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Graeca ibera not drinking!

Randy Micheals

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Hi all,

Having a bit of trouble with hydrating Henri, my otherwise healthy and happy male greek, approx 15 years old. My major issues is controlling his hydration. He refuses to drink from the terra cotta dish in his table, and will not voluntarily soak either. I try to keep his humidity at proper levels but it is very dry this time of year and sometimes a struggle. Dont want yo use an auto mister for fear of shell rot. I had assumed he was ok hydration wise, as he has never showed signs of lethargy, no sunk in eyes, etc.

However, the other day he went to an area of his table (under the ramp to the second level) that he has never gone to, to dig himself in and sleep. He almost always sleeps in one of two other places, and digs himself in a night. So this was odd behavior. In addition, he stayed there all day without coming out! I placed some food beside him and, hoping for the best, went to work the next day. I came home to find the food untouched and was, at this point, very worried. Normally he is an eating machine and will literally trample anything in his path to get to food. He had moved however, and was sunning under his lamp as per usual. It was roughly 6pm which is after his active time, but regardless I talked to him and moved his food dish around which typically gets his attention very quick. Sure enough he ran over like normal and devoured some water-soaked greens like his normal self. After this tho, he urinated and released a very large amount of white uric (about the diameter of an oreo cookie), leaving me wondering if that's why he wasnt acting himself. To have stored up that much, he must have been dehydrated, despite having water readily available, as well as having his zoomed grassland f pellets always soaked into a mush. He loves the mush and this is most of his diet this time of year as I live in Canada and most supermarket Greens are no good for him, or simply not nutritious enough. We have basic grocery stores here and collard greens, escarole are hard to find! I bought grow lamps, clover seed, and dandelion seed and am growing them indoors, but this is slow and doesn't provide quite enough for daily. Also, the dandelion isnt dandelion, and I dony know what it is! Will try to post a pic for identification later. Obviously I am not feeding the unidentified greens.

I believe dehydration is an issue. I spritz the enclosure to decrease dust and add moisture, as well as pour water into the soil of his "forest" micro climate. Soil is coco coir with mushroom soil (organic and fully neutral/depleted).

On to soaking. He absolutely hates these, and will hiss and hide, or alternatively splash around trying to escape. I tolerate this despite our mutual discomfort, because I fear forhis overall health. However the stress incurred is also obviously not ideal.

So, I am hoping to get some advice and info as to how I can increase regular hydration. In the summer time this is a non issue, as the weeds he eats are very lush, and are spritzed with additional water. One approach is to offer more water rich foods such as cucumber, grapes, or watermelon. However I have read that these should be fed very sparingly if at all (I will give as a treat perhaps once a month), and therefore cannot be a hydration staple. I have also noticed that he is pooping less frequently as well. His metabolism is likely slower this time of year but I dont feel confident attempting to brumate quite yet. Was his lethargy and lack of appetite for 2 days a result of dehydration? The uric acid build up? The uric was not crusty or flaky at all, and there seemed to be plenty of water in the pee as well. Fed him some cucumber the next day and he pee'd again, this time with no urates. He has resumed his normal routine but I am left rather concerned by our apparent inability to keep him regularly hydrated, if in fact his was the issue. Why would he store that much urates when water is readily available? Why wont he drink? And what can I do to stabilize this process in the least stressful and hands off way possible? What foods can be offered often for hydration? How often may he have cucumber, watermelon, grapes, or lettuce? Will these upset his stomach, gut flora, or vitamin levels? How much longer before his soaks (every week, sometimes bi weekly) become normalized part of his routine?

Any advice or tips are appreciated! Thank you,

Randy & Henri
 

Blackdog1714

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A little cucumber is okay, but watermelon, grapes-fruits are no good due to the high sugar content. For the cucumber just grate a little on his food. As for the soaks have you tried them with high value treats like hibiscus blooms or zinnia flowers. I know in winter this is a tall (just like your snow drifts) task but it could turn a hated bath into a wanted bath. Also GOOD FOR YOU trying to grow indoors my thumb is brown to green so I am hit or miss- I do have a dandelion weed that I transplanted and two opuntia are budding! Know for serious question time:
1. Temps in enclosure- end to end, basking, daytime, and nighttime
2. Size of enclosure (Photos Please)
3. Substrate-- Coco Coir and depleted mushroom soil (Nice but dusty)
4. UVB lamp
5. Heat Lamps/producers
6. Plant bulb or regular light for daylight
7. Do you feed Mazuri? If not let me know I got just short of a metric ton recently
8. Remind yourself you are an excellent Tortoise Owner!
 

Canadian Mojo

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This might sound crazy, but maybe he doesn't like the taste of the water. If it's city tap water with all sorts of chlorine and fluoride in it I could see that legendary tortoise stubbornness kicking in.
 

