Good News

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,125
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Here is what I saw a few nights ago when I went to lock up all the tortoises for the night. They normally put themselves away, so all I have to do is lift the top, count the tortoises and then close of the doors and latch them in for the night. When I counted them this night, one was missing. Spot, my big mature adult girl. I went looking around the pen and found this:
IMG_1084 copy.JPG

She was backfilling a nest…

A little history is in order, I think. Spot, along with 8 other leopards, were acquired by a friend of mine about five or six years ago. She was a full adult then, about 18" long and 35-40 pounds. My friend doesn't listen to my advice and he skips quarantine, mixes species, and does not ensure that each tortoise is locked in its box every night to be kept warm. The trifecta of death. Well he lost 6 of the nine leopards in his herd. He needed to re-home the remaining three and I reluctantly agreed to take on the two that were sold to him as South African leopards, while the third regular one went somewhere else. Spot and Dot were big and both of them looked and behaved like South Africans, but I have no way to 100% verify their lineage. They were big, striking, and their markings were gorgeous. Pretty smooth too. One of the two, Dot, was obviously sick with something, but Spot, pictured above, was in pretty good shape. I put them in their own area for strict quarantine and proceeded to spend thousands of dollars and two years trying to diagnose the problem. Every test came back negative. We did herpes, coccidia, crypto, and everything else you can think of. We checked for pneumonia, all sort of bacteria, fungus, you name it. We did gastric lavage, cloacal swabs, oral swabs, several rounds of blood work of all types, and just about every other test you can think of. I'm very lucky these vets are friends or this would have cost me a lot more than time. We found nothing. This doesn't mean the tortoises were healthy. It just means we had not found the right test, or the tests we did found nothing at that time.

Spot seemed fine and was eating and pooping normally. Dot had RI symptoms, and when scoped had some sort of whitish foam in the trachea. She also seemed to have difficulty opening her eyes, but every day she opened them and came out to eat. I soaked her daily or every other and even did cloacal and sub Q fluids a few times. Since we could not diagnose the source of the problem, my vet friends and I decided to try to diagnose through treatment. First up was Fortaz, since Fortaz usually works well against RI and those were the primary symptoms we were seeing. I did a full round and saw no improvement. Waited one month, upped the dosage a bit, and then did another full round. I had to give her injections between the scales on her front legs every other day. It was awful for both her and me. Weeks went by and no improvement. We waited a while to see if good diet, hydration and proper warm temps would bring her around. It didn't. And we still had no idea what the actual problem was. Was it contagious? Was I risking all of my other tortoises lives just having her around? I was careful with quarantine procedures, but some things are just really really contagious. There is a drug used to treat intra-nucloidal coccidioidomycosis called Toltrazuril. We put in a feeding tube and I pumped that medicine into her every other day along with some food and lots of water for 6 weeks. Treatment finished, months went by and no improvement. Toltrazuril is a pretty safe drug, and hearing other people's success stories, we decided to double the dosage and try again. The treatment finished, the feeding tube was removed, and she began eating on her own again within a couple of days, but no improvement on her condition. 18 months had gone by. No improvement, but it hadn't gotten worse either.

What to do? One of my vets recommended euthanasia and necropsy for the benefit of the rest of my tortoises. I decided to wait a while. After a couple of months her appetite and activity level really picked up. She was ravenous toward the end of winter in Jan and Feb of 2015, and I really thought she was going to recover and survive. I kept a constant supply of good food in front of her. Slowly but surely, she started dropping weight. No matter what I fed her, or how often I soaked her. Fecal exams all came back negative. She just went downhill and there was no bringing her back… We lost our two year battle and Dot finally died in the spring of 2015. Of course I did the necropsy and the primary COD was a run-of-the-mill RI. There were some secondary infections, but no pathogens or parasites. Nothing contagious. My other tortoises were not, and had not ever been at risk from having Dot and Spot around. I was sad to see her go, but very relieved that it was not some horrible, incurable, super-contagious tortoise disease. In hindsight, I really should have refused these two girls, but they were large, mature, beautiful, free, and I suffered from tortoise greed.

