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Leopard Tortoise Hatchling Won’t Eat

Discussion in 'Leopard tortoises' started by sethlocker, Nov 12, 2019.

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  1. sethlocker

    sethlocker New Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I have a 7-8 month old hatchling leopard tortoise who has progressively lethargic over the past 3 weeks. He lives in an open top container that is 95F/40% humidity on the warm side and 80F/60% humidity on the cool side. The temperature is around 75F at night. He has a 10.0 UVB bulb at his basking spot and a 10.0 UVB T8 lamp over the container. I feed him a finely chopped 70%/30% mix of grass (Timothy or Bermuda grass that I grow without fertilizer) and weeds/romaine/spring mix. Additionally, I offer him mazuri diet once weekly that he has never eaten. I sprinkle vitamins and calcium on his food once weekly. He is soaked 3 times a week and taken outside for natural sunlight 3 times a week. He has several hides, with one of them that I keep moist. I change the water daily and I offer fresh feed in the morning.
    I have him on a 12 hour timer so he gets 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. I will put fresh food down in the morning and put him near the food. He has not eaten any food in the past week and had been eating less before that. He is still drinking, urinating, and defecating. He has also lost weight. His weekly weights since I have got him have been (in grams): 47, 49, 46, 49, 53, 50, 56, 57, 58, 55, 57, 55, 50. The only other thing I can think to mention is that he has winced off and on when he blinks his right eye since I’ve gotten him.
    I have a veterinary appointment scheduled on Monday (I’m also a vet student) for him but I was wondering if anyone had any other suggestions of things they might recommend.

    D88A506C-E033-4683-B2CE-E1651BA33CA6.jpeg
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  2. Maro2Bear

    Maro2Bear Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Greetings.

    The first thing I would say is that you have to create a closed top enclosure to maintain both your overall ambient heat and humidity. Get urself some orchid bark mix for substrate AND check your lighting.

    Read this care guide & duplicate everything that you can. You will note that daily soaking is recommened. I’m guessing your heat 24/7 is much lower than you think. 75 is much too cold at night - minimum should be 80.

    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.78361/

    I’m sure @Tom will spot many other things that will help.

    Good luck - get an enclosure with a lid, check lighting, ambient heat & humidity & daily soaks!
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  3. sethlocker

    sethlocker New Member

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    I appreciate your reply and taking the time to offer suggestions. How we, I’ve read the care guide and I live in Florida so it’s not hard to keep the temperatures/humidity as I have said. If anything, they are hotter than I reported. I disagree that 75 is too cold at night. In fact, a study using sulcatas and leopards as modeled showed that too much supplemental heating in hatchling tortoises is correlated with pyramiding. 75 was a temperature they deemed okay in their study. Also, I’ve been told by two board-certified zoological medicine veterinarians that 3 times a week is fine. I tried daily soakings over the past two weeks and it has not changed his clinical signs. I’m currently using pee pads as a substrate to have an easier time monitoring his feces while he’s not feeling well. I feel least confident in his lighting.
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  4. Maro2Bear

    Maro2Bear Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Just curious as well what you are using to maintain your overall ambient temps? Hard to tell from the pix if you have a CHE or other heating element.

    I think you will get many (negative) comments regarding 75 F being fine for ambient night temps, as well as pyramiding being caused by “too much supplemental heating”. High humidity outside in you garden does not translate to high humidity in an open topped enclosure inside your house.

    Temps too cold are very often the main reason for seeing lethargy in tortoises.

    Hope your tort pulls out of the lethargic condition. Good luck.
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  5. sethlocker

    sethlocker New Member

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    That’s fine, we can agree to disagree.
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  6. sethlocker

    sethlocker New Member

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  7. Blackdog1714

    Blackdog1714 Well-Known Member

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    The study has one glaring flaw. The familial traits in the torts are all shared. The group was chosen from one male thus only allowing for how his genes respond to the controls. While for science the study should have been done with several different groups, but for me personally I would not repeat that. I have first hand knowledge that what TFO promotes works. I was a totally newb and was able to raise a beautiful Russian and am working on a Leopard. It is remarkable what happens when my tort enclosures get out of accepatble TFO ranges- they hide, don't eat, and just slow down. I have never had eye issues, poop issues or not wanting to eat. That study is a singular study and as such should be taken with a grain of salt. With the TFO I also suggest not to believe all as gospel-you are dealing with people, but as a whole the knowledge and experience base is incredible. Ultimately I just wanted to provide the best I can for my two torts. Good Luck and remember "Torting Ain't Easy"
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  8. sethlocker

    sethlocker New Member

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    I understand and I am genuinely looking for advice here to see if something is obviously incorrect or someone has has a similar experience. However, I am going to trust evidence based research over opinions, if the research is available. Additionally, I don’t believe that the night temperature of 75F is the cause of my problems since he was fine with this husbandry for the first month of me having him.
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  9. sethlocker

    sethlocker New Member

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    I understand and I am genuinely looking for advice here to see if something is obviously incorrect or someone has has a similar experience. However, I am going to trust evidence based research over opinions, if the research is available. Additionally, I don’t believe that the night temperature of 75F is the cause of my problems since he was fine with this husbandry for the first month of me having him.
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  10. Maro2Bear

