Worried about my Yellowfoot

Meganolvt

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Hi all-
This is probably going to be long, I apologize in advance. As some of you know, I adopted a Yellowfoot in August. I don't know how old he is but for sure at least a few years as he constantly flashes me. I don't know any of his history, besides it couldn't have been that great since he had/has obvious MBD (saddle shaped shell). I am a first time tortoise owner. I am also a Licensed Veterinary Technician, and I worked with Leopards, a box turtle, and RESs when I worked at a zoo for a while. We see tortoises at my current vet hospital, but it is mostly babies from pet stores with upper respiratory infections. I got into tortoise owning thinking I could just figure it out as I go along, I've been a vet tech for 13 years after all. 3 months later I am worried that my tort is sick and I'm feeling lost and worried.
When I adopted him it happened very fast and I didn't have an enclosure or anything for him. I quickly found a 2 1/2 x 3 1/2' plexiglass and wood enclosure on Craig's list. It worked ok at first because it was summer and he spent most of his day outside and only slept in the box. When it started getting too cold here we built him a 4 x 6' box for indoors. It is plywood. Since it has cooled off / he moved to a bigger box his behavior has changed. Humidity is of course an issue but I dont think heat is. It is about 90 degrees under his heat lamp and he sits there often. He walks around in his enclosure and is sometimes under his UVB bulb, sometimes in the doorway of his hide, sometimes on the other side. We put in a half wall that provides a barrier between his warm/humid part and the rest of the enclosure.
He hates soaking and always tries to get out. He will stay put for a little while if I feed him a banana, but even that doesn't last long anymore. He is still eating, but not like he was at first. He doesn't seem very interested in anything I offer him, but does eat eventually.
Diet /things I've tried: kale, parsley, romaine, parsley, dandelion greens, spinach, hay, butter lettuce; tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, grapes, apples, strawberries, papaya, cactus pear, pear, banana, kiwi, watermelon,mango, sweet potato, pumpkin, bananas; once a week he gets low fat catfood. I mix calcium into the cat foot every time, and sometimes his other food too.
His hide: currently, a rubbermaid box with a door cut out, reptibark inside and a personal humidifier that runs all day. The "vapor" also rolls out and onto under his heat lamp, he often sits under the heat with his head facing the hide so there is always humidity rolling over him. Sometimes he sits in the doorway.
Behavior: flashes us constantly, always opening his mouth like he is threatened, but never bites, will eat out of my hand, and almost never hides in his shell. He's actually very social, I think. Very curious. Always looking around, comes to us when we stand by his box.
What has me worried is that his skin is very dry and his eyes look sunken in. I saw him drink for the first time ever today from his water tub. He is pooping regularly and I have dewormed him twice. I should probably soak him every day but it is such a struggle and he only will stay for a few minutes. We don't have a bathtub, only a shower, so I put him in a large litter box in the kitchen sink, and he also has a shallow water pan in his box. I'm afraid it stresses him out more to force him into the sink tub. He will sit still for a minute, but then spends the whole time trying to climb out.
The sunken eyes are my main concern right now, and that he is sleeping more and eating less. I know some reptiles slow down a bit in the winter months, I just don't know for him since this is our first fall/winter together. He's breathing fine, I see no signs of URI, he's pooping regularly, just kind of blah. I have seen him pee lots of times, but today some small white chunks came out, maybe just urate? I did put a pothos plant in his box, which is a plant that may or may not be toxic, I really don't think he has eaten any and he does not have mouth sores / oral ulcers. I guess I just need to know if tortoises "slow down" sometimes in the Winter? Does him sleeping a lot mean I should be concerned? I forgot to say: the floor is covered with linoleum, which is covered with EcoEarth and Sphagmum moss mixed together, except one corner has hay. He really needs more EcoEarth, and it is supposed to be delivered to me on Monday. That will add more humidity throughout, which will help. Also I have three rubbermaid lids on top of the box, over his heat lamp, over his water tub, and over another corner. So not completely covered, but partly. I will take some pics and post.

Thanks for reading, if you have any wisdom, advice, suggestions, please respond. Thanks!
 

SarahChelonoidis

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What are his temperatures away from the heat lamp? What is the overnight low at the coldest spot in the enclosure? If his appetite is off and he's sleeping all the time, he is likely too cold. It could be complications related to the MBD, but temperature is most likely. Tropical species really shouldn't have a slow down, but they will if they're too cold.
 

Meganolvt

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I honestly don't know what his temp is over there, but I was thinking of getting another che for over there too. He would still have lots of room without heat over it. Obviously I need more temp gauges too.
 

SarahChelonoidis

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Get an IR temp gun - then you can check the temperature everywhere. Figuring out the lows is really important, because at least in my enclosure, they change a lot between seasons. Since your enclosure isn't closed, you are losing a lot of heat to the room and will probably need to add extra heat sources.

Is there a CHE right now over where he sleeps at night?
 

