Plesae Help! Sick Aldabra Tortoise

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Tom

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Fir bark is fine as a substrate too. Over here we call it "orchid bark", if it's the same stuff.

An impaction from aspen shavings will not show up on an X-ray. The vet should have the proper feeding tubes and syringes and can push a load of mineral oil or Vaseline down there. This will hurt nothing if your tortoise is not impacted, but could save its life if it is.

I don't know how you could have much humidity with an open table and all those lights. Do you have a hygrometer? It's probably pretty dry in there.

Another thing that might help is keeping them a bit warmer at night. 70 is on the cool side for small ones. If he does have an infection of some sort, warmer temps will also help him fight it.
 

Badger

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Again thank you everyone for their kind words and support! Will definately post pictures once Goldie gets better.

Ah, didnt realise that Aspen shavings wouldnt show up on an xray. That is indeed worrying. I guess the only comfort is that according to the vet, there colon appears clean, no irregularities (if there is impaction, should there be a visible buldge of some sort?) and that there is no build up of feces. In any case, according to the vet, we should see some visible improvements in a couple of days and just to be safe, he is running some tests on the urine. I will ask the vet just to be sure and see whether we can as you suggest, push a load of mineral oil or vaseline down him. In any case, with definitely dinch the Aspen soon!

As for the lights, they are not on altogether during the day. The hygrometer reads about 80 on the coir side, where I have set up the Mercury Vapour Lamp. I have been an avid reader of your posts! I have read your experimentation with high humidity with Sulcatas babies to avoid pyrimading, and have tried to take a leaf out of your book and provide them with high humidity during basking in the day. Right now where Goldie is sleeping, the Aspen area, it was reading 70 on the hydrometer and 74F. Upon your advice, I have turned on the ceramic heat lamp and the temp is not 80 with 58 humidity. I have noticed that he is unusually keen in basking upon the heat lamp these past few days and like you said, probably trying to warm up to fight an infection.

The only concern that I have on basically filling up the whole table with coir is that in HK, it gets really humid in spring (starting now). Often the humidity guage actually hits 100% and your can literally see water drip off the walls around the house. With high temperature and constant high humidity, I was told that shell rot in HK is common if humidity is kept too high. During the winter, when the humidity is lower, we do have a fog machine that keeps pumping out fog during the day while they are basking.

Finally as for the Fir Bark, what we get here is Reptibark from Zoomed, that red looking wood chips. Since they are also hard bits of wood, are they likely to start munching on those just like the Aspen as well? Some of the post I have read here suggess that Reptibark is not very good, its gives off red colouration and molds easily. The other type of Orchird bark is of the gardening variety and unfortuantely all imported from China as of unknown origin...so we will stay well clear of those! Will hay be suitable perhaps? Just for something to sleep on and burrow in at night?

Apologies for the tendency to babble on and on in my posts!

Tom said:
Fir bark is fine as a substrate too. Over here we call it "orchid bark", if it's the same stuff.

An impaction from aspen shavings will not show up on an X-ray. The vet should have the proper feeding tubes and syringes and can push a load of mineral oil or Vaseline down there. This will hurt nothing if your tortoise is not impacted, but could save its life if it is.

I don't know how you could have much humidity with an open table and all those lights. Do you have a hygrometer? It's probably pretty dry in there.

Another thing that might help is keeping them a bit warmer at night. 70 is on the cool side for small ones. If he does have an infection of some sort, warmer temps will also help him fight it.
 

Badger

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Hello Everyone,

Another update on Goldie:

Goldie's situation hasn't improved much and it is day 3 since we started antibiotics. While he can eat a little more, there is still no output. In fact, while a few days ago there was some liquid, today, even that appears to have seen reduction. To keep him hydrated, we give him two warm soaks a day and water bowl to drink. His water bowl is filled with an electrolye solution given by that vet to avoid his salts getting too low.

To whoever said that tortoise are unintellegent, they have no idea what they are talking about! We have been lacing the mazuri with antibiotics and so far so good. But today, during the afternoon, I picked up some laxative pills from the vet, in the hope of easing his bowl movements. Trying to feed him with the same trick again proved to be a complete disaster. What's worst, he can now even tell which mazuri has antibiotics in it and wont touch those either! I have tried it with his favorite food pumpkin as well, coating half the piece with medicine and offer him to only the uncoated end. He fell for it once, then after that, he will only eat the ones that are completely free of medicine!

Then it was another the trip to the vet where he basically force fed Goldie the laxative with a syringe. Only today I realized how strong Goldie is and when he retracts, he can literally jam your fingers between his capacrace and his arm! Finally, he did manage to swallow some medicine and he is now at home, basically "zoned out". Still no output though, despite all his efforts.

