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Spur thigh has kink in tail?

Posted: 22 Apr 2020, 22:42
by ewilko93
So last year I noticed my spur thigh has a bend or kink in its tail. It was sort of hard like the rough skin on your elbow or knee and seemed to be stuck bent. We took it to the vet and they said to just keep soaking and massaging and if nothing changed then they could either do a very costly op or euthanise! Well nothing ever did change but it continues to be active, eating and drinking well so with money very tight and not wanting to euthanise for no apparent reason we left it.

does anyone have any ideas as to whether it's just a deformity or whether there could be something stuck or what!

ive tried to get some pictures to show what it's like...

Re: Spur thigh has kink in tail?

Posted: 22 Apr 2020, 23:13
by Nina
Hi, and welcome to The Tortoise Table.
I’m not on my computer now (only my iPad), but I think i can see the kink you are talking about. Does this cause your tortoise any problems? Does she poo and wee normally and without any problems? If so then I can’t think why a vet would suggest an operation or euthanasia as an option! Maybe I am missing something here, but that sounds very odd indeed.

Can I ask if your vet is an ‘exotics’ vet (I.e. do they have qualifications or a special interest in reptiles, etc.)? If that kink isn’t causing problems why would you euthanise the tortoise?Ordinary vets often have very little knowledge of tortoises. Did yours say what they thought was the cause of the kink and what exactly they would do in the operation to correct it? We have a recommended list of tortoise vets in the UK on our website, and there might well be one near you (unfortunately I don’t know how to do links on this iPad but the list is in the section on health on the website.

Could you also send us a photo of the tortoise’s plastron (underside) showing the tail, and tell us how old the tortoise is?


Re: Spur thigh has kink in tail?

Posted: 23 Apr 2020, 07:29
by ewilko93
Thanks for the reply. It's more that it curls straight under the plastron and where the bend is feels quite hard and rough like very dry skin on a knee or elbow.

There is supposed to be an exotics vet at the practice we went to but I don't believe that's the vet that saw the tortoise (sorry my husband took it and trying to get any information is like getting blood from a stone!). I however was under the impression from what he did say that they thought that something could be stuck and that by soaking and massaging it would help it pass but it's still there now so I'm dubious at to whether it is something that's stuck. It is relitively active, eats a good diet of weeds and has a soak every other day or so currently - the only thing I would say is its not very heavy and perhaps underweight. It also appears to be going to the toilet as normal which was my biggest worry when I first noticed it.

Unfortunately we don't know anything about the tortoise. A friend said they knew someone getting rid of 2 tortoise and as we had others asked if we would have them. I'm also calling it an it or tortoise as I also can't tell the sex because of its misshapen tail - have you got any idea whether male or female? x

Re: Spur thigh has kink in tail?

Posted: 23 Apr 2020, 09:44
by Nina
Thanks for the info and the photos weilko93 (sorry, I don't know your name -- lol, or the tortoise's name).

First of all, well done for giving this tortoise a good diet and keeping it well hydrated -- that is really important. Are you also giving it a calcium supplement as well?

The size and shape of the tail is really important for determining the sex of the tortoise (as is the age, because it can be hard to sex a tortoise that is under five or six years of age), and because your tortoise's tail is a bit deformed that makes it difficult. Could you send me a photo of the underside of the tortoise again, showing the tail, but showing the underside of the tail, so that I can see the shape of the cloaca (the hole where the wee and poo comes out)? This is usually slit or dash shaped in a male and shaped more like an asterisk in a female.

One thing i meant to ask before is that you said you noticed this kink in the tail last year. Does this mean that before then the tail was straight? You mentioned that it curves down below the plastron. Could the kink and rough skin area be because the tortoise isn't standing high enough off the ground and the tail is rubbing against the ground and forcing to to kink and producing rough skin/scales?

Also, could you possibly privately email me the name and location of your vet practice, just so that I can check out if they do have an exotics expert there? Also, if you include your address I'll send you a complimentary copy of our Tortoise Observation Records Booklet. This is a booklet where you can keep all the records of your tortoise in one place (weight, growth, equipment changes, vet details etc., and people do find it useful. My email is


Re: Spur thigh has kink in tail?

Posted: 23 Apr 2020, 10:35
by ewilko93
Sorry, it's Ellie!

I've just got some calcium with D3 which they've been having dusted on their food.

To be honest, the tortoises were my husbands thing but then he got busy with work etc so I've tried to take over their care so I can't honestly say whether it was like that when we first got it or not which isn't helpful I know.

I've just taken some more pictures which are hopefully clear enough for you to get a good idea. The back scute(?) does look quite curled round but not enough to curl its tail (that might be a normal thing in spur thighs anyway!).

I've just measured it incase that can help you better determine age? It's 20cm from shell end to end if going with the hump of the shell or 15.5cm going straight from end to end.

I'm going to watch it when I spot it having a mooch to see whether I notice the tail rubbing on the ground.

And yes I'll message you the vets now!

Thanks x

Re: Spur thigh has kink in tail?

Posted: 23 Apr 2020, 19:36
by Kimberley
I'm sorry to barge in, but I've been looking at the pictures and had a thought. The shell is a bit deformed and because of that, the edge of the shell above the tail is severely curled inward.

A tail moves alot, for peeing, pooping and sometimes goes up a bit too. I think it touches/pushes against the curled part constantly and that's why the tail is deformed. He looks like male to me.

Sorry again for barging in, I mean well☺️

All the best,


Re: Spur thigh has kink in tail?

Posted: 23 Apr 2020, 21:28
by Nina
Hi Kimberley,

You didn't barge in at all -- your post was really welcome. Funnily enough I was speaking with Ellie on the phone tonight and we were saying exactly the same thing -- that the rough patch could well be caused by the scute rubbing agianst the tail (and that would explain the little rough patch that is like a callous), and it might be possible for the edge of that scute to be filed down a bit to lessen the friction on the tail.
So well spotted. Ellie is going to keep an eye on the tail area and see if it is being rubbed by the scute and she'll let us know.

Cheers, and thanks for coming in on this.


Re: Spur thigh has kink in tail?

Posted: 24 Apr 2020, 09:36
by Kimberley
Hi Nina,

Thank you for the reply, a bit strange the vet didn't come up with this and suggested euthanasia or an operation, that's quite horrible tbh!

Do you think he's a male or female?
I'm glad everything will work out and I wish them all the best😄


Re: Spur thigh has kink in tail?

Posted: 24 Apr 2020, 10:29
by ewilko93
Hi Kimberley

I did admit to Nina that it was my husband that took it to the vet and he has a tendency to tell me half the truth and be a bit of a tight arse when it comes to this so I'm sure there were other investigations they must have offered to do of which they were all costly 🙈

However it doesn't seem to be causing any issues. I've separated it from the rest of them so that I can be sure it's peeing and pooing as normal but I'm 99% sure it is!

Nina also thought it was male