selbe85

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I've had my Burmese Star hatchlings for a couple months. I noticed this week their shells are becoming soft, some more than others and it worries me. What can I do to make it better?

Tortoise #1 (Kross) - very soft carapace/plastron, lethargic, not eating
#2 (Jack) - soft carapace/plastron, more lethargic than normal, not eating much
#3 (Bridgeton) - soft carapace/plastron, normal energy/appetite
#4 Wo Fat - soft plastron, normal energy/appetite

Habitat: Coco coir, Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 Uvb, heat bulb, fogger
Can get 90-100 under the heat, high humidity, its very wet in there and the coir is very soaked right now.

Food: Romaine, Mazuri, other various weeds from the yard like grass and clovers, prickly pear, probably some other things.
Haven't been using my calcium much so increased it this week. Also purchased the Fluker's Repta Vitamin Reptile Supplement.

Added pictures of the enclose.
 

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KarenSoCal

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Hello! I have a 3 year old Burmese Star...I'm so sorry your babies are having a problem.

I can't just pinpoint what's going on with them, so I'm going to suggest a few possibilities, and you see if anything sounds likely.

Burmese like it hot and humid, and they are not prone to shell rot, so I doubt if the wet conditions are causing this. You might want to add a bit of dry substrate on top so they aren't laying in water, though.

When you say the shells are soft...are they squishy like a sponge? Or more like a Tupperware lid?

You say you haven't been using the calcium much...have you been using it at all? The proper amount is a small pinch 2 or 3 times a week. If you have been using it rarely or not at all, I would do a pinch 3 times weekly.

The UVB light you are using...how high is it mounted above the babies' shells? How long have you been using that bulb? How often is the bulb turned on, and for how many hours? By any chance, have you checked the output with a solarmeter?

Could you take a picture of each baby's plastron and post them? Is there any pink coloring showing on or under the plastron?

Have you been able to take them outside for some sunshine yet?

In case you haven't read this, it's our care sheet for stars. Please read it carefully and compare the instructions with how you've been keeping your babies. Maybe something will pop out at you so we can get them on the way to recovery.

I know it's a lot of questions, but the answers will help us figure out what's wrong. I'm also going to call on some help in case I missed something. Both of these members breed Burmese. They don't like to be called experts, but that's what they are. 😁 😃

@Tom
@Markw84
 

Tom

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I've had my Burmese Star hatchlings for a couple months. I noticed this week their shells are becoming soft, some more than others and it worries me. What can I do to make it better?

Tortoise #1 (Kross) - very soft carapace/plastron, lethargic, not eating
#2 (Jack) - soft carapace/plastron, more lethargic than normal, not eating much
#3 (Bridgeton) - soft carapace/plastron, normal energy/appetite
#4 Wo Fat - soft plastron, normal energy/appetite

Habitat: Coco coir, Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 Uvb, heat bulb, fogger
Can get 90-100 under the heat, high humidity, its very wet in there and the coir is very soaked right now.

Food: Romaine, Mazuri, other various weeds from the yard like grass and clovers, prickly pear, probably some other things.
Haven't been using my calcium much so increased it this week. Also purchased the Fluker's Repta Vitamin Reptile Supplement.

Added pictures of the enclose.
1. What kind of 10.0 bulb? Long tube or cfl?
2. What mounting distance for the UV bulb? How far above the tortoises?
3. Any sunning in an outdoor enclosure?
4. I see no hides in your pics.
5. The coir needs to be firmly hand packed and it looks too wet in your pics. If you grab a handful and squeeze, does water pour out? Fine grade orchid bark works much better. You can get 24 quart bags from Chewy.com for about $18.
6. No foggers in tortoise enclosures. Humidity should be maintained by reducing ventilation in a closed chamber.
7. Where did you get them and how were they started?

I suspect your problem is lack of UV. Regular 10.0 bulbs produce hardly any, and cfl bulbs even less. You need HO tubes for tortoises that don't get real sunshine regularly.
 

G-stars

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To add to @Tom how often are they soaked? I could only see one of these guy’s eyes and they looked sunk in, which means they are dehydrated. How much do they currently weight?
 

