Desert tortoise scutes indented

GMCNEILL

New Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
SPARKS
I had previously asked about my desert tortoises scutes indenting. It appears to me the condition is getting worse. I am attaching a photo for your view and opinion.

I'm thankful for this forum. I love the newsletters.
 

Attachments

  • 20210416_094134.jpg
    20210416_094134.jpg
    1 MB · Views: 50
  • 20210416_094155(0).jpg
    20210416_094155(0).jpg
    879.5 KB · Views: 46
  • 20210416_094155.jpg
    20210416_094155.jpg
    1 MB · Views: 42
  • 20210416_094151.jpg
    20210416_094151.jpg
    914.1 KB · Views: 41
  • 20210416_094152.jpg
    20210416_094152.jpg
    988.1 KB · Views: 47

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
5,202
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
I remember you posting about this before. I don't know what would cause this.

Does he have a hot light that he basks under? Maybe his shell is being burned? It doesn't really look like burning to me, but I'm trying to think of every possibility.

Hopefully someone else will have a better suggestion. I hope we get it figured out for you.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
89,020
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
I'm not seeing the "indented" problem, however the shell is quite dry and looks like at one time in the distant past he may have been burned.

Normally indented or raised scutes has to do with a humidity problem. Does this tortoise live outside? Do you water the area? Do you soak him?
 

GMCNEILL

New Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
SPARKS
I remember you posting about this before. I don't know what would cause this.

Does he have a hot light that he basks under? Maybe his shell is being burned? It doesn't really look like burning to me, but I'm trying to think of every possibility.

Hopefully someone else will have a better suggestion. I hope we get it figured out for you.
No he hasn't been burnt. I know he is very determined and digs or pushes himself under a metal gate. I've tried blocking him from this gate. I have a lot of river rock, he will dig out the rock to get under. Could the pressure of him going under the gate cause the scutes to indent?
 

GMCNEILL

New Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
SPARKS
I'm not seeing the "indented" problem, however the shell is quite dry and looks like at one time in the distant past he may have been burned.

Normally indented or raised scutes has to do with a humidity problem. Does this tortoise live outside? Do you water the area? Do you soak him?
It could be a humidity problem. I agree it looks dry. I'm soaking him daily. I may have to purchase another humidifier. He does not live outside. Only in the summer months but i bring him in every night.
 

GMCNEILL

New Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
SPARKS
Thank you all for your help. I have to believe I'm doing something wrong. I've had him 3 1/2 years. This just started late last summer.
 
  • Like
Reactions: djw

Yossarian

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2015
Messages
764
Location (City and/or State)
Wales
He cant cause his scutes to concave by applying pressure, there is a thick boney plate under the scutes. I see what you mean on the cervical scutes. He could be damaging his shell and diggin a concave in it, It doesnt look like that to me but the pics are not super clear.

Tort is very dry I agree, needs access to water and reguar soaks. Do not use a humidifier, especially with a DT. They are prone to respiratory infections anyway and Humidifiers will have them breathing in a lot of water droplets exacerbating that risk. As an adult the shell is what it is, humidity isnt such a big deal anymore, access to water and good hydration through diet is important.
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
5,202
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
Could the pressure of him going under the gate cause the scutes to indent?
I agree with Yossarian...the scutes would not indent. With enough scraping, though, the scute could rub through, causing a bleeding injury.

And you are correct...torts are the most determined and persistant animals I know. They get an idea in that head...nothing is going to deter them!
 

GMCNEILL

New Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
SPARKS
I agree with Yossarian...the scutes would not indent. With enough scraping, though, the scute could rub through, causing a bleeding injury.

