Please help! Our baby Russian is struggling!

SamTurtle

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We got a baby Russian from ATC in August. He has never been very active or had much appetite and it was evident from pretty early on that he was struggling. I’ve read though lots of the posts about struggling baby tortoises and have been soaking him in carrot/butternut squash puree mixed with water (not thick at all) twice daily. I make the puree myself from organic carrots and squash and cook it VERY soft and blend it until it is a velvety paste that is then mixed with the water. We had soaked him just in water before, but started with the puree after about 2 weeks and being concerned. We had been taking him outside quite a bit when it was warm and had a safe protected area where he could wander/eat/whatever. Our yard has been not been treated with any chemicals for 9 years and there is lots of dandelion, plantain weed, violets, clover, and grasses. As he continued to struggle I decided that the trips in and outside maybe were stressing him out and we started just leaving him in his enclosure so that he could get used to it. I’ve made some changes to the enclosure several times in an effort to help him. We had provided him with a terra cotta pot to hide in one area that was heated and that we kept especially moist. He never went near it (and generally doesn’t move around a lot). Since then I added 2 humid hides and would start placing him in the entrance of the hide in the evenings when we turned the lights off. Here are the various temps:

Coldest anywhere in enclosure is 67-71 degrees F

Warmest directly under light has sometimes been as much as 113 (but other close areas are 80 or lower so he has the option of steering clear). Generally it is lower because we mist the enclosure several times a day and the temp in the hottest area is usually around 105.

I will also attach pictures of his setup, but he also has the option of going through a little tunnel area to a side of the box that is not lighted.

The humid hide ranges from about 80-95. It has heating pads under (but he is never closed in) and on one side. It is warmer during the day because the overhead light shines on it. He has never gone in it during the day of his own volition. He will hang out deeper in if I place him at the entrance in the evenings.

He tends to like places that are adjacent to very warm spots but where he (especially his head) is in the shade. I would say that he likes about 83 degrees for his hanging out time, which seems very cool.

Temperatures are measured with a laser thermometer. There are also temperature and humidity gauges in both boxes, but they don’t capture ground level at all really.

His substrate is only coconut coif now. For a while I had a mix of coconut coif, cedar, topsoil near where some plants were planted. He seemed unable to burrow in the mixed medium so I changed it all to the coconut and I think he likes it better because he burrows a lot more than he used to.

I’ve tried to give him a variety of foods to eat, but he shows a very strong preference for baby romaine or red leaf lettuce. He occasionally will eat a little endive and once ate a radish leaf, but he won’t touch mustard greens, chicory, savoy lettuce, kale, turnip greens, carrot tops, etc. Regarding yard plants, he won’t touch them although he nibbled on some plantain and a little clover when he first came. He has a cuttle bone and we sprinkle a little TNT on his food about every 3 days. The TNT used to get him interested but now it doesn’t seem to matter. Also, he only eats when he is in his soak (except a few times a while ago). As soon as we let him out he seems totally uninterested. We also have two shallow water dishes which he also shows no interest in. He is able to climb in and out of them no problem when he wants to.

We have a zoo med 160 watt bulb. For a while we were leaving the top open and I added a ceramic heater overhead in order to keep the temperature high enough. He actually seemed to be doing better than but the humidity was really low. We also have a zoo med 80 bulb in a different fixture but it definitely doesn’t keep it warm enough unless it is very close to the surface. As mentioned above, I also have heating pads under/around the humid hide so it doesn’t get cold at night when the light is off.

He weighed 23g when we got him. Since then he has ocellated between 21 and 26 g. We weigh him each morning before he goes in his soak. I keep track of his poo schedule, which is always in the soak. I’ve only actually seen him pee a few times in the soak also. The last time he pooped was October 19. That same day he had a bunch of baby romaine. Since then he hasn’t gone to the bathroom or eaten. His weight has been 26 g. steadily for the last 3 days.

So I love this little guy. My kids love him. I feel like I’m doing everything that you guys have suggested, but something isn’t right. One more thing, his bottom shell does not usually feel soft or cushiony. Yesterday or the day before I noticed when I picked him up that it seemed to push in like a pillow. The outside underneath is not squishy but it feels like it is covering a bloated pillowy area under it and his head pushes out when I gently touch it down a little. This doesn’t seem right…maybe like he’s bloated?? I probably should have led with that.

Thoughts??? BTW, he is in the picture sitting with his head on a pile of greens. That is where I left him after his soak. It even got pretty hot their earlier (100+) and he didn’t move so I misted him.
 

