White Sandy Poop/Urine

notveryraven

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Hey all!! I am a first time tortoise owner and I inherited a Russian tortoise from my husbands coworker whose son had quit taking care of her. We took her in as our only family pet so she’s getting a lot of attention and love; however, I noticed she hasn’t been eating the last two days and spending a lot of time in her shell buried in her bedding or in her little cave. Growing concerned, I decided to give her a soak. After about five minutes she began chugging water unlike any reptile I have ever seen. About five minutes after that, she excreted about a tablespoon of a sandy off white substance. I have tried doing some research and only found people talking about a more solidified consistency. About 10 minutes after that, she had a regular (but huge!) poop that was dark green and approximately 4” long. She is almost two years old from the pet store but I am not sure how old she was when they got her. She is back to munching now, but I just want to see what she could be experiencing? Is this flaky excrement normal? She seems to be feeling much better, but I want to be sure my sweet Peanut is feeling okay.
 

notveryraven

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also, just for reference, we got her almost exactly a week ago and she had, from what I can tell, a diet of exclusively romaine lettuce.
 

Tom

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Hey all!! I am a first time tortoise owner and I inherited a Russian tortoise from my husbands coworker whose son had quit taking care of her. We took her in as our only family pet so she’s getting a lot of attention and love; however, I noticed she hasn’t been eating the last two days and spending a lot of time in her shell buried in her bedding or in her little cave. Growing concerned, I decided to give her a soak. After about five minutes she began chugging water unlike any reptile I have ever seen. About five minutes after that, she excreted about a tablespoon of a sandy off white substance. I have tried doing some research and only found people talking about a more solidified consistency. About 10 minutes after that, she had a regular (but huge!) poop that was dark green and approximately 4” long. She is almost two years old from the pet store but I am not sure how old she was when they got her. She is back to munching now, but I just want to see what she could be experiencing? Is this flaky excrement normal? She seems to be feeling much better, but I want to be sure my sweet Peanut is feeling okay.
What you saw is urates. They are a by-product of protein digestion and are formed when a tortoise is not well hydrated. It is great that she passed those urates, but there is likely more. Soak the tortoise for 30-40 minutes daily for at least a month to get her hydrated and help any more urates pass. After that, once or twice a week should be plenty.

Most of the care info found for this species is old, out-dated and wrong. Here is the correct care info, and your questions are welcome. Thank you for rescuing this poor torotise.

 

notveryraven

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What you saw is urates. They are a by-product of protein digestion and are formed when a tortoise is not well hydrated. It is great that she passed those urates, but there is likely more. Soak the tortoise for 30-40 minutes daily for at least a month to get her hydrated and help any more urates pass. After that, once or twice a week should be plenty.

Most of the care info found for this species is old, out-dated and wrong. Here is the correct care info, and your questions are welcome. Thank you for rescuing this poor torotise.

Thank you so much!! She is such a sweet girl but I do not think she was very well taken care of in the past. Thank you for the additional info!! 💛
 

notveryraven

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My sweet girl Peanut having a morning soak. She is still pretty reclusive and didn’t eat a lot last night but hopefully a morning soak will get her going. The folx we got her from also had her in cedar bedding so as soon as I get the chance I’m gonna run and get her some appropriate bedding she looooves to burrow and the cedar makes it hard for her to move around easily poor girl Im so glad we inherited her she’s gonna have a much better life here 🙏🏻
 

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Yvonne G

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Cedar is not a good bedding because of the aromatic oil. We recommend coco coir, cypress mulch or fine grade fir bark. Welcome to the Forum!

Oh, and by the way, your tortoise is much older than you thought. Pet stores are notorious for saying their tortoises are younger than they really are. She's probably almost full grown. I'd say maybe 8 or 10 years of age.
 

notveryraven

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Cedar is not a good bedding because of the aromatic oil. We recommend coco coir, cypress mulch or fine grade fir bark. Welcome to the Forum!

Oh, and by the way, your tortoise is much older than you thought. Pet stores are notorious for saying their tortoises are younger than they really are. She's probably almost full grown. I'd say maybe 8 or 10 years of age.
Thank you for the tips!!! We have a local reptile store that is really amazing Im going to run up there this afternoon and get her some more appropriate stuff.
It’s crazy she may be that old!! I had no idea!! She is super timid and even allows me to give her head pets sometimes, she just seems like she isn’t feeling that well so hopefully we can get her back into good shape!! Thank you again for everything y’all are amazing
 

Tom

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My sweet girl Peanut having a morning soak. She is still pretty reclusive and didn’t eat a lot last night but hopefully a morning soak will get her going. The folx we got her from also had her in cedar bedding so as soon as I get the chance I’m gonna run and get her some appropriate bedding she looooves to burrow and the cedar makes it hard for her to move around easily poor girl Im so glad we inherited her she’s gonna have a much better life here 🙏🏻
Are you sure it was cedar? Although pet store often recommend the wrong stuff, they don't usually sell cedar for tortoises.

Was it orchid bark? That is the most common, and it could be mistaken for cedar I suppose. If it was orchid bark, that is actually the best way to go. This is one detail that pet stores usually get right.
 

