Help, I think my new tortoise might be sick

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Chon

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Hi everyone,

I recently (4 days ago) was given a 7 year old desert tortoise by one of my coworkers who no longer could take care of him. I noticed after the second day in his new home that the he started to develop a runny nose (clear thin mucus) which progressively seems to be getting worse each day (I’ve recently seen him blow a bubble or two through his nose in the mornings). I also notice that the he hasn’t been eating as much as he did the first day I brought him home, even though the amount he did eat the first day wasn’t anywhere near as much as my coworker told me he normally ate. He’s also seems less active than the first day I got him. I’ve been offering him variety of veggies (Cactus Leafs, Mustard Greens, Bok Choy, Collard Greens, and Turnip Greens) and Mazuri Tortoise food. The first day I brought him home he ate up about 3 small Cactus Leafs as well as some weeds that he found exploring my backyard. But now he’s only interested in the Mazuri food which he eats very little of. I have been able to get him to eat a little of the Mustard Greens by putting Rose Pedals over it.

I’ve read that the stress of a new home can cause the lack of apatite and also in some cases a runny nose, but I’m very worried that he might have a respiratory infection. Should I give him a little more time to get use to his new place before I take him to the vet? Can anyone please recommend a good veterinarian with a lot of tortoise experience? By the way, I’m located in the San Gabriel Valley and I’m willing to drive far out of my area to get the best possible treatment for this little guy.

Thanks in advance for all the help and advice.
 

wellington

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Hello and Welcome:). Up his temps by five degrees and keep him warm. See if that helps in a day or two. But if things start to get worse at all, I would take him in. You can look on the forum for a vet in your area. Look here http://www.tortoiseforum.org/forum-126.html
Good luck, hope all turns out okay. Btw, they do need some time to get accustomed to their new surroundings.
 

AnnV

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Welcome. I hope your new tort feels better soon.

Ann from CT
 

Yvonne G

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Hi, and welcome to the Forum!

Stress sometimes causes a runny nose. And 'yanking' a tortoise out of his territory and 'plunking' him down in a new territory is very stressful to a territorial animal such as a tortoise. The runny nose usually goes away by itself once the animal becomes used to his new digs.

BUT...if the runny nose thickens or turns colored, its time to take him to the vet.

Try to find out what the previous owner was feeding the tortoise, and duplicate that diet until he feels more at home.
 

sibi

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I wouldn't wait. Torts usually develop RI for a while before even showing signs that they are sick. That means that by the time they start showing symptoms, they can get pretty sick fast. They can begin to dehydrate, and stop eating or drinking. Now's the time to start looking for a good vet and make an appointment. A RI can turn into pneumonia rather quickly and that would be very dangerous for the tort.

In the meantime, keep him warm and don't put him outside on a hot sunny day. He can overheat very quickly especially being sick. The vet will more likely prescribe antibiotics. Always check with us here with the name of the meds, method of administering the meds and where on the torts body. Keep us posted.

As an added note, Yvonne mentioned that torts can have a runny nose when stressed especially in a new environment. She is absolutely right; however, checking the mucus for a yellowish color is a sure sign of a RI. Also, if the tort coughs, that's not stress; it's a cold. If he opens his mouth as if gasping for air, it's probably from a RI.
 

Chon

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Hi Everyone,

I’ve been researching local vets from the forum list of recommend vets, but I’m getting a little overwhelmed on trying to figure out which vet is the best for treating tortoises. If anyone has any personal experience with vets in the LA County or vets in other nearby areas, please let me know.

Quick update:

Yesterday evening I was able to get him to eat the veggies I listed above by chopping them up into small pieces and mixing them with the Mazuri food, his favorite (my coworker said he loves eating the Mazuri food). He still didn’t eat as much as I would like him to, but he seems to have eaten more than the previous day. His nose is still wet, but the mucus still looks thin and clear. He also doesn’t seem too interested in rooming the backyard like he did when I first got him. After he finished eating he went straight back to his hiding spot, a shaded corner in the yard under my grape plant where he dug himself a little ditch to hide in and sleep for the night.

