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Runny Nose Syndrome
Posted: 14/04/2016 by GrahamH

Hi I am looking for some advice from vets/experienced keepers.

About a year ago I acquired a new tortoise, Daisy, from an old lady nearby who could no longer take care of it due to ill health. I didn't particularly want to take it on as I have two Iberas that I have had for a very long time and I noticed that Daisy was a TGG. However, Daisy's alternative was to get thrust upon a family member, who didn't want her, with no idea how to take care of it and so I felt compelled to take her on.

She has been kept separate from my other two tortoises the entire time, but unfortunately I noticed soon after taking her on she has the dreaded Runny Nose Syndrome. Previously the old lady gave them a poor diet and kept a large mixed group of species (hermanns, iberas and tgg) which I know is one of the largest risk factors for RNS.

I took her to my regular reptile vet, who has been very good and we did the tests for herpes/bacteria. It came back positive for micrococcus and we dutifully started her on the anitbiotics (Baytril). We went through injections to nebulising to then nebulising with F10. I also constructed her a tortoise table so we could overwinter her and ensure she was kept constantly warm.

Essentially, we are now in a position where we are not treating her (injections and F10 nebulisation was last done ~ 6 months ago). Her runny nose comes and goes and otherwise she seems to have no other health worries. She eats as much as she can get her greedy beak on, roams around the garden like crazy on warm days and seems perfectly happy.

I still keep her strictly separate from my other tortoises due to the fear that this is some sort of lurking herpes infection/something else sinister, but she really seems perfectly healthy asides from the coming/going nose runs. Also, none of the other tortoises have become ill or have died that the lady used to have, some 18 in number.

I don't really know what to do with her now and if anyone has got any advice/thoughts it would be really appreciated. I worry about keeping strict quarantine, but I am far too afraid to ever put her with my other tortoises.

I strictly follow all the best advice on the tortoise protection/trust websites. She has a UVB bulb when on her table and her sleeping area is heated to keep it warm on cold nights. She is fed a diet of largely weeds, supplemented with some supermarket bits in winter and receives nutroball supplement 3 times a week. I hoped the improved husbandry would fix her runny nose, but no change.

As I say, any thoughts/advice welcome. In the end I might end up having to adopt her out to a single tortoise home.

Re: Runny Nose Syndrome
Posted: 14/04/2016 by Tom

Hello Graham,

Quite right to isolate it, T.graeca & T.ibera come from different continents, the sparse Spanish population is thought to have been introduced.
The Pet Trade imported many T.i between 1976 & '83. Where the two species were kept together, a huge amount of Tgg perished.

Currently many specialist vets don't treat rhinitis with torts which are otherwise healthy.

Tgg are quite hardy, perhaps consider weaning it off the overnight heat, over a long period.


Re: Runny Nose Syndrome
Posted: 14/04/2016 by GrahamH

Hi Tom, 

Thanks for your response, greatly appreciated. I can't really envisage a time when I will be able to put her with, or near my other tortoises and stop worrying about maintaining strict quarantine. I am not sure that I would stop strictly quarantining her even if she showed no symptoms for a long period, just in case. Do you agree or do you think I am being overly paranoid?

The real issue I am wrestling with and looking for advice on is this: will I ever stop worrying that she'll make my other two tortoises ill? If the answer is no, then unfortunately I think I am going to have to adopt her out to a 1 tortoise home where quarantine isn't an issue. Although, I am really quite attached to her and I know there are a lot of people out there who have no idea how to give a tortoise a good home.

Let me know your thoughts, it would be really appreciated.

Many thanks again for your reply.


Re: Runny Nose Syndrome
Posted: 14/04/2016 by Tom

You'll appreciate that you can't put her with your T.ibera at any stage Graham. However provided that they are in separate enclosures, I'm sure that all will be well.

If you have room for separation, without compromising enclosure size, [min. 15sqm for ibera,] keep her & enjoy having her. By implication don't try to find her a friend. 
The literature suggests that the main danger is direct contact.

Best wishes,

Re: Runny Nose Syndrome
Posted: 15/04/2016 by GrahamH

Many thanks.

Yes, I have plenty of space, the whole garden is tortoise secure its about 700sqm.

Thanks for your thoughts.


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