Help please (new sulcata not well)

Sudzie

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I just acquired a 20 yo male Sulcatas tortoise. They dropped him off in my front yard last Sunday. I lured him into the backyard with a carrot. His second night he dug a shallow burrow and n a nook of my yard. The next day it dawns on me this burrow is next to a quite large OLEANDER bush. So, I chop down all the foliage as fast as I can but don’t know if he has ingested any or how much. This morning he came out of his burrow but the returned when it started to rain. It has finally stopped raining, but he’s not looking well. His appendages and head are not tucked in his shell and his eyes are half open. Oh please, is there anything I can do for him?
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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I just acquired a 20 yo male Sulcatas tortoise. They dropped him off in my front yard last Sunday. I lured him into the backyard with a carrot. His second night he dug a shallow burrow and n a nook of my yard. The next day it dawns on me this burrow is next to a quite large OLEANDER bush. So, I chop down all the foliage as fast as I can but don’t know if he has ingested any or how much. This morning he came out of his burrow but the returned when it started to rain. It has finally stopped raining, but he’s not looking well. His appendages and head are not tucked in his shell and his eyes are half open. Oh please, is there anything I can do for him?
Hello!

In case if more experienced members wouldn't answer:

I see it's been rather cold at night in your area, he might be just frozen. Never ever let you sulcata to cool down below 80F (I mean core body temperature).

1. You need to give him soak (90-95F) in a warm water for a half an hour or more. Water should be a few inches - up to a level where top and bottom shells meet. You may use a shower to warm him up quicker.
2. If he is still lifeless, immediately seek veterinary help. You can barely do anything with severe poisoning.

I hope @Tom can help you better
 

Sudzie

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Hello!

In case if more experienced members wouldn't answer:

I see it's been rather cold at night in your area, he might be just frozen. Never ever let you sulcata to cool down below 80F (I mean core body temperature).

1. You need to give him soak (90-95F) in a warm water for a half an hour or more. Water should be a few inches - up to a level where top and bottom shells meet. You may use a shower to warm him up quicker.
2. If he is still lifeless, immediately seek veterinary help. You can barely do anything with severe poisoning.

I hope @Tom can help you better
Thank you for your reply. I feel so stupid for not researching more before the guy brought him to me. He made it sound so easy. Just feed him some veggies every few days is what I was told. Since then, I have read a lot of contradicting info on care and feeding. But the oleander was my blunder, I had all but forgotten about its toxicity until I saw the tortoise next to it. I am hoping he makes it. Tomorrow I will find some strong neighbors to help me lift him into a tub to soak as he weighs about 250lbs. Also will be building an enclosure away from what’s left of oleander roots and to keep him warmer and sheltered.
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Thank you for your reply. I feel so stupid for not researching more before the guy brought him to me. He made it sound so easy. Just feed him some veggies every few days is what I was told. Since then, I have read a lot of contradicting info on care and feeding. But the oleander was my blunder, I had all but forgotten about its toxicity until I saw the tortoise next to it. I am hoping he makes it. Tomorrow I will find some strong neighbors to help me lift him into a tub to soak as he weighs about 250lbs. Also will be building an enclosure away from what’s left of oleander roots and to keep him warmer and sheltered.
Tomorrow can be too late. You need to warm him up right now, even if it's not a soaking tub. You can't just leave him on his own in 46F. Let' think what you can do.
Do you have anything like a piece of tarp, skateboard, shade cloth and such? To drag him in the warmer place like garage or shed?

Then you'll need a space heater to warm up the whole place to 85F

P.S. - I hope he will pull through and then we will relax a bit and discuss the proper care.
 

Tom

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I just acquired a 20 yo male Sulcatas tortoise. They dropped him off in my front yard last Sunday. I lured him into the backyard with a carrot. His second night he dug a shallow burrow and n a nook of my yard. The next day it dawns on me this burrow is next to a quite large OLEANDER bush. So, I chop down all the foliage as fast as I can but don’t know if he has ingested any or how much. This morning he came out of his burrow but the returned when it started to rain. It has finally stopped raining, but he’s not looking well. His appendages and head are not tucked in his shell and his eyes are half open. Oh please, is there anything I can do for him?
While it is certainly possible that he ate some oleander, the more likely problem is cold. This species comes from the tropics. They live underground and ground temps are always 80-85 year round. Day time highs are near 100 most of the time. Leaving one outside on cold days and nights will usually kill them, though some of them manage to survive it somehow. The tortoise needs a heated night box like one of these:


If you did not get every bit of the root system, that horrible oleander will come back.

Few of them reach 250 pounds. Have you had it on a scale? Got pics?
 

Yvonne G

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Hi, and welcome!

