Soaking and rehydration- benefit and a recipe

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Madkins007

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I have been wrong in my understanding of how and whether reptiles absorb liquids in the cloaca. The sources I initially used that taught that absorption does not occur appear to have been an inadequate sampling of the research.

It seems that most reptiles do absorb something (although there is still debate about what all passes inwardly, etc.), and it is a benefit for stressed or dehydrated tortoises.

So, if your tortoise is stressed, loosing weight, showing signs of dehydration (sunken eyes, dry skin, light body weight, etc.) then a forced soak in water, rehydration or electrolytic solution, and/or thinned fruit or veggie purees (baby foods) probably helps quite a bit more than I had thought or taught.

In partial penance, allow me to offer a recipe for home-made oral rehydration solution, developed by the World Health Organization.

- 1 liter of clean water (H2O)
- 1/2 teaspoon of table salt (NaCl, sodium chloride)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt substiture (KCl, potassium chloride)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (NaHC02, sodium bicarbonate)
- 2 tablespoons table sugar (C12H22O11, sucrose)

Combine and drink (soak in for reptiles). It will taste very salty to someone who is well-hydrated, and delicious to someone who needs the electrolytes (fancy term for the various salts).

Tweaks and hacks include:
- Using 1 teaspoon of Morton 'Lite Salt', which is a half-and-half mix of NaCL and KCl, in place of the first two ingredients.
- For humans, especially kids, use no-sugar flavorings, like Crystal Light, to make it more palatable.
- For tortoises, I might consider cutting back on the sugar, and/or replacing it with a simpler sugar, like fructose or glucose (corn syrup), but I would definitely leave some sugar in the formula since sugars have such an important role in the system. Another option would be to leave the sugar out and use some pureed fruits or vegetables instead.
- For tortoises that are not very dehydrated, I would not use this at all, or dilute it.
- While the jury is still out on WHAT can 'flow' though the cloacal membranes, you may want to add some liquid vitamins to the mix as well!

How often and how long? The most common answers seem to be 2 daily soaks for 15-30 minutes each for very dehydrated tortoises, to once a week or so to help prevent dehydration in healthier tortoises.

So- the sicker the tortoise, the saltier the water (using the above recipe as a guide) and the more often it is soaked.
 

Yvonne G

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Its one of the very first things I learned, many, many years ago (that tortoises will absorb nutrients/liquid through the thin skin around the cloaca), way back when I learned to use alfalfa pellets as a substrate. Almost everything I've ever brought with me from the olden days has proved to be the wrong thing, but I always saw benefits from the soaking, so I've kept espousing it.

There was an article once that even said a certain water turtle actually drinks through its cloaca. I think it was an Australian turtle. Don't ask me for the title, because I didn't keep it.
 

ascott

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This is reason I will soak mine from time to time even if they are hydrated....I soak them like a bucket of beans......LOL :D
 

Yvonne G

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LOL! but not overnight, I hope!! :p
 

dmmj

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aren't beans soaked in a pot for like 12 hours?
 

ascott

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LMAO....actually now that you mention it....one time along time ago when my old man Humphry was impacted (when previous host was "taking care" of him) I had been doing 2-3 soaks a day....well he was in my office where I use to work and he was soaking , well I got a call on the radio that I was needed, so I knew Humphry would be fine while I ran off for a few minutes...weeeelllll....two hours later I get back to my office and check in the soaker and there he laid, head fully extended proped against the tub wall, legs fully extended and limply laying about, eyes closed....I had the space heater near his tub so the water was still warm....all he was missing was the bubble bath and candles..LOL....I actually left him while I did some paperwork until he came to on his own....to this day he is my best soaker
:D
 

CtTortoiseMom

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Do you think that I should cut the recipe in half for my Leo hatchling? I think this is really great. I don't want to use the recipe for daily soak's but I was thinking about adding it to my weekly routine. I also want to soak the big one's once a week using this recipe. I feel like it could help in keeping their immune system on track throughout their "indoor" season.
 

Kristina

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Great thread Mark, I am glad that you were able to step up on this one ;)

Yvonne, softshell turtles can "breathe" (absorb oxygen) through the cloaca. Could that be what you are thinking of?
 

