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Family desert tortoise almost drowned...died 2 weeks later...what happened?

Discussion in 'Tortoise Health' started by mimsy, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. mimsy

    mimsy New Member

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    My tortoise had a flooded burrow while hibernating about 2 weeks ago...I thought he was probably dead! But we got all the water out and tapped his foot and it moved. He was alive. WOW
    Anyway a few days later he came out of his burrow. He was coming out every day and sunning himself. Seemed fine...Wasn't eating but would walk around the enclosure. I figured he was just getting himself out of hibernation mode. Mostly he basked in the sun a lot and sometimes dug a little.

    Yesterday it was dusk and he was still out! I noticed he was kind of gagging and opening his mouth. His mouth was kinda muddy/wet.Trouble breathing. His eyes also weren't very responsive. We got him inside for the night in a box with a towel. Put a heater next to him and got it up to 80ish degrees. He got a little more perky and eyes would actually blink and respond. But when I tilted him forward sometimes some water/spit came out of his mouth. Some a little full of dirt. And he continued to do his neck stretching and struggling to breathe while in his box. I lifted him and tilted him a few times more over the next couple hours and sometimes some fluid came out. But I felt like I was disturbing him especially since it was his bedtime. Then I figured for night he needed temp lowered so I turned off heat and left him alone (maybe bad idea?). His box temp went down to 70ish. I was gonna wake up again in an hour but ended up sleeping longer. :(

    Anyway this morning at 4 am ish I woke up with a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I went to check on him & he was dead. I was angry because I wanted to take him to 24 hour vet asap last night but parents wouldn't help and I didn't have the $. Would vet have been able to help?

    I'm just wondering what happened. I'm guessing respiratory tract infection or pneumonia? I wish I checked his burrow sooner so he wouldn't have gotten sick. He must've been carrying some dirty water in his system all those 2 weeks! He seemed fine though all those 2 weeks & I was naive. :(
  2. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    My guess would be pneumonia or URI.
  3. Diamond

    Diamond Member

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    I was thinking pneumonia as well. So sorry for your loss.
  4. dmmj

    dmmj The member formerly known as captain awesome Moderator 5 Year Member

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    definitely pneumonia or an RI and to be honest at that point I don't think a vet could have done anything it would have been too late just my opinion
    wellington likes this.
  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    And this is why I say over and over not to hibernate them outside. A good friend of mine lost his tortoise the same way.

    Sorry for your loss and may your tortoise rest in peace.

    If you ever decide to do it again, please come back and we will help you safely hibernate your tortoise indoors and out of the reach of cruel Mother Nature.
    Tidgy's Dad and wellington like this.
  6. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member Today is my birthday! 5 Year Member

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    May not have been more than water that filled its lungs and tortoises can't cough like we can to clear their lungs. As it slowly raised its metabolism over the last two weeks, the fluid in the lungs became too much to overcome with the higher, increased metabolism. The same pneumonia would do except the flooded burrow filled the lungs. The dramatically slowed metabolism of hibernation allowed it to survive until the increased metabolism caught up with it
  7. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    There is a way to try to get the water out of a tortoise's lungs. Doesn't always work, but does sometimes.

    Holding the tortoise and supporting his head, point him up to the ceiling then very quickly swing him down so he's pointing to the floor. Gravity will help get that water out. Do this several times. Then position the tortoise in a box on a slight incline with the head pointing down. Chances are good that the tortoise will still get pneumonia, but with the water removed from the lungs treatment will probably help him get over it.

    I'm so sorry for your loss, Mimsy. It's never easy to lose a treasured animal friend.
    Tidgy's Dad and wellington like this.
  8. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member Today is my birthday! 5 Year Member

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    I've had to do the 3-4 times over the years with spotted turtles. As water cools Down their ability to swim declines with their slower actions and they can drown. Also if one is scared as you move it it withdraws into its shell. If it is just dropped in water without allowing it to get a breath and equalize it will sink and cannot surface. Draining their lungs like you mention saved them
    Tidgy's Dad and wellington like this.
  9. enchilada

    enchilada Well-Known Member

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    my success experience on drowning (turtle complete lost motion ability. looks dead):
    1. hold the turtle upside down, head point to ground
    2. push front limbs inward then release, repeat couple times
    3. gently stroke the neck and squeeze if necessary (water will come out from nose)
    4. put turtle in dry and warm container. wait
    5. repeat step1~3 every hour
    6. once turtle can move neck or limbs little bit, you can just leave it rest. most will revive in 24 hours. aquatic turtles revive faster than semi-aquatic
    ```````````````````````````````````````````````````
    only apply to drowning occurred less than 12 hours.
    Tidgy's Dad likes this.
  10. Tidgy's Dad

    Tidgy's Dad Well-Known Member

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    I am very sorry for you loss, Mimsy.
    But some good information given by members here may help to save others.
  11. Kenno

    Kenno Well-Known Member

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    So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing the story with us.
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