I started letting him sleep outside (my coworker kept him outside) in order to not stress him out more than he already is by handling him more than I have to. The nighttime temperature in my area has been pretty warm lately, so I think he should be ok outside for now.

Also I haven't seen him go to the restroom since I got him nor have I been able to find any evidence in my yard. I have a lot of plants and bushes on one side of the yard where he might have gone which would be difficult for me to check if he did. Should I be worried?

Thanks again everyone for the help and advice.
 

Chon

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Hi Everyone,

I ended up taking him to the vet this past Monday and got some good news and bad news. The good news is the vet said the nasal discharge is minor and prescribed him some Gentamicin Ophthalmic drops for his nose. The bad news is that vet believes that he most likely has a bladder stone. During his physical exam the vet felt something hard in is abdomen and had him x-rayed. The x-ray revealed something that looked to be a bladder stone. Since the vet thinks that he looks healthy otherwise, he recommended for me to bring him back next spring after hibernation to do some further investigation and to discuss my options regarding getting the stone removed.

Needless to say I’m a little heart broken. I can’t imagine the pain this little guy has been enduring and will have to endure to have the stone removed.

Any advice, especially from anyone with personal experience with this, is greatly appreciated.

Thanks again for all the help and advice.

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wellington

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Sorry to here that. I have no experience with stones or your species. However, I wouldn't think it would be a good thing to brumate/hibernate him with a stone? See what others with more experience say.
 

luvpetz27

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Welcome!!
So sorry to hear your little guy has a stone.
Good luck!!!
 

Kirin

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At the La Habra turtle and tortoise show, there was a tortoise that had a stone. The owner said that the vet said the same thing about letting the tortoise hibernate first and then remove the stone. Sorry to here about your guy. Hope everything goes well.
 

Chon

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Hi Everyone,

My tortoise recently passed some white stones with his pee. The stones were hard, but could be crushed with a little force.

Anyone know if it is possible for the big bladder stone shown in his x-ray to breakdown into smaller pieces? Could he pass the entire bladder stone on his own if it did?

Thanks again for all the help and advice.

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Yvonne G

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These are hard urates. If this is what the vet thinks he sees on the X-ray, then your little guy needs to be hydrated badly. Urates are a normal process/function in the urinary tract of some species of tortoise. When the tortoise is well-hydrated the urates come out looking from creamy to cottage cheese. If they come out like rocks, the poor tortoise is very dehydrated. I don't think soaking alone would be helpful right now. I'm thinking more along the lines of sub Q injections of fluids.

A note to everyone reading this who doesn't have a lot of tortoise/turtle experience. Never hibernate a new-to-you turtle or tortoise. Keep the animal up and warm and eating the first winter with you. This way you get to know the animal and to recognise if he is healthy.

And with regards to hibernation and stones...I had a beautiful male Texas tortoise that was dead at the end of the hibernation period. When I cut him open, I found a BIG stone.
 

Chon

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Thank you for the advice Yvonne.

I will go ahead and call the vet tomorrow morning to ask about the sub Q injections of fluids for hydration and about the possible complications of hybernation of a recently rehomed pet with a bladder stone.

I've been soaking him once a day for about 20-30 minute for the past couple of days. He does like to drink while he soaks, he dunks his head under water. I also have a water dish out in the yard for him to drink out of on his own. I've only seen him use it once since I got him.

I've attached a couple of upclose pictures of his face. I read that sucken eyes can also be an indication of dehydration, but I'm not experienced enough to tell if his eyes look sucken in.

Let me know what you guys think.

Thanks again for all the help and advice.

