Indian star tortoise wheezing sound when breathing *help* no vet

salmaalsayyad

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Hi all,

My Indian star tortoise has been making a wheezing sound while breathing for years now. I have asked all vets I know but I am in Egypt and cannot find a single vet who knows how to deal with tortoises or who gave me any helpful opinion. Usually the wheezing sound would come and go but this time I feel her breathing is shorter as if her nose is blocked. We have had this tortoise in the family since I was a child (I am 29 now) and she was already quite big when she first arrived so she is fairly old now.

Anything I can do at all? It is usually warm in Egypt so I keep her out in the sun in the morning, and move her in at night because I feel the cold night weather would get her more sick. I thought about giving her warm water soaks but I am worried it might make her worse.

she is still active thankfully, and she eats normally. these days she keeps trying to eat dry cat food though which I keep around for my cats! Is this an indicator of anything.

Please help. I feel completely helpless.

Thanks a lot,
Salma
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Salma, and welcome to the Forum!

About the cat food...Indian star tortoises are vegetarians, so cat food should not be part of its diet. They're sometimes just like children and would eat what's not good for them.

Soaking the tortoise in warm water would be helpful. If there is something stuck in its nose, this may help to dislodge it.
 

turtlelady80

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You said it's been wheezing for years... could it be more like a "gentle whistling sound"? Because that's normal. I say that because when I walk into my tortoise house I hear all of my torts very quietly whistling while they sleep (it's great:)...
But you say it's getting worse... have you changed anything lately? Bedding? Humidity? I'm sure your tortoise would love a nice warm soak. And that would help dislodge anything that might be obstructing her nares.
 

J.P.

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I wish there's a video of this wheezing or sometimes squeaking sound that tortoise keepers are refering to. I hear a squeaky sound when my babies chew, like when you walk with wet flip flops, I do not pay serious attention and associate it with rubbing beaks but I want to hear the wheezing of a sick tortoise just to confirm it'snot the sound I'm hearing.
 

salmaalsayyad

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Hi Salma, and welcome to the Forum!

About the cat food...Indian star tortoises are vegetarians, so cat food should not be part of its diet. They're sometimes just like children and would eat what's not good for them.

Soaking the tortoise in warm water would be helpful. If there is something stuck in its nose, this may help to dislodge it.

Thank a lot Yvonne for responding! I will try moving the cat food away then to stop her from nippling on it.

And I have just given her a 15 minutes warm soak, then moved her out to bask in the sun. I hope that will dislodge her nose. Let us see.

Thanks a lot again. I will keep you updated.

-Salma
 

salmaalsayyad

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You said it's been wheezing for years... could it be more like a "gentle whistling sound"? Because that's normal. I say that because when I walk into my tortoise house I hear all of my torts very quietly whistling while they sleep (it's great:)...
But you say it's getting worse... have you changed anything lately? Bedding? Humidity? I'm sure your tortoise would love a nice warm soak. And that would help dislodge anything that might be obstructing her nares.

I feel, and this is just an unfounded feeling, that the wheezing sound I am hearing out of her now is not normal. I feel like she is struggling to breathe, and it is not only at night, but also at day.

I have not changed anything at all in her surrounding. I have just given her a warm soak which I truly wish would help because if she gets worse I have no clue what I would do.

And thanks a lot for your response!! Appreciated :)
 

salmaalsayyad

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I wish there's a video of this wheezing or sometimes squeaking sound that tortoise keepers are refering to. I hear a squeaky sound when my babies chew, like when you walk with wet flip flops, I do not pay serious attention and associate it with rubbing beaks but I want to hear the wheezing of a sick tortoise just to confirm it'snot the sound I'm hearing.

So I have uploaded video of what sounds to me to be an abnormal wheezing/whistling. I might be wrong and this might be normal (I hope).

 

salmaalsayyad

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Hi Salma, and welcome to the Forum!

About the cat food...Indian star tortoises are vegetarians, so cat food should not be part of its diet. They're sometimes just like children and would eat what's not good for them.

Soaking the tortoise in warm water would be helpful. If there is something stuck in its nose, this may help to dislodge it.

Also I have just uploaded a video of the whistling sound.
 

salmaalsayyad

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You said it's been wheezing for years... could it be more like a "gentle whistling sound"? Because that's normal. I say that because when I walk into my tortoise house I hear all of my torts very quietly whistling while they sleep (it's great:)...
But you say it's getting worse... have you changed anything lately? Bedding? Humidity? I'm sure your tortoise would love a nice warm soak. And that would help dislodge anything that might be obstructing her nares.

Also I have just uploaded a video of the whistling sound.
 

G-stars

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Saw the video and I have to say it does seem a bit excessive. Maybe some of the more experienced members here can shed some light on this issue.

Do you mind sharing with us the enclosure you keep her in? Temps? Humidity levels? Substrate? Those answers may or may not attribute to what she's doing.
 

salmaalsayyad

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Saw the video and I have to say it does seem a bit excessive. Maybe some of the more experienced members here can shed some light on this issue.

Do you mind sharing with us the enclosure you keep her in? Temps? Humidity levels? Substrate? Those answers may or may not attribute to what she's doing.

It is a warm sunny climate in Egypt so she spends her days outside in the balcony (as long as weather permits), and nights indoors (when its cold nights). She likes walking so I usually keep the balcony door open for her, and she is constantly roaming and going in and out through the day. I always have the balcony tiles covered with paper cardboard because she does not like the slippery feel of the ceramic and also because the ceramic gets cold.

In the balcony there are a lot of plants which she uses to hide under sometimes. I also keep a cardboard box with one side open that she often uses as a hide-box, and there is a shallow water dish which I see her sometimes drinking from.

