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Joan
Joan, Veterinary Technician
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 17415
Experience:  35+ years experience as veterinary tech and 20+ years experience doing reptile rescues.
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My Russian tortoise (15years old)will not stick s head out

Customer Question

My Russian tortoise (15years old)will not stick his head out from his shell.He hasnt eaten in a couple weeks and I'm starting to worry.he has adequate heat and U.V. And his diet has never changed.Also he's very lethargic
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.

Hello,

My name is ***** ***** I have been a Vet tech for 30+ years with special interest in Reptiles and Reptile rescue.

Can you tell me if you have a Linear UVB tube or compact coil, strength and age of the bulb?

Have you given any soaks?

Does the tortoise move around at all?

Has your tortoise ever done this when the weather got cold?

Joan

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
100watt coil bulb bought in late September soaked him in warm water today for the first time.he moved then a little only to reposition himself in the tray he was soaking in.He's never behaved like this before in the cold or heat
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He's always had a fantastic appetite
Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

Russian tortoises will hibernate in the winter time. They usually will burrow and go down in fall and will not emerge until spring time. During this time they will not eat, drink and they will sleep. He has prepared himself for a winter sleep. in some cases they will hibernate 9 months out of the year if allowed. Right now he is in Torpor, which is not a true hybernation. This sheet goes over hibernation and I will give you one more specific to the Russian tortoise:

http://www.anapsid.org/hibernation.html

I know this is unusual, but we see this quite often and may even indicate what type of winter is ahead. I live in Florida and have seen this in my own reptiles. I have some that never brumated and then all of a sudden as they got older would go down for a winter sleep. This is more geared to the Russian tortoise hibernation:

http://russiantortoise.net/hibernation_journey.htm

If I have addressed your concerns, please take a moment to rate my service 5 Stars.

Joan

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Should I create a "burrow " for him.i really don't remember him ever behaving like this in 15 years.
Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

I would Have the tortoise in the Herp Vet. for a Health Check-up. This is important to be sure the weight is good and he is healthy for the estivation. I like to use a Styrofoam cooler and use a good bedding for a burrow. The insulated box kept in a cool room of the house where the temperature stays between 40 and 60°F will work well for hibernation as long as he has been thoroughly examined and weighed. He should be soaked daily to make sure he is fully hydrated before he goes completely under.

If I have addressed your concerns, please take a moment to rate my service 5 Stars.

Joan

Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.

Checking in to see how the tortoise is doing? did you get a hibernation box set up for your tortoise?

Joan

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Vet said he is dehydrated.No fault of ours.he's always had adequate water.after a soak in saline then in squash and pedialyte he's shown no improvement.The vet believes it's something internal (kidney/liver)he's never tried to or been in the environment to hibernate in the 15+years I've owned him.
I'm now trying to figure out the most humane way to euthanize him.
Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.

The Vet can do that for you with an injection. Kidney failure is a problem in tortoises, and I know you have done everything you can. Did they do blood work? Usually blood work would let you know if it is Kidney failure or something internal. Their life span is longer and should be treatable. I hate to see you give up on him. Please let me know what is happening and what decisions are made.

Joan