ImageUploadedByTortForum1379279480.543721.jpg

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ImageUploadedByTortForum1379279752.766439.jpg
 
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BeeBee*BeeLeaves

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Hydrate, don't hibernate.
I would do daily soaks. With bird vitamins, or in Pedialyte (both these tips, I read here on TFO, from experts like Yvonne). My grandpa would soak his tortoises in parsley tea. Something about parsley helping pull things out and supporting kidney function. He also used corn silk tea. Old farmer things, I guess.
The more that comes out, the better. I think it's great that he passed some small urates. Good start. Woo hoo. Your care may be changing things. Amazing what a little bit of good care can do. And you came to the right place for support. TFO rocks.
What a beautiful desert tortoise. How old is it did your friend happen to say?
Also, the vet ,was he or she a tortoise (reptile) specialist? Just wondering. There are not too many. Two in the area that I know of: Dr. Chang in Huntington Beach at Seagate Veterinary Hospital (dot com) and Dr. Greek in Yorba Linda at gavh dot net.
Don't stress. Tortoises do take time to acclimate, to be sure of things, to feel at home. They are, in my opinion, very sensitive to the uncertainty of it all. Start a routine with the warm soaks in the morning. Ahhhhh,spa! Hopefully, your tortoise will relieve himself and as days go by will feel more safe and will start to eat heartily. For now, whatever it will eat is good. Like Yvonne suggested, find out what they gave this little one at the former home. Some people do not know and give them just one thing and then the tortoise does not know other than the one thing. It's a challenge but give it time. Glad he came to a caring home. : )
 

Chon

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Thank you for the advice and tips BeeBee*BeeLeaves.

My coworker said he's about 7 years old. The vet he's been seeing is Dr. Greek from Yorba Linda.

I have noticed he's been getting more comfortable with his new surroundings. He roams the yard more and like to test the parameter barriers. He's also been eating more than when I first got him. I've been mixing his veggies with Mazuri food, his favorite and his main source of food according to my coworker.

Oh he also pushed out some more hard urates today after I finished soaking him. I guess it's a good sign the soaks are helping him cleanse out his system.

Thanks again for all the help and advice.

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BeeBee*BeeLeaves

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Keep us posted on his progress. Yay on more urates being pooped OUT! Oh.mi.gosh that's a lot of them too, in that picture. I sure hope his new hydration routine will help flush them all out and he will not need anything invasive to get them. Invasive is so, well, invasive.

Oh great. Dr. Greek is a good doc to go to. No hibernation/brumation will probably be the best thing this year, as suggested by Yvonne, who is expert expert. I am so glad you adopted this little one. May have even been a nick of time thing. His journey was with you. : )
 

AnnV

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Wow That is amazing all the hard urates you helped him pass. Hurray for you!
I am thinking he may have not been long for the world without your help!

Ann from CT
 

WillTort2

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When looking at your tort's x-ray, I'm seeing a large circular blob that could be a stone. But it does not have as much contrast as x-rays I have previously seen with stones. In other x-rays, the stone has appeared to be similar to the spine in terms of contrast with the rest of the body.

I would ask others with more experience reading tort x-rays for interpretation on this.

This x-ray, combined with the size and firmness of the urates being passed, could suggest that the stone is not as solid as some stones and may be passing as urates due to your continued rehydration.

So, keep up the good work, soak long and often, keeping the water luke warm.

PS: You may also want to inquire which weeds and vegetables have the best calcium ratio for your species of tort.
 

Chon

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He left me some more presents in the yard yesterday, hard urates. See picture below.

I'm starting to suspect the stone shown in his x-ray isn't a normal hard bladder stone as WillTort2 suggested. Based on the amount of hard urates he's pushed out and the size of the stone shown in the x-ray it seems that the mass is most likely breaking up and will be passed, at least I'm hoping it will be.

By the way I think this little guy must have been a water turtle in another life, he loves soaking. I usually let him soak for as long as he wants to stay in his tub, normally 20-30 minutes, but yesterday he didn't want to get out. He stayed in the tub so long that he started dozing off. I even had to add hot water to his tub a few times just to keep the water warm.

Thanks again for all the help and advice.

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