Can a Leopard's supracaudal grow too much and impede pooping?

For Love of Everything Shell

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Hello, I have been dealing with a constipated tortoise for a few weeks now and things have started to move with a week at the vet. I have taken part of my latest update from my original post in hopes someone sees this title and might have some insight?
Summary from original post... Bob normally poops every 3 days or so, description below... I am amping up his UV exposures and temperatures while inside ... as soon as he is home...
My original post is "tortoise has not pooped in 3 weeks!!! Please HAAALP!!!"

Bob
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Update: tech called this morning saying he got small amount of poop out this morning and asked if I wanted to give permission for X-ray and full blood work so Dr Rich could review and would call me in afternoon. ($300) said yes go ahead ...
Vet called said good news... he got some poop out about 3cm x 5cm (I want to ask if that was somehow the shape of a single poop aka HUGE or if that is the size of the pile lol... any who... he said it was very high in the Timothy hay/straw, as before, but also some regular poop mixed in.

He also took him out for a walk to see if he was doing any more butt lifting to get more out ... no further pooping was observed ...
X-ray -clear, no seen obstructions, no gas pockets, nothing noticeably wrong.
Full blood work- all good ... kidneys good, CBC good, protein good calcium good ... all forking good !!!! Yayyyyy!!!...

So... they are doing another soak this afternoon and suggests that he can come home tomorrow

I asked him if he suggest I keep him on the high fiber liquid syringe food they have been doing ... he says no that he thinks soft greens will be good just nothing dry fibrous like the hay for a while (I'm not sure I can ever trust damn Timothy hay even though everyone says it is good for them
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)

...the bill is up to about 700$ so that is crappy (full pun intended
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) !!! But obviously I am super excited he is moving things along and in good health!!! He is worth every penny!!! I am going to make some changes to his house in my kitchen to be sure to provide all he needs for this lack of sun climate...it has literally been raining for over 2 straight weeks here in NOLA ... I am solar powered just like Bob and I am strongly contemplating looking for work back in AZ!!!!! until then... artificial it is... Aka indoor uvb and a few other changes. I will post some before and after pics of the changes to his indoor home for advice on how to maximize what we have to work with.

Before I had time to post this update, The Vet calls back just a few minutes ago... with his new conclusions!
Apparently, he has been watching Bob closely while in the soaks...(back end habits obviously) He explained how Bob straightens his legs all the way up when he is going to push and that his tail never actually comes out of his shell. He thinks that because the space between his tail notch and his carapace, more specifically...I believe it is called the supracaudal is overgrown. To me it is just what Bob's butt is shaped like and since he is the only tortoise I have, I can't really compare the inner curvature of the supracaudal to anyone else's! Also his tail makes funny squeeky clean sounds when he walks around in his soaks, that is when I have been watching extra closely and trying to quietly cheer him on! (while in the shallow end you can hear the tail wiggle squeaks). Some times there is awkwardly long eye contact, but I feel it is the support he is requesting...otherwise he would look away, right?!

After researching like crazy and enjoying many tort butt dance videos, I have found the "Sexing your tortoise page" of the Tortoise Supply company most helpful. https://www.tortoisesupply.com/SexingYourTortoises
I know Bob is, in fact, a Bob and not a Barbra because... well... a few years ago he showed me his "Hydraulic intermittent male sexual organs" AND wanted to touch me with it while he received his soak along with some light foot and shell scrubs!
Back to business...the link I added really shows the shape of the different breeds and is most helpful! It seems male leo's have the most curved supracaudal of all!?

...and eventually my point! The vet feels that Bob's "area" is inhibiting him from extending his tail out to have a fully functional BM (poop). Bob is about 10 inches long when measuring his plastron and weighs 8lbs when full of poop! His poops normally come out with no more girth than a small tootsie roll but slightly flattened. He did push out one bail of hay that was twice the girth of that during this whole ordeal... the vet thinks it is all due to mechanics and feels the supracaudal should be trimmed a bit. He is contacting his colleagues and the LSU veterinary school/hospital for advice. He says it is the smallest opening he has ever seen for a tortoise his size and that he should be passing poops the girth of a brussel sprout or a little smaller than a ping pong ball! That blows my mind, and is not possible for his opening! I have not seen him extend his tail straight out in years, he keeps it tucked up well, but I do see him moving it about when he is trying to go and he unfolded it and moved it a few times last week, but never out far enough to get out a ping pong ball! I also have not seen his "Hydraulic intermittent male sexual organ" in many years... could this all be to blame for the shape? My biological brain says he is shaped the way he is for a reason, and alterations need NOT be made! (minus some pyramiding he does have...that all started before I got him and before Tom cracked the code of the cause of pyramiding)

I know you will all want pictures of his opening, but that has never been the subject of my countless tortoise pictures ...as cute as it may be! I will ask the vet to forward the pictures he sent to his colleges and post those tomorrow.

