I have a California Desert Tortoise and he has been in hibernation which is normal for him except this time I left him

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Customer: Hi, my name is***** have a California Desert Tortoise and he has been in hibernation which is normal for him except this time I left him in his terrarium because he started his hibernation late. I recently turned his light on because he was starting to move around again. Pretty normal timing. He is acting very lethargic and weak, and I think he has lost some muscle mass in his legs. Not normal for him post hibernation. He has eaten something recently because he had a poop in his terrarium. Not sure if I should take him to vet or wait it out.
JA: I'll do all I can to help. The Expert will know if the desert tortoise will be able to digest that. What is the desert tortoise's name and age?
Customer: Solistice, 7 years old
JA: What is the desert tortoise's name?
Customer: Solistice
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Solistice?
Customer: He is acting very lethargic and weak, and I think he has lost some muscle mass in his legs.
Answered by Jav917 in 2 hours 3 years ago
Pet Specialist

27,324 satisfied customers

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

He just ate 2 dandelions which are his favorite


My name is ***** ***** I have been a Vet tech for over 35 years and have worked with Reptiles for over 40 years.

Is the tortoise howused in a tank or in a tortoise table?

UVB bulb, strength, age, brand?

Did you run your UVB through Hibernation?

Basking light?



any runny nose, eyes or open mouth breathing?

Any softening of the shell?


He is in a tank, Zilla Habitat lighting, mini halogen, day white 50W
No UVB through hibernation
Diet is mixed greens, kale, spinach,
No runny nose or eyes- mouth is open but due to over bit so normal
No shell softening that I can tell
Prior to hibernation no issues with this set up for the last 4 years or diet
He has passed 2 small stools- normal in color and texture. He also enjoys dandelions, which he had prior to hibernation. He ate 2 today.
Usually he hibernates in a box in the garage and has done this for the last 4-5 years. Except this year he would not hibernate until later in winter so I did not take him to my parents to hibernate him as usual. He stopped eating as usual and slept in his terrarium so I let him stay there to hibernate. He started moving around the last few weeks so I turned his light back on and he has been up and down with eating.

Pleease stand by while I work on the answer now.


The first issue she should not be in a tank. They can cause Respiratory issues as well as Fungal infections.

The UVB should be changed every 6 months. I recommend the Reptisun 10.0 by Zoomed.

The diet of spinach and Kale can be problemmatic since they bind calcium. YOu are better with Dandelion greens and flowers, escarole, curly ebdives, collard greens, and

mustard greens.

You should have a calcium block or cuttle bone in the enclosure to help with the over bite of the beak.

If you have not done so, I would get the tortoise in a nice 20 min soak.

If you feel he has lost Muscle mass, it is wise to have a Vet check. I would be happy to locate some for you with a State. I do recommend you consider a tortoise table and a New UVB if over 6 moths.

One other thing is great to add to the diet is Oxbow Salad stye which is a grass hay and weed blend specialy formulated for tortises to give them needed fiber.

Please reply for discussion or a Herp Vet.


Thank you for all of this great information. Most of what I have been going off of has been from the breeder so I will definitely look into the light and diet suggestions. The ultimate goal is to get him outside eventually but we do not have the right space yet and he is not quite big enough.What temperature should the water be for the soak?I located a vet hospital in the area that includes exotic animals so I was going to give them a call in the morning.
I'm in Pacific Beach California if you have other recommendations for vets, definitely happy to look into others.
Pacific Beach is San Diego, California

These are Herp Vets in So Ca:

http://www.anapsid.org/vets/califs.html\If I have addressed your concerns, please take a moment to rate my service 5 stars.


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