Sad: Buddy died about an hour ago...what did we do wrong???

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danielledelynn

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Hello everyone.

I know it's been a few weeks since we've (Nick & I) have posted, but I have some sad news to pass along.

Our baby boy, Buddy, whom we obtained in early April from a local couple who didn't take very good care of him...has passed away this afternoon, only a few minutes ago.

I took Buddy outside with me this afternoon as I have a bunch of times in the past few weeks when the weather was really nice. I was laying right next to him on a beach towel, listening to my ipod and checking on him every few minutes. He had himself deep in the grass, just sitting there calmly. When I went to check him for the last time (around 4:10pm EST), I saw him moving around in the grass, but he was dragging his left leg like it was hurt or broken. It was literally dragging on the grass while his other limbs were doing the work. This instantly worried me because I had never seen him act like this before. I picked him up in my hands, and as soon as I did, he sucked his head into his shell super fast, which he rarely does because he's gotten so comfortable with us. His eyes were open for a few seconds, but only slightly. I pet his legs very lightly with my fingertips to get a reaction (waiting for him to wiggle or kick, to let me know he was alright). But he wasn't responding. Then his eyes closed and all four limbs went completely limp. I held him to my chest and ran him to my mom's house next door, turned the kitchen faucet on a cool stream and held him in my hands, hoping the water would wake him up. Still no response. I frantically ran back to our apartment (I live next door to my mom) with him against my chest, put a tiny bit of lukewarm water in his soaking bowl and set him in it. No reaction.

Buddy is gone. I am bawling my eyes out as I type this. Just called my boyfriend at work all upset, he gets out of work in 5 minutes, should be home within a half hour.

What the hell went wrong here?? He had been active in the days leading up to this (walking around a lot, both in his enclosure and outside in previous nice weather days), although he wasn't eating as much as he was in weeks past. Was the heat too much for him outside? Was it something else?

I am heartbroken right now...Nick and I were certain he was doing great, from the meds the vet gave us to give to him back in mid-April...Where did we go wrong??

He was our little boy.
 

dmmj

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It is a sad thing, but sometimes hatchlings just die. I can't say for sure but he may have just suffered hatchling failure syndrome, turtles lay a lot of eggs in the hopes one will make it. My thoughts are with you but honestly I don't think you did anythign wrong.
 

Tom

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If I remember correctly, he was in pretty bad shape when you got him. Might have been some leftover complication from that. Danny mentioned something about kidney failure and how it can take months to finally catch up to them and kill them.

Sorry for your loss. Best wishes for you.
 

danielledelynn

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Really? Even though he was showing great improvement since we took him to the vet shortly after obtaining him? The little man was doing soo well, we thought he made a full recovery. So when it's a kidney issue, there's nothing that can be done and it kills slowly over time, even with great signs of progress? We are both at a total loss right now, feels like we've lost a part of our family.

I had texted Nick (at work) when this all started happening, telling him Buddy wasn't acting right, and I took his picture on my phone real quick.

This was the last time his eyes were open. They shut and he was gone a few seconds later. :(

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egyptiandan

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Sorry for your loss :(

It does sound like his kidney's shut down and it happened before you got him. So basicly his body was catching up with what had already happened to his kidney's. It's very hard to tell what going on inside without constant blood tests. Even with the tests there is no way to get the kidneys back working again once gone.

Danny
 
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Maggie Cummings

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I am so sorry. It wasn't anything you did or didn't do. Healthy hatchlings are fragile and hard to keep, and Buddy was already compromised. Please accept my condolences and understand you didn't do anything wrong.
 

kimber_lee_314

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How awful! These little critters creep into our hearts and it's so sad to lose one. Don't blame yourself - you did everything you could for him. I am praying for you!
 
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Scooter

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I'm very sorry for your loss. It sounds like you did all you could for him and made his last few months great.
 

Tom

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I don't want to continue this on and make it any harder for you, but I always want to know what went wrong so I can prevent it the next time. I've been thinking about this a lot and I've come up with a few possibilities.