Yvonne G

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I think moisture and humidity, along with the correct temperature are your problems. Take everything out of the tort table and line it with plastic film (shower curtain, etc). (I'm not a fan of using that type of plywood, as the glue they use smells very strong and I don't know how pleasant [or toxic] it is for the tortoise to be on it all the time). Then get some substrate that you can moisten. I like orchid bark, but you can use coco coir or even dirt from your yard. Give him about 4" and keep it moist. And because of that moisture, you have to be VERY sure that the overall temperature in the habitat stays at least 80F. You may have to cover it to keep the warm air inside.

I have two YF tortoises, 11 years old, that look almost exactly like yours. I'm ashamed to say that I raised them from an egg. My problem was I raised them too dry. They had calcium, real sunshine, and a good diet, but I was lackadaisical about keeping their environment humid enough. Humidity and warmth are very critical with YF tortoises.
 

Yvonne G

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I have to be honest with you, your tort looks like it's in a awful shape.

Not really. He's not perfect, but it's old growth. He looks just fine. And it happened prior to the OP getting the tortoise. there's nothing they can do about it now but provide the best care possible.
 

Meganolvt

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Thanks @Yvonne G, that's what I was going to say. I think he looks the same as when I got him, just a little drier. I think I will get a showre curtain today and line it, the current flooring is working but when I put in 3 more blocks of EcoEarth this week it's going to get a lot messier and more likely to get underneath what I have down. I also have a second heat lamp on the way. I have a drafty old house and I figured I would have to do this once winter really hits anyway, i'll just do it a little sooner. @SarahChelonoidis there is a heat lamp where he sleeps, I usually turn it off at night but now that it's getting frosty here in Michigan I'll probably leave it on at night. So i'll have 2 during the day and one on at night.
Thanks for the help everyone, @Yvonne G it makes me feel better knowing you have been through this with yours. I read all these posts and just feel like i'm doing a crappy job with my one tortoise compared to all of you with tons of them. I don't know how you do it! Well living in the south, I guess. It's challenging here in Michigan, i've quickly learned. Here's my Roland a little while ago, I just love his grouchy butt. 20151023_213305.jpg
 

Yvonne G

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I'll see if I can find a picture of my two little pine cones.

Well, I guess I don't have a good one. You can sort of see one of them on the right in this picture:

YF covered patio c 12-03-14.jpg

UGH...just look at that dirty water!!
 

Yvonne G

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The last picture you've posted, with the tortoise in your lap, shows a very healthy tortoise in good weight. Nice clear eyes and a good amount of meat on his bones. Don't be concerned about his shell condition. At this time in his life, it's not important.
 

crimson_lotus

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Everything recommended so far is great, I just wanted to add that you should take the hay out if you can because when you do raise the humidity, it will most likely mold. I would also add a shower curtain on top to hold the heat and humidity in your enclosure.

For protein you can vary it. I've tried chicken, earthworms, shrimp, tuna (canned, no salt, low sodium), salmon, sardines, and boiled egg. They all seem to be a big hit. Other big hits: butternut/acorn squash, arugula, chicory, endive, escarole, hibiscus (although I don't get any of it during the winter months), collards, and brusselsprouts. Good food reference site: http://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/site/plants_19.asp

collards, spinach, kale, brusselsprouts should not be fed all the time, as they are high in oxalates and can create bladder stones if your tortoise is not properly hydrated.

Get that liner ASAP for the inside, I think exposure to heat and humidity to particle board will just take it apart.
 
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Yvonne G

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Oh and, you can get a digital Acu-Rite hygrometer that reads both humidity and temperature in your enclosure for $10 at Home Depot. a cheap solution and they work...just don't soak them with water.

The voice of experience? (about the soaking in water, LOL)
 

Agent007

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Thanks @Yvonne G, that's what I was going to say. I think he looks the same as when I got him, just a little drier. I think I will get a showre curtain today and line it, the current flooring is working but when I put in 3 more blocks of EcoEarth this week it's going to get a lot messier and more likely to get underneath what I have down. I also have a second heat lamp on the way. I have a drafty old house and I figured I would have to do this once winter really hits anyway, i'll just do it a little sooner. @SarahChelonoidis there is a heat lamp where he sleeps, I usually turn it off at night but now that it's getting frosty here in Michigan I'll probably leave it on at night. So i'll have 2 during the day and one on at night.
Thanks for the help everyone, @Yvonne G it makes me feel better knowing you have been through this with yours. I read all these posts and just feel like i'm doing a crappy job with my one tortoise compared to all of you with tons of them. I don't know how you do it! Well living in the south, I guess. It's challenging here in Michigan, i've quickly learned. Here's my Roland a little while ago, I just love his grouchy butt. View attachment 154937

Well the new PICT made him look 1000% cuter. He so cute!!
 

Meganolvt

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Happy to report that he's doing much better. I moved his box to a warmer spot in the house and rearranged it a bit. He was much more active yesterday and eating great this morning. Thanks for the responses everyone.
 

ZEROPILOT

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I have Redfoot. Not Yellowfoot. But the tortoises that I soak get soaked in a childs swimming pool. They can't see over the top, can't see out and they settle down pretty quickly once they know that they are stuck there until I return.
If they can't see a way out, they wont try to get out as hard.
Most of my herd have their own ponds and they climb in all on their own about once a day.)
 
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