PH of tortoise urine

jimbojam

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Hi this is regarding my star tortoise whom is about 15yrs old. I tested his urine today and found out that his ph is 5(acidic). Did some research and found that a tortoise urine should be alkaline. My tortoise diet is wheatgrass, mazuri, zoomed grassland and exoterra pellets and chopped hay sprinkle on his wheatgrass. I know should not be feeding too much commercial food but living in my country here i do not have much choice. Am already getting some seeds like roselle, dandelion, clover etc to grow for him but they are not ready to be fed to him yet. So at the moment i can only rely on commercial food or store bought greens which dosen have much variety also. So any idea how come his urine is so acidic since the pellets are also timothy hay based ones?
 

Yvonne G

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jimbojam

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Thks Yvonne.

Some additional information if it helps.
He is super active and eating very well everyday. Pees and poops daily too. He gets direct sun at least 2 days a week and each sunning session is about 30 to 45 mins. I live in a flat so i can only take him out to sun when i am not working. He dosen't use uvb lamps coz he cannot stay in his indoor enclousure as he will focus on climbing out the whole day until he get hurt so i had no choice but to let him roam in my flat. He eats mainly wheatgrass in the daytime and he goes back to his enclosure at night to sleep and eat his pellets. He weigh 905g when i weigh him yesterday.
Hope to have a reply soon. Thks
 

ZEROPILOT

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Just a thought here, so don't take it as science: Do you offer calcium such as cuddlebone?
calcium or more to the point, calcium coral rock added to my fish tanks make the water much more alkaline and it stabilizes that alkalinity for quite a while.
I have never tried to regulate the PH of tortoise urine.
I have a lot of experience with raising fishes.
I'm not sure if there is a connection, but I would guess that there could be.
 

jimbojam

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He is given zoomed calcium with d3 once weekly. So i don think calcium can alkaline his ph. Thks anyway for the thought.
 

HLogic

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Have you calibrated your pH meter (or test strips)? A pH of 5 seems inordinately low.
 

GuyC

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That's sounds too low for the normal components of urine (it's lower than what uric acid alone should be able to do), I therefore would check whether the measurement was accurate (what method was used?). Regardless of that there is to my knowledge not much known of normal pH levels of urine (plant eaters usually have a alkaline urine, and meat eaters acidic, but that's mostly based on mammals) for tortoises, apart from the fact that pH can be diverse and is species dependent (they do mention more alkaline pH measurements), but one of my colleagues may correct me if I'm wrong.
In your post I don't see that there are any other symptoms?
 

jimbojam

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I uses a urine dipstick to test. Everything is in the normal range except the ph is acidic. urine was tested immediately after collection. he always pee in the morning so I put him into a clean and dry container and wait for him to pee then I syringe up the urine with a sterile syringe and tested it immediately. I am worried that with an acidic urine in the long term will cause stones to form easier? Specific gravity was also taken using the refractometry and its 1.009 which shows its quite well hydrated as I found in a website that well hydrated chelonians have specific gravity of 1.003-1.012. Is it correct?
Yesterday I recollected his urine and spin down in the centrifuge before doing the dipstick test to see if there will be a difference. the reading came to a ph of 6 which was still acidic. He has no other symptoms except for the acidic urine. Vet suggested potassium citrate to alkaline the ph but are not sure if there will be any side effect with a long term consumption of it. Any Idea on the potassium citrate? Or suggestion that I could get a more accurate ph reading for tortoise if the urine dipstick is not as accurate?
 

Kapidolo Farms

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Hi this is regarding my star tortoise whom is about 15yrs old. I tested his urine today and found out that his ph is 5(acidic). Did some research and found that a tortoise urine should be alkaline. My tortoise diet is wheatgrass, mazuri, zoomed grassland and exoterra pellets and chopped hay sprinkle on his wheatgrass. I know should not be feeding too much commercial food but living in my country here i do not have much choice. Am already getting some seeds like roselle, dandelion, clover etc to grow for him but they are not ready to be fed to him yet. So at the moment i can only rely on commercial food or store bought greens which dosen have much variety also. So any idea how come his urine is so acidic since the pellets are also timothy hay based ones?

Maybe you could share the source of your "research" and in that an answer can be found.
 

GuyC

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The specific gravity canot be directly interpreted to say that everything is fine (low and high values can both have different meanings), but it could indeed mean that he is well hydrated. From your story I imply that you are using humane dip sticks (which is common in veterinary practice as well), but the pH reading of those is not very specific. Lastly it is my personal opinion that we know very little of the normal range of a whole variety of values when it comes to reptiles, so I would always be looking at these concurrently with the animal as a whole, and as there doesn;t seem to be anything else wrong with your tortoise, I would hesitate to do much more. If your worried about stones you would have seen particles, especially after centrifuging. The potassium citrate treatment is outside of my knowledge, but seems to be derived from mammalian physiology of which I'm unsure whether it would have any effect in a tortoise
 

starsky

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I adopted a female star who is "paralyzed" due to lack of nutrients and care from the previous owner (was give tomato for 7 years of her life), her health has been improving-shell are not so pyramid, still unable to stand but able to use her back legs to push herself around (have been doing water therapy to strengthen her legs). She is eating well now with commercial diets (zoomed, exo terra, mazuri, pretty pets, wheatgrass, hay etc) as there are limited plants in my country. My worry is her urine always have crystals, can see the shiny bits esp when the sun rays shines in. Am unsure if she is lack of hydration that causes it or ? I have tried to soak her as and when I can (at least once every 2 days), as her front head is unable to stretch out to touch the ground, so she is unable to drink water on her own, for food consumption, I have to handfeed her. Any one has any advice on this case what should I try or do to reduce the crystals? BTW she will lay eggs at least 3 times a year...
 

Ferretinmyshoes

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Hi there! As GuyC said, this may not have much true significance. Omnivore tortoises tend to be in the pH range of 5-8 while herbivores tend to be alkaline. More acidic urine is most commonly attributed to hibernation, anorexia, or improper diet. But it sounds like your tort is eating so isn't anorexic, stars don't hibernate, and the diet sounds good. So, no obvious answer. Acidic urine may make him more predisposed to calcium oxalates bladder stones so make sure he is well hydrated and has access to water at all times to counter that. There's no supplement to fix it like in mammals that I'm aware of. Take a few readings on fresh urine as it can vary based on what they've eaten recently. In itself acidic urine isn't a huge concern.
 
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