And you are correct...torts are the most determined and persistant animals I know. They get an idea in that head...nothing is going to deter them!
His diet consists of his favorite snap.peas. spinach, kale, carrots. Carrot tops. Collard greens (which he doesnt like) spinach, romaine, spring mix and sprinkle of reptical.
He also has just come out of hibernation. So. Im soaking him daily. He loves his soaks. He onky likes running water from the hose. He will drink water in his soaks but I've never thought it was enough. I don't know how to get him to drink more. Our temperatures are still vasilating back and forth. Today was 65. I let him out in the afternoon to get light. But didnt want to get him wet from the hose.let me know about the diet and other thoughts on hydrating him.
Thanking you for your help and response.
 

GMCNEILL

New Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
SPARKS
His diet consists of his favorite snap.peas. spinach, kale, carrots. Carrot tops. Collard greens (which he doesnt like) spinach, romaine, spring mix and sprinkle of reptical.
He also has just come out of hibernation. So. Im soaking him daily. He loves his soaks. He onky likes running water from the hose. He will drink water in his soaks but I've never thought it was enough. I don't know how to get him to drink more. Our temperatures are still vasilating back and forth. Today was 65. I let him out in the afternoon to get light. But didnt want to get him wet from the hose.let me know about the diet and other thoughts on hydrating him.
Thanking you for your help and response.
His scutes are not open. No drainage of any kind.
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
5,202
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
His diet consists of his favorite snap.peas. spinach, kale, carrots. Carrot tops. Collard greens (which he doesnt like) spinach, romaine, spring mix and sprinkle of reptical.
He also has just come out of hibernation. So. Im soaking him daily. He loves his soaks. He onky likes running water from the hose. He will drink water in his soaks but I've never thought it was enough. I don't know how to get him to drink more. Our temperatures are still vasilating back and forth. Today was 65. I let him out in the afternoon to get light. But didnt want to get him wet from the hose.let me know about the diet and other thoughts on hydrating him.
Thanking you for your help and response.
He really should not have carrots because they have too much sugar in them. I'm not sure about snap peas, but they might be too sweet also.
Spinach and kale are OK, but they should not be given daily. At the end of this post I will put a huge long list of what torts can eat. Try to add weeds and flowers that are tort safe. You can also order dried foods from kapidolofarms.com The thing is, grocery store food doesn't have as much fiber in it as what torts need. So you need to add stuff to make it better. At the store, try to find endive, escarole, radicchio, mustard greens, dandelion greens, bok choy, cilantro, cactus pads if you can't find some in your back yard. Then add dry foods from kapidolofarms.com Or you can order the hay mix from Tortoisesupply.com

As for the water, all you can do is offer it at all times. You can mix in wet foods, like the cactus pads, some romaine, red and green leaf lettuce...use some of these as a water supplement. They just should not be fed as a staple of their diets. And spritz the greens when you feed him. He'll eat the water with the food. Some DT's like a mud puddle, so you could make one for him outside with the hose. Inside, spritz him with a spray bottle of water, and of course, soak, soak, soak.

Compiled by Tom:
Good foods for tortoises are "chicories," types of lettuce that are likely to be on the far side of the more common floppy green heads of lettuce most people buy. Anything labeled as simply "chicory" is good, as are radiccio, frisee, escarole, and endive; you might even find something labeled as dandelions. You may find a bag of "Spring" or "Spicy" mix that is good, just check the label to be sure it has some of the chicories I just mentioned. The leaves (just the leaves) of turnips and radishes are also good, as are carrot tops. Collards, mustard greens, bok choy, and other dark, leafy greens are okay as well. If you have any kind of Mexican/hispanic market near you, they will sell cactus, labeled "nopales." Cactus is a great food to rotate in the diet, as it is high in calcium.

You don't need to feed all of these at one time, just make sure your tortoise is getting access to different types of food. As you get more experienced, you can find the better types of food listed on the care sheets.

Here are a whole bunch of non-grocery store suggestions.

Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Geraniums
Gazanias
Nasturtium
Lavatera
Pansies
Petunias
Hostas
Honeysuckle
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

Weeds:

There are soooooooo many...
Dandelion
Mallow
Filaree
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Nettles
Trefoil
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Clovers
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed
Hawksbit
Hensbit
Hawksbeard

Other good stuff:


"Testudo Seed Mix" from http://www.tortoisesupply.com/SeedMixes

Pasture mixes or other seeds from http://www.groworganic.com/seeds.html

Homegrown alfalfa

Mazuri Tortoise Chow

ZooMed Grassland Tortoise Food

Ones that you can buy in every store:
Arugula
Lambs lettuce
Chicory
Kale
Mustard greens
Organic kohlrabi leafs
Organic carrot leafs
Organic radish leafs
Dandelions
Radiccio


Their main diet should be broad leaf weeds, succulents and grasses. Store bought foods are okay, but not the best. Collards and dandelions are a good food, but neither should be used every day. Check out the plant ID section for lots of ideas on weeds to feed. You can get spineless opuntia cactus pads from most Mexican grocery stores, or grow them yourself. You can also easily grow grape leaves, african hibiscus, regular hibiscus (if it will survive in your area), and mulberry leaves. You can try red apple, ice plant, and jade plant too. Also look into Gazania, pansies, nasturtiums, carnations, geraniums and many others. At the grocery store, favor endive and escarole, but also use cilantro, carrot tops, mustard and turnip greens, bok choy, radiccio, swiss chard, watercress, parsley, all the lettuces, etc. Lots of variety is best. There are also tortoise "weed" seed mixes that you can grow. I like the "Testudo Mix" from Tortoisesupply.com.
Buckwheat; cactus; vetch; Mohave aster; creosote bush; desert four o’clock; tacoma stans; bladderpod; globe mallow; goldenhead; burro weed; so many things!


Feeding:
So much contradictory info on this subject. Its simple. What do they eat in the wild. Grass, weeds, leaves, flowers, and succulents. Feed them a huge variety of these things, and you'll have a healthy tortoise. All of these species are very adaptable when it comes to diet and there is a very large margin of error, and many ways to do it right. What if you don't have this sort of "natural" tortoise food available for part of each year because you are in the snow? You will have no choice but to buy grocery store food. What's wrong with grocery store food? It tends to lack fiber, some items are low in calcium or have a poor calcium to phosphorous ratio, and some items have deleterious compounds in them. All of these short comings can be improved with some simple supplementation and amendments. A pinch of calcium two times per week will help fix that problem. You can also leave cuttle bone in the enclosure, so your tortoise can self-regulate its own calcium intake. What about fiber? Soaked horse hay pellets, soaked ZooMed Grassland pellets, Mazuri tortoise chow, "Salad style", "Herbal Hay" both from @TylerStewart and his lovely wife Sarah at Tortoisesupply.com, or many of the dried plants and leaves available from Will @Kapidolo Farms. If you must use grocery store foods, favor endive and escarole as your main staples. Add in arugula, cilantro, kale, collard, mustard and turnip greens, squash leaves, spring mix, romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, water cress, carrot tops, celery tops, bok choy, and whatever other greens you can find. If you mix in some of the aforementioned amendments, these grocery store foods will offer plenty of variety and fiber and be able to meet your tortoises nutritional needs just fine. I find it preferable to grab a few grapevine or mulberry leaves, or a handful of mallow and clover, or some broadleaf plantain leaves and some grass, but with the right additions, grocery store stuff is fine too. Grow your own stuff, or find it around you when possible. Tyler and Sarah also sell a fantastic Testudo seed mix that is great for ALL tortoise species and also super easy to grow in pots, trays, raised garden beds, or in outdoor tortoise enclosures. When that isn't possible, add a wide variety of good stuff to your grocery store greens to make them better.

