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Russian Tortoise yawning a lot

FomTarro

New Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2019
Messages
11
Location (City and/or State)
Maynard, MA
Hello.

Our Russian Tortoise yawns a lot. At first we thought it was cute, but now that we've noticed she does it sometimes 3 or more times after waking up, we're beginning to worry, as parents do. Today she yawned 6 times in short succession after leaving her hide, prompting me to post here.

We've read that excessive yawning can be a symptom of respiratory infections, but all the other symptoms described (appetite loss, weight loss, nasal discharge, swollen eyes) are unarguably not present. I check her eyes and nose for blockages every time I pick her up. I can feel her breathing through her nose. She is constantly looking for more food and has gained weight since we first got her. In these respects she seems healthy. She also only seems to yawn after emerging from her hide, not during her adventures around the house. We're just concerned because she does it so much.

Her enclosure is kept at at around 72F most of the day, with a sunlamp providing a basking space that reaches well over 90F during the day. Humidity fluctuates between 25% and 60% depending on if we've just sprayed her pen down or not.

Here is an example of the behavior. Seems like normal yawning to me, but I am always compelled to worry about her.

 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
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Because tortoises only breathe through their nose, when you see the occasional mouth-gaping it usually means his nose is plugged up. Maybe a respiratory infection???

You can buy small squirt bottles of sterile saline solution at the pharmacy in the contact lens department and squirt a firm squirt up each nostril. Don't worry about getting it into his lungs, as the other end of the nostrils is in the roof of his mouth (hence the reason why they don't breathe through their mouth).

After looking at your video, it does indeed look as if he's only yawning. Is the appetite ok? Maybe there's nothing to worry about. Just watch to make sure he doesn't go off his feed.
 

FomTarro

New Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2019
Messages
11
Location (City and/or State)
Maynard, MA
Would nostrils be visibly plugged if that were the issue? As mentioned, I check her eyes and nose frequently, and have never observed any kind of blockage. In addition I am often able to feel breath from her nose when doing this, and the other typical symptoms of respiratory infection do not seem present whatsoever.

Is it possible that the inside of her hide where she sleeps+buries herself is just too dry, so she's getting substrate dust (coco coir) in her nose only after emerging? This would explain why she only seems to do this behavior after getting up, but not during bath time or other romps. If she was constantly having difficulty breathing from an infection I'd imagine she'd need to stop to gasp pretty frequently while walking around.

We already soak her pretty frequently, usually about twice a week, as you described.
 

FomTarro

New Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2019
Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
Maynard, MA
I mean, that's what this site is for, right? Torts can communicate their needs and feelings even less than newborn human toddlers, so...
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
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10 Year Member!
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Jan 23, 2008
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83,145
Location (City and/or State)
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I mean, that's what this site is for, right? Torts can communicate their needs and feelings even less than newborn human toddlers, so...
You're right to be concerned. But I really don't think this is anything to be concerned about. Just keep track and if he goes off his feed, then there's something more we need to look into.
 
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