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Posted: 12/11/2008 by Tracey


I'd like some advice please.

I was given a Horsfield 3 weeks ago. He hasn't eaten by choice for over 4 weeks. I work at the vets so took him to work where we've blood tested and everything appears normal. We're not an exotic vets so we sent an xray to a specialist and we're waiting to hear back. My main worry is the faeces sample we sent. The lab reported back Salmonella and they've sent the sample to another lab for serotyping. Could this be stopping him from eating or could there be another underlying problem. I read on another website that all positive salmonella carriers should be put to sleep which seems a bit harsh.

I'm really worried about him as he's started to lose weight now. Think we're going to start stomach tubing him today while we wait for more results.

Any help would be really appreciated.


Re: Salmonella
Posted: 12/11/2008 by TPGDarren


It is important to point out that salmonella is easily passed from one animal to another. It manifests itself in us as Salmonellosis. Cleanliness, washing hands thoroughly with a recognised alcoholic disinfectant on contact with any tortoise (e.g. Amprotect) is very important. I too believe it is extremely harsh to put down an animal because it has salmonella, though I have heard of it being recommended by vets:-) It is not the animalís fault that poor hygene can result in it being passed on to us. I have a friend whose tortoise was diagnosed with Salmonella last year (Clifton strain); her tortoise shows no symptoms at all, is otherwise perfectly happy and lives a good quality life. At least you have the advantage of knowing your tortoise has salmonella and precautions can be taken, though everyone should take the necessary precautions in the event their tortoise may be infected; particularly around, infants, the elderly, expectant ladies etc.
With regards to the tube feeding, it may well be a case that a change in the environment may have disrupted his eating pattern, added to this is the fact that many tortoises are slowing down this time of year to prepare for hibernation. Tube-feeding will increase stress levels, which is said to play a large role in the way reptiles release salmonella.

Re: Salmonella
Posted: 12/11/2008 by tpgNina

Hi Tracey,

Horsfields are notorious for wanting to hibernate at this time of year, and I wonder if that is what is happening with your tort. I'm not saying you should hibernate him -- you probably shouldn't this year, as you haven't had him long enough -- but it might be what he is trying to do. What are the temperatures at the hot end and the cool end of his enclosure, and what sort of lights (basking and UVB are you using)? If heat and light aren't right (too much, too little), it can definitely put a tortoise off its food and make it want to sleep all day.


Re: Salmonella
Posted: 12/11/2008 by tpgNina

Oops, and I meant to ask also, what foods are you tempting him with? Do you know what he was fed on before? If a tortoise has been fed on the wrong foods (pellets, fruit, etc.) they often don't want to eat the right food -- weeds and flowers -- and you need to persist with them.

It is also important to keep him hydrated, so lots of warm baths are important if he isn't a tortoise who drinks voluntarily, but also give him thin slices of cucumber for the water content (no nourishment, but lots of water in them). Is he pooing and weeing at all? Is he producing urates, and if so, are they watery/creamy or sandy/gritty? Sorry for all of the questions, but the information will help us to suggest measures that might persuade him to eat.


Re: Salmonella
Posted: 13/11/2008 by Tracey


He's got a Powersun Bulb and temp is 32 basking end. I've tempted him with absolutely everything lettuce, cucumber, watercress, toms, dandies, chickory, plantain and even pellets so good & bad.

If iput a leaf in his mouth he will eat some of it.

Decided against the tube feeding yesterday cos don't want to stress him and thought if we did that he might never eat. He's having baths twice a day and thats when he wees & poos. The wee is white and stringy in the water.

Thanks for your replies I feel  a bit better knowing others are slowing down this time of year. I'll just persevere. Any suggestions on flowers i can buy from the garden centre to lively up his house.

Re: Salmonella
Posted: 13/11/2008 by vivtpgadmin

Hi, what you are doing sounds fine, carry on with the baths, it is normal for them to wee (the white jelly stuff is the urates- again normal) and poo in the bath.  Carry on feeding the weeds, try to cut out the toms and pellets though!!

Plants to liven up his house could include winter pansies, cactus eg aloe, sedum.  You just have to watch though as whatever you put in he will eat the lot!!!

Keep us informed of his progress

Regards Vivienne

Re: Salmonella
Posted: 13/11/2008 by Tracey

Thanks Vivienne

An update. Today Ernie has decided to eat. I'm so pleased even though it's early days. He's eaten quite a bit of cucumber and water cress I know this isn't great nutritionally but it's a start. he must've known I was on here whinging about him.

I've not had anything from the lab yet re the strain of salmonella but started injecting him with baytril and vit B12 and he seems to be turning the corner.

I always wanted a tortoise but didn't realise it would be quite so stressful. LOL serves me right for taking on someones reject.

Re: Salmonella
Posted: 14/11/2008 by vivtpgadmin

Hi, its so good to hear Ernie is turning the corner, and he's beginning to eat, try rubbing the dandelions with the cucumber or sprinkling the water cress onto the wet dandies/weeds, before you know it he'll beating them too!!

Ernie is so lucky to have found you, he will have a much better life now. 

As I said before keep us informed and on the results of the salmonella.

Regards VivienneClick and drag me down to the editor


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