Russian Tortoise is sick

Ponera

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I have had my male Russian tortoise for around 14 years. He was about 5 when I got him, so he's somewhere around 20. In that time, he does try to brumate but I don't change the day/night cycle etc. He just kinda slows eating and sleeps more for a few months, no biggie. The basking temps are around 100F, lower temps are whatever they are ambiently from 70F and up. He's never had a problem with basking in the 14 years I've had him. In fact, nothing has changed in his diet, lighting, tank etc etc in 14 years. I use sunglo mercury vapour for his basking light, it has worked great. Substrate varies. At the time this started it was dry dirt, but that has been changed to wood bark.

This year, thanks to the heat dome that came through, he brumated in the fall and woke up in December. That is kinda odd, but he was healthy otherwise. Then in March/April he began "brumating" again with less basking, less eating and less activity. I thought it was odd, but rolled with it for a few months. After a few months of not really eating, I turned up the temps by a few degrees and he began foaming at the mouth because he was overheating. I rapidly cooled him and got him some electrolytes directly in the mouth, as well as electrolyte bath (I used diluted Gatorade, it was night nothing was available and it worked great.)

We took him to the vet. This wasn't a specialist vet, the only specialist vet is backed up two months for appointments. So we found one that has experience with tortoises. She said he is in fantastic shape, we did a great job trimming his beak this spring (he was a rescue and doesn't like trimming his upper beak no matter what we try.) No sign of the shell rot he had when I got him. Solid shell, good muscle tone, no sign of lung issues and he is alert and grouchy as russians can be. She said he is dehydrated from not eating much and prescribed antibiotics and daily baths. It has been a few weeks of antibiotics and baths, but he is still not really interested in food. When he is interested, it has to be his idea- he won't really mess with food if we put him next to it. We've used a needleless syringe to get some sugarless baby food in his mouth (basically puree veggies.) Gonna try taking him outside to see if he wants to graze. He likes scooting about and smelling like 100 flowers before settling on a specific one to eat.

I suspect maybe he has had issues with his jaw because he doesn't ever trim it himself (he does the lower one just fine), but there is no sign of mouth rot when he does open up. Everything looks great! So maybe it's an infection, maybe something went wrong with the trimming (we used a foredom in short bursts, vet said it looks good.)

We have a follow up next month with the vet, she said it could take months of antibiotics to get him feeling better. Anyone with any similar experiences?
 

wellington

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Stop the antibiotics. That is for infections not because he is not eating. Did she do blood work? What us her justification of giving a drug when there is no sign of needing one? I wouldn't go back to that vet. She sounds like a quack.
If he is even dehydrated then daily soaks should help, a low sided water dish, clay plant saucer that he can fit into and feed him some romain or head lettuce mixed into his regular diet which is what?
You mentioned a tank? A tank is not big enough for an adult Russian. They need a minimum of a 4x8foot enclosure as an adult. Tortoises do everything slow and this includes showing affects of bad housing. Having proper room to roam helps keep the inside moving.
Oh and antibiotics make most tortoises not want to eat. Opposite of what you are trying to get fixed.
@Yvonne G might have more help
 

Ponera

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Oh it's a huge tank. Thing takes like 3 people to move. Not really a worry for enough space and I think when we move in September or October he could end up with his own human-sized bedroom (that's the plan right now, anyways.) I do like the glass walls because he has a history of going vertical, even when it's a 2 foot wall, and escaping. I have no idea how his tiny body and anatomy even allows for it.

His regular diet is grassland tortoise food from zoomed which is timothy hay based with low phosphorus calcium powder. He also gets a lot of fresh veggies, most of which are lower in protein and sugars (except for rare treats.) We try to avoid iceberg lettuce and give a nice mix. He has been getting 2x daily soaks since the dehydration, which has fallen to one soak per day as his eyes became less sunken.

