Sick Baby Aldabra

BlakeL

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Hi everyone, I’ve been a long time lurker of these forums and have finally decided to make an account.
Apologies in advance for the long post, I just want to get as much information out there as I can.
I live in the Bay Area California, and have two baby tortoises. A Sulcata little over a year old named Heracles and a new Aldabra named Misha who is 4 1/4 inches long so I’m guessing around 6-7 months old.
The substrate I am using for Misha’s 54 gallon tub is a mixture of cypress mulch and sphagum moss (personally not a fan of this and might add some organic topsoil to it at a later date). The temperatures are on the warm side 96, under the basking light 102 and on the cool side 79. I have full spectrum lighting, a strip uvb fixture, uva bulb (not the cool one,) and a heat emitter. Once it warms up here I will be moving him to a fully enclosed 64 square feet temporary enclosure while working on his permanent home.
My family and I brought Misha home Friday night from the airport. He was off the plane at 9:36 at night and it took till 10:30 for him to reach the pick up counter. When we got him he was cold to the touch (50 degrees) and unmoving. His limbs were sticking out and his eyes were glossy, one being only half open. The only sign of life was he moved his head slightly in and out to take a shallow breath of air. In a panic we rushed to the car and turned on a heat lamp in hopes that warming him up would resuscitate the little guy. He started to slowly stir but as we were driving the bulb on the lamp blew a fuse, and so we cranked up the heater all the way and held him by the vent, measuring his temp with the heat gun at regular intervals. Misha looked like he was improving as his breathes became more regular and he was now blinking and moving his arms around, his shell at this point had warmed up to 93 degrees. He then began to bubble from his mouth a bit so we turned down the heat and set him down in his shipping container. Once we reached the house we brought him into the preheated bathroom and soaked him in 95 degree water. This was the moment I could sigh a breathe of relief as he was trying his hardest to climb up the sides of the bath container.
After his bath brought him to his enclosure where he immediately sprinted to the opposite side. I had always heard that baby Aldabras were skittish but did not know they could move that fast. He moved around, exploring his enclosure and drank a ton by himself but would not take a bite from the food. I figured it is due to the fact of stress from nearly dying, travel and a new enclosure so I was not too worried. He ran around till about 3 in the morning before burying himself in the substrate and tunneling to his hide. We stayed up a couple hours to make sure he was okay.
The next day we let him sleep in till a little past noon and then woke him up to eat. The person who we bought the Aldabra from suggested if he didn’t eat put a bit of fruit to entice him, so we sliced some banana and put it on top of his salad of dandelion and collard greens mixed with grassland tortoise diet. I put him on the plate and the first time he bolted I waited a bit then nudged the terra-cotta plate closer to him. Misha then began eating! Another sense of relief. We only gave him a little bit of food maybe covering 1/8 of the six inch plate. He ate most of the food and went back to exploring. However a new problem arose, as I could hear squeaking as he was breathing and every once awhile he would exhale loudly almost like a sneeze. I monitored him throughout the day and only saw a bubble come out of his nares twice. Both the seller and I agreed it looked like an upper respiratory infection. I have since upped the temperature of the enclosure and have stopped listing the substrate in an attempts to get it warmer in there. Now, the person who sold us Misha has been wonderful and has gone above to help us with our new Aldabra, I just want a second or third opinion on what is the best course of action. The seller thinks I should monitor him and not go to the vet just yet, but I’m getting a bit nervous because I have only seen one very small wet stool and he is refusing to eat today (I have yet to update the seller on his lack of appetite today). I will try again later in the day to offer food.

TLDR: Got a new Aldabra tortoise, was cold and near death brought back to life. Ate a little yesterday but is showing signs of a URI, what is the best course of action to take?
 

Yvonne G

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I would make sure the temperature is 80-85F degrees all over the whole enclosure, day and night, and I would cover the enclosure to keep the cooler house air out.
 

Bee62

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Hi, and welcome to TFO.
I`ve read your introduction and thought there are a few things to change.
Please put out asap the spaghnum moss. Your little tort may eat it and it can cause a bad constipation. Only for information: Don`t ever use sand. It is the same like with the moss.

A 54 gallon tub is way too small for an aldabra tort, even for a hatchling ! They must have space to walk an train their muscles. Get asap a much bigger enclosure and buy one that is closed. Only in a closed chamber you can keep warmth and humidity as high as needed.

Don`t feed fruits. The sugar of fruits can`t be digested well and causes diarrhea.

