Mouth open and head bopping after hibernation

Francesco0

New Member
Joined
May 16, 2022
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Italia
My 1 year old Herman's Tortoise is starting (pretty late) to wake up from hibernation. My other two tortoises are a bit letargic but I guess it's kinda normal if we consider that they are waking up just now; but this one in particular keeps opening their mouth while moving their head up and down. It looks like he's having a stroke and I don't really know what to do. He stretches his mouth in order to open it (and he can open it quite well too); I don't think it's an aggressive behaviour because he doesn't show it to me or to the other tortoises.
He's just stretching his mouth after hibernation moving his head up, I don't know if it's normal or not but I'm worried to death please answer as fast as possible.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,169
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
My 1 year old Herman's Tortoise is starting (pretty late) to wake up from hibernation. My other two tortoises are a bit letargic but I guess it's kinda normal if we consider that they are waking up just now; but this one in particular keeps opening their mouth while moving their head up and down. It looks like he's having a stroke and I don't really know what to do. He stretches his mouth in order to open it (and he can open it quite well too); I don't think it's an aggressive behaviour because he doesn't show it to me or to the other tortoises.
He's just stretching his mouth after hibernation moving his head up, I don't know if it's normal or not but I'm worried to death please answer as fast as possible.
Sounds like it could be the onset of a respiratory infection. Bumoing up the heat will likely solve the problem.

This is way too late in the season for them to be waking up. My brumating tortoises woke in March. If your tortoises are outside living in an enclosure with no temperature controlled shelter, and also brumating outdoors on their own, you are likely to have problems.

Here is the correct care info, and it explains outdoor housing and how we can help them:

Even people who live in the native environment have to help the native tortoises in a captive environment. We have the same issue here with California desert tortoises, and people in Africa have the same issues with native species there. Your garden is not the wild, and they need help with temperatures and shelter. Also, even in the native range, many of them don't survive the cruel whims of Mother Nature out in the wild.

Questions are welcome.
 

Francesco0

New Member
Joined
May 16, 2022
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Italia
Sounds like it could be the onset of a respiratory infection. Bumoing up the heat will likely solve the problem.

This is way too late in the season for them to be waking up. My brumating tortoises woke in March. If your tortoises are outside living in an enclosure with no temperature controlled shelter, and also brumating outdoors on their own, you are likely to have problems.

Here is the correct care info, and it explains outdoor housing and how we can help them:

Even people who live in the native environment have to help the native tortoises in a captive environment. We have the same issue here with California desert tortoises, and people in Africa have the same issues with native species there. Your garden is not the wild, and they need help with temperatures and shelter. Also, even in the native range, many of them don't survive the cruel whims of Mother Nature out in the wild.

Questions are welcome.
I'm more than aware that it's far too late to wake them up right now, but what should I do at this point? I'm trying to hydrate them daily and they are now in a worm and hot spot (not the type of "foamin all over their mouth" kind of hot). Do you have any tips or suggestions for these kinds of situations?
 

Francesco0

New Member
Joined
May 16, 2022
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Italia
Even people who live in the native environment have to help the native tortoises in a captive environment. We have the same issue here with California desert tortoises, and people in Africa have the same issues with native species there. Your garden is not the wild, and they need help with temperatures and shelter. Also, even in the native range, many of them don't survive the cruel whims of Mother Nature out in the wild.
Oh also I think I need to specify that they live in their natural mediterranean enviroment, but the weird and unexpected long period of cold in Sicily really slowed down the end of their hibernation. There were day where it was basically summer, other ones where rain was falling endless.
Of course during these times of bad weather I tried my best to limit their possible issues.
 

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
2,304
There's a video I just took of him

This behavior could be from a respiratory problem, but also it could be that something is stuck in its throat. Has the tortoise been eating at all? How about drinking?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,169
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Oh also I think I need to specify that they live in their natural mediterranean enviroment, but the weird and unexpected long period of cold in Sicily really slowed down the end of their hibernation. There were day where it was basically summer, other ones where rain was falling endless.
Of course during these times of bad weather I tried my best to limit their possible issues.
As I said, even in the native environment, they need help when we keep them captive. They need a temperature controlled shelter where you can adjust the heat up or down to control night temps and also give them a warm area on an unseasonably cool day. Such a shelter is detailed in the care sheet that I linked. Then it doesn't matter what the weather does. They can come out and bask on warm sunny days, or they can stay in their box and get warm on cold rainy spring days. We have to do the same sort of thing for our native species here. Everyone every where in the world does.
 

Francesco0

New Member
Joined
May 16, 2022
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Italia
This behavior could be from a respiratory problem, but also it could be that something is stuck in its throat. Has the tortoise been eating at all? How about drinking?
No, sadly he didn't eat at all and is genuinely not even walking around. But again, it may be because he just started to wake up from hibernation.
He's drinking tho, at least I'll soak for about 15 minutes in warm water to see if he'll drink more and he'll manage to clear out his toxins.
 

