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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11424
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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My tortoise Lily is 2years old she is usually active and

Customer Question

My tortoise Lily is 2years old she is usually active and feeds well. For 2 weeks now she has been sleeping a lot not getting up like before on her own. I have to dig her out so that she can have her daily bath. Feeding is poor as well now and her eyes has been closed for 3 days now. What shall I do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.


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 ***** ***** I’m a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. I'm sorry to hear of this problem. This post is not your answer, but rather, a request for some additional information. So, don't rate my service yet - we are just beginning.

What temperatures do you maintain in Lily's basking are and on the cool side of her enclosure?

Is there any discharge from her eyes?

Have you noticed her yawning a lot?

What kind of home does she live in - tortoise table, tank, outdoors, etc.?

What brand and size of UVB light do you have? How old is the bulb?

What do you feed her? Any supplements?

Sorry to have so many questions, but this information will help me figure out the best steps for you to take. Thank you.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello Anna
Thank you for trying to help. Lily lives in her 'Daisy tortoise house' (Purchased along with her from 'The Totoise shop' Lily never went out into the garden ( ) Her 'Pro Rep Hemp' bedding and lighting 'Arcadia 23 watts UVB light and basking lamps all purchased from the tortoise shop. She doesn't take supplements and feeds on fresh crispy mix salad leaves, but she mainly selects the red lettuce.The temp in her home ranges from 27-28/c and 32-36/c (sometimes 38-41/c when the weather is hot) Lily is not yarning her eyes are closed. Looks a bit moist after bathing her in the morning but no obvious discharge. She passed stool 2 time today. The first stool was little hard but the second stool 15 mins later was back to normal and softer.
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for getting back to me. I'm working on your answer, and will post it as soon as I have it put together and typed up.

Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for waiting.

I suspect you got your information on care from a pet store (like the Tortoise Shop). Most people do. While we should be able to rely on such information, unfortunately, it is often wrong. They sell people the wrong lighting, advise the wrong foods, and often don't know the correct temperatures for the various reptiles. After months to years of things not being quite right, the animal becomes ill. Some of what you have been told is wrong, and I suspect that is why Lily is now having some trouble. Even though you have been trying so hard to keep her healthy, when you didn't have correct information to begin with, things are going wrong. The Tortoise Shop does not have a good reputation among reputable breeders and experienced tortoise keepers. The Daisy House is very expensive, but is really only suitable for young tortoises. Older ones need a bigger enclosure, such as a tortoise table. The cover on the Daisy house also doesn't allow good air circulation.

Your temperature gradient is not quite what it should be. The gradient in the enclosure should be 21*C to 29*C, with the basking area warmer yet, at 35*C. Night temperatures can go down to 21*C to 23*C, so you probably don’t need to leave the heat on at night. Tortoises need the night time drop to stay healthy.

The UVB light you have is a compact coil/spiral type. They are inconsistent in their output. They can put out so much UVB that they damage the eyes, or so little that they don't prevent MBD. That particular bulb has an output of 6%, and tortoises need 10%. I recommend the Reptisun 10.0 in the straight tube style. In addition, UVB lights of any kind are only good for 6 months. They can continue to put out visible light for years, but insufficient UVB (which we can't see) after six months. Problems with UVB lights can lead to eye conditions.

Lily's diet is inadequate, and that too could be related to the eye problem, and most certainly to the hard stool.Tortoises need a high fiber diet. Hay and grasses should be a big part of the diet. If you don’t spray your garden, take Lily outside to graze when you can supervise her. Grass hay should be available at all times. You can buy bags of timothy hay in pet stores in the rabbit section. Greens such as dandelion, collards, and turnip greens are also good, but do not supply enough fiber - they are mostly water. Fruits and some vegetables are not good for tortoises, and lead to many health problems. She will also need a cuttlebone to serve as a calcium supplement. Cuttlebones are sold in the bird departments of pet shops. You can read much more about diet at the following site:

The same site has a good care sheet:

I’ll also give you a link to the site map. This site is a reliable source of information on Russian tortoises, so I hope you’ll go there and explore.

The information applies to all the Mediterranean tortoises, which includes Russian, Greek, spur thigh, etc.

While adjusting conditions and diet will be important to support Lily's recovery, I recommend seeing a reptile vet. Her symptoms are worrisome and may indicate a respiratory infection, which will need to be treated with prescription antibiotics. Here are directories of UK reptile vets:

I’m also going to give you a first aid measure to take. Lily is probably somewhat dehydrated. Prepare a shallow bath for her consisting of 1/2 Lectaid (sold in pet stores) and 1/2 water. Soak her for 20 to 30 minutes. Reptiles can absorb fluids and electrolytes through their vents, so this will help with dehydration. Repeat this twice a day until she exhibits a good appetite and normal activity. After each soak, you can put in each eye a drop or two of saline solution - the kind made for contact lenses. These are first aid measures only and will not replace a vet visit.

In summary, I would begin giving soaks, make an appointment for a check-up, adjust the temperature, read up on diet and get appropriate foods, and check up on your UVB light. I hope this doesn’t sound too overwhelming, and I wish the pet store had given you better information to begin with. If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I hope Lily will reach a full recovery.


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!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Wow ... I have no comment really...What incorrect information are you talking about? I don't think we were given any incorrect information when we purchase Lily. The information comes from the tortoise guide regarding how to care for her and I think we have been doing a great job so far. Lily is a baby (3inches in size) and her daisy home is quite adequate. The temperature guide I gave you is the reading from her digital thermometer when the lamps are off and when they are on. At the moment in the UK the temperature was 12/c today. It is too cold for her to go outside, it is wet with no sunshine and I have artificial turf in the garden. The lighting has already changed 3 times in the last year as they do not last 6mths. She also has cutter fish and baths everyday. I order lighting and bedding online because there is no local pet shop that caters for reptiles. So you are wrong to imply that I am getting wrong information from retailers. Any knowledge comes from books and the internet. Anyway I will see how she gets on in the coming days and take it from there... Thanks for your time.
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.

Unfortunately, most books on reptile care are outdated. The copyright is renewed on them, but the content hasn't been changed for over twenty years. As for the Internet, anyone can make a website. That's why I gave you the links to reputable websites. The main incorrect infirmation you got is on diet. Tortoises need the fiber in hay. Going outside was only a suggestion, not a must. And I did state that the Daisy House is suitable for young tortoises.

However, the most important information I gave you was to see a vet. Lilly's lethargy and closed eyes tell us that she is sick. Once illness strikes, tortoises seldom get well on their own. Because you're not happy with the information I gave you, I'm going to opt out of your question. That will open it to other experts. Perhaps one of them will ha e other ideas for you. I wish Lily a speedy recovery.