Russian Tortoise not Eating for Months Now

GreenFire719

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Hey guys, my Russian tortoise Zonder has been on a food strike for almost 3 months now, only eating little bites of food here and there. I took him to the exotic vet twice now and they can’t find anything wrong with him (fecal clean, clear lungs, very active). He’s in a 6’ by 2’ enclosure with a mercury vapor bulb (75 watt I think) for UVB and basking spot. He basks under there every day and will make his daily laps around the tank, even digging some in his topsoil. The temp range is 95 in the hot spot, 75 in the cool zones. Humidity stays around 60% (he’s in a sun room with lots of plants). He gets a soak everyday and will expel urates and some fecal (not a lot) whenever he soaks. We have tried cactus, escarole, collards, grass and fresh weeds, mazuri, even junk food like peppers, fruit, and carrots (he hates junk food though so I don’t know what to expect).

What do you guys think I should do? I’m gonna start doing baby food soaks in the meantime but do you think maybe it’s a tortoise breeding season thing? He is 10 years old but I’ve never seen him try to mate with anything. I’m also going to try this tortoise salad dressing on his greens from nature zone to see if I can get him to eat then. If possible, I want to avoid a feeding tube since he is in great shape otherwise. Please give me some advice!
 

MichaelL

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Hey guys, my Russian tortoise Zonder has been on a food strike for almost 3 months now, only eating little bites of food here and there. I took him to the exotic vet twice now and they can’t find anything wrong with him (fecal clean, clear lungs, very active). He’s in a 6’ by 2’ enclosure with a mercury vapor bulb (75 watt I think) for UVB and basking spot. He basks under there every day and will make his daily laps around the tank, even digging some in his topsoil. The temp range is 95 in the hot spot, 75 in the cool zones. Humidity stays around 60% (he’s in a sun room with lots of plants). He gets a soak everyday and will expel urates and some fecal (not a lot) whenever he soaks. We have tried cactus, escarole, collards, grass and fresh weeds, mazuri, even junk food like peppers, fruit, and carrots (he hates junk food though so I don’t know what to expect).

What do you guys think I should do? I’m gonna start doing baby food soaks in the meantime but do you think maybe it’s a tortoise breeding season thing? He is 10 years old but I’ve never seen him try to mate with anything. I’m also going to try this tortoise salad dressing on his greens from nature zone to see if I can get him to eat then. If possible, I want to avoid a feeding tube since he is in great shape otherwise. Please give me some advice!
That's strange... Can you send some pics of him and the enclosure just in case anything catches my eye that might be the problem. The enclosure sounds good though.. I would try feeding romaine, specifically the white core part. Mine will never refuse those. It's also good that he is still active and basking. I don't think it's a breeding season thing, that really doesn't affect their feeding behavior.
 

wellington

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Be sure you are reading temps with a reliable thermometer. Those puck like things the pet stores sell are junk. If his basking spot is not really as hot as you say, should be 95-100 then they can not digest their food properly and will not eat.
Can you put him outside? They do much better when living outside. Being in a sun room and not being able to actually get outside may be depressing him. If you can't move him out, then maybe try moving him out of the sun room and into just a regular room.
 

maggie3fan

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Be sure you are reading temps with a reliable thermometer. Those puck like things the pet stores sell are junk. If his basking spot is not really as hot as you say, should be 95-100 then they can not digest their food properly and will not eat.
Can you put him outside? They do much better when living outside. Being in a sun room and not being able to actually get outside may be depressing him. If you can't move him out, then maybe try moving him out of the sun room and into just a regular room.
Hey guys, my Russian tortoise Zonder has been on a food strike for almost 3 months now, only eating little bites of food here and there. I took him to the exotic vet twice now and they can’t find anything wrong with him (fecal clean, clear lungs, very active). He’s in a 6’ by 2’ enclosure with a mercury vapor bulb (75 watt I think) for UVB and basking spot. He basks under there every day and will make his daily laps around the tank, even digging some in his topsoil. The temp range is 95 in the hot spot, 75 in the cool zones. Humidity stays around 60% (he’s in a sun room with lots of plants). He gets a soak everyday and will expel urates and some fecal (not a lot) whenever he soaks. We have tried cactus, escarole, collards, grass and fresh weeds, mazuri, even junk food like peppers, fruit, and carrots (he hates junk food though so I don’t know what to expect).

What do you guys think I should do? I’m gonna start doing baby food soaks in the meantime but do you think maybe it’s a tortoise breeding season thing? He is 10 years old but I’ve never seen him try to mate with anything. I’m also going to try this tortoise salad dressing on his greens from nature zone to see if I can get him to eat then. If possible, I want to avoid a feeding tube since he is in great shape otherwise. Please give me some advice!

No fruit ever. Read up on this...even tho you have had him for a long time, something for him is off. I might suggest you go over ever thing anbout his care and make sure you are spot on.

 

GreenFire719

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Sorry, have not been getting any notifications for this thread. Here’s his enclosure, he made a big mess of it lol. I use an infrared heat gun to check the temps from time to time. Zonder is definitely a boy, he flashes me when he excretes waste. He has not been around other tortoises. I do not feed fruit to him often if ever because one he does not like junk food and two I know it’s very bad for him. He currently lives at my boyfriend’s house so I don’t have too much control over what they do with him unless I’m there. They take him out for an hour at a time outside and soak him everyday. He doesn’t eat the top soil, I’ve never seen him do it nor does he have soil in his poop. He also doesn’t eat anything outside, although he has access to grass, clovers, and dandelions. I’m in the middle of planning to build him an outdoor enclosure right now that way he out there full time. He’s just been taking a couple of bites of his food every day and making small poops everyday. I think I’m gonna bring him to the exotic vet again and see what they say. I don’t want to give him a feeding tube but will of absolutely necessary.
E86CFF6A-0E14-46F1-9D84-3D5168683B0B.jpeg
 

Sarah2020

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Try fresh green leaves washed in water served on washed clean dish. Removed at around 18.00 replenished in the morning daily. They are geazers so will sniff and eat walk away and return back later.
 