Blackdog1714

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This might sound crazy, but maybe he doesn't like the taste of the water. If it's city tap water with all sorts of chlorine and fluoride in it I could see that legendary tortoise stubbornness kicking in.
Good Catch. I live in Richmond, VA and we have excellent tap water. Further North say in parts of Ohio and Michigan I would definately say no to tap water for both of us!
 

Canadian Mojo

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Good Catch. I live in Richmond, VA and we have excellent tap water. Further North say in parts of Ohio and Michigan I would definately say no to tap water for both of us!
We're on a well so the water tastes good but it is pretty hard, particularly this time of year. Our RF is starting to get a little white below the water line because he likes to park his butt in the water dish multiple times a day. I think we both prefer that to the town water which reeks of chlorine.
 

Blackdog1714

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Normally we scoff and laugh at the bottled water people, but sadly in some locations it is the safest water choice!
 

Randy Micheals

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Hi thanks for the reply and sorry forthe late re, I've been working nightshift!

We have well water, i live in British columbia and our water is typically very clean and untreated. It may have minerals in it tho? Not sure.

Ok so for the questions:
1.basking temp is 99 at time of taking, forest area has a heat lamp makingit about 85. Ambient temp in the apt is 69. Overall temp in the enclosure is average 75, with the exception of the hiding cave under the 2nd lvl which is 69. Night time temp is 69 or slightly lower. Humidity is 50ish in the summer but 30ish percent now. Too low.
2.enclosure is 9x4 with an additional 8 square feet between 2nd lvl and ramp.
3. Substrate also includes a small amount of play sand aroundthe basking area, added from his last enclosure. He seems to prefer this for digging.
4. Uvb exl terra pt2 125w mercury vapour bulb.
5. CRlight 100w ceramic heat emitter with reflector dome.Thermopro tp55 hygrometer.
6. No plant bulb but 2 facing windows that provide daylight but not much regular sunlight.
7. No I have not tried Mazuri, do you recommend?
8. Thank you! I worry lots because we have no herp vet around, closest is 4 hours or more away. If he gets sick I will feel very helpless.

Update: he is pretty lazy again, and slept through most of his active time today, without going for his food. He did wake up and go back for a bit, which I was hoping meanthe was warming up to eat, but he just went back to the forest zone and went back to sleep. This is still strange behavior from the norm, tho when he is awake, he is voracious about the food, just not eating as regularly, and sleeping quite a bit more. The urates and this behavior led me to believe dehydration. But I'm not sure. Pics to follow of enclosure table and the plants I was hoping someone could identify. And ps the upper area is zoo med forest floor. The top area was a grazing area in the summer, I would bring in cuttings and "plant" them in the small pots so that he could graze as per natural wild behavior. These included hibiscus (rose of sharon), violas, young strawberry leaves, plantains, dandelions, clover, thistle, marigold, and snapdragons among others approved by the tortoise trust plant database. Unfortunately this time of year its bare. Plants are fake or are grass (sedge, carex). He doesn't eat this grass.

Thank you!

20190618_163949.jpg1581104265585.jpg
 
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Blackdog1714

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I know all about shift work! You can get seed mixes although in small amounts due to your importation rules (Cat Grass -rye may be available and grows in the cold) As for Mazuri it is a nice supplement for those of us that have winters (Even in Richmond) and don't have greenhouses and the green thumbs to go with them. PM me I will gladly send you a small bag of Mazuri as I just got a 25LB bag and they don't eat that fast. As for sleeping they do bruminate so natuyrally they slow down in the winter so matbe he is maturing. BRUMINATION is a whole other topic. As far as humidity I may be wrong but I think tose numbers are fine for a Hermann's
 

Canadian Mojo

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Tent the enclosure to get the humidity up. Scrap wood, shower curtain, and a staple gun would do the job quickly and you could worry about pretty later. There are plenty of other options if you poke around the site but they all boil down to enclosing the habitat in order to keep the humidity where it needs to be. Especially this time of year.

I think the seedlings are marigold but don't quote me on that.
 

Maro2Bear

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Tent the enclosure to get the humidity up. Scrap wood, shower curtain, and a staple gun would do the job quickly and you could worry about pretty later. There are plenty of other options if you poke around the site but they all boil down to enclosing the habitat in order to keep the humidity where it needs to be. Especially this time of year.

I think the seedlings are marigold but don't quote me on that.
Yep, those seedlings do look like Marigold, just starting to develop it’s more characteristic leaves.
 

Yvonne G

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You can spritz water over his food to help him get hydrated. Soaking daily, even though you don't see him drink, is a good thing too.
 

Randy Micheals

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Hi all, thanks so much for the replies and suggestions. Unfortunately we are still having problems. Seems very odd to me. Henri has been sleeping in his hide for going on 4 days. During his last sleep (last post) he did in fact come out, looked healthy and had a great appetite and ran like a runaway truck to gt to his food. But after that, he went back to sleep and there he has stayed. I have been checking on him and he is moving normally and seems ok other than to sleep. If he hasnt moved today I will be going in to take him out manually forhis soak...