Markw84

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The carapace should never feel soft. It firms up quickly upon hatching. The plastron will have give like a tupperware lid the first few weeks but should firm up after. It does sound like a lack of calcium/UVB. From your picture I only see a deep double dome fixture. I would assume a compact fluorescent is being used. That could be a main issue as they put out very little UVB. Without outdoor time and with a compact fluorescent - there is no way your tortoise is getting adequate UVB.

Also, with no secure hiding places, you tortoises are going to be under constant low-grade stress as they cannot find an adequate place to feel secure and comfortable. I use a lot of plants that overhang and create a forest for my babies. If it is not hard to find your tortoises in the enclosure when you go to bathe them, you do not have an environment I would feel is best. Low-grade, constant stress will definitely affect the metabolism.

Do you know much about the breeder where you got them? High Incubation temps the last several weeks can also cause this as well as not starting the hatchlings properly. That is another thing you could check.
 

zolasmum

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Is that a fly catching strip hanging down from the top? If so, I would have thought it needs to be fixed well out of the way of the tortoises, where it can't brush against them.
Angie
 

KarenSoCal

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Well, I posted last night, but forgot to attach the care sheet. So...

 

selbe85

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St Clair MO
When you say the shells are soft...are they squishy like a sponge? Or more like a Tupperware lid?

You say you haven't been using the calcium much...have you been using it at all? The proper amount is a small pinch 2 or 3 times a week. If you have been using it rarely or not at all, I would do a pinch 3 times weekly.

The UVB light you are using...how high is it mounted above the babies' shells? How long have you been using that bulb? How often is the bulb turned on, and for how many hours? By any chance, have you checked the output with a solarmeter?

Could you take a picture of each baby's plastron and post them? Is there any pink coloring showing on or under the plastron?

Have you been able to take them outside for some sunshine yet?
Maybe more like a tupperware lid. Or in between the sponge and lid.

I've been using it rarely. So increasing now. But the problem is two are not eating so they are not taking it in.

UVB is about 18" above them. And 12 hours a day. I've been using it since I got them about 2 months ago but haven't checked the output.

Plastron pictures posted. No pink, looks normal.

Got them outside the last couple days after seeing some posts that it might help.
 

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selbe85

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Location (City and/or State)
St Clair MO
1. What kind of 10.0 bulb? Long tube or cfl?
2. What mounting distance for the UV bulb? How far above the tortoises?
3. Any sunning in an outdoor enclosure?
4. I see no hides in your pics.
5. The coir needs to be firmly hand packed and it looks too wet in your pics. If you grab a handful and squeeze, does water pour out? Fine grade orchid bark works much better. You can get 24 quart bags from Chewy.com for about $18.
6. No foggers in tortoise enclosures. Humidity should be maintained by reducing ventilation in a closed chamber.
7. Where did you get them and how were they started?

I suspect your problem is lack of UV. Regular 10.0 bulbs produce hardly any, and cfl bulbs even less. You need HO tubes for tortoises that don't get real sunshine regularly.
Long tube. It's the Zoo Med 26062 Reptisun 10.0 T5-Ho Uvb 39W Fluorescent Lamp, 34"
Light is about 18" above them.
Not much sunning outside but did bring them out the last couple days because I saw it might help.
Yes water does pour out. The fogger made it very wet.
They came from from Tortstork.
 

selbe85

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To add to @Tom how often are they soaked? I could only see one of these guy’s eyes and they looked sunk in, which means they are dehydrated. How much do they currently weight?
Soaked every couple day. Ok I will increase to everyday.

They weight high 30's, low 40's grams.
 

selbe85

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It does sound like a lack of calcium/UVB. From your picture I only see a deep double dome fixture. I would assume a compact fluorescent is being used. That could be a main issue as they put out very little UVB. Without outdoor time and with a compact fluorescent - there is no way your tortoise is getting adequate UVB.

Also, with no secure hiding places, you tortoises are going to be under constant low-grade stress as they cannot find an adequate place to feel secure and comfortable. I use a lot of plants that overhang and create a forest for my babies. If it is not hard to find your tortoises in the enclosure when you go to bathe them, you do not have an environment I would feel is best. Low-grade, constant stress will definitely affect the metabolism.

