Injured wild tortoise

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Vicky78
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Joined: 12 Mar 2021, 18:07

Injured wild tortoise

Post by Vicky78 » 13 Mar 2021, 09:49

[attachment=2]USER_SCOPED_TEMP_DATA_MSGR_PHOTO_FOR_UPLOAD_1615625827464.jpeg[/attachment]Hello

I live in Corfu, Greece.

Last week I found a young wild Hermann ( I think) tortoise at the side of the road. Concerned for his welfare I picked him up with the intention of relocating him to a safer place. In the mountains above the village where I live there are many tortoises and it is much safer so it was my intention to take him there.

However, I soon realised he had an injury. He had what looked like a large deep hole between his tail and right back leg. Also there was a large area of flesh missing off one side of his tail. Both wounds were infested with maggots. I managed to remove them with tweezers and clean his wound using betadine( iodine) and water.

I normally rescue cats! So I do have animal antibiotics in my home. I called the vet to double check and he advised me to give baytril( enrotron) antibiotic 0.05ml ( he is 500g)
The vet agreed to see me the following day. He looked at him and said to carry on with the antibiotic ( injected in his leg with a small amount of saline) for 5 days. He also gave a vitamin injection. He advised me to use iodine ointment on the wound after washing with saline water.
I have now completed the antibiotic and his wound is starting to dry. I am rather concerned though about some of his tail bone being visible.

I intend to take him back to the vet next week. Movement is currently very difficult as we are in full covid lockdown and the vet ( there is only one for exotics in corfu) Is an hours drive away.
When I visited the vet it was a very brief appointment only really what I explained above. I've been researching myself ref how to keep him and what's best to feed etc as I was not advised by the vet.

I have many questions regarding how I'm keeping him and tortoise health in general that I'm hoping you may be able to advise me with. I really want to make sure I have everything right for him so he has the best possible chance of recovery and is able to be released.

I have converted two wooden draws to make an enclosure for him. I cut the ends off them and attached them together making a rectangle. The inside dimentions are 22"x36"
His shell is 5 inchs long and 4 inches wide, hes not big and is not able to climb out. The height of the sides are
6. 3/4 "

I lined the "table" with non absorbant sticky back plastic
(So I'm able to clean). On top of this I'm using an absorbant sheet. It's a disposable sheet that would normally be used incase of bed wetting, hope that makes sense.
I'm aware that he should have a mixture of soil/sand....
But due to his injury I'm currently not able to put that as I dont want any dirt to go on it. It's still quite open.
I have however put rocks and some pieces of drift wood. I've also cut a plant pot in half and placed it on top of a towl to make a little cave for him. He appears to be energetic in the day and does keep attempting, unsuccessfully to scale the walls!

I have the "table" in our living room. I have it in the corner of the room on the floor, up against the wall. Our house is constantly warm throughout the day. I did have a heat lamp over the table at one end but I found the temp at the height of the tortoise was 40degrees even after raising it higher. I am now not using that as I'm concerned it's too hot although he did appear to like basking under it.

I purchased a Uvb bulb and lamp. The weather is still cool here but the sun is bright. I'd love to put him in a run outside but I'm too concerned about flies going on him or dirt in the wound so I'm desperate to try to get his set up indoors right.
There is a variant in temperature between one end and the other. Under the uvb lamp it is 27degrees and there is room to lower it more? The opposite end is 24degrees.
If it should be cooler I could extend the length of the enclosure?

I'm switching the uvb lamp off at night and putting back on in the morning. So basically it's on all day. Is this ok?
Also the room temperature in general is lower at night as we have a wood burning somber which cools down at night as no wood is being added.

I have a large metal tray that I put into his enclosure for him to drink and bathe. He drinks a lot of water. I am feeding him weeds, clover, leafy greens and some suggulants that I've seen on your page that are safe to give. I've been putting a big handful in for him.
I was worried that he is not eating but each day he has had a poo and wee. His wee is clear liquid, a little yellow in colour and his poo well formed and dark green/brown. So I guess he must be eating enough if hes going to the toilet??

He has dammage to his shell and I'm wondering if there is anything I can do to improve that for him?

I'm sorry for such a long message! I'd appreciate any advise or guidance.

