Beak stuck shut?

Bobandjeff

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Jan 21, 2018
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Hi all,
I've just recently joined this forum and introduced our 2 baby tortoises, Bob & Jeff. Bob was the 'runt' of the egg laying batch - tiny egg, tiny hatchling, slow to grow but he's been doing ok so far...until this weekend I realised that he was having trouble opening his mouth fully. He now can't feed properly as he can't get the front of his mouth open. He happily gets up in the morning, bathes in the water tray, but can't get his mouth open to feed. I suspect its been like this for several days, so we're off to see the vet tomorrow. A Vet nurse friend says it sounds like his beak needs a trim - and it does certainly look like the beak is causing the issue, right at the tip. I really hope that the vet can remedy this, as he's so tiny and I doubt can go for too long without food.
I will update again tomorrow after vet appointment, but wondered in the meantime if anyone has any experience of this? Seems very young (6 months) to have an overgrown beak or beak problems....
 

JoesMum

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With such a young tortoise, the beak really shouldn't be overgrown.

It is a possibility that there is considerably more to ot than that. Firstly there is something known as hatchling failure syndrome. Bob being a runt may well not be destined for a long life in any case :(

On your introductory thread, I have explained why these two shouldn't be kept together. This is especially important if one is sick as you don't want any infection to spread.

There are 4 important temperatures in tortoise keeping that you must know. Warm side, cool side, directly under the basking lamp and overnight minimum.

Youngsters like this shouldn't have temperatures below 80F/27C day or night. They also need high humidity to maintain healthy growth which is only possible in a closed chamber. The care sheet I linked to in your other thread explains how to get your setup right and the best way to measure temperatures. A Ceramic Heat Emitter used with a thermostat is best for maintaining the ambient 80F.

Your torts must be able to bask at 95-100F/35-37C directly under the basking lamp at tortoise level. A temperature gun type thermometer is the best way to measure temperatures. Don't use a thermostat with this lamp. Adjust temperature by raising or !owering it.

Diet is also important. Weedy and leafy greens. No fruit or sweet foods. And a tiny sprinkle of calcium powder on food three times a week.

Your torts cannot process dietary calcium without UVB. Like the basking lamp,. the UVB must be on 12-14 hours a day. Using timers makes this much simpler. UVB doesn't pass through glass, perspex or mesh; ther must be nothing between the lamp and your tort.

Finally, it is vital that you soak babies like this for at least 20 minutes a day in warm water. Do them in separate flat-bottomed containers that they can't see over or through. A washing up bowl is good. The water should be deep enough to just come over the join between the shell and the plastron. Bob probably needs 30 minutes at the moment.
 

Bobandjeff

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Thanks Joesmum - I do fear that Bob may have some sort of hatchling failure to be honest - am trying to stay positive for now though! He has previously been eating fine, so its a bit of a mystery as to why his mouth won't open anymore. I will see what the vet says tomorrow, then if Bob is still going strong (and the issue can be rectified) I will separate the 2 immediately. I'll update tomorrow after vet appt. Keep fingers crossed!
 

Bee62

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Hi all,
I've just recently joined this forum and introduced our 2 baby tortoises, Bob & Jeff. Bob was the 'runt' of the egg laying batch - tiny egg, tiny hatchling, slow to grow but he's been doing ok so far...until this weekend I realised that he was having trouble opening his mouth fully. He now can't feed properly as he can't get the front of his mouth open. He happily gets up in the morning, bathes in the water tray, but can't get his mouth open to feed. I suspect its been like this for several days, so we're off to see the vet tomorrow. A Vet nurse friend says it sounds like his beak needs a trim - and it does certainly look like the beak is causing the issue, right at the tip. I really hope that the vet can remedy this, as he's so tiny and I doubt can go for too long without food.
I will update again tomorrow after vet appointment, but wondered in the meantime if anyone has any experience of this? Seems very young (6 months) to have an overgrown beak or beak problems....
I am the same opinion as JoesMum that the beak of such a young tort can`t be overgrown.
Have you seen the sick tortoise pooping regulary ? Do you soak your torts ?
From another thread I know that a young tort has difficulties with eating ( it seems that he can open his mouth wide enough ) because he was constipated !
And another important thing: Don`t let the VET give your tort any vitamin shots ! They mostly do more harm than good.
 

