Help Diagnosing my tortoises shell issue

NathanielVal

New Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2024
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
California
Hello so about a year ago we rescued a Sulcata tortoise from a fire. We got them ointment and multiple nasal drips and medication from the vet and it’s been a journey to say the least since then. It’s obvious the previous owners did not take much care of them she was living in a patio. Her pyramids have eased down since taking her in but recently I noticed this with her she’ll. Can anyone help me diagnose why her shell seems to be lifting? It’s all around the side of her shell is this normal? What can I do?
 

Attachments

  • IMG_4435.jpeg
    IMG_4435.jpeg
    1.7 MB · Views: 3
  • IMG_4434.jpeg
    IMG_4434.jpeg
    1.7 MB · Views: 3
  • IMG_4330.jpeg
    IMG_4330.jpeg
    2.7 MB · Views: 2
  • IMG_4331.jpeg
    IMG_4331.jpeg
    2.6 MB · Views: 2
  • IMG_4332.jpeg
    IMG_4332.jpeg
    2.2 MB · Views: 9
  • IMG_4333.jpeg
    IMG_4333.jpeg
    2 MB · Views: 2
  • IMG_4334.jpeg
    IMG_4334.jpeg
    1.8 MB · Views: 1
  • IMG_4335.jpeg
    IMG_4335.jpeg
    1.6 MB · Views: 8

NathanielVal

New Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2024
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
California
Hello and welcome!
I hope @Tom or @Yvonne G could tell you if there are any anomalies.

Was her shell burnt by fire? Were it the same areas where scutes are lifting?
It’s very possible but when I took her to the vet she only said her front legs were clearly burnt and that’s where we targeted the ointment treatment. But to answer clearly I don’t believe so it didn’t look like that when I first took her in
 

Alex and the Redfoot

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2023
Messages
2,353
Location (City and/or State)
Cyprus
It’s very possible but when I took her to the vet she only said her front legs were clearly burnt and that’s where we targeted the ointment treatment. But to answer clearly I don’t believe so it didn’t look like that when I first took her in
Thank you!
Please, take my words with a grain of salt (I'm not very experienced keeper):

I suppose, that tortoise wouldn't try to run away from fire and would "tuck in" instead. Looking at where front legs scales are damaged and where some scutes are lifted - that was probably happened. If I'm right, then this old damaged keratin will flake off, probably exposing underlying bone and over the course of several year may regrow to some extent.

There is nothing you can do about it, just keep doing what you do now. She looks like a well cared sulcata. Applying cold pressed coconut oil over the shell may help to condition a shell a little bit.
 

COmtnLady

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
1,686
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
I agree with Alex that they will probably be shed no mater what you do. The tissues have been damaged, and the damaged ones need to slough (rhymes with cough) off.

That said, Vitamin E comes in gel caps. When I burn or cut myself I take a pin, poke a hole in the end of one of the Vitamin E gels and squeeze the sticky, oily, E onto the burn/cut and let it sit there. (If its in a particularly prominent place, like my hand that will bump into other stuff in the environment, I cover it, but then the bandage tends to soak up the Vitamin E). Its just an oil soluble plant-based vitamin. It seems to encourage healing more quickly, and strengthens the cell walls that are regrowing.

It seems like putting E onto those burnt areas, the growth creases and such, might help the repair/regrowth. Wait for Yvonne or Tom to to weigh in, there could be some reason E isn't good for reptiles that I don't know about. What works on mammals isn't always a good thing for other species.
 

NathanielVal

New Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2024
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
California
Thank you!
Please, take my words with a grain of salt (I'm not very experienced keeper):

I suppose, that tortoise wouldn't try to run away from fire and would "tuck in" instead. Looking at where front legs scales are damaged and where some scutes are lifted - that was probably happened. If I'm right, then this old damaged keratin will flake off, probably exposing underlying bone and over the course of several year may regrow to some extent.

There is nothing you can do about it, just keep doing what you do now. She looks like a well cared sulcata. Applying cold pressed coconut oil over the shell may help to condition a shell a little bit.
That’s exactly what happened she tucked in and it’s her front legs that took the damage. And it’s ironic that it’s only her side scutes that seem to be lifting away and not the top it seems to be just on the edge which to your point could be the fact of her covering up from the fire. As far as her care goes she’s got plenty of space her diet consists of mustard greens, collard greens, kale, dandelion, and grass. With that I can guarantee her previous owners did not provide that for her so I was thinking she could be growing as well. I was thinking about looking into oils and helping the flaking she gets soaked every morning so I try to keep her hydrated I was thinking this could help as well
 

NathanielVal

New Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2024
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
California
I agree with Alex that they will probably be shed no mater what you do. The tissues have been damaged, and the damaged ones need to slough (rhymes with cough) off.

