Worried about Ozzy

effeepee

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5 Year Member
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Feb 10, 2014
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5
For starters, I live in a 4 seasons climate and we are headed into the cold season. We have 6 acres of land and live deep in the woods. I have an 8 year old male sulcata who I have had since he was 3 months old, we used to live in Southern California but relocated about 3 years ago to the PNW. Our tortoise has always been an indoor tortoise with his own space, basking lamps, regular soaks, fresh lettuces and grasses, mazuri, he has a great diet, beautiful shell/growth rate, and has been very healthy. During the summer months he has a large pen with an insulated shed with lamps, heat pad, etc that he has access in and out of. When it starts getting cold I bring him in the house at night, then he spends the warm days outside basking and grazing until fall when he comes back in full time until next summer. I know eventually he has to go into an insulated shed house, I just haven't been ready to transition him out permanently yet.

About 10 days ago my mother had a hemorrhagic stroke and suffered a brain bleed, she was in the ICU and things were hectic and uncertain so we rushed there to see her. Then while we were there my husband's grandfather got hospitalized and unfortunately passed away abruptly. A friend in the neighborhood was coming daily to feed and hang out/check on my property while we dealt with all this. It's been about 50 at night so I've been having him inside at night. When she came at the end of the day last Thursday to do the routine, the chain link on his pen was busted and it was clear he had escaped. She spent hours searching (even into the dark) looking for him to no avail. We immediately started our drive home when we found out he wasn't there. I posted to all my neighborhood groups and called them all, everyone was looking and on alert. Got home Friday and it began to pour rain, a weather warning came for heavy rain and temperatures dropping to 36 at night. Daytime temperatures about 58-65. My heart has been completely broken. We searched day and night in the wind and rain, got search dogs looking following scents and trails. Begging neighbors to let us search their properties. Some let us, others wouldn't. Every single night I have not been able to sleep, ridden with fear and worry. Every day I spent all day looking and praying. I have feared the worst, assumed by now (a week later) he surely succumbed to the cold.

Tuesday and Wednesday we finally got some bright warm sunshine and temps at 74 as the storm passed. After searching all day and not finding him in the sunshine, I really feared he was dead somewhere. This morning I talked to a neighbor who said that the 15 acres of property he owns down the street that is for sale was shown yesterday, that his realtor called him today and said there was a tortoise on the property during the showing. Y'all I freaked out. He said the realtor didn't know where they were on the property, but my neighbor gave me permission to go look. Immediately I ran there with my shepherd and we searched the whole property, when finally my pup found him basking in the sun near a wood pile. I brought him home and observed him, he walked all over the grass, seemed to have good energy. I gave him a long warm soak, he was very active. I brought him in and put him on a heat pad, he felt pretty cold but not frozen. I've given him several soaks and have had him under his UVA/UVB bulbs. I've tried offering lettuce and mazuri but he's not interested in food yet.

For the past few hours he's been stretching his neck out long, making various strange sounds (similar to a burp) it even sounds like he's farting at times too. Then he opens his mouth wide and lots of liquid comes out, watery and also foamy hut its clear. I'm just sitting here watching his every move. He just did this again, a ton of liquid came out and then he seemed to get frantic and worked hard at working something out... He threw up a MASSIVE chunk of something purple in color that almost looked like a balled up latex glove (I have mashed it up and cannot make sense of what it is). I am so worried about him I feel sick. I have no idea what he could have eaten in all this time he's been missing, I know he was subjected to cold harsh temps as low as 36 degrees at night and it's killing me. I just feel terrible and broken and I fear he's suffering.

I have a call in to our exotic vet, they are trying to see him tomorrow. I have no idea what to do for him right now and I just feel desperate. To be honest I cannot even believe he's still alive and that he survived this past week. The countless hours of searching were worth it to find him and I'm just praying there's hope that he'll be okay and there's no long term damage.

I don't even know what I'm looking for. Any advice would be so appreciated.

Please don't kick me while I'm down... This tortoise is part of our family and all the chaos going on with our families just made for me to not be here when he escaped and that alone is killing me inside.
 

Jan A

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First of all, stop beating yourself up. When you have family members who suddenly become ill or worse, die, you cannot plan ahead. You do the best you can to take care of your animals, but let's face it, life happens to you in ways you can't possibly prepare for. I'll let the others speak to possible remedies you haven't tried, but do you see anything else in his throat now that he's coughed up the purple thing? @Yvonne G, @maggie3fan @zovick @ZenHerper @Tom
 

ZenHerper

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((Hugs))

Rotten luck he happened across something brightly colored (and looked to him like flowers or fruit).

You need some xrays to make sure that's all he's eaten.

In the meantime, just keep him quite warm and a bit humid. 85*F all the time until you can get him in to the vet.

Don't offer him anything else by mouth.

((Hugs))
 

effeepee

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5 Year Member
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Feb 10, 2014
Messages
5
((Hugs))

Rotten luck he happened across something brightly colored (and looked to him like flowers or fruit).

You need some xrays to make sure that's all he's eaten.

In the meantime, just keep him quite warm and a bit humid. 85*F all the time until you can get him in to the vet.