Ashliewood

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I truly believe that soaking my russian twice a day for 30 min saved his life :-/ he is so healthy and active now! I will definately try this recipe
 

LeoCraze

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I also have a water dish in the enclosure and sometimes the baby leos will soak themselves.
 

Madkins007

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CtTortoiseMom said:
Do you think that I should cut the recipe in half for my Leo hatchling? I think this is really great. I don't want to use the recipe for daily soak's but I was thinking about adding it to my weekly routine. I also want to soak the big one's once a week using this recipe. I feel like it could help in keeping their immune system on track throughout their "indoor" season.

There is no reason I can think of that cutting the recipe, etc. would really affect it. Also, other than the sugar, there is no reason you could not make it up in bulk and just store it for the next use, then add some sugar just before use.

Or... if you mix up the dry ingredients, you can use a heaped teaspoon (1.1333 teaspoons to be picky) of the mix per full 8oz cup of water. The dry mix should last almost forever if you keep it dry.

To make this easy- measure how many cups your soak tub holds, and mark the 'fill to' line on the side, then note how much mix you need (remember: 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon).
 

lynnedit

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Wow, great suggestion. I like it as a preventive measure. Even when my torts are outside full time, when the weather is hot and dry, even with access to water, I soak them weekly just to be on the safe side. Might not be necessary, but it sure doesn't hurt them.
This might be a good idea to supplement with your formula.
 

fbsmith3

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My Box turtle always has access to a hiding spot and a large water bowl (to swim). As an added prevention once a month, I used to bathe her is a sea salt, baking soda solution. I didn't use sugar or table salt. I only stopped because someone I know who raises tortoises told me that it should only be used for dehydrated tortoises and using it on a box turtle is "silly" since Box turtles routinely swim in water.
 

Madkins007

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If your boxie or tortoise routinely self-soaks, great! Many do not however, and dehydration is one of the most common problems in tortoises seen by vets. Gee, we usually raise them in a heated box... kind of like a food dehydrator. Go figure! ;)

I don't know if it works for Boxies, but you can use the Donohue Formula to determine if your tort is dehydrated- shell length in centimeters, cubed, times 0.191 gives you the expected minimum weight in grams. (Multiply by 0.113 to use inches and pounds, but it is less accurate). My guys feel OK and eat well in a well-humidified habitat and are almost always a little dehydrated according to this formula, until I started soaking them a couple times a week recently. Early results are promising!

Sea salt is basically expensive table salt with a few trace minerals in it. Using the three kinds of sodiums or chlorides accomplishes the same thing. Sugar takes the bitter edge off the taste, as well as adding important nutrients and minerals- although it seems to work well with less than the formula calls for.
 

fbsmith3

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Thank you for this formula, although she soaks herself several times a day and loves to bury herself in moist moss. It is still good to know how well she is doing.

I was talking to my wife about some turtles will pee when picked up. Cleo has never peed on me or my family, my wife asked about dehydration. With this formula I will know for sure.

Cleo likes to put her head underwater. I hate when she puts her head underwater. Does anyone else have a Box turtle that like to keep there head underwater?
 

foxboysracing

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my box turtles all drink by putting their heads completely under the water. It's perfectly normal for them, and nothing to worry about.
Also, I bathe my boxies as often as I can. Sometimes it is daily for a short time, and other times it is just twice a week. My tortoises even love a good bath once a week. This is just in fresh warm water, but they all seem to love it. It also helps if you want to let them run around your house, because you know that they will almost always potty int eh water, so you know you might be 'safe' for a few hours inside. even in their outside enclosure in the summer, my boxies have a small shallow pond for them to sunbathe in. They love it. My terrapins also have a old boat for a summer home. It's really great. They have plenty of room to swim around and bask on the seats on the ends. the bonus also is that when it is grungy you flip it over, scrub it quickly, and re fill it. As simple as can be....
 

nikki0601

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I think I am going to use this on my Sully as a preventative measure, thanks for the info!!
 

DeanS

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Missed this one the first time around...great advice Mark!
 
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