Is my boy okay?

Kaitltnboyce78

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Hi everyone this is going to be quite a long read and I haven't really posted on here so sorry if I do anything wrong. I've had my tortoise (turbo) for 10 months now, he's been really active, going to the toilet, and eating well. I went to stay at my dad's house for a few weeks and my mum was looking after him, I got back last Friday he's been acting kind of weird, he's still eating and going to the toilet well but he hasn't been as active, sleeping a bit more than usual and sneezing quite a bit and putting his head away I thought that it was because his dirt was due for a change, but now that I've put in new dirt he's still acting the same maybe even weirder. He keeps stretching his neck in weird ways and breathing quite fast and I've noticed that I can hear him breath more often, I usually only hear it when he's just out the bath or he's climbing something.is that normal? I know that he has pyramiding, he's had it since I got him and I don't think it's gotten any worse. Do his eyes look okay? He has a pro T5 uvb strip light, arcadia halogen heat light, I've bought a new dirt I haven't tried before which is coco coir soil. I'll put some pics of his enclosure and him, sorry about the mess in the background of some photos/vids (Sorry for the sort of long rant, I get paranoid that something wrong alot)
 

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Alex and the Redfoot

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Hello and welcome!

What you describe can be the signs of a respiratory infection (RI). Which, in turn, can be caused by wrong temperatures in the enclosure. Do you know what they are? Under the basking lamp, day and night ambient temperatures? Also, what is the humidity in the enclosure?

After changing the "dirt" (it's usually called bedding or substrate) to coco coir you might need to moisten it (pouring water in the corners) and pack with your hand.

The halogen lamp you use for the basking zone should be replaced. This type of lamps can make pyramiding worse. Flood or regular (not spot) incandescent lamps are the best alternative (like Arcadia Solar Basking Floodlight, for example).

You are not paranoid about his symptoms. Respiratory infections usually require a vet visit and antibiotic treatment. Even if it is not a RI, something's definitely off. I would start with checking the temperatures (if they are wrong, any kind of treatment will be much less effective).

Also, I would recommend to take some time and read this post: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/info-for-new-people-please-read-this-first.202363/ and care sheet for the temperate species linked at the end of it.
 

Kaitltnboyce78

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Hello and welcome!

What you describe can be the signs of a respiratory infection (RI). Which, in turn, can be caused by wrong temperatures in the enclosure. Do you know what they are? Under the basking lamp, day and night ambient temperatures? Also, what is the humidity in the enclosure?

After changing the "dirt" (it's usually called bedding or substrate) to coco coir you might need to moisten it (pouring water in the corners) and pack with your hand.

The halogen lamp you use for the basking zone should be replaced. This type of lamps can make pyramiding worse. Flood or regular (not spot) incandescent lamps are the best alternative (like Arcadia Solar Basking Floodlight, for example).

You are not paranoid about his symptoms. Respiratory infections usually require a vet visit and antibiotic treatment. Even if it is not a RI, something's definitely off. I would start with checking the temperatures (if they are wrong, any kind of treatment will be much less effective).

Also, I would recommend to take some time and read this post: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/info-for-new-people-please-read-this-first.202363/ and care sheet for the temperate species linked at the end of it.
Hi, thank you for your advice. his substrate came as a sort of compressed block and you put it in water and it expands, so it's very moist right now I do usually give it a quick spray with water everyday. I'll change the light to what you recommended. His temps at night are usually 15/16C sometimes a bit higher, I put his thermometer under his light and it says it's 38C, when its hung up on the wall of his enclosure the temps are usually 23C and it says that the humidity is around 55%. Will he be okay if it is a respiratory infection? None of my tortoises have been ill before so I'm worried. I will make him a vet appointment tomorrow, if it's not a respiratory infection do you have any idea what it could be? Thank you for the help I really appreciate it!!!
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Besides respiratory infection, my guess was that it's a husbandry issue - too low humidity, dusty substrate, low temperatures.

