New and needing help with my Greek tortoise please!

Taffi

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Hi! I just got my first tortoise (Greek) and I'm a little worried. It's two years old, captive-bred, certificate says country of origin Turkey. Got him two days ago. He hasn't eaten (tried mixture of weeds/wild flowers and a carrot) or even moved much (had two little goes, and gone maybe 10cm from where he was placed). Seems to be very sleepy (eyes closed for most of the time). I'm aware that he is still very young and a change in environment must be very stressful for him and that's the result (?). What's the best thing to do? How long can he go without food?
The enclosure (tortoise table) is properly arranged and heated, lights, tiny water bowl etc. There is a house/hide out, but he hasn't make use of it yet.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Taffi, and welcome to the Forum!

We have a nice care sheet at the top of the Greek section. Take a look at that and make adjustments to your care accordingly.

In the meantime, give your little guy a warm soak for about 15 minutes every day. Try feeding him Rockett or Florette Crispy (bagged salads containing a variety of different greens).

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tglazie

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Yvonne is right. Daily soaks are the key. Soak him about an hour after the lights come on/sun comes up. Luke warm soaks get the digestive system moving, as torts absorb water into their cloacas as well as their mouths. Keep in mind that the first few days tend to be very stressful in a new environment, and most tortoises tend to be rather withdrawn. Also, consult Chris' care sheet. He's been doing this for a while and knows his stuff. Consult the various posts on the forum. Even those of us with decades of experience need guidance and new ideas, and this forum is the best place to acquire them.

T.G.
 

Yellow Turtle01

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Soaking also makes them want to eat. Never fails! Good luck with a your new tort!
 

Taffi

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Hi again - unfortunately nothing seems to work :( Another two days and he still hasn't eat. I've gave him daily 60min soak (after being placed there still very little movement and eventually fallen asleep). I make sure the temp. is high enough etc. He doesn't want to stay under the lamp though and the only thing that has changed is that he started to make use of the house/hide-out and goes back there if placed anywhere else. I'm wondering how long can he go without food and when should I start really worrying?
 

Yvonne G

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It sounds like your baby might be sick.

Go back and re-read the care sheet and make any adjustments to your habitat as required.

What kind of light are you using?
 

Taffi

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Hi Yvonne and thanks for the reply. I've got two separate lamps - UVB and a basking lamp. I've got it together with the table I bought. He only has been in it since Saturday. I've read the care sheet and honestly I feel like I'm doing everything right... Only the terrain needs change, as I have used grass pellets - sand/soil mixture seems to be a better solution, but I don't suppose this would be a reason for his behaviour :(
 

tglazie

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Yeah, he's probably sick. If you could post a picture, we would be better able to diagnose his issues. I would advise getting him to a vet, a competent vet who has worked with tortoises (there is no shortage of vets who don't know what they're doing but will proceed anyway; I've learned this the hard way; you don't have to). Did you change the substrate to the soil mixture recently? I know pellets tend to lead to dehydration. Also, having him in a humid hide at night is a good idea. I recently got a hatchling marginated from Chris (different species, but I find the care requirements are rather similar, especially when it comes to hatchlings), and the way I keep her is I have her in an outdoor enlcosure during the day, mostly shaded under a mulberry tree with a shallow plastic pan for water inside and a shelter that I water under every day. When she comes in, I keep her in a rubbermaid shoebox that I fill with slightly damp soil and sphagum moss. I then place this shoebox atop a wire frame over a heated fish tank, then place a larger plastic container over the shoebox. Air still circulates beneath the shoebox, but humidity builds up to eighty percent inside this "bubble." The moss, soil mixture is great, given that she can dig down into it and preserve moisture this way. Also, I bathe her twice a day, once for fifteen to twenty minutes before I put her out, and once for twenty minutes when she comes in to rest in her box. She eats like a pig and is always exploring in the four by six space I've given her.

With the open environment indoors, you must remember that it is dry. My outdoor enclosures generally have a high humidity given all the trees and low lying plants throughout the enclosures and garden (plants emit a great deal of water vapor as well as oxygen, and evaporative ground water from regular irrigation contributes significantly to humidity as well, especially if one's yard is enclosed by a privacy fence lined with trees to stop the wind from drying everything out; I swear, my backyard greens up even with limited irrigation, but my front yard dries out faster than a fish on a Phoenix sidewalk; unhindered dry winds make a huge difference). Do you have a digital thermometer/hygrometer? I've found that indoors, open environments almost never work, especially for hatchlings, and for adults, they're far from ideal. In the past, before I learned about closed chambers from Tom and other knowledgeable enthusiasts on this forum, I used to keep all tortoises in open top enclosures with no digable substrate, and during the winter, when the tortoises were inside, I always had dehydration problems. Animals voiding uric acid, their eyes maintaining that sunken appearance. When I overhauled my winter quarters from open topped tubs to enclosed wooden enclosures with side panels and humid hides, these problems stopped. I don't know what the humidity is like in your area, but that is probably a big part of your little guy's problem. Despite this, however, see a vet. His refusal to feed may be linked to some other problem, something potentially life threatening.

