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Need help with my baby (soft shell)

Joel C.

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This is my baby. She is 8 months old. Her shell is very soft in the bottom and side. I took her to the vet and they gave her a shot of Vit. A. She doesn't move around anymore and just sits in one spot. In its habitat the warm zone is kept at 95-100 and the cool side is kept at 80-85. We let it go outside during the day and she used to eat the grass. We have been soaking her every three hrs with baby carrots in the warm water. Haven't seen a big change. I'm really concern with the black spot in the bottom. Need help and suggestions how to help her....582580394.jpeg20190530_231258.jpeg
 

buglady

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Have you ever fed her anything for calcium? Ive never seen it myself but i know calcium is an important part of their diet to strengthen their shells
 

Joel C.

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Have you ever fed her anything for calcium? Ive never seen it myself but i know calcium is an important part of their diet to strengthen their shells
Yes I sprinkle calcium on their food and also give liquid calcium in their water. 582659933.jpeg
 

TechnoCheese

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Where did you get this tortoise? This sounds like hatchling failure syndrome. Give this a read-
https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/"Hatchling-Failure-Syndrome".23493/

Also read these-
How To Raise A Healthy Sulcata Or Leopard, Version 2.0 https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/How-To-Raise-A-Healthy-Sulcata-Or-Leopard,-Version-2.0.79895/

For Those Who Have a Young Sulcata... https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/For-Those-Who-Have-a-Young-Sulcata....76744/

Beginner Mistakes https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/Beginner-Mistakes.45180/

For future reference, be sure not to keep your tortoises in pairs. They are solitary animals, and they never do well. That, however, is not the cause of this.

The dark spots are not a good sign. It is usually from the tortoise having to use the calcium from its shell to sustain itself, leaving it transparent and soft. There’s not much left to do but continue what you’re doing, and keep them both very humid (80-100%).
 

Joel C.

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Ok a few questions. First off Thank you for answering my question. If I take her to the vet and get a shot of calcium that will help? Do you think it us in pain? Will it live if I continue to take well care of it. And she is alone now.
 

TechnoCheese

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Ok a few questions. First off Thank you for answering my question. If I take her to the vet and get a shot of calcium that will help? Do you think it us in pain? Will it live if I continue to take well care of it. And she is alone now.
I’m not sure the vet would be of much help. It can actually make it worse. Vitamin shots, for example, can easily cause a tortoise to overdose and often do more harm than good. There could be a chance that it would help, but from what I’ve seen, they usually don’t make it past the plastron becoming dark :(

@Yvonne G or @Tom might be of more help.
 

drew54

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I’m not sure the vet would be of much help. It can actually make it worse. Vitamin shots, for example, can easily cause a tortoise to overdose and often do more harm than good. There could be a chance that it would help, but from what I’ve seen, they usually don’t make it past the plastron becoming dark :(

@Yvonne G or @Tom might be of more help.
Techno is right. The dosage is very hard to get right as most vets just guess at the right amount. Also, is unnecessary.
 

drew54

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Keep soaking and maybe mix in some carrot baby food in with the water for a couple days and see if that helps.
 

Tom

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Hello and welcome.

I see a bunch of problems, so I'll just point them out. My style is just sort of matter-of-fact, so don't take it as an insult. Just short and to the point.


  1. That tank is way too small. Tiny hatchling need at least 40-60 gallons to start in and 100 is better. At 8 months old, you need a 4x8' closed chamber, or something close to it.
  2. No peat moss. They eat it and it can cause an impaction.
  3. No vitamin shots from the vet. Their little systems can't handle it and death is often the result. Same with calcium injections. This is not how you "fix" baby tortoises.
  4. How are you heating and lighting? UV? What type?
  5. Outside all day is not god for babies. It dehydrates them, slows their growth tremendously and causes them to pyramid. My general rule of thumb is an hour of outside time in a safe enclosure per inch of tortoise.
  6. What are you feeding the tortoise?
  7. Baby carrots in the soak water won't do anything. You need to mix in carrot baby food, like the kind for human babies, to get the benefits from it.
  8. Those stick on dial type thermometer/hygrometers are not accurate or reliable. Get a digital one from the hardware store for about $10.
  9. Your baby needs a real humid hide. The open ended half log doesn't do it.
Read the threads that Techno linked for you. All of this and so much more is explained in them.
 

Joel C.

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I think so. I'm in Houston now leaving back home and I'll post pictures and everything. It seams I have to fix a lot of items.
 

Yvonne G

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Vitamin A injections is probably the worst thing that a vet can give to a baby tortoise. I don't know for sure, because I'm not a vet and haven't been through vet school, but my guessing opinion is that they don't know how to figure out the correct dosage for a tortoise and they give them too much. Too much vitamin A causes the skin to slough off.

In your picture of the plastron, that dark band across the middle is showing you a very thin shell with the dark being the innards of the tortoise showing through. There may not be much hope for this baby. This is a pretty severe problem. All you can do is the best you can do. Trying to get calcium to the shell to thicken it up, which means making sure you are using a GOOD UVB light. It would help if you had a UVB meter to be sure your light is putting out the UVB you think it is. Calcium and UVB. But don't fall into the trap of putting too much calcium on the food. They won't eat if you put too much. Use calcium rich greens and just a pinch of calcium powder.
 

dmmj

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At this point a vet visit would waste your money. Your tort will either make it or not. A vet sadly will not make a difference. Sunshine and calcium lightly very lightly sprinkled on the food ( do not use a lot) and the changed listed above is your best shot.
 

Joel C.

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At this point a vet visit would waste your money. Your tort will either make it or not. A vet sadly will not make a difference. Sunshine and calcium lightly very lightly sprinkled on the food ( do not use a lot) and the changed listed above is your best shot.
Yes we have been putting liquid calcium and Gerber baby food (carrots flavor) when we soak her every 3 hrs for now. Keeping the enclosure humid as possible. And I'm useing the following light and sun shine. I have it about 18 inches high and keeps the temperature at 100 degrees, on the timer from 8 am till 10 pm. On the warm side. Screenshot_20190621-134803.jpeg
 

uomeara

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Tom above is right with his points. Main problems are probably lack of calcium, and hi-quality UVB lighting, and possibly lack of consistent warmth to metabolise Vitamin D3. Agree, no vitamin injections, carrot soaks waste of time. And humidity needs to be right. In addition, if your little tortoise seems to recover, an exotics specialist vet may be able to help, but I do agree with members that this is a husbandry issue. You're in the US, I think, but still, I would recommend a sulcata expert to you who runs an excellent facebook group 'Tortoise Life'. Donna Stocking advises vets on husbandry of exotics. Also, you need to learn as much a possible about how to keep tortoises, whose needs are very varied according to species. A good general background resource is Andy Highfield's website 'tortoise trust.org'. I wish you well...
 

Lime pickle

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I really think your little tortoise need some strong UV lighting . Without this the shell and the bones become very soft and He is more likely to get metabolic bone disease. He may already have this .Plenty of heat and weeds like dandelions,clover,plantain will all .help. Good luck and keep us informed . In the meantime try and find yourself a good vet that deals with exotics rather than just an ordinary cat / dog vet.
 

Gijoux

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Tender young Opuntia (Spineless Cactus) is a great source of calcium naturally and properly balanced for phosphorus. Good luck with your little one.
 
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