Supplements:
I recommend you keep cuttle bone available all the time. Some never use it and some munch on it regularly. Some of mine will go months without touching it, and then suddenly eat the whole thing in a day or two. Sulcatas and leopards grow a lot. This requires a tremendous amount of calcium assimilation over time. A great diet is paramount, but it is still a good idea to give them some extra calcium regularly. I use a tiny pinch of RepCal or ZooMed plain old calcium carbonate twice a week. Much discussion has been given to whether or not they need D3 in their calcium supplement. Personally, I don't think it matters. Every tortoise should be getting adequate UV exposure one way or another, so they should be able to make their own D3. I also like to use a mineral supplement. "MinerAll" is my current brand of choice. It seems to help those tortoises that like to swallow pebbles and rocks. It is speculated that some tortoise eat rocks or substrate due to a mineral deficiency or imbalance. Whatever the reason, "MinerAll" seems to stop it or prevent it. Finally, I like to use a reptile vitamin supplement once a week, to round out any hidden deficiencies that may be in my diet over the course of a year.
 

GMCNEILL

New Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
SPARKS
He really should not have carrots because they have too much sugar in them. I'm not sure about snap peas, but they might be too sweet also.
Spinach and kale are OK, but they should not be given daily. At the end of this post I will put a huge long list of what torts can eat. Try to add weeds and flowers that are tort safe. You can also order dried foods from kapidolofarms.com The thing is, grocery store food doesn't have as much fiber in it as what torts need. So you need to add stuff to make it better. At the store, try to find endive, escarole, radicchio, mustard greens, dandelion greens, bok choy, cilantro, cactus pads if you can't find some in your back yard. Then add dry foods from kapidolofarms.com Or you can order the hay mix from Tortoisesupply.com

As for the water, all you can do is offer it at all times. You can mix in wet foods, like the cactus pads, some romaine, red and green leaf lettuce...use some of these as a water supplement. They just should not be fed as a staple of their diets. And spritz the greens when you feed him. He'll eat the water with the food. Some DT's like a mud puddle, so you could make one for him outside with the hose. Inside, spritz him with a spray bottle of water, and of course, soak, soak, soak.

Compiled by Tom:
Good foods for tortoises are "chicories," types of lettuce that are likely to be on the far side of the more common floppy green heads of lettuce most people buy. Anything labeled as simply "chicory" is good, as are radiccio, frisee, escarole, and endive; you might even find something labeled as dandelions. You may find a bag of "Spring" or "Spicy" mix that is good, just check the label to be sure it has some of the chicories I just mentioned. The leaves (just the leaves) of turnips and radishes are also good, as are carrot tops. Collards, mustard greens, bok choy, and other dark, leafy greens are okay as well. If you have any kind of Mexican/hispanic market near you, they will sell cactus, labeled "nopales." Cactus is a great food to rotate in the diet, as it is high in calcium.

You don't need to feed all of these at one time, just make sure your tortoise is getting access to different types of food. As you get more experienced, you can find the better types of food listed on the care sheets.

Here are a whole bunch of non-grocery store suggestions.

Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Geraniums
Gazanias
Nasturtium
Lavatera
Pansies
Petunias
Hostas
Honeysuckle
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

Weeds:

There are soooooooo many...
Dandelion
Mallow
Filaree
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Nettles
Trefoil
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Clovers
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed
Hawksbit
Hensbit
Hawksbeard

Other good stuff:


"Testudo Seed Mix" from http://www.tortoisesupply.com/SeedMixes

Pasture mixes or other seeds from http://www.groworganic.com/seeds.html

Homegrown alfalfa

Mazuri Tortoise Chow

ZooMed Grassland Tortoise Food

Ones that you can buy in every store:
Arugula
Lambs lettuce
Chicory
Kale
Mustard greens
Organic kohlrabi leafs
Organic carrot leafs
Organic radish leafs
Dandelions
Radiccio