The vet has now tasked me to feeding him these laxative pils and antibiotics over the next couple of days. The problem is, now that he has wised up, I dont know how to feed them to him. I tried mashing it in mazuri, coating it on pumpkin, syringe feed him, he is just having none of it. Any suggestions anyone??

If this doesnt work, then its back to the vet on Thursday, and doing another X ray with Barium so we get a better picture. While havnt confirmed as impaction, the vet and I discussed the possibility of feeding tube and pumping the laxative directly to his stomach (thanks for the suggestion Tom!!!!). I was told that this procedure is used, but very rarely. Unfortunately, because Goldie is relatively strong, feeding the plastic tube down his throat will proved to be a very dicey affair. He could easiy bite down on the tubing and snap it. So it really is just a last resort?

Tom, you mentioned the procedure before, do you know how it is done? I am not sure if my vet has done this sort of thing before with a large tortoise (yes, Goldie is considered very large in HK despite only being 3 kg!). Would really appreciate any input you have, it would really help.

Again, apologies for the long winded posts, I guess typing it all out helps me vent my frustrations.

Oh, on a final note, when your tortoise doesnt want to eat drug laced goodies, singing "Good baby, nice baby, little piece of pumpkin... yum-me, yum-me, yum-me, yum-me, yum, yum, yum" doesnt work...maybe someone has a better song?

Adam
 

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This might help. Not sure if you have done it or not. For my dog, who is very smart and hates any kind of meds. I put it in a treat and totally surround it. I make sure I do it quick, just so none of the med will get on the out side. Make it one bite size. Maybe for your tort, cut a strawberry in half, hollow it out some, put meds in and put to halts together, squeezing them together to make it solid again. I banana may work good also. Just make sure the med does not get on the out side on the fruit. If the get one little hint it is there they won't eat it. If it works, do the same next time, but with a different kind of yummy. Good luck:D
One other idea. Feed above on the end of chop sticks, when she opens her mouth to grab it, stick it in farther in her mouth, so she can't not eat it.
 

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Hi Adam:

You have to have someone help you when tube feeding. Basically, one person holds the head. You grab behind the jaws and hold on tight. Then someone else uses a flat tool to pry open the mouth. You have to keep this tool across the bottom from side to side so the tortoise can't close his mouth. Then the tube (a rubber tube) is fed down the throat into the stomach and the medication or whatever is squirted via a syringe through the tube. I usually will squirt a bit of water afterwards just to clean out the tube and help hydrate the tortoise.

There is also a procedure where the vet makes an incision in the neck and surgically implants the tube into the stomach, taping it to the shell and leaving it in place for future feedings, but this is an extreme measure and not one your tortoise needs yet.

You might also try some mineral oil. You can squirt a dropper-full of mineral oil down the throat, and another dropper-full up into the cloaca. Mineral oil is non-absorptive and will coat whatever is packed up inside the tortoise, helping it to slip out.
 

Momof4

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So sorry to hear Goldie is not well!! You sound like a responsible owner who really cares for his torts. I can't wait to see pics as well!
 

Badger

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Thanks for the suggestion everyone. I never considered giving him any fruit (because I have read that fruits are not good for them) but given the current circumstance, a couple pieces of yummy fruit, as they say "might help the medicine go down, in the most delightful way!".

I asked the vet about the the mineral oil/parafin, he mentioned that we would easily drop it into the wrong "tube", i.e. the lungs instead of the stomach and this could lead to problems such as pnuemonia and its pretty danagerous. He basically disuade me from doing something like this. Ah!! You obviously done this before, how do you hold his head without damaging him? I will definitely ask the vet about this and tell him maybe we can use a tool to keep his month open so he cannot bite down on the tube...

Thanks for your input!!

emysemys said:
Hi Adam:

You have to have someone help you when tube feeding. Basically, one person holds the head. You grab behind the jaws and hold on tight. Then someone else uses a flat tool to pry open the mouth. You have to keep this tool across the bottom from side to side so the tortoise can't close his mouth. Then the tube (a rubber tube) is fed down the throat into the stomach and the medication or whatever is squirted via a syringe through the tube. I usually will squirt a bit of water afterwards just to clean out the tube and help hydrate the tortoise.

There is also a procedure where the vet makes an incision in the neck and surgically implants the tube into the stomach, taping it to the shell and leaving it in place for future feedings, but this is an extreme measure and not one your tortoise needs yet.

You might also try some mineral oil. You can squirt a dropper-full of mineral oil down the throat, and another dropper-full up into the cloaca. Mineral oil is non-absorptive and will coat whatever is packed up inside the tortoise, helping it to slip out.
 

Yvonne G

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I have to give calcium pills to my aldabran tortoises. I don't know if it would work for liquid, but here's what I do for the pills:

I take a bite-sized piece of something...zucchini, strawberry, canteloup, etc. Then I push a sipping straw through the piece. This makes a hole and I place the pill in the hole. Then I put the piece of food on a skewer and hold it out to the tortoise. He opens his mouth and I place the bite on his tongue and pull out the skewer. He swallows it whole and never knows he just ate a large pill.

