Red foot isn’t acting right

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Hi guys, I’m gutted to have to be writing this thread, things had been going so well with our red foots upgrade, but there’s a number of things now concerning me with her that I desperately need advice on before we take her to a vet😞

First off I’ll describe in detail exactly how she was kept vs how we are keeping her now, and I’ll include some pics of the current set up.
Her previous viv size was too small for the age and size she is, her owner can’t remember her exact age, he estimated about 16 before, but then that went to 10, but now they think she’s around 12/13, she was being kept in a 4x2, and as per the outdated advice from the pet shop she was from, she had a ‘warmer end’ and a ‘cooler end’ she had a 60watt floodlight and a 100w CHE, the che was on at all times and the floodlight on a timer, though tbh the floodlight was mostly redundant with the CHE, she was about 85 on the warmer end, 80 in the middle and 77/75 on the cooler end, where she had a large cave hide, she would wonder between both ends but 9/10 would sleep under the bulb, I can’t remember the exact UV she had, though I believe is was some sort of exo terra T8 bulb that had definitely ran its course in the last few months she was in there.

Shes being kept on orchid bark in both set ups.

Now her current new viv size is 7x4(I know that’s still too small for an adult red foot, it’s been a long journey and the original plan was a bigger viv upstairs, but with how the stairs are it’s impossible to get anything that big up there, when she was brought all those years ago, it wasn’t considered how much space she was going to need) I know it’s not ideal, but after trying to find a better new home, it was slim pickings and time was running out as her old viv was beginning to fail and rot at the bottom, we’ve had no choice but to provide the best we possibly can for her size wise right now with the 7x4.
So heating wise in this set up, we opted to ditch the floodlight and are using a led strip on a 12hr timer, her UV is aricadia 12% 39w, exactly 18 inches from substrate, I’d ideally like it raised an inch or two, but with everything where it is in the viv it’d be pretty much impossible to do that. Her owner initially wanted to mimic a slight night drop within the viv, so the way it’s set is, there is a 100w nearer on end on its own pluse thermostat, the probe being in the far corner at the back to make sure the whole viv is getting heated, then nearer the other end there’s a 150w on its own pluse thermostat, the probe is nearer the bulb on that one cause we’ve previously experienced the 150’s throwing out a bit too much heat for our liking, and in line with that 150 bulb there is a 100w on its own on/off thermostat, the reason for all the separate thermostats was because the original plan was to have the 150 shut off at night and the 100 in line with it take over, set at an ever so slightly lower temp, but having the 150 off simply caused the 100s to work harder throwing out hot spots and the side all along the glass dropped into the 70’s, with all 3 the heat seemed much better distributed, I wanted to respect her owners wishes for the drop but once I explained about the heat and red foots are ok without a drop he seemed ok having all 3 run 24/7. With those running the temps have been as follows, directly under both bulbs A&B reads about 86, though a lot of the time bulb B isn’t needing to be on, directly under bulb C has been fluctuating between 88-90. In the corner by the box hide nearer the glass side there is a 75-77 zone, not very big, but it’s there should she ever be feeling too warm. The rest of the viv is between 80-86, inside and under the stool hide is 80 and in the cave it fluctuates between 80-82.

All was going well for about the first week of her being in there, she was exploring and using the whole viv, though she was always retreating to the old cave I’ve put in there, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time as I figured it’s probably her comfort blanket and she’s adjusting to a bigger space, she was never chilling out in the open and hasn’t since being put in there, which is unusual for squirt, she was always out in the old one, but again I didn’t think too much of it at first.
Over the following weeks her owner informed me she was becoming far less active, pretty much staying in the cave the whole time, only coming out to eat. Again I put it down to her adjusting. I’ve been here visiting this past week, so took the opportunity to monitor her closely, where I have now flagged up some worrying symptoms, about 5 days ago I noticed one of her eyes was forming tears, squirt has always had slightly wet looking eyes, typical of a tropical tort, however her eye was definitely far wetter than usual, I then noticed she appears to be yawning quite a lot, I’d say about 3/5 times an hour throughout the day, though it’s difficult to say she’s continually doing that every hour as it’s impossible for me to watch her 24/7, but there’s been multiple times now where I’ve sat and watched her do 3 yawns in close succession during the day time, something I’ve not seen her do before, I’d never thought to look at if the inside of her mouth is too pale until a friend of the family who is training to be a vet asked, and to me, the inside of her mouth and tongue does appear quite pale😞the weeping from that one eye has continued and the last two days I’ve noticed it bubble at times😣again just the one eye not both, in case there is something irritating it, we have flushed it with saline yesterday, but it doesn’t seemed to have helped yet. She does appear to breath quick at times, but tbh for the most part her breathing doesn’t seem out of the ordinary, least from what I can see.