Temperatures you mentioned are more or less okay for the adult tortoise. However, I would raise them up to 24-25C at night and 26-27C in a day - if he is sick this will help him to recover or just give a little activity boost. After raising temperatures - watch him for a week and after that you'll see if the a vet appointment is needed.

Thermometer should be hanged 1-2 inches above the substrate to get more accurate readings of what's happening where tortoise roams.
 

Kaitltnboyce78

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Besides respiratory infection, my guess was that it's a husbandry issue - too low humidity, dusty substrate, low temperatures.

Temperatures you mentioned are more or less okay for the adult tortoise. However, I would raise them up to 24-25C at night and 26-27C in a day - if he is sick this will help him to recover or just give a little activity boost. After raising temperatures - watch him for a week and after that you'll see if the a vet appointment is needed.

Thermometer should be hanged 1-2 inches above the substrate to get more accurate readings of what's happening where tortoise roams.
Okay I put the thermometer down, I'll try to get the temps up but I'm not sure I can get them up by alot it gets pretty cold at night were I live, my mum turns off the heating at night and I'm not sure that she would turn it on. I could get one of those small fan heaters that would bring the temp up right?
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Fan heater is better, than nothing. But it should not blow in the enclosure... If you can get a ceramic heat emitter and a dome for it - this will work much better (and I would strongly recommend to get a thermostat as well). Then you can cover the whole enclosure with something like a portable greenhouse to keep humidity and heat inside.

These are, probably, unexpected expenses, but the electricity bill will be more pleasant than with a fan heater or central heating.
 

Sarah2020

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Hi I think you need to overhaul this set up and consider a new vivarium enclosure with uvb and heat. Add a thermostats to the heat lamp to control the temp. Your tortoise shell is going lumpy and is pyramiding. Yourc aiming for a smooth shelled tortoise. This will never be reversed but correct humid env with heat and light will allow new growth to be smooth.
Please read the following....


Vivarium idea
I use their Orchid bark substrate which I spray daily to get humidity in the enc.
 

Kaitltnboyce78

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Hi I think you need to overhaul this set up and consider a new vivarium enclosure with uvb and heat. Add a thermostats to the heat lamp to control the temp. Your tortoise shell is going lumpy and is pyramiding. Yourc aiming for a smooth shelled tortoise. This will never be reversed but correct humid env with heat and light will allow new growth to be smooth.
Please read the following....


Vivarium idea
I use their Orchid bark substrate which I spray daily to get humidity in the enc.
I'm confused it does have uvb and heat, I know he has pyramiding like I said in the post he had it when I got him and i don't think gotten any worse. What exactly is wrong with the enclosure? Plenty of people recommended it.
 

Lyn W

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Is there any discharge or bubbling from his nose?
If not I'm wondering if it's just the dusty coco coir in his nose - maybe @Yvonne @Tom or @zovick can help.
A close up photo of his face and nares (nostrils) may help more experienced members spot the problem.

If you are taking him to a vet then make sure they are a tort specialist, and be wary if they offer vitamin jabs as a treatment because these can do more harm than good. The correct diet should provide all the vitamins and nutrients they need with just a small pinch of calcium a couple of times a week on their food. I also use a product called Nutrabal in the same way - small pinch once or twice a week - especially when I have to use a shop bought diet. But I doubt this problem is vitamin related.

Do you give him regular luke/baby warm shallow soaks to help with hydration? The water level shouldn't cover his head at any time and should only be as deep as where the top and bottom shells meet. That may help dislodge anything if he drinks while he's in there. Don't let the water get cold - as it cools take some out and top up with warm.

The water dish you have is not recommended because the higher sides make it difficult for a tort to access and exit - a terracotta plant saucer sunk into the surface will be much easier for him.

Coco coir is fine as a substrate but it can get dry and dusty if not dampened down. You could add a layer of orchid bark on top of it to help with humidity and make it less messy. The caresheet will recommend options for substrates.

