Hi, new to forum, 14 y/o Leopard Tortoise (can someone recommend a vet?)

DotTorty

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Hi! I'm new to this forum and am an owner of a 14 year old leopard tortoise who we recently found out is female...mainly because the vet told otherwise.

I live in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles and was wondering if someone would recommend a tortoise vet to me. I've only taken her to the vet twice over all these years because she always seemed healthy and strong. She has been housed in an outdoor enclosure for around 10 years now and has water dishes, hay and vegetables to eat, and a handmade large dog kennel sized house for sleeping and keeping cool.

Last summer and this summer, she has dug 10 holes in the yard area of her enclosure but have abandoned all the holes and no sight of eggs. Because I was unaware that she was female (told otherwise from vet), I thought she was just aggravated so I'd let her out to graze and walk on our St. Augustine grass. I recently found this forum and did some research from fellow posters and can't help but wonder if she's egg bound? She is high energy and drinking a lot of water, but her appetite has been much lower than usual for 2 months. She will eat and graze but not as much as before. Am I over thinking this? I'm so worried :( I've had her since grade school and really didn't know much about tortoises when I got her as a pet.

*I should probably also add that she had a friend who passed away almost 3 years ago :(

I'd really appreciate if someone in the Pasadena, San Gabriel, Arcadia area would recommend a trusty vet. I'm very hesitant to return to the same vet I went to because she misdiagnosed the sex (I went 2 years ago so she was already mature at the time) and was on Google search for much of the examination. After doing some research online, I was able to easily diagnose that "he" is indeed a she.

Thanks and extremely happy to have found this forum!
 

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tortadise

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How big is the area she is kept? Being on st.augastine grass I'd perfect for grazing and laying eggs. One thing maybe is, does she have enough hides to escape the direct sun and heat? Is she digging with front or rear legs? And in the corners? An x ray would be best to see if she is egg bound. But they usually are very stressed when egg bound and do t move at all until the egg is expelled or the animal expires. Not in all cases but that's a majority of them. Can you show us where she is kept all the time? Pasadena area you get high 90s to 100s during day and high 60s at night right?

Oh and you can snap a picture of her tail and we will tell you. But just looking at the size of her in the photo appears to be female. Females are much larger than males in leopard tortoises.
 

Grandpa Turtle 144

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Hello and welcome to the TFO from AZ . Your from Ca. Call the CTTC they are great people and they really will help you better then I can , and they have groups all over CA.


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DotTorty

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How big is the area she is kept? Being on st.augastine grass I'd perfect for grazing and laying eggs. One thing maybe is, does she have enough hides to escape the direct sun and heat? Is she digging with front or rear legs? And in the corners? An x ray would be best to see if she is egg bound. But they usually are very stressed when egg bound and do t move at all until the egg is expelled or the animal expires. Not in all cases but that's a majority of them. Can you show us where she is kept all the time? Pasadena area you get high 90s to 100s during day and high 60s at night right?

Oh and you can snap a picture of her tail and we will tell you. But just looking at the size of her in the photo appears to be female. Females are much larger than males in leopard tortoises.

Yes, I can snap a photo of her enclosure when I get home from work. When you say, "enough hides to escape heat..." are you referring to generally, or when she's digging? She definitely has enough hide space to escape the heat. The housing part of her outdoor enclosure is that of loveseat couch. She's very routine, will walk in and out of there during the day and sleep in there at night. The temps you have referenced are right, we're in hotter days this week so up to 100 during the day at times. Comparing her to her friend who passed, she was much bigger. I weighed her a couple weeks ago (I don't do this routinely because I don't have an easy way to do this besides doing weight displacement, stand on there myself, carry her, then stand on there again). She is about 27 lbs.

I was afraid that she wasn't getting enough digging depth so I created mounds of dirt (per some research I did), and this time she dug on the mound of dirt but still abandoned it. She usually digs from evening to night. In the morning I'll see her either in her hide or in the yard area hanging out away from the hole.
 

DotTorty

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Thanks so much! I took her to "Exotic Animal Care Center" in Pasadena previously. They were super nice but I didn't feel really confident about the knowledge. I took her in because my other guy I thought was either in shock or hibernating (which I thought was super weird b/c neither have ever hibernated) had actually passed away (dumb I know, but I was in disbelief). I had him cremated there. Is there a certain doctor I should be seeing within the clinic?
 

