Health Concerns

Kandisa612

New Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2020
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
AZ
Hello all,

I have some health concerns for my Sulcata Luna.

The last two days Luna has not eaten and it appears to have something to do with her mouth. Her lower jaw quivers/shakes, and it appears as though she cannot actually bite down on anything. Before she was able to take bites from a big leaf, but now she has to have things cut small for her or she cannot eat. This has been since the issues with her mouth, which she was seen for about two months ago and treated with pain medication. She was also tested for several viral and bacterial causes for respiratory disease and oral ulcerations all tests came back negative. She had a bowel movement on 2/03/21 and 2/5/21. She urinates everyday after her soaking, but there has been no observed urination for several days.

The next concern I have is with her skin. Her skin appears to be cracked as if it is going to fall off. Some areas have fallen off and it does look like healthy skin underneath. She also has flaky skin under her head and around her neck. She appears to have small bumps on her skin as well. The bumps are different then the yellow spots that she was treated for in October 2020 with two corses of antibiotics. She also has a large crack by her tail. I have attached photos below. It appears that her legs are stiff and she cannot walk. She will lift her front left leg and shake it like she wants to move but cannot.

She weighed 85 grams today.

She is in a closed chamber enclosure that is 36x24x18. She has a 60 watt ceramic heater that is on 24/7, and a 60 watt day light that is on from 8am - 8pm. The humidity gauge reads about 70-75% humidity, and her digital thermometer reads 100°F during the day and 80° F at night. The substrate I use is Zoo Med eco-earth compress coconut fiber expandable substrate which I mix with Zoo Med premium reptile bark. Her diet consists of weeds and Bermuda grass from the backyard. All of the weeds I feed her, I have looked up and per thetortoisetable.org are all “safe to feed”. Fresh grocery store food I feed her consists of mustard greens, kale, yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, and spineless prickly pear. All of the foods are chopped or shredded for her or she will not eat. The only supplement she has is a turtle bone, I do have calcium powder without D3 but when I sprinkle that on her food she does not eat it, so I just stopped using it and put the bone in her enclosure instead. I take her outside 3 times a week for 30min - 1hr. for natural sunlight. Some weeks, with the recent rains and cold days, I have not taken her out. I already mentioned, but will emphasize that I soak her everyday for at least 30 min.

I have an appointment scheduled for her, but the soonest is 2/10/21. I just wanted to get some advice.

Thank you all in advance!

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Yossarian

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2015
Messages
764
Location (City and/or State)
Wales
Im sorry your tort is unwell, it looks really poorly. This could be a more progressive stage of the yellow spot disease. I have no firsthand experience but have done some reading about it and its not good.

I dont know what is causing the shell brittleness either. Ill see if we can catch some attention.

@zovick
@mastershake
 

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
1,656
Hello all,

I have some health concerns for my Sulcata Luna.

The last two days Luna has not eaten and it appears to have something to do with her mouth. Her lower jaw quivers/shakes, and it appears as though she cannot actually bite down on anything. Before she was able to take bites from a big leaf, but now she has to have things cut small for her or she cannot eat. This has been since the issues with her mouth, which she was seen for about two months ago and treated with pain medication. She was also tested for several viral and bacterial causes for respiratory disease and oral ulcerations all tests came back negative. She had a bowel movement on 2/03/21 and 2/5/21. She urinates everyday after her soaking, but there has been no observed urination for several days.

The next concern I have is with her skin. Her skin appears to be cracked as if it is going to fall off. Some areas have fallen off and it does look like healthy skin underneath. She also has flaky skin under her head and around her neck. She appears to have small bumps on her skin as well. The bumps are different then the yellow spots that she was treated for in October 2020 with two corses of antibiotics. She also has a large crack by her tail. I have attached photos below. It appears that her legs are stiff and she cannot walk. She will lift her front left leg and shake it like she wants to move but cannot.

She weighed 85 grams today.

