Back legs not working, pink urine, doesn't move

TONYTORT

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Wilmington
Hi all! My husband and I just got our first Russian Tortoise (Tony) off of Craigslist. They say he is about 5 years old, I think he could be older and 5.5 Inches long. The first thing that I noticed when we brought him home in the tank that they gave us was FILTHY... like there were crickets in it.... so we dumped it, gave it a good clean with water (no chemicals) etc. I'll provide all of the usual details below. anyways heres the story:

So the night we got him (2 nights ago) I noticed he moves more like a sea turtle than a tortoise, he kind of pulls himself everywhere which I think is limiting his mobility. Building off of that he doesn't seem to move much, which could probably be attributed to his legs not working well and the stress of a new place. He peed and pooped pretty big after the first soak (we have been reading the forum in preparation :) ), and that helped him gain some energy but not much. Today after a soak (we think he is very dehydrated so we are doing 20-30 minute warm water soaks every morning for the first couple of days- followed by leaving him be in his tank) he peed and it was almost like a Salmon color? He pooped a little bit too but not much. Poor baby's eyes even look a little bit swollen. He is doing a little bit better day by day but still not great.

note: He has not eaten dandelion, so that is not what is making his pee salmon colored/pink. The first night he ate a small amount of Kale and half of a cucumber slice, he has built since then and actually ate during the day today a variety of kale, romaine, green pepper, and cucumber (he loves cucumber) that we are sprinkling with calcium that we are shaving from the block in his tank. We are also growing him some tortoise grass so hopefully the element of foraging will help him out- he doesn't really eat unless its from my hand.

Here is all of the info i've seen people as for in other threads:
Tank: Right now we have him in the 40 gallon tank that we received him in. We know tanks are not ideal, but we are building him a tort table so it is where he has to be for a bit until we can afford the time and energy of building him the perfect home (which is our top priority). We lined the tank on the outside with paper so his confusion is minimized. Inside only until it gets warmer.

Substrate: Eco earth coconut fiber, about 4 inches deep- but he's struggling with it because he can't raise himself up.
Humidity: 40-42%
Temp: Basking spot in the 90's and rest of tank is about 79 degrees.
Water bowl: yes
Hiding spot/climbing spot: yes
UVB? yes


We know that his previous owners fed him lettuce, strawberries, and carrots because they left whatever he didn't eat in his cage to rot, and that they just put his cage in the sunlight or on the bathroom for humidity. We live in Utah and it's freezing cold outside so I don't think he was previously kept warm enough or given UVB because she didn't mention it to us.

We have a vet appointment for April 1st, 2021 but seeing as that is 6 days away I want to see if I can make him more comfortable until then. I love the little guy already and i'm glad we saved him. I'm concerned something is wrong with his hip development or physical development in some way because when I lift his shell off of the ground for him he walks fast and normal like a little guy should.

It would also be helpful to just hear wha you guys think/if we should be preparing for the worst.

Long story short for anyone scrolling/skimming: New Russian Tort, doesn't move, sleeps all the time, puffy eyes, pink pee, drags legs.

Thanks for taking the time to read, we appreciate it and Tony does too
 

wellington

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I had rescued a leopard that was kept in too small a tank and couldn't walk properly or lift himself.
I did water therapy on him. He now is the size he should be and moves faster then any tort I have or had.
I'm guessing the same with yours along with likely all the wrong diet items.
An adult Russian needs a minimum. Of 4x8 foot enclosure. Without enough room to roam properly they don't build muscle strength.
Fill tub or large container with enough warm water so he cant touch the bottom. If he just wants too sink, put a couple fingers under him to hold him up. Make him use his legs to swim. Do this twice a day for 10-15 minutes or so. He can have little rest stops but get him moving his legs for most of the time.
That along with a better diet then he had should help a lot.
The urine color is likely due to, too many strawberrys.
 