So one year later, I made the decision to divide up my leopard girls, and I put Spot in with one of my other females and and a male. The male started breeding immediately and about 5-6 weeks later, I took the picture above. South African leopard eggs need a diapause with cool temperatures for them to develop, so I'm leaving these eggs in the ground for the next six weeks. Then in June, I will dig them up and incubate them. Spot is an older mature female and she's laid eggs before, so I think this clutch will be good size and fertile. Time will tell. I don't know how many eggs there are because she was already covering them when I approached, but I will keep you posted. The appearance of her babies should tell us a lot about her lineage too.
 

diamondbp

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2012
Messages
3,332
Very cool stuff Tom. I'll be anxious as well to see what she produces. Sorry for the loss though. It's crazy that she would have dealt with a plan URI for that long.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,125
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Sorry for the loss though. It's crazy that she would have dealt with a plan URI for that long.

One of those odd cases…

I've thought about it a lot. I'm wondering if Dot didn't have some pathogen at one point, but one or the other of the medicines cleared it up and eradicated it. She finally succumbed from complications, but this would explain why there was nothing but a RI in the necropsy. I shot this theory down though when Spot, who was healthy and fine though the whole 3 year process, also tested negative for everything. I never medicated Spot. If there was a contagious pathogen, Spot should have had it too.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
39,866
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Congrats and good luck with them. Sad story about Dot. Amazed that with all that was done, she still passed and with nothing more then an RI. Not that they can't be deadly. Just seems with such a long haul, many treatments, it should have been something worse. Glad it wasn't something that could have wiped out your herd, that would have been heart wrenching.
 

Neal

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Apr 15, 2010
Messages
4,941
Location (City and/or State)
Arizona
How cool do your night temperatures get?
 

Neal

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Apr 15, 2010
Messages
4,941
Location (City and/or State)
Arizona
Outside. I'm curious about what sort of temperatures the nest would be exposed to.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,125
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Outside. I'm curious about what sort of temperatures the nest would be exposed to.

This time of year night temps are usually in the 40's. Daytime highs range from low 70's to mid 80's.

Ground temp right now is a consistent 55-60 at 3 feet deep.
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
24,136
Location (City and/or State)
South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
Nice job Tom.
I also dealt with a long and lingering tortoise illness that was eventually cured when it seemed nothing would work.
I feel for you and the results are just fantastic!
Congratulations.
 

J.P.

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2014
Messages
184
Location (City and/or State)
Philippines
Wow! I'd be rolling all over the yard when the day comes to find mine laying.

Sad to hear about Dot, but I admire you for spending that much effort for an animal. I have never had to deal with a problem for that long, but I hope i can have the same amount of patience if ever the need comes.
 

dmmj

The member formerly known as captain awesome
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Aug 15, 2008
Messages
19,752
Location (City and/or State)
CA
very interesting I cannot wait to see what is produced
 

Pearly

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2015
Messages
5,294
Location (City and/or State)
Central Texas, Austin area
Here is what I saw a few nights ago when I went to lock up all the tortoises for the night. They normally put themselves away, so all I have to do is lift the top, count the tortoises and then close of the doors and latch them in for the night. When I counted them this night, one was missing. Spot, my big mature adult girl. I went looking around the pen and found this:
View attachment 171430

She was backfilling a nest…

A little history is in order, I think. Spot, along with 8 other leopards, were acquired by a friend of mine about five or six years ago. She was a full adult then, about 18" long and 35-40 pounds. My friend doesn't listen to my advice and he skips quarantine, mixes species, and does not ensure that each tortoise is locked in its box every night to be kept warm. The trifecta of death. Well he lost 6 of the nine leopards in his herd. He needed to re-home the remaining three and I reluctantly agreed to take on the two that were sold to him as South African leopards, while the third regular one went somewhere else. Spot and Dot were big and both of them looked and behaved like South Africans, but I have no way to 100% verify their lineage. They were big, striking, and their markings were gorgeous. Pretty smooth too. One of the two, Dot, was obviously sick with something, but Spot, pictured above, was in pretty good shape. I put them in their own area for strict quarantine and proceeded to spend thousands of dollars and two years trying to diagnose the problem. Every test came back negative. We did herpes, coccidia, crypto, and everything else you can think of. We checked for pneumonia, all sort of bacteria, fungus, you name it. We did gastric lavage, cloacal swabs, oral swabs, several rounds of blood work of all types, and just about every other test you can think of. I'm very lucky these vets are friends or this would have cost me a lot more than time. We found nothing. This doesn't mean the tortoises were healthy. It just means we had not found the right test, or the tests we did found nothing at that time.

