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unhappy pair
Posted: 16/09/2010 by missypink

Please could someone help me decipher what is wrong with Shelly my pet tortoise?
I purchased her from a pet shop within a garden centre on 5/6/10.
Her certificate says she was hatched 2007, born in captivity, country of origin Slovenia. Certificate dated Bristol 8/10/09, holder Sky Bird Sales.
I first visited a tortoise specialist vets in Manchester with her on 18/6/09 as she wasn't eating very much and wasn't particularly mobile. She was diagnosed with worms and treated on the 22/6/10 and 5/7/10 with oxfendazole. On 15/7/10 after another faecal test the result was 1 empty egg case, which was acceptable providing I remained diligent with hygiene procedures.

She has only once defecated in her tortoise table, which I cleaned immediately. She tends to do this after her morning bath either in the bath or on the towel being dried.
She has a combined uva/uvb light on from 7.30am - 7.30 pm. If weather is decent she goes outside in her 6x4 outside table, which has a small wood house with a twin polycarbonate roof.

What am I doing wrong?

She still doesn't eat spontaneously-I have to put her in front of her food or hand feed her and then she only eats a couple of leaves and pushes it away or turns away. She looks so depressed all she wants to do is either burrow in her aspen inside, or burrow in the sand/soil under a plant outside.
On Monday I decided to leave her in her bedroom compartment inside and not wake her for her morning bath, I just removed the lid off her bedroom to see how long it would take her to come out of her own free-will. I put fresh food and water in the table, she did not move a single inch all day, finally at 7pm I lifted her out for a bath. She ate a tiny bit of nettle and clover.
She has also taken to giving a small squeak sometimes when we pick her up as if to say leave me alone. She also sometimes snorts when you are holding her as if to say let me go.
Is she just anti-social or is there something wrong?
She only ever walks if I put her on the lawn or the middle of the room, just until she finds somewhere to hide. Regardless of being inside or outside she is immobile.
Please help I am at my wits end - one depressed tortoise and owner.

Re: unhappy pair
Posted: 16/09/2010 by DarrenAdmin


Unfortunately, many so-called "captive bred" imported tortoises arrive into the UK with worm infestations - which should not be the case with captive bred animals raised in a sterile environment:-(
It may well be she is not warming up properly, which can be particularly evident this time of year when tortoises are prone to slowing down; preparing for hibernation. During this time they tend to eat less, and so pass faeces less. Tortoises need heat to maintain activity, digest food etc. I would be inclined to check the temperature under your basking lamp as the lamp may require lowering in order to achieve a higher temperature (around 30deg C)in the basking area. The cooler end should be around 20deg C. If you're unable to acieve both temps, it may be worth making a larger tortoise table or possibly take out the divider on the right hand side to make the table more open and move the lamp to one end in order to achieve the range in temperatures.

Please let us know how you get on.

Hope this helps

Kindest Regards

Re: unhappy pair
Posted: 16/09/2010 by DarrenAdmin

PS - love your outdoor enclosure:-)

Re: unhappy pair
Posted: 17/09/2010 by KNS

I had to look at least twice at your posting because I can't believe the similarities with one of our torts, even to the name!  We have posted further down - titled "Dragging herself around" so I won't repeat it all. 

We have been careful to check temperatures in her table and only put Shelly outside on the warmest of days earlier this summer, but exactly the same as your Shelly - her only movement is to crawl away to hide, then nothing.  At the moment, if we don't put her under her heat lamp, bath her, make her eat, we're fairly sure she would not move at all.  The only time she walks to any extent is if we let her loose in the front room, or on the patio when it was warmer outside, but we think that's only because she is looking for somewhere to hide!  It seems a miserable existence but we just don't know what to do.  You'll see from our other posting that the vet thinks the stones in her gut are to blame, but she has been behaving this way for months.  By contrast our other, fairly newly acquired tortoise, behaves "normally", which is actually what really highlighted Shelly's problems.

So we share your pain, not that that is any help I'm sure, as we are as desperate for answers as you are.Click and drag me down to the editor

Re: unhappy pair
Posted: 17/09/2010 by missypink

The temperature in the basking area is 34 degrees, at the far end it is 24 degrees and at night it can drop to 18 degrees.

I have got him indoors to move the lamp to the far side to give a better temperature range - will let you know how we get on.

Our garden can flood so the outside enclosure is up on legs - all made from decking, can you imagine how much "persuasion" it took to get it made :)

Thanks for the quick reply - hope it works.

Re: unhappy pair
Posted: 29/09/2010 by missypink

A sad update

We have got the test results back and it's not good, Shelly has herpes.

This is unpleasant in humans but often fatal in tortoises. Click and drag me down to the editor

We are hoping to try antibiotics and a lot of care, she still will not move unless you take her out of her table, and then only to hide. Shelly is taking food when hand fed.

Has anyone nursed a tortoise through this?

Re: unhappy pair
Posted: 30/09/2010 by TPGDarren


I've sent you a private mail.

Kindest Regards


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