Bobandjeff

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Hi Bee62 - yes Bob was pooping regularly up until last week when he became less active and then wasn't eating (due to the apparent beak problems). He did wake up this morning and make his way to his water bath, where he sat for 20 mins or so in warm water. I agree though - he does seem young for beak issues. Interesting re: not letting vet give any vitamin shots, I will enquire further if they're offered.
 

Bee62

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Hi Bee62 - yes Bob was pooping regularly up until last week when he became less active and then wasn't eating (due to the apparent beak problems). He did wake up this morning and make his way to his water bath, where he sat for 20 mins or so in warm water. I agree though - he does seem young for beak issues. Interesting re: not letting vet give any vitamin shots, I will enquire further if they're offered.
So he hasn`t pooped for a longer time ? Did I understand you right ? That might be the problem. I go searching the thread that I mentioned so you can read yourself.
 

Bobandjeff

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Ah thanks for that Bee62 - it looks like the tortoise in that thread can open her mouth, but is not taking the food. I'm not even sure Bob can get his mouth open (he's trying, but can't manage it). I'll try get a video later as I'm sure the vet will want to see it if I can't get Bob to 'perform' at his appt tomorrow.
 

JoesMum

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A good warning about vets from Sabine.

Most vets have no training or experience with tortoises. Mine, in Maidstone, is brilliant. Many are not and can do more harm than good; their care information being at best outdated and at worst harmful.

Excess vitamin A, for example, causes horrendous skin problems in torts which is why we advise owners to pick up their torts and run the minute vitamin injections are mentioned. A trained vet will know that you can’t do this.
 

Bobandjeff

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Update on Bob - vet really didn't know what was wrong with him, so we've just got to bathe him in reptoboost and keep him under the basking lamp and hope that he might pick up. I'm not holding out too much hope though as he's so teeny tiny. She weighed him - 12g (at 6 months old). Not looking too promising for this baby :-( but we will persist in trying to nurse him back to health.
 

anita keyes

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Feb 6, 2016
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With such a young tortoise, the beak really shouldn't be overgrown.

It is a possibility that there is considerably more to ot than that. Firstly there is something known as hatchling failure syndrome. Bob being a runt may well not be destined for a long life in any case :(

On your introductory thread, I have explained why these two shouldn't be kept together. This is especially important if one is sick as you don't want any infection to spread.

There are 4 important temperatures in tortoise keeping that you must know. Warm side, cool side, directly under the basking lamp and overnight minimum.

Youngsters like this shouldn't have temperatures below 80F/27C day or night. They also need high humidity to maintain healthy growth which is only possible in a closed chamber. The care sheet I linked to in your other thread explains how to get your setup right and the best way to measure temperatures. A Ceramic Heat Emitter used with a thermostat is best for maintaining the ambient 80F.

Your torts must be able to bask at 95-100F/35-37C directly under the basking lamp at tortoise level. A temperature gun type thermometer is the best way to measure temperatures. Don't use a thermostat with this lamp. Adjust temperature by raising or !owering it.

Diet is also important. Weedy and leafy greens. No fruit or sweet foods. And a tiny sprinkle of calcium powder on food three times a week.

Your torts cannot process dietary calcium without UVB. Like the basking lamp,. the UVB must be on 12-14 hours a day. Using timers makes this much simpler. UVB doesn't pass through glass, perspex or mesh; ther must be nothing between the lamp and your tort.

Finally, it is vital that you soak babies like this for at least 20 minutes a day in warm water. Do them in separate flat-bottomed containers that they can't see over or through. A washing up bowl is good. The water should be deep enough to just come over the join between the shell and the plastron. Bob probably needs 30 minutes at the moment.
Thank you for giving such a thorough explanation. A lot of us are still learning.
 

WithLisa

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Bob is the one with the anomalies? In the picture his whole shell seems to have a very strange shape. My first thought was: probably some more serious birth defect than just a few split scutes. :(
But of course I'll keep my fingers crossed for Lil' Bob, let's hope for the best!
 
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