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Category: Vet
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My 7 year old tortoise seems to be rising, his shell is

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My 7 year old tortoise seems to be rising, his shell is visible in the greenhouse .He dug himself in last Sept.
JA: I'll do all I can to help. Can you tell me a little more about the tortoise's situation?
Customer: What do I do?
JA: What type of food does he normally eat?
Customer: well mostly dandelions and lettuce but ate sparingly prior to hibernating Set 2020
JA: What's the tortoise's name?
Customer: Tonic
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know?
Customer: Not that I can think of . I am new to tortoises and only have owned him since the summer 2020
Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I’m a biologist with over 20 years of experience keeping reptiles. Some additional information may help determine the best steps for you to take.What is the temperature in the greenhouse?Do you have facilities to bring him indoors if need be?Thank you.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
The temperature is between 10 and 20 degrees C. Yes I can bring him in
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I do not wish to call at present just to know what I must do?\

You can just ignore the requests for phone calls. They are not from me, but are computer generated.

Thank you for getting back to me. One more question: what kind of tortoise is he: Russian, Sulcata, etc.?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I do not want to call at present
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
`he is a Mediterranean Tortoise
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Are you there or is my line cut off
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

I’m sorry for the delays. This is not an instant chat. We work with more than one customer at a time. And the posts don’t come through instantly, either. If I were a bot, you could get an instant reply, but I’m a real person. These conditions result in delays of a few minutes. If you aren’t satisfied with that, I can send in a request for a refund to Customer Service. Otherwise, I can start typing your answer. Please let me know.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I apologise, please type your answer
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I did not mean to appear rude

I just wanted you to understand how this works. I’m not a fast typist, so I’ll appreciate your patience. But I promise I’ll be back as soon as I finish.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
How long do you think you will be please
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I and a Carer and will not be able to stay very long. I am also hard of hearing therefore the phone is difficult for me.

Probably about ten minutes. I’m going to give you part of it at a time so you don’t have to wait as long. I’ll be back with part one in just a couple minutes.

Hibernating tortoises is always risky. Everything has to be just right before they go into hibernation or they will not survive. When the temperature goes over 10*C, the body starts using up its fat stores too quickly because the tortoise’s metabolism speeds up. That is very dangerous. You need to wake up your tortoise and bring him inside. It will be important to let him gradually get warmer. Don’t put a heat bulb or anything in him. Just let him gradually get to the temperature inside your house.

I recommend this article on the process of hibernating tortoises:

I’ll be back with what to do after that.

Once your tortoise warms to room temperature, he should start to stir or even walk around. The next step is to give him a rehydrating soak. If you can get it, using an electrolyte solution 50% with 50% water is better than plain water. Theses solutions are sold in pharmacies for sick children. If you can’t get one, just use water. Prepare a shallow (just over his legs and tail) room temperature bath. Soak your tortoise for 20 to 30 minutes. If he wants to drink while in the bath, that’s good. Be sure to supervise closely.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
thank you that is very helpful

You’re welcome, and thank you for waiting.

Next, examine him to see if he will need a vet appointment. If he refuses to wake up, if his eyes are swollen, if bubbles come from his nose or mouth, or there is fungus growing in his shell or skin, he needs to be seen by your vet for proper treatment. If all seems well, you can prepare a home for him to live in for the rest of the winter.

Glass aquariums ir terrariums are not the best places to keep a tortoise, but can work if that’s all you have. You can use a plastic tote (such as those made by RubberMaid), a small size child’s plastic wading pool (for a small tortoise that can’t climb out), or a box.

Proper temperatures are important and this is where you will need a basking light. The gradient in the enclosure should be 21*C to 29*C, with the basking area warmer yet, at 35*C. Night temperatures can go down to 21*C to 23*C, so you probably don’t need to leave the heat on at night. Tortoises need the night time drop to stay healthy. If temperatures are a little too chilly in the daytime, lethargy and appetite loss will occur.

Your tortoise also needs UVB rays. Many of the so-called daytime lights for reptiles are called full- spectrum, but they do not produce any UVB rays at all. If the light doesn’t specifically state UVB (not UV or UVA, but UVB), it doesn’t produce UVB rays. Without UVB tortoises develop Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). It causes a very slow and painful death, often over a period of months to years. I recommend a light called the Reptisun 10.0 for UVB rays. UVB bulbs are ineffective after 6 months, even though they may look fine, and must be replaced twice a year for indoor tortoises. Calcium is also needed to prevent MBD. The best way to provide it is to give your tortoise a cuttlebone, which can be found in the bird section of pet stores.

Only one more section to go.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Tortoises that have been hibernating may not start to eat right away. But if he doesn’t eat within two days, that’s another reason to see your vet. The best diet is what he finds outside- grasses and weeds, but in the winter we have to find a substitute. This article tells you which greens and vegetables are acceptable. Some can cause problems, so I recommend reading it. There is more there than what I can provide in this format.

However, I would add one food they don’t mention. Good quality grass hay is a good addition. You can buy bags of it in the rabbit section of pet stores. Don’t use alfalfa hay, but stick with grass hays like Timothy or orchard grass. Once the weather warms outside, he can move back to the garden.

I know this all sounds complicated, but tortoises are complicated pets. If you have more questions as you proceed through all this, don’t hesitate to ask. I’m glad to help. If I’m not online when you post, I will respond as soon as I log in again. I live in the central part of the States, so we are dealing with a considerable time zone difference. I hope your tortoise will be fine when you get him out.

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