I've tried to attach photos below but it doesnt seem to allow me to attach more than 3. I will try in a second message or if I'm unsuccessful, and you are happy to have a look I could send by email?

Thanks in advance

Victoria[attachment=1]received_180049290339099.jpeg[/attachment][attachment=1]received_180049290339099.jpeg[/attachment][attachment=0]USER_SCOPED_TEMP_DATA_MSGR_PHOTO_FOR_UPLOAD_1615625678857.jpeg[/attachment][attachment=0]USER_SCOPED_TEMP_DATA_MSGR_PHOTO_FOR_UPLOAD_1615625678857.jpeg[/attachment]
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His shell
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Injury when found
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His injury now

Vicky78
Posts: 14
Joined: 12 Mar 2021, 18:07

Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Vicky78 » 13 Mar 2021, 09:52

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Side view of shell

Vicky78
Posts: 14
Joined: 12 Mar 2021, 18:07

Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Vicky78 » 13 Mar 2021, 09:54

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Vicky78
Posts: 14
Joined: 12 Mar 2021, 18:07

Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Vicky78 » 13 Mar 2021, 09:59

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Vicky78
Posts: 14
Joined: 12 Mar 2021, 18:07

Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Vicky78 » 13 Mar 2021, 10:02

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We have named him Shellby

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Nina
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Nina » 13 Mar 2021, 10:58

Hi Vicky,

Thanks so much for contacting us with the details of this tortoise and the photos. What a hero you are! You're obviously a great animal lover and you've gone way above and beyond what a lot of people would have done in this situation, so thanks very much for rescuing and nursing this really lovely tortoise.

His injuries look pretty horrific, and I think that the vet and you have done a really good job in pulling him through this. As far as I can tell, he has prescribed the right medicine (baytril) and regime (cleaning the wounds with betadine), and you are right not to put him outdoors for now, but to keep him indoors in a clean setting, because as you say, this will prevent dirt from getting into the injured area and also flies from laying more eggs. Also your choice of covering for the floor of the table seems fine to me. You can also use newspaper if necessary, as it's pretty sterile and easy to change.

The table you have made him is good. Obviously the larger the better, so if you could extend it that would be even better. Tortoises get bored fairly easily if they can see from one end of their enclosure to the other without interruption, so the fact that you have put in some different textures for him to walk on, rocks, and some driftwood, water bowl etc. is excellent.

It was also right to keep him warm 24/7 while the antibiotics were at work, but now that the course of antibiotics has finished it's good that you are having the light on all day and then turning it off in the evenings. You want to aim for a temperature of around 30C directly under the light and at the height of his shell, and hopefully about 20C at the other end of the enclosure (although obviously if the room temperature is warmer than 20C then you can't get the table any cooler, but that is fine). It's also fine to have the lights off at night, as in the wild tortoises would experience a drop in temperature at night.

I'm not really sure what can be done about the exposed bone, and wonder if there is some sort of stitching that could be done with surrounding skin to close it up a bit (it's hard to tell from the photos. Or maybe some scar tissue will eventually cover that area.

Regarding climbing out. Aren't tortoises resilient! Even with such a serious injury he's showing strong will power and trying to escape! Do be aware that tortoises are incredible climbers. If they can reach the top of the table standing straight up on their hind legs they will pull themselves up, and they will also use any 'furniture' in the table that is up against the walls as a ladder to climb out (although that plant pot looks like plastic, so it might be too slippery to climb). I've attached a couple of photos of tortoises climbing, just to show you what I mean.

Regarding diet -- you are doing really well and from what I can see you are feeding the right things. They love succulents, but be aware that large amounts of succulents can cause runny poos. Food does take a while to go through a tortoise's system, so the poos you are seeing now might be from what he ate before you found him. Is he eating anything at all at the moment? It is really good that he is drinking a lot: tortoises can go for a very long time without food, but hydration is really important. You can use the filter system on our plant database to produce lists of plants that good to feed, or just type the name of any plant into the search box that is on each page (and then click on results to get the full entry). Here's a link to the page that shows you how to use the filter and just scroll down to the section on 'How to use the Traffic Light Filter': https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/pla ... EyVn9ynwZY I'm not sure what you have growing locally, but just ask us about any plant and we're happy to respond really quickly.