She is in a closed chamber enclosure that is 36x24x18. She has a 60 watt ceramic heater that is on 24/7, and a 60 watt day light that is on from 8am - 8pm. The humidity gauge reads about 70-75% humidity, and her digital thermometer reads 100°F during the day and 80° F at night. The substrate I use is Zoo Med eco-earth compress coconut fiber expandable substrate which I mix with Zoo Med premium reptile bark. Her diet consists of weeds and Bermuda grass from the backyard. All of the weeds I feed her, I have looked up and per thetortoisetable.org are all “safe to feed”. Fresh grocery store food I feed her consists of mustard greens, kale, yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, and spineless prickly pear. All of the foods are chopped or shredded for her or she will not eat. The only supplement she has is a turtle bone, I do have calcium powder without D3 but when I sprinkle that on her food she does not eat it, so I just stopped using it and put the bone in her enclosure instead. I take her outside 3 times a week for 30min - 1hr. for natural sunlight. Some weeks, with the recent rains and cold days, I have not taken her out. I already mentioned, but will emphasize that I soak her everyday for at least 30 min.

I have an appointment scheduled for her, but the soonest is 2/10/21. I just wanted to get some advice.

Thank you all in advance!
Unfortunately, it appears that the antibiotics which were used in October did not kill the bacteria which causes the yellow bumps/spots. I would say that the problem was hidden for a while, but has now come back with a vengeance. The prognosis is not very good for animals with this disease. You can tell your vet that the causative organism has been found by PCR testing of lesions to be Austwickia chelonae. Sadly, it is not much affected by most antibiotics and the tortoises which get it are in for a bad time if they survive at all.

Look at these posts and see if your tortoise has or had some of the same problems. Yellow Bumps on Tortoises You may find some helpful info in there from people who have managed to keep their affected tortoises alive also.
 

mastershake

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2018
Messages
317
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
this ^^^ is what happens with this. the antibiotics only hide the symptoms for some time then it comes back worse. this is the exact reason we had to put three of ours down for this bacteria. most antibiotics are not at all effective and even the ones that have some effect its minimal. looking at the patches on the skin imo this looks to be the way austwickia looks like after some time of being treated and it is still lingering and gets worse. tell them there is concern of austwickia and they can test for it.
 
Last edited:

Kandisa612

New Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2020
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
AZ
I am saddened to share that Luna passed away in her sleep last night.
The vet started her on antibiotics again, and she got her first dose just yesterday morning.
I wanted to do all I could to try and treat this, but you guys were right there was no hope. After the first two courses of antibiotics she was perfect! No spots, no complications, and she even doubled her weight in 4 months. She was 40g when starting the first antibiotic in October, and she weighed 85g on her last visit. I really thought she was fine. I noticed the change on her skin only 6 days ago. Maybe if I would have taken her to the vet and started antibiotics the very day I noticed the change, then she would still be alive. Although like you are saying, it would have just come back. Through all of this, I have spent over $1,000 on vet bills from exams to medications. I will post on my original feed to update everyone who read the issues from the beginning in October. I hope that others can learn from Luna's story.
Thank you guys for all your help. I appreciate you all being willing to help and share your knowledge.
 

Yossarian

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2015
Messages
764
Location (City and/or State)
Wales
I am saddened to share that Luna passed away in her sleep last night.
The vet started her on antibiotics again, and she got her first dose just yesterday morning.
I wanted to do all I could to try and treat this, but you guys were right there was no hope. After the first two courses of antibiotics she was perfect! No spots, no complications, and she even doubled her weight in 4 months. She was 40g when starting the first antibiotic in October, and she weighed 85g on her last visit. I really thought she was fine. I noticed the change on her skin only 6 days ago. Maybe if I would have taken her to the vet and started antibiotics the very day I noticed the change, then she would still be alive. Although like you are saying, it would have just come back. Through all of this, I have spent over $1,000 on vet bills from exams to medications. I will post on my original feed to update everyone who read the issues from the beginning in October. I hope that others can learn from Luna's story.
Thank you guys for all your help. I appreciate you all being willing to help and share your knowledge.

