We have a Horsfield with a closed eye, help?

Lgo

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Hi,

We have had our horsfield tort Shelby since October 2022 and the breeder we got her from (we’re in the UK) said she was about 12 months old. We then got another horsfield Timmy last December and the two live in the same enclosure but keep away from each other.

She is in a table top enclosure with coco coir substrate which we spray to dampen, she has an Arcadia 150w bulb dome light. The table top was built by the breeder and has a dark section too.

Her diet is mainly kale, pak Choi, spinach and she has a cuttle fish bone in her enclosure too. She is soaked up to 3 times a week in the bath/shower where she will wee/poo and have a mooch about. In the summer we let her out in the garden where she will roam the grass and eat dandelions.

On Friday I noticed that one of her eyes were closed and the other was very cloudy so I contacted the breeder who has advised reptoboost and grated carrot but she’s not eaten over the weekend and has refused food today too - she’s come out of a warm soak with reptoboost (while in the tub she did a huge urates.) She has now dug and hid herself under the basking lamp in the substrate.

I have booked her in the vet for this coming Thursday; she is reacting, popping her head in and out but she’s really slow and I’m concerned she is unwell or has a deficiency - could anyone advise me at all? I’ve included pics of the enclosure, reptoboost and calcium we sprinkle on food once a week.

Many thanks!
 

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Alex and the Redfoot

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Hello! What kind of lamp do you use with that dome? If it's a compact fluorescent UVB bulb or mercury-vapour bulb, chances high your tortoise might have an eye damage from the light. Brushed aluminum domes increase light levels almost tenfold.

Her diet need some improvement as well.

What are temperatures and humidity in the enclosure? (day/night, basking spot and ambient)

And the last, but very important thing: do not keep tortoises in pairs, no matter what species and sexes.

Please give a read to this post:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/info-for-new-people-please-read-this-first.202363/ and temperate species care sheet in the bottom of that post.

Please, ask questions if any!
 

Lgo

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Hi,

Thanks for your reply - I’ve spoken back with the breeder again today he said I need to change the bulb as they ‘run out’ after 12 months. So I’ve ordered a new bulb. This is the bulb she has and I will be replacing - (see pic)
I will take temps etc tomorrow when it is in - I can tell the box is cooler inside from messing about with it!
 

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wellington

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You need to get them separated ASAP and each one needs a much bigger enclosure. They are living in constant stress being in pairs. Specially Russians who are a more aggressive tortoise.
I agree with the light that was mentioned above also the diet is very poor. Spinach should not be fed only very sparingly.
Read the link given to you above
Also is they are really only about a year old, they should be in a closed chamber with 80% humidity. If they are actually older, they need 50% humidity.
 

Maggie3fan

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Generally Russians are super mean to each other. How about a photo of the eye?? Does he usually hibernate? Could it be possible that he is trying to do that now? You really need to separate them. I can guarantee that one is being bullied. Tortoises are prey, and they know it, so when you go look at them, and they see you don't they freeze in place? Mine do. It could be that one tort, no matter where he is, or doing, stops when you look down on them. Also I know that photos of the product are cool why can't we see the damn tortoise?
Hi,

Thanks for your reply - I’ve spoken back with the breeder again today he said I need to change the bulb as they ‘run out’ after 12 months. So I’ve ordered a new bulb. This is the bulb she has and I will be replacing - (see pic)
I will take temps etc tomorrow when it is in - I can tell the box is cooler inside from messing about with it
 

wellington

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Also temps need to not go below 70 at night if you are keeping them up from brumating
Your biggest thing you need to change is keeping them in a pair and in such a small enclosure. Minimum for an adult is 4x8 foot
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Hi,

Thanks for your reply - I’ve spoken back with the breeder again today he said I need to change the bulb as they ‘run out’ after 12 months. So I’ve ordered a new bulb. This is the bulb she has and I will be replacing - (see pic)
I will take temps etc tomorrow when it is in - I can tell the box is cooler inside from messing about with it!
Oh, I wish you told us before placing an order ... All-in-one mercury vapour lamps due to their spectre are very drying for the shell of tortoises which might result in pyramiding (bumpiness of the shell). What is mounting height of the lamp (over substrate)?

A small remark on separating tortoises: if you have an old bookscase, large plastic storage box and such you can reuse as an enclosure (at least temporary). I would consider that a first priority issue as you can help him to rest from his "roommate" and check if the lamp was a source of eyes problem.
 

Tom

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Hi,

Thanks for your reply - I’ve spoken back with the breeder again today he said I need to change the bulb as they ‘run out’ after 12 months. So I’ve ordered a new bulb. This is the bulb she has and I will be replacing - (see pic)
I will take temps etc tomorrow when it is in - I can tell the box is cooler inside from messing about with it!
Those types of lamps should not be used over tortoises. They are unreliable and sometimes dangerous, causing eye burns. They also cause pyramiding in young growing tortoises.

The breeder is giving you the typical old wrong care info. Please read this thread and look for the temperate species care sheet down near the bottom. That will give you all the right info and help solve your problems.
 

