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Dr. Ellie
Dr. Ellie, Veterinarian
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 305
Experience:  emergency and critical care resident
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I have a 7 month old Russian tortoise who I got in Feb. He

Customer Question

I have a 7 month old Russian tortoise who I got in Feb. He is housed indoors in a glass aquarium. Since I have had him he will eat for several days, then stop for several days. I had him to the vet about 2 weeks ago for being so sleepy and barely eating in a week. He had me raise up his substrate so he would be closer to the lights. I have the proper lights per the vet. He ended up giving him a antibiotic shot because it looked like he had a watery eye. I also changed his substrate to a less dusty one. He did well 2 days after his shot and ate pretty much daily for about 5 days, but now is back to sleeping and not eating. He moves around his tank throughout the day, but not real active. He has bowel movements daily, but wants to just sleep and not open his eyes. If he opens them, he just opens them half way. When he eats, he likes dandelion weeds, hibiscus flowers and leaves, mustard greens at times and some limited green or red lettuce I have read that Russians are know to take a summer siesta called aestivation. We live in Phoenix and it is very hot here right now. Even though he is indoors under controlled temp, could this be what he is doing? I have tried everything I know and am worried about him.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. The Veterinarian will know if aestivation will be able to digest that. Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about aestivation?
Customer: I'm not sure if that is what is happening. I just want to do what ever is good for him. If he is doing something natural then I won't worry about it, but I am concerned about the not eating. I have soaked him almost everyday to help wake him up, but does not really seem to help.
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Dr. Ellie replied 2 months ago.

Do you have a thermometer in the tank to monitor temperature? glass can hold heat in and its possible that the tank is warmer than the room it is in. Glass also holds in humidity. Russian tortoises do best in dry environments. I would recommend putting him in an open plastic tub or a constructing a tortoise table like this one:

If this does not help then your vet can perform blood work to look for issues that wouldn't show up on a musical exam like kidney disease.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
This is where my confusion comes in. My exotic vet tells me that he does need humidity. I have also been told that he is too small to draw blood on (weighs 27 grams). He did get another antibiotic injection yesterday. I have switched his substrate to reptibark from the coconut bedding because it was too dusty, even with misting it. He was always rubbing his eyes.
Expert:  Dr. Ellie replied 2 months ago.

Yes, its true that babies need more humidity than adults because they will dehydrate quicker, the ideal range for humidity is about 50-70%. Much less than some other species that need up to 100% humidity at times. You may want to consider a drier environment with humid microclimates such as those that can be created by keeping an area of his enclosure more moist than other areas. This can allow him to regulate the amount of humidity he needs. Also, if you are not giving him a supplement perhaps this is what he is missing. the most common deficiency is calcium but others are important too.

Expert:  Dr. Ellie replied 2 months ago.

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?