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ZooCVT, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 1528
Experience:  25+ years of experience w/ sm. animal, fish, exotics, orthopedics, ophthalmology and zoo medicine.
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Why does my desert tortoises have yellow skin

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is it bad to have a desert tortoise with yellow skin, and underneath shell?
Optional Information: Age: 1; Breed: California Desert TortoiseAlready Tried: don't know what to try; I have them under a UV lamp for vit D synthesis - they look jaundice - my aunts tortoises from the same litter have white/tan skin. Mine are bigger, but have really yellow skin, and only started to be yellow the last couple months. The under shell is really yellow too. One is more yellow than the other two. What should I do?

What does their diet consist of?

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Their diet consists of 2% of their body weight of Mazuri brand tortoise diet pellets which is high in fiber and protein and 20% of their body weight in the Spring or European mixed greens (no iceberg). Occasionaly I'll give them zucchini and apple or grapes. There isn't any keritin in what I'm giving them and the Mazuri diet says that it is complete with the nutrition they need including calcium.

There are a number of things that can cause jaundice in tortoises ibut being its both of your guys that have the problem I would think it may be a diet high in proteins or fats, over supplementation of fat soluble vitamins. It is treatable and here is what can be done:

This involves:

i) Maintaining the tortoise at a steady high environmental temperature to stimulate both metabolism and immune systems.

ii) The use of antibiotics

iii) Rehydration- it is important to maintain a suitable level of hydration and even to promote drinking/fluids to facilitate renal function.

iv) The use of small amounts of very low protein green foods by tube feeding often started but is especially important in the cahexic animal.

v) Oral administration of methionine and/or the use of anabolic steroids may be indicated.
Total liver failure is obviously incurable, but many cases respond to this therapy. Further investigation may involve blood samples, faecal samples, x-rays and even liver biopsy but may not affect the outcome even if getting closer to a diagnosis.

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to ZooCVT's Post: Is their any way I can use phototherapy? Do you think that if they are growing too fast, that it might cause jaundice too? Considering my tortoises are twice the size as their siblings from the same litter. The two that are the most yellow are the largest out of the three.

I don't have a lot of money for all those diagnostic and procedural treatments so I should just keep them hydrated, keep them warm, feed them less of the Mazuri and what else?
Soaking them in a watered down tomato juice is always a good way to rehydrate them and get them the vitamins they need. I would do it once ever couple days being sure to rinse their shells afterward. Keeping a ceramic heat lamp on part of their enclosure will help with warming them up while giving them a chance to move away from it also. I wouldn't cut back on the Mazuri because its a very well rounded diet. Giving veggies and fruits maybe only once weekly would be better. They really only need to eat every other day so cutting back on the frequency will also help, soaking them on the odd days.
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