Help with Horsefield Tortoise 🐢

CaggyQ

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Hi everyone!

I’m hoping you could all give me some advice on my tortoise. Yoshi is three years old and usually is very routined in his movements. He comes out 30 - 40 minutes after his light turns on, sunbathes and then eats his dinner. I clean out his vivarium every month which just happened last week. He usually explores his new space, knocks a few things over and then settles back into his routine. Only since the change his behaviour has been different. He has had times where he’s slept for around 36 hours, and he hasn’t been eating his dinner much either (he will eat certain foods like dandelions, but his usual food mix he’s been ignoring).

We are based in Ireland and we’re experimenting warmer than usual temperatures of 26 degrees celsius, which has increased the temperature of his vivarium to around 38-40 degrees during the day. I have tried to give him extra baths and opened his vivarium to cool it down. I’ve also been spraying down his substrate (cyprus mulch) to add some moisture as well.

He looks completely healthy and curious, but this behaviour worries me. I love my tortoise very much so any time he behaves oddly I’m questioning why. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you!
 

wellington

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It is most likely the much warmer temps. Everywhere in the US has had crazy hot temps and it has thrown a lot of tortoises for a loop. Spray enclosure with cold water to try and cool it some. Once temps get back to normal, be sure he does too. In the mean time also try feeding him at a cooler time of the day.
 

CaggyQ

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I should also say that every evening I usually hand feed him to build trust, but I’ve been reducing that priactuce
It is most likely the much warmer temps. Everywhere in the US has had crazy hot temps and it has thrown a lot of tortoises for a loop. Spray enclosure with cold water to try and cool it some. Once temps get back to normal, be sure he does too. In the mean time also try feeding him at a cooler time of the day.
Thank you so much for your advice. You’ve put my mind at rest - I’ve been a very worried tortoise mum! I’ll keep an eye on him and feed him during the cooler times of day. 😊
 

PollyAda

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Is it a large vivarium? 40c is high, so if thats the ambient temperature in a small space then that might be a concern. Yoshi will need to be able to move away from the basking spot to shade, and have deep damp substrate so that he can bury himself. I'd be using an infrared temperature gun to measure his core temperature to make sure he's not overheating. I'd also keep the UVB light off if the ambient temperature in the vivarium is that high, as they also produce some heat. He'll be okay without UVB for a short while.

You could also put a lower wattage basking lamp in.
 

wellington

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Yes I agree with PollyAda, if the whole enclosure is 38-40 then yes, you do need to try and get the non basking side cooler, which sounds like you are doing everything to do that. Basking area can be 38, I wouldn't let it go to 40, so you can raise the basking light to lower the temp.
 

CaggyQ

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Hi @wellington and @PollyAda. Thanks so much for your advice. It’s a large vivarium (got it built especially) and usually Yoshi is quite happy to totter about and knock things over. The temperature in the vivarium seems to be regulated now and our temperatures are starting to drop here in Ireland. I’m considering getting a table top enclosure that I can get him for the warmer months (he can’t always go outside because we don’t get defined seasons, unfortunately!). I’m still pretty concerned about him though: he’s only eating dandelions and not much else. I only cleaned out his vivarium recently but during my spot clean today I couldn’t see any stools (although there were traces from his tail as I dried him down after his bath). I have been bathing him more then usual, just to give him some extra hydration. I’ve also got him booked in with the vet next week. I wish it was sooner but our reptile specialist is on annual leave. It will be an anxious wait! I’m hoping that once the temperature regulates and with his increased baths he’ll start to come round sooner.
 

wellington

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Just be very careful of taking him to a vet. They usually do more harm than good.
By next year he should be able to be in a table with a humid hide.
He is a Russian correct? They can withstand temps down into the 60's at night as long as they can warm up during the day. If you can get him outside in the better temps, that would be great. Tortoises should be able to live outside when weather permits. With lots of shade and maybe even a mister or sprinkler, even hotter days can be cooled down a bit for them.
When it's too hot or too cold, they usually will hide away.
 

Cathie G

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Also Yoshi is eating a bit. That's a good sign. This time of year though my Russian does start slowing down a bit no matter the temperature. I half think they have an internal calendar. It's fall here but I'm not sure about Ireland. I just keep doing regular care everyday despite the fact the little guy is sleepy. I don't hibernate. I also don't let him sleep too long. If he tries I'll put him next to his food everyday in the morning. Eventually he starts doing it on his own again. That's usually around December for my tortoise. Best wishes.
 

CaggyQ

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Hi everyone,

Just a little update on Yoshi. I took him to the vet because he just wasn’t himself. It turns out he had ate three stones, and they were stuck in his intestine. To say I am devastated is an understatement! I was so sure I had watched him carefully in the garden, but obviously he was able to sneak these past me. The vet encouraged him to pass two stones, with one very small one still left in his gut. My vet is very confident he’ll pass this naturally. However, it has been three days and his appetite is still hasn’t gone back it to normal. He’s eating small amounts but he’s just not cleaning his plate. He is a lot more active though, and has been improving every time he gets a warm bath. How long do you think it will take for him to start munching properly again? And are there any other foods I could give him that may encourage digestion? Unfortunately there’s no sign of pumpkins in the shops yet!

Thank you all so much.
 

