New Cherry Head Owner, meet Rio

Sonnenblume

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Hello,
we just got a cherry head named Rio last week. This is our first tortoise, so still working on everything.
Based on the thread that I just read about Large Marge and comparing her age and weight, I figured that doesn't sound right at all, so I thought i post to get some ideas.

Rio is 5 years old and weighed in just now at a 208g.
He came to us in the below open vivarium, the one without any plants, (with a 120V basking light, 60w CHE).

After reading around the forum pretty much since we got him, I changed the following:
- put tinfoil on the top to completely cover it
- took out the basking light and put in a LED for just light
- ordered a 100W CHE to switch out the old one to get more warmth in there
- new water dish (he doesnt really use it it seems, other one was taking up too much room)
- new hide out of tupperware instead of amazon box
- added some live plants and fake plants to get shade (want to eventually plant some stuff in there too)
- added more thermometers in several areas
- got a temp gun
- been soaking him daily for 20min in warm water
- took him out 3 times into the sun for around 30min

warm area is around 84F, Cooler spot around78F, humidity around 80
I dont think its warm enough for him, thats where the new CHE comes in (will go on an on/off thermometer)

Food: spring mix, spinach, dandelions from yard, yellow squash, zucchini

My main question now is
a) is he a cherry head? (from what I can tell it might be true)
b) 5 years? (the old owner gave us a specific date on when they received him which was indeed 5 years ago
c) is he underweight and way too small for that age?

Thank you already!
 

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Toddrickfl1

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He/she does look like a cherryhead. Unfortunately it definitely has had some bad care. This Tort appears to have MBD to me. I seriously doubt it's 5 years old, but I guess it's possible. All you can do is provide adequate care from this point forward and sounds like you're on the right track.
 

zovick

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Hello,
we just got a cherry head named Rio last week. This is our first tortoise, so still working on everything.
Based on the thread that I just read about Large Marge and comparing her age and weight, I figured that doesn't sound right at all, so I thought i post to get some ideas.

Rio is 5 years old and weighed in just now at a 208g.
He came to us in the below open vivarium, the one without any plants, (with a 120V basking light, 60w CHE).

After reading around the forum pretty much since we got him, I changed the following:
- put tinfoil on the top to completely cover it
- took out the basking light and put in a LED for just light
- ordered a 100W CHE to switch out the old one to get more warmth in there
- new water dish (he doesnt really use it it seems, other one was taking up too much room)
- new hide out of tupperware instead of amazon box
- added some live plants and fake plants to get shade (want to eventually plant some stuff in there too)
- added more thermometers in several areas
- got a temp gun
- been soaking him daily for 20min in warm water
- took him out 3 times into the sun for around 30min

warm area is around 84F, Cooler spot around78F, humidity around 80
I dont think its warm enough for him, thats where the new CHE comes in (will go on an on/off thermometer)

Food: spring mix, spinach, dandelions from yard, yellow squash, zucchini

My main question now is
a) is he a cherry head? (from what I can tell it might be true)
b) 5 years? (the old owner gave us a specific date on when they received him which was indeed 5 years ago
c) is he underweight and way too small for that age?

Thank you already!
The tortoise is very small and very light for 5 years old. Also it has signs of MBD (metabolic bone disease) which is a bad problem and should be addressed so you can take steps to correct it before it becomes even worse.
 

Sonnenblume

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South Carolina
Urgh, thank you both! That is not so great news at all.
What are the signs to you that he might have this? I was reading about it as well but nothing jumped out at me that it might be the case for him (but well, what do I know at 1 week in :)..)

He is going to the vet on Saturday (exotic one with tortoise experience) for a check up as well.
 

Toddrickfl1

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Urgh, thank you both! That is not so great news at all.
What are the signs to you that he might have this? I was reading about it as well but nothing jumped out at me that it might be the case for him (but well, what do I know at 1 week in :)..)

