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Vet Marc
Vet Marc, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 3
Experience:  Small animal vet registered with RCVS
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, I have a Spurred Thighed Tortoise called Terry, who has

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Hi, I have a Spurred Thighed Tortoise called Terry, who has come out of hibernation and for the first time is not 'right'. I am not sure how old he is, my Dad bought in him 1964 and he was about the size of a small teaplate then. He now measures aprox. 215 millimetres(carapace) and weighed 2500 grams last October and has only lost about 5grams which is normal for him after the winter. His hibernation was no different to the last 50 years!! He has always been slow to eat but this year he doesn't seem to want to and I am giving him warm baths and water from a 5ml. syringe. His mouth is quite clear and he has no discharges from eyes or tail. His shell is also o.k. He is not moving his back legs and doesn't seem to have any stength to lift or move himself. He is normally quite strong. I know his sight hasn't been good for some years now but this hasn't affected him finding food etc. and he does have a large lump under his left front leg but he can still retract his leg back into his shell, the local Vet thinks it is just a cyst. I live in France about two hours from Caen, having moved here ten years ago with Terry, I thought I would ask your advice before seeing my French Vet who doesn't have any Tortoises on their books!! Regards ***** ***** XXXXX XXXXXX

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. My name is ***** ***** I am a registered veterinary surgeon.

I am sorry to hear Terry is not recovering from hibernation as he should. Post hibernation problems in tortoises are unfortunately seen often. The primary cause of problems are incorrect reviving facilities / procedures, inadequate preparation (poor body condition/nutrition), or concurrent disease.

From what you describe, you are doing all the appropriate steps in reviving him. Often, they come out of hibernation dehydrated, so bathing and giving water is often needed.

I think a veterinary visit to rule out concurrent disease is needed here. Some things your vet can do include x-rays to look for chest infections, faecal samples to look for high worm burden, running bloodwork to check kidney values, checking for signs of cheloanian herpes virus, checking for signs for stomatitis. If Terry's health checks out okay, then he needs good nursing to get him over the hump. I do not know of any vets in France personally that have experience with reptiles but the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterianians has a find a vet page ( and this website informs me of a veterinarian in Paris who is a specialist in reptile medicine ( A veterinarian with experience in reptiles would be the best option in this case, as post hibernation issues can be subtle and might need extensive work-up to determine the problem.
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hello and many thanks for your reply.
I will get Terry to the vets as soon as possible and ask them to run tests to check everything. I can't think of anything different I have done during his hibernation etc. so will continue with the usual procedures, at least the sun is out which he loves!! I am concerned that he doesn't seem to be able to use his back legs.
I will let you know the outcome.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hello Marc,
I am afraid I have to tell you the Terry the Tortoise didn't make it, his kidneys had failed and didn't rspond to treatment, so unfortunatately we had to have him put to sleep. We will all miss him after 51 years plodding about the garden. The Vet seemed to think he was nearer 100 so he had had a very good innings including moving to France!!
Many thanks for your advice
Hi Celia,
How is Terry doing? Do you have any additional questions?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Hi, Marc,

I think our replys must have crossed, I did write to you saying that Terry didn't make it as his kidneys had failed.

Who would have thought you could miss a Tortoise so much.

Many thanks your advice was helpful to us and the Vet.



Dear Celia,

I am absolutely sorry about the miscommunication in the system. I am also sorry to hear that Terry has passed away. It is always hard to lose a pet, especially one that has been in your family for so long. If you need any information on pet breavement, or need any assistance, I recommend the Ralph site (established by a vet after the loss of her beloved cat Ralph to help owner grieve for their lost companions):

I am glad I was able to help in the end, but sorry to hear how it ended.