My thoughts run along the same lines as Tom's. The tortoise didn't eat the oleander, he's too cold (they don't eat when they're cold). You need to build him a heated shelter, but in the meantime, you must bring him in the house, maybe in the bathroom, and set up a space heater for him. He needs to get his core temperature up to at least 80F degrees.

You can do some research here on the Forum. Read the thread about the night box that Tom linked for you. You can buy a pig blanket from Osborne-Ind.com, along with their F911 controller. This will provide bottom heat. But for heating up the night box you'll need a safe space heater. A lot of us use the mini oil-filled radiator. This will be something you can work on over the summer, but it MUST be in place before cold weather starts setting in the fall. For now, temporarily, the bathroom will suffice unless you can figure out another way to have him be living in an 80F degree area.

It's quite important to get him warmed up. He can't last very long as he is. I think his previous keeper was rotten to just dump the tortoise off on you without any information. I'm willing to bet he didn't want to go through the expense of making a warm place for the tortoise at his house. Do you know where this guy got the tortoise?

Weighing a giant - bathroom scale, 5 gallon bucket. Set the inverted bucket on the scale then place the tortoise on the bucket with his legs hanging down on all sides. My guess is he probably weighs about 100lbs or slightly less.

If this all sounds like more than you bargained for, please think about rehoming this giant to someone who can and will set him up properly.
 

Sudzie

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While it is certainly possible that he ate some oleander, the more likely problem is cold. This species comes from the tropics. They live underground and ground temps are always 80-85 year round. Day time highs are near 100 most of the time. Leaving one outside on cold days and nights will usually kill them, though some of them manage to survive it somehow. The tortoise needs a heated night box like one of these:


If you did not get every bit of the root system, that horrible oleander will come back.

Few of them reach 250 pounds. Have you had it on a scale? Got pics?
No, I have not weighed him. The 2 men that dropped him off here struggled to carry him 20 ft that was the weight they quoted. He is almost 3ft across his mid section.
 

Sudzie

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I put warm towels on him all night. First he hissed , then would let out an almost ‘ahhh’ sound. I feel horrible thinking I could take him on. After reading all your info for beginners, I’m afraid to rehome him to someone that will do him worse (if that’s possible). Guess I better find a vet now.
No, I have not weighed him. The 2 men that dropped him off here struggled to carry him 20 ft that was the weight they quoted. He is almost 3ft across his mid section.
 

wellington

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I put warm towels on him all night. First he hissed , then would let out an almost ‘ahhh’ sound. I feel horrible thinking I could take him on. After reading all your info for beginners, I’m afraid to rehome him to someone that will do him worse (if that’s possible). Guess I better find a vet now.
Seeing both Yvonne and Tom think it's being to cold as the problem,I think you need to concentrate everything into getting him warm and being able to keep him that way. That's priority one. If after he gets warmed up, warm towels won't really do it, and he doesn't act better or still doesn't want to eat, then a vet visit might be in order.
Does his eyes look normal? Any discharge from mouth or nose?
 

Sudzie

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Hi, and welcome!

My thoughts run along the same lines as Tom's. The tortoise didn't eat the oleander, he's too cold (they don't eat when they're cold). You need to build him a heated shelter, but in the meantime, you must bring him in the house, maybe in the bathroom, and set up a space heater for him. He needs to get his core temperature up to at least 80F degrees.

You can do some research here on the Forum. Read the thread about the night box that Tom linked for you. You can buy a pig blanket from Osborne-Ind.com, along with their F911 controller. This will provide bottom heat. But for heating up the night box you'll need a safe space heater. A lot of us use the mini oil-filled radiator. This will be something you can work on over the summer, but it MUST be in place before cold weather starts setting in the fall. For now, temporarily, the bathroom will suffice unless you can figure out another way to have him be living in an 80F degree area.

It's quite important to get him warmed up. He can't last very long as he is. I think his previous keeper was rotten to just dump the tortoise off on you without any information. I'm willing to bet he didn't want to go through the expense of making a warm place for the tortoise at his house. Do you know where this guy got the tortoise?

Weighing a giant - bathroom scale, 5 gallon bucket. Set the inverted bucket on the scale then place the tortoise on the bucket with his legs hanging down on all sides. My guess is he probably weighs about 100lbs or slightly less.

If this all sounds like more than you bargained for, please think about rehoming this giant to someone who can and will set him up properly.
Not sure where the previous owner got him, he had him for 5 yrs. Since last Sunday, his appetite has been really good. Maybe too good. As I said I lured him into the backyard with a carrot. I didn’t think it would work bc he immediately began chomping on grass in my front yard. Now I wonder if he was underfed. And he has been eating well until yesterday when the temp dropped.
I think the best thing is to rehome him. I will do whatever I can to make him more comfy for now. Hoping Craigslist or someone has an xxl doghouse and am looking into a heat pad and lamp.
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Is he still in your yard and not moving? If have no neighbours to help you move him, maybe you can find a camping tent or something like that and put a space heater inside (of course, don't leave him unattended). Once warmed up he might be able to move on his own and you can direct him with a carrot or head of lettuce to a warmer place.
 