I'm at a loss for why he is like this...he doesn't seem sick at all but has never slept like this. Is it possible that he is self-hybernating? He didnt poop out his last meal yet either I believe, so I'm concerned about that, if he is in fact sleeping. I know Greeks are a species that hibernate, so is it possible this could be normal behavior? It is winter.....

And thank you black dog that is very kind of you, maybe I could send you some clover seeds in exchange? Need to sort out why is sleeping so much before I can adress his diet once again tho...

Wow this is pretty stressful. I dont know how you guys do it. I've only had this little guy for a couple years and I think I'm going grey. Before i got him he lived in a 10 gallon tank with no light or anything...I thought I was making a better life for him but if he gets sick I'm going to feel wretched....😔. I have sourced a herp vet in a city close-ish to us, and will be phoning her today for additional advice.
 

Blackdog1714

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My Russian would sleep or bask all day unless I add food or soak him. He will ignore the food sometimes, but going a day is no big deal. With torts that Bruminate keeping them up in Winter requires a touch of trickery-adjust lights to be on 12 hours a day, no sight of the outside, and a tight tolerance on the temps (if gets even a tad cooler at night than it does during the summer he would feel this and start the slow down.) And to completely ease your mnd you could take a fresh fecal sample to your vet to check for worms if that is even possible- if you have had him checked prior and he had no access to tainted poop (cat,dog, or tort) then you would not need to. Taking your tort to the vet for a vitamin shot is bad thing and very bad for the tort. Just keep soaking and dragging him out to bask. BTW with your UVB I would consider changing to a T5 UVB bulb -they are much safer for the tort- also how old is the bulb since if it is not putting out UVB that may be contributing as well
 

Beasty_Artemis

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I was just going to suggest that you make sure that the heat bulb hasn't died on you. But I guess it was already suggested.
Remember, if the heat bulb gives out, it still shines like a normal light bulb, but isn't radiating heat!!!
I just experienced that the other day! My red foot suddenly began to bury herself all day long for 2 days in a corner of her table that she has never spent time in...
I just knew some factors were different somehow.....
So I checked temps and humidity. Sure enough! Good thing I'm very vigilant when it comes to Artemis. I've learned to always order multiples so I have extras in my tortoise tool box.
 

Randy Micheals

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Great suggestions thank you. The bulb is 10 months old. Box says a year but do you recommend 6 months? And I will forsure switch light to w.e suits him best. Will order that one next, with a spare. Is it on amazon? Both lamps still radiating heat.

So the latest update. I have spoken to the reptile clinic and given them all the info. The specialist has 40 years exp but isnt in until monday.
Got home today and found Henri in the same spot, but different position. He was laying in his sunbathing position with his head out curled and all legs out, even tho he was under the ramp. When I reached in and gave him a soft pet, he kind of jumped and hissed, much like anyone would when woken from a deep slumber.
I managed to get him out ok and put him under the basking light, where he came around. When I went to his food dish and made him aware of the fresh clover there, he was interested. He came slowly, as he was still sleepy I think. I added zoomed pellet mush to the mix and he went to town on it. He has once again pee'd out a huge amount of urates, and has since gone to bask. He is still moving very slowly, but that should natural for a tort that slept for 4 days straight no?
I can see no sores or whiteness in the mouth, it looks pink and healthy, eyes are a little dull. He is walking with all limbs and doesn't seem to be having a hardtime breathing. He opened his mouth really wide and I thought he was choking for a sec, but it was a yawn....never seen him yawn before, pretty funny. He is now basking as he does after a meal, then I'll give him a soak.
I'm stumped here, on one hand he is exhibiting strange new behavior in sleeping 4 days straight, but on the other I can find no obvious other traces of sickness. Perhaps you were right black dog, maybe he is maturing into self brumation? But there was nothing to kick it off, no change in heat or diet. Only the low humidity, which I'm working on fixing atm. Hmmm.
Very happy hes not showing signs of deteriorating, but still going to have to keep a close watch and monitor.
Thanks again!!! for all help and suggestions so far, this has been much more helpful than the regular vets office. Im including a picture o this evening's chowdown.
 

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jso

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Tent the enclosure to get the humidity up. Scrap wood, shower curtain, and a staple gun would do the job quickly and you could worry about pretty later. There are plenty of other options if you poke around the site but they all boil down to enclosing the habitat in order to keep the humidity where it needs to be. Especially this time of year.

I think the seedlings are marigold but don't quote me on that.
If you tent the whole enclosure to get the humidity up, that doesn't give the tortoise many options. They're not a high humidity species. Instead, provide a variety of different hides, maybe, to allow the tortoise to self-regulate its temperature and humidity?
 

jso

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Hi thanks for the reply and sorry forthe late re, I've been working nightshift!