There's nothing wrong with using fruit to hide the medicine. A taste of fruit occasionally isn't going to be bad for your tortoise.
 

DixieParadise

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It is hard to give from a syringe by yourself and even my vet had problem showing me on one of my RF, so I know what you are talking about.

What is the medication you are giving, perhaps it comes in an injectable form other than oral? Would be much easier to inject the tortoise than try to force feed it. Also, because he did take it perhaps it is working on the inside and he is just trying to recoop from his illness. I would just give it more time and keep him hydrated.

Does he eat mazuri? I would take some really wet mazuri and mix the medicine in it. Even if he takes 1 bite, he is at least taking some of his medicine.

I hope he is better soon. I know how stressful this can be for everyone. Good Luck to you.
 

Badger

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Here are some pictures:

Goldie having a bath...he outgrow his tube in a matter of months!

Goldies Birthday, with a silly birthday hat...



Attempt 1: trying to feed the medicine. No joy.

DSC_7158_2.jpg Birthday cake for his Birthday. Mazuri and Carrots!

And finally, Shelly on Chinese New Year. Silly hat and the thing on her back is the word "Fortune" in Chinese. Prop only, not edible!!
 

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I love the birthday hat! Sure hope she's feeling better soon.
 

Nay

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When we have to tube an animal, after the mouth is pryed open, we use a roll of 2 inch tape and let their mouth come down on it, then there tube to go is still a hole for through.
Hope it all works out!!
 

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Nay said:
When we have to tube an animal, after the mouth is pryed open, we use a roll of 2 inch tape and let their mouth come down on it, then there tube to go is still a hole for through.
Hope it all works out!!

That's a great tip. Thanks!!
 

wellington

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emysemys said:
Nay said:
When we have to tube an animal, after the mouth is pryed open, we use a roll of 2 inch tape and let their mouth come down on it, then there tube to go is still a hole for through.
Hope it all works out!!

That's a great tip. Thanks!!

DITTO One of the best tips I have ever seen, for any animal. Thank you. That is what is so great about this forum:D
 

ALDABRAMAN

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wellington said:
emysemys said:
Nay said:
When we have to tube an animal, after the mouth is pryed open, we use a roll of 2 inch tape and let their mouth come down on it, then there tube to go is still a hole for through.
Hope it all works out!!

That's a great tip. Thanks!!

DITTO One of the best tips I have ever seen, for any animal. Thank you. That is what is so great about this forum:D

:tort: Great idea!
 

Badger

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Hi Everyone,

Another update on Goldie:

Day 5 of antibiotics and day 3 of bowel movement medicine, still no luck with output this morning. In fact, this morning, very worryingly, he became very unresponsive and since the night before he dug himself a hole in the coir and curled up and hasn't moved since. I called the vet last night again and he referred our case to an Exotic pets hospital for further examination. Getting serious. Getting extremely worried. The next stage is tubing, in order to try to flush out any obstruction.

The hospital is about a 30 minute drive away and in the car Goldie wouldnt stop pacing around. When we got to the hospital's waiting room, literally 5 seconds before the Vet walked through the examination room door, he Pooed!!!! I dont think I have ever been this happy seeing Poo!!!

Tom was totally right. The Aspen has caused impaction and his output is basically packed with it and caused obstructuion. The frequent soaks, the car drive (I read somewhere on this forum that a car ride helps!! Its true!!) and the medicine probably finally help to dislodge the Aspen enough for it to be passed out.

After a full check up and a couple more xrays later, Goldie gut is still pretty full and so it should be awhile before everything is passed out. But hopefully as we continue the current course of action, hopefully he will make a complete recovery.

He is now back at home, visibly much more energetic and active with a bit of appitete returning. The Aspen is out and has been replaced with some hay, which incidentally they seem to like well enough and have burrowed themselves deep in it, asleep. Goldie and Shelly is finally reunited as the quarantine is no longer necesseary as Goldies' bloodwork showed no infection.

Throughout this entire saga, I learnt a few things:

1) Frequent soaks helps with impaction
2) If in doubt, maybe take your tortoise for a drive!
3) Aspen, can (and did) cause impaction!
4) Last but not least, there are a bunch of truely wonderful people on this forum who is will to share their expertise, experience and knowledge with a complete stranger for the betterment of all tortoises!!!!!!

As inexperienced owners, we whole heartly thank everyone for their support, concerns and advice! Without it, we would be pretty much at a lost on what to do and we thank everyone for helping us through this ordeal!

Not quite out the woods yet, but hopefully Goldie can make a full recovery.

Thanks everyone!

Adam
 
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