrate have to do with excess urates? I think if you bath every day, even if your substrate is not optimal, you can keep a tort hydrated.
 

tortoisenerd

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I do use aspen (the finer snake bedding shavings)...long story but a moist substrate isn't good for us because we live in a damp/cold climate and I couldn't keep the heat up enough for him to be active and eating. I can see that a dry substrate wouldn't have a humid effect to it, but he's soaked, has moist greens, has his water dish, and the ambient humidity is 40-60% in my house. His substrate btw is about 5-6 inches deep, and I'm making it deeper tomorrow as he digs to the bottom. He loves his tunnels.

I didn't necessarily agree with the calcium theory of bladder stones. I just have been finding conflicting information and wanted some guidance on this issue. I think several things (separate or combined) could have caused the stone.

Update: Today he ate well, and actually went into his water on his own. Urinated, normal urates, and loose stool. I soaked him in bird vitamins for about 15 minutes to ease my mind about dehydration and plan to do this daily for a bit. Haven't seen any more stones or distress. Didn't feed cactus or dandelion greens today, just microgreens and spring mix.
 

sushisurf13

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I think a vet visit is in order. Here are a couple bladder stone pics from my co-workers adult male desert tortoise. This is a baseball size+ bladder stone. the surgery went well and the tortoise was back to normal within a couple of days.

DesertTortoiseBladderStone003.jpg


DesertTortoiseBladderStone001.jpg


DesertTortoiseBladderStone002.jpg
 

tortoisenerd

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How big was the tort? I did a search before posting this message and saw those...wow. Any idea how long they take to develop?
 

nrfitchett4

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tortoisenerd said:
How big was the tort? I did a search before posting this message and saw those...wow. Any idea how long they take to develop?

years!!!
 

tortoisenerd

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Thanks for the article. I found that one when I began to look up info about tort bladder stones, and found it very interesting. The one thing I was unclear on was that they had two cases: a dry non-borrowing environment, and a moister burrowing environment. They did not have a case for a moderate humidity dry substrate but able to burrow (like I have Trevor on, along with at least a few other members of the forum). My house humidity is rather high due to wear I live, and he can burrow in his substrate (and spends most of his time doing so), but the substrate itself isn't too moist. He's only been on this substrate for about a month. Before this he had just newspaper for a week, and before that eco earth & sand. Before that he was at a breeder and I don't know what he was raised on or fed. I'm just curious if his little stone could have been developing for months and not "my fault", per se.

Trevor has been going in his water dish everyday on his own accord (never had known him to do that, but this is also a new dish he can easily use), and has had urates every day. Still soaking him daily with the bird vitamins. No more stones and the urates look normal for him. He's still eating and having loose stools. I'm wondering if the stone was blocking his system for urates for awhile (hadn't noticed any for maybe a week), and now that the stone is clear he can do his business? Not too familiar with tort anatomy to know if that is possible. He's never had urates every day even when I was feeding him a diet relatively high in oxalic acid when I first got him, as I didn't know what was best.
 

K9KidsLove

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Hi...Good that your baby seems to be doing OK.
You mentioned that you have several kinds of clover in your mix...I was told by the vet I used to work for that clover should be a treat as well because of the high oxalates.
Good luck
Patsy
 

sushisurf13

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tortoisenerd said:
How big was the tort? I did a search before posting this message and saw those...wow. Any idea how long they take to develop?

He's a full grown, old adult Male. 14 inches or so. I would imagine that it takes many years to get a bladder stone that big. My buddy had noticed the tort become a bit lethargic during the past summer. He took him in for a xray and this is what they found.
 

tortoisenerd

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Thanks Patsy. Maybe since I can't 100% identify it I should just stick with the safe stuff like spring mix for now...

He had urates twice today, but also had two soaks and moist greens. I'm hoping his system will get cleared out of them and I won't have any more problems. Don't like to be worrying about the little guy.
 

MarysTort

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Wow, I found that article very interesting!

Oh, and I just wanted to add that even if the humidity in your house is high, under a heat lamp it's likely to be very dry. So keep that in mind.
 

tortoisenerd

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Thanks Mary!

I'm still thinking about the issue and determining the best solution. Kinda playing it by ear because nothing sounds to overly serious and it seems like the stone could have been a longer-term thing than the past couple weeks, and had been blocking urates causing the stoppage the week before and the flood the past few days.

Little guy slept through breakfast today (greens wilted while I was at work), but he had a bath and is warmed up and eating like a champ.

I also test the humidity at his substrate level (the house is even higher), with a gauge, that I move around to take readings in a couple different areas. I don't even keep it in the enclosure since I don't want to tie it down to one spot. Not sure about the accuracy, but it definitely moves and reads lower than the electronic weather station we have in the kitchen. Should have said his "house" not mine!
 

Madkins007

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re: bathing... just remember that reptile skin is pretty waterproof and they mostly only absorb a little via the cloaca- usually only about enough to lubricate the bowel. I know there is some controversy about forced soaks, but they should only be a small part of your hydration management process.
 
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