Appetite wise I’m pleased to say she’s still eating pretty much everything offered which is encouraging, I’ll include a list of the foods she gets with the rough timings in which she gets them, and two examples of what a typical weeks feed looks like.
Squirt had struggled with diarrhoea for quite some time going back, she definitely hadn’t been digesting properly, we put it down to lack of movement in the small viv, we did however start adding a dried grass mix every now n then to up her fiber, which seemed to work great for a while, they were much more formed, however over this past week her bowel movements seems to be regressing back, some is formed, however it’s been followed by diarrhoea and chunks of food, showing me she’s not digesting properly again, now I know that can be down to other things not just lack of movement, like low temps, too high water content, parasites etc.. temps can’t be the issue here as both methods of measuring are showing me similar results(combometers and temp gun)and all her levels look to be fine in that regard, I’m reducing fruit intake to about 20% over the coming days, hoping that the more greens will bind things back up. But due to her not moving a lot at all I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s causing her digestive issues right now.

Now originally when seeing her eye running I thought maybe the temps were slightly too high for her liking and she was trying to cool down, so as an experiment I lowered the viv by a few degrees, while I did seem to catch her coming out a little more, the difference was marginal and didn’t last long, so I have gone ahead and upped the temps back in the event she is indeed poorly, I’m hoping the warmer temps will help. Humidity wise, is holding into the 90’s, which I don’t know if maybe that’s been a bit too much for her, we struggled with her humidity in the old one so perhaps she not taking the increase well, the old one maintained about 75-80, where as this one has stayed in the 90’s for days.

I’m sorry this has been such a long one but I’ve wanted to be as detailed as possible here. If you click on my content and go onto ‘squirts upgrade’ thread, I’d say the last 2-3 pages are where I’ve noted my concerns this past week, which might give a little more context time wise for anyone willing to advise, everything in that thread mentions all the materials used too, I was so careful researching in that regard so I’d be surprised if there’s anything not appropriate.

Ultimately I’m at an absolute loss for what could have caused her potential sickness aside from perhaps the stress of a big move, but even if that’s the case, everything appears correct in her set up so idk why her symptoms seems to be getting worse, she’s definitely getting less active and that bubbling is so concerning coupled with the yawns😞idk what else to do to help her aside from everything I’m already doing😣I don’t want her to get to the stage of going off her food before having to resort to a exotic vet, which in itself makes me so nervous knowing how outdated some of their treatments can be😞

Any help here would be SO appreciated! Any questions or anything I may have missed with my info please ask away.. I’m so worried about her and feeling incredibly guilty that’s it’s something I’ve possibly done, I pushed so hard for this upgrade but now I’m scared I’ve made her sick somehow😔it’s heartbreaking that all the knowledge I’ve gained isn’t giving the desired results when applied, I’m feeling very frustrated and defeated after such a long journey of getting her right, I was convinced every was spot on, but evidently her behaviour is telling me otherwise😭I’ve also added a few pics of her watery eye😔
 

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Alex and the Redfoot

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That's unfortunately beyond my limited knowledge and experience.

Am I right, that her owner insisted on "every other day" feeding schedule?
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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That's unfortunately beyond my limited knowledge and experience.

Am I right, that her owner insisted on "every other day" feeding schedule?
Not insisted no, but after trying her with every day, her appetite isn’t as strong and she doesn’t eat everything, on that schedule she’s clearing her plate
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Not insisted no, but after trying her with every day, her appetite isn’t as strong and she doesn’t eat everything, on that schedule she’s clearing her plate
It's not a natural schedule for them. I agree that they can't find a carrion or ripe fruit everyday or even every season. And they can skip a day or two without food at all. However, they almost always have some leaves to graze. Everyday feeding with fiber containing foods helps to keep things moving through.

Yet, it's unlikely related to her current condition (maybe only contributing to diarrhea).
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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Not insisted no, but after trying her with every day, her appetite isn’t as strong and she doesn’t eat everything, on that schedule she’s clearing her plate
My tortoise doesn't empty his plate every time either but I still allow him to eat everyday if he wants to, even though it is only small amounts at a time. I do this because I feel that it is more natural and closer to grazing.
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Both fair comments, for what it’s worth this past week I have been to encourage her to come out but I’ll continue to do so, perhaps offering greens on the days we’d usually skip
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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I’ve caught her a few times today, biting at her front leg that’s the same side as the irritated eye, so bizarre😣she certainly hasn’t actually bit into herself or anything, but was kind of pecking at it, grazing it with her beak, very odd behaviour I’ve not seen before!
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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So heating wise in this set up, we opted to ditch the floodlight and are using a led strip on a 12hr timer, her UV is aricadia 12% 39w, exactly 18 inches from substrate, I’d ideally like it raised an inch or two, but with everything where it is in the viv it’d be pretty much impossible to do that.
Since this eye and biting problem seems to be on the side that gets the most UV I would look into these things:

How long is the UV on during the day? Some say 12 hours is too much.
Some recommend using the 6% instead of the 12% for red foots.
Your enclosure should have an area where he can get completely out of the UV light, plus different degrees of shade so he can pick.