Their main diet should be broad leaf weeds, succulents and grasses. Store bought foods are okay, but not the best. Collards and dandelions are a good food, but neither should be used every day. Check out the plant ID section for lots of ideas on weeds to feed. You can get spineless opuntia cactus pads from most Mexican grocery stores, or grow them yourself. You can also easily grow grape leaves, african hibiscus, regular hibiscus (if it will survive in your area), and mulberry leaves. You can try red apple, ice plant, and jade plant too. Also look into Gazania, pansies, nasturtiums, carnations, geraniums and many others. At the grocery store, favor endive and escarole, but also use cilantro, carrot tops, mustard and turnip greens, bok choy, radiccio, swiss chard, watercress, parsley, all the lettuces, etc. Lots of variety is best. There are also tortoise "weed" seed mixes that you can grow. I like the "Testudo Mix" from Tortoisesupply.com.
Buckwheat; cactus; vetch; Mohave aster; creosote bush; desert four o’clock; tacoma stans; bladderpod; globe mallow; goldenhead; burro weed; so many things!


Feeding:
So much contradictory info on this subject. Its simple. What do they eat in the wild. Grass, weeds, leaves, flowers, and succulents. Feed them a huge variety of these things, and you'll have a healthy tortoise. All of these species are very adaptable when it comes to diet and there is a very large margin of error, and many ways to do it right. What if you don't have this sort of "natural" tortoise food available for part of each year because you are in the snow? You will have no choice but to buy grocery store food. What's wrong with grocery store food? It tends to lack fiber, some items are low in calcium or have a poor calcium to phosphorous ratio, and some items have deleterious compounds in them. All of these short comings can be improved with some simple supplementation and amendments. A pinch of calcium two times per week will help fix that problem. You can also leave cuttle bone in the enclosure, so your tortoise can self-regulate its own calcium intake. What about fiber? Soaked horse hay pellets, soaked ZooMed Grassland pellets, Mazuri tortoise chow, "Salad style", "Herbal Hay" both from @TylerStewart and his lovely wife Sarah at Tortoisesupply.com, or many of the dried plants and leaves available from Will @Kapidolo Farms. If you must use grocery store foods, favor endive and escarole as your main staples. Add in arugula, cilantro, kale, collard, mustard and turnip greens, squash leaves, spring mix, romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, water cress, carrot tops, celery tops, bok choy, and whatever other greens you can find. If you mix in some of the aforementioned amendments, these grocery store foods will offer plenty of variety and fiber and be able to meet your tortoises nutritional needs just fine. I find it preferable to grab a few grapevine or mulberry leaves, or a handful of mallow and clover, or some broadleaf plantain leaves and some grass, but with the right additions, grocery store stuff is fine too. Grow your own stuff, or find it around you when possible. Tyler and Sarah also sell a fantastic Testudo seed mix that is great for ALL tortoise species and also super easy to grow in pots, trays, raised garden beds, or in outdoor tortoise enclosures. When that isn't possible, add a wide variety of good stuff to your grocery store greens to make them better.

Supplements:
I recommend you keep cuttle bone available all the time. Some never use it and some munch on it regularly. Some of mine will go months without touching it, and then suddenly eat the whole thing in a day or two. Sulcatas and leopards grow a lot. This requires a tremendous amount of calcium assimilation over time. A great diet is paramount, but it is still a good idea to give them some extra calcium regularly. I use a tiny pinch of RepCal or ZooMed plain old calcium carbonate twice a week. Much discussion has been given to whether or not they need D3 in their calcium supplement. Personally, I don't think it matters. Every tortoise should be getting adequate UV exposure one way or another, so they should be able to make their own D3. I also like to use a mineral supplement. "MinerAll" is my current brand of choice. It seems to help those tortoises that like to swallow pebbles and rocks. It is speculated that some tortoise eat rocks or substrate due to a mineral deficiency or imbalance. Whatever the reason, "MinerAll" seems to stop it or prevent it. Finally, I like to use a reptile vitamin supplement once a week, to round out any hidden deficiencies that may be in my diet over the course of a year.
Thank you for your recommendations. Most helpful. I love him dearly and only want what's best for him. I'm grateful for the advice. Supposedly he is around 38 years old. Ive had him 3 1/2 years and quite frankly have little to no experience with tortoises. Your forum is very informative. Again, thank you
 
Top