Three-Toed Box Turtle and Medication Question

Sancheck

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Hello. I'm San and I joined just to ask this question, as I am kind of desperate. About six months ago, my husband and I took in our first rescued box turtle (not my first box turtle ever, but the first we've adopted specifically because of abandonment), and she's been as healthy as she can be ever since, so we thought we would take in a second rescued boxie just this past week. We heard about a box turtle from an amateur "backyard breeder" that needed a forever home, as she was rescued from neglectful conditions and had quite a bit of unsightly (though healed) damage to her shell from a nasty encounter with a lawnmower. We decided to adopt her, and I took her to the vet yesterday. Unfortunately, come to find out, she has two types of parasites from her terrible living conditions: coccidia, and I forget what he said the other was (I think it started with an "m" and it has flagellates?). :( Her symptoms are diarrhea and goopy eyes in the mornings, and so he gave her a liquid mix of two types of anti-parasite medication and an antibiotic just to be sure on the eyes. Trouble is, she's eating very little when she is eating, and I'm mixing it into her water too, but I haven't caught her drinking yet.

Though it has only been one day, I'm feeling worried because I don't know how else to get her dose to her. I can't get her to open her mouth for the life of me. I've tried every technique I've found online, and none of them seem to work. She's just so docile and sweet, nothing annoys her enough, and the vet said I could break her beak if I try to pry her mouth open. :( He said she's not in any immediate danger--it's not life-threatening, or at least not yet. His tests suggest it's an infestation that's been going on for a while, but not too long, and she's not underweight, and she is still eating and drinking some. So I have time to figure this out. But of course, as a newbie to the whole "rescue" thing I am afraid I've made an oversight because I just don't know what to do or how to get her to take it.

So I suppose my questions are this:

1. How can I get a reluctant turtle to open its mouth, especially if it's extremely docile?
2. Is there anything else I could be doing to insure she gets the dose?
3. Are there any alternatives that you know of to treating coccidia that I could try if this doesn't work out? Or rather, I suppose, how worried should I be? He said she could get a shot for one parasite, but not the other. What other options do I have?

Thank you in advance for all your time and help.
 
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Sancheck

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For reference, she is meant to be taking a mix of sulfadimethoxine, metronidazole, and amoxicillin at a dose of .10 ml for (supposedly) 10 days.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi, and welcome to the Forum!

I operate a rescue for turtles and tortoises and one of the most common animals that come here is a box turtle. So in order to save money, and not have to visit the vet all the time for things that I should have been able to do myself, I've learned to do quite a bit of the "mechanical" stuff on my own.

Years ago I received a catalog in the mail intended for hobbyists. I glanced through the book and came upon an advert for some tools used in model airplane building. They looked just right for having here in my bag of trick and I ordered them. This one comes in real handy for opening beaks:

tool a.jpg tool b.jpg

In the first picture it's laying flat and in the second picture I turned it up on edge so you can see how thin it is. The white image near the tip is merely the metal reflecting off the surface it's sitting on. The tool is very thin metal with rounded edges.

The top beak of a box turtle sits ever so slightly over the outside of the bottom beak. So when trying to pry open a box turtle's beak, you want to lay the tool flat against the outside of the bottom beak and slide it up between top and bottom, then slightly twist the tool to pry open the mouth. Some people use a credit card to do this, but I've found for box turtles a credit card doesn't fit in the small space between upper and lower beak.

If I ever have a spare body come over with two extra hands, I'll take pictures of this process, but as it is, with only my two hands, it's all I can do to hold out the head and use the tool at the same time.
 

Yvonne G

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I probably couldn't do this, but maybe you can try to inject the medication into a worm and feed the worm?
 

Sancheck

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Thank you so much for the advice! So the tool should go where the gap between the top and bottom beak is, right in the front?

I have tried the worm thing and she just doesn't seem interested in the worms.
:( But I've been hoping maybe she'll eat tomorrow? Til then, I may try to hunt down one of those tools. I really appreciate the suggestion.
 

Yvonne G

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No. You lay the tool flat up against the SIDE of the lower beak and slide it up under the upper beak, on the side of the head.
 

TLWR

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What about super worms? If you can get her to happily eat some of those, maybe put her meds on top of the superworm or even meal worms?
My turtles are also fans of dried crickets - maybe something could be done with those?
 

JennK

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When ky first boxie, spike, came to me he had a sever respiratory infection as well as phunmonia. My method was a dental syringe (the one with a thin tip and a slight curve, and and stubbornness. I would hold him to my chest, head facing up, and wait till he opened his mouth, then shoot as much of it in as I could then repeat. Spike also was lackin in nutrition and refused to eat because of his illnesses, so I purchased some criti-care from the vets office (non prescription) which is truly the most nutritious food in a dried powdered form that you mix with water, I'd mix it with his meds and shoot it down right with it it took me 6months to get him to a point that I knew he'd pull through.
 

Sancheck

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I have tried meal worms, but not the other two. Maybe she would be more interested in crickets? Do you think it's worth trying different foods with her? I also tried beef, and she wouldn't take it.
 

Sancheck

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That's some amazing dedication with Spike! Did you just wait for him to open his mouth like yawning, or did you do anything to prompt it? She doesn't seem to want to open her mouth no matter what I do. I haven't tried the tool yet. Gonna try that in the morning. May try the dental syringe if I can find one, if the tool doesn't work.
 

JennK

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Nope, nothing special. I'd just sit there and wait and eventually he would get frustrated at the angle he was being held at and would try to get away. It is messy and you wont always get everything in, but he got enough. I'd also give him a bath with a bit of eurethromyacin mixed in the water, that way he would absorb some through his skin and when he drank. I would consult your vet before mixing medication though. The key to giving turtles medication is to be more stubborn and have more patience then them.
 

lisa127

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When my boxie had to take medication i used smelly canned dog food to mix the medication in and she ate it that way. Not a normal part of her diet and yummy so she couldn't resist. Maybe you can try that?
 
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