Passed a HUGE stone, would like some help!

ethereal1

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Oh laramill I wanted to respond to your question, yes they have water dishes, I did actually see Marshal (his name from the SPCA actually, I sometimes call him Marcellus, Marshellus, or Mars, going in line with Thor, lol) drink some water once, sometimes he just blows some bubbles, but when he drinks he puts his head down almost like hes gonna smell it, then scoops up some water with his beak, picks his head up so the water goes into his throat, and opens up his throat (since they can't actually swallow), it makes a kind of 'sucking' sound, so maybe you've heard yours do it and just didn't know what it was! He does like to go in, then out, and then in, and THEN drink the water now that its full of substrate pieces lol maybe its so he can see the water more clearly?

Anyway, yes, the stone is unfathomably huge, which is why I was all frantic as you say lol for him to never have a single stone, almost never even thicker pasty urates to suddenly having a monstrosity like this... was just stunning. I know about them, you hear about how kidney stones and bladder stones and hard urates can make them sick and how they can even die from them, but you never really see anything definitive, and information on the specifics seems to be too rare to find very quickly, I did find one pic of a baby who had something similar actually stuck part way out of the opening, almost like part of the tail. The guy had to take it to the vet and they broke it up into smaller pieces because it was too big to come out whole, so I think this one was almost to that point. The entire event only took maybe 10, 15 minutes tops, it seemed like forever though, he was clearly distressed and trying his hardest to pass it. It was tough watching him and being almost helpless, but I think the water at least soothed him a bit if not getting the stone lubed enough to come out, which is what I was trying for.

It is possible that he had it for a long time, and it was just hanging out in there, the store I got him from fed him weird stuff, like the pellets and some kind of dried mix that I know had peas, which from what I understand are not good for them. He is not very old, he is past juvenile I think, but I believe he still has some time before full fledged adulthood, I think hes at the lower range of adult size, maybe 5" length, even though Marshal who is clearly an adult and much older is a lot bigger, Marshal also was taken in by the SPCA for a reason. His diet from whoever had him before me was crap, and he seems to have gotten a lot of calcium but not enough vitamin D, so he grew fast and grew big, he is more dome-shaped than he should be and the back scutes are too low, so his legs have to be kind of flat out behind him except in certain specific situations, and he has some shell deformities, nothing major, but theres a kind of lump on one of his back-right scutes... sorry, off-track LOL (love my torts!) anyway Marshal is bigger than he should be, but you can picture him with a good shell and with a normal beak and see that Thor still has some room to grow, and has been growing since I got him. His scutes are now wider than they were, some more than others, but he has a good overall shape, nothing screwy, his... dorsal? scute all the way in the back before the one above the tail is kind of cockeyed, but you can also see the little bit of new growth under it showing realignment, and his claws and beak are all perfect!

So thats them really, he isn't small, but he isn't big. If you've ever seen a tort pee, and you see the tail get really fat for the moment before they do it, it was like that, except no pee... and then the stone :(

It was not something I ever ever ever EVER want to have my torts, your torts, everyones torts, all the wild torts, or in fact myself and every other living thing on the planet to ever have to go through again! Dodging a bullet is an apt metaphor, I know we are kind of making light of it now that its over and he seems okay, but I was seriously fearing for him, I can only imagine how much it must have hurt, and there was a good chance it would have to be removed surgically/by a vet, and anyone who has read the stories or experienced it first hand knows that even normal check up procedures involving anesthesia could mean your tortoise never waking up, so I had a whole lot of things running through my mind, the whole while trying to be as calm, cool, soothing and encouraging as I could, trying my best to help him with it, and resisting the urge to try to extract it myself (I am no herpetologist, and I know doing that myself could cause him undue harm, especially if its too big to pass through the cloaca, yikes!). I guess it makes more sense now that you've seen it lol

Don't worry though, I'm gonna hydrate the hell out of him! Not so much that he gets a respiratory issue though :p but thats mostly a humidity thing, isn't it?
 

laramill

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yes, I believe so-- and possibly dusty, I think I've read... and of course, moldy, as you can imagine... and too dry... Honestly, I find respiratory issues a scary thought... seems like they can't be too hard to encounter. I'm a bit paranoid over it. (did you see the post re: Tiny Tim and swelling? he had a respiratory infection that had no breathing-type symptoms that you'd expect. Search Tiny Tim and edema and it should come up.)

But, wow-- 10-to-15 minutes had to feel like a lifetime. (I keep thinking about how time seems to slow down when you are dealing with something like that and you don't know what is going on-- so ten to 15... way too long.)

Wilson does drink when I soak him (and kind of blows bubbles... I guess), but I just don't see any interest from him with his water dish. I've even tried different shaped dishes, different materials, different sizes. I thought at first maybe it was his missing toes (he doesn't have all his claws-- one of his feet sort of looks like an elephant foot. I don't know what happened to them-- either lost them in battle or maybe lost the claws to rot?? No clue) and maybe it was too hard for him to get out (even though I was using shallow saucers and stuff), so I made him one that was really super gradual to get into (a friend of mine is a potter, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do this) and had a lot of texture on the slope-- he still could care less.