It was right to increase the temps when your baby tortoise has an upper respiration infect. Keep the temperature in the whole enclosure at 85 F day and night but please, please don`t lower the humidity ! That is wrong. Your tortoise can quick dehydrate and he needs now the humidity when he is sick. Please keep the humidity in the enclosure at 80 - 85 %. You might easily overheat your baby tortoise to dehydration when you don`t keep the humidity high. Dehydration will cause his death !

Soak your tortoise baby twice a day for 30 minutes in warm water. The water must stay warm during the soak. You can soak in the enclosure near a basking lamp when you are monotoring the tortoise during the soak. Add mashed baby carrot food to the soaking water. Maybe he drinks the water but tortoises can also absorb vitamins with / over the skin.

I think you have an open enclosure ? You need a top on it to maintain the warmth and the humidity your tort needs.

Wait a few days and look if he wants to eat when he is feeling better but offer him fresh greens every day to stimulate his appetite.

Good luck with your cute baby aldabra.
 
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BlakeL

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Thanks for the reply bee! It is partially enclosed to keep moisture in humidity is around 70% right now haven’t misted today as was told to try to get it a bit dryer, but will work on keeping temp and humidity up like what was said. The enclosure is temporary as he will be moved once it warms up in my area but in the meantime I can work on a bigger enclosure.
Didn’t know that about sphagum heard it was good for humidity I will redo the substrate ASAP.
As for the banana I only fed a couple slices to entice to eat, any suggestions on a healthier alternative to help entice his appetite?

I will work on soaking him more he just seems so stressed when I tried last, as he was running up the side of the bathing tub trying to get out.
Thanks again for the response it is very appreciated.
 

Bee62

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Soaks are good for your baby tort and keep the digestion working and his appetite coming back ( I hope ).
Do you know what the seller fed him ? My aldabras like belgian endive. It is btw a good tortoise food.
 

BlakeL

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Not sure what he fed him, I will have to ask. Tried some endive today he looked at it for a bit and went back into his hide, will have to double what kind it was though, pretty sure it wasn’t Belgian though, the one I fed looks more like lettuce. I’m warming up the bathroom a bit right now and will soak him shortly.
 

wellington

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Not sure what he fed him, I will have to ask. Tried some endive today he looked at it for a bit and went back into his hide, will have to double what kind it was though, pretty sure it wasn’t Belgian though, the one I fed looks more like lettuce. I’m warming up the bathroom a bit right now and will soak him shortly.
Either endive is fine. I would try some Mazuri tortoise food. Most tortoises love it. Soak it in water until soft and mush it with his greens. Also get some cactus pads, take off the spines, and blend it into tiny chunks.
Like already said keep warm. If you cant get him to eat soon, I would make a vet visit. However, br very careful on finding the right vet. Many do more harm then good. Check out our vet list and see if there is one close.
 

BlakeL

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Either endive is fine. I would try some Mazuri tortoise food. Most tortoises love it. Soak it in water until soft and mush it with his greens. Also get some cactus pads, take off the spines, and blend it into tiny chunks.
Like already said keep warm. If you cant get him to eat soon, I would make a vet visit. However, br very careful on finding the right vet. Many do more harm then good. Check out our vet list and see if there is one close.
Thanks for the tip I have both the LS and original Mazuri, I’ll try both on different days and hopefully he takes to one of them. Had no idea there was a list of tortoise approved vets, saw that a couple were close to me and will look into them! Thanks again!
 

BlakeL

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Thanks for your concern Bee. Misha seems to not make chirping sounds as often when he breathes and has been eating a good amount of food almost everyday. Only somewhat nibbled on his food yesterday, even after offering him food again after a soak with baby food. Will offer him food again in a bit when he wakes up.
Thanks also for the baby soak suggestion as it seems to energize him afterward and usually helps for appetite. He also had his first decent bowel movement since getting him when soaking him yesterday. I never thought I’d be so excited to see poop haha.
Hopefully he eats a good amount today, is it normal for a baby Aldabra to not eat much on some days? The only other tortoise I can reference is a Sulcata, and he’s a eating machine!
 

NorCal tortoise guy

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Mine some times have days were they eat less I’ve looked for a cause but have found non. So I would keep an eye on it but if it’s only now and then I wouldn’t stress about it.
 

Bee62

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@Bee62 Hi, sorry for the super late update. Misha is a lot better and last week just hit the 2 pound mark!
No problem ! Better a late answer than no answer.:) The main thing is that your Misha is eating and healthy. Please keep us updated with pics and stories about him.:tort:
 

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