Don't offer him anything else by mouth.

((Hugs))
Thank you for the support and advice.

My exotic vet is booked dout through October and told me that he will keep watch of his schedule where he may be able to squeeze in a visit. In the meantime he suggested to give him warm soaks a couple times a day, keep him warm too. But he couldn't make any other recommendations until he sees him. Other vets are 4-6 hours away with limited schedules weeks out as well. Not sure what to do.

He's gotten a lot of basking time in, he's super active and wants to run around. He did eat some dandelions this morning and he ate a little bit of lettuce. I didn't consider whether or not feeding him was a good idea, I hope that wasn't a mistake. But he did urinate and it looked very healthy, and he pooped today while taking a soak and it also looked very normal and healthy. However he's still making some sounds like he's uncomfortable, the odd burping sounds periodically.

Hes just as adventurous and busy as normal, when I'm supervising outside time during the day.
 

Tom

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Fix the pen immediately. Chain link shouldn't be used for tortoise pens. They can push through it (as you've now seen first hand), and they can hurt themselves rubbing on it while trying. You need a visual barrier all the way around the bottom. 16 inch tall x 8 foot long strips of plywood can do it. Or something similar.

The breathing, gurgling, neck stretching, and excess mucus is him fighting a respiratory infection from being too cold for too long. The cure is lots and lots of heat. Keep this tortoise in the low to mid 90s all day every day and no lower than 86 at night, for at least two weeks after all symptoms stop. Soak in warm water for 30-40 minutes at least two or three times a week with all the extra heat. Keep the soak water warm the entire time.

What the hell kind of vet tells an emergency client with a sick animal that they are booked for over a month out. What an A-hole. If your tortoise truly needed help, it would be dead by then. All they have to do is tell one client that needed their dog vaccines to wait a little extra time so they can literally save an animal's life. Its not that hard. I'm pissy about this because I've run into it a bunch myself. Had to call 12 vets in Atlanta that all told me this same kind of crap while my dog was having some sort of allergic reaction to something, Then they wanted to take my dog into the vet hospital while I waited in the car. My dog is a protection trained malinois. How stupid could these people be? They said "covid". I told them I'm literally tested 5 days a week for work and could show them all my negative results, and I'd be happy to wear an N95 mask AND a full face shield, and gown and glove up, AND sign a waiver for them incase I still got sick in their hospital. They still said no dice. I finally found a good one and I promote the heck out of them.

Sulcatas are very resilient. Chances are very good that with lots of heat, the tortoise will be fine and make a full recovery with no vet help. I'm sending good thoughts your way and hoping for the best for you and yours. So sorry for your loss and for the troubles. I hope there are lots of better days in your very near future.
 

maggie3fan

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I live in Corvallis Oregon please let me know if I can help in anyway, however, you have just received advice from the be all end all in Sulcata keeping follow said advice and your tort will be fine. I also keep Sulcata...only mine are here...
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ZenHerper

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Thank you for the support and advice.

My exotic vet is booked dout through October and told me that he will keep watch of his schedule where he may be able to squeeze in a visit. In the meantime he suggested to give him warm soaks a couple times a day, keep him warm too. But he couldn't make any other recommendations until he sees him. Other vets are 4-6 hours away with limited schedules weeks out as well. Not sure what to do.

He's gotten a lot of basking time in, he's super active and wants to run around. He did eat some dandelions this morning and he ate a little bit of lettuce. I didn't consider whether or not feeding him was a good idea, I hope that wasn't a mistake. But he did urinate and it looked very healthy, and he pooped today while taking a soak and it also looked very normal and healthy. However he's still making some sounds like he's uncomfortable, the odd burping sounds periodically.

Hes just as adventurous and busy as normal, when I'm supervising outside time during the day.
Vomit is always concerning and a pneumonia hazard, so small bits through the day. (Withholding food after massive vomit of a non-food item is always a good idea.)

But we're actually, like, 2 days on at this point?

Watch him closely...if he chooses to eat, then it passes through and out: there is no (or minimal) obstruction. If he goes off food, can't pass stool, vomits, or goes "off" progress in any way - he should be seen on an emergency basis.

The most important thing is the temperature...his immune and digestive strength depend entirely on staying warm. I'd keep him at a controlled 85*F day and night indefinitely.
 

Emmawilly

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Nov 1, 2020
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136
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Plymouth
You poor lady. Coping with your Mother's illness, your husband's Grandfather's passing and then the frantic realisation that your beloved tortoise (and we can all tell how much you love him) escaping. You've had some really rotten luck. Life throws these awful curveballs to us all at once sometimes. You've had some good advice above and we all really hope your dear sully is OK. I hope you have some good luck coming your way soon. Sending you love and hugs.
 

zolasmum

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May 19, 2015
Messages
350
So sorry to hear what you have been going through - however, Ozzy looks a healthy and very well cared for fellow, and stands a very good chance of getting over all this quickly. I hope you will let us have progress reports, as he will be in a lot of people's thoughts.
Best wishes to Ozzy and to you and your husband
Angie
 
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