Spot seemed fine and was eating and pooping normally. Dot had RI symptoms, and when scoped had some sort of whitish foam in the trachea. She also seemed to have difficulty opening her eyes, but every day she opened them and came out to eat. I soaked her daily or every other and even did cloacal and sub Q fluids a few times. Since we could not diagnose the source of the problem, my vet friends and I decided to try to diagnose through treatment. First up was Fortaz, since Fortaz usually works well against RI and those were the primary symptoms we were seeing. I did a full round and saw no improvement. Waited one month, upped the dosage a bit, and then did another full round. I had to give her injections between the scales on her front legs every other day. It was awful for both her and me. Weeks went by and no improvement. We waited a while to see if good diet, hydration and proper warm temps would bring her around. It didn't. And we still had no idea what the actual problem was. Was it contagious? Was I risking all of my other tortoises lives just having her around? I was careful with quarantine procedures, but some things are just really really contagious. There is a drug used to treat intra-nucloidal coccidioidomycosis called Toltrazuril. We put in a feeding tube and I pumped that medicine into her every other day along with some food and lots of water for 6 weeks. Treatment finished, months went by and no improvement. Toltrazuril is a pretty safe drug, and hearing other people's success stories, we decided to double the dosage and try again. The treatment finished, the feeding tube was removed, and she began eating on her own again within a couple of days, but no improvement on her condition. 18 months had gone by. No improvement, but it hadn't gotten worse either.

What to do? One of my vets recommended euthanasia and necropsy for the benefit of the rest of my tortoises. I decided to wait a while. After a couple of months her appetite and activity level really picked up. She was ravenous toward the end of winter in Jan and Feb of 2015, and I really thought she was going to recover and survive. I kept a constant supply of good food in front of her. Slowly but surely, she started dropping weight. No matter what I fed her, or how often I soaked her. Fecal exams all came back negative. She just went downhill and there was no bringing her back… We lost our two year battle and Dot finally died in the spring of 2015. Of course I did the necropsy and the primary COD was a run-of-the-mill RI. There were some secondary infections, but no pathogens or parasites. Nothing contagious. My other tortoises were not, and had not ever been at risk from having Dot and Spot around. I was sad to see her go, but very relieved that it was not some horrible, incurable, super-contagious tortoise disease. In hindsight, I really should have refused these two girls, but they were large, mature, beautiful, free, and I suffered from tortoise greed.

So one year later, I made the decision to divide up my leopard girls, and I put Spot in with one of my other females and and a male. The male started breeding immediately and about 5-6 weeks later, I took the picture above. South African leopard eggs need a diapause with cool temperatures for them to develop, so I'm leaving these eggs in the ground for the next six weeks. Then in June, I will dig them up and incubate them. Spot is an older mature female and she's laid eggs before, so I think this clutch will be good size and fertile. Time will tell. I don't know how many eggs there are because she was already covering them when I approached, but I will keep you posted. The appearance of her babies should tell us a lot about her lineage too.
Wow! What a story! Sorry to hear about Dot, but as they say "the fittest do survive". I'm looking forward to your pictures of Spot's babies:)
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,125
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Nice job Tom.
I also dealt with a long and lingering tortoise illness that was eventually cured when it seemed nothing would work.
I feel for you and the results are just fantastic!
Congratulations.

If I recall, you thought she was dead at one point… Glad she made it.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,125
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Sad to hear about Dot, but I admire you for spending that much effort for an animal. I have never had to deal with a problem for that long, but I hope i can have the same amount of patience if ever the need comes.

She was worth every minute of it. I'd do it again. I wanted her to live so badly...
 

Slow and steady

Active Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2016
Messages
166
Location (City and/or State)
S.E. Florida
Hi Tom, I just found this thread. What ever came of this clutch? Did they hatch out, and did the hatchlings give any insight as to Spot's lineage?

Dave
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,125
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hi Tom, I just found this thread. What ever came of this clutch? Did they hatch out, and did the hatchlings give any insight as to Spot's lineage?

Dave
There was only one giant egg in the nest, and it didn't hatch.

She dug another nest weeks later and dutifully covered it up. When I dug up the nest there was a perfectly shaped tortoise nest but no eggs. I feared she was egg bound so I took her to one of my vet friends for an X-ray:
IMG_1458.JPG

Nope. That wasn't it. She just had no eggs. I sold her to a friend and as far as I know, she's doing fine.
 

mark1

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2015
Messages
1,341
Location (City and/or State)
ohio
might want to have tried some baytril in case it was a mycoplasma infection , or maybe added something like clarithromycin , if that is acceptable in conjunction with fortaz , fortaz is a very poor choice for a mycoplasma infection ....... not sure how common this infection is by you , but it's been found in most reptiles , it's chronic , upper respiratory and not easily diagnosed ..... sorry for your loss ......
 
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top