DotTorty

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Yes, I can snap a photo of her enclosure when I get home from work. When you say, "enough hides to escape heat..." are you referring to generally, or when she's digging? She definitely has enough hide space to escape the heat. The housing part of her outdoor enclosure is that of loveseat couch. She's very routine, will walk in and out of there during the day and sleep in there at night. The temps you have referenced are right, we're in hotter days this week so up to 100 during the day at times. Comparing her to her friend who passed, she was much bigger. I weighed her a couple weeks ago (I don't do this routinely because I don't have an easy way to do this besides doing weight displacement, stand on there myself, carry her, then stand on there again). She is about 27 lbs.

I was afraid that she wasn't getting enough digging depth so I created mounds of dirt (per some research I did), and this time she dug on the mound of dirt but still abandoned it. She usually digs from evening to night. In the morning I'll see her either in her hide or in the yard area hanging out away from the hole.

Oops, I didn't address all your questions. Yes, she's digging with her hind legs and generally in corners. But, she has dug some shallow holes and abandoned or got bored each time near the middle of the enclosure. I don't really sense any low energy. She is pacing around a lot and sniffing, probably looking for the right place. The only weird behavior is not eating her food in large quantities and stomping on it a lot. Or walking in and out of her water more than usual. I was really misinformed previously and was only feeding her romaine, kale, collard greens, different types of bok choy, and other similar types of Chinese vegetables. I've since introduced orchard grass hay and grazing (I always let her out to walk on our grass but she wouldn't eat the grass till this summer). She never cared much for fruit and would make a mess of it, so I've only fed fruit 5 times all the years I've had her. I'm in CA so succulents and aloe are abundant. I had a plant or two in her enclosure and a few years back she ate them till the plants died. I still provide them periodically but she doesn't prefer it.

I can't have her walking around the lawn all the time because I can't fence that part of the grass off. So if I let her out of her enclosure, I pretty much just watch her do her thing for an hour or so then take her back into the enclosure. I went and bought some bermuda grass seeds, I'm planning to plant them in 1/3 of her enclosure so she can graze if she pleases.
 

tortadise

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Yes, I can snap a photo of her enclosure when I get home from work. When you say, "enough hides to escape heat..." are you referring to generally, or when she's digging? She definitely has enough hide space to escape the heat. The housing part of her outdoor enclosure is that of loveseat couch. She's very routine, will walk in and out of there during the day and sleep in there at night. The temps you have referenced are right, we're in hotter days this week so up to 100 during the day at times. Comparing her to her friend who passed, she was much bigger. I weighed her a couple weeks ago (I don't do this routinely because I don't have an easy way to do this besides doing weight displacement, stand on there myself, carry her, then stand on there again). She is about 27 lbs.

I was afraid that she wasn't getting enough digging depth so I created mounds of dirt (per some research I did), and this time she dug on the mound of dirt but still abandoned it. She usually digs from evening to night. In the morning I'll see her either in her hide or in the yard area hanging out away from the hole.
At 27 pounds that definitely a girl. I mean hides to escape from direct sunlight and heat. If tortoises don't have a place to get in shade or out of direct midday sun they will likely have heat strokes. So they will try and dig there way out of the enclosure to find a more suitable area to hide. Basically there in survival mode trying anything. But doesn't sound like that's the case. Unless she's pacing and pacing and digging with her from legs. She is definitely large enough to lay eggs. Did the male breed with her ever? Does she not graze on the grass either? I notice some bok Chou in that pic. I would eliminate that from her diet. It's not that good. What are you feeding her. Just a little more info on how you have been taking care of her over the years will help us with you. Promise we won't judge you at all. Here to help. Something isn't right to just randomly lose a male leopard in a perfect climate part you live in.
 

DotTorty

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At 27 pounds that definitely a girl. I mean hides to escape from direct sunlight and heat. If tortoises don't have a place to get in shade or out of direct midday sun they will likely have heat strokes. So they will try and dig there way out of the enclosure to find a more suitable area to hide. Basically there in survival mode trying anything. But doesn't sound like that's the case. Unless she's pacing and pacing and digging with her from legs. She is definitely large enough to lay eggs. Did the male breed with her ever? Does she not graze on the grass either? I notice some bok Chou in that pic. I would eliminate that from her diet. It's not that good. What are you feeding her. Just a little more info on how you have been taking care of her over the years will help us with you. Promise we won't judge you at all. Here to help. Something isn't right to just randomly lose a male leopard in a perfect climate part you live in.