Does he have any night heat?
A CHE run through a thermostat is ideal for that because it just gives heat (torts need darkness to sleep), but make sure you set the temp probe at his level and set the thermostat to the right temps as given on the caresheet, so that he doesn't overheat under it
The thermostat will switch it on and off to keep the temps even so quite cheap to run. I use mine in a wide dome reflector.
They won't be cheap to buy at first, but the right temps are important for good health and will save on vet bills.

It would be worth getting a digital temp gun so that you can spot check temps at tort level around the enclosure and will help you set the lamps at the right level to get the right temps for the tort. I bought mine off Amazon for about £10

Arcadia are a good make- I don't know much about the halogen lamps but flood heat lamps are recommended because the spot bulbs can be too intense and damage shells. I use the Arcadia flood basking bulb. The UVB tube you have is fine - how do you hang it in his enclosure?

Please read the link you've been given by Alex in post #2 and follow all advice - especially for temps and diet etc in the section about Mediterranean/Temperate species.

I hope it's nothing too serious for your tort.
 
Last edited:

Kaitltnboyce78

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Apr 21, 2023
Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
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Is there any discharge or bubbling from his nose?
If not I'm wondering if it's just the dusty coco coir in his nose - maybe @Yvonne @Tom or @zovick can help.
A close up photo of his face and nares (nostrils) may help more experienced members spot the problem.

If you are taking him to a vet then make sure they are a tort specialist, and be wary if they offer vitamin jabs as a treatment because these can do more harm than good. The correct diet should provide all the vitamins and nutrients they need with just a small pinch of calcium a couple of times a week on their food. I also use a product called Nutrabal in the same way - small pinch once or twice a week - especially when I have to use a shop bought diet. But I doubt this problem is vitamin related.

Do you give him regular luke/baby warm shallow soaks to help with hydration? The water level shouldn't cover his head at any time and should only be as deep as where the top and bottom shells meet. That may help dislodge anything if he drinks while he's in there. Don't let the water get cold - as it cools take some out and top up with warm.

The water dish you have is not recommended because the higher sides make it difficult for a tort to access and exit - a terracotta plant saucer sunk into the surface will be much easier for him.

Coco coir is fine as a substrate but it can get dry and dusty if not dampened down. You could add a layer of orchid bark on top of it to help with humidity and make it less messy. The caresheet will recommend options for substrates.

Does he have any night heat?
A CHE run through a thermostat is ideal for that because it just gives heat (torts need darkness to sleep), but make sure you set the temp probe at his level and set the thermostat to the right temps as given on the caresheet, so that he doesn't overheat under it
The thermostat will switch it on and off to keep the temps even so quite cheap to run. I use mine in a wide dome reflector.
They won't be cheap to buy at first, but the right temps are important for good health and will save on vet bills.

It would be worth getting a digital temp gun so that you can spot check temps at tort level around the enclosure and will help you set the lamps at the right level to get the right temps for the tort. I bought mine off Amazon for about £10

Arcadia also do a flood heat lamp which is about £4 ish - heat from spot bulbs can be too intense and damage shells. The UVB tube you have is fine - how do you hang it in his enclosure?

Please read the link you've been given by Alex in post #2 and follow all advice - especially for temps and diet etc in the section about Mediterranean/Temperate species.

I hope it's nothing too serious for your tort.
There no discharge or bubbling from his nose just the things I mentioned on the post. I only changed his substrate a few (2/3) days ago, it was really dusty which was part of the reason I changed to a different substrate could that be still affecting him? The Coco coir I got you have to sock in water and it expands so right now it's really like moist so I don't think it's because it's dusty or anything like that, I also spray the substrate with water everyday. I give him warm baths maybe once or twice a week. I know the water dish isn't ideal and I'm going to get him one of those terracotta bowl things but I need to buy another one of his enclosure that I can attach to the one I already have because it's not big enough for the bowl. I'm going to buy a new light for him (the one you said) and the uvb light is just sat on the side of his enclosure I'm going to get a stand for it once I get the other part for his enclosure. I don't have any heat for him at night, I was told I don't need it as long as I can keep the temp above 15C, I am trying to get the temp up in the 20s tho. He was a bit more active a few hours after I posted this, he's been climbing and running about his enclosure, so that made me think it was maybe the dusty substrate from before.Thank you for the advice, I really appreciate it!!
 

