How do I strengthen splayed back legs?

steadytortoise

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992DCB8F-1036-4E14-873A-C8A77CED0C85.jpeg On Christmas Eve I adopted a 20 year old Leopard Tortoise...Julia ❤. She was left to roam the house with her previous owners without any heat source or UVB. Luckily they left her to roam in the backyard in the summer. I have 20 years experience with smaller tortoises, however Julia is my first large tortoise. I have noticed she does not walk properly on her hind legs and her foot pads and nail growth show that she has been doing this a long time. How do I help her strengthen her back legs and have proper posture? Thanks for you input!

992DCB8F-1036-4E14-873A-C8A77CED0C85.jpeg
 

Tom

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First get her off the floor and onto some substrate with some traction.

Next, correct temps will be essential. 80 degree ambient with a basking area near 100. Be careful with overhead bulb on a tortoise this size. Its very easy to slow-burn the top of the carapace. You might be better off making a cubby hole with a Kane mat, an over head radiant heat panel, and a UV tube to make it look bright, warm and sunny.

Finally, feed the correct foods. They should never eat fruit. The main diet should be weeds and succulents. Flowers and leaves of the correct types can make up a smaller portion. Some leopards also like grass, so you can try that. If you must use grocery store foods, favor endive and escarole, but mix in some others for variety. Use ZooMed grassland or forest tortoise food to amend the grocery store greens and add variety and fiber. Mazuri is a good supplemental food too.
 

maggie3fan

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I have some experience with splay-legged fledgling birds, but the tort is 20 yrs old, I don't think any PT is going to change anything...but the right habitat (not the floor) with calcium and all the humidity and heating requirements might help to strengthen the legs. You simply cannot keep a tortoise of any size in a house on the floor.
 

Ben02

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Creating an environment with different textures such as orchid bark or coco coir. You could add some harder surfaces like a slate feeding dish, small rocks and twigs to climb over etc...
 

steadytortoise

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First get her off the floor and onto some substrate with some traction.

Next, correct temps will be essential. 80 degree ambient with a basking area near 100. Be careful with overhead bulb on a tortoise this size. Its very easy to slow-burn the top of the carapace. You might be better off making a cubby hole with a Kane mat, an over head radiant heat panel, and a UV tube to make it look bright, warm and sunny.

Finally, feed the correct foods. They should never eat fruit. The main diet should be weeds and succulents. Flowers and leaves of the correct types can make up a smaller portion. Some leopards also like grass, so you can try that. If you must use grocery store foods, favor endive and escarole, but mix in some others for variety. Use ZooMed grassland or forest tortoise food to amend the grocery store greens and add variety and fiber. Mazuri is a good supplemental food too.
Thank you very much for your guidance. I am working on the proper set up and slowly trying to change her diet. She was fed spring mix from the grocery store, strawberries and green beans. I think her time outside in the summer is what was really beneficial. I like your idea of a cubby that is attractive to her and provides what she needs. Thanks again.
 

steadytortoise

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Creating an environment with different textures such as orchid bark or coco coir. You could add some harder surfaces like a slate feeding dish, small rocks and twigs to climb over etc...
Creating an environment with different textures such as orchid bark or coco coir. You could add some harder surfaces like a slate feeding dish, small rocks and twigs to climb over etc...
I think you are right...some different terrain that challenges her would be a good idea. Thanks.
 

steadytortoise

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I have some experience with splay-legged fledgling birds, but the tort is 20 yrs old, I don't think any PT is going to change anything...but the right habitat (not the floor) with calcium and all the humidity and heating requirements might help to strengthen the legs. You simply cannot keep a tortoise of any size in a house on the floor.
I agree. Hopefully with some different terrain to challenge her, her legs will get stronger. I’m excited to provide her with what she needs and watch her progress. Thanks.
 

Yvonne G

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If you want to put in the time, you can give her water therapy. Clean out your bath tub and rinse it well. Then add warm water deep enough so the tortoise can't touch the bottom. Allow her to paddle in the water for 15 minutes a day, working up to a half hour a day.
 

steadytortoise

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If you want to put in the time, you can give her water therapy. Clean out your bath tub and rinse it well. Then add warm water deep enough so the tortoise can't touch the bottom. Allow her to paddle in the water for 15 minutes a day, working up to a half hour a day.
Oh that’s a great idea! They do water therapy with horses where I am from. And it sounds like fun too! I will definitely try it. Thanks!
 

DesertGirl

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If you want to put in the time, you can give her water therapy. Clean out your bath tub and rinse it well. Then add warm water deep enough so the tortoise can't touch the bottom. Allow her to paddle in the water for 15 minutes a day, working up to a half hour a day.
My desert tort loves her bath time. She paddles around like a tiny hippo. So cute.
 

Lolovespark

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View attachment 284283 On Christmas Eve I adopted a 20 year old Leopard Tortoise...Julia ❤. She was left to roam the house with her previous owners without any heat source or UVB. Luckily they left her to roam in the backyard in the summer. I have 20 years experience with smaller tortoises, however Julia is my first large tortoise. I have noticed she does not walk properly on her hind legs and her foot pads and nail growth show that she has been doing this a long time. How do I help her strengthen her back legs and have proper posture? Thanks for you input!
im new to this forum so I don’t know anything but omg she’s gorgeous!! Good luck!!

View attachment 284283
 
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steadytortoise

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im new to this forum so I don’t know anything but omg she’s gorgeous!! Good luck!!

View attachment 284283
Thanks! She really is beautiful. Her is another picture for you! 5F49AFF2-680F-4A1C-BE43-DBF65B42AED3.jpeg
My desert tort loves her bath time. She paddles around like a tiny hippo. So cute.
Ok...great! So I should definitely make the water deeper than her shell and just help her to swim? I have been hesitant to make the water too deep. Any advice is appreciated! Thank you
 

Yvonne G

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The object of water therapy is for the tortoise to not be able to touch the bottom. You want her legs to be able to paddle with only water resistance.
 

DesertGirl

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Thanks! She really is beautiful. Her is another picture for you! View attachment 284393

Ok...great! So I should definitely make the water deeper than her shell and just help her to swim? I have been hesitant to make the water too deep. Any advice is appreciated! Thank you
Sit by the tub and watch her. You’ll figure out what your little girl likes. Remember they drink through their nose, so don’t freak if she submerges. Watch her neck expand and contract. You can see her drinking. Just try different things. If you’re observant, she will display her approval or disapproval! We were lucky. Ours always liked the water. We have a tortoise pool in the backyard. She likes to slide down the rocks into a big splash.
 

steadytortoise

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Got it! Thanks for the encouragement. Having had more time for observations, her back legs aren’t as bad as I first thought. She is an amazing girl ❤
 

bluewolf

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Thanks for this.If the deep end of the pool is like this Flash tries to swim or paddle. I thought I was not supposed to let him do this all this time!!
 

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