How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Anna Your Own Question
Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11544
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
Type Your Pet Question Here...
Anna is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Tortoise wont come out of shell
, gave it some water to

Customer Question

Customer: tortoise wont come out of shell
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: gave it some water to drink. it took a quick poo then retreated into shell. Gave it tap water though mixed with reptisafe liquid it doesnt eat either
JA: OK got it. Last thing — JustAnswer charges a fee (generally around $19) to post your type of question to Pet Experts (you only pay if satisfied). There are a couple customers ahead of you. Are you willing to wait a bit?
Customer: ok
JA: OK. Now I'm going to take you to a page to place a secure deposit with JustAnswer. Don't worry, this chat is saved. After that, we will finish helping you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Pet
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also its arms are out but its head is buried deep within its shell
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I'm a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. I'm sorry to hear of this problem. Some additional information will be useful.

How old is your tortoise? What kind of tortoise is it - Russian, desert, Sulcata, etc.?

What temperatures do you maintain under the basking light and on the cool side of the enclosure?

What do you feed it? Any calcium supplement?

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

Have you noticed any bubbles coming from the nose or mouth?

Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
no bubbles from nose. tortoise is a hatchling like half a year old? sulcata temp in california right now is 64 F have windows open. Indoor enclosure. basking light is 6 inches off the tortoise enclose its a heat bulb incandescent. i give it california tap water mixed with reptisafe solvent (1-2 drops) into its water bowl. I also use UVB bulb lighting 2 months old. small size reptisun. i fed it some dandeloin. during its 2 month stay with me. Dont feed him a lot.just give it as much hydration as possible (ie bath in water everyday)
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for getting back to me. I'm glad to hear there are no bubbles. I'm working on your answer, and will post it as soon as I have it put together and typed up. I'll be back shortly.

Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for waiting.

I suspect you got your information on care from a pet store. 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 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 your tortoise is not doing so well. Even though you have been trying so hard to keep it healthy, when you didn't have correct information to begin with, things are going wrong.

You've taken a good first step with the daily baths, but I'll give you a way to make them better.Buy some unflavored Pedialyte (yes, the kind for human infants). Prepare a shallow bath consisting of 1/2 water and 1/2 Pedialyte. Soak your tortoise for about 20 to 30 minutes twice a day. Reptiles can absorb the electrolytes and fluids through their vents (where droppings pass out), so make the water deep enough to cover the vent. Be sure to supervise closely, and make sure the nostrils are not under water.

I suspect the tortoise is suffering from malnutrition. Dandelions are a good food, but are inadequate without other foods. Tortoises need a high fiber diet. Greens are important, but greens alone don't contain enough fiber. Hay and grasses should be a big part of the diet. If you don't spray your lawn, and can supervise well, take your tortoise outside to graze. He/she may like to eat grass, weeds, and flowers. Letting it sample such a buffet may encourage him to eat a greater variety of foods. If going outdoors isn't an option, buy some tasty varieties of hay. Oxbow packages high quality hays for pets. I found one company that will ship Oxbow products internationally. The botanical blend would be best for tortoises because it has a mixture of hays and herbs:

Of course, greens such as dandelion, collards, and turnip greens are also good, but your tortoise really needs the fiber found in hays and grasses.You can supplement calcium with calcium carbonate powder or give your tortoise a cuttlebone (available in the bird department of pet stores). You can read more about diet at the following sites:

The sites have a lot of other information on care which you'll probably enjoy reading.

Your tortoise may also be cold. You'll need a digital probe thermometer to accurately measure temperatures. The gradient in the enclosure should be 75*F to 85*F, with the basking area warmer yet, at 95*F. Night temperatures can go down to 70* to 75*F. Proper temperature is extremely important. If a tortoise is chilly, it may become lethargic and refuse to eat.

If taking these steps doesn't result in the tortoise coming out of the shell and becoming more active, it is probably sick. In that case, a reptile vet will be needed. There are lots of good vets for tortoises in california. This link will help you find one:

If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I hope your tortoise will be fine.


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!

Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.

Hello again,

How is your tortoise doin? Have the measures I gave you helped yet?


Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?