We have well water, i live in British columbia and our water is typically very clean and untreated. It may have minerals in it tho? Not sure.

Ok so for the questions:
1.basking temp is 99 at time of taking, forest area has a heat lamp makingit about 85. Ambient temp in the apt is 69. Overall temp in the enclosure is average 75, with the exception of the hiding cave under the 2nd lvl which is 69. Night time temp is 69 or slightly lower. Humidity is 50ish in the summer but 30ish percent now. Too low.
2.enclosure is 9x4 with an additional 8 square feet between 2nd lvl and ramp.
3. Substrate also includes a small amount of play sand aroundthe basking area, added from his last enclosure. He seems to prefer this for digging.
4. Uvb exl terra pt2 125w mercury vapour bulb.
5. CRlight 100w ceramic heat emitter with reflector dome.Thermopro tp55 hygrometer.
6. No plant bulb but 2 facing windows that provide daylight but not much regular sunlight.
7. No I have not tried Mazuri, do you recommend?
8. Thank you! I worry lots because we have no herp vet around, closest is 4 hours or more away. If he gets sick I will feel very helpless.

Update: he is pretty lazy again, and slept through most of his active time today, without going for his food. He did wake up and go back for a bit, which I was hoping meanthe was warming up to eat, but he just went back to the forest zone and went back to sleep. This is still strange behavior from the norm, tho when he is awake, he is voracious about the food, just not eating as regularly, and sleeping quite a bit more. The urates and this behavior led me to believe dehydration. But I'm not sure. Pics to follow of enclosure table and the plants I was hoping someone could identify. And ps the upper area is zoo med forest floor. The top area was a grazing area in the summer, I would bring in cuttings and "plant" them in the small pots so that he could graze as per natural wild behavior. These included hibiscus (rose of sharon), violas, young strawberry leaves, plantains, dandelions, clover, thistle, marigold, and snapdragons among others approved by the tortoise trust plant database. Unfortunately this time of year its bare. Plants are fake or are grass (sedge, carex). He doesn't eat this grass.

Thank you!

View attachment 286314View attachment 286315
"Humidity is 50ish in the summer but 30ish percent now. Too low."
Why do you say it is "too low"?
 

Randy Micheals

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Hi jso,

I've just been going with suggested humidity as 50 from what I've read, but could be wrong as there is a lot of conflicting information, and additionally it seems to vary somewhat by subspecies. What do you think?

I've tried to make small micro climates to allow for self regulation, so the forest area usually has slightly damper soil (literally mixed water in) and gets spritzed daily, while the basking area is quite dry. The cave area is cooler and drier. What would you suggest for better humidity control in each zone? I bought a small decorative waterfall that I thought might help, in the forest zone, but havnt installed it. Also thought this might provide fresh water source and encourage to drink, as he runs thru his water almost immediately after it gets set out, and fouls it. Tia
 

TammyJ

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I really hope this all works out OK. I live in the tropics and know nothing of "brumation" ("brumination"?) or hibernation, but it just sounds like he is trying to do just that. Good luck! Keep us informed please.
 

Randy Micheals

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Thanks Tammyj, been a bit of a roller coaster, but based on last night I am thinking he seems healthy. After eating and soaking he ran around like crazy and has never seemed better. I left his light on bit longer than usual to let him explore, and he eventually put himself to bed in his normal dig in area near the basking light.

I fed him some clover that just matured so hoping that tricks him into thinking its spring time. The more I research, the more it seems like self regulated hibernation, or brumination, and so far no one has disclaimed this possibility. The odd thing is, spring is a month away tops here, and he was active all winter. Still looking for what triggered him to sleep. He went to sleep for the 4 days directly after a meal, so I was worried about bacterial build up in the guts, but he had 3 big poops last night so that's all good now, but definately something I will be aware of if he decides to go down for a deep sleep again. He is normal to all appearances as far as I can tell.

Having said that I have a phone appt with the herp vet to see if she can offer some insight. Seems like the best approach is preventative regular care and checks, as I think caring for a sick tortoise would be difficult to navigate. Others with more direct experience could say better, I'm pretty new to this, and I live alone and have no other torts or even any pets. My lady isnt with us anymore and she was always better with Henri.

Lucky you living in the tropics! I would love to have an Aldabra, but its next to impossible in canada! What species do you keep, and do you have an outdoor setup? Interested to hear about it if so!

I havnt found a ton of info on irregular self hybrination, but a few others on here are experiencing what appears to be the same thing. My mom suggested perhaps tortoises have an internal sensor that understands the moon cycles or tidal pulls, but that's strictly speculative. Interesting concept tho. Otherwise how did he even know. Will post what hes up to when I get home from work today!
 

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