Tortoise seems dead, but is moving

Makg32

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Mar 26, 2017
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Several days ago I noticed that my tortoise's shell was becoming softer and it was almost like there was an air bubble under the shell. He was still eating that night and seemed better yesterday, the shell returned to normal and he was active as usual. This morning when I went in to check on him his undershell was hard and his eyes were sunken in and there was a fowl smelling liquid secreting from under the back of his shell. I thought he was dead, but then he began moving, not far only about an inch or two, but then he rolled over onto his back. I had a tortoise die a few years ago and this is exactly how he was dead. What could be going on?
 

SarahChelonoidis

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What species of tortoise are we talking about? Any photos? Your description of this is quite strange. Shells don't go from soft one day to hard the next. By air bubble, do you mean he felt light or that there was actually a bubble pushing up in the carapace? Oozing bad smelling liquids is obviously a bad sign, but if he is moving, he is clearly not dead. I don't understand how he rolled over on his back... that is not something a tortoise can easily do.
 

Makg32

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Russian. I am trying to get a photo to upload. He is young so obviously his shell is soft to an extent but it was unusual like when I pressed on it it was like there was a mass of air inside of his shell. The liquid kinda of seemed like a runny feces, it has stopped now. When I touch his front legs he pulls them in weakly, but the head is responsive and he is unresponsive to touch on the back legs. His eyes have not been open all morning and the head flops. Its seriously like he is dead, but not. I did not witness him roll over, but when I returned to check on him twice within 20 minutes he was on his back and he lives in an enclosure alone.
 

SarahChelonoidis

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Post photos of the enclosure too. He is flipping himself on something - and if it's underneath a heat lamp or in a water bowl - that can be quickly fatal.

Tell us about how you've been caring for him - what kind of bulbs are you using? What is your basking temperature? What is the cool end temperature? What is your overnight low temperature? How often are you soaking this tortoise? What have you been feeding?
 

Yvonne G

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I'm afraid it sounds as if your tortoise is at death's door. I really doubt there's anything even a vet would be able to do, however, that should be your next move - take him to the vet immediately.

Then, if you want to get another tortoise, read the care sheets pinned at the top of the Russian section, and make changes to your husbandry according to those care sheets. 90% of these problems are due to poor husbandry.
 

Makg32

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The first photo is still saying error when I try to upload. The basking temperature is 90 degrees. I am not sure about the cool temperature or overnight temperature, but I have a UVB bulb that my vet sold me as well as the infrared night bulbs recommended by the pet store. He is soaked every other day, but has a shallow watering dish available at all times, not deep enough for him to even submerge his feet. I feed him an assortment of Kale and collards mainly. I dust the food in calcium powder every other day and mix the powder in with tortoise treat on alternating days. His enclosure is indoors however I have had a secure area for him outdoors where I put him for an hour each day. He does have a hideout in the outdoor area as well and I never leave him out there unattended longer than just long enough to grab a drink or something. He has never done this flipping thing until today, im wondering if he may have done it on his half log hideout. I'm almost positive he is dead now. I am devastated, this little guy was my world. Ive got him in with the emergency clinic and we are about to be on our way. i will update when I know more.
 

Makg32

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Sorry it has taken me so long to post an update, it has been a traumatic day. Unfortunately, the vet confirmed that Shubby passed away most likely do to a respiratory infection. I am beyond devasted and dont really know what to do with myself right now. Please keep me in your thoughts as I prepare to give him a proper burial.
 
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