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Ask Joan Your Own Question
Joan, Veterinary Technician
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 18530
Experience:  35+ years experience as veterinary tech and 40+ years experience doing reptile rescues.
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My Russian tortoise hasn't been eating, hasn't had a bowel

Customer Question

My Russian tortoise hasn't been eating, hasn't had a bowel movement, and wont really move his back legs for 5 days. His back legs just twitch. What's going on?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Joan replied 2 years ago.
Hello,Thank-you for requesting me I have been a Vet tech for 30+ years with special interest in Reptiles and reptile Rescue.Can you tell me what The normal diet is?When was the last time he passed stool?Supplements?Where is he housed?UVB light, linear tub or compact coil, strength and age of bulb?Substrate?Basking light?Temps in enclosure?Could he have eaten a non food item?State to locate a Herp Vet if needed?Joan
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The normal diet is romaine lettuce and leafy greens.He hasn't passed stool in at least 5 daysNo supplements.In a large round pin with bark.UVB lightNot sure what substrate is.Yes a basking lightProbably 70 degreesI don't think he has ate a non food itemState to locate a Herp Vet if needed? Oregon
Expert:  Joan replied 2 years ago.
Hello,Bark is not the best substrate since it can be ingested and cause a blockage. There are two possible issues going on. The first is the tortoise mat have ingested a piece of bark causing an intestinal blockage or the other issues can be Metabolic bone disease, which is from lack of UVB light and a calcium supplent. Both can cause the problems witgh the rear legs a blockage can put pressure on the spinal cord and cause paralysis and the Metabolic bone disease can cause twitching and paralysis.We can try giving a teaspoon full of baby food prunes and give about an hour and a warm soak in water. If is is constipation this may help some stool to pass. if a blockage, minimal stool will pass if any. If a blockage it needs to be addressed by a Herp Vet asap. I suggest a UVB light and a calcium supplement to be gotten. The Reptisun 10.0 linear tube is a great bulb and a cuttle bone works well as a calcium suppelment. I would also like to see you remove the bark and mix a soil and coconut coir mixture and mist it down. This is a much safer substrate for the tortoise. they need 70% humidity and this mixture will help. The tortoise needs a basking area that hits 90-95. The warm aids with digestion when the bask.This is a link for care of Russian Tortoises is a link for Tortoie Vets: is Herp Vets: Right now lets try the Baby food prunes and a nice warm soak and see if we can get some results. I would also like to see you upgrade the habitat with the bedding, UVB light, temps, humidity and a cuttle bone. If the baby food prunes and soak does not help, then the Vet visit will be needed.Joan
Expert:  Joan replied 2 years ago.
Hi Marissa,

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