    Maro2Bear Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I couldnt read the entire document, just the abstract. Did it say how many animals were part of the study? I was hoping @Tom would provide some info on the 1000s of torts he has raised, with minimum ambient temps @80f (or more) that have zero pyramiding.
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  11. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    The humidity inside an open-topped enclosure is NOT as humid as the weather in your geographical area. For one thing, the light you have that is pretending to be the sun, is drying out the air inside the enclosure. Please believe us when we say you need to provide a closed enclosure for your baby. It needs to be so humid inside the enclosure that moisture forms on the glass walls. I have raised many, many leopard babies to sell, and I have learned from my own experience that pyramiding is caused by too hot a light and not being humid enough. I keep my babies in a closed Vision cage and the temperature is 80-85F degrees day and night. Veterinarians don't always know good husbandry. I use a tube type UVB fluorescent bulb with a radiant heat panel for heat.
    Vision Cage a.jpg vision cage.jpg
  12. sethlocker

    sethlocker New Member

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    Board-certified veterinarians who also raise leopard tortoises do, but I am not here to argue. I understand geographical area not representing the environment inside his enclosure. However, my house is most definitely more humid than a house in New Mexico. I have 4 digital thermometers at my tortoises height that give me my temperature and humidity readings.
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  13. sethlocker

    sethlocker New Member

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    I believe it’s 15 in each group, but I have the paper at home. Most veterinary studies are underpowered with number of patients due to funding. I still think that the results being significant shows something. The tortoises in the study were raised with 35% +/- 5% humidity for everyone saying it needs to be closed. I am frustrated with this forum because this topic has become hyper focused on this one issue. As I said previously, I appreciated the offer but I disagreed with that one point. Evidence based research is more valuable than anecdotal evidence.
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  14. Maro2Bear

    Maro2Bear Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Im still postulating here that you are seeing lethargy in your tortoise because of the 75 degree (or lower) overnight ambient temperatures. Now, mix in your reported high humidity with cold overnight temps and you have created suboptimal living conditions for a hatchling. You are witnessing decline in eating, decline in weight = a sickly baby.

    Other than the REF you cited, most ppl here on the TFO maintain babies at a minimum ambient 24/7 temp of 80 F or a bit more.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
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  15. Blackdog1714

    Blackdog1714 Well-Known Member

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    A total of 130 captive-hatched tortoises, 64 leopard and 66 spurred tortoises were randomly and evenly divided from their respective clutches into treatment and control groups. The 8- to 10-month-old leopard tortoises were from 4 females housed with 1 male. The juvenile spurred tortoises were from 2 adult pairs. The subject animals ranged in age from 3 to 12 months. This is from the abstract link you provided. A pool of 1 and 2 individual gene pools is too narrow for true research
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  16. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I have board certified vets calling me for tortoise advice on a regular basis. Ask your vets how many semesters on tortoise care they received in vet school. Ask your vets how many side-by-side comparisons with groups of clutchmate tortoises they have done to verify the 75 degree thing and the 3 soaks a week thing. My evidence is not anecdotal. It is based on nearly a decade of first hand work personally raising over 1000 babies this way, and its compared to raising dozens of babies the wrong way for nearly two decades. I've also compared notes with other keepers who've been doing similar work and getting similar results. I'm actually typing this to you from the TTPG conference in Mesa AZ right now. We've been talking about this very subject all day.

    I think most babies will survive on three soaks a week, but daily is better. Babies in a dry enclosure, like yours, will survive 75 degree night temps, but again, humid and 80 is better for them. Multiple side-by-side experiments with groups of clutch mates prove this. Its not my opinion.

    You cannot maintain adequate humidity for a baby in an open topped enclosure in a heated and air conditioned house with a heat lamp. The ambient humidity outside your house and outside the enclosure doesn't matter.

    Looks like moss in one of your hides? I'd remove that. They all try to eat it and it can cause an impaction.

    Regular leopard tortoises are not usually all that into grass, even as a adults. They tend to show a preference for other plants in captivity and in the wild. I'd skip that grass unless you are just adding it for bulk and fiber. Broadleaf weeds, leaves flowers, and succulents as best for a baby leopard.

    Further, I wouldn't take him to a vet. That is likely to do more harm than good. If the vet wants to do a "vitamin injection", calcium injection, or antibiotic injection, you can take that as a clear sign that the vet you've gone to doesn't know tortoises. Many baby tortoise die from this sort of "vet care" administered by vets who think they know what they are doing. No one knows more about tortoise keeping than a tortoise keeper.

    Regardless of all of the above, at that age your tortoise should be somewhere around 300-400 grams. Something is wrong. Most breeders, vets, "experts", sellers, pet store employees, etc... are still parroting the same old wrong info that has been parroted for decades. As a result, most breeders, sellers and brokers, do not care for babies correctly or start them correctly after hatching. This thread will explain in more detail what is most likely going on with your baby. https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/hatchling-failure-syndrome.23493/ In your case, the breeder may have done things right, and the excessive dryness in your enclosure might be the cause.

    By contrast, here is how they should be started.
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-incubate-eggs-and-start-hatchlings.124266/

    Feel free to question any of this. Happy to explain in more detail.
  17. bluewolf

    bluewolf Member

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    I am a new Mommy of a baby Red Footed I named Flash. Had his first vet visit yesterday and that 75 temp was the very lowest it should go per the tortoise vet. I am still working on getting the ideal environment but ‘feel’ he is more comfortable when the cool end is 80 and the warm end is 85-90.

    He likes to sleep a lot too and that seems some from habitat too small and also he likes to interact with people
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  18. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    There's quite a bit of difference between raising redfooted babies and raising leopard babies.
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  19. Gijoux

    Gijoux Active Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Wrong!
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  20. AzDesert

    AzDesert Member

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    If there is ANYONE in this country or even outside this country that knows Leopard torts, it's Tom. I have no words for the amount of experience this gentleman has....it puts any vet clinic to shame. If I EVER had a question or concern about my 3 leopard babies, it would be only from Tom.
    I understand you believe science, but if you care in the slightest about the health and well-being of this baby, why not "humor" all of us that are giving you the most updated advice and experience and at least give it a try??? What do you have to lose really? Obviously what you are doing now doesn't seem to be working, so since you are here asking for help, why not take the advice and see?
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