Francesco0

New Member
Joined
May 16, 2022
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Italia
As I said, even in the native environment, they need help when we keep them captive. They need a temperature controlled shelter where you can adjust the heat up or down to control night temps and also give them a warm area on an unseasonably cool day. Such a shelter is detailed in the care sheet that I linked. Then it doesn't matter what the weather does. They can come out and bask on warm sunny days, or they can stay in their box and get warm on cold rainy spring days. We have to do the same sort of thing for our native species here. Everyone every where in the world does.
Thanks a lot, for real. So do you think it's a good idea to put him in a heavy controlled area, for the moment? Just for the first week I mean, to help him with the heat and hidration.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,169
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Thanks a lot, for real. So do you think it's a good idea to put him in a heavy controlled area, for the moment? Just for the first week I mean, to help him with the heat and hidration.
If you have a large indoor area that you can set up with a heat lamp and also control the night temps from dropping too low, yes, that would be good. What would be better is a thermostat controlled insulated night box that is attached to the current enclosure. They can sleep in it at night and you can keep the night temp where you want it, and on colder overcast days, they can warm up under the heat lamp and keep their digestive and immune systems functioning perfectly when the weather is not so great outside.

We don't want to heat these guys like tropical tortoise species. We just want to moderate the night time low, and give them a warming area if the sun is not shining and its cold during the day. If its a warm sunny day, I don't use the heat lamp at all. The night boxes also keep them safe from nocturnal predators, rodents and insects like ants.
 

Francesco0

New Member
Joined
May 16, 2022
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Italia
If you have a large indoor area that you can set up with a heat lamp and also control the night temps from dropping too low, yes, that would be good. What would be better is a thermostat controlled insulated night box that is attached to the current enclosure. They can sleep in it at night and you can keep the night temp where you want it, and on colder overcast days, they can warm up under the heat lamp and keep their digestive and immune systems functioning perfectly when the weather is not so great outside.

We don't want to heat these guys like tropical tortoise species. We just want to moderate the night time low, and give them a warming area if the sun is not shining and its cold during the day. If its a warm sunny day, I don't use the heat lamp at all. The night boxes also keep them safe from nocturnal predators, rodents and insects like ants.
Thankfully I have all the things that you describes. I'll do as you say, I just need to buy some other requirments to be 100% sure (like I need a new thermostat).
I know I'm bothering and thay you guys are already doing so much but I have so many questions rn:
1) This is my (and their) firs hibernation. How long does it take for them to fully recover from it? When are they starting to eat again or when should I start again to offer them food?
2) Is it okay if, for the moment, I make my indoor enclosure as higyenic and minimalist as possible? Mostly it's for see their behavior properly and for understand their needs better but I may be wrong.
3) Talking about Midir (the tort you've seen in the video); should I immediately take an appointment with the vet or should I wait a bit to see if he's getting better? And if he doesn't show these symptoms again, should I call the vet anyway?
4) I've noticed some kind of mucus inside his mouth. It's something that he can pull off or that I can manually puff off his mouth, is this a part of the respiratory problem or a common problem of after-hibernation?
5) Guys I'm kinda desperate what should I do in general
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,169
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Thankfully I have all the things that you describes. I'll do as you say, I just need to buy some other requirments to be 100% sure (like I need a new thermostat).
I know I'm bothering and thay you guys are already doing so much but I have so many questions rn:
1) This is my (and their) firs hibernation. How long does it take for them to fully recover from it? When are they starting to eat again or when should I start again to offer them food?
2) Is it okay if, for the moment, I make my indoor enclosure as higyenic and minimalist as possible? Mostly it's for see their behavior properly and for understand their needs better but I may be wrong.
3) Talking about Midir (the tort you've seen in the video); should I immediately take an appointment with the vet or should I wait a bit to see if he's getting better? And if he doesn't show these symptoms again, should I call the vet anyway?
4) I've noticed some kind of mucus inside his mouth. It's something that he can pull off or that I can manually puff off his mouth, is this a part of the respiratory problem or a common problem of after-hibernation?
5) Guys I'm kinda desperate what should I do in general
We are all here to talk tortoises, and hopefully to share what we have collectively learned to help other tortoise keepers and their tortoises. You are not bothering anybody. You are talking tortoises on a tortoise forum! :)

Your questions:
1. When done correctly, they are fully recovered from brumation and ready to go again in a few days. Leaving them outside subject to the cruel whims of Mother Nature and the wild temperature fluctuations, can yield results as variable as the weather. Hopefully you can get them recovered and up and running good for this coming summer and fall, and then we can help you set them up right for brumation this coming winter.
2. This is debatable. My inclination is to minimize stress by keeping them in their familiar surroundings and let them enjoy the nice spring weather. Moving them indoors will stress them a lot, but it is a viable option if you can't control the temperatures outside and the weather is not cooperating. We have to choose the best compromise.
3. Vets know little about tortoise care. They often do more harm than good in cases like this. Vets tend to treat the symptoms without addressing and correcting the CAUSE of the sickness. That is futile. We already know the cause of the problem in your case, so if we fix the problem, the symptoms should clear up on their own.
4. Try to wipe it away after a nice warm soak.
5. Soak daily in warm water for 30-40 minutes. Keep the water warm for the entire soak. Get the night temps up whatever way you can, and make sure they can bask under a 36-37C basking lamp during the day, if it is not a warm sunny day outside. Read the care sheet, and look at what you can do differently than what you are doing now. Ask questions about anything you are unsure of.
 

Francesco0

New Member
Joined
May 16, 2022
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Italia
I'll keep dear all of your advices, I'll try to find the best compromise between their mental and physical stress. I'll also do the soaks ofc.
Can I update you about their health in the next weeks? Or in general if there is any general progression or regression about them?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,169
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I'll keep dear all of your advices, I'll try to find the best compromise between their mental and physical stress. I'll also do the soaks ofc.
Can I update you about their health in the next weeks? Or in general if there is any general progression or regression about them?
Please do. If you add an @ symbol in front of a person's user name, it will alert them. Or you can reply to any previous post.
 
Top