T.G.
 

tglazie

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Another thing, in your initial post, you said that your tort is 2 years old, captive bred, and that the certificate said he was from Turkey. Where did you acquire this tortoise, if you don't mind my asking?

T.G.
 

Taffi

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Thanks for all the info. I've taken her - actually turns out it's a girl - to the vet. University of Edinburgh animal hospital. The best I could find. Vet said she is very very weak and this must have been going on for a long period of time, as weak muscles, low weight etc. She is being kept overnight to get some medication, food, fluids etc. Tomorrow I will get some feedback. I hope she will improve... Vet said that if she starts responding then good, but because she is in a really bad state I must be prepared for the worst too....
I was a private purchase - I bought her from another person (advertised in internet). The guy wasn't obviously honest and sold her knowing she is very unwell - probably couldn't afford vet... I'm not a very well-off person myself, but this is just cruel. I just feel very sorry for her and hope she will improve...
 

tglazie

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Let's hope for the best. Greeks are, in my experience, very tough and adaptable as a species. My oldest tortoise, a Turkish black Greek tortoise named Graecus, came to me in a very sorry state. His previous owner had kept him with three other wild caught males, and they rammed his shell until the rear marginal scutes had broken away, leaving him with a nasty case of shell rot. What's more, he was suffering from a nasty respiratory illness, probably brought on by the compromised immunity and the stress of getting daily beatings from his cage mates. He still has the scars from wounds he sustained twenty years ago. I'm not sure of his age, as he was a wild caught adult when I bought him from the idiot who held him previously, but I figure he's got to be thirty or forty at least. Despite this, he is one of the most energetic and powerful little tortoises I've ever had. He is incredibly aggressive in everything he does, will ram anything that even looks remotely like a tortoise, and maintains a leg strength that can match that of any sulcata. I keep him in an enclosure that I just enlarged to eight feet wide, twenty feet long, and believe you me, he makes use of every square inch. Greeks have always held a special place for me, and Graecus is the big reason for this.

It is unfortunate, but people selling sick tortoises is not unheard of, nor is it very unusual, as many of the reposted Craigslist ads on our reposted forum can attest. Here in the U.S., we have a series of corporate pet shops that, very unfortunately, make an enormous profit off the sale of wild caught Russian and Hermanns tortoises, cared for in quarters that I would declare unfit for the smallest of geckos, let alone a group of tortoises. I've adopted all of my Hermanns so far through the local herp society (though I am looking to add females to my group, something you don't usually find among the adoptees in my area), from individuals who unknowingly purchased their tortoises from these stores, following the lousy advice of their untrained staff, and every one of the animals took over a year to fully recover, through treatment for various parasites to atrophied muscles resulting from long periods of inactivity and less than adequate diets. I can only imagine how many are sold to owners who don't seek out the herp society, allowing their charges to perish in the same horrid conditions in which they found themselves following capture.

If the worst case scenario occurs and you lose your girl, don't lose heart. Do more research, try again. Those of us who have kept tortoises over the decades will tell you that loss, however unfortunate, can happen. I've had so many horrible things happen to mine over the years. I lost my lone sulcata Jerry to a wasting disease of the spine that my vet, despite his best efforts, was unable to reverse. And I raised that guy into a ten year old, seventy pound young adult from a ping pong ball sized hatchling. I lost a box turtle that managed to escape into the neighbors yard only to be mauled to death by the neighbor's dog. Bad things can happen, but I firmly believe that these animals, which are disappearing from habitats across the earth, must be preserved for future generations, and the more people who take part in their captive care, the better their chances of survival in the future, the more support people will offer toward the preservation of the few wild habitats they have left.

T.G.
 

caligull

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Taffi,
I hope that today brings good news on your little tortoise. Torts are hardly. Hopefully the fluids helped and she she on her way to recovery.
I received a Greek Tortoise that had been kept in a storage unit for months. She was not doing very well when I got her; Didn't want to eat or really even move. I kept her warm and fed her lots of cooked sweet potato (loaded with vitamin A) by hand. Slowly but surely, she got better.
Wishing you well. :)
 

Taffi

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Thank you so much for all the warm words. Unfortunately the feedback I got this morning isn't good. She hasn't improved and vet gives her 20% chances of survival. We've agreed to keep her in hospital one more day - tomorrow we have to decide between euthanasia and me taking her home and trying to fight (medication+syringe feeding+soaks), but the vet was quite clear that there is not much point in that, very small chances and she is so weak.... I don't know what's the best thing to do - I feel like to keep trying, but I also don't want to her to suffer...
 

Taffi

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Sadly she got worse, wasn't responding to anything, even bath, so decided to follow vet's advice and put her to sleep. Not the best experience to start my adventure with tortoises, but I guess I was just unlucky. At least I know I have taken her away from someone who would keep her in this suffering. I hope I will be more fortunate with my next tortoise.
 

Yvonne G

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I'm so sorry this has happened. It's never easy to make the euthanasia decision, but I think you've made the correct choice.
 

Shakudo

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So very sorry for you. I hope your next tortoise adventure goes better ! Don't give up!

Take care,

Joey
 
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