Survey of tortoises with urolithiasis in Japan

jsheffield

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Tom

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Thanks for posting this. It is full of useful information. All the the diet, housing, sex ratio, and hydration info is very interesting. The data presented makes it seem like these can't be predicted and the causes remain unknown. I can't back it up with a study, but anecdotally I see a direct correlation between the formation of these stones and dehydration. These stones are most commonly seen in CA desert tortoises by the vets here, sulcatas being the second most common. Most keepers have the mistaken idea that being a desert species means they don't need much water, and they get all the water they need from their food. Most people have a bowl of drinking water available, but that doesn't seem to be enough at least in some cases. Whenever I meet a person whose tortoise has had a stone, I ask them a series of questions. The diet offerings vary tremendously. I ask about protein content, fruit intake, pelleted foods, grass percentage, etc... I've so far found no consistent correlation with diet. All natural weeds and grazing vs. a mostly store bought diet doesn't seem to matter. Both dietary strategies seem to result in torts that get stones, and torts that don't.

In each of the cases I've seen, the people did not soak their tortoise regularly or do anything to ensure good hydration. I saw the note in the study that some people offered a water bowl and some soaked, while some did both, but it doesn't list the frequency or consistency, which is something I directly ask about. I recently went to the dentist for the first time in years and when asked if I flossed, because they were pleasantly surprised at the good condition of my teeth given the lack of professional dental care, I responded "yes". And its true. I do floss once in a while when I feel something stuck between my teeth, but I don't floss every day. I wonder how much of this sort of "stretching the truth" takes place when someone is standing in front of a vet with a sick tortoise and they are asked if they soak/bathe their tortoise.

My point is: I have yet to see a case of stone formation in a tortoise that gets soaked once or twice a week consistently, or when the owner takes steps to ensure good hydration, such as wetting the food, or DT owners that regularly run the hose to make puddles in the yard for their DTs to self soak in, which the spices seems to particularly favor.

There was a very good presentation at this years TTPG by a vet that has performed many stone removal surgeries. She had the same sort of data as this Japanese study, and similarly could not draw any conclusions. I didn't get a chance to ask her about my observations on hydration, but I'd like to.
 

jsheffield

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I think lack of hydration is a key part of many problems with torts, and improved hydration a critical, and too often overlooked, part of keeping them healthy.

Jamie
 
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