Every morning, though, when I get his food ready, I rinse it really well right before I give it to him, and then give it a shake-- But it's still wet when he gets it, so I figure he's getting some moisture that way (and it seems to wilt a little slower) I even do that with weeds when it's warm enough for them to grow, but still too cold for him to stay outside long. I know (since I know they are not chemically sprayed, etc) I don't really have to do it, but since I don't see him drink ever, I figure it can't hurt.

Our house is dry in the winter (forced air heat), so I also have to add water to his substrate pretty regularly to keep the humidity up. If you don't have a hygrometer (to measure the humidity)-- I found mine super helpful in trying to get some consistency.

All that said, this seems to be a problem you really had no way of telling was building up. You were doing the best you could, really studying his diet and all-- Don't beat yourself up over it. Just hope it's through with now and move forward!

But... WOW... that was a BIG stone.


okay-- I said "I don't see him drink ever" in the paragraph about his wet leaves-- I should've said "I don't see him drink in his enclosure"-- But since I soak him about 3 times a week, I figure those drinks probably aren't enough anyway!
 

ethereal1

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Mar 3, 2012
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Lol maybe its some kind of record for a naturally passed stone by a Russian Tortoise!

I do the same thing with the food I give mine, it seems best, a little extra water can't hurt, I read they get a lot of their water metabolically from their food, but that's only half the battle, they still get dry skin and scaled and stuff and they can't get all they need just from food, so the soaks and drinks are necessary, especially for indoor torts because there isn't really any substitute for the natural earth or sun. I also like to read a lot about their natural habitat, most of the water they get is from food (but less water from it than what we feed them because its a desert) and from the moisture in the ground when they burrow, occasionally they will soak/drink water if they have it, but apparently that isn't too often, even though I think I read that they try to make their homes nearby a water source. It could be that if you soak/bathe them enough and plus the rinsed food like you do, they just don't need to take a drink! If they get really dehydrated its pretty obvious, they will normally get some skin flakes and scales that come off, but you'll definitely notice it, they get really dry flaky skin and like a kind of crust of flaking scales around their eyes and they really just LOOK like they're dried out. You sound like a wonderful keeper, I would put my money on that they just aren't thirsty :)


EDIT: I actually did have a Hygrometer, but Thor managed to smash it to pieces somehow LOL Where do you keep your humidity at usually? There are a lot of different "proper" humidity levels I've found, but it seems like the general consensus is somewhere between 30 - 40%. I have to get a new hygrometer, but even though its winter and the air is dry from the heat, when I did have the thing it read the ambient room humidity was about 30%, so that's why I give the torts and their houses spray downs every couple/few days, dry air can cause some respiratory problems, but I feel like the risk is higher as the humidity rises higher and higher.
 

ethereal1

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Okay so I have been soaking them daily, Marshal does it himself, seems to think of it as a toilet lol but his pee looks okay, nothing that looks stony or even really pasty, its more stranded kind of, viscous may be the word I'm looking for. Thor... well, he didn't eat yesterday, didn't move from his basking spot either, when I soaked him he stayed in for a bit and seemed to enjoy it, I think he even drank some water, but he's being a little lethargic, not mentally he seems alert and looks at me when I poke my head in and ask him how he's doing, but after he soaked a bit he went back to his basking spot so I dunno, I'll have to see if he eats, later on I'll give him another soak and some fresh foods. Obviously if he doesn't eat or excrete any urea I'll have to probably take him to the vet...
 

ethereal1

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Good news! At least I think its good, Thor was staying in his basking spot like I said earlier, so I moved the food to him and he did eat a good amount of it, and he peed. He is obviously still dehydrated but its looking better, no more hard urate stones but they were more I dunno, solid or grainy than they should be. He didn't move much though, so to remove any suspicion I'll probably take him to the vet, and I'll let you all know if anything comes of it.

Thanks guys, for all the help and kindness!
 

laramill

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Oh no! So sorry to hear that perhaps it's not so quickly over.
I know the vet trip can be $$$, but sometimes, even when I'm pretty sure I'm just being paranoid, it's worth it just for the peace of mind.
I'd think it's a good sign he's eating at least, and basking is good too... hopefully he's just in recovery and will continue to improve. Let us know what the vet says!

As for humidity- I agree. You can get as many different opinions as people you ask. I've heard 30%, I've heard as high as 60%... maybe even 65! Well, I try to hit the middle ground around 40 or 50.

When it gets really cold out-- which means my forced air furnace is running more, drying out the whole house's air more, and making it hard to keep the enclosure humidity constant, I try to soak him more, hoping this will balance things out. I have fish tanks that I have to clean every week, so I kind of keep an eye on the water levels there (for increased evaporation) and that helps guide me how the rest of the house is... then I know maybe I need to soak Wilson more. ( I can also go by how much static the cat has! Hahaha)

Anyway- continue to let me know how things are going. I'm pulling for you guys and will keep you in my thoughts!
 

ethereal1

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Yeah I don't personally think he's in any danger, I feel like he's just taking it easy for now, he seems well enough, he's just being kind of lazy, so I think just for peace of mind like you said I should take him in the get a check up, he isn't usually so lazy, but it could be he's recovering, maybe he has some stuff to digest still in him and he just wants to bask it out etc who knows! I can get the vet to xray him though and we can see if there's any stones left or if there is anything else, you know, just get him checked out for safety's sake! :p
 
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