Sudzie

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Tomorrow can be too late. You need to warm him up right now, even if it's not a soaking tub. You can't just leave him on his own in 46F. Let' think what you can do.
Do you have anything like a piece of tarp, skateboard, shade cloth and such? To drag him in the warmer place like garage or shed?

Then you'll need a space heater to warm up the whole place to 85F

P.S. - I hope he will pull through and then we will relax a bit and discuss the proper care.
He perked up when the sun came out. Had a meal and took a nap. I’ve called around for a reptile vet and hopefully will be in touch with them tomorrow morning. I am searching for a heat pad and heat lamp for him now….
 

Tom

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Not sure where the previous owner got him, he had him for 5 yrs. Since last Sunday, his appetite has been really good. Maybe too good. As I said I lured him into the backyard with a carrot. I didn’t think it would work bc he immediately began chomping on grass in my front yard. Now I wonder if he was underfed. And he has been eating well until yesterday when the temp dropped.
I think the best thing is to rehome him. I will do whatever I can to make him more comfy for now. Hoping Craigslist or someone has an xxl doghouse and am looking into a heat pad and lamp.
Dog houses and heat lamps don't work. Dog houses are designed for dogs and that design is all wrong for tortoises.

Heat lamps cannot effectively warm larger tortoises and will often slow burn the top of the carapace while they try.

The threads that I linked for you show two ways to heat them effectively and safely.
 

Tom

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He perked up when the sun came out. Had a meal and took a nap. I’ve called around for a reptile vet and hopefully will be in touch with them tomorrow morning. I am searching for a heat pad and heat lamp for him now….
Reptile vets don't know tortoise care. You will likely get bad advice, incorrect diagnosis, and a big bill. You don't need a vet. You need warmth and an insulated properly heated shelter.
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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He perked up when the sun came out. Had a meal and took a nap. I’ve called around for a reptile vet and hopefully will be in touch with them tomorrow morning. I am searching for a heat pad and heat lamp for him now….
Glad to know, he's better. I think, you need to set him some space for sleeping inside the house for now. Even if it's just a large cardboard box. Or it can be a closet under the stairs, guest bathroom and such (just remove everything from the floor).

Any vet's prescriptions like antibiotics won't work unless you sort out the heating issue. Cold tortoises don't heal.
 

Sudzie

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Not sure where the previous owner got him, he had him for 5 yrs. Since last Sunday, his appetite has been really good. Maybe too good. As I said I lured him into the backyard with a carrot. I didn’t think it would work bc he immediately began chomping on grass in my front yard. Now I wonder if he was underfed. And he has been eating well until yesterday when the temp dropped.
I think the best thing is to rehome him. I will do whatever I can to make him more comfy for now. Hoping Craigslist or someone has an xxl doghouse and am looking into a heat pad and lamp.
 

Sudzie

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Thank you all for your helpful input. Did I tell his name was Slowsky before I got him. Then I decided to change it to Chilly (because of his laid back demeanor) how ironic that he really WAS ‘chilly’, poor guy.
Ok, so update… He is doing great!! Turns out a friend told me of their friends that had a sulcata for many years. But about a month or so ago, he disappeared. And even though his enclosure was humongous and chicken wire was below ground, he must’ve found a way out. Anyway, they were happy to take Chilly, although I’m a little sad. But it all comes down to what’s best for him. I have learned so so much and maybe I’ll feel up to taking on another tortoise AFTER I BUILD A HAPPY PLACE FOR IT TO THRIVE. Yea, I kind of wonder why his previous owner didn’t fill me in on his care more, maybe he thought I wouldn’t want him. Although that’s not the case, I just would have been more prepared. BTW, it took 2 bodybuilders and me to lift him into the SUV to take him to his new home, he was at least 250lbs. Thanks Tom for the detail pics of your enclosures, they are amazing, I don’t see how you can improve. I’m going to try to post a pic of Chilly in his new home, but we’ll see if I’m having a good tech day or not.. take care allimage000000.jpeg
 

Chefdenoel10

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Please tell your friends ,friends who now own this beautiful tortoise to …..
GO FIND THEIR ORIGINAL TORTOISE!!!
He/she is probably scared to death and cold at night too! I can only imagine THAT tortoise walking the streets looking for his/her home and he feels lost….
Cuz he/she is!!!….
Poor baby.
Please help that tort out too.?!?!????
😬👍🙏😩😩😩😩😩😩😩
 

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