Swelling in neck....


New Member
Dec 21, 2020
Location (City and/or State)
Hello everyone,

I am a new tort owner looking for help. I found this hatchling about 8 weeks ago and it (do not know if it's a boy or girl yet) roamed into my driveway and straight into my heart. Here is a picture of it when I first got it. Its name is Rome! We've had quite an adventure with the baby already so let me give you a bit of background.


DEC 7: The day of the vet visit he didn’t walk out of his habitat so I put him out for some rays. He kept rubbing his left eye with his paw. Wasn’t sure if he was sleepy and rubbing it to wake up or irritated. He ate exactly like the day before (a few nibbles here and there but not like his normal appetite). After eating a bit he began to open his mouth really wide and paw at it. Usually I would see something hanging from his mouth but didn’t see anything. He began to extend his neck long and quickly pull his neck back into his shell and did it a few times. Then I heard a few audible breaths from him and I began to worry. Called the emergency vet and drove him over. This is what he looked like before we drove him over.

So the emergency vet had told us that he was a bit dehydrated. They also gave us the option for an x-ray to check it's lungs for any signs of respiratory issues. They didn’t see any signs of choking and it had a bowel movement that was normal. We opted for some fluids (they called it a repti-rinse) and they also said it could possibly be that it needs to be warmer in its habitat. They also mentioned there was a bit of puffiness around his neck. And to give him a daily soak for 10-20 min. They gave us a care sheet for it that includes care instructions.

In the care instructions, they gave us they said that the reptibark wasn’t a good ground flooring as they can eat it and it can cause dust particles to get into the eye. The emergency doctor followed up with me and they spoke to the reptile specialist and they said that even the coconut flooring we had in the image they can eat too. They said that newspaper works best. I was planning on lining the bottom with the coconut flooring and topping it off with newspaper. Here is a before and after images of it's habitat.

I know it can be multiple things that could be the problem and I know these babies are so delicate with care instructions. I wanted to start from ground 0 and see how well it does.
With the reptibark gone he has come out to the daylight all on his own at 8:30. Still a bit lethargic, but it did eat two-finger pinches of food one with calcium and another with vitamins.

Dec 9: I noticed that his left side of his neck is really puffy. Here is an image of him that day.
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I know that was petting on top and under his neck when he was “choking” two days ago too. Not sure if that had something to do with it. He did eat that day and was walking around normally (not as lethargic). He was eating a diet of finely chopped baby carrots, cucumber, White clovers, rose petals, and romaine lettuce. The swelling did go down the following day with some added heat.

Dec 22: So in the afternoon today, I noticed it is swollen again. Here are some pictures. Today It was on a diet of white clovers, rose petals, and romaine lettuce.
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So I did give it some calcium today and I was wondering if it's possible it could be from that? Am I giving this baby too much calcium? Here's the brand of calcium I give it and the ingredients listed on the back. With an example of the amount of food and calcium, I give it. It didn't eat all of its food with calcium (maybe half?). It's been on a diet of white clovers, rose petals, and romaine lettuce.

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I did catch it eating one of the sides of cardboard hide boxes I gave it for a hide. I gave it some food right after and it gobbled it up. I'll include a picture for reference.

It has had some trouble pooping recently too. Yesterday it had one big long one that fell out in increments. I have been giving him a soak for 20 min daily in some warm water. Today it made a small poop, but ate three times today! Not really sure what's causing this swelling in this poor baby. What are your thoughts? Is it time for a vet visit with a reptile specialist?

I also have a spreadsheet that includes more info like basking temps and other temps in its habitat for reference. I thank you all in advance for your expertise!


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The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 9, 2010
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
As usual, bad advice from vets that are totally ignorant of tortoise care. I have no doubt you meant to do the right thing, but vets don't know anything about tortoises and almost always give bad advice and do the wrong things. There is no semester on tortoise care in vet school.

Follow this care sheet if you want your baby to live: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-best-way-to-raise-any-temperate-species-of-tortoise.183131/

Orchid bark IS dusty if its bone dry. Same with the coir. That's why it should NEVER be bone dry.

Read through that care sheet and then feel free to ask as many questions as you want.

Make sure the baby is soaked daily, kept warm, has damp substrate and a humid hide, and is not kept outside all day.

I have no idea what is causing the edema on the neck, but offering optimal living conditions and diet will help sort it out, if it can be sorted out. The edema could be caused by kidney problems from dehydration. The newspaper or any other dry substrate will be a big contributor to this problem, if this is the problem.

Skip K

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2020
Location (City and/or State)
I wouldn’t use newspaper...especially colored ads. Many negatives to newspaper as mentioned above ...but too many dyes/inks that easily come off...especially if wet... would worry me as well
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