SamTurtle

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Jul 29, 2019
Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
Here are the pictures of the enclosure

open

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method89

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can't see the pictures yet, but one thing I read that I don't like is the heat pads at night. Testudo dont need night heat as long as it doesnt go below 60. are you feeding and Mazuri or Zoomed grassland pellets?
 

Jodie

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I cannot see the pics either, but it sounds to me like he is sick. Hatchlings usually will gain weight very quickly. I do not like heat pads either, but I would keep his temps up. Does he have discharge from his nose or breath with his mouth open? Really wish I could see the pics. If this were my baby, I would put him in a hospital tank situation. I would have plenty of UVB 14 hours a day, and I would keep the ambient temp about 90F. I would keep night temps above 75F. With all that heat, soaks and humidity are very important. I would also consider seeing a vet to explore possible RI. I am afraid based on you last part of renal failure. @Yvonne G is better at this stuff than I though, so hopefully she will offer her opinion soon.
 

nicoble

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if you are having humidity issues ... I live at a very dry place... I use about 3-4 inches of coconut coir that I keep moist ... it takes pouring several cups of water onto the substrate daily- misting alone will not keep it moist enough where I am. I also use sphagnum moss piles that I spray and I soak the sphagnum in the morning and place a pile close to the basking spots - my baby doesn't like a humid hide box but digs himself in under the moss. I originally had one repti-sun 10.0 T5 strip but noticed a difference in activity when adding a second UVB strip light from a different brand on the other side of the enclosure- we also have a basking bulb 70W and a CHE 60W . My baby ( 3 months old yesterday) spends most of the day buried but is out and about a few hours every morning and sometimes afternoon- according to our exotics vet ( who is a tortoise person as well ) this seems normal ... we are heading into winter here. The baby is usually about an hour after the lights come on and the food has been delivered. My baby also prefers romaine but will nibble on other things and loves cactus pads ( cut in slices and hand fed ). He really likes the Mazuri when it is moistened. At 3 months he is around 52 g ( not sure if that helps ... I only had mine for a week and he gained a few g) ... Our vet told me to come see her when the baby isn't eating with " gusto" - meaning it would be ok for him/her to slow down over the winter activity wise, spend more time buried but if baby doesn't scarf down delicious romaine - his favorite food- when he is dug out and warmed up and still seems sluggish when awake ... better come in and check ... not gaining weight was another of his red flags .... Do you have an exotics vet somewhere near you? A regular vet won't know what to do with a tortoise but sometimes you get lucky and find a exotics vet ( some avian specialists are good with reptiles as well ...)
 

SamTurtle

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Virginia
Also he had a very large totally clear pee in his soak last night.

We took him to the reptile vet today. They say he will probably die. They offered to keep him for a week to try life saving measures which we are doing although probably futile. From what I've read it sounds a lot like failure syndrome. He was never that active and only ate lightly from day 1. We started adding carrot to his soak pretty soon after he came. I think we do need to work on humidity but it was higher in the beginning and not that low now and we soak him for 40 minutes x2 day since week 2 when we started worrying a lot. Before that we soaked him 25 min x2 daily.

I had heard that ATC was a good place to get hatchlings but feel let down. I emailed them in the beginning and they never responded.
 

SamTurtle

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I would love any guidance on posting photos as well. No matter what I try it says there is an error or a server error. I tried the regular upload file, chose file, etc.
Here is a link to my google drive--hopefully someone is willing to follow and check it out. Our little guy will probably pass, but I want to make sure that I'm doing everything I can and that if we get a new tortoise that I'm caring for him properly. I'm probably going to try to buy another little guy and try to pass him off to my kids as our Norbert returning from the hospital. I haven't seen many pictures of babies that look like him though. Thank you so much. I've fallen in love with tortoises and appreciate the time you guys put into helping new owners.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1xv4toUNg_pWbIDkwIsziZLjz204nnfMN
 

addyson123

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Also he had a very large totally clear pee in his soak last night.

We took him to the reptile vet today. They say he will probably die. They offered to keep him for a week to try life saving measures which we are doing although probably futile. From what I've read it sounds a lot like failure syndrome. He was never that active and only ate lightly from day 1. We started adding carrot to his soak pretty soon after he came. I think we do need to work on humidity but it was higher in the beginning and not that low now and we soak him for 40 minutes x2 day since week 2 when we started worrying a lot. Before that we soaked him 25 min x2 daily.

I had heard that ATC was a good place to get hatchlings but feel let down. I emailed them in the beginning and they never responded.
I am so so sorry for your loss.
 

