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Joan, Veterinary Technician
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 18515
Experience:  35+ years experience as veterinary tech and 40+ years experience doing reptile rescues.
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Our russian tortoise doesn't seem to be using her back L leg

Customer Question

Our russian tortoise doesn't seem to be using her back L leg normally. When I get her to pull it out herself it appears swollen. I guess around the Knee joint.
Don't know what to think. At least she can move it???
seems to be like a gimp when crawling. Not a very productive movement.
Wondering if it could be like a sprain.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Joan replied 2 years ago.

Thank-you for requesting me. I have been a Vet tech for 30+ years with interest in Reptiles and reptile rescue.

Can you tell me about the diet?


Where is the tortoise housed?UVB light age of bulb strength?

Is the tortoise passing normal stools?

Can you post a picture of the leg?


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Diet= Grassland pellets (timothy grass)+calcium, loves dandelions, misc. plants - aloe vera, organic carrot tops, a little zuchini, brocolli, lettuce greens (no iceberg ect.), flowers listed on the safe tortoise diet, occasionally small amount apple. We try to keep a variety in her diet.
When we first got her she was lethargic and had to force feed for a while. So positive she's eager to eat in comparison!t
UVB bulb is less than 1 month old. Just replaced it recently. We have been placing her outside some for natural sun light also.
As for stools. I'm not 100% positive since she has been outside and we have another female tortoise.
Appears as there is not strength in rear L leg when walking. And it doesn't retract in like the others right now.file:///C:/Users/DEE/Downloads/IMAG3489.jpg
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Oh forgot to mention. The two females don't seem to have a problem with each other. Seem to care less about each other actually. Primarily housed inside in a homemade habitat, no glass.
Pretty sure this was self inflicted, somehow. They do have large rocks in their home which they love to get stretched out on under the heat lamp, or sun coming through the window. And yes, we keep the UVB bulb on all day even with the sun through the window.
Expert:  Joan replied 2 years ago.

The Picture did not come through. You can use the paper clip icon in the tool bar. Your husbandry sounds great as well with the diet. I could not see the picture, so if you can resend them it would be good. I have a suspicion that the leg like you suspect could be a self inflicted injury or this may be the onset of gout which is common in reptiles. It can be painful, cause swelling in the leg. You can read more about gout here : I suggest a Herp Vet visit to have her checked out. Renal or kidney failure is very common in tortoises. The Herp Vet may do some blood work and a Xray to determine what is going on. They can give some pain medication and treat accordingly. Please let me know if you need a Herp Vet and I can help locate one with your State or Country.