New tortoise advice and bladder stone question?

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Joined: 15 May 2019, 00:23

New tortoise advice and bladder stone question?

Post by horsefield_101 » 27 May 2019, 00:36

We've had Bow (named by our daughter, he's a Male Horsefield ~1-2 years old) for 4 weeks today, he's our first Tortoise but seems to have settled in quite well and has been eating, defecating, urinating and passing healthy urates since we had him, however on Friday he passed a large chalky stone (~1cm wide/long - see pic), just before he passed the stone he had urinated and passed urates (watery like the pic shown on this page; ... OsZEohKg2w) prior to that his urates had always been toothpaste consistency.


So is it a bladder stone? Is it likely that its formed solely while he's been in our care, given the size? We did overfeed him for the first week (he put on 13g - oops, but we've cut down now and he has only put on 1g since) or so and while we've been giving him a calcium & vit D supplement every other day I'm not sure if we've been giving too much (though there is conflicting information online about whether excess calcium can cause stones).

We're using zoomed repti calcium with d3 which says approx 0.5tsp per 5oz/142g body weight per week, he's currently 105g so finding it hard to judge how much/how frequently to sprinkle it on his food?

Some growth stats in case it helps:
SCL = 80mm
06/05 = 91g
15/05 = 104g
23/05 = 105g

His diet is predominantly plantain(ribwort), dandelion (flowers & leaves) & sowthistle (flowers & leaves), with very occasional piece of cucumber (no more than once a week), we've tried grass and clover once or twice but he didnt really bother with them.

He did manage to eat 2 daisy flowers when he was in the garden before I could stop him but other than that he hasn't eaten anything else he shouldnt.

Since he passed the stone he's been behaving the same as before, eating, defecating and urinating normally and his last urates were a toothpaste consistency, he has fresh water every day and we've started bathing him every day now rather than every couple of days in case he had been dehydrated, he's not showing any signs of illness but we weren't sure whether he needs to be seen by a vet?

Any advice would be much appreciated (and sorry for the essay!) - pics of Bow below:

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Re: New tortoise advice and bladder stone question?

Post by Nina » 27 May 2019, 08:38

Hi and welcome to The Tortoise Table,

It sounds to me like you are providing Bow (nice name!) with an excellent home! There is no way that the stone that Bow passed could have built up to that size since he came to you and, yes, it does look like a bladder stone. This was most likely caused by dehydration at his previous home, because when tortoises are dehydrated they recycle their urine and don't excrete urates, so the urates build up and solidify into a hard stone. If he had continued to be dehydrated the stone would have got bigger until he couldn't pass it, and then he would have required risky surgery to remove it, so the fact that you have kept him well hydrated probably allowed him to pass that stone now. The fact that Bow has been having watery or toothpaste consistency urates since he has been with you indicates that he is well hydrated, and you might well have saved his life.

Another factor that can contribute to the formation of kidney and bladder stones is too much food containing goitrogens. Goitrogens can be found in plants of the Brassicaceae family (cabbages and other brassicas), so we recommend feeding them only sparingly, so that they don't make up a substantial part of a tortoise's diet. If you check out plants on our TTT database, an entry will always say if a plant contains goitrogens, or oxalates (which also are not good for tortoises).

He (or she -- as you can't really sex them until they are 5 or 6 years old), looks like a lovely little Horsfield. We probably can't give you a definite sex, but if you want to send us a photo of his underside, clearly showing the tail, we might be able to have a guess.

Just a small point -- for some reason lots of people recently are spelling Horsfield with an extra 'e' in the middle (Horsefield), and even some less than reliable websites are doing that now. The correct spelling is Horsfield, because the species was named after Thomas Horsfield, a 19th century naturalist who discovered the species (which is also called Russian Tortoise), and there are lots of other animals that bear his name. Here is his Wikipedia entry if you're interested:

Congratulations on giving this little tortoise a better life, and if you have any more questions or problems, please don't hesitate to contact us.


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Joined: 15 May 2019, 00:23

Re: New tortoise advice and bladder stone question?

Post by horsefield_101 » 27 May 2019, 22:30

Thanks it's a relief to know it wasn't anything we did wrong!

Glad we have been doing the right things, we're aiming to keep to as much of the green rated foods as we can, we've got a range of weeds and plants in the garden but need to ID most of them so if we get stuck will put the images up on the plant forum.

Thanks for the heads up about the spelling (how embarassing!) Do you know if there is a way of changing your username, I couldn't see anything obvious in the profile?

I've attached a picture of his underside, he often tucks his tail up to the side which I read is more typical of males but would appreciate anything more you can add
Thanks Andrew

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