Kaitltnboyce78

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Joined
Apr 21, 2023
Messages
28
Location (City and/or State)
Scotland
Is there any discharge or bubbling from his nose?
If not I'm wondering if it's just the dusty coco coir in his nose - maybe @Yvonne @Tom or @zovick can help.
A close up photo of his face and nares (nostrils) may help more experienced members spot the problem.

If you are taking him to a vet then make sure they are a tort specialist, and be wary if they offer vitamin jabs as a treatment because these can do more harm than good. The correct diet should provide all the vitamins and nutrients they need with just a small pinch of calcium a couple of times a week on their food. I also use a product called Nutrabal in the same way - small pinch once or twice a week - especially when I have to use a shop bought diet. But I doubt this problem is vitamin related.

Do you give him regular luke/baby warm shallow soaks to help with hydration? The water level shouldn't cover his head at any time and should only be as deep as where the top and bottom shells meet. That may help dislodge anything if he drinks while he's in there. Don't let the water get cold - as it cools take some out and top up with warm.

The water dish you have is not recommended because the higher sides make it difficult for a tort to access and exit - a terracotta plant saucer sunk into the surface will be much easier for him.

Coco coir is fine as a substrate but it can get dry and dusty if not dampened down. You could add a layer of orchid bark on top of it to help with humidity and make it less messy. The caresheet will recommend options for substrates.

Does he have any night heat?
A CHE run through a thermostat is ideal for that because it just gives heat (torts need darkness to sleep), but make sure you set the temp probe at his level and set the thermostat to the right temps as given on the caresheet, so that he doesn't overheat under it
The thermostat will switch it on and off to keep the temps even so quite cheap to run. I use mine in a wide dome reflector.
They won't be cheap to buy at first, but the right temps are important for good health and will save on vet bills.

It would be worth getting a digital temp gun so that you can spot check temps at tort level around the enclosure and will help you set the lamps at the right level to get the right temps for the tort. I bought mine off Amazon for about £10

Arcadia are a good make- I don't know much about the halogen lamps but flood heat lamps are recommended because the spot bulbs can be too intense and damage shells. I use the Arcadia flood basking bulb. The UVB tube you have is fine - how do you hang it in his enclosure?

Please read the link you've been given by Alex in post #2 and follow all advice - especially for temps and diet etc in the section about Mediterranean/Temperate species.

I hope it's nothing too serious for your tort.
Is this the lamp you mean?Screenshot_2024-02-22-01-26-53-33_40deb401b9ffe8e1df2f1cc5ba480b12.jpg
 

Lyn W

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I'm confused it does have uvb and heat, I know he has pyramiding like I said in the post he had it when I got him and i don't think gotten any worse. What exactly is wrong with the enclosure? Plenty of people recommended it.
You're plastic storage box is better than the small open wooden tort tables that are often sold, but if you read the caresheets you'll see other preferred tort homes and ways to retain heat and humidity. Beware of people recommending equipment on other websites and social media etc because there is a lot of old and completely wrong advice being passed around, but if you use the caresheets and information here you'll only find the best up to date advice from very experienced keepers.

It won't be long before your tort will need a bigger home with more floor space so that he can wander which is essential for bone, muscle health and digestion. The minimum recommended for young adults of the smaller species is 4 x 8 feet which is about 1.5 x 2.5 m. Does he have an outside enclosure for the warmer months?
 