Do you know much about the breeder where you got them? High Incubation temps the last several weeks can also cause this as well as not starting the hatchlings properly. That is another thing you could check.
The dome has the heat bulb and CHE in it. There is another long fixture on the top hanging down that holds a Zoo Med 26062 Reptisun 10.0 T5-Ho Uvb 39W Fluorescent Lamp, 34".

Ok I'll find more hides/plants for them.

Not sure how they were hatched but I know they came from Tortstork.
 

KarenSoCal

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Well, you are using the correct type of UVB bulb, so unless that bulb is defective, it seems they've been getting enough UV.
What do you feed them? Any Mazuri or ZooMed pellets? Any greens that are high in calcium? Any opuntia cactus? You would find the cactus in a Mexican market, labelled nopales.
 

selbe85

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What do you feed them? Any Mazuri or ZooMed pellets? Any greens that are high in calcium? Any opuntia cactus? You would find the cactus in a Mexican market, labelled nopales.
Mazuri several times a week. Not sure which greens have high calcium. Did buy prickly pear for them
 

TaylorTortoise

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The carapace should never feel soft. It firms up quickly upon hatching. The plastron will have give like a tupperware lid the first few weeks but should firm up after. It does sound like a lack of calcium/UVB. From your picture I only see a deep double dome fixture. I would assume a compact fluorescent is being used. That could be a main issue as they put out very little UVB. Without outdoor time and with a compact fluorescent - there is no way your tortoise is getting adequate UVB.

Also, with no secure hiding places, you tortoises are going to be under constant low-grade stress as they cannot find an adequate place to feel secure and comfortable. I use a lot of plants that overhang and create a forest for my babies. If it is not hard to find your tortoises in the enclosure when you go to bathe them, you do not have an environment I would feel is best. Low-grade, constant stress will definitely affect the metabolism.

Do you know much about the breeder where you got them? High Incubation temps the last several weeks can also cause this as well as not starting the hatchlings properly. That is another thing you could check.
If you buy 10.0 uvb compact bulb that won't emit enough uvb?
 

KarenSoCal

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Mazuri several times a week. Not sure which greens have high calcium. Did buy prickly pear for them
High calcium foods include prickly pear, bok choy, mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach, kale, and collard greens.

Are there any other signs of illness that you're seeing? You've mentioned not eating, soft shells, and lethargy.

Is there anything else that seems odd, or not quite right?

I sure do want to get these babies feeling better!
 

Tom

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Long tube. It's the Zoo Med 26062 Reptisun 10.0 T5-Ho Uvb 39W Fluorescent Lamp, 34"
Light is about 18" above them.
Not much sunning outside but did bring them out the last couple days because I saw it might help.
Yes water does pour out. The fogger made it very wet.
They came from from Tortstork.
All sounds ideal, but I'd get a meter and check the UV output of your bulb.

I don't know how Randy starts his babies. Did you ask?

Mazrui a few times a week sounds good. It has D3 in it. What else do you offer them? Any sunshine outdoors?
 

selbe85

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All sounds ideal, but I'd get a meter and check the UV output of your bulb.

I don't know how Randy starts his babies. Did you ask?

Mazrui a few times a week sounds good. It has D3 in it. What else do you offer them? Any sunshine outdoors?
They have seen more sunshine in the last few days. Give them some cactus, clover from the yard, Mazuri (though a couple of them aren't crazy about it). Can you recommend other feeding options?

Can you recommend a UV meter which is affordable? I see several listed but not sure if I need to buy the $100+ model to get an accurate measurement. thank you!
 

Tom

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They have seen more sunshine in the last few days. Give them some cactus, clover from the yard, Mazuri (though a couple of them aren't crazy about it). Can you recommend other feeding options?

Can you recommend a UV meter which is affordable? I see several listed but not sure if I need to buy the $100+ model to get an accurate measurement. thank you!
All the food is listed here:

There is only one meter that works for our purposes. Solarmeter 6.5. The 6.5R is exactly the same thing with a different sticker on it. Usual price is $249, but sometimes an internet search can find them a few bucks cheaper. This is the only way to know if your bulb is delivering enough UV to your tortoises. Since lack of UV would be a probable guess for the issue you are seeing, the price of this meter is cheap insurance to protect your investment.

 
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