Yvonne G

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Using a large bin with tall sides he can't climb out of, add enough warm water to come up to just past the middle of his sides. Leave him in there for an hour or so, checking often to make sure he hasn't gotten into trouble. Scrambling around in there, trying to get out, helps move thing through the digestive tract. I learned this trick the hard way (for my tortoise). One day I was soaking a tortoise and got busy doing other stuff and totally forgot about him. I remembered a couple hours later, and discovered a tortoise sitting in a cess pool of poop water! He was none the worse for wear, and I had learned an important trick!
 

Cathie G

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Wow maybe escarole because of the moisture and high fiber.
 

CaggyQ

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Thank you both so much. Honestly, you have all been so kind to me, and are always filled with the best advice! He’s going to get a lovely extra long warm bath tomorrow 🥰
 

CaggyQ

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Hi everyone,

Just sending another update!

I’ve been giving Yoshi nice warm soaks but unfortunately still no sign of toileting yet; he’s also showing absolutely no interest in food. I have just started to boil butternut squash and pumpkin and then, when the water has cooled, bathe him in that. I’ve decided to contact the vet again tomorrow for an emergency appointment. I have also noticed today that one of his eyes looked puffy and I don’t want him to develop an infection.

I am very aware that he needs more exposure to his UVB light, but he’s spending a lot of time in his cave. Should I remove his cave to encourage more exposure to the light, or should I just allow him to rest?

I’m hoping to come back with more positive news soon!

Thank you so much,
A very worried tortoise mum
 

CaggyQ

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Another update!

As recommended, I gave Yoshi warm baths every day with the water from boiled pumpkin and butternut squash. Yesterday, he pooped and today, when I took him to the vet, the last stone from his tummy was gone! The only thing is that his appetite still hasn’t returned. In fact, he’s still quite lethargic. He’s spending the majority of his days sleeping.

He ate a small amount yesterday after his bath, but nothing to really feel happy about. The vet has explained that it can take time for a tortoise to feel better after having fallen ill in the first place; he recommended continuing with his baths and offering him the tastiest, tortoise approved foods out there.

Would any of you have recommendations as to how I could encourage him to eat again? Any advice welcome!
 

Cathie G

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Another update!

As recommended, I gave Yoshi warm baths every day with the water from boiled pumpkin and butternut squash. Yesterday, he pooped and today, when I took him to the vet, the last stone from his tummy was gone! The only thing is that his appetite still hasn’t returned. In fact, he’s still quite lethargic. He’s spending the majority of his days sleeping.

He ate a small amount yesterday after his bath, but nothing to really feel happy about. The vet has explained that it can take time for a tortoise to feel better after having fallen ill in the first place; he recommended continuing with his baths and offering him the tastiest, tortoise approved foods out there.

Would any of you have recommendations as to how I could encourage him to eat again? Any advice welcome!
You have a double whammy going on at the same time. It's the time of year here when a Russian would like to hibernate. However, when you have a recovering Russian tortoise it's better to not hibernate. Keeping up the regular care that's being suggested is best. It'll take time.🐢
 

TammyJ

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If you have steady and correct temperature, lights and humidity constantly in his enclosure and he has warm dark nights and warm bright daytime for the right amount of hours, this will be the first and most important factor I would ensure to start him eating properly again.
 

CaggyQ

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Hi everyone,

So sorry - I feel like I’m constantly asking questions!

How long does it usually take for a tortoise to recover from a sickness/injury just as this? I am a tortoise mum for three years, and he is my first reptile. I’m just not used to an animal not eating for this length of time and I’m feeling slightly unsettled by it. He did eat one lettuce leaf three days ago, but that will hardly offer much nutritional value. I tried aloe vera, dandelions and even tried a slice of strawberry as a treat, but he ignored all of it.

🐢
 

Cathie G

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Hi everyone,

So sorry - I feel like I’m constantly asking questions!

How long does it usually take for a tortoise to recover from a sickness/injury just as this? I am a tortoise mum for three years, and he is my first reptile. I’m just not used to an animal not eating for this length of time and I’m feeling slightly unsettled by it. He did eat one lettuce leaf three days ago, but that will hardly offer much nutritional value. I tried aloe vera, dandelions and even tried a slice of strawberry as a treat, but he ignored all of it.

🐢
Don't ever feel bad about asking questions on this site ever 🤗. I think the questions are just as important as the answers you and I will get. The questions are typical of taking care of a tortoise. Then everyone discusses what could be going on. The thing of it is though, it could be just the right timely advice someone else runs across, that is exactly what they needed while surfing on TFO.🏄 😊
 

CaggyQ

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Thank you so much @Cathie G for your kindness! ✨It means so much, especially when you’re going through a worrying time 😊 would you happen to know how long it could possibly take for Yoshi to recover? I’m just trying to get the balance of being proactive while also giving him the time he needs to recover. 🐢
 

Cathie G

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Thank you so much @Cathie G for your kindness! ✨It means so much, especially when you’re going through a worrying time 😊 would you happen to know how long it could possibly take for Yoshi to recover? I’m just trying to get the balance of being proactive while also giving him the time he needs to recover. 🐢
I've only had one little horsefield tortoise so I'm not experienced enough to actually say. But I would go ahead and keep doing regular care.daily. like offering food, a rinse, daylight and warmth. I always place Sapphire on the opposite side of his hide so he has to walk by food before he goes to bed for the night.
 
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