Tom

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Thank you for the tips!!! We have a local reptile store that is really amazing Im going to run up there this afternoon and get her some more appropriate stuff.
It’s crazy she may be that old!! I had no idea!! She is super timid and even allows me to give her head pets sometimes, she just seems like she isn’t feeling that well so hopefully we can get her back into good shape!! Thank you again for everything y’all are amazing
Be careful. The reptile store will tell you all the wrong stuff and sell you all the wrong products. Most of what you need is found at Home Depot or Lowes. Or Walmart. Read that care sheet.
 

notveryraven

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Are you sure it was cedar? Although pet store often recommend the wrong stuff, they don't usually sell cedar for tortoises.

Was it orchid bark? That is the most common, and it could be mistaken for cedar I suppose. If it was orchid bark, that is actually the best way to go. This is one detail that pet stores usually get right.
Unfortunately they bought from a pet smart and I checked the bag of the Extra bedding the brought over and it definitely says cedar all over it :/
 

notveryraven

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Be careful. The reptile store will tell you all the wrong stuff and sell you all the wrong products. Most of what you need is found at Home Depot or Lowes. Or Walmart. Read that care sheet.
Absolutely!!! I read the whole thing and called to make sure they have the correct supplies and they do! Though, it may actually just be cheaper at Walmart lol!!
 

AgataP

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Absolutely!!! I read the whole thing and called to make sure they have the correct supplies and they do! Though, it may actually just be cheaper at Walmart lol!!

If you have a feed store it might be even cheaper 😃
 

Tom

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Unfortunately they bought from a pet smart and I checked the bag of the Extra bedding the brought over and it definitely says cedar all over it :/
Good lord. Cedar is toxic to small animals!
 

notveryraven

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Another Peanut update: I couldn’t find any orchid anywhere but did find cypress mulch and changed out her tank. She is able to move so much better now. We also changed her basking bulb to a higher wattage and she is spending much more time moving around and out of her little cave. We had about 45 minutes of outside time today and she was the happiest girl running around the backyard. Thank you guys so much for all of the help 💛🙏🏻✨
 

Sarah2020

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You are reaping the reward of making the changes and seeing a happy tortoise. Read care sheet again and cross check heat, light, water, food and soaks. Well done
 

digibond

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What you saw is urates. They are a by-product of protein digestion and are formed when a tortoise is not well hydrated. It is great that she passed those urates, but there is likely more. Soak the tortoise for 30-40 minutes daily for at least a month to get her hydrated and help any more urates pass. After that, once or twice a week should be plenty.

Most of the care info found for this species is old, out-dated and wrong. Here is the correct care info, and your questions are welcome. Thank you for rescuing this poor torotise.

I was soaking my ~2lb Sulcata daily and not seeing urates. Trying to back off of that I moved in March to every other day and see the urates about every fourth day (every other soak). He doesn't seem to pay any attention or have any interest in the water in his outdoor area. Even when I've put him in, made sure it was hot enough, etc.

Is this something they grow out of, needing the daily soak? Do I move back to daily and try every other day again late summer? Or do I keep him away from the soak so he needs to go to the water in his outdoor area.

I will put a second terra cotta base in the area this weekend so he has two spots, but I'm not optimistic this will change anything.

FYI - Everything else seems to be fine. Eating, moving around, pooping, growing, ...
 

Tom

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I was soaking my ~2lb Sulcata daily and not seeing urates. Trying to back off of that I moved in March to every other day and see the urates about every fourth day (every other soak). He doesn't seem to pay any attention or have any interest in the water in his outdoor area. Even when I've put him in, made sure it was hot enough, etc.

Is this something they grow out of, needing the daily soak? Do I move back to daily and try every other day again late summer? Or do I keep him away from the soak so he needs to go to the water in his outdoor area.

I will put a second terra cotta base in the area this weekend so he has two spots, but I'm not optimistic this will change anything.

FYI - Everything else seems to be fine. Eating, moving around, pooping, growing, ...
I soak daily until they reach 100+ grams. After that I start skipping one day now and then sporadically. By the time they reach 1000 grams, I only soak once or twice a week. More won't hurt anything, but shouldn't be necessary.

Many tortoises don't show much interest in their water dishes. Offer it any way. In time they all drink. Be sure you are using the right type of bowl, a terra cotta saucer, and make sure it is sunk into the ground. Many of them don't like to go up and over a lip. They much prefer to walk to the edge and just stick their head down into the water to drink.
 

digibond

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Thanks for the guidance yet again @Tom. (BTW, your suggestion on the heat in the box for here in Maui has made a difference. More active, gaining weight faster) I do have the bowl setup like you recommended, but just one as noted.

So I'll try adding the second bowl and backing off a bit slower, 2 days soak, one day off. I'm guessing though if I see urates on a regular basis it means more frequent soaks required.
 

Tom

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Thanks for the guidance yet again @Tom. (BTW, your suggestion on the heat in the box for here in Maui has made a difference. More active, gaining weight faster) I do have the bowl setup like you recommended, but just one as noted.

So I'll try adding the second bowl and backing off a bit slower, 2 days soak, one day off. I'm guessing though if I see urates on a regular basis it means more frequent soaks required.
As long as the urates aren't hard and gritty, things should be okay. Your plan sounds great.
 
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