rescued tortoise lethargic and leaving spots of blood

elf2hats

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I purchased a Russian Tortoise yesterday from a family that said they'd had him for 5-6 years, but they clearly knew nothing about tortoises (and I don't have a lot of room to talk as I've never had one before, but just felt like this guy needed to be rescued):
  • He was living in a glass terrarium with barely any substrate, no rocks to climb on, and no calcium source
  • They fed him timothy pellets, and said that he hadn't been moving or eating much lately
  • His back legs seem injured or perhaps atrophied
  • He doesn't seem able to walk...just kind of feebly moves his legs but without moving his body
  • His toenails were super long
  • He had an intestinal blockage that was black and about a half-inch long (isn't their poop supposed to be white?)
  • He seems to be leaving slight blood spots under his body (see marks on the towel under him)...I think it's coming from his tail, but could be coming from the belly of his shell.
I bought him in spite of concerns about his health, but I don't know if he's going to make it. I'll take him to a vet as soon as possible, but they're closed today. Here's what I've tried so far, since getting him home (after a 1+ hour car ride, which likely added to his stress):
  • I first put him into the outside enclosure I'd prepared in advance (not shown here), but then moved him back inside thinking it might be too chilly and exposed for him in his current state. Temps in Colorado are dropping to ~50 degrees Fahrenheit at night (~90 degrees during the day), and he's too weak to burrow.
  • I submerged him in a bath for about 15 minutes, thinking that he might be dehydrated
  • While under the warm water, I gently expressed the intestinal blockage (I'm wondering if this caused the bleeding)
  • I clipped his toenails (thinking that might help traction in walking)
  • I moved him inside for the night and left him in a dark space for 12 hours
  • When the sun came up, I put him back in the home he's used for the last 5-6 years, and deepened the substrate. There's sunshine available for him at one end of the cage, but I put a hide box around him for now based on forum postings about darkness as a therapy for tortoise stress.
He's not opening his eyes this morning, and still not eating or drinking, but slightly moves his head and legs when I approach. I'm headed to the pet store to get a heat lamp. Any other suggestions (besides the vet appt)?
 

SarahChelonoidis

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No photos show up for me.

Their stool looks like stool (brown/black in colour). The white waste you are think of are called urates and from the urinary system. What made you think it was a blockage? How did you help him expel it? A warm soak in water is often effective for moving waste through the system.

The back legs not moving could be a sign of mbd (from lack of UVB light and/or a calcium source). Legs can also get weak from lack of use (life in a small enclosure), or impaction (foreign body in the GI tract, severe constipation, egg bound).

Do you have him outside during the day? Is the sunlight hitting him unfiltered (not passing through glass, plastic, or a fine screen)?

Carrot baby food soaks are a good way to get vitamins and nutrients into a weak tortoise. Critical Care diet for tortoises is another option to get good nutrients in.
 

elf2hats

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Thanks, Sarah. This is just the first day that I've had him, and it was overcast and a bit chilly this morning, so I'll put him out in the sun as soon as it warms up. My plan is to have him in an outdoor enclosure with a sunny side and a shady side. It's about 8' x 6' with about 2' of soil under 3" sand and coco coir. I'm attaching the picture as part of this post.

Good to know that his stool sounds normal. I expressed it while he was in the warm bath by pressing gently under his tail, and it just slid out.

I'll try the dietary suggestions immediately.

--Erin
 

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Kasia

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Thanks, Sarah. This is just the first day that I've had him, and it was overcast and a bit chilly this morning, so I'll put him out in the sun as soon as it warms up. My plan is to have him in an outdoor enclosure with a sunny side and a shady side. It's about 8' x 6' with about 2' of soil under 3" sand and coco coir. I'm attaching the picture as part of this post.

Good to know that his stool sounds normal. I expressed it while he was in the warm bath by pressing gently under his tail, and it just slid out.

I'll try the dietary suggestions immediately.

--Erin
He looks puffy. That can be kidney damage or bad diet or both. Take him to the Vet ASAP, take a stool sample with you. As for diet look at the top of this section for Russian tortoise care sheet. Weeds and variety are the key words. Soak him daily for 20 mins in lurk warm water at least for a week or so to rehydrate him. Provide him water dish so he can drink on his own. Good luck to you both:)
 

SarahChelonoidis

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Hmm I see the photo now. That does not look good. Looks like edema and missing skin on the legs. Until you can see the vet, warmth and hydration is a priority.
 

Pearly

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This poor baby looks very sick, you got some good advise here. I'd keep this poor thing warm (85F) and soak in warm water as much as you can, also warm baby carrot soaks... And see reptile vet asap. Can't believe people who's "care" caused this had a nerve to charge you any money for this poor animal
 

Gillian M

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A very warm welcome to the forum! :tort:

The poor little thing looks very sick. I'd suggest a visit to the vet ASAP. Better be safe than sorry.

And please keep us updated.:)
 

crimson_lotus

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Hi there,

Good job getting the tortoise out of a bad situation! Everything listed above is what I had in mind as well. Leg swelling, possible metabolic bone disease causing the tortoise to not be able to use his hind legs, poor diet, possible kidney damage and probably no exposure to UV. Did the last home have a UVB light to help absorb calcium and d3? I would suggest getting a heat lamp that provides both heat and UVB, mercury vapor bulbs are expensive but worth it.