Do you have any type of calcium that you could sprinkle on his food (calcium carbonate powder, cuttlefish bone that you could scrape onto his food (and if you wet food the powder will stick better) or just leave for him to nibble at will? In the short term I wouldn't worry about it, but if he is staying with you for a while then a calcium supplement will be necessary to help support healthy bone and shell.

Regarding the damage to his shell. It looks to be old injuries or old shell rot on his carapace (the white areas), but from what I can see it isn't active, but the vet can check that out when he sees him. If it is active then putting betadine or chlorohexidine on it can help, and here is a little article on shell rot in tortoises: https://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/shellrot.html If it isn't active and the bone you are seeing exposed on the shell is the result of either an old injury or shell rot then I think it should be fine now, but I would ask the vet to have a look at it, just in case.

Finally, here is a care sheet for Hermanns, but it might not be super relevant to you, as it is designed for people who are tortoise keepers in the UK (but there might be some things of interest: https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf

Sorry to have gone on for so long -- and I probably haven't answered all of your questions, but please do come back with more of them. You have our utmost respect and encouragement for saving this tortoise's life (and he would undoubtedly died if you hadn't rescued him), and we'll do anything we can to help you in your efforts to nurse him back to health and reintroduce him into the wild.

Nina

For your amusement -- two photos of tortoises climbing (they don't look like they are built to scale vertical surfaces but they do surprise you!
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lin
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by lin » 13 Mar 2021, 12:32

Hi Vicky. You must be some kind of saint to have got this little lovely this far through his horrific injuries. Well done.
I wonder if it could have been the maggots that have kept this little one going until you rescued him. Maggots are used in hospitals to help heal deep injuries by eating only dead flesh leaving the healthy stuff there.

Can I ask if the injury site is still wet? And is the tortoise on any pain medication.
Because he can still pass urine and poo I am wondering if it would be a better option to ask the vet (phone call) if amputation of the tail would be an option.

My guess is the site has been left open to allow any deep rooted infection or debris to surface before it will start to close.

Your doing great Vicky, keep up the good work and keep us posted.

Lin

Vicky78
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Joined: 12 Mar 2021, 18:07

Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Vicky78 » 13 Mar 2021, 14:12

Hello lin and nina

Thank you so much for your prompt and encouraging responses.

I'm planning how best to extend his enclosure. I think extending it will also make me able to get the temperature difference right at each end.

Given that you've said digestion is slow and that I'd suspected he wasnt eating... I now think he definetly isnt. I've been checking food for bite marks and offering several different things but he just walks over it. As mentioned before he is drinking a lot of water. I'm not really sure how I can get him interested in eating other than keep offering a variety of things? I'm very relieved to hear they can go for a long time without food as long as hes drinking. I will of course persevere!

I did buy some cuttlefish but hadnt thought to grind it. Thank you for that tip.
Do you think it would be a good idea to put the calcium in his water? Or should I put any type of electrolyte in his water??

I think he has maybe come out of hibernation a little too early. The vet mentioned that he thought the injury was from rats nibbling him whilst hibernating. The temperature here has been up and down so I think the animals and plants are getting a bit confused! But certainly good that he woke up!

Although it was horrible I did know that maggots are
" cleaners " the wound has not looked gungey or fluidy thankfully. It is starting to dry now. I'm keeping a really close eye.
He was not offered any pain medication unfortunately.
I asked if he would heal enough to be able to be released.. he said he would get "a new skin" forming over. I guess that was a literal translation from greek to English! Looking at it though I'm really unsure how the wound will close up even if it drys and scabs over. I will see what the vet says when I return.

I will def send more pics and let you know how he gets on. Also what the vet says ref how hes healing and the bone tip sticking out. Unfortunately there is only one vet specifically for exotics but I may take him to a very good general vet that I normally use for a second opinion if I think neccessary.

I'm very greatful for the links, thank you.

I really appreciate your correspondance, many many thanks xx

The climbing tortoise photos are great!! I'm not going to show them to Shellby though, I dont want him getting any ideas!! :-)

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lin
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by lin » 13 Mar 2021, 15:39

Hi Vicky
Do you know exactly where Shelby (is that right) passing his wee and poops from? I can’t make out exactly where the cloaca is so it’s difficult for me to see exactly where.
A good idea to keep tabs on the eating is to only put in one or two leaves and check then at intervals through the day adding more once you find out for sure but right now drinking is more important for his health.
I do have my fingers crossed that he makes a full recovery for you.
Lin

Vicky78
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Vicky78 » 13 Mar 2021, 17:18

Hello Lin

Shellbys cloaca is intact . It looks normal compared to images I've just looked up on the internet.
I believe he is passing everything from there however I will double, triple, check just incase.

