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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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I have a mohave dessert turtle teenager and when he eats he

Customer Question

JA: Hi. What do you want help with?
Customer: i have a mohave dessert turtle teenager and when he eats he grunts a little and siliva come out sometimes he spits food out and eats it i think maybe henot breathingout both nostrils i just got hiem 3 days ago he does eat drink and is activ
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about the turtle?
Customer: no
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome. I apologize that no one responded to you sooner. Different experts come on at various times. I just logged on and saw your question. My name is ***** ***** I'm a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. I'm sorry to hear your tortoise is having some problems. Some additional information will be useful.Did he come from a pet store ?Does he live outside or in your house? If outdoors, in what state do you live?What do you feed him?Does saliva run out of his mouth when he's not eating?Is there any discharge from his nose?If you are asked to rate my service, please don't do that just yet since we are only beginning. Thank you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
lives outside i live in az lake havasu i just got him few days ago he only been eating grapes little lettece it comes out nose only eating but i seen one bubble or so one time his mouth too when eating spits food out only som food eats most he comes in n out got doggie door i push them out more then in
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for getting back to me. It sounds like he is sick. with these symptoms, he may have a respiratory infection, or he may have stomatitis (mouth rot). Either one could produce the symptoms you are seeing.

However, neither grapes nor lettuce are good for tortoises. They need more weedy, natural foods including grasses, dandelion, opuntia cactus, weeds, grape leaves, mulberry leaves, etc. Grass hay is also good. They need high fiber foods, which grapes and lettuce do not provide. Here is a link to one of the most reputable sites on desert tortoise care. you can read all about good and bad foods there:

Your tortoise needs to be seen by a vet. However, if he was not obtained legally, a vet may not treat him. There are very strict rules in place in Arizona for adopting these tortoises. You can read more here:

If you didn't follow the legal channels, you can contact the nearest adoption facility to find out how to get a permit:

State-sanctioned Adoption Facilities
Bullhead City/Lake Havasu/Kingman/Phoenix/Yuma: AGFD Education Branch(###) ###-####or Toll-Free(###) ###-####***@******.***

Yuma: AGFD Region IV Office(###) ###-####/p>

Tucson: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum(###) ###-#### *****

Prescott: Heritage Park Zoo(###) ###-#### *****

If everything is in order, this link will help you find a reptile vet:

If you have more questions, just let me know. I hope your tortoise 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 after you have all the information you need. I will greatly appreciate a positive rating as that is the only way I am compensated. Thank you!