Humidity might be a problem. I do not do anything about humidity :-/ what should I do about humidity?

To give you an idea of the climate here. It is now fall, and the temp. is 81 F and the humidity is 45%.

Thank you for your help.
 

Abdulla6169

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Welcome to the forum! I haven't owned an Indian star tortoise. So I can't really help you. I really hope everything goes well. :D
 

salmaalsayyad

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Welcome to the forum! I haven't owned an Indian star tortoise. So I can't really help you. I really hope everything goes well. :D

Thanks Abdullah :) The tortoise I have came from Abu Dhabi btw. A family that my family knew brought it with them from Abu Dhabi to Egypt then left her in our house and moved back.
 

G-stars

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You specifically say no vet so this is just speculation. Perhaps a respiratory infection?
 

Ciri

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Although this could be a respiratory infection, I don't see the usual open mouth breathing. She is breathing more rapidly than I would expect. Does she always breathe that quickly? Do you see any obstruction in her nostrils? Any clear or white lumpy substance on her eyes?

Since you can't get her to a reptile vet, what I would do would be to use Chinese herbs to build her immune system, just in case. The one I would use is Astragalus. It needs to be used daily on an ongoing basis. I would only buy it organic, as I have heard that sometimes Chinese herbs that are not organic have some pesticide contamination. Since some nutritional supplements have been found to not contain the ingredient that the bottle states, I buy the root pieces. The place I have bought from and had good experience is Mountain Rose herbs. I have heard that there could be other good sources too. Since I use the root pieces, I cook them into a tea which she could to drink. I have done this with my animals, adding it to their water dish. My reptile specialist veterinarian has felt that it would be safe for them to consume. He's not particularly enthusiastic about Chinese herbs, but doesn't object to my use of them. I would also talk to an acupuncturist or research online for acupuncture points you might be able to identify and massage on her legs or feet. I have sometimes done this as well for my animals.

Daily soaks would be a good idea. The fact that she's eating well is a positive sign. When mine get a respiratory infection they usually don't eat very well. (I'm extrapolating from my experience with desert tortoises and box turtles – I don't have a star tortoise.)

I wish you and your tortoise all the best,
Ciri
 

salmaalsayyad

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You specifically say no vet so this is just speculation. Perhaps a respiratory infection?

I thought that its a possibility too, and actually toyed with the idea of doing some online research and giving her an antibiotic injection myself but it feels to be full of risk. Also toyed with the idea of printing out what I can find online about what what dosage and what kind of antibiotic to give (and a video that shows how to give IM injections to tortoises) and giving all this to one of the vets here but it also feels risky. :(
 

Ciri

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What about asking if a local veterinarian could consult with a reptile specialist veterinarian (there are quite a number on the vet list on this website)? Through video and photographs the two could communicate about symptoms and treatment. This is becoming more common for human patients and their doctors, so I would think there would be a way this could work for our animals, too. That way you don't have the risk of having to try to figure it out yourself.
 

salmaalsayyad

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Although this could be a respiratory infection, I don't see the usual open mouth breathing. She is breathing more rapidly than I would expect. Does she always breathe that quickly? Do you see any obstruction in her nostrils? Any clear or white lumpy substance on her eyes?

Since you can't get her to a reptile vet, what I would do would be to use Chinese herbs to build her immune system, just in case. The one I would use is Astragalus. It needs to be used daily on an ongoing basis. I would only buy it organic, as I have heard that sometimes Chinese herbs that are not organic have some pesticide contamination. Since some nutritional supplements have been found to not contain the ingredient that the bottle states, I buy the root pieces. The place I have bought from and had good experience is Mountain Rose herbs. I have heard that there could be other good sources too. Since I use the root pieces, I cook them into a tea which she could to drink. I have done this with my animals, adding it to their water dish. My reptile specialist veterinarian has felt that it would be safe for them to consume. He's not particularly enthusiastic about Chinese herbs, but doesn't object to my use of them. I would also talk to an acupuncturist or research online for acupuncture points you might be able to identify and massage on her legs or feet. I have sometimes done this as well for my animals.

Daily soaks would be a good idea. The fact that she's eating well is a positive sign. When mine get a respiratory infection they usually don't eat very well. (I'm extrapolating from my experience with desert tortoises and box turtles – I don't have a star tortoise.)

I wish you and your tortoise all the best,
Ciri

Thanks a lot for your time and for a detailed reply. For years she has sometimes been breathing with a whistle but it used to go on its own and it was never that fast. this breathing that you hear on the video is something new that started around one week ago and is faster than normal which is why I am concerned. Also when this started, around a week ago, she was also making strange noises at night (sounded to me like maybe sneezing). However, she keeps her mouth closed, and there is nothing around her eyes. Also as far as I see there is nothing obstructing her nostrils.

I have put her on a heating pad which I will keep her on at night during the next few days and see how things turn out,

And I am in Egypt and I do not think there are any place I could find chinese herbs here. I will check though. I have found a possible Arabic name for Astragalus and will check with a herbalist tomorrow. Is there any specific diet you recommend I put her on. Something more common.

I will keep you updated. Thank you.
 

salmaalsayyad

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What about asking if a local veterinarian could consult with a reptile specialist veterinarian (there are quite a number on the vet list on this website)? Through video and photographs the two could communicate about symptoms and treatment. This is becoming more common for human patients and their doctors, so I would think there would be a way this could work for our animals, too. That way you don't have the risk of having to try to figure it out yourself.

Actually this seems like a good idea. I will ask the vet who checks up on my cat whether he can do so. I hope it works. Thank you! I will let you know.
 

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