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Joan, Veterinary Technician
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 18673
Experience:  35+ years experience as veterinary tech and 40+ years experience doing reptile rescues.
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My Russian Tortoise has gradually stopped eating over the past

Resolved Question:

My Russian Tortoise has gradually stopped eating over the past few weeks. She has sort of tapered down, giving up one food after another, all foods that she formerly relished. First she gave up carrots, then kale, then green beans. (I offer her a variety every day in hopes that she will go back to eating old favorites. I am surprised given that she ate pretty well over the winter. The past few days she won't touch the lovely large dandelions that have always been her favorite. She is about 7 years old and last time I weighed her she weighed a little over 2 lbs. She has no other visible symptoms. Should I try a warm bath, or something else. Thanks!
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Joan replied 5 years ago.


Can you tell me about your set up?

Do you have the tortoise inside or out?

If inside do you have a UVB light? How old? Tube or coil? Stregnth?





Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hello Joan. She is inside except for the one day outside in pen on Saturday. (She was lethargic and not eating much before that. I thought it would perk h up. Temp is 79 degrees on a timer, 7 to 7. Bulb is Zilla Desert series 50 UVB Flourescent T8, tube. 18" long. Hasn't worked for a while, replaced last week. Humidity is about 53%. Substrata is bark from Petco, don't have package handy but it is what she has had for last few years.
Expert:  Joan replied 5 years ago.


For the UVB I actually like to use a Mercury Vapor Bulb called a Powersun bulb which replaces the baskin bulb as well as a UVB tube. They do need a a higher temp in the basking area up into the 90* range.


Another issue is the bark is not the best substrate because it does not offer enough moisture to offer the humidity needed. I like a ecoearth or a good soil mixture for the tortoise. I am concerned that if the bark was ingested it can cause a blockage in the intestinal tract and cause the tortoise to go off food.


This is a great care sheet that may help correct the husbandry issues we are seeing:


For now I would like to see you change the substrate and raise the humidity in the enclosure. I would also like to see you raise the basking temps and try the Powersun MVB bulb. They only have to be changed once a year. I would add some cuttle bones for a calcium supplement.


For first aid now a mice soak in a 50/50 soak in warm water and Plain Pedialyte which is an infant eletrolyte solution. Soak for about 30 mins. Hope fully this will help prevent dehydration and perk him up.


I would also like to suggest a Herp Vet visit to rule out a blockage or a parasite issue. It is very important to find the underlying factor to be sure he starts feeling better. I can locate a Herp Vet with a State. Joan

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes, I would appreciate some names of herp vet in our state. We live in Corvallis, Oregon. I hve been told that West Hills Animal Hospital has a vet that treats tortoises. I would prefer not to use this facility. Eugene and Portland are possible, although we have a vet school at Oregon State University. i don't know if they treat "exotic" animals like tortoises. Thanks for the good advice. My husband just came home with the pedilyte and we will try that in the next hour. She usually poops during a warm bath. If she does, that rule out a blockage? I will wait for your answer. Thanks!
Expert:  Joan replied 5 years ago.


It could rule out a full blockage, but there may still be a partial blockage or an intestinal issue since Tortoises are notorious for eating things. Some of the things I have seen come out in surgery, even shocked me.


I am going to give you two referals for vets on eis Herp vets the other specializes in tortoises.


Herp Vets:


Tortoise Vets:

CLINIC'S NAME: Oak Hills Veterinary Clinic





CLINIC'S NAME: Raleigh Hills Veterinary Clinic

VET'S NAME: Dr. Sierbinski, DVM

ADDRESS: 4905 SW 77th Ave., Portland



Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi Joan, I have just finished soaking Ingrid and "nothing" happened. I phoned the two vets you gave me contact information for but niether sees tortoises anymore. The did recommend a Dr. mark Burgess at SW Animal Hospital in Beaverton, Oregon. It is a suburb of Portland. I have an appointment for Thursday morning. Their website at has lots of advice for exotic pets. I am also impressed that Dr. Burgess teaches exotic vet medicine at the Oregon State University Vet School. I probably can't check back with you after our visit, but I would feel pretty safe in adding Dr. Burgess to your list of recommended vets after you check him out online. I think we are done and I appreciate your advice and time today. Do you/would you like me to come back to me one more time so I can give you the big smiley face rating? I would be happy to do that. You have us pointed in the right direction. Thanks! Gail
Expert:  Joan replied 5 years ago.

Hi Gail,

I am so glad you have a Vet to see with Experience to see Ingrid. Please bookmark this page, as you can always comeback and post a follow up for me and ask for more help if needed. I will happy to help you with any questions you may have. I would soak at least once a day, until you do see Dr. Burgess. Look foward to updates of your tortoise.


The smiley face is not only a rating for the quality of my work, but is also the way I get paid for answering the question, so I do appreciate you pressing the smilely face.



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