Sorry it turned out this way, but don’t hold it against yourself, this stuff is very nasty and in studies I have seen with other reptiles, mortality was near 100% of test subjects. Furthermore, it can really only have contracted this from the breeder.

if you decide to try again, buy from a reputable breeder here. But make sure everything you have is thoroughly sanitised before introducing another animal.
 

Jan A

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Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
874
Location (City and/or State)
Boulder, CO
I am saddened to share that Luna passed away in her sleep last night.
The vet started her on antibiotics again, and she got her first dose just yesterday morning.
I wanted to do all I could to try and treat this, but you guys were right there was no hope. After the first two courses of antibiotics she was perfect! No spots, no complications, and she even doubled her weight in 4 months. She was 40g when starting the first antibiotic in October, and she weighed 85g on her last visit. I really thought she was fine. I noticed the change on her skin only 6 days ago. Maybe if I would have taken her to the vet and started antibiotics the very day I noticed the change, then she would still be alive. Although like you are saying, it would have just come back. Through all of this, I have spent over $1,000 on vet bills from exams to medications. I will post on my original feed to update everyone who read the issues from the beginning in October. I hope that others can learn from Luna's story.
Thank you guys for all your help. I appreciate you all being willing to help and share your knowledge.
So sorry for your loss. This is terribly sad. It hurts our hearts.
 

Kandisa612

New Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2020
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
AZ
Thank you all for your condolences.

I want to get another tortoise, and my vet put me on the list to get the next rescue tortoise. I was wondering what are your professional opinions on whether I should start new with all my supplies or would bleaching everything be suffice? Also is my yard now contaminated?
@zovick
@mastershake
 

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
1,656
Thank you all for your condolences.

I want to get another tortoise, and my vet put me on the list to get the next rescue tortoise. I was wondering what are your professional opinions on whether I should start new with all my supplies or would bleaching everything be suffice? Also is my yard now contaminated?
@zovick
@mastershake
If I were you, I would toss everything that was used for the deceased tortoise and start over with all new equipment.

Your yard may be contaminated for some time as well. Is there any way you could use a different part of the yard for a new tortoise?
 

Kandisa612

New Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2020
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
AZ
If I were you, I would toss everything that was used for the deceased tortoise and start over with all new equipment.

Your yard may be contaminated for some time as well. Is there any way you could use a different part of the yard for a new tortoise?

Okay, thank you. I'm tossing all my stuff today.
Luna was all over the yard. How long do you think the yard will be contaminated? How long should I wait?
 

Yossarian

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Tortoise Club
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Nov 21, 2015
Messages
764
Location (City and/or State)
Wales
Could be a long time, I have seen reputable sources saying the dog virus parvo can remain contagious in dirt for at least 2 years. I have no idea how long this stuff might be a risk in your yard, just offering some perspective.
 

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
1,656
Okay, thank you. I'm tossing all my stuff today.
Luna was all over the yard. How long do you think the yard will be contaminated? How long should I wait?
I cannot say for sure. I would think a few months or more.
@mastershake do you have any idea how long the yard might need to be quarantined and/or do you know any way(s) to treat the yard to kill Austwickia chelonae?
 

mastershake

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Joined
Jan 19, 2018
Messages
317
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
3+ months from info i am given. or other info says 8+ months so i dont think there is any hard info on it. the sunlight will gradually kill it off (from what im told) only problem is its cold in most places right now the moist and or wet ground could be a breeding ground for it, otherwise mix an ammonia spray and spray the yard down this may help at the surface but you will need to wait then before you can re introduce anyone to the same yard.

and YES toss as much or all if possible, this has been shown to be able to survive for many months on surfaces. the only other thing you can do is long soaks in pure ammonia which we know will kill it but its not instant. so you would need to spray and or soak rinse repeat etc etc you want around 30+ min of wet contact time. we chose to toss EVERYTHING even the enclosure they were in here. we have had NO recurrence in anyone else since then and we did keep it contained to only those three we had here at the rescue. we were ridiculously careful the whole time though biosecurity wise.
 
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