New Indian Star Hatchling Questions

Lrodmyre

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Hi All,

I have rescued turtles for many years and have acquired a hatchling Indian Star tortoise. Have had it a couple of months now. My question/concern is its weight. When I received it, it weighed 29.0 grams. I weigh it every Wed. and its weight fluctuates from 29.5 to 34.5 grams. Up and down.

I made it a vivarium - 6'x3'.
Substrate is 4" of organic garden soil, a little sand, cypress much, all mixed. Topped with reptibark so I can see the poo.
Temp is kept at 87 degrees during the day, 79-80 at night. 80% humidity.
I have an RBI heat panel on the ceiling. 4' zoo med t5 ho strip uvb. Basking Mercury Vapor uvb at 100 degrees.

My husband is the administrator of an organic warehouse so he gets me lots of organic dandelions, tortoise approved salad greens, Mazuri once to twice a week, mixed with ground up hays. I grow tortoise grazing seeds from Carolina Seed supply and the Arizona tortoise compound, white and red clover, millet, oat grass, etc. I continually keep a 3" by 5" seed starter container with the tortoise grazing seeds grown in there and she eats them besides her dish of food.

My granddaughter name it Bella, so for sake of what it is, we call it a "she".
I am just concerned about the weight thing. She can go from 34.5 grams down to 30 grams up to 32 grams down to 30 grams again. She eats, poops, walks around, basks under the basking light, sleeps in her little house in the afternoon, comes out, eats again. Sleeps in her house at night, comes out in the morning, warms up under the basking light, then eats. I soak her everyday for at least 30 minutes in 85 degree water. Change it to stay warm.

I took her to my reptile vet when I first received her, and she checked out fine. They didn't do a fecal check. I'm wondering if I should have that done just to be on the safe side? I just think after a couple of months she should be at a consistently higher weight.

I apologize for the length. Just trying to give you a clear picture. I am attaching a picture of the vivarium.

Thanks for your help! Glad you are here!
 

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SweetGreekTorts

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Sometimes if they have worms/parasites, that can prevent them from putting weight on. A fecal test wouldn't hurt.
 

G-stars

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I have good news and potentially bad news, the good news is your care is spot and you can do no more for this little one. He/she seems to be getting everything it needs to be thriving.

Since you have only had him for 2 months I wouldn’t be that concerned about it but it is something to pay attention to. Although there isn’t much more you can do.

Now on to the potentially bad news, and I hope I am wrong about this. The breeder of this little one probably started him of dry, when this happens some babies seem to fail to thrive. This has happened to me before, it is upsetting and difficult to see an otherwise healthy looking animal; eat, poop, and behave normally then eventually die. They usually eat just like a normal baby should, but don’t grow or gain weight. It almost seems like their body can’t take in the nutrients, eventually their shells start getting weak and they die.
 

G-stars

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I want to make it clear that this by no means is a death sentence. I’ve had hatchlings do this for months and then eventually start growing and thrive from that point on. Keep doing what your doing.
 

Lrodmyre

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Thanks for your replies so far. I am going to get a fecal check.

G-stars - when you say they start them out dry, do you mean they didn't have them in a humid condition?
 

G-stars

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Thanks for your replies so far. I am going to get a fecal check.

G-stars - when you say they start them out dry, do you mean they didn't have them in a humid condition?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but most star tortoises are very pyramided. This comes from keeping them too dry; not enough soaks if any, wrong substrate, low humidity, etc. As such some breeders still start of their hatchlings the same way. Something else that some breeders still do is they keep them in the incubation substrate as they emerge from the egg. When this happens the hatchling will eat the perlite or vermiculite which can prevent the hatchling from getting nutrients to their body.
 

Lrodmyre

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Oh, I see. So kind of like a blockage. Well, I've rescued many, many sick turtles, and I haven't lost one yet. I really don't want this beautiful thing to be my first.

I think I'm going to take Bella back to the vet and tell her what I have learned, get a fecal check, and see of there is anything else I can do. I would be really happy if she would even hold on to a gram more consistently. I started changing her food out twice a day thinking maybe she doesn't like it after its been in there for a while, but I sit and watch her eat. She does a pretty good job.
 

G-stars

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Oh, I see. So kind of like a blockage. Well, I've rescued many, many sick turtles, and I haven't lost one yet. I really don't want this beautiful thing to be my first.

I think I'm going to take Bella back to the vet and tell her what I have learned, get a fecal check, and see of there is anything else I can do. I would be really happy if she would even hold on to a gram more consistently. I started changing her food out twice a day thinking maybe she doesn't like it after its been in there for a while, but I sit and watch her eat. She does a pretty good job.

I personally wouldn’t take them to the vet to get more than a fecal check. Some vets want to give vitamin a shot, if that is your case I would look for a new reptile vet.

Found this thread, it might help explain what I was referring to better.

https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/hatchling-failure-syndrome.23493/
 

Lrodmyre

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Wow! That's so sad. I hope this isn't my case.
I love learning about this stuff. This is great information for me.
Thanks so much for the info. I'll get a fecal check and keep doing what I'm doing. Hopefully things will turn at some point. Bella's shell is still hard, no softness anywhere, so that's good.Thank you again!
 

G-stars

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Hopefully you see some weight gain soon, either way keep us updated with this little one.
 

Casefresh

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Wow! That's so sad. I hope this isn't my case.
I love learning about this stuff. This is great information for me.
Thanks so much for the info. I'll get a fecal check and keep doing what I'm doing. Hopefully things will turn at some point. Bella's shell is still hard, no softness anywhere, so that's good.Thank you again!

Any update on your little guy? How’d the vet fecal check go?
 

Lrodmyre

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Thanks for asking, Casefresh!

I did take her to my reptile vet. No parasites or worms present. He asked to do an x-ray so I let him. Everything came out there okay as far as he could see. He was kind of amazed how active she is. They had a hard time getting her still for the x-ray.

He's got me e-mailing him weekly with her weight.

She's doing everything she's supposed to be doing, but no weight gain. Last week she was 33.1 grams. I weighed her tonight and she was 32.2 grams.

He's posting all the info I gave him on an e-mail that other reptile vets use, hopefully getting some answers. He said she's a puzzle. Her shell is still hard. She's active. She eats a lot, I think. I watch her eat.

My son is coming on Saturday to install a camera for me so I can watch her on my phone while I'm at work to see what she does during the day when I'm not home. Maybe that will give me an insight to something.

He said to keep doing what I'm doing, so I guess I will, unless one of his colleagues comes up with something.
 
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no one

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I really hope your little Star pulls true!! I lost my first Indian Star hatchling due to Hatchling Failure Syndrome. It is heartbreaking...
 
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