New Russian Tortoise has Pinworms

Bri1564

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Hey everybody,

I got a Russian tortoise (her name is Pumpkin) a little over 2 weeks ago and she had her first vet appointment the other day. They tested her fecal sample, and she came back positive for pinworms. However, the vet is saying that no treatment is necessary and to keep an eye on her poop. I am concerned because I want her to be healthy, but overall she is super active and outgoing and has a great appetite. Should I be worried about the vet not wanting to treat her?
 

Blackdog1714

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Hey everybody,

I got a Russian tortoise (her name is Pumpkin) a little over 2 weeks ago and she had her first vet appointment the other day. They tested her fecal sample, and she came back positive for pinworms. However, the vet is saying that no treatment is necessary and to keep an eye on her poop. I am concerned because I want her to be healthy, but overall she is super active and outgoing and has a great appetite. Should I be worried about the vet not wanting to treat her?
She can back positive but did they give a worm count? Can you see them in her poop?
 

Blackdog1714

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This is originally from @Markw84
Your tortoise is simply reinfecting himself as pinworms are a direct lifecycle parasite. Eggs in the feces are ingested as the tortoise drinks water where he has pooped or from food the picks up contamination from substrate or the food dish. I like to see a 3 treatment regimine or even 4 when the load is heavy and until you get a clean fecal test. The worms in your tortoise will lay eggs and those eggs can be present and take up to 2-3 weeks to hatch. So an initial treatment of Panacur will kill the adult and larval worms, but not the eggs present. They may then hatch just after a second treatment 2 weeks later - so you will have a new batch of worms going!

I recommend treating with Panacur and then cleaning the enclosure and changing the substrate completely. Keep really good hygine and soak the tortoise daily to encourage as much poop in the bath and much less in the enclosure. Be sure to pick up any that does happen in the enclosure, and wash food an water dishes well before feeding each day. Be real careful for especially the next 3-4 weeks. Some vets prescribe weekly doses of Panacur for up to 4 weeks. I like 3 treatments 2 week apart. Panacur is quite safe and has a proven extremely wide safety margin.
 

Bri1564

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Thank you for the advice! I am going to get in touch with my vet again next week to see if she will reconsider treatment. In the meantime, I will be even more careful cleaning her enclosure and soaking her everyday.
 

Markw84

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Hey everybody,

Should I be worried about the vet not wanting to treat her?

I will add that in addition to the advice quoted by @Blackdog1714 above, I often recommend not treating for pinworms. Many consider pinworms a natural part of the gut flora of many tortoise species. However, if you see slower growth or other signs like lethargy then a fecal test and egg count to determine the load would be advised. If the load is high, then treatment is needed.

As mentioned in my quote above, since pinworms are direct life-cycle parasites, good husbandry practices are important to avoid developing a higher than "normal" load of pinworms. Most reptiles in the wild carry parasites that are not a problem as they are not confined and re-infecting themselves. In captivity, and in particular when a group is being housed together, it is very easy for constant re-infection and for loads to become unhealthy.
 

Bri1564

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I will add that in addition to the advice quoted by @Blackdog1714 above, I often recommend not treating for pinworms. Many consider pinworms a natural part of the gut flora of many tortoise species. However, if you see slower growth or other signs like lethargy then a fecal test and egg count to determine the load would be advised. If the load is high, then treatment is needed.

As mentioned in my quote above, since pinworms are direct life-cycle parasites, good husbandry practices are important to avoid developing a higher than "normal" load of pinworms. Most reptiles in the wild carry parasites that are not a problem as they are not confined and re-infecting themselves. In captivity, and in particular when a group is being housed together, it is very easy for constant re-infection and for loads to become unhealthy.
Great thank you for the help!
 
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