He is going to the vet on Saturday (exotic one with tortoise experience) for a check up as well.
The way his growth is a giveaway. See how he is rather flat, instead of arched, and the way the shell appears to be sagging? Those are signs of MBD.
 

zovick

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The way his growth is a giveaway. See how he is rather flat, instead of arched, and the way the shell appears to be sagging? Those are signs of MBD.
@Toddrickfl1 Could you post a picture of your redfoot to show what the shell of a redfoot without MBD should look like?
 

Sonnenblume

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Got it. Thank you! Will read up on MBD now and see what we can already do to get him better.
Thank you for posting Large Marge´s updates!! Otherwise, it probably would have taken me way longer to realize that he is way behind in the growth department.
 

Toddrickfl1

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Got it. Thank you! Will read up on MBD now and see what we can already do to get him better.
Thank you for posting Large Marge´s updates!! Otherwise, it probably would have taken me way longer to realize that he is way behind in the growth department.
Oh haha, glad my thread could help!
 

ZEROPILOT

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The way his growth is a giveaway. See how he is rather flat, instead of arched, and the way the shell appears to be sagging? Those are signs of MBD.
Weakness in the legs and not walking fully off of the ground are also signs.
The cause is insufficient UVB.
There is no cure for the damage. But it can be stopped by providing either a T5 5.0 uvb strip florescent lamp (no spiral/coiled cfl or mvb) or by some time every week in the sunlight as well as calcium dusting without D3 added to the food every day. And WITH D3 every 4th or 5th day for the time being.
It's very painful and debilitating to the animal.
Your diet is also wrong in that half of it should be in the form of fruit.
Redfoot can process sugars that most other species can not.
 

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Sonnenblume

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Weakness in the legs and not walking fully off of the ground are also signs.
The cause is insufficient UVB.
There is no cure for the damage. But it can be stopped by providing either a T5 5.0 uvb strip florescent lamp (no spiral/coiled cfl or mvb) or by some time every week in the sunlight as well as calcium dusting without D3 added to the food every day. And WITH D3 every 4th or 5th day for the time being.
It's very painful and debilitating to the animal.
Your diet is also wrong in that half of it should be in the form of fruit.
Redfoot can process sugars that most other species can not.
Thank you for the info. He has been with us not even 2 weeks yet and his entire set up has already been changed from what he was used to at his old home (humidity, temperature, light, etc)

He has been outside for at least 20min every day now and I am letting him walk around in the yard so he can exercise and get his legs stronger (under supervision).
Does it matter if it is 3x20min outside time instead of 1x60min? (of course the longer the better but during the week with the schedule its a little difficult, plus rain...=

I was hesitant about the fruit, so thank you for that information, I will give him some blueberry right away.
A cuttlebone for the calcium should be arriving any minute now as well.

Will the shell eventually be a "normal" shell and not soft anymore?
 

ZEROPILOT

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Thank you for the info. He has been with us not even 2 weeks yet and his entire set up has already been changed from what he was used to at his old home (humidity, temperature, light, etc)

He has been outside for at least 20min every day now and I am letting him walk around in the yard so he can exercise and get his legs stronger (under supervision).
Does it matter if it is 3x20min outside time instead of 1x60min? (of course the longer the better but during the week with the schedule its a little difficult, plus rain...=

I was hesitant about the fruit, so thank you for that information, I will give him some blueberry right away.
A cuttlebone for the calcium should be arriving any minute now as well.

Will the shell eventually be a "normal" shell and not soft anymore?
That amount of sunlight is adequate.
And yes. The shell and the bones will harden.
Extra care must be made while handling him and the enclosure should be nearly bare right now to lessen the chances of bones breaking.
I'd use an actual Calcium powder.
Cuttlebone is good as a maintenance source. But right now, you need a higher amount of calcium right away. Fruit with a little calcium powder on it works good. Fruit can hide the taste better.
The sunlight will help metabolize the D3 from the calcium.
Also, be sure not to let the tort overheat in the sun.
There's a fine line between useful sunlight and stressful sunlight to a shade loving and heat shunning Redfoot. Make sure shade is available 24/7.
 