He has a note on his file for being non-cooperative, so getting blood woulda required knocking him out. With everything going on with him, both the vet and I agreed that sedation was probably not the best way to go. At the time he was still quite dehydrated, so a few days unconscious was deemed dangerous. So broad spectrum antibiotics were given to make sure it wasn't an infection of some kind. Pretty standard and reasonable.
 

mark1

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it's summer ,you should set him up outside if possible , it's easy , not expensive , when done right , there are a lot less mistakes to be made ......... i keep stuff that hibernates , if i bring them in from outside in the winter , they don't "try to hibernate" ........
 

wellington

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Oh it's a huge tank. Thing takes like 3 people to move. Not really a worry for enough space and I think when we move in September or October he could end up with his own human-sized bedroom (that's the plan right now, anyways.) I do like the glass walls because he has a history of going vertical, even when it's a 2 foot wall, and escaping. I have no idea how his tiny body and anatomy even allows for it.

His regular diet is grassland tortoise food from zoomed which is timothy hay based with low phosphorus calcium powder. He also gets a lot of fresh veggies, most of which are lower in protein and sugars (except for rare treats.) We try to avoid iceberg lettuce and give a nice mix. He has been getting 2x daily soaks since the dehydration, which has fallen to one soak per day as his eyes became less sunken.

He has a note on his file for being non-cooperative, so getting blood woulda required knocking him out. With everything going on with him, both the vet and I agreed that sedation was probably not the best way to go. At the time he was still quite dehydrated, so a few days unconscious was deemed dangerous. So broad spectrum antibiotics were given to make sure it wasn't an infection of some kind. Pretty standard and reasonable.
No not standard and reasonable. It's a tortoise. If she knew what she was doing with a tortoise she could have gotten blood without knocking him out. I would not go back to that vet.
Also stop the veggies and any fruit. They can't handle fruit. The diet needs to be dark leafy tort safe weeds or grocery greens.
There is no tank, unless custom ordered that is big enough for an adult Russian. They need a minimum of a 4x8 foot is it that big? They roam a lot of ground in the wild. Just because they are small doesn't mean they can do well in a too small a space.
Read the caresheet under the Russian section. Changes are needed and a better vet needs to be found or just improving his diet and home may all be what is needed.
 

TaraMaiden

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Are you a veterinarian?
Are you?
I'm not sure whether that was a genuine question based on curiosity, or whether you were being placidly confrontational... But you came here for help and advice. Wellington has 10 years+ and knows what they're talking about. They're also a Moderator, and a sound knowledge base is a requirement. I'd also invite @Tom to give input because that guy is a Maestro when it comes to tortoises. He has the added benefit of having a wife whose career is in science, so if he ever needs scientific back-up, she's probably invaluable.

Take it as read.
If Welington is telling you something is amiss - you can probably bet he knows EXACTLY what he's talking about.

And FWIW? I personally would never keep an animal with a roaming range of several miles, in a downtown third floor apartment.
Just saying.
 

Lyn W

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Hi and welcome,
Sorry your tort is having problems but sadly when vets don't know what's wrong they tend to give antibiotics or vitamins shots without getting to the source of the problem, which can do more harm than good and reduce appetite. Members here with decades of experience, some of whom do have medical knowledge and been involved in research often know more than vets on how to treat specific problems which is why this website is a godsend for most of us.
This is the up to date caresheet you need for your tort which covers rearing babies, but there is a lot of information about diet and living conditions etc which will help you with an older tort
If you follow the advice on that and any members give you then hopefully your tort should recover.
 

Ponera

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Not sure how to directly quote, but I'll make do.

TaraMaiden: I am not a vet. The reason I asked is because the advice that Wellington is desperate me to discard is from a vet. Gives his random internet persona more gravitas if he was though, wouldn't it? As for my experience, I'm at 14+ with tortoises and 20+ with reptiles, and a biology degree with focus on reptiles. Does that match the "moderator" qualification and wife in science qualification? For the record, my career is in paleontology, so that should adequately match the wife in science qual. I took your advice and upgraded my tortoises enclosure to 40 square kilometers. Invaluable.

