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Dragging herself around
Posted: 17/08/2010 by KNS

Hi everyone, this is our first posting.  We've found a lot of the postings on this site really interesting and helpful, but now need to pose our own question, and hope you can help.

We have had one female TGG for just over a year now.  She seems to be very big for her age (just turned 4 years) and had a quite bumpy shell already when we got her.  We have found over this summer - if you can call it that - her movements have become slower, like she is in slow motion, and she doesn't seem to get her plastron up and clear of the ground when walking.  She does just about use her back legs but doesn't lift herself up and walk properly.  Unfortunately it's only since acquiring another female TGG last week, who speed-marches everywhere (!! bless her), that we've really noticed the difference.  BTW, the new arrival is being quarantined.

We think it started when we started putting her in her new, purpose built tort garden earlier this year.  On most days she seems to have a little to eat then finds somewhere to sleep where she stays for the rest of the day.  If we move her late afternoon and give her a little food, she gets a second wind and has a walk about, but in general a very low level of activity.  To be honest, we have had very few what we would call hot days here on the coast this year.  We started to give up putting her outside even before the recent dive in temperatures because she was just huddled up, sleeping all day.

We appreciate that the weather is rubbish, especially now, but even when in her warmer tortoise table and/or in a warm room, she still doesn't seem to get up to speed.  We had her wormed recently as her faeces contained some oxyuride eggs and we hoped she would buck up after that, but no improvement so far.  She seems healthy otherwise, eyes and nose clear, eating fairly normally, just a little more sleepy generally now, we assume due to the season/weather.  She hasn't defaecated since her worming treatment, not sure if that's normal.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Hopefully we're just worrying too much! 

Re: Dragging herself around
Posted: 19/08/2010 by TPGDave

Hi there, welcome to the forum.

This is a bit of a tough one. I've witnessed the trailing hind legs before in a tortoise with a severe calcium deficiency due to no Uvb exposure or supplimentation but it could be so many things that I personally feel a vet visit is in order. Its quite hard to know whats happening without seeing the tortoise in question, that it acts the same indoors rules out enviromenal possibilities for me. So Im going for vet visit, sorry. :)

Re: Dragging herself around
Posted: 20/08/2010 by DavidWYork

I have to agree with Dave. If shell has deformities, so might the leg joints. She may be carrying too much shell weight for her legs to support. I would give frequent long warm baths (stay with torty, do not get distracted), and that might cause bowel activity. I would ring vet (if not on list) and ask if they are au fait with torts, or is there a colleague they might recommend, to help you.

Please let us know via this posting what could be helping other keepers with related torty issues. Good luck.  David in York

Dragging herself around
Posted: 23/08/2010 by KNS

Thank you to both Daves.  We have been careful to provide calcium and UV light, so took your advice to pay a visit to the vet, which we did this morning.  We thought we should update our posting, although we await a formal diagnosis.

The vet listened to our concerns and examined Shelly.  As well as watching the way she moves, the vet noted that Shelly does not withdraw her limbs into her shell.  She is concerned that she has grown too quickly and feels that perhaps her skeletal structure has not kept up with that growth.  She said that the condition may well have existed when we first got Shelly last year but it has only become a noticeable problem since she has grown and put on weight with us.

Shelly is going back tomorrow for an x-ray, which may be followed by blood tests if the x-ray does not help.  We can only hope that if there is a problem, it's something that can either be cured or at least improved with medication, and/or it's something that she can live with alongside some special treatment from two doting carers......

Will update when we have more news.

Dragging herself around
Posted: 23/08/2010 by KNS

Sorry, should have said we give a vitamin supplement instead of just calcium two or three times a week.

Re: Dragging herself around
Posted: 24/08/2010 by KNS

Just back from the vet.

Shelly's xray showed her bones to be quite white, so the vet is not concerned about her bone density, although she continues to be concerned that there is something "metabolic" going on.  She and another vet considered Shelly to feel light for her size, especially as she is quite wide, although she appears within the normal range on the Jackson Ratio.  They say she has clearly grown too quickly and has deformities as a result.

I have known and trusted this vet for years and she is very experienced in small animal care, including tortoises.  She wants to research Shelly's problem further but she herself would admit to not being a reptile specialist.  With all due respect to her, should we seek out a reptile (preferably tortoise) specialist sooner rather than later?  If so, please let us know if there is one in Kent or a neighbouring county.  We don't mind travelling, but obviously the shorter the journey the better for Shelly.

We asked about hibernation, and the vet said there is obviously a risk for Shelly given her undiagnosed condition, but she may in fact benefit from hibernation and on balance it's a risk worth taking.  Any views at this stage on this would be welcome.  We over-wintered her last year and wonder whether that may in fact have impacted on her condition, so were really hoping to hibernate her this year, if only for a relatively short period.

Also the xray showed up 7 or 8 stones that she has eaten, which the vet said is not uncommon and shouldn't be weighing her down, but she has given Shelly some lactulose to try and ease her passing them.  Shelly has always gone for stones (especially white ones) if she gets the chance - we do try to prevent this.

Any more guidance would be most welcome, thank you.  So worried about our girl.

Re: Dragging herself around
Posted: 14/09/2010 by KNS

Just an update, have been back and forth to a reptile vet, who advised that Shelly was severely underweight.  Blood test results satisfactory, a further xray shows stones have moved a little way through intestine but still there.  More lactulose and some critical care formula, followed by two weeks of staying in her table with heat and UV, twice-daily bathing and making sure she eats.  She has poo'd once, whcih contained two very small stones.  Due back at vets this Thursday for a review, next step might be surgery to remove the stones if they still appear to be the problem - which they do, in the absence of any other obvious cause.

Has anyone experienced anything like this before?  Very reluctant to go for surgery, but obviously we will if we have to, as a last resort.   Click and drag me down to the editor


Re: Dragging herself around
Posted: 15/09/2010 by TPGDarren


The stones could take anything up to 28 days to pass through, this would be governed by the size and number. Mark Rowlands at Trinitiy Vets is the best tortoise vet in your area.


Dragging herself around
Posted: 31/10/2010 by KNS

Click and drag me down to the editor great news, Shelly seems to have made a full recovery and is back to her old self.  Still not entirely sure what the cause was, but the treatment and intensive care seem to have turned things around, and we were so relieved to see her start basking again, getting herself up and feeding by herself - a very gradual process but well worth the wait.  She's been more perky in the last few weeks than she was all summer, perhaps she prefers autumn! 

Re: Dragging herself around
Posted: 18/03/2011 by Vanders

My tortoise has the same symptoms. First loss of back legs and now front legs. I'm feeding calcium and vitamins and plenty of hours under the lamp. How long did it take before yours improved

Re: Dragging herself around
Posted: 19/03/2011 by VivTPG

Hi Vanders, have you taken your tortoise to a tortoise specialist vet, I recommend you do this immediately.  Please see the list of tortoise vets .

Please let us know how you get on. Regards Vivienne


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