Tortoise growth

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GeoTerraTestudo

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When I first got my Russian tortoise pair almost two years ago, the male was slightly bigger than the female. Since then, the female has surpassed the male in size, as you'd expect in Testudo. However, while the female grows almost continuously (she did go through one growth spurt last spring), the male seems to go through long periods where he hardly grows at all. Has anyone else seen this pattern in their tortoises? If not, is there something wrong if a tortoise hasn't grown in a while?
 

wellington

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I can't really help on this. But do you have pics you cold post. Maybe one of when you got them and one now. How old are they? Could the male already be full grown?
 

GeoTerraTestudo

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Sure, I'll post pix. Neither one is full grown. I'm not certain of their ages, but they're probably around three years old. Here are their measurements, then and now:

Mork:
May 2011 - 4.1 inches SCL, 360 g
March 2013 - 4.5 inches SCL, 407 g

Mindy:
May 2011 - 3.7 inches SCL, 325 g
March 2013 - 5.5 inches, SCL, 848 g

As you can see, the female grew a lot, which you'd expect. But should the male have grown a bit more than that by now, or is that normal?
 

Tom

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Thats not much growth for your male. Where did you get them?
 

GeoTerraTestudo

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Petco. He doesn't eat as much as the female, which could be part of it. He also lost too much weight last winter when his brumation failed, and had to be nursed back to health. He looks healthy, but could he still be recovering from that?
 

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Yes. That's possible.

Have you had fecals done? Any other diagnostics? There are several things that "farm raised" russians often carry that can cause the sort of problems you are seeing. Some of the bugs don't necessarily kill them, but can cause long term failure to thrive. Some of them are both difficult and expensive to diagnose.

Just one example common to imported russians: Cryptosporidia. Doesn't show up in a fecal. You have to do a gastric lavage to find it, and even that doesn't always turn it up when its there. Necropsy is the only 100% sure way to find it, but that won't help your male at all. They just seem to live it it and never thrive. Its very contagious too. Because it causes this low level failure to thrive, their hampered immune system can allow in all sorts of secondary problems that are often misdiagnosed as the primary problem.

I hope something like this is not your problem, but it is a possibility that I have seen before.
 

GeoTerraTestudo

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Wow. I hope that's not it. But even if such parasites can't be detected outright, can veterinarians eradicate them with medication?
 

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GeoTerraTestudo said:
Wow. I hope that's not it. But even if such parasites can't be detected outright, can veterinarians eradicate them with medication?

Not that one. Its a bad deal and its common to imported russians, stars and pancakes, according to all the vets I've talked to that know about this one. There are others too. Some treatable, some not. Some people choose to treat with various meds or wormers to try and wipe out some of the bad bugs. It can work as sort of a "trial by fire" means of diagnosis too. This is a judgement call. Some people feel the meds are worse for them than the disease. I don't have the answer here. Just sharing some things I've learned over the years.
 

GeoTerraTestudo

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Oh no, my little Morky. :(

I'll post pix soon. To look at him, you wouldn't know there's anything wrong. He looks so good. But if he's not growing very much, then a visit to the vet would be a good idea, no?
 

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GeoTerraTestudo said:
Oh no, my little Morky. :(

I'll post pix soon. To look at him, you wouldn't know there's anything wrong. He looks so good. But if he's not growing very much, then a visit to the vet would be a good idea, no?

Debatable. If these things are not easy to diagnose, and not treatable, what's the point of a vet visit? If he has crypto, a vet won't be able to diagnose it or treat it. If he doesn't, then no need to go to the vet anyway. Last I heard there was a test coming out for some of the virals that are common to the russians. Maybe your vet will know more about that.

Gastric lavage was $300 down here last I checked and not a guarantee of diagnosis. Even if you diagnose it, there is no treatment. I checked. I kept looking until I found the premier expert on this disease organism. He told me there is no treatment, much less a cure. Some species seem to be able to just live with it and harbor it. It does minimal damage if they are not stressed, but they carry and shed it continuously. Euthanasia and incineration are the only cure.

He might not even have this. Just a possibility of one thing is all. There are lots of other possible explanations. Don't want to scare you. Just make you aware.
 

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Do you feed Mazuri? Sometimes that can pop them out of a slow spot.
 

GeoTerraTestudo

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Mindy has been eating it for a long time. Mork used to refuse it, but I'm happy to say that he has started eating it lately, too. I'm hoping that helps. :)
 

GeoTerraTestudo

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I spoke with someone at our local reptile humane society yesterday. She thinks it's doubtful that Mork has crypto, since it's so rare (she has only seen it in a few lizards). She thinks his growth seems normal and that I'm worried over nothing, which is a relief. She said that if anything, it might be a good idea just to take him to a reptile vet along with a fecal sample to see if there might be something more mundane going on. I guess we'll see. Spring is on its way, so if he doesn't grow much this summer, I'll probably take him in.
 
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