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Tiny bugs

Discussion in 'Tortoise Health' started by tortsformykids, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. tortsformykids

    tortsformykids Member

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    Ok, everyone has been so helpful so far, and I have another issue popping up. Our male Russian all of the sudden has had a change of personality, become lethargic and not eating much. This is a total reversal from his enthusiastic demeanor. (We got him 2 months ago.) Last night my son confirmed that there are lots of tiny little bugs crawling in his shell. Please advise....and we have all handled the tort, does this post a risk to my children? Thank you so much in advance for walking us through as new owners. We have followed all the advice here and so far have had thriving torts--not to mention learned so much.
  2. pillowdo

    pillowdo New Member

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    I have no experience but I'm sure experienced members will tell you what's going on and would find it very helpful if you sent a photo up close to the Bugs on your tortoise so we could try to identify them. also, did you try soaking him and if so, did the bugs come off or are they Attached to the turtle?
  3. pillowdo

    pillowdo New Member

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    do they look something like this ?

    https://goo.gl/images/YhejKf those are springtails

    those are harmless, they eat old food so you shouldn't worry about your Tortoise neither your children :D (just make sure they are acually springtails)
  4. tortsformykids

    tortsformykids Member

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    They are not attached, they are easily squashed, they are tiny, very light tan in color and move very fast. I have read through some past posts and see they could be harmless, but considering the change in demeanor I want to rule out a parasite or harmful mite. I will try to photo, but I can barely see them. Moses seems to be acting similarly to what I have learned here as hibernating behavior, so I have tried a few things to reverse that....but definitely concerned about connecting the dots here.
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  5. pillowdo

    pillowdo New Member

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    well I would suggest Giving your tortoise his normal soak and then cleaning his Incloser top to bottom

    EDIT1:
    this is a total guess but... maybe the food was old for that reason the tortoise didnt eat it. considering springtails only eat old food
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
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  6. tortsformykids

    tortsformykids Member

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    This is incredibly hard to see, but after some research I am inclined to say mites. Please advise. I am involved in cleaning the habit now. 1519499836505.jpg
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  7. pillowdo

    pillowdo New Member

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    so here's the issue, if you clean the Hole in closer but miss 2-3 mites then the cycle will continue so you should be very cautious about this, here's what some experienced keepers had to say to a similar thread


    "Clean everything out with bleach and water. Mite eggs can live for quite some time in dormancy so watch out. Is there any other animal in the house or near where your tortoise is at? They might need to be checked as well. Moist mites prefer a moist environment so make sure everything is dry and clean inside your tort enclosure. Remove rotting or soggy uneaten or half eaten food every 6-12 hours just to be sure. Anyways good luck!"

    and also,

    "
    Dawn soap....period. You smear the soap on the turtle, keeping it away from the eyes. Let the soap on the turtle for 10 minutes and then rinse off. Place the tortoise in a totally clean (and dry) environment void of substrate other than newspapers or paper towels. Rubbermaid containers are perfect for this because they are cheap and very easy to disinfect and clean (which you'll want to do daily). By the next day most (if not all) mites will be crispy-dead and fall when touched. Repeat it again for any mite that might have survived...you need to kill them all or the cycle just repeats. I would keep it in this "hospital" enclosure for at least a week maybe more depending on how long it takes you to get all the mites and clean the original enclosure.

    In the meantime, you have to sterilize everything that was in the original habitat. Either soak wood in a bleach solution for a couple days or bake it in the oven. Substrate needs 100% thrown out and replaced. The walls and floor of the enclosure need totally disinfected. If the enclosure is made of wood you have a serious job ahead of you and ultimately you might have to build a new one."
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  8. tortsformykids

    tortsformykids Member

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    Right. It is already a nightmare. I am now very confused about cross contamination of species. From what I understand, these could not cross to warm blooded mammals. I have 2 cats and I am concerned.
    I also rubbed the tort in olive oil to smother what might be on him. I will try the Dawn, that is a good suggestion and continue with the soaking. Is it humane to just remove ALL substrate until this resloved? I have 3 kids and have dealt with lice (and fleas) before and this is feeling similar.... exhausting....
  9. tortsformykids

    tortsformykids Member

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    Also, it is my understanding that nothing, not even bleach, kills the mites. Permethrin is the only thing that does?
  10. pillowdo

    pillowdo New Member

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    here's what I found online