KarenSoCal

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I would love any guidance on posting photos as well. No matter what I try it says there is an error or a server error. I tried the regular upload file, chose file, etc.
Here is a link to my google drive--hopefully someone is willing to follow and check it out. Our little guy will probably pass, but I want to make sure that I'm doing everything I can and that if we get a new tortoise that I'm caring for him properly. I'm probably going to try to buy another little guy and try to pass him off to my kids as our Norbert returning from the hospital. I haven't seen many pictures of babies that look like him though. Thank you so much. I've fallen in love with tortoises and appreciate the time you guys put into helping new owners.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1xv4toUNg_pWbIDkwIsziZLjz204nnfMN

https://lh3.google.com/u/0/d/1IGh4frUyWlEn_sE0It6qrKzA843sg6lA=w522-h390-p-k-nu-iv1

https://lh3.google.com/u/0/d/15NYqFN1dO4Vp50wD6YXplwVBMCKmIZg6=w522-h390-p-k-nu-iv1

https://lh3.google.com/u/0/d/1Jw2Bvz95ADDGNOaas36jmiuZOH4TFzsj=w522-h390-p-k-nu-iv1

https://lh3.google.com/u/0/d/1boX7olHl7k7STd0v0d398IxerhL9YCPD=w522-h390-p-k-nu-iv1

https://lh3.google.com/u/0/d/1J4CV19pXF9su_hiWs69TUYZCzOIFbNRU=w522-h390-p-k-nu-iv1
 

nicoble

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I am so sorry about the news from the vet! From what I have read ... sometimes babies don't thrive ... in nature many would not survive and while we can control their environment in captivity ... even with the best care ... some might have failure to thrive ...
I love your bins and will steal some of your ideas with the bin connections. You have built a palace for your baby!
 

AzDesert

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metro Phx, AZ
I am so very sorry! This is the part of having tortoises that just plain HURTS like HELL. I just lost a baby redfoot from the same place and had the same exact issue from day 1. I felt like I was literally sitting in your shoes while reading your storyline. I will say that ATC is still a great place, as I have purchased several hatchlings from them over the past year. (different species, but all doing well) the redfoot just passed away this past Tuesday. I tried like hell to save it, to the tune of hundreds of dollars at the vet with tube feedings, meds, etc. No luck. This is the first tort I have lost in my entire 22 years of keeping them. I have over 20 torts of different species, ages etc and each one is like my natural born kid!
If you love them like we all do, in time your heart will heal and you will start again and things will be better! Bless your little guy, and i'll keep you both in my thoughts.
 

SamTurtle

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Virginia
I am so sorry about the news from the vet! From what I have read ... sometimes babies don't thrive ... in nature many would not survive and while we can control their environment in captivity ... even with the best care ... some might have failure to thrive ...
I love your bins and will steal some of your ideas with the bin connections. You have built a palace for your baby!
Thank you
 

SamTurtle

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Joined
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Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
I am so very sorry! This is the part of having tortoises that just plain HURTS like HELL. I just lost a baby redfoot from the same place and had the same exact issue from day 1. I felt like I was literally sitting in your shoes while reading your storyline. I will say that ATC is still a great place, as I have purchased several hatchlings from them over the past year. (different species, but all doing well) the redfoot just passed away this past Tuesday. I tried like hell to save it, to the tune of hundreds of dollars at the vet with tube feedings, meds, etc. No luck. This is the first tort I have lost in my entire 22 years of keeping them. I have over 20 torts of different species, ages etc and each one is like my natural born kid!
If you love them like we all do, in time your heart will heal and you will start again and things will be better! Bless your little guy, and i'll keep you both in my thoughts.
Thank you for caring. It is heartbreaking. It definitely feels like we are missing a little soul from the house.
 

KarenSoCal

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They said they thought he had sepsis and it was cruel to keep force feeding him etc. We let them put him to sleep. Thank you for asking and caring.
I am so sorry about this. It just breaks my heart to hear of so many sweet babies who never had a chance because their breeder messed up. Or maybe he didn't mess up...some babies don't thrive despite the new "parents" doing everything perfectly to help them heal, as you have been doing.

It's cruel, so unfair, and crushing to the keepers that immerse themselves into all the meds, soakings, injections, and vet trips...only to have the light go out of the eyes on the awful day.

Take some time to rest and regroup, and then when the time is right, bring home a new bright-eyed hooligan raring to rearrange all you so painstakingly replaced.

And this aching hurt will slowly move away from you.
 
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