Lgo

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Hi,

Sorry I didn’t receive a notification that anyone had replied to me.

The den we have is pre-made from the breeder including the lamp at the height etc - why would it be sold to us like this if it wasn’t the correct light?

After lots of research and help I also realise their diet wasn’t the best - I’ve managed to use tortoise table and switch it up - getting what I can in British winter time!
 

SinLA

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Please do not keep them in pairs. They are "staying away" from each other because you've basically put to sworn enemies together in a small space and they are making the best of it. It is not a good situation for them. If any breeder sold you a "second one" that is NOT a breeder you want to trust for anything
 

Lgo

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Generally Russians are super mean to each other. How about a photo of the eye?? Does he usually hibernate? Could it be possible that he is trying to do that now? You really need to separate them. I can guarantee that one is being bullied. Tortoises are prey, and they know it, so when you go look at them, and they see you don't they freeze in place? Mine do. It could be that one tort, no matter where he is, or doing, stops when you look down on them. Also I know that photos of the product are cool why can't we see the damn tortoise?
No she has never hibernated - so far anyway this is our second winter with them.

As for being super mean they literally do not go near each other at all - I’ve kept a vigil next to the den since I first messaged 🤣

Also please find attached pics of both eyes - left eye open, looks sleepy compared to what she usually looks like. And right eye closed - she looks blind if that makes any sense! As if her eye is there but white?!
 

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Alex and the Redfoot

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The den we have is pre-made from the breeder including the lamp at the height etc - why would it be sold to us like this if it wasn’t the correct light?

After lots of research and help I also realise their diet wasn’t the best - I’ve managed to use tortoise table and switch it up - getting what I can in British winter time!
About lights:
a few years ago MVB (mercury vapour bulbs) were considered the best choice for tortoises. However, later it's been discovered that they are overdrying the shell causing pyramiding. Russian tortoises are less prone to pyramiding issues and some keepers still underestimate the impact of dry shell keratine on pyramiding, attributing it mostly to diet and growth speed.
The next thing is that lamp mounting height depends on type and wattage of the lamp and on the type and size of the fixture dome. What works well with a 80W lamp in a wide white paint coated dome can be "death rays" with a 150W lamp in a narrow brushed aluminium dome.

On diet: that's great, that you've discovered TortoiseTable.co.uk - it's a really helpful resource (for UK especially). Check the link Tom posted above, there are some suggestions on diet and feeding.

You've mentioned a vet appointment. Did it happen? What's the results?

And on separating tortoises:
1. They keep a distance from each other. At the same time one of them gets less favourable conditions - where to sleep and hide, what and when to eat and so on. You will not see much of the direct aggression, it's more like "silent hate" and gaslightning. But occasional peckling and biting might occur.
2. The symptoms you describe might be because of the bad lightning and stress but may be caused by a contagious disease. Quarantine is another reason to separate the tortoises now.
 

Lgo

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About lights:
a few years ago MVB (mercury vapour bulbs) were considered the best choice for tortoises. However, later it's been discovered that they are overdrying the shell causing pyramiding. Russian tortoises are less prone to pyramiding issues and some keepers still underestimate the impact of dry shell keratine on pyramiding, attributing it mostly to diet and growth speed.
The next thing is that lamp mounting height depends on type and wattage of the lamp and on the type and size of the fixture dome. What works well with a 80W lamp in a wide white paint coated dome can be "death rays" with a 150W lamp in a narrow brushed aluminium dome.

On diet: that's great, that you've discovered TortoiseTable.co.uk - it's a really helpful resource (for UK especially). Check the link Tom posted above, there are some suggestions on diet and feeding.

You've mentioned a vet appointment. Did it happen? What's the results?

And on separating tortoises:
1. They keep a distance from each other. At the same time one of them gets less favourable conditions - where to sleep and hide, what and when to eat and so on. You will not see much of the direct aggression, it's more like "silent hate" and gaslightning. But occasional peckling and biting might occur.
2. The symptoms you describe might be because of the bad lightning and stress but may be caused by a contagious disease. Quarantine is another reason to separate the tortoises now.
When I called the vet to confirm our appointment the admin told me they don’t actually have an exotics vet and they wouldn’t do anything beyond cut nails… I have contacted a recommended exotics vet in the next town but they don’t have any appointments available - I’m waiting on a call.

We are in the process of separating them - waiting on a suitable enclosure for the smaller tort to be delivered.

If the lighting I have been sold is so bad why am I only seeing symptoms now? Also what contagious diseases could she have and where would she have caught them?

Sorry for so many questions I just don’t understand where the sudden symptoms have came from and after being housed together for 12 months?
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Symptoms related to the lights arise due to overexposure (when bulb stays in the direct sight, tortoise can't get out from the light or UV is too intense). That's very much similar to "snow blindness".

There are numerous infections that can stay within tortoise body for years without symptoms and manifest when immune system gets weaker (due to temperatures, stress or diet for example).

Don't worry about asking questions, that's what this forum exists for :) I understand your concerns and wish I have a simple and definitive answer...
 

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