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Sudden Death in Aldabra

Discussion in 'Aldabra tortoises' started by wellington, Jan 27, 2018.

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  1. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member Tortoise Club

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    Sudden Death in Aldabra Tortoises


    Annalise
    New Member, Female, from Seychelles

    1. New
      Hi Everyone

      I am new to the Tortoise Forum. I have no idea how to make this a general conversation for everyone to see if you would assist me, Josh??

      In November 2016 i was given 2 baby Aldabra Tortoises which were about 1 month old at the time and we also adopted a mis-treated 4 year old tortoise.

      The older tortoise was very nervous around people and would go days without eating but the babies always ate well.

      All the tortoises live outside in their enclosure. Note: we live in the Seychelles which is the origin of these tortoises, so they are living in their natural climate.

      Last September we found the big tortoise dead in his cave one morning (so he would have been 5 years old). His neck was extended, almost like he had choked on food. We were devastated but had no way of understanding what had happened to him. The babies (now 1 year old) were fine and healthy and actually flourished a little more than before.

      A few days ago we noticed the smaller of the two babies (Hammy) went off her food. We kept an eye on her and did some research and noted that its not unusual for a tortoise to not eat for a few days. We have had a lot of rain in the last weeks, but temperature still warm and their pen does not hold water and drains well. Yesterday, we checked on the tortoises in the morning and noticed Hammy was very weak and not moving much - she was clearly not well at all. We rushed to take her to the vet but on route she started gasping for air and appeared to pass away (went limp). I had read that tortoises can appear dead but be in some comatose state so carried on to the vet. The vet confirmed that there was some signs of life and gave her a steroid injection and said to monitor her. She never recovered and this morning we made the call that she was indeed gone. We have no idea what has happened?? We are so devastated and worry that it is something we have done/not done. We are not tortoise experts but do take very good care of them, making sure they are washed and have a varied diet.

      I am just wondering if people have any ideas of what could be happening?? i am so scared the last one will die now.
      Annalise, Today
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  2. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    thnk you for sharing. So sorry for your loss.
  3. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I'm so very sorry this is happening, but I'm sorry to say, I haven't a clue what went wrong.
  4. Annalise

    Annalise New Member

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    More information on their care...

    They live outside in a painted concrete block pen. They have a sandy area, a rainforest area with grass floor and hibiscus plants. They have a granite cave to go in and a water pond that is cleaned and refilled every one to 2 days.

    We feed them a variety of lettuces, tomato, cucumber, local leafy plants. Occasionally they get fruits such as mango, pawpaw, apple etc.

    The vet that checked her (who isnt a reptile expert) said he thought is sounded like she was having digestive issues because of the smells being emitted from her when he handled her.

    She hadn't been eating for 2 days before she died but was otherwise well, moving around and active.

    Such a mystery!
  5. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member Tortoise Club

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    One thing I know is that seeds of apples are poisonous. My dog ate three apple cores within three days, a few months back and I almost lost her. The apples only had about 4-5 small seeds each but three in three days was too much. So, if feeding apples, do not let them eat the seeds.
    I also wouldcut down on the fruit for the little ones. Too much sugar will not play good with the good bacteria in their guts.
    @ALDABRAMAN may be able to give some insight here.
  6. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I think they should be getting more weeds and grasses.
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  7. Tidgy's Dad

    Tidgy's Dad Well-Known Member

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    I am very sorry to see you have lost a couple.
    Check to make sure that the plants that the tortoises have had access to are all safe to eat.
    It is possible they have eaten something they shouldn't .
  8. Sesel

    Sesel Well-Known Member

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    Welcome @Annalise

    Not eating is one of the first signs that something is not right (unless its environment has changed and it will take time adjusting).

    The 5 year old may have already been unhealthy when you got it.

    Did you ever notice if it had a soft shell?
    What about difficulty in using rear legs?

    Can you please give some more information about what else they were being fed?
    Please name the local leafy plants (in Creole is fine if you know the name).
  9. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    This really really sounds (in my humble opinion) like poisoning of some description. Anything like MBD or infections would have gradually displayed over weeks and months even. In just two days the tort got sick and died. I'd be scouring the garden and what they have access to.
  10. Annalise

    Annalise New Member

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    Yes we think now maybe we have been giving too much fruit. I have a mango trees which has just been recently dropping hundreds of mangos so perhaps they have had more than usual lately.

