Advice needed. I feel like a failure.

Snorkelshark

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I’m going to keep this as short as possible and I am open to all responses and suggestions.

I fell in love with sulcatas when I lived in Hawaii. I refused to own one until I had properly researched, considered and thought about long term impacts (I grew up with parrots so I already understood that these animals will probably outlive me and needed a plan in place to take care of them after I die)

5 years later, I bought my baby. I bought a massive tank, heat lamp, UV lamp, hides, bowls, every bedding material amazon had to offer. We measured humidity, adjusted our home thermostat to ensure it didn’t get too cold at night, invested in good light timers for the UV and heat lamp, built an outside run for daily grazing and sun soaking.

I feel like I did everything right (which I’m sure I didn’t, but I learned and adjusted) we all make mistakes when we are learning, right?

Anyway, tortellini seemed great. He arrived in July all bright eyed and adorable. He takes daily warm soaks and daily outdoor time. He eats a variety of greens, lettuces (but not iceberg) no fruits, hay, soaked pellets and lots of clover.

The past week I noticed that he was sleeping a lot more and eating a lot less. I upped his soaks, and checked my humidity. His belly got soft and today he is so lethargic that he won’t open his eyes.

He has no discharge, no eye bubbles, no runny nose. He appears completely normal, minus the soft shell. He was getting calcium sprinkles 2x a week on his greens.

I called my local exotics vet and she hasn’t called back yet. I feel so bad. I thought I was doing everything close enough to correct....and he was perfectly fine for the past few months! He even evacuated with us for the hurricane and spent the week in a fancy hotel being spoiled by the kitchen staff (who brought him up all the little greens left over from prep every day....and they used locally sourced items for their menu so I wasn’t concerned about pesticides or anything)

I even went so far as to stop and pay a lady $5 to pick her prickly cactus pads from her back yard....lovingly (though there was a bit of cursing involved) despined them, rinsed and cut them up for him.


Can someone deduce where I went wrong here. I’m certain he doesn’t have much time left, he is lethargic and refusing to open his eyes today and I’m still waiting on the vet to tell me when to bring him in.

Is there any hope that he will pull through and the vet will have some cure for this? I don’t know what happened and I’m so sad that I am responsible for his care and I failed him.

Sorry for the essay, thanks for listening :(
 

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T Smart

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Hi,

My condolences for your loss.

The majority of the time when a hatchling unexpectedly dies, the problem is that it was raised too dry.

May I ask where you received Tortellini from?
 

Snorkelshark

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Location (City and/or State)
NC
Hi,

My condolences for your loss.

The majority of the time when a hatchling unexpectedly dies, the problem is that it was raised too dry.

May I ask where you received Tortellini from?

I purchased him from underground reptiles in Florida back in July. I am not at home right now to take a picture but it’s a 20gallon Glass tank with wire lid, I have a heat and a UV bulb on 12-14 hours a day. He has a wooden hide as well as food and water bowl.

He was soaked daily for 10-15 minutes in room temp water.

My home stays at 72, his basking area varies between 95-101and the humidity was in the 60% range.
 

Snorkelshark

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NC
He has seemed to be completely healthy and happy since July. Eating, drinking, pooping etc. it’s like this past week he just plummeted for reasons I can’t seem to figure out.

Our area is naturally humid, it’s usually in the 30% area without having to do anything.
 

xphare

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He has seemed to be completely healthy and happy since July. Eating, drinking, pooping etc. it’s like this past week he just plummeted for reasons I can’t seem to figure out.

Our area is naturally humid, it’s usually in the 30% area without having to do anything.
I am from Denver, CO and 30% humidity is what we have and that is not humid at all lol. A 20 gallon long is no where near enough space for the little guy. I would recommend a 4ftx2ft enclosure for him/her. What is the ambient temperature reading?
 

Yvonne G

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"Soft shell" tells me that MAYBE the UVB wasn't there. I know you said he gets some outside, sun time, but do you also have a GOOD UVB light?
 

Yvonne G

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He has seemed to be completely healthy and happy since July. Eating, drinking, pooping etc. it’s like this past week he just plummeted for reasons I can’t seem to figure out.

Our area is naturally humid, it’s usually in the 30% area without having to do anything.
This probably has nothing to do with his failing, but just so you know, the humidity needs to be up in the 80% range.

