We have a desert tortoise that has been in the family for over 50 years. Last fall we moved him from a desert habitat to

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Customer: We have a desert tortoise that has been in the family for over 50 years. Last fall we moved him from a desert habitat to a damp colder climate. He did not travel well and lost fluids during the trip. He came out of hibernation about two weeks ago. He didn't act sick, but we assumed that he had become dehydrated. We soaked him in warm water several times, but only saw him take a drink one time. I moved him out of his habitat into a room in the house and he has warmed to 70 degrees or more. Until today he would react to touch by withdrawing into his shell, now he doesn't react at all and seems to have labored breathing. His eyes are closed and the eyelids are milky looking. What should we do?
Answered by Anna in 9 hours 8 years ago
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Anna
30+ years of experience
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17,054 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Reptile Veterinary, Herp Veterinary, Exotic Animal Medicine, Amphibian Veterinary

Hello,

I apologize that no one has responded to your question sooner. Different experts come online at various times. I just came online and saw your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. I'm sorry to hear of this problem.

Fatty has probably been sick throughout his hibernation. Because he lost fluids while traveling, he was not in condition to hibernate. Hibernation is always a risky time for tortoises, but for on one less than optimal condition, it is downright dangerous. He is exhibiting symptoms of a respiratory infection. while this may sound similar to a human cold, in a tortoise, it is quite serious. It can be very difficult to clear up if not treated promptly. He needs to be seen by a reptile vet as soon as possible. Otherwise, he is likely to develop what is referred to as "Runny Nose Syndrome (RNS)." It is a chronic RI or pneumonia. It often requires repeated treatment. He may already have pneumonia, which will require aggressive treatment. The milky eyes can be a symptom of a respiratory infection, too, or they may be the result of a separate eye infection or a vitamin A deficiency. You can read more about RNS here:

http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/commondisease.html#Respiratory

In the meantime, you can help Fatty by increasing the temperature for him. You should have a basking light, which can be any sort of fixture that will take an ordinary incandescent bulb. Choose one with the proper strength (watts) to keep the area directly under it at 90*F in the daytime. The coolest part of the habitat should be 70*F. That gives the tortoise a range of temperatures to choose from. Because of the new climate, Fatty may need different care than he did when living in the desert. He may need to be indoors more often and will need supplemental heat. If you would like to read more about desert tortoise care, here is a reputable website:

http://www.tortoise.org/general/descare.html


What's most immediately important is to get him to a vet. Here are links to directories of reptile vets:

http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Info/state_resources.htm

http://www.nytts.org/nytts/helpnet.htm


If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I hope Fatty will reach a full recovery.

Anna

My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service only after you have all the information you need. Thank you!
Hi, I'm just following up on our conversation about Fatty. How is everything going? Anna
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