    They rarely have apple. We actually thought this might have been one the 5 year old choked on so if we give it to them, we cut it up really fine and no seeds or core.
  11. Annalise

    Annalise New Member

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    The tortoises are at our self catering apartments. We have a sign in the apartments asking guests not to feed them unless they give the food to us first, so its possible someone fed them but I haven't seen anything unusual in their pen. And the other one is perfectly fine and they eat the same food.
  12. Annalise

    Annalise New Member

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    Yes, she got sick so quickly. Even when she went off her food, she was herself otherwise, active and moving around. The only plants in their pen are hibiscus plants, grass and a palm tree. The one that died sleeps in the grass, whereas the other one sleeps in the cave, with the sandy floor. So we thought maybe she got bitten by ants or centipede from the grass??? But there's none in the pen that we can see?
  13. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    @Annalise it couldn't have been bitten by some critter? scorpion/snake - maybe this is too out there actually, I still don't think an overdose of mango would kill it tho. I really feel it's a poisoning of some sort.
  14. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    Ah I just saw your response- so you did check the 'being bitten' theory. It's so awful to have a sudden death like this.
  15. Annalise

    Annalise New Member

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    They get the local lettuce, a plant they call bread here (weird, i know) (i guess a bit like bok choy), mange tout (not the snow pea kind, its more like a viney leafy plant) and chinese cabbage. Occasionally they get pumpkin leaves and flowers, they would eat the hibiscus leaves and flowers, growing in the pend and then fruit and cucumbers and lettuce. They don't gravitate to the leaves, more so the cucumber and tomato goes first.

    Her underside was a little soft, as is her brothers. Top shells are nice and hard. She had good mobility and loved to climb her little granite boulders.

    Yes, the 5 year old was always a little strange and didn't eat too often, I don't think he was looked after very well before we got him.

    The only change to the environment was that we were getting a lot of rain, like a week solid. No ponding in their pen, it drains well, and they have their cave to go in to keep dry. But they both love the rain and as usually out enjoying it when it rains. The temperature drops when it rains but its still doesn't drop below 26 degrees (C) at the lowest.
  16. Annalise

    Annalise New Member

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    No visible bite marks on her, no swelling. But maybe lots of ant bites would hurt them?? I am just so upset with myself as the day before when she wasn't eating I thought, maybe I should take her to the vet but as she was so active I thought i'd leave it another day.... next day it was too late as she was already nearly dead when we found her in the morning. It was awful, she was gasping for air in the end.
  17. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    We should work backwards a bit, what would kill a tort in just two days if they ate it? @Tom deals with vets on a reg basis and may help.

    For example could a piece of chocolate do it? Do tortoises eat plastic/food wrappers or know not to.

    It sounds like a poisoning, you saw no bite marks on the poor thing- so not a critter, and there is a variable you have of human food possibly sneaking into their diet.

    Worth investigating so you dont go thru it again, and also in case you add more.
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  18. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    @Annalise 100% do not blame yourself, please. So rapid a decline - no way you could have known it was terminal.
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  19. Sesel

    Sesel Well-Known Member

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    Please see this website for a rough guide on what is safe or not: http://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk
    We've also lost young ones before. We think it was because of improper diet (cabbage, broccoli etc.). These can damage the liver and kidneys, although you won't see the symptoms/signs until a few months later. They are usually still active and eat well, until one day when they suddenly stop eating, but by then it is already too late.

    Usually it's the weakest ones which go first. Hopefully it is not too late for your remaining one.

    Luckily, i don't think the snakes & scorpions we have over here are poisonous :D

    I recently heard from someone that 'mange tout' is not good for them, though we also feed it to ours. I have no idea why, maybe someone else will know. I think it is a version of Asystasia gangetica, might be the micrantha subspecies.

    I don't think the rain and slight drop in temperature had an adverse effect on them.

    We've also experienced these.
  20. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    @Sesel how long to death from when they stop eating?

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