Have you measured the UV output at shell level? Red foots belong to Ferguson zone 2, which means Zone range UVI 0.7 – 1.0 (Maximum UVI: 1.1 – 3.0 in basking zone).
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Since this eye and biting problem seems to be on the side that gets the most UV I would look into these things:

How long is the UV on during the day? Some say 12 hours is too much.
Some recommend using the 6% instead of the 12% for red foots.
Your enclosure should have an area where he can get completely out of the UV light, plus different degrees of shade so he can pick.

Have you measured the UV output at shell level? Red foots belong to Ferguson zone 2, which means Zone range UVI 0.7 – 1.0 (Maximum UVI: 1.1 – 3.0 in basking zone).
UV is on about 4 and a half hours, I did look into the 6% but most people here recommend to go with the 12% as it’ll last a lot longer, it’s probably a lot stronger than what she’s been used to, her old one was over a year old and on 12 hrs a day, I knew she was zone 2 but I imagine with the distance currently it could be zone 4😕too strong, so i definitely will turn her hide tomorrow so she’s not facing it, the area with the box hide is darker, we placed the lights so they were further one end.
We unfortunately don’t have meter to measure the UV, they were so expensive when I looked, I’d love to get one but I’m not in the position to myself and her owner has not long spent a lot getting her a new set up, I’d feel bad suggesting we get a meter so close to the new set up, on top of a potential future vet visit😣

Is it possible if it’s all brighter than what she’s used to, it could be discouraging for her to come out? It wouldn’t explain the yawning😕
I also don’t understand why she doesn’t choose to go into the box hide where it’s a lot darker if the light is bothering her during the day? It’s pretty much the same temp as her cave, but maybe it’s because the cave is all she’s really known as a hide idk. She has slept in the box hide one night though so don’t think she dislikes it. Either way I’ll definitely try changing the positioning of her hides, see if it helps😕
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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Yeah it doesn't explain the yawning but might explain the eye, though I am not 100% sure. Just a thought since the eye effected is the one receiving the most UV and red foots have lower UV needs than many other tortoises. But again I am no expert in red foots. You could try turning the UV completely of for a couple of days and see whether there is a change in the eye.
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Yeah it doesn't explain the yawning but might explain the eye, though I am not 100% sure. Just a thought since the eye effected is the one receiving the most UV and red foots have lower UV needs than many other tortoises. But again I am no expert in red foots. You could try turning the UV completely of for a couple of days and see whether there is a change in the eye.
Yeah it would make sense if that’s the eye problem and perhaps it’s too bright for her liking which explains the inactivity maybe, I’ve ordered a dimmer for the leds, I’ve turned her cave for now to see if that helps, she’s also out and tucked herself in the far corner of the viv facing the wall, it’s a little weird where she is but I guess seeing her out is encouraging
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Had the cave facing the other way for the day, her eye is still streaming and the other quite wet, i haven’t noticed any bubbles but they were coming and going so can’t say for sure there’s been none, still been very inactive, sleeping a lot, I sat and watched her for about half hour and counted her do 9 yawns, definitely not normal😞
She did come out to eat again which is good, hasn’t eaten a whole lot today but still had a go at everything.

Still so worried about her😞the dimmer will be here tomorrow so I’ll get that hooked up, but yeah if nothing improves we’re going to have no choice but to contact a vet, which is making me nervous😣
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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What’s odd is aside from the excessive yawning, she doesn’t appear to be breathing heavily or struggling in that regard, it seems quite relaxed for the most part, haven’t seen her do the leg thing today which is good
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Sounds spot on. It looks more and more like a mild RI to me. No chances to bring her flood bulb back? So she can bask if she wants to?
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Sounds spot on. It looks more and more like a mild RI to me. No chances to bring her flood bulb back? So she can bask if she wants to?
Me too, I’m just hoping to see improvements instead of decline soon😣
Considered it, but tbh in the old one it became redundant with the CHE so was barely on most the time, she ‘basked’ under her CHE😕
The only light in there was her old UV, floodlight was very dim 90% of the time
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Improvements can be seen in a few days or week, not overnight. Thinking "at tortoise speed" is always hard :) So keep temperatures as they are now.

Basking bulb on a dimmer is not right :) Without dimmer it provides a clear visual hint that there is a warmer area. Makes sense to try - either she will go out and warm up or will stay in the hide (which means she is fine with the temps).
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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If I’m to try, which bulb would you suggest I replace it with? And can we put it in without being on a thermostat as long as the CHE’s are? Id unplug the LEDs and put the floodlight on the timer instead
If the uv being too strong has contributed to her eye and not wanting to come out, I’m at a loss at what I can do there😣it was so expensive, theres no way they’ll get a new one any time soon which is fair😕
If she continues to stay in her hide most the time, she’s still not going to be moving much which was the goal with the upgrade☹️or getting much UV, I fear her digestive issues will continue😞
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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If I’m being honest though I don’t think temps are the issue, it holds so much better than her old one, so theatrically she should be loving it, the set up is more or less what she had before but on a larger scale, admittedly I think the leds are too bright so wish I’d got the dimmer from the get go😣
And I question whether the 6% would have been the better choice for the UV😕

Still though none of those things would account for some of her symptoms so it’s very puzzling😭
 

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