1. Kidney failure, as mentioned above.
2. Ingested poison. Are you sure your grassy areas have no pesticides or fertilizers of any kind? Snail bait? Rodent poisons? Maybe something that could have blown over from a neighbors house? Do you have gardeners? I've had them swear they use and do nothing and then seen them doing it.
2a. Has he been nibbling on plants or flowers that you recently planted for him? Everything that comes out of a nursery is usually drenched with pesticides and fertilizers and so is the soil its planted in. I wait for several months of weathering and hosing, and even then I feed out only new growth that happened at my house.
3. Is it possible that he overheated in the sun? Maybe he was afraid to move out for some reason and just staying in the sun for too long. I always worry about this with any small reptile. Many years ago, I killed a little lizard this way. I thought I was being careful and he'd move to shade, but he didn't and it killed him. I think he was paralyzed with fear and just wouldn't move. Not saying this is the case with Buddy, but is it possible?
4. Spider bite? Someone was just asking me yesterday if I worried about all the black widows around. I told them it had never caused me a problem and I didn't know if their fangs could even penetrate a tortoises tough skin. Maybe it IS a potential problem and I just don't know it.

Hope this helps in some way. I have a bad habit of trying to explain the unexplainable. Again, best wishes to you in this tough time.
 

danielledelynn

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Tom said:
I don't want to continue this on and make it any harder for you, but I always want to know what went wrong so I can prevent it the next time. I've been thinking about this a lot and I've come up with a few possibilities.

1. Kidney failure, as mentioned above.
2. Ingested poison. Are you sure your grassy areas have no pesticides or fertilizers of any kind? Snail bait? Rodent poisons? Maybe something that could have blown over from a neighbors house? Do you have gardeners? I've had them swear they use and do nothing and then seen them doing it.
2a. Has he been nibbling on plants or flowers that you recently planted for him? Everything that comes out of a nursery is usually drenched with pesticides and fertilizers and so is the soil its planted in. I wait for several months of weathering and hosing, and even then I feed out only new growth that happened at my house.
3. Is it possible that he overheated in the sun? Maybe he was afraid to move out for some reason and just staying in the sun for too long. I always worry about this with any small reptile. Many years ago, I killed a little lizard this way. I thought I was being careful and he'd move to shade, but he didn't and it killed him. I think he was paralyzed with fear and just wouldn't move. Not saying this is the case with Buddy, but is it possible?
4. Spider bite? Someone was just asking me yesterday if I worried about all the black widows around. I told them it had never caused me a problem and I didn't know if their fangs could even penetrate a tortoises tough skin. Maybe it IS a potential problem and I just don't know it.

Hope this helps in some way. I have a bad habit of trying to explain the unexplainable. Again, best wishes to you in this tough time.

First of all, I'd like to say Thank You to everyone on this forum for making this a little easier for Nick and I to cope with. We are still absolutely devastated. When Nick gets home from work within the hour, we are going to give Buddy a proper burial. The little man deserves it.

Tom, trust me, we have been thinking about everything you have mentioned in your post. We keep playing it over and over and over in our heads, especially me, since I was all alone when this happened so suddenly yesterday.

1. Kidney Failure - When we acquired Buddy in early April, I did some reading on different articles online about renal failure in hatchlings. We were extremely worried that he might have already had an early onset of this due to the way he was raised poorly by his previous owners...which is why we rushed him to a highly recommended reptile vet near us as soon as he was available for an appointment. Although the vet didn't run any kind of bloodwork on Buddy, he did say his mouth and nostrils appeared to be very clear, which was a good sign. His plastrons were very soft, so the vet gave him an injection of liquid calcium (good strong dose for as sick/weak as he was at that time) and told us to do anything we could to get him to eat literally anything....over the course of about ten days, his health improved DRASTICALLY, like leaps & bounds drastically...He'd roam around his enclosure a lot, eat a lot (usually though, only by hand in the evenings....he just preferred being hand-fed) and another week later, we weighed him, and he went from weighing 63 grams (at the vet's), to 98 grams just about two weeks later. We thought that was incredible and definitely a positive sign. I have spent three hours this afternoon, and 4 hours last night intensely reading more articles on kidney failure in hatchlings, and it does seem to correspond to what many people have posted on here already-- that when Nick and I acquired the little man, the damage was already "done", meaning, although he was showing signs of improvement since seeing the vet/getting medicated, he was slowly getting taken over by the irreversible toxins leaking from his kidneys, into his bloodstream. The vet never said at Buddy's appointment that there were any kidney problems...And I guess since it seemed like just a calcium issue early on, the vet probably thought that's all it was? It seems as though, from what I have read about Hatchling Failure Syndrome and Kidney Failure, once it's started (aka- from the previous owners who didn't take good care of him) there's little or nothing that can be done to cure it. So basically, his signs of improvement were only glimmers of false hopes, little did we know. I am almost certain that this is what took Buddy's precious life. I will explain why I don't think it's anything else.