Toddrickfl1

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Hi all! My husband and I just got our first Russian Tortoise (Tony) off of Craigslist. They say he is about 5 years old, I think he could be older and 5.5 Inches long. The first thing that I noticed when we brought him home in the tank that they gave us was FILTHY... like there were crickets in it.... so we dumped it, gave it a good clean with water (no chemicals) etc. I'll provide all of the usual details below. anyways heres the story:

So the night we got him (2 nights ago) I noticed he moves more like a sea turtle than a tortoise, he kind of pulls himself everywhere which I think is limiting his mobility. Building off of that he doesn't seem to move much, which could probably be attributed to his legs not working well and the stress of a new place. He peed and pooped pretty big after the first soak (we have been reading the forum in preparation :) ), and that helped him gain some energy but not much. Today after a soak (we think he is very dehydrated so we are doing 20-30 minute warm water soaks every morning for the first couple of days- followed by leaving him be in his tank) he peed and it was almost like a Salmon color? He pooped a little bit too but not much. Poor baby's eyes even look a little bit swollen. He is doing a little bit better day by day but still not great.

note: He has not eaten dandelion, so that is not what is making his pee salmon colored/pink. The first night he ate a small amount of Kale and half of a cucumber slice, he has built since then and actually ate during the day today a variety of kale, romaine, green pepper, and cucumber (he loves cucumber) that we are sprinkling with calcium that we are shaving from the block in his tank. We are also growing him some tortoise grass so hopefully the element of foraging will help him out- he doesn't really eat unless its from my hand.

Here is all of the info i've seen people as for in other threads:
Tank: Right now we have him in the 40 gallon tank that we received him in. We know tanks are not ideal, but we are building him a tort table so it is where he has to be for a bit until we can afford the time and energy of building him the perfect home (which is our top priority). We lined the tank on the outside with paper so his confusion is minimized. Inside only until it gets warmer.

Substrate: Eco earth coconut fiber, about 4 inches deep- but he's struggling with it because he can't raise himself up.
Humidity: 40-42%
Temp: Basking spot in the 90's and rest of tank is about 79 degrees.
Water bowl: yes
Hiding spot/climbing spot: yes
UVB? yes


We know that his previous owners fed him lettuce, strawberries, and carrots because they left whatever he didn't eat in his cage to rot, and that they just put his cage in the sunlight or on the bathroom for humidity. We live in Utah and it's freezing cold outside so I don't think he was previously kept warm enough or given UVB because she didn't mention it to us.

We have a vet appointment for April 1st, 2021 but seeing as that is 6 days away I want to see if I can make him more comfortable until then. I love the little guy already and i'm glad we saved him. I'm concerned something is wrong with his hip development or physical development in some way because when I lift his shell off of the ground for him he walks fast and normal like a little guy should.

It would also be helpful to just hear wha you guys think/if we should be preparing for the worst.

Long story short for anyone scrolling/skimming: New Russian Tort, doesn't move, sleeps all the time, puffy eyes, pink pee, drags legs.

Thanks for taking the time to read, we appreciate it and Tony does too
Most likely suffering from metabolic bone disease. Did he have UVB?
 

ZenHerper

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If he seems genuinely paralyzed, he may have developed Metabolic Bone Disease. This is a complicated illness involving poor diet (notably imbalance of minerals and lack of vitamin D3), and lack of ultraviolet radiation (uvb, in specific). The bones can malform, break, and collapse.

X-rays and blood tests are used to diagnose the condition. Use of prescribed mineral supplementation and gentle exercise, combined with appropriate uvb radiation exposure are used to treat it. Be careful of too much exercise unless/until MBD has been ruled out or treated.

Discontinue the pepper - Russians don't have the ability to manage fruit sugars. Cucumber is mostly water, but discontinue it as well if soft/mucousy stool or diarrhea begin.