My guess is your problem has to do with heat and UVB (non calcium absorption).
 

xphare

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This probably has nothing to do with his failing, but just so you know, the humidity needs to be up in the 80% range.

My guess is your problem has to do with heat and UVB (non calcium absorption).
Do you think it could be the ambient temp being too low as well? Signs of pneumonia?
 

Minority2

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Temperatures levels and the "UV lamp" may have something to do it.

1. What are you using to measure temperature and humidity levels with?

2. What type of UV lamp is this? Please be specific.

Picture(s) of your enclosure, lighting, and heating setup will be most helpful.
 

Snorkelshark

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Temperatures levels and the "UV lamp" may have something to do it.

1. What are you using to measure temperature and humidity levels with?

2. What type of UV lamp is this? Please be specific.

Picture(s) of your enclosure, lighting, and heating setup will be most helpful.

Again, not home to take pictures. I do know it was the reptisun UVB (because I was able to loom at my purchase history on Petsmart) and whatever the zoomed 100 watt heat bulb they sell as well. I bought the double bulb hanger so it housed both heat and UV bulb.

Was measuring temp/humidity with a stick on hygrometer (also from Petsmart) have 2 of them, one at each side of the tank.
 

Markw84

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Almost always problems with a young tortoise failing are caused by the wrong "climate" we are providing the tortoise. This is primarily heat and humidity. Heat that never drops below 80° and humidity that never drops below 80%.

So many assume that a tortoise, since it looks so fully formed when hatched - like a perfect mini adult! - and since they get no parental care, they come out of the egg ready to take on the same conditions the adults can handle. That is not true of any other animal, and it is not true for tortoises. Coming from the egg, where it was growing suspended in fluid, it now is in a world that is much different. It would normally choose to stay in the nest chamber where it is warm and very humid. It waits until the rains come and soak the soil to dig out and then finds a place to hide and stay as wet as possible and eat the new growth of the rainy season. Those that emerge and cannot find such places - die. A young tortoise will spend the first few years of its life dug into moist soil or pushed deeply into grass tufts where humdity remain very high. It needs to grow - gain size and bone density before it can survive very long at all in the harsh conditions it finds itself in.

So we need to give the tortoise those warm and moist conditions to allow it to grow. Ensure your enclosure never gets below 80° in the coolest part. Give a basking spot of 95°-100° where it can warm more and jump start its metabolism. Always keep the humidity up above 80% for best results and always provide nice moist, protected hide areas where the tortoise can feel secure. This is actually the most important part. without this, the proper diet and lighting will not matter. But with this ensured, adding the proper diet, lighting and ample room, your tortoise will thrive.

There is also a good chance that the breeder that hatched this tortoise does not know all this at all. The most fragile part of a new tortoise's start is the time it would normally stay in the nest chamber, living off the nutrients of the yolk sac as it is absorbed. All the while in an environment that is virtually 100% humidity. Instead a breeder takes the hatchling, while the yolk sac is still quite large, and puts it in a dry environment where it has trouble with the last stages of its organ development, let alone starting to grow. If this has happened, there is little that you can do now. I've seen tortoises started this way that have lived over a year, but never grow, despite eating fairly well. Then one week the plastron get noticeable softer, and within a month the tortoise dies.

Read Tom's post on how to raise a health sulcata: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/

For another perspective, read my post on raising a healthy star (which is indentical care): https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-star-tortoise.159167/
 

Snorkelshark

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Joined
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Messages
26
Location (City and/or State)
NC
Almost always problems with a young tortoise failing are caused by the wrong "climate" we are providing the tortoise. This is primarily heat and humidity. Heat that never drops below 80° and humidity that never drops below 80%.

So many assume that a tortoise, since it looks so fully formed when hatched - like a perfect mini adult! - and since they get no parental care, they come out of the egg ready to take on the same conditions the adults can handle. That is not true of any other animal, and it is not true for tortoises. Coming from the egg, where it was growing suspended in fluid, it now is in a world that is much different. It would normally choose to stay in the nest chamber where it is warm and very humid. It waits until the rains come and soak the soil to dig out and then finds a place to hide and stay as wet as possible and eat the new growth of the rainy season. Those that emerge and cannot find such places - die. A young tortoise will spend the first few years of its life dug into moist soil or pushed deeply into grass tufts where humdity remain very high. It needs to grow - gain size and bone density before it can survive very long at all in the harsh conditions it finds itself in.

