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Hasn't Eaten since hibernation
Posted: 30/06/2009 by leilab


I am a veterinary nurse who has taken a tortoise home from work as the owner could no longer afford treatment and wanted her put to sleep.

She is a 53yr old Hermans who came out of hibernation at the end of April. She hasn't eaten since. She was bought into the vets last week as she had spent about 20 minutes at the bottom of their garden pond the day before she was bought in!!!

She has been radiographed (no eggs seen), wormed with oxfenbendazol, bathed twice daily where she appears to be drinking. Offered all types of food, stomach tubed daily and under a heat lamp. she has passed faeces and urine both appear normal. She had been anesthetised and an oesophagostomy tube was placed. (She pulled it out the next day) checked for stomatitis (none)

The next stage would have been referral and bloods etc but owner cannot afford it.

I now have her in my garden in the sunshine where she is incredibly active but still not eating. She is 1.81kg and 19cm long which is showing as over weight on the Jacksons Ratio. I am stomach tubing her twice daily with 2mls per kg hartmans solution and baby food.

She appears fine in every way apart from the fact she will not eat. Have I missed something??? Whats the next stage????



Re: Hasn't Eaten since hibernation
Posted: 30/06/2009 by tpgarlene

Hi Leila

What a sad story about this tortoise, and Im so glad that you have taken her on! Can I just ask, has she been checked by ultrasound?  Xrays will pick up eggs with shells on, but female tortoises can produce a lot of shell-less eggs on the follicles of the ovaries, which can cause a loss of appetite (follicular stasis)

Have you tried opening her mouth, and popping the end of a dandelion in - once it is firmly in they have no option but to eat the rest of it, and this can encourage them to keep going.  If the ultrasound is clear, it may well just be a case of persisting with her over the summer, keeping her well hydrated, and encouraging her to eat.  I had a similar elderly female hermanns who came to me with post hibernation anorexia - we struggled for the whole summer, she had a short, very well monitored hibernation, woke up, ate within a couple of hours and hasnt looked back since - this was 6 years ago now!

Please let us know how you get on, and what the ultrasound shows?

all the best


Re: Hasn't Eaten since hibernation
Posted: 01/07/2009 by leilab

Hello Arlene

Thank you for you response. I will take her in for an ultrasound this week.

I opened her mouth and gave her a dandilion leaf yesterday and she did eat it although quite delicately.

I will persevere



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