Hand-feeding is very helpful in giving this wee one the impression that you are here to provide improvement, and you can continue to monitor his progress. Four small meals up to 2-3 pm will help work around the exhaustion and keep the digestive organs healing gently. The chicory family of plants are most healthful...any of the endives (curly or Belgian) you can find at the food store are fine, and likely to be less bitter than dandelion (they also contain less oxalates which can be very hard on kidneys that have not had a great lifestyle to date).

Pigments from food can color urine, so the only way to know for sure if there is blood is to have a sample analyzed.

Your temps are Optimal and will be very helpful in getting the immune, digestive, metabolic, and circulatory systems charged up. Reptiles heal very slowly, so progress won't be dramatic. You're in a Long Game scenario.

It can be hard to find a veterinary office that is genuinely qualified to support reptile owners. If an Exotic species office is not available where you live, try to find one that sees wildlife. Turtle and Tortoise medicine can be similar, but they can also be quite different...don't agree to any Vitamin A injections as tortoises generally get plenty of this nutrient from their foods.

Thanks for rescuing!
 

TONYTORT

Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2021
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Wilmington
I had rescued a leopard that was kept in too small a tank and couldn't walk properly or lift himself.
I did water therapy on him. He now is the size he should be and moves faster then any tort I have or had.
I'm guessing the same with yours along with likely all the wrong diet items.
An adult Russian needs a minimum. Of 4x8 foot enclosure. Without enough room to roam properly they don't build muscle strength.
Fill tub or large container with enough warm water so he cant touch the bottom. If he just wants too sink, put a couple fingers under him to hold him up. Make him use his legs to swim. Do this twice a day for 10-15 minutes or so. He can have little rest stops but get him moving his legs for most of the time.
That along with a better diet then he had should help a lot.
The urine color is likely due to, too many strawberrys.
water therapy sounds like a good way to go. Do you think it would stress him out too much to start this weekend if we judt got him a few days ago?

Thank you!
 

Yossarian

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Good advice from Wellington, it sounds like you have picked up a poorly tortoise. If it was living in a glass tank and their idea of UV was to put the tank in the sun (probably inside another window) then this tort will not have had any UV from that because glass blocks nearly all UV light. It may have developed some MBD if it was like that for long and one of the ways this can show up is weakness of the back legs. You have a bit of work ahead of you but with the right conditions your tort can recover and live a good life with you.

Any chance you can post some pics for us?

If you have been reading the forum you have probably come across the care sheet but just in case, here is the right one for your tort -
The Best Way To Raise Any Temperate Species Of Tortoise | Tortoise Forum
 

TONYTORT

Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2021
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Wilmington
If he seems genuinely paralyzed, he may have developed Metabolic Bone Disease. This is a complicated illness involving poor diet (notably imbalance of minerals and lack of vitamin D3), and lack of ultraviolet radiation (uvb, in specific). The bones can malform, break, and collapse.

X-rays and blood tests are used to diagnose the condition. Use of prescribed mineral supplementation and gentle exercise, combined with appropriate uvb radiation exposure are used to treat it. Be careful of too much exercise unless/until MBD has been ruled out or treated.

Discontinue the pepper - Russians don't have the ability to manage fruit sugars. Cucumber is mostly water, but discontinue it as well if soft/mucousy stool or diarrhea begin.

Hand-feeding is very helpful in giving this wee one the impression that you are here to provide improvement, and you can continue to monitor his progress. Four small meals up to 2-3 pm will help work around the exhaustion and keep the digestive organs healing gently. The chicory family of plants are most healthful...any of the endives (curly or Belgian) you can find at the food store are fine, and likely to be less bitter than dandelion (they also contain less oxalates which can be very hard on kidneys that have not had a great lifestyle to date).

Pigments from food can color urine, so the only way to know for sure if there is blood is to have a sample analyzed.

Your temps are Optimal and will be very helpful in getting the immune, digestive, metabolic, and circulatory systems charged up. Reptiles heal very slowly, so progress won't be dramatic. You're in a Long Game scenario.

