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How to keep your tortoise healthy? Tortoises are worth the investment not only because they’re generally low maintenance animals and amazing creatures; but also because they can live for a very long time which can give hobbyists many years of pet – owning pleasure. How to keep your tortoise healthy? The main ingredient in keeping them both happy and healthy is proper care. How to keep your tortoise healthy? Like other household pets; they are not immune to diseases or common health issues, you might experience some problems along the way as they grow older; but if you are knowledgeable about these potential health threats you can prevent it from happening; or be able to handle it effectively so that your tortoises can maximize their health potential.

Tips on How to Keep Your Tortoise Healthy

How to keep your tortoise healthy? Improper diet and lack of calcium are some of the culprits of shell rotting among tortoises and turtles alike. The lack or absence of UVB lighting can cause the shell to slowly degenerate, deteriorate and soften. This can also be cause by lack of calcium which in the long run will weaken its structure; and make its bones soft, eventually leading up to the shell.

Tip #1

How to keep your tortoise healthy? If your sulcata tortoises displays signs of soft spots; fluid beneath the surface of its plates, oozing pus or discharge, foul smell, shell plates falling off and exposing skin tissue; then that’s a clear sign that the shell has rot. You will need to investigate its habitat for the root cause of the fungal or bacterial infection. Too much moisture or too little of it, improper diet, improper heating or lighting and unsanitary conditions are either one or all to blame for shell rot.

A tortoise’s shell could also have been scratched; punctured or damaged by a sharp object in the enclosure so ensure that you remove any sharp edged objects; and that the whole cage has been cleaned, sanitized, has safe materials, and is kept at the required temperature fit for grassland tortoises needs.

Tip #2

How to keep your tortoise healthy? The small opening in a tortoise’s scutes just under its tail leading to the animal’s reproductive system; the rectal area and the bladder is where prolapse can take place. Prolapse is when the tissues or some part of internal organs comes out through the tortoise’s opening.  Unlike most mammals that have water – soluble urea; when these tortoises expel uric acid in the form of urine, it is not water – soluble. It can often time appear as a diluted or concentrated white urine.

When this concentrated urea pass through the animal’s kidney and the tortoise is always dehydrated or is in a poor diet, this uric acid can become a hard stone in the bladder. Once the body pushes the large; and hard stone from the abdominal muscles to the cloaca, it can go up against the soft organs; or tissues and instead of the stone being pushed out, the organs, like a male’s tortoise’s phallus is pushed out instead this is what you call prolapse.

Tip #3

How to keep your tortoise healthy? This often time happens among male tortoises, their phallus or penis is where sperm pass through during copulation; so if the phallus is exposed and becomes damaged or dry it won’t be able to retract itself back into the shell or the body. When this happens, take your tortoise to the vet as soon as possible.

Vets will try to carefully push the organ inside by applying a hypertonic solution similar to dextrose to draw out the fluid in the swollen penis and shrink it. After that, the phallus will be lubricated and gently be pushed back inside. Vets will then place a suture in the skin of the external opening to stop the organ from coming out until the animal recovers. It will usually take a week or so to fully recover before the sutures are completely removed.

Tip #4

If you bring your pet to the vet as early as you can; it will be much easier to push the organ back to its cloaca; but if you don’t and the organ becomes too dry; the procedure may not be successful and the phallus could be amputated – which means that the tortoise won’t be able to reproduce anymore. Other procedures involve a surgery in the bottom shell of the tortoise to remove the large stones that formed in the bladder; this procedure however, can be very expensive and complicated. Small stones are often treatable through proper hydration so that it can eventually be soluble.

Prolapse can sometimes be caused through mating, because the phallus of the male tortoises are bruised, so make sure to routinely check them every now; and then especially if they are housed with female tortoises so that you can separate them to prevent continuous damage to the organ.

Tip #5

How to keep your tortoise healthy? One of the more preventable and easily treatable illnesses observed in a tortoise is the eye syndrome. This condition is largely due to improper lighting, hygiene and diet. This is almost always caused by a lack of vitamin A and vitamin D; both of which the animal can get from a proper diet and proper lighting of its habitat. 

Tip #6

Parasites and worms find their way into a tortoise’s enclosure/tank in a number of ways.  To prevent your pet’s enclosure in being infested with parasites or other harmful insects; you will want to clean out the enclosure and all its fixtures to make sure there are no left over food; or hidden poops that could become a breeding ground for parasites. 

Tip #7

Scrub down the enclosure and dry out all the cage fixtures before placing them back. Make sure that you have scrubbed all the corners of the enclosure and rinse them off thoroughly. 

Tip #8

How to keep your tortoise healthy? Make sure to bring your sulcata tortoise to the vet for a quick visit or routine check up to make sure that it is not infested with worms; and if this should be the case, to give it the proper treatment it needs before returning it to its enclosure. Thorough cleaning and routine checkup provides a bit of guarantee that parasites won't worsen or spread out to your other collection in the future.

Tip #9

How to keep your tortoise healthy? Lung infections are very common among tortoises like the African sulcata especially; if the species came from the wild and were sold illegally from other countries. The shipping of pets from their native land to other countries can put these tortoises under a lot of stress. Factor in the unsanitary living conditions; and poor husbandry practices from breeders just trying to make a quick buck off of these pets.

Tip #10

How to keep your tortoise healthy? If your pet tortoises are crowdedly packed and shipped in a tight spaced box or enclosure with no food or water during their travel time. Once they arrived, often times; these tortoises and even turtle species already became lethargic, lost some weight and have suffered from respiratory infections.

Of course, if your pet sulcata is kept in captivity and you’ve bought them from legitimate hobbyists and these breeders raised them in captivity as well; there is lesser chance of them being diagnosed with lung problems. Nevertheless, it is still seen even among captive breeds.

Early Detection

How to keep your tortoise healthy? Respiratory diseases can be detected through a physical exam by a reptile vet. You’ll also have a clue if your pet will be pre – disposed to this type of illness if you’ve found out where they came from; or how they are raised.

Usually radiographs and blood samples are used to diagnose such disease, and the treatment is antibiotics. The disease can lasts for several weeks and even months depending on how severe the condition is before being treated. Antibiotics and nasal drops can be orally given but most tortoises; especially the ill ones often withdraw and hide in their shell which is why the treatment is just injected for easier and faster application.

A Visit to the Vet

How to keep your tortoise healthy? Most vets will show you how to administer the injection; it’s quite easy once you’ve learned how to do it. These antibiotics will enable your tortoise to clearly smell and tastes its food better.

If the tortoise is already severely ill because of respiratory infections; a feeding tube will be placed and the tortoise will need to undergo surgery to attach the tube on its neck just so the tortoise can eat and recover. It can take several weeks to months until the animal can eat on its own.

How to keep your tortoise healthy? Owners can aid their pets during the process by keeping their tortoises warm. Vets will suggest keepers that the tortoises should be kept indoor during treatment and provide them with heat or a full lighting.

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