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  11. tortsformykids

    tortsformykids Member

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    Thank God they aren't scabies, they are visible to the eye
  12. pillowdo

    pillowdo New Member

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    alright Just in case, I'll let an expert check on this @Tom @Yvonne G
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  13. pillowdo

    pillowdo New Member

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    Sorry I thought he said mites, not scabies mites
  14. tortsformykids

    tortsformykids Member

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    Great, thank you for calling in help! I really appreciate the community on this forum.
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  15. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Mites on captive tortoises are very uncommon. I can't tell what you've got there from the pic. If it is a mite, most mite species are very host specific. It is very unlikely that a reptile mite would infect a mammal. Some reptile mites won't even go from snakes to a lizard.

    As I said, I can't tell what you've got there, but more common are substrate flies or springtails. These are both harmless detrivores. They can't and don't cause any harm at all.
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  16. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    We still have the issue of what is wrong with your tortoise.

    What are your four temps? What heating and lighting equipment are you using to achieve those temps? What substrate? How often do you soak him?
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  17. tortsformykids

    tortsformykids Member

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    He is soaked 2-3x per week. Starting daily soaks. I used baby carrot food in a couple of soaks as another member suggested in case of illness. Update: I have not seen any of the bugs since I did a full change out of the substrate. Also rubbed tort with olive oil to smother any bugs still left on body. Daytime temp 80 to 95 with infared and ceramic heat emitter, uvb light. Nighttime temps I kept around 75 to 80, but I was staying up until very late the past few days keeping his temps higher into the night in case this was actual illness. Substrate: Coco, aspen. Was wood reptile bark until bugs, put what was left into deep freezer. Diet: escarole, endive, dandilion greens, occasionally kale.
    It might be helpful to understand what I observed in this tort's personality....compared the the female (who is my daughter's tort, in a SEPARATE enclosure, exact same environment, this tort was downright gregarious. So outgoing and animated with us. That is why the shift in personality was so jarring.
    He seems to be coming back to himself... slowly. We are still new at this, so I really have no idea what happened, but focusing on being grateful to see Mr.Moses come back to himself. Thank you in advance for reading and responding. Such a great resource, this forum and my thanks to the member who tagged for help, I was feeling in the weeds for sure.
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  18. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    They need a regular white incandescent basking lamp for day time. Infrared bulbs should not be used over tortoises. The CHE is fine for adding daytime heat, if needed, but russian tortoises should have more of a night temp drop. Night temps should drop into the 60s or at least low 70s.

    What type of UV bulb? This might be a factor if you are using a cfl type, or if you are using a tube type and it is the wrong type or mounted too far away.

    Coco coir is okay for bedding, but its messy. Aspen is no good because it is too dry and can't be dampened. Fine grade orchid bark is best.

    The 4 foods your are feeding are good, but much more variety is needed for long term health. More weeds and leaves, if possible. If not possible, then much more variety from the grocery store.

    All of these things could be playing a part here.

    Know that the substrate flies, if that is what we are dealing with here, come from the surrounding environment, not from the substrate. They colonize the substrate because it is an ideal place for them to live. If you boil, bake, freeze or replace the substrate every two weeks or so, it will keep their numbers down. Personally, I just ignore them.
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  19. tortsformykids

    tortsformykids Member

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    Ok, working on some of your suggestions. I had their temps lower at night (I live in SW PA and we had a couple of very cold months, plus I keep my house temp low at night) but was worried when I saw the female's nose running (separate enclosures)....then I started keeping temps higher and added the infared, I thought I read that here, but can't remember. So would you suggest just going with a 60watt basking bulbs and CHE for night?
    For diet, the children and I were feeding them the few bits of weeds we foraged for on our hikes (read:. PA winter, not much but a little) but then second-guessed that due to the bug issue.
    Substrate: trying to return the reptile bark I have in hopes of ordering what you mentioned. Still haven't seen any bugs, so that's good news.
    Thank you again for weighing in and helping. Challenging maintaining 2 different enclosures (and 3 kids and work):)
  20. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    What is the over night low in your house, and what it the typical ambient temp during the day? What is the basking temp directly under your basking bulb?
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