Help with my desert sick tortoise

nikkiegirl

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Nov 29, 2023
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Landers, ca
I got an older desert tortoise from a friend who had a friend that wasnt taking proper care of it. They had it living in wet newspaper. It was so sad. So when i got her, i was told she was soft shelled and had a hard time breathing. Well when i got her, i didnt think she had a soft shell, just some pyramiding, but hers sinks in than goes up, and as far as her breathing she didnt seem to have to hard of a time, bit when she exhales deeply its very raspy. I know people say take her to a vet, but as of right now, i am not able too. I am saving up money now to be able too, but until then, i need some advice. So i dont want her to go into brumution sick, so i have her in my living room, it is very cold alot of the time, but i have her heat lamp on, and when a fire is going it gets pretty warm, but she has been staying in the corner of her home that is always pretty cold, unless the entire livingroom is pretty hot from the fire, but she hasnt moved. Ive touched her to see if she reacts which is instantly like jumps and retracts her legs. Im not sure what to do at this point because if she brumuting, then i should put her in a box outside where i have my other but in her own of course, but i dont want her to be sick and do that. And i dont kniw if she is just not moving, so should i soak her in warm water? Or soak her in cold and box her? What should i do until i can get her to a vet?
 

nikkiegirl

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Landers, ca
Also, the last time i saw her actually moving, i had some food in her home, she was very slow when she ate. And i havent seen her move from that corner since i believe. So how do i make sure that her stomache is empty is she may be sleeping already?!?
 

Tom

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This tortoise needs a proper enclosure with heating and lighting, and the correct temperatures. It needs to feel and look like summer.

If you want to brumate the tortoise, there is about a month of lead-in time for that, and they need warm temps and warm soaks to empty their gut BEFORE its get cold and they go to sleep.

Check out these three threads for an explanation of what to do and how to do it:


 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Hello!

I would try to keep her awake this winter. You don't know if she is starved, dehydrated, sick, has food in her guts or whatever.

I wouldn't advise visiting a vet yet - from your description it looks like you need to improve the tortoise enclosure a bit and it's the best way to invest money. All vet's advice won't work with improper housing, anyway. And to find a vet experienced with tortoises is hard.

Could you tell more about her enclosure (maybe some photos) - size, what substrate. What equipment do you have (heat lamp, UVB lights)? If you have a thermometer - what are temperatures at day, at night, under the heat lamp and in the cold corner? (even rough measurements with a kitchen thermometer will be better than no information at all).
 

baker4ray

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Braidwood Illinois
I got an older desert tortoise from a friend who had a friend that wasnt taking proper care of it. They had it living in wet newspaper. It was so sad. So when i got her, i was told she was soft shelled and had a hard time breathing. Well when i got her, i didnt think she had a soft shell, just some pyramiding, but hers sinks in than goes up, and as far as her breathing she didnt seem to have to hard of a time, bit when she exhales deeply its very raspy. I know people say take her to a vet, but as of right now, i am not able too. I am saving up money now to be able too, but until then, i need some advice. So i dont want her to go into brumution sick, so i have her in my living room, it is very cold alot of the time, but i have her heat lamp on, and when a fire is going it gets pretty warm, but she has been staying in the corner of her home that is always pretty cold, unless the entire livingroom is pretty hot from the fire, but she hasnt moved. Ive touched her to see if she reacts which is instantly like jumps and retracts her legs. Im not sure what to do at this point because if she brumuting, then i should put her in a box outside where i have my other but in her own of course, but i dont want her to be sick and do that. And i dont kniw if she is just not moving, so should i soak her in warm water? Or soak her in cold and box her? What should i do until i can get her to a vet?
Get her into a big box or crate with a lid about 24 inch tall get her off the floor heat blubs to heat it this way temp will be up to about 60 to 80 make sure you get a uv blub that gives natural sun light start there oh and she will need water
 

TammyJ

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Hi there and thanks for trying to help this tortoise. Please follow the advice given by @Alex and the Redfoot and Tom, and stick with that, so as to avoid confusion. Do not brumate a sick tortoise. Can you post some pictures of her and her setup so far?
 

EppsDynasty

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I got an older desert tortoise from a friend who had a friend that wasnt taking proper care of it. They had it living in wet newspaper. It was so sad. So when i got her, i was told she was soft shelled and had a hard time breathing. Well when i got her, i didnt think she had a soft shell, just some pyramiding, but hers sinks in than goes up, and as far as her breathing she didnt seem to have to hard of a time, bit when she exhales deeply its very raspy. I know people say take her to a vet, but as of right now, i am not able too. I am saving up money now to be able too, but until then, i need some advice. So i dont want her to go into brumution sick, so i have her in my living room, it is very cold alot of the time, but i have her heat lamp on, and when a fire is going it gets pretty warm, but she has been staying in the corner of her home that is always pretty cold, unless the entire livingroom is pretty hot from the fire, but she hasnt moved. Ive touched her to see if she reacts which is instantly like jumps and retracts her legs. Im not sure what to do at this point because if she brumuting, then i should put her in a box outside where i have my other but in her own of course, but i dont want her to be sick and do that. And i dont kniw if she is just not moving, so should i soak her in warm water? Or soak her in cold and box her? What should i do until i can get her to a vet?
You have been given the information YOU need to keep her alive, it's completely up to you now.
Good luck and we all wish the best for both of you.
 

SurfHag

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Nov 11, 2023
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CA
I got an older desert tortoise from a friend who had a friend that wasnt taking proper care of it. They had it living in wet newspaper. It was so sad. So when i got her, i was told she was soft shelled and had a hard time breathing. Well when i got her, i didnt think she had a soft shell, just some pyramiding, but hers sinks in than goes up, and as far as her breathing she didnt seem to have to hard of a time, bit when she exhales deeply its very raspy. I know people say take her to a vet, but as of right now, i am not able too. I am saving up money now to be able too, but until then, i need some advice. So i dont want her to go into brumution sick, so i have her in my living room, it is very cold alot of the time, but i have her heat lamp on, and when a fire is going it gets pretty warm, but she has been staying in the corner of her home that is always pretty cold, unless the entire livingroom is pretty hot from the fire, but she hasnt moved. Ive touched her to see if she reacts which is instantly like jumps and retracts her legs. Im not sure what to do at this point because if she brumuting, then i should put her in a box outside where i have my other but in her own of course, but i dont want her to be sick and do that. And i dont kniw if she is just not moving, so should i soak her in warm water? Or soak her in cold and box her? What should i do until i can get her to a vet?
First off, thank you for rescuing her. Please Do not put her with the other tortoises, they will get sick too. I would take her to a reptile vet immediately and explain you rescued it from someone and can’t afford the vet, but you don’t want to see it suffering and ask for a payment plan. It will take a long while for her to get better. If you can’t care for her properly, take it to a tortoise rescue group. There are lots of them. Good luck
 
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Yvonne G

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Here's the thing, when a tortoise brumates, her whole system slows down, but if she's sick, whatever little microorganism inside her that's making her sick DOESN'T BRUMATE!! So they keep working on making her sick and she gets sicker and sicker while brumating. Moral to this story: DON'T EVER BRUMATE A SICK TORTOISE!!!
 

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