I didn't know much about tortoise care when I first got the pair. I also didn't know what the sex of them were. I suspect that the other was male, but this was never confirmed. He had shell deformity and would drag his hind when he walked though very very active and FAST and eating the 12 years I had him. When he was younger, a vet told me that he had spinal issues that would lead to early death. 2 years ago I was away on a business trip and a friend was caring for my tortoises and called me one day because Spot (the one that passed) had flipped over. The vet I brought it to exam suspected that he was played around with by an animal. I don't have other pets but the neighbor's very large dog would sometimes jump over the get over the wall and poop around the lawn. I never confirmed this, but who knows. Also, we do have coyotes in the region...I live in Pasadena so am 5-10 minutes from the mountains.

When Spot (the suspected male) passed, I brought Dot to the vet to have her checked out (this was the doc who was Googling a lot). They thought she was a male. But she's definitely a female, I've had this confirmed by my biology PhD cousin.

I'm definitely guilty of feeding her bok choy and other store bought vegetables like romaine, other types of bok choy, kale, collard greens, and other supermarket green veggies. We have access to a lot of Chinese and Mexican supermarkets that provide a variety of these greens in the area that I live in. No fruit is fed to her or the pair at the time because she doesn't care for it. Offered it a few times and always just stepped around or played with it. I thought I was providing a varied diet but didn't know better :( Grasses and hays weren't introduced until recently because I found some resource online. I have bought some seeds to plant grass in her enclosure and let her out to graze whenever I can (keep in mind these are recent changes). She doesn't care for the orchard hay I bought, I mix it around and some of it will get eaten but most of it lays around. I figure some is better than none so I keep it laying around mixed in with the veggies she likes. I don't really know anybody who has pet tortoises either so not a lot of information share going around.

I've never noticed any odd behavior all these years, minus the guy that passed which I thought just had a the issue the vet assessed . Dot (the tortoise we are discussing), has always been strong, active, and eating a lot. Dot dug her first hole last summer. I was so dumb to think that she had for some reason sunken in (I'm not sure what I was thinking), so I lifted her up from the hole and covered the hole. This happened maybe two more times that summer and then she stopped digging. This summer she has dug about 8 holes so far but abandoned all of them. I don't disturb her because now I know that she's trying to nest. All this hole digging but no egg laying, is that normal? She's still very active, as I mentioned before. I'm concerned because she's eating 1/4 of the amount she used to eat, for nearly 2 months now.

Regarding your questions about mating, I never saw any mating. Or maybe I didn't notice? I thought they were both male... And there was a huge size difference between the two.
 

DotTorty

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I didn't read all the replies,

Did anyone recommend Dr. Tom Greek from Yorba Linda?
He would be worth the drive...
Thanks! I would be willing to make the drive, but would my tortoise get anxious sitting in the car for an hour?
 

Yvonne G

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Dr. Greek is the best. If you can go there , I certainly would make the trip. A dark box will suffice to keep the tortoise in and a long drive wouldn't be at all stressful.

In the meantime, put the tortoise in a tub it can't climb out of and add enough water to come up to the middle of the tortoise's sides. Leave her in there, in the shade, for a good half hour...more if you have the time, but keep checking on her to make sure she's ok and not tipped over.

My female leopards will usually dig two or three test holes and then settle down to actual nest digging. My gut feeling is that this tortoise needs an x-ray.

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Yvonne G

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...oh, and: Welcome to the Forum!!

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Levi the Leopard

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Thanks! I would be willing to make the drive, but would my tortoise get anxious sitting in the car for an hour?

Yvonne's tip for the tip is what I've done. It works just fine. Make sure you have something absorbent in the box, too. Lots of paper towels or rags. Trust me ;)
 

Tom

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Where do they go at night in winter? Or at night in general?
 

kathyth

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Dr. Greek in Yorba Linda
Or
Chaparral Pet Hospital in Claremont. Dr. mcDowall is fantastic and very reasonable. Just used her again.
 

Yvonne G

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...and you didn't think to let a mod know to put her on the vet list why???

JK, I've googled the hospital, got the address and phone # and added Dr. McDowall to our list.

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DotTorty

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Thank you everyone for the replies! Here are some pics of the hole she dug but abandoned. It's very deep. I couldn't take a pic of it until the next afternoon so it's all dried up. Also pic of her grazing outside her pen. And a picture of her enclosure and house. I couldn't fit the whole thing in my phone camera frame but there are two water dishes that aren't visible in the picture.
 

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