The other day I picked him up to clean him after he peed and a pointed pale, almost white coloured triangle came out of the cloaca. I'm guessing that's his private part, I figured it was good to see that as it showed things were working there despite the injury. Is that right for it to be almost white? Sorry! seems bit strange talking about his bits but given the extent and area of the injury it's all useful info to communicate back to the vet if it isnt normal.

I will try that with the feeding, thank you. X

Vicky78
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Vicky78 » 14 Mar 2021, 12:02

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Great news, he has started eating

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Nina
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Nina » 15 Mar 2021, 10:33

Hi Vicky,

That is brilliant news -- thanks so much for letting us know! Your nursing skills are second to none!

My colleague, Helen, and I just had a thought. We think that it would be a good idea if you could contact Andy Highfield. He is the head of the Tortoise Trust and now lives in Spain where he studies the wild tortoises there extensively, and he has written several books on tortoises and is an acknowledged authority. Regarding the future of the wound on this tortoise, if you contact him, explain what has happened, and send him photos, I think he might have some good advice as to how to deal with this wound in the future, as it heals, and especially your worries about the bone being exposed, etc. Here is Andy's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/andy.highfield.58 You don't need to be a 'friend' of his, just go to the message box (next to the 'add a friend') button, click on that and you can write a message and also use the attach a photo button. He really is a great authority on all aspects of tortoises, including medical treatment. You can even give him a link to this thread, I suppose, so that he can see all of the extra information you've provided viewtopic.php?f=12&p=7161#p7161

Nina

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Nina
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Nina » 18 Mar 2021, 15:39

Hi Vicky,

Was just wondering how the tortoise is doing. I hope he is continuing to eat and will have a full recovery.
Did you try and contact Andy Highfield?

Nina

Vicky78
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Vicky78 » 20 Mar 2021, 08:53

Thank you for your message.
Our internet has been down. I rescue cats normally and have been inundated the last week, all pretty hectic. I will certainly make contact with Andy.
Shellby is doing well, sorry I've left you wondering.
Hes eating enthuastically now and the wound is drying. I still have concerns about how the area between the top of his tail and his body will fully close up. Hopefully Andy will be able to offer some advice about that.
I will take a photo and add in the thread, cant see how to add here.

Thank you[attachment=2]USER_SCOPED_TEMP_DATA_MSGR_PHOTO_FOR_UPLOAD_1616230273477.jpeg[/attachment][attachment=1]USER_SCOPED_TEMP_DATA_MSGR_PHOTO_FOR_UPLOAD_1616230251341.jpeg[/attachment][attachment=0]USER_SCOPED_TEMP_DATA_MSGR_PHOTO_FOR_UPLOAD_1616230237792.jpeg[/attachment]
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Vicky78
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Vicky78 » 20 Mar 2021, 08:54

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Vicky78
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Vicky78 » 20 Mar 2021, 08:55

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Vicky78
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Vicky78 » 20 Mar 2021, 09:10

I took the above photos with the flash I've just realised it makes the wound look very wet. I've just retaken without the flash. Look more true [attachment=2]USER_SCOPED_TEMP_DATA_MSGR_PHOTO_FOR_UPLOAD_1616231222630.jpeg[/attachment][attachment=1]USER_SCOPED_TEMP_DATA_MSGR_PHOTO_FOR_UPLOAD_1616231166825.jpeg[/attachment][attachment=0]USER_SCOPED_TEMP_DATA_MSGR_PHOTO_FOR_UPLOAD_1616231143797.jpeg[/attachment]
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Nina
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Nina » 20 Mar 2021, 11:31

Hi Vicky,

Thanks so much for the update and the photos! It does look like Shelby is healing, but the wound is so big that, like you, I wonder how parts of it are going to heal over and be covered. Tortoises are absolutely amazing and resilient creatures though, so I have my fingers crossed that he will make a full recovery. It's thanks to you that he is still alive, so you have our total admiration!