So we need to give the tortoise those warm and moist conditions to allow it to grow. Ensure your enclosure never gets below 80° in the coolest part. Give a basking spot of 95°-100° where it can warm more and jump start its metabolism. Always keep the humidity up above 80% for best results and always provide nice moist, protected hide areas where the tortoise can feel secure. This is actually the most important part. without this, the proper diet and lighting will not matter. But with this ensured, adding the proper diet, lighting and ample room, your tortoise will thrive.

There is also a good chance that the breeder that hatched this tortoise does not know all this at all. The most fragile part of a new tortoise's start is the time it would normally stay in the nest chamber, living off the nutrients of the yolk sac as it is absorbed. All the while in an environment that is virtually 100% humidity. Instead a breeder takes the hatchling, while the yolk sac is still quite large, and puts it in a dry environment where it has trouble with the last stages of its organ development, let alone starting to grow. If this has happened, there is little that you can do now. I've seen tortoises started this way that have lived over a year, but never grow, despite eating fairly well. Then one week the plastron get noticeable softer, and within a month the tortoise dies.

Read Tom's post on how to raise a health sulcata: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/

For another perspective, read my post on raising a healthy star (which is indentical care): https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-star-tortoise.159167/
Thank you. I will read both of those articles. So my humidity was about 20% off from optimal. That’s disappointing as I could have easily raised it but was scared seeing so many articles about respiratory infections from humidity being too high.

He is still clinging on. Is there anything I could possibly do to save him at this point in time or is he just destined to pass from living in too dry of conditions.

I have also still not heard back from the exotics vet in our area. I was prepared to take off work and take him in but they have not yet responded.
 

Minority2

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Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
Tortoise Hell
Again, not home to take pictures. I do know it was the reptisun UVB (because I was able to loom at my purchase history on Petsmart) and whatever the zoomed 100 watt heat bulb they sell as well. I bought the double bulb hanger so it housed both heat and UV bulb.

Was measuring temp/humidity with a stick on hygrometer (also from Petsmart) have 2 of them, one at each side of the tank.

Many of the equipment you're currently using is wrong for the tortoise. The research and advice you've received is indeed the cause of your current problem.

The enclosure is far too small.
The double lamp fixture is an inferior product.
Compact florescent bulbs such as the one you are most likely using is known to cause severe eye issues in tortoises and should be removed immediately.
Cheap stick on measuring devices are known to be inaccurate and unreliable.

High humidity is not the cause of respiratory infection, cold temperatures are.

Personally I would throw away the entire setup and start over with:

1x 4' x 2' ft Christmas tree tote from Walmart.
1x 10.5 inch basking fixture from home depot with a 40-65 watt incandescent flood bulb.
1. 2-3ft linear florescent fixture with UV(B) reptile rated bulb such as the Arcadia T5 HO 12% bulb.
1x ceramic heat emitter for overnight heating.
2x clay or plastic plant saucers as feed and water dishes.
1x flat rock, slate, or ceramic tile as a feeding surface.
2x DIY hides made from cardboard, plastic Tupperware, and or leftover cleaned and treated scrap wood.
1x infrared temperature gun.
1x digital food/weather branded thermometer hygrometer reader with probe.
3+ inches of substrate using Grow quality/not pet branded coco coir and or fine grade orchid/fir bark
 

SweetGreekTorts

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Messages
980
Location (City and/or State)
Tucson, AZ
Thank you. I will read both of those articles. So my humidity was about 20% off from optimal. That’s disappointing as I could have easily raised it but was scared seeing so many articles about respiratory infections from humidity being too high.

He is still clinging on. Is there anything I could possibly do to save him at this point in time or is he just destined to pass from living in too dry of conditions.

I have also still not heard back from the exotics vet in our area. I was prepared to take off work and take him in but they have not yet responded.
With humidity, "hot and humid" is the key. When temps are cool and humidity is high, that results in respiratory infections.

Definitely keep him warm, that will help. I do hope he pulls through!
 