To trim or not to trim...... That is the question! I say no...seems nuts, but I'm not the pro like many of you!!! I'm just a single tort mom figuring it out as I go... with tons of forum help and the interwebs!
Your thoughts?

PS: I can not take credit for the term "Hydraulic intermittent male sexual organ", but I will be using it as often as possible in daily conversation!!!
It is from this article...lmao
Terrifying sex organs of male turtles
http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2007/04/29/terrifying-sex-organs-of-male/

So please, don't be a "Hydraulic intermittent male sexual organ";), and write back to my inquiries!!! :p :D :):tort::<3:
 

For Love of Everything Shell

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I'm laughing so hard right now... not to make light of Bob's troubles....

I hope the experts here can help out.

I'm grateful for the humor :)
I have been told I can be funny at times ;) my humor is present because Bob is finally on the up and up!... and I figure if something is more enjoyable to read = more eyes + more answers... at the least it can help us to remember why we are all here... because tortoises are the most adorably awkward, underrated (by those that don't have one!), insanely social, quirky, clumsy, demanding, perpetually starving, snuggly mobile homes you could ever dream to care for! Did I mention quirky? ... They do always say owners resemble their pets, wait...? Yup I have freckles so clearly I am Bob's biological mother!
 

Yvonne G

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Yes, this is a frequent abnormality in housebound tortoises, but more often they're sulcatas. The opening has to be made bigger. And as there will be quite a bit of bleeding, it should be done by a vet so the bleeding can be controlled.
 
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For Love of Everything Shell

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Yes, this is a frequent abnormality in housebound tortoises. The opening has to be made bigger. And as there will be quite a bit of bleeding, it should be done by a vet so the bleeding can be controlled.

OMG!!! I was totally expecting the pros to say NO!?
What causes this?
And... how big should that area be... ping pong ball passable ? Ahhh, if I am accurately remembering he has a blueberry sized gap, hence the slightly squished tootsie roll ribbons he pushes out!
How much can be trimmed? Healing time? AntibIotics I would assume...?! Awww ... sorry for rapid fire questions but I want to cry that he needs this! Two reasons:
1, the pain!!! And 2. I love his curved little tort butt and I always thought it was a standard issue
tortoise bum [emoji217][emoji527][emoji173]️ !
("Standard issue" as in normal and everyone gets one! Not issue as in problem... It is a military term [emoji16])
 

For Love of Everything Shell

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Sounds like no... he said he trimmed a little bit already, but wanted to consult with his colleagues before going any further because there are so many vessels and bone structure involved if trimmed any more than a small amount. (My summary and words, not his)
 

TriciaStringer

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Sounds like no... he said he trimmed a little bit already, but wanted to consult with his colleagues before going any further because there are so many vessels and bone structure involved if trimmed any more than a small amount. (My summary and words, not his)
I’d check to see if LSU vet has experience doing it.
 

For Love of Everything Shell

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I’d check to see if LSU vet has experience doing it.

That is who he is consulting with... apparently they work closely together. He will be calling me before he does anything and I'm sure he will refer me to them if it is in any way beyond his comfort zone. He has been great so far [emoji16][emoji217][emoji173]️
 

Markw84

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@For Love of Everything Shell A picture would be very helpful. I know you have asked the vet for one. Some types of tortoises do develop an opening for the male that seems quite small. However, the undercurved supracaudal is an adaptation that allows for successful mating. The stars and leopards also have a size difference where the female is usually much larger than the male. So when mating, the male is virtually standing vertical, resting on the supracaudal. The curve of the supracaudal provides a way the male can then be in this position and still have the opening for its tail and penis not be blocked.

SO... although it looks small, it may be within the range of normal. It could have developed a deformity and have it closed too much, though. It is prudent that you are thoroughly checking, and comparing to pictures of other males would be of value. Perhaps others can post pictures of their male leopards for you.

Trimming can be done. It is cutting into bone and must be done by a vet. IF you ever MAY think about breeding him, or perhaps have to sell him down the road and the buyer may be interested in breeding, be aware of the problems trimming could present.
 

For Love of Everything Shell

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@For Love of Everything Shell A picture would be very helpful. I know you have asked the vet for one. Some types of tortoises do develop an opening for the male that seems quite small. However, the undercurved supracaudal is an adaptation that allows for successful mating. The stars and leopards also have a size difference where the female is usually much larger than the male. So when mating, the male is virtually standing vertical, resting on the supracaudal. The curve of the supracaudal provides a way the male can then be in this position and still have the opening for its tail and penis not be blocked.

SO... although it looks small, it may be within the range of normal. It could have developed a deformity and have it closed too much, though. It is prudent that you are thoroughly checking, and comparing to pictures of other males would be of value. Perhaps others can post pictures of their male leopards for you.

Trimming can be done. It is cutting into bone and must be done by a vet. IF you ever MAY think about breeding him, or perhaps have to sell him down the road and the buyer may be interested in breeding, be aware of the problems trimming could present.

Thank you very much for the detailed info!!! Yes I would love to see some other male Leo nether regions [emoji16], as awkward as that may sound!

