Worried!!! My Sulcata scutes lifting off

bobbyso

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Hi… upset parent speaking and desperately needing advice. My Sulcata Grenade is 10 years old and 22kg. Been healthy and active with good appetite.

Recently I find two of his top scutes are seemingly loosening and lifting off.

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I’ve read old threads and all seemed to suggest either too much heat or fungal infection that killed tissues underneath.

People said the scutes now loosened will eventually come off and it’s a matter of time (like months or years). BUT THEN I brought Grenade to vet who however suggested to lift the scutes NOW and check out the tissues below to make sure the rotting or whatever it’s going on won’t worsen.

Does it make sense?? Should I be doing it now for her? Also is there any cure to stop them from coming off?
Desperately wanting to stop it from deteriorating :( Thank you:(
 

Lyn W

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Hi and welcome,
There are many members very experienced with keeping sullies who will be along soon to help you but meanwhile can you tell us more about how you are keeping him please?
Pictures of his enclosure and the lamps you are using with details of temperatures and soaking routine will help.
Was the vet a tortoise specialist? I wouldn't recommend lifting the scutes because that would be painful and could introduce infection, but wait and see what those with much more tort medical knowledge say.
I'll tag a few members for you @Yvonne G @Tom @zovick
 

Tom

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Hi… upset parent speaking and desperately needing advice. My Sulcata Grenade is 10 years old and 22kg. Been healthy and active with good appetite.

Recently I find two of his top scutes are seemingly loosening and lifting off.

View attachment 347702
View attachment 347703
View attachment 347704

I’ve read old threads and all seemed to suggest either too much heat or fungal infection that killed tissues underneath.

People said the scutes now loosened will eventually come off and it’s a matter of time (like months or years). BUT THEN I brought Grenade to vet who however suggested to lift the scutes NOW and check out the tissues below to make sure the rotting or whatever it’s going on won’t worsen.

Does it make sense?? Should I be doing it now for her? Also is there any cure to stop them from coming off?
Desperately wanting to stop it from deteriorating :( Thank you:(
Are you still using heat lamps to heat this guy during cooler weather? Or CHEs? What does the winter housing look like?
 

Yvonne G

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I've always been told NOT to lift the scutes, but to allow them to come off naturally, but then, I'm not a vet and have no vet training.

The most common cause for those top scutes to lift off like that is because at one time or another he was too close to a heat source (light, etc.) and his shell was burned, causing the new tissue and bone underneath the scute to die. What causes the lifting is because there is no longer a blood supply to those parts underneath the scute.

But all is not lost! Eventually new bone and keratin grows under that old, dead bone and as it grows and gets larger than the dead bone above it, it causes the dead parts to pop off. It takes over a year for this to happen. And because the new growth is being applied all at once, not in increments like that existing growth, it doesn't look like the existing shell. But it's healthy and hard and he'll be just fine.

There's nothing to do about it. It's going to happen whether or not you tend to it.
 
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MenagerieGrl

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I agree with Yvonne G, just like a damaged fingernail, I would leave it and let it come off naturally. When the underbed has developed sufficintly it should lift off by itself . .while it is/maybe damaged, it is still providing some protection. IMO
 

Sarah2020

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What a shame!. Check all your heat settings and distance as he us getting bigger adjustmentsxare required to avoid any further damage. He has pyramided which effects the spine. Ensure you provide fresh leaves and flowers, water and calcium to help the shell growth.
There is a sulcata caresheet which you can also read to cross check settings.
 

MaNaAk

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Hi… upset parent speaking and desperately needing advice. My Sulcata Grenade is 10 years old and 22kg. Been healthy and active with good appetite.

Recently I find two of his top scutes are seemingly loosening and lifting off.

View attachment 347702
View attachment 347703
View attachment 347704

I’ve read old threads and all seemed to suggest either too much heat or fungal infection that killed tissues underneath.

People said the scutes now loosened will eventually come off and it’s a matter of time (like months or years). BUT THEN I brought Grenade to vet who however suggested to lift the scutes NOW and check out the tissues below to make sure the rotting or whatever it’s going on won’t worsen.