Markw84

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Messages
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Thank you. I will read both of those articles. So my humidity was about 20% off from optimal. That’s disappointing as I could have easily raised it but was scared seeing so many articles about respiratory infections from humidity being too high.

He is still clinging on. Is there anything I could possibly do to save him at this point in time or is he just destined to pass from living in too dry of conditions.

I have also still not heard back from the exotics vet in our area. I was prepared to take off work and take him in but they have not yet responded.
Where are you in NC? There is a great vet that is a long-time tortoise person himself in Cary. If it's close to you at all, try Noah's Ark Veterinary. Dr Rosenoff knows tortoises.
 

xphare

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Joined
Sep 26, 2018
Messages
106
Location (City and/or State)
Denver
Many of the equipment you're currently using is wrong for the tortoise. The research and advice you've received is indeed the cause of your current problem.

The enclosure is far too small.
The double lamp fixture is an inferior product.
Compact florescent bulbs such as the one you are most likely using is known to cause severe eye issues in tortoises and should be removed immediately.
Cheap stick on measuring devices are known to be inaccurate and unreliable.

High humidity is not the cause of respiratory infection, cold temperatures are.

Personally I would throw away the entire setup and start over with:

1x 4' x 2' ft Christmas tree tote from Walmart.
1x 10.5 inch basking fixture from home depot with a 40-65 watt incandescent flood bulb.
1. 2-3ft linear florescent fixture with UV(B) reptile rated bulb such as the Arcadia T5 HO 12% bulb.
1x ceramic heat emitter for overnight heating.
2x clay or plastic plant saucers as feed and water dishes.
1x flat rock, slate, or ceramic tile as a feeding surface.
2x DIY hides made from cardboard, plastic Tupperware, and or leftover cleaned and treated scrap wood.
1x infrared temperature gun.
1x digital food/weather branded thermometer hygrometer reader with probe.
3+ inches of substrate using Grow quality/not pet branded coco coir and or fine grade orchid/fir bark
You can also order a 4ftx3ft(roughly) extra large cement mixing tub from HomeDepot just in case the tree tote doesn't work out.
 

Snorkelshark

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Joined
Nov 2, 2018
Messages
26
Location (City and/or State)
NC
Where are you in NC? There is a great vet that is a long-time tortoise person himself in Cary. If it's close to you at all, try Noah's Ark Veterinary. Dr Rosenoff knows tortoises.
I’m southern outter banks, about 4 hours from Cary. I’ll try them anyway. Thank you.
 

Snorkelshark

New Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2018
Messages
26
Location (City and/or State)
NC
Many of the equipment you're currently using is wrong for the tortoise. The research and advice you've received is indeed the cause of your current problem.

The enclosure is far too small.
The double lamp fixture is an inferior product.
Compact florescent bulbs such as the one you are most likely using is known to cause severe eye issues in tortoises and should be removed immediately.
Cheap stick on measuring devices are known to be inaccurate and unreliable.

High humidity is not the cause of respiratory infection, cold temperatures are.

Personally I would throw away the entire setup and start over with:

1x 4' x 2' ft Christmas tree tote from Walmart.
1x 10.5 inch basking fixture from home depot with a 40-65 watt incandescent flood bulb.
1. 2-3ft linear florescent fixture with UV(B) reptile rated bulb such as the Arcadia T5 HO 12% bulb.
1x ceramic heat emitter for overnight heating.
2x clay or plastic plant saucers as feed and water dishes.
1x flat rock, slate, or ceramic tile as a feeding surface.
2x DIY hides made from cardboard, plastic Tupperware, and or leftover cleaned and treated scrap wood.
1x infrared temperature gun.
1x digital food/weather branded thermometer hygrometer reader with probe.
3+ inches of substrate using Grow quality/not pet branded coco coir and or fine grade orchid/fir bark
Thank you. I will start shopping for these items this evening.
 

Snorkelshark

New Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2018
Messages
26
Location (City and/or State)
NC
Where are you in NC? There is a great vet that is a long-time tortoise person himself in Cary. If it's close to you at all, try Noah's Ark Veterinary. Dr Rosenoff knows tortoises.
I just called them and was told they had a dr who could look at him but there is no one at the practice by that name :/
 
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