KarenSoCal

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Well, first and foremost, his enclosure is too small, and there is enough 'furniture' that he can't walk easily around his perimeter. He needs to be able to walk to digest his food. His enclosure should be at least 8' x 4', and bigger if possible.

Being on the floor is not ideal. Temps are much colder on the floor, and it tends to be draftier down there. If you don't have a table, Walmart carries 4 or 6 ft folding tables. It's OK if the enclosure is a bit bigger than the table.

We don't recommend MVB's. Here's a post by an extremely knowledgeable keeper:

Problem with MVB, by Tom
Problems with MVBs:
1. They run too hot for a closed chamber, which is what you should be using.
2. They cause too much carapace desiccation which causes pyramiding.
3. They are fragile and break easily.
4. They are temperamental sometimes and shut themselves off for 20 minutes at a time.
5. They are expensive.
6. Their UV output runs from one extreme to the other. Some produce way too much UV, and other produce none at all after two or three months.

What we do recommend is this:
Put an ordinary incandescent flood light bulb in your wire fixture. Hopefully you can buy these in your local hardware store. If you can't, try ordering them from Amazon. I'd try a 65 watt. It has to say 'incandescent' on the package. You don't want an 'equivalent', or 'LED', or 'energy saving'...these bulbs only produce light, but no heat. Reptile basking bulbs are also no good, since the majority of them are 'spot' bulbs. They narrow the light and heat into a small 'spot', which dessicates the shell and can actually burn the shell. And the ones with UVB are the worst...some of them burn the corneas of the tort's eyes, causing great pain.

GE Incandescent Flood Light Bulbs, BR30 Flood Lights, 65-Watt, 610 Lumen, Medium Base, Soft White, 2-Pack, Indoor Flood Light Bulbs, Recessed Light Bulbs for Indoors https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000HJ73PO/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

Then, for UVB, you would need a fluorescent tube type bulb and fixture. However, you said he is taken outside for an hour daily. As long as he gets an hour outside with access to unfiltered sunshine twice a week, he doesn't need indoor UVB. Since your winters are fairly short where you live, you might not need it over the winter either.
 

Yvonne G

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What foods are you offering? If you're not giving him the kinds of foods he was given at his previous home, he may not recognize that what you're offering is edible.

We normally don't encourage people to use iceburg lettuce, however, your tortoise's food strike calls for desperate measures. Get some iceburg lettuce and chop it up a bit. Add it to his feeding station and spritz it with water. If he'll eat that, then slowly, over time, you can add more healthful foods, decreasing the iceburg.

Also, getting him out under the real sun does wonders for their mental health. (Could your UVB bulb be too old to be putting out UVB anymore? They usually only put out UVB for six months or so.)
 

GreenFire719

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What foods are you offering? If you're not giving him the kinds of foods he was given at his previous home, he may not recognize that what you're offering is edible.

We normally don't encourage people to use iceburg lettuce, however, your tortoise's food strike calls for desperate measures. Get some iceburg lettuce and chop it up a bit. Add it to his feeding station and spritz it with water. If he'll eat that, then slowly, over time, you can add more healthful foods, decreasing the iceburg.

Also, getting him out under the real sun does wonders for their mental health. (Could your UVB bulb be too old to be putting out UVB anymore? They usually only put out UVB for six months or so.)
He was eating these fruit flavored pellets before I got him, but easily went to collards after I got him. I’ve had him for about 2 years now and never had this problem with him. He was always so easy to feed and ate readily. His staples are collard, turnip, chicory, or dandelion leaves topped with mazuri or lugarti pellets.

My bulb is only 2 months old, I had just replaced it. I know MVB aren’t recommended typically, but it works wonders for my turtle for a basking spot when it’s in an open cage fixture like it’s in.

About his enclosure, yes I know it’s small but this is the best I can provide him with until I can get his outdoor enclosure done. He gets walked outside daily for about an hour when weather is permitting and will be let to walk in my boyfriend’s house when weather doesn’t cooperate. He’s very active and is able to do laps in his enclosure for right now so it’s not my main concern, eating is.

Im gonna suggest to him to put him in a container on top of the washing machine just in case he’s stopped up and that’s why he isn’t eating. I will update and let you know if that helps.
 

GreenFire719

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After STILL not eating, brought him back to the vet to get his X-ray done to look for blockages. Nothing showed up on his X-ray and he even pooped on the vet as a bonus lol. Here’s his X-ray, nothing significant shown beyond that white splotch which the vet said he was not concerned about (said it was most likely the little bit of food he ate). He does eat a few bites if he’s hand fed but otherwise won’t touch food. He’s lost 60 grams since his last checkup (about a 10% body mass reduction) but isn’t in a bad weigh range yet. The vet and I both concluded that he’s not stopped up nor is he sick in anyway since he’s so active, alert, and no ill signs of health upon examination. I don’t know if he’s in torty heat or what but the vet said it’s possible his testosterone levels are wack. Our next steps would be to do blood work and look for anything there, but even the vet is confused because he’s one of the healthiest tortoises he’s seen. Anyone else have experience in their tort going off food to find a mate? B7F09D9A-D167-45D4-BD5E-13B4B110FCBB.jpeg
 

GreenFire719

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So after going to the vet, they gave him a vitamin shot and that seemed to stimulate his appetite, cause now he’s back to eating a normal amount again. Thank you guys for the help!
 
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