Does it make sense?? Should I be doing it now for her? Also is there any cure to stop them from coming off?
Desperately wanting to stop it from deteriorating :( Thank you:(
I think you should get a second opinion from another vet as I will never forget several years ago when Jacky and Daisy were diagnosed by one vet as having underactive thyroids only to be told a year later that this was not the case.

MaNaAk
 

bobbyso

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Thank you such good advice from you guys!! She is a rescue I got two years ago… She’s all along seems fine and I’m too very reluctant to have the scutes removed for it seems intrusive. I did bring her to another vet before this vet, who told me it’s just abnormal shell growth from birth. Both are reptile specialists so I’m confused.

For daily care, I keep her on a patio (tile surface) with a little house for her to stay during hot (80-100F) or cold days (50-70F) where I will have a heat lamp inside. There are water pools around her too.
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I give her hay, lettuce, cabbage, sometimes
tomatoes and carrots and calcium supplements. I’m not sure if she is getting all the nutrients she needs?

She poops once a day, sometimes urinating brown fluid. White powder too for I think is urate. I soak her in lukewarm water every other day.

Is the house too small for her and the lamp? Does she in fact need the lamp during winter or she’ll be good without it?

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And since it’s summer now, been really hot recently. I find her tearing in the morning. Is it because of the heat? She doesn’t stay under the sun long and likes shades. Is it normal for Sulcata?
Also is she shell pyramiding serious? Anything I can do on top of giving her better nutrients?

Thank you all for helping !!
 

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Beasty_Artemis

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I find the enclosure scary. Is that a balcony? The flooring is slippery. The light is the wrong kind.
 

Yvonne G

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Oh wow! I'm sorry to say, that is a totally wrong way to house a sulcata. Think of your tortoise as a mini cow. Would you keep a cow on the balconey?

Sulcatas need lots of space to be able to walk around. Walking helps keep the digestive system working. Being confined with no room to walk eventually the tortoise will get all bound up, constipated.

Also, the hot sun heats up that flooring and it probably burns the sulcata's bare feet.

Sulcatas graze. Yes, you provide food, however, it's in their nature to graze. Grazing helps keep the beak trimmed and satisfies their need to feel full.

When you got this animal had you thought this is where it was going to live the rest of its life? I'm sorry to say, this is not a good place for a sulcata to live.
 

Maggie3fan

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Maro2Bear

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I can’t imagine how 🌶🔥 hot 🌶🥵🔥 that patio is all day long in the blazing sunshine. I know that our wooden deck in the heat of the day is over 150F. (Using a digital IR temp gauge). I’m sure that marble/slate/stone patio is blazing hot by late afternoon. I’ll bet it’s impossible to stand on with bare feet.

Since you asked :

Bulb - That red bulb isn’t the best source of heat for many reasons. Those loose scutes MIGHT have been damaged by your heat bulb.

Tears - Yes, it’s very common in Sulcatas - called the Crying Tortoise

Shade - I’m sure it’s baking hot & seeking out the shade. Many tortoises are crepuscular - more active in early morning & evening. Saving energy during the day.
 

TammyJ

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She has no substrate and! Can't even dig to try to get cool. Wow. Never seen worse conditions for any tortoise. Please read the care sheet and make the changes needed. Your tortoise will be grateful!
 

OliveW

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@bobbyso please return to the forum for the sake of your tortoise. :<3:

If you live in a condo, please rehome this beautiful Sulcata to somewhere that has a yard! She will suffer every single day that she is living on a balcony. It's okay that you didn't know that, but now that you do, please do the humane thing!

There are adorable tortoise species that don't get very big and can live their entire lives in a large aquarium, in the correct conditions. Please consider one of those those. Sulcatas MUST have yards. SHE WILL DIE. It's a given, not if, but when.

I'm begging you to consider what people are telling you. Perhaps you can work out a trade with someone for a more condo appropriate tortoise for you to love and enjoy.
 

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