The blood, I'm just curious about the plastron shot. Can you take a picture of his belly?

Also, Russians usually have long nails as they're big diggers. What usually gets overgrown is the beak. Is the beak looking okay?
 

Tidgy's Dad

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Please ensure that the vet you take him to is a reptile specialist.
Ordinary vets can often do more harm than good.
Wishing him and you the very best.
 

elf2hats

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He's still alive, occasionally opening his eyes and trying to move. He's able to turn himself around, but doesn't do much more than that. I want to think that the baby carrot bath (with some liquid calcium) is helping -- can see evidence of new stool emerging. I submerged him a few times yesterday, and left him in the sun for as long as possible (it was overcast during the afternoon and he didn't seem warm enough outside), so I supplemented with a CFL lamp directed only at his back legs to get close to 8 hours of UVA exposure. I'll try to find an MVB alternative today, per recommendations within this forum. I also ordered the Oxbow Critical Care diet, some food syringes (need to learn how to open his mouth), and the Mazuri tortoise diet (but it won't arrive until Weds).

The vets were closed yesterday, so I'll be calling around today to find a vet who is familiar with reptiles.

@crimson_lotus -- I'm not sure if his beak is normal or not, so am attaching additional photos of his face and belly. My husband thinks the blood may have come from one of the toenails. (Oops, he didn't need that added stress.) No more signs of blood.
 

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SarahChelonoidis

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The beak is overgrown and it does look like you cut the nails too short. It happens. Don't worry about trimming the beak now. Focus on nutrients, warmth, hydration, and UVB light. Outside of soaks and a careful once a day feeding of critical care, make sure you leave the tortoise be to minimize stress.
 

Pearly

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He's still alive, occasionally opening his eyes and trying to move. He's able to turn himself around, but doesn't do much more than that. I want to think that the baby carrot bath (with some liquid calcium) is helping -- can see evidence of new stool emerging. I submerged him a few times yesterday, and left him in the sun for as long as possible (it was overcast during the afternoon and he didn't seem warm enough outside), so I supplemented with a CFL lamp directed only at his back legs to get close to 8 hours of UVA exposure. I'll try to find an MVB alternative today, per recommendations within this forum. I also ordered the Oxbow Critical Care diet, some food syringes (need to learn how to open his mouth), and the Mazuri tortoise diet (but it won't arrive until Weds).

The vets were closed yesterday, so I'll be calling around today to find a vet who is familiar with reptiles.

@crimson_lotus -- I'm not sure if his beak is normal or not, so am attaching additional photos of his face and belly. My husband thinks the blood may have come from one of the toenails. (Oops, he didn't need that added stress.) No more signs of blood.
I just want to hug you for trying to save this poor baby! You are doing all the right things and as you wait for the vet visit and UVB light, be sure the tort is kept at temp no lower then 85F. You can aim for 85-90. This will help her own body fight the illness. They are cold blooded, and when cool they can't do much of anything
 

GingerLove

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His joints appear to be very puffy and swollen. It shouldn't be white either. You are doing such a great job taking care of this little guy. Please keep up the good work. You are inspirational!!
 

GingerLove

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Oh, and I would also suggest getting the sand out of the enclosure. It can cause a lot of problems if eaten. The coconut coir is great, though. Keep up the soaks. Do you think you ought to buy some eye drops (saline solution) so he will open his eyes? And it's a good thing that he's still pooping. I don't think it was blockage, just poop.
 

Kasia

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He's still alive, occasionally opening his eyes and trying to move. He's able to turn himself around, but doesn't do much more than that. I want to think that the baby carrot bath (with some liquid calcium) is helping -- can see evidence of new stool emerging. I submerged him a few times yesterday, and left him in the sun for as long as possible (it was overcast during the afternoon and he didn't seem warm enough outside), so I supplemented with a CFL lamp directed only at his back legs to get close to 8 hours of UVA exposure. I'll try to find an MVB alternative today, per recommendations within this forum. I also ordered the Oxbow Critical Care diet, some food syringes (need to learn how to open his mouth), and the Mazuri tortoise diet (but it won't arrive until Weds).

The vets were closed yesterday, so I'll be calling around today to find a vet who is familiar with reptiles.

@crimson_lotus -- I'm not sure if his beak is normal or not, so am attaching additional photos of his face and belly. My husband thinks the blood may have come from one of the toenails. (Oops, he didn't need that added stress.) No more signs of blood.
On those pics his shell looks pinkish, or it just coir dirt? ASAP Vet, soak him in warm water or go to the drug store and ask for herb tea for diuresis/kidney support and add it to the bath. Recovery will be slow but try to do your best :) Don't add liquid calcium to the soak if his kidneys/liver is failing it won't do any good.
 

Marinated mamma

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Puffiness not a good sign trip to vets asap I thought he looked pink also he looks swollen on sides of his neck and pinkish n that is usually a bad sign if definitely take him to the vets
 

Kori5

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That could be septicemia as his shell is pinkish. So there could be an infection and maybe an open wound. He needs a vet as soon as possible because you're gonna loose him. This is very serious :(.
 
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