That said, Vitamin E comes in gel caps. When I burn or cut myself I take a pin, poke a hole in the end of one of the Vitamin E gels and squeeze the sticky, oily, E onto the burn/cut and let it sit there. (If its in a particularly prominent place, like my hand that will bump into other stuff in the environment, I cover it, but then the bandage tends to soak up the Vitamin E). Its just an oil soluble plant-based vitamin. It seems to encourage healing more quickly, and strengthens the cell walls that are regrowing.

It seems like putting E onto those burnt areas, the growth creases and such, might help the repair/regrowth. Wait for Yvonne or Tom to to weigh in, there could be some reason E isn't good for reptiles that I don't know about. What works on mammals isn't always a good thing for other species.
I’ll definitely look into the E caps thank you 🙏🏼 I’ve done the same with burns for myself
 

Alex and the Redfoot

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2023
Messages
2,353
Location (City and/or State)
Cyprus
That’s exactly what happened she tucked in and it’s her front legs that took the damage. And it’s ironic that it’s only her side scutes that seem to be lifting away and not the top it seems to be just on the edge which to your point could be the fact of her covering up from the fire. As far as her care goes she’s got plenty of space her diet consists of mustard greens, collard greens, kale, dandelion, and grass. With that I can guarantee her previous owners did not provide that for her so I was thinking she could be growing as well. I was thinking about looking into oils and helping the flaking she gets soaked every morning so I try to keep her hydrated I was thinking this could help as well
She is definitely growing under your care and new growth is clearly seen. You are doing a great job!

Flaking can't be helped (definitely do not try to lift and peel the scutes). Just let it happen naturally. Coconut oil seems to have some restoration effect on keratin (still a debatable topic, so I'm careful here) and does no harm, so it may worth a try.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,197
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hello so about a year ago we rescued a Sulcata tortoise from a fire. We got them ointment and multiple nasal drips and medication from the vet and it’s been a journey to say the least since then. It’s obvious the previous owners did not take much care of them she was living in a patio. Her pyramids have eased down since taking her in but recently I noticed this with her she’ll. Can anyone help me diagnose why her shell seems to be lifting? It’s all around the side of her shell is this normal? What can I do?
I can't see any "lifting" in your pics. I just see the normal rough growth typical of CA tortoises living outside.

Where in CA are you?
How is the tortoise housed?
Do you have a proper heated night house?
Are you adding humidity to the night house?
What type of heating is used in the night house?
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
93,602
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
You can lubricate that new growth with cold pressed coconut oil. Rub it in, allow it to absorb for 15 or 20 minutes then polish it off with a clean, absorbent towell.
 

NathanielVal

New Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2024
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
California
She is definitely growing under your care and new growth is clearly seen. You are doing a great job!

Flaking can't be helped (definitely do not try to lift and peel the scutes). Just let it happen naturally. Coconut oil seems to have some restoration effect on keratin (still a debatable topic, so I'm careful here) and does no harm, so it may worth a try.
Thank you! She is definitely doing much better now then she was when we first found her
 

NathanielVal

New Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2024
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
California
I can't see any "lifting" in your pics. I just see the normal rough growth typical of CA tortoises living outside.

Where in CA are you?
How is the tortoise housed?
Do you have a proper heated night house?
Are you adding humidity to the night house?
What type of heating is used in the night house?
There’s lifting on the scutes on the side of her shell in the pics it’s clearer in the pictures of her in the clear tub

I’m in Southern California
The tortoise is living in the backyard she roams the grass as well the plantern we have.
We do have a night house with a heated pad but we don’t have any other heating source since the temperatures never drop that much at night, only in the winter did we transfer her to a night house that had heated lighting.
There’s no humidity in the night house
Just the heated pad like I mentioned before
 

NathanielVal

New Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2024
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
California
You can lubricate that new growth with cold pressed coconut oil. Rub it in, allow it to absorb for 15 or 20 minutes then polish it off with a clean, absorbent towell.
Sweet thank you! I have cold pressed coconut oil I can apply so I’ll try this in the morning after she gets soaked
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,197
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
There’s lifting on the scutes on the side of her shell in the pics it’s clearer in the pictures of her in the clear tub

I’m in Southern California
The tortoise is living in the backyard she roams the grass as well the plantern we have.
We do have a night house with a heated pad but we don’t have any other heating source since the temperatures never drop that much at night, only in the winter did we transfer her to a night house that had heated lighting.
There’s no humidity in the night house
Just the heated pad like I mentioned before
Its very dry here, so it helps when we add water tubs or buckets or something like that to their night houses to add humidity. Its too dry while they are out walking around, but at least they can sleep in high humidity.

If you are using a heat mat like a Kane or Stansfield mat, then you should all good. Anything else and you need to upgrade. A Kane mat alone is not enough to keep them warm except in summer time. You need something over head too. Radiant heat panels work best. Light bulbs and CHEs should not be used for this application because they are too desiccating one the carapace and cause the problems that you are seeing.

Here are two examples showing different heating strategies that are both safe and effective:

 
Top