Lyn W: Does their "research" include conclusion shopping on the googles? Would take an awful lot to know more than a vet.

Since coming here I've seen nothing but comments about disregarding vets, trying to assert knowledge matching vets (or exceed), flexing about how long someone has kept reptiles (remember: 10+ > 14/20), told to stop feeding vegetables to a tortoise (leafy greens are vegetables, brainlord), desperate claims that a huge tank, sufficient for 14 years, is not equivalent to many square miles, had education flex attempts and been informed that a moderator status on an internet forum is of greater value than a vets opinion.

For the record, my ask of this group was: Anyone with any similar experiences? And not: Please climb up my *** and take up residence with half baked, conclusion shopped ideas and links to the care sheet you wrote yourself. If I wanted misinterpreted reptile medical information I could hit myself in the head with a hammer and then read my reptiles and medicine textbook.

Never change, reptile community. You should rename this website to dunningkruger.com. You can delete my account.
 
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Tom

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Not sure how to directly quote, but I'll make do.

TaraMaiden: I am not a vet. The reason I asked is because the advice that Wellington is desperate me to discard is from a vet. Gives his random internet persona more gravitas if he was though, wouldn't it? As for my experience, I'm at 14+ with tortoises and 20+ with reptiles, and a biology degree with focus on reptiles. Does that match the "moderator" qualification and wife in science qualification? For the record, my career is in paleontology, so that should adequately match the wife in science qual. I took your advice and upgraded my tortoises enclosure to 40 square kilometers. Invaluable.

Lyn W: Does their "research" include conclusion shopping on the googles? Would take an awful lot to know more than a vet.

Since coming here I've seen nothing but comments about disregarding vets, trying to assert knowledge matching vets (or exceed), flexing about how long someone has kept reptiles (remember: 10+ > 14/20), told to stop feeding vegetables to a tortoise (leafy greens are vegetables, brainlord), desperate claims that a huge tank, sufficient for 14 years, is not equivalent to many square miles, had education flex attempts and been informed that a moderator status on an internet forum is of greater value than a vets opinion.

For the record, my ask of this group was: Anyone with any similar experiences? And not: Please climb up my *** and take up residence with half baked, conclusion shopped ideas and links to the care sheet you wrote yourself. If I wanted misinterpreted reptile medical information I could hit myself in the head with a hammer and then read my reptiles and medicine textbook.

Never change, reptile community. You should rename this website to dunningkruger.com. You can delete my account.
What you don't understand is hurting your tortoise. There is no semester on tortoise care and husbandry in vet school, and vets regularly make mistakes that make things worse and/or kill tortoises, based on ignorance and misdiagnosis. We just had a case here of a vet that prescribed Ivermectin to a tortoise. Even our less experienced members here know that Ivermectin is toxic to tortoises, but that vet didn't. Vets are just people. Going through vet school doesn't mean they know how to care for tortoises.

If you want help solving your tortoise's problems, I am still offering in spite of your disrespectful attitude. If you wish to continue being unpleasant and disagreeable, your tortoise will suffer for it. And that is a shame.
 

tortlvr

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Maybe I missed a reply. The mercury vapor bulb is hazardous for your little guy. An incandescent bulb is best for basking. Just a helpful hint for healthy futures. Let's chill and breath.
 

William Lee Kohler

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Tom and Wellington are two of our most experienced and knowledgable folks here and are giving you GOOD advice. You need a verified exotic reptile qualified Vet. I hope your tortoise comes out of his funk. Also MV bulbs are bad for your tortoise.
 

TaylorTortoise

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gatorade baths... should never be used for animals. Putting the animal in warm water soaks and eating the correct diet will help.
 

Snoopy’s mom

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Are you a veterinarian?
Go back to FaceBook if you feel like arguing. This forum is all about helping people help their tortoises - you asked for advice and just because you didnʻt like the answer you got obnoxious. Maybe you were the one drinking.
 
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