Nina

Vicky78
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Vicky78 » 22 Mar 2021, 15:35

Hello

I spoke to Andy Highfield. He has recommended to use an antibiotic powder. I think really that should have been used initially along side the injectable antibiotic. However, it is good to know that and I'm going to see if I can obtain some to use for a few days, to see if that helps. He recommended to keep the wound as dry as possible. I have been doing that but Shellby quite enjoys sitting in a water tray. I'm offering him the water tray every other day now instead of daily and making sure I dry him off. Andy said it could possibly take up to a year to heal! I'm rethinking his table/living area as if he does need to stay a long time I want him to be as happy as he possibly can be.
Please could you reccomend a good place to source example photographs of ideal indoor living spaces for hermanns please.

Thank you i really appreciate your help and support. Xx

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Nina
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Nina » 22 Mar 2021, 16:16

Hi Vicky,

That's good that you spoke to Andy. I assume he saw your photos as well -- and I hope you can get hold of the antibiotic powder. I wonder if it would be a good idea to maybe not soak him so much, if it is essential that the wound is kept dry? I expect a smaller water bowl will give him a place to drink, and you can always thoroughly wet the food that you give him to get some extra water in. On the other hand, if he really loves it then maybe not stop completely, but perhaps just once or twice a week until it has started to heal well?

Regarding outdoor enclosures -- most of the ones I see on the internet are from the UK, so very different weather conditions, but I think the principle is the same. As large an enclosure as your space will allow, on earth rather than on concrete or grass, a place to shelter from the sun and the rain, and walls that are escape proof. Tortoises are amazing climbers, especially if there is a right angle (I will attach some photos to show you). They can also burrow down and out. So it's a good idea to sink the walls into the earth and then put a lip on the top, facing inwards, so that if they do climb up they come up against the lip and can't go any further. Also check that there isn't anything (hidey place, shrub, etc). that the tortoise can use as a ladder to get out. The walls should be solid (if a tortoise can see out then he wants to get out, and that is frustrating).

Different surfaces to walk over are good, and they do like to burrow, so a slate or stone slap on a couple of bricks can make a little tunnel for him to walk through. Decorative grasses can be good and also give him something to shelter under when it is hot. Here is a link to our little article on outdoor enclosures, which should give you some ideas of what is needed, and some tips too.
https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... FjBCNynwZY

I don't know if you have many predators there, but as rats are everywhere (and he has already had a run in with a rat), and some birds of prey can take a tortoise, you could fit a mesh lid on top of the enclosure to protect him (that would also prevent escape), and it can be on hinges so that you can get inside as well. Here's a thread showing some outdoor enclosures for a number of tortoises (it actually has hinged lids, but they are folded back and you can't see them: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=77 This sort of thing might not be so appropriate for Corfu, so I would just Google 'outdoor tortoise enclosure' and click on Images and then scroll down and have a look. Some are good and some aren't but they should give you some idea. The other thing you could do is to bring him in at night, to protect him from predators.

Nina
Amazing climbers!
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lin
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Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by lin » 22 Mar 2021, 20:34

Wow, Shelby really is making some good progress Vicky. Such a strong urge to get on with life, they have, don’t you think.

The antibiotic powder is a good choice to carry on with, did Andy say for how long to use it?

I would guess your vet has said it will be ok for him to go to an outside enclosure but I would be very scared in case he got some dirt in the injury. I’m sure he will be fine under your expert care though.

Thanks for the update, we really do appreciate it.

Lin


Vicky78 wrote:
> I took the above photos with the flash I've just realised it makes the
> wound look very wet. I've just retaken without the flash. Look more true

Vicky78
Posts: 14
Joined: 12 Mar 2021, 18:07

Re: Injured wild tortoise

Post by Vicky78 » 23 Mar 2021, 10:03

Hello

Yes he certainly wants to live! Hes pretty feisty!

Andy didnt say how long for the antibiotic powder. I'm going to take him to the vet tomor so will discuss about that.

I'm not putting him outside at the moment I think it will be quite some time before that is possible but just making plans for when he is more healed.

He seems to be do well and i'm keeping a close eye.

My son, who is 4 is delighted to have him in the house. Hes been asking a lot of questions and helping me pick plants from the garden for him and helps me clean out his enclosure. I have a good assistant :)

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