Russian Tortoise Not Eating

Hobo2

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Mar 29, 2021
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Yo, so me and my Russian tortoise have been buddies since my 5th? birthday when we got her from pet smart 12 years ago. She's never had a issue eating in the past. Always devoured the occasional strawberry and apple.
But more and more in the past month she's started eating less. I've been giving her the normal food, lettuce, kale, collard greens, maybe even more so on the treats but she hasn't touched anything. She drinks plenty, maybe even too much because she'll sit in the bowl of fresh water I clean out daily for 5+ minutes at a time. The basking spot reads about 93 degrees.
Im not sure if this will help any but I took her for a beak trim and the vet mentioned something about her having some shell malformations? a year or two ago I took her to a different vet and they didn't see any sign of this. I'll try and snap a few pictures of her if that will help
I also know pets from petsmart can have health issues.
Thanks for reading, just worried about my buddy
 

Hobo2

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Also I just bought a fresh UVB bulb for her not long ago, that and she has the window view so she gets natural sun as well
 

dawsonpan

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Pictures would definitely be great, of the tortoise and the enclosure. See if @RosemaryDW can help. Hope the situation improves!
 

RosemaryDW

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Welcome! How exciting to have owned a Russian so long!

If you have had your Russian twelve years, whatever may have happened to him at that time is not likely to be the issue now. We talk about pet store issues a lot here because they are problematic for new owners; not because your long-term pet is likely to be at risk.

If your vet isn’t an experienced reptile vet their advice may not be that helpful. I can’t say if that applies to your vet or not, just that it’s pretty common to get poor advice from a “regular” vet.

You can post some pictures of the tortoise as mentioned above so people can give feedback on shell issues but we are as much or more interested in the tortoise setup as that’s more often the cause of problems than food.

The water thing sounds “weird” to me but I’m no expert at that kind of thing. Let’s see what others have to say on that.
 

ZenHerper

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Has her size changed much in the years you've had her? Pet stores carry predominantly wild-caught Russians...so there is no real way to know her actual age.

Russians should not eat fruit...the high sugar content can damage the kidneys over time.

Sun through a window will not add any uvb radiation since modern windows are built to filter out this, and other, human cancer-causing rays.

We really need a good set of photos of your pet and the habitat. Some photos of the uvb bulb you have started using would be most helpful as well. What are the exact temperatures on the ground away from the basking site?

Since she is drinking for you: find some spinach, and/or green bean baby food puree ("strained" or Stage 1). Mix it with the water so that she is getting some nutrients and calories. Use it very dilute to make sure she will take it. If she's drinking a lot, she needs the water...replenish it as it empties.
 

Hobo2

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Hey thanks for the replies, to tease us she decided to have the photoshoot done in her feeding bowl haha. And also another one of her drinking,
The vet that talked about the shell malformations wasn't her normal vet so I wasn't sure about the legitimacy of it unless you guys see something.

She was definitely smaller when I first got her, not crazy small but I can't exactly remember.
Very glad to hear about pet stores not effecting long term illnesses. I'm want to have my little buddy around when I'm 50! haha
Good idea with the baby food I'll pick some up from the store tonight.

Her enclosure is 8ftx4ft I think, I made it for her 3 or 4 years ago
Temp is more towards 95ish right at her spot and maybe a foot away is 80.
Not impressed with this uvb bulb its a new kind I decided to tryout and it doesn't seem to get as bright as the other ones I've had.
 

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ZenHerper

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Great!

The coil uvb bulbs became popular because they are: 1 - compact; 2 - cheaper.

However, they do product a laser-like beam of radiation that can damage the corneas. Turn that bulb off and see how she responds over the next week.

The old-style long tubes are still safer and more effective. There are some lively discussion in the Lighting sub-forum if you want to do a deeper dive into uvb radiation sources.

Her carapace does have some pyramding to it...this is what happens when the new shell material hardens too fast in an overly-dry environment. Adding water to the substrate under the primary heat bulb will help make the air around her more humid and make it easier to breathe and grow new shell.

I'm concerned that the substrate you are using contains perlite pellets (the white bits)...perlite is a gardening soil additiive that is hydrophillic (it attracts water molecules). That feature is great for house plants in pots, but the perlite pellets can stick to the sides of the intestines and cause serious problems, even blockages and tears. Plain fir bark chips work really great - if kept uniformly moist, your tort can burrow into them and walk over their surface very easily.

Couple of tweaks. This is the Russian sub-forum:

This is the Lighting sub-forum:

Let us know if you have follow-up questions!

She's a real beauty. =))
 

Hobo2

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Sorry for the late reply, the substrate is pure soil mixed with a few bags of sand, the white bits are just unground rocks from the sand I guess haha. I'll make sure to change that out soon though for the bark just to make sure.
Would a spray bottle of water work? how often would you recommend I wet the area?
Again thanks for all the help! I'll update you guys soon to see how the baby food idea is going
 

ZenHerper

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Sprayed water puts humidity into the air temporarily. Wetting the entire substrate through, then keeping it replenished best replicates the conditions found in the ground where animals live. The larger volume of water in the substrate will then evaporate upward, past your pet's nose and carapace where the moisture is needed.

The area under heat bulbs evaporates and dries most, so those are the places to replenish most often.
 
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