Kaitltnboyce78

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You're plastic storage box is better than the small open wooden tort tables that are often sold, but if you read the caresheets you'll see other preferred tort homes and ways to retain heat and humidity. Beware of people recommending equipment on other websites and social media etc because there is a lot of old and completely wrong advice being passed around, but if you use the caresheets and information here you'll only find the best up to date advice from very experienced keepers.

It won't be long before your tort will need a bigger home with more floor space so that he can wander which is essential for bone, muscle health and digestion. The minimum recommended for young adults of the smaller species is 4 x 8 feet which is about 1.5 x 2.5 m. Does he have an outside enclosure for the warmer months?
Its not a plastic box, it's a wooden enclosure and I'm going to buy another that attaches onto the one I already have and that would give him alot of space since he is quite small. I don't have a outside enclosure for him. Thanks for advice
 

Kaitltnboyce78

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That's the one I use, but if the one you have is a 'flood' it may be OK. I've never used a halogen lamp so can't really say if its suitable or not. The linked thread will explain about heating and lighting so it may tell you more in there.
This is the one I'm using right now, it doesn't have 'flood' in it, so I'm going to get the one you recommended.
Screenshot_2024-02-22-01-47-17-03_260528048de7f2f358f0056f785be619.jpg
 

Lyn W

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Its not a plastic box, it's a wooden enclosure and I'm going to buy another that attaches onto the one I already have and that would give him alot of space since he is quite small. I don't have a outside enclosure for him. Thanks for advice
Ahh! My mistake I thought it looked like one of the plastic Keter storage boxes in the pics.

The terracotta plant saucers are only cheap from anywhere that sells garden pots etc, worth getting a couple that you can swap in if he poops in his water, and only needs to be big enough for him to get in and self soak if he wants.

Make sure his substrate isn't too moist (i.e wet) especially if he gets cold at night.
A tip given to me was -
correct temps + humidity = healthy tort
too cold + humidity = sick tort

My tort has his own room because he is too big for a table, I use a weather station which measure temps and humidity in the room and has a probe which is in his hide to give readings in there. There's lots of digital temp/humidity meters available.

If you can mount the uvb centrally rather than on the side he will get more benefit from it. It's difficult to assess the height they should be without a solar meter to measure uvb output but they cost about £200, although I must say they do save you money in the long run.
 

Lyn W

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This is the one I'm using right now, it doesn't have 'flood' in it, so I'm going to get the one you recommended.
View attachment 366795
'Spots' aren't recommended, but as I said before I don't know anything about halogen bulbs so check the sheet or see what others say.
I buy the 100w bulb but my tort has his own room so a large space - you may get away with a lower watt in a small enclosure.
I use an upturned bowl about the same height as my tort to adjust the height of his bulb to make sure the temp is right using my digital temp gun.
 

Kaitltnboyce78

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Ahh! My mistake I thought it looked like one of the plastic Keter storage boxes in the pics.

The terracotta plant saucers are only cheap from anywhere that sells garden pots etc, worth getting a couple that you can swap in if he poops in his water, and only needs to be big enough for him to get in and self soak if he wants.

Make sure his substrate isn't too moist (i.e wet) especially if he gets cold at night.
A tip given to me was -
correct temps + humidity = healthy tort
too cold + humidity = sick tort

My tort has his own room because he is too big for a table, I use a weather station which measure temps and humidity in the room and has a probe which is in his hide to give readings in there. There's lots of digital temp/humidity meters available.

If you can mount the uvb centrally rather than on the side he will get more benefit from it. It's difficult to assess the height they should be without a solar meter to measure uvb output but they cost about £200, although I must say they do save you money in the long run.
His substrate isn't wet, when I first put it in it might have been a bit wet because he was out for quite a while when I was changing his substrate and I didn't want him to be too cold but now it's had time to dry and is not wet. I know the way his light is facing isn't the best but as I said before I'm going to get a stand and put the strip light in the middle. I'll try and get a digital temp/humidity meter, don't think I could afford the solar meter but thank you for the recommendation:)
 

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