It can be hard to find a veterinary office that is genuinely qualified to support reptile owners. If an Exotic species office is not available where you live, try to find one that sees wildlife. Turtle and Tortoise medicine can be similar, but they can also be quite different...don't agree to any Vitamin A injections as tortoises generally get plenty of this nutrient from their foods.

Thanks for rescuing!
Great I'll bring up Metabolic Bone Disease with the Vet on Thursday. I wouldn't say he is paralyzed, he can push back when you have him on your hands or if you lift the weight of his shell he will walk normally, although 95% of the time his legs just kind of wiggle behind them.

Good to know about the pepper! thank you! we'll get him some better organic greens today. he eats kale but prefers romaine (probably because he grew up on lettuce) but im seeing if i stack the Kale on top of the Lettuce he will eat the kale first.

We've worked really hard to maintain optimal temps in the tank. we know its not an optimal space so we are trying to make it the best that we can while we build a better one.

Thank you for the tips about the vet and the Vitamin A! you possibly just saved us some money! haha
 

Yossarian

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Great I'll bring up Metabolic Bone Disease with the Vet on Thursday. I wouldn't say he is paralyzed, he can push back when you have him on your hands or if you lift the weight of his shell he will walk normally, although 95% of the time his legs just kind of wiggle behind them.

Good to know about the pepper! thank you! we'll get him some better organic greens today. he eats kale but prefers romaine (probably because he grew up on lettuce) but im seeing if i stack the Kale on top of the Lettuce he will eat the kale first.

We've worked really hard to maintain optimal temps in the tank. we know its not an optimal space so we are trying to make it the best that we can while we build a better one.

Thank you for the tips about the vet and the Vitamin A! you possibly just saved us some money! haha

If it has been fed a bad diet, it may be difficult to get it eating greens. The way to do this is to chop everything up small so it cant self select for what it wants, it just has to eat whats in the pile. Start with like 90% lettuce and 10% greens and every day increase the percentage of greens a bit, within a couple weeks it should be willingly eating its greens. Use the same strategy to introduce any new foods they wont eat that they should eat.
 

ZenHerper

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Great I'll bring up Metabolic Bone Disease with the Vet on Thursday. I wouldn't say he is paralyzed, he can push back when you have him on your hands or if you lift the weight of his shell he will walk normally, although 95% of the time his legs just kind of wiggle behind them.

...
That sort of weakness is consistent with obesity, MBD, and/or sedentary conditions.

Minerals are key components to how the muscles work; any bone damage may pinch nerves in the spine and hips.

His previous sugar-based diet is concerning, but it's a great sign that he will accept new foods. If you need to use the romaine to wrap more healthful leaves, go for it! Gradually re-introduce him to his natural diet.
 

Yossarian

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That sort of weakness is consistent with obesity, MBD, and/or sedentary conditions.

Minerals are key components to how the muscles work; any bone damage may pinch nerves in the spine and hips.

His previous sugar-based diet is concerning, but it's a great sign that he will accept new foods. If you need to use the romaine to wrap more healthful leaves, go for it! Gradually re-introduce him to his natural diet.
This is a good point, a 40 gallon tank is very small, in addition to no UVB, the inability to walk around will have taken a toll on its strength. MBD or not.
 

TONYTORT

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Good advice from Wellington, it sounds like you have picked up a poorly tortoise. If it was living in a glass tank and their idea of UV was to put the tank in the sun (probably inside another window) then this tort will not have had any UV from that because glass blocks nearly all UV light. It may have developed some MBD if it was like that for long and one of the ways this can show up is weakness of the back legs. You have a bit of work ahead of you but with the right conditions your tort can recover and live a good life with you.

Any chance you can post some pics for us?

