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Hingeback Pale Thin Band of Shell Growth

Discussion in 'Hingeback tortoises' started by omhoge, Sep 19, 2016.

  1. omhoge

    omhoge Member

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    We've had our hingeback for over twenty years, we adopted him from the NYTTS.

    He's developed a pale, thinner, band of shell growth. The neighborhood vet (Manhattan, NYC) has not been able to help us with, since this vet had little reptile expertise we stopped taking the tortoise there when blood samples came up as the next step.

    I'm attaching two close up photos.

    The animal's appetite, energy, poop cycle, poop quality, and all general behavior have remained unchanged.
    He's been active and "happy" all Summer.

    He had some pyramiding in the middle rear of his shell which has stopped since we become much more aggressive in hydration.

    Any ideas welcome, we don't want this to continue to the point of seriously weakening the shell.

    Photos below:

    shell close ups IMG_7264.JPG shell close ups IMG_7265.JPG

    much appreciated!
  2. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Hi there.

    I'm not seeing anything other than new growth.
    How long ago did you start being more aggressive with the hydration?
    Has anything changed that may have reduced stress levels? (Like was there some other torts and now there isn't).
  3. omhoge

    omhoge Member

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    Thank you so much for your reply.
    I'd be so happy to hear this is normal! I've just never noticed a pale line like this.
    The area of interior shell under his chin was shiny smooth, but is now a little rough, I was afraid of shell rot but have found no other signs of it.

    About a year ago. We increased his baths/soaks to every other day, and spray bottle misting at every feeding and a larger water "bowl" he can more easily sit in.

    No other torts here, the only habitat change is I added pink patterned paper to the back wall of his pen in our apartment (when out loose in the apt. he often sits and stairs at pink spread covering a chair), and he's been traveling with us on weekends to a house where he has free run of his own room with red walls and yellow baseboards (room is kept warm and he can get some actual sunshine. he has a smaller pen there for feeding). That may have reduced his stress levels.

    Are you thinking this is from a growth spurt?
  4. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

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    Yes, that's just new growth. something in the recent past that you've fed him has agreed with him.
    vladimir, Will and Anyfoot like this.
  5. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I think it's just a growth spurt.
  6. juli11

    juli11 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Could you please post a picture of the whole tortoise? Maybe you have something really rare there...
    Will likes this.
  7. omhoge

    omhoge Member

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    Thank you! Is it normal for new growth to be so thin, do the notches at the front close up in time?

    He had a slight limp so we drastically increased course greens in his food. He likes red and yellow foods best so I
    chop the greens really fine and mix them in, some melee worms too and vitamins once a week.
    It worked and he's not limping anymore.

    What a relief! I'm very glad it's a growth spurt. He's been eating a lot more this summer.

    Here's a full body photo from today.
    NYTTS didn't mention him being especially rare, just that this breed was hard to find in the US..
    He had pneumonia when we adopted him, so I've always had a high concern over health issues.
    You folks have really eased my mind.


    IMG_7404.JPG
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
    Will likes this.
  8. tortadise

    tortadise Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Most excellent, just new growth. Almost every species of hingebacks fo through wet and dry seasons. When it's warm and humid, and constant access to water it usually spikes the breeding season. Whereas the dry seasons are less active and hide almost all day. Lovely specimen.
    Anyfoot likes this.
  9. omhoge

    omhoge Member

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    Well... I'm sad to report this may not be normal after all.
    Our tortoise started "bobbing" his head in an out, unusually opening and closing his mouth, weeping and drooling.

    That prompted a new search for a Vet which lead me to one who seemed very good and to know tortoises well,
    so I allowed a blood test which revealed low calcium to phosphorus ratio and suspected low vitamin D.
    No signs of infection at all, no worms as of last test about 8 months ago (he has no exposure to other animals).
    • I've added a daily calcium/Vit. D supplement to his food (Repto-Cal),
    • switched the type of heat and UVB bulbs (#5 strength UVB and will replace in 6 months),
    • and increased spritzing, keeping areas of his pen damp, and more frequent baths.
    It's not quite a month since these lifestyle changes.

    He often lies with his head out, opening his mouth, often leaving drool puddles.

    He has also taken to elevating his head, resting his chin on the edge of his water bowl,
    or propping his head way up, almost straight up, on the side of his tank or on the side of a small ball.
    And often falls asleep in these potions.

    He used to always pull in when he slept, and never opened his mouth except when eating.

    Has anyone else ever seen their tort's do this?


    Closely listening to him: there is no sign of wheezing or troubled breath, his appetite and pooping seem good and normal,
    he takes in the finely chopped course dark greens mixed in his food.
    When active he's just like always: chasing us around or climbing on the shoes,
    but there are more frequent periods of lethargic, sprawled, head out resting.

    The vet suggested direct sunlight outdoors, but that's difficult and not very safe where we live.
    We had been operating based on poor advice, and now are praying he's going to be OK.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017
  10. William Lee Kohler

    William Lee Kohler Active Member

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    Another vote for normal growth after long period of non growth and notches at front are normal for this belated growth. Only after years of wear do these diminish. Breathing/drooling is worrisome though.:D
  11. omhoge

    omhoge Member

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    Thank you, William Lee Kohler, for reassuring us on the shell part. Why he keeps stretching his mouth open and the other behaviors are indeed confounding. Appreciate the reply.
  12. omhoge

    omhoge Member

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    It may be too buried here. Maybe I should start a new thread for this mouth open and the other behaviors?
  13. William Lee Kohler

    William Lee Kohler Active Member

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    Might work. Not that familiar but may be a medical health area or even old thread to search?
  14. omhoge

    omhoge Member

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    Thank you, William Lee Kohler, I'll try starting a new thread.

    Yes I've been searching a lot before I posted. But the one that mentioned neck stretching and gaping had an infection, and our guy's blood test came back with no sign of infection just the vitamin deficiency.

    What Medical Forum are you thinking of? I'll try it!
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
  15. omhoge

    omhoge Member

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    Started new thread for these alarming new developments
  16. William Lee Kohler

    William Lee Kohler Active Member

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    Only suggesting if there is one to try there.
  17. omhoge

    omhoge Member

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    Ironically the band of new growth has been darkening and thickening. It's barely perceptible now.
    At least he's living long enough to "live a fast life, die young and be a beautiful corpse";
    after all, c. 40 years old still counts as young in tortoise years.
  18. William Lee Kohler

    William Lee Kohler Active Member

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    Has the breathing/health problem been remedied?
  19. omhoge

    omhoge Member

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    Unfortunately no. He has cancer and we are in hospice mode now. Thank you so much for asking, William Lee. That whole progression is chronicled in the other discussion thread.
  20. William Lee Kohler

    William Lee Kohler Active Member

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    I can't begin to express my sorrow for him and you:(. I've never heard of a tortoise with cancer.
    ColaCarbonaria likes this.
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