Sonnenblume

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Rio went to the vet today. She said he is very sick and she is worried...as mentioned above, MBD.
He received a calcium injection as well as Vitamin D. I read somewhere not to get the injections but I figured in his case, he would probably benefit from it.
She also said, this was years in the making and will not be fixed over night, and also said it might be too late even if we now going forward do everything correctly.
We will see.
Next step is to get a UVB light for his cage. Until then he stays outside for as long as possible during the day.
Mazuri arrived and he chomped that down quick and went to bed for now..
Tomorrow, the calcium supplement should get here as well.
Vet said for now, thats more or less all I can do. (Diet, light, temp/humidity/ soaking)
We shall see.
 

TaylorTortoise

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Weakness in the legs and not walking fully off of the ground are also signs.
The cause is insufficient UVB.
There is no cure for the damage. But it can be stopped by providing either a T5 5.0 uvb strip florescent lamp (no spiral/coiled cfl or mvb) or by some time every week in the sunlight as well as calcium dusting without D3 added to the food every day. And WITH D3 every 4th or 5th day for the time being.
It's very painful and debilitating to the animal.
Your diet is also wrong in that half of it should be in the form of fruit.
Redfoot can process sugars that most other species can not.
How long do torts last with MBD?
 

Armadillogroomer

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How long do torts last with MBD?
It varies. Untreated, adults can go years with neglectful care.

Since MBD affects the organs and ability to move around, they could have shorter lifespans or complications even after treatment. A lot of them can still have a long happy life when in the right conditions.

"Live slow, die whenever"
 

ZEROPILOT

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How long do torts last with MBD?
If the animal can no longer walk or get to it's food, it's too late.
The quality of life has to become the main concern.
Like I said. You can stop the damage. But you cant reverse it.
And yes. Vitamin shots are a horrible idea.
Did he/she prescribe Calcium drops?
 

Sonnenblume

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If the animal can no longer walk or get to it's food, it's too late.
The quality of life has to become the main concern.
Like I said. You can stop the damage. But you cant reverse it.
And yes. Vitamin shots are a horrible idea.
Did he/she prescribe Calcium drops?
No prescriped calcium drops. He got 2 injections yesterday:
0.02ml vitamin A/D
0.10ml calcium gluconate 100mg/ml

Today, Flukers Calcium Supplement with D3 will arrive to give to him as well.

Should I ask about calcium drops?
 

zovick

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No prescriped calcium drops. He got 2 injections yesterday:
0.02ml vitamin A/D
0.10ml calcium gluconate 100mg/ml

Today, Flukers Calcium Supplement with D3 will arrive to give to him as well.

Should I ask about calcium drops?
I would not get any more vitamin injections if it were my tortoise.

You don't really need calcium drops if you are getting a powder with D3. I personally recommend Ultrafine Rep-Cal with D3 for a calcium supplement and Herptivite Vitamins as a vitamin supplement. I always sprinkle both of them on all of my tortoises' foods daily. You can buy both of those from LLL Reptile. Here is a link to the correct page on their website:

Good luck with your tortoise! Hopefully you will be able to bring it from its current state of health to a much better one. It may take some time, but you are on the right track now.
 

Sonnenblume

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I would not get any more vitamin injections if it were my tortoise.

You don't really need calcium drops if you are getting a powder with D3. I personally recommend Ultrafine Rep-Cal with D3 for a calcium supplement and Herptivite Vitamins as a vitamin supplement. I always sprinkle both of them on all of my tortoises' foods daily. You can buy both of those from LLL Reptile. Here is a link to the correct page on their website:

Good luck with your tortoise! Hopefully you will be able to bring it from its current state of health to a much better one. It may take some time, but you are on the right track now.
Thank you for the info on the supplement.
No more vitamin injections going forward. In this case, I somehow thought it might be beneficial because of him being so sick?

He just made a croaking noise like a frog several times.. that was interesting to hear :)
 
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