If you have been reading the forum you have probably come across the care sheet but just in case, here is the right one for your tort -
The Best Way To Raise Any Temperate Species Of Tortoise | Tortoise Forum
For sure! hopefully these can help. His legs almost always look like this. I've noticed that if I support his shell he will walk normal and even walk better on his own after I let go for a few steps and the will drag again, but not as bad
DCB3EF23-B3EC-49FF-A10C-2DCBE436CBB2.jpeg CC871BBA-1BE5-457E-A189-D3711EE4E2C7.jpeg 09866E90-C773-4DD8-ACF2-E16BA886D0EE.jpeg 1BD724A7-7500-404B-BDE0-7571EA590F1E.jpeg
 

TONYTORT

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That sort of weakness is consistent with obesity, MBD, and/or sedentary conditions.

Minerals are key components to how the muscles work; any bone damage may pinch nerves in the spine and hips.

His previous sugar-based diet is concerning, but it's a great sign that he will accept new foods. If you need to use the romaine to wrap more healthful leaves, go for it! Gradually re-introduce him to his natural diet.
great! So one definite thing to help him will be when we build a bigger tank. Would it be more beneficial for him now if we just got him an under the bed bin or something to give him some more space while we build it? Or could he last a few more weeks in the tank while we finish the wood and let everything air out? We are both full time students so unfortunately time and money are currently against us with the end of the semester approaching. We do also plan on getting him a Kiddie pool when it warms up.
 

Toddrickfl1

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For sure! hopefully these can help. His legs almost always look like this. I've noticed that if I support his shell he will walk normal and even walk better on his own after I let go for a few steps and the will drag again, but not as bad
View attachment 321927 View attachment 321928 View attachment 321929 View attachment 321930
Ok this does not look like mbd. This is called "Splayed" legs, it happens usually when a tortoise is kept with no substrate on a hard surface. Also not getting proper exercise would probably add to it. He probably went a while in that tank with no substrate. Hydrotherapy can help with this. Definitely have a VET run some tests though.
 

TONYTORT

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Ok this does not look like mbd. This is called "Splayed" legs, it happens usually when a tortoise is kept with no substrate on a hard surface. Also not getting proper exercise would probably add to it. He probably went a while in that tank with no substrate. Hydrotherapy can help with this. Definitely have a VET run some tests though.
poor dude. I'll write all of this down and ask the Vet on Thursday. Thanks for your help! Do you think starting him on Hydrotherapy a few days after we rescued him would be too stressful for him? He doesn't love water, i've never seen him drink which is why i'm happy to let him have a little cucumber with his leaves
 

ZenHerper

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great! So one definite thing to help him will be when we build a bigger tank. Would it be more beneficial for him now if we just got him an under the bed bin or something to give him some more space while we build it? Or could he last a few more weeks in the tank while we finish the wood and let everything air out? We are both full time students so unfortunately time and money are currently against us with the end of the semester approaching. We do also plan on getting him a Kiddie pool when it warms up.
Tortoises don't love change...I'd love to have some diagnostics done. On my monitor, he looks quite puffy. Russians kept too cold and on high-sugar diets can develop kidney disease (with MBD coming along later as a secondary illness).

While he's having trouble moving around, I'd rather he stay where you've stabilized the temps.

Tortoises can absorb water through the vent...as long as the soak water comes up to the seam of the shell and covers the tail, he will draw up hydration. Put his greens in a pan of water overnight to increase their water content for the next day.
 

ZenHerper

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Some readings on kidney disease:



 

Yossarian

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Thanks for the pics, I agree, he doesnt look like hes suffering from MBD, at least not badly, he does look a bit fat though. Any reason you lean towards Kidney issues rather than general obesity @ZenHerper ?
 

TONYTORT

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Wilmington
Some readings on kidney disease:



awesome, thanks. So it seems like we should just let him rest and keep him hydrated until we can get him in for testing. Hopefully it isn'y something that requires lots on money to get him well, but thats a problem for when we get there! We'll focus on getting him comfortable and as happy as we can make him until then! Thanks again so much
 
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