Vet tech called me to pass the word, after consulting with his colleagues...it was deemed that Bob[emoji217] 's booty needs a bit of a trim. I requested the pictures already taken and they are going to take a bunch more so I can share on the forum. I have mentioned you all and the support and expertise of breeders and life long tort parents on probably every phone conversation [emoji217][emoji173]️[emoji16]
I will share Bob[emoji217]'a naughty pics as soon as I receive them ! Another night at the vet tonight ... to ensure all goes well.

In preparation, is a bandage on the back end of a tort difficult to maintain? I would think it would not stay on well because of pooping and tail movements, and tail movement might be excessive for him after all of this since he will "so much more room for activities" after the procedure!
 

Yvonne G

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OMG!!! I was totally expecting the pros to say NO!?
What causes this?
And... how big should that area be... ping pong ball passable ? Ahhh, if I am accurately remembering he has a blueberry sized gap, hence the slightly squished tootsie roll ribbons he pushes out!
How much can be trimmed? Healing time? AntibIotics I would assume...?! Awww ... sorry for rapid fire questions but I want to cry that he needs this! Two reasons:
1, the pain!!! And 2. I love his curved little tort butt and I always thought it was a standard issue
tortoise bum [emoji217][emoji527][emoji173]️ !
("Standard issue" as in normal and everyone gets one! Not issue as in problem... It is a military term [emoji16])

If it's not made bigger, the poop starts to back up between the tortoise's body and the shell, and if not taken care of (pry it out with a screwdriver or some such) then eventually it blocks the cloaca and he can't poop out any more.
 

Yvonne G

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@For Love of Everything Shell A picture would be very helpful. I know you have asked the vet for one. Some types of tortoises do develop an opening for the male that seems quite small. However, the undercurved supracaudal is an adaptation that allows for successful mating. The stars and leopards also have a size difference where the female is usually much larger than the male. So when mating, the male is virtually standing vertical, resting on the supracaudal. The curve of the supracaudal provides a way the male can then be in this position and still have the opening for its tail and penis not be blocked.

SO... although it looks small, it may be within the range of normal. It could have developed a deformity and have it closed too much, though. It is prudent that you are thoroughly checking, and comparing to pictures of other males would be of value. Perhaps others can post pictures of their male leopards for you.

Trimming can be done. It is cutting into bone and must be done by a vet. IF you ever MAY think about breeding him, or perhaps have to sell him down the road and the buyer may be interested in breeding, be aware of the problems trimming could present.
I was going by the fact that the OP said the poop was ". . . slightly squished tootsie roll ribbons."
 

Markw84

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I was going by the fact that the OP said the poop was ". . . slightly squished tootsie roll ribbons."
some males have squished poop! Their anatomy does that with the anal so close to the supracaudal many times. When it becomes an issue of actual deformity and a problem - is less clear, in my opinion.
 

For Love of Everything Shell

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If it's not made bigger, the poop starts to back up between the tortoise's body and the shell, and if not taken care of (pry it out with a screwdriver or some such) then eventually it blocks the cloaca and he can't poop out any more.

His poop has always been soft enough to make it out, but I also give him a bit of a bath/soak after any poop dancing parties to wash off any residual poop since I pick him up often. Maybe it has been good that he has been on more of a wet diet to has softer poops for his low clearance back side. I suppose time will tell after his remodel. His poops has definitely never need prying!

Random question: Yvonne, the seed mixes on the Tort supply link...
1. Amazing idea!!! I have been laughed out of so many nurseries over the years trying to find clover seeds and dandelion and other stuff he loved in my small apt lawn in AZ!

2. On this forum I have seen many people say Leo's don't like grasses. Is this that they don't like it or not as good for them? Bob[emoji217] loved the grass in my yard... but it was freshly grown rye winter grass, maybe that is different?

3. I plan to buy a few of the seed mixes so I can seed and area for him and have a free range Tort balanced diet! Which do you prefer... or a combo of a few that will thrive well in NOLA and won't be eaten by all the dang bugs down here?!!! My plants are always under attach and bugs are the main reason I can't feed him many of plants (hibiscus, prickle pear cactus, purselane, Mexican petunia-all purchased for him [emoji22]) , as I have to continuously treat them with chemicals and, therefore, I deem them inedible.
 

Moozillion

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My thoughts (and I’m no expert) is that shell is bone, which has its own metabolism, grows and changes. Anyone, human or animal, can develop a boney abnormality: like scoliosis, or maybe developing a hunchback.
I see no reason he couldn’t have developed an excessive curve to his carapace that becomes problematic.
Just my 2 bits! [emoji2]
 

ShirleyTX

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I have nothing useful to offer on the technical side (except it all makes sense as you've explained it). But I wanted to write to give you props for caring so much for Bob. How many would clean and sanitize like you do? How many would laugh about a poop dance party and still love the pooper? And I'm guessing you are going into a bit of debt for all this vet care. Yay you and your loving heart! Lucky, lucky Bob. :<3:
 
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