Help: Sick 2" Leopard Tortoise

wtfmorphs

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Jul 5, 2014
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Manchester, NH
Hi all, I am relatively new to tortoises and I am looking for some advice from the more experienced tort keepers out there since I will be adding more. Meet Rapid Dave! He has quickly become our baby, and is currently under the care of my exotics vet (I manage a veterinary practice so he gets good care). I'll provide the history, husbandry, and then current treatment. Any other guidance or ideas is more than welcome!


History: Rapid Dave is a 2" Leopard Tortoise Hatchling. I obtained him in May at a reptile expo we were vending (we have many other reptiles). About 4-5 weeks ago we noticed his eyes weren't opening and his plastron was softened. Our vet presumed a viral (herpes) infection, gave an antibiotic injection, and fluids SQ. Since then, his eyes are opened and much improved, but his shell is still softened (plastron and carapace). He is active and eating.


Husbandry: currently kept in a 28 qt tub indoors with 4-8 hours of outdoor time per day depending on our schedule. He has two hides, one with sphagnum moss and one dry. He also has rocks for clambering and primary substrate is currently cypress mulch with 25% coco fiber for moisture. When indoors, he has a 160 watt Powersun bulb for heat and UVB at about 12 inches above. Hot spot at 95 and cool side around 80. Diet consists primarily of kale, romaine, and lettuce grown in our garden. He refuses to eat Mazuri even sweetened with Apple sauce. We sprinkle calcium powder on top and I have recently start blending a mix of greens, Mazuri, and calcium powder to see if that will help and he has eaten small amounts of it.


Treatment: in addition to the changes in diet, we have also started a course of Ceftadiazime (antibiotic) injections at home every 72 hours and calcium soaks daily. I am also really trying to get him outdoors in the sun as much as possible.


Any other suggestions or ideas is incredibly appreciated. I am working on adding several tortoises to the collection and I want to make sure I am doing everything correctly to make this little guy better. Any new tortoises will be quarantined away from Rapid Dave until he is better.


Thanks in advance,
Josh
 

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dmmj

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I am curious why antibiotics were given? wa it for the herpes? was the herpes diagnosed, through more than just visual means?
A soft shell is usually a calcium/UVB problem. But his diet sounds good, so I am a little perplexed.
 

wtfmorphs

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Jul 5, 2014
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Manchester, NH
I am curious why antibiotics were given? wa it for the herpes? was the herpes diagnosed, through more than just visual means?
A soft shell is usually a calcium/UVB problem. But his diet sounds good, so I am a little perplexed.

Both the vet and I were perplexed too, and since a primary cause for soft last rom is infection we wanted treat for that. I feel that my husbandry is pretty good, so I am not sure why he would have such a calcium deficiency. We were unable to confirm herpes or other issues since he is only wee lol
 

Yvonne G

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Here on the Forum, the most common cause of soft shell and swollen eyes is not eating, hence not getting the required vitamin A, calcium and vitamin d3.

Switch to calcium-rich greens - collards, kale, turnip greens, arugula, broccoli rabe, mustard greens, okra and opuntia cactus. Sprinkle a pinch of calcium powder over the food two or three times a week. Soak the tortoise for 15 or 20 minutes every day in lukewarm water. But, most importantly of all, make sure he gets either real sunshine or UVB from a good UVB light. In case you don't know (I'm sure you do, but it bears repeating) UVB lights lose their efficiency after a bit. Some last longer some less...from 3 to 6 months. They don't need to actually sit in direct sunlight to gain the advantages of the UVB. It's in the air.

I'm baby-sitting two very young sulcata tortoises for the Animal Control here in my town and the larger of the two had a soft shell. I set them up outside and have been feeding according to the last paragraph here, and in two weeks the shell is hardening up.

Good luck with your baby (have you read the threads at the top of the Leopard tortoise section? We have new and innovative ideas on raising baby sulcatas and leopards, and you have to forget almost everything you've ever learned about their care, and start with a fresh mind).

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