2. Nope. There were absolutely no flowers or plants of any sort in his indoor enclosure, and as far as outdoors, whenever we took him outside, we'd lay out a beach towel and lay literally right next to him (yeah, he would crawl around, but he wouldn't go very far at all). The only flowers he EVER ate were dandelion flowers. And to answer your question about the pesticides/fertilizers--I am 110% sure the grass he was on had nothing of the sort on it, I know this because we always set him in my parent's huge yard and they don't use pesticides or fertilizers anywhere on it.

3. We live in Buffalo NY (I see that a lot, if not most? of you live in places that are warm almost the entire year, like California or Florida), where we can (I'm not joking) and have experienced all four seasons in one week... But we had been taking Buddy outside on days when it was above 75 and sunny. Yesterday, I'd say it was about 86 degrees Farenheit out, with a nice amount of humidity but not overkill. When I set him in the grass yesterday, I set up a make-shift tent for him (a big t-shirt held up by 2 flip flops...i know, right?) for shade, to keep him from being directly in the hot sun. He seemed to enjoy it, I kept sitting up and checking on him. I had noticed instead of roaming around like he usually would do when outside, this time he was kind of "burrowing" into the grass. I didn't see him do it, I just saw that the grass was spread apart and he was deep into it (well, as deep as he could be, for grass thats about 3 or 4 inches high at most). I wasn't worried at that point, because I had read many times before that Sulcatas love to dig/burrow themselves even at a young age, even though I had never seen him do any digging/burrowing prior to this. It's for these reasons, I don't believe it was heat exhaustion. We were only outside for a total of about 40-45 minutes before he passed away in my hands =( and he was shaded almost the entire time.

4. I don't really live in an area highly conducive to black widow spiders, and personally, I've never seen one, and I've lived in this same town for my whole 26 and 3/4 years of existence. When I first noticed yesterday that Buddy wasn't acting right (dragging his front leg as if it was broken, while using the others to actually pull himself with), I called Nick immediately. He thought maybe something had stung/bit him too. I don't believe that though. I looked all over his body for bite and/or sting marks/stingers and found nothing. There were no bugs around anywhere, prior to his death or after. So no, I don't believe it was a bug bite/sting.

In the few days leading up to his death, he was physically very active, both inside and outside...but his appetite had declined a great deal. He was eating nightly on a regular basis, but a few weeks ago began eating only every couple of days and his amount he'd intake lessened as well. We thought though that it had to do with the up and down with the Buffalo, NY weather and that he was just in a lousy mood, not that he was getting sick again...or that any kind of toxins were taking over his little body and could no longer fight the battle to stay alive. We didn't know :( But after wracking my brain for over 24 hours about it and reading an almost endless amount of online articles, I believe it was his kidneys. I think as someone said here on an earlier post, that Buddy was dead when we got him...as sad as that sounds...meaning it was only a matter of time before he was gone from our world, was right.

Anyways, nothing can bring our sweet little fella back. I hope he knows how much we loved him and how much joy he brought into our lives, even if it was only for a month and a half. Nick and I will never forget him.

Thank you again everyone for your prayers, thoughts & wishes...It really means a lot :)
 

Stephanie Logan

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OMG, that is so traumatic and I am so sorry for your loss. :(

Certainly you should be consoled by the fact that your were doing your utmost to make Buddy's life perfect...I am sure he was one happy little torty up to the last moment he was with you.
 

fhintz

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Sorry for your loss. Sounds like you gave him some happy times before he passed. I bet he's smiling down from tort heaven :)
 
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