Author Topic: SICK? STRESSED? HIBERNATING?  (Read 296 times)


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« on: January 10, 2020, 09:35:47 PM »
Having spent many a day on this forum last decade, it's nice being in familiar territory with my concern. Looking desperately for opinions. I feel like I should have a PhD in Russian tortoses the last 8 1/2 years but while I have been worried before numerous times with my two and knew what to do, this time I'm getting real scared. I have had what they call life challenges the last few years and there are conditions that were beyond my control as of late that I did not consider ideal (the two being together all the time, for one) during parts of the year, but I and my little tortoise family have thrived through it all. The following, while a little disorganized, I typed last night in anticipation for a possible reptile vet visit and as I approach a weekend where I will really get to observe Jadely outside as weather will be permitting, I wanted to ride the following (for those who have patience to read the long details) and seek opinions, opinions only on my Jadely's current behavior. HERE IS THE TEXT: I've' been through fall season "lay low" periods with my male Russian tortoise, Luna (particularly started if he was outside and it was under 70 degrees), but not my female, Jadely for too long. She is older now, but am still concerned. After all too often during a two year period, the two perfectly coexisting torts became a bit of a challenge as Jadely grew very quickly and was getting used to maneuvering into one of the hides or being "just right" by Luna under the Powersun bask bulb. First she would occasionally give a gentle nip to Luna's leg to politely tell him to get out of the way but things started getting out of hand and she went on a powertrip of dominance, even being known eventually to walk across the outdoor enclosure and snap his leg for no specific purpose. Luna is more docile, with extremely rare occurance exception, I have had to intervene all too often. Not often, but there were times I even had to pick Jadely up after or just before a nip to Luna and stare at her face, then put her back in indoor enclosure and she'd go right for him like a single housedog pit bull out on a walk seeing another dog. Me picking her up just didn't faze her as if nothing happened and she was ready to continue "the attack". There were times when she would look his direction when basking, stretch her neck slowly and then in a flash snap his leg, like a cartoon character cobra. Fortunately this wasn't daily but it happened all too often. Individually, and I''ve been known to take long walks with them for up to two hours, they tend to trust me and are apprehensive with strangers even at a distance.
Due to numerous factors late summer including change in work schedule, pressing issues, my slightly modified sleep schedule and outdoor temperatures, the tortoises did not get outside, either for long walks individually with me or in their outdoor enclosure, as much as they should have nor as much indoor activity. Then there was also excessive nearby construction causing noises, vibrations and "thuds" for an extended time. This caused additional apprehension in them both. Jadely always favored a tad higher heat temperature than Luna. Luna has been known to decide it was hibernation time if taken outside and outdoor temperatures were under 70. His and technically their "lay low" period tends to come in Fall and Luna especially snaps out of it very extremely he last years somewhere around mid-December to early January and then the two pig out on food for 3 to 4 months, being normally the most physically active period. I noticed in early Fall that Jadely had small reddish areas on each side of her neck just before her head. I thought perhaps this was from scraping when peering through two corners of the outdoor enclosure that had separated a bit. Their indoor enclosure, by the way, has of the last year, EcoEarth coco coir in the area where shell shaped hides lay where they sleep, and ReptiBark in the rest of the indoor enclosure where they walk, eat, bask-all substrate about six inches deep. Powersun bulb used for basking. When all is or was normal, I (who like to sleep in 78 degrees) have had multizone heat so I had a temperature gradient going for them downstairs to have it 67 from 12am-6am, then 71 from 6am-8am, then Powersun kicks on on timer, creating a 90 substrate level, 95 top of carapace temperature under Powersun for bask and the "cool end  maintained 75 until Powersun clicks off at 9pm, reverting entire enclosure to be 71 from 9pm-12am. This all got them to bask/eat/bask like clockwork. Depending on what is happening with unusual circumstances the last year resulting in their room's ambient temperature, keeping the coco coir moist or not is conditional as is turning on extra heat bulbs within/over the indoor enclosure. Now to focus on history and my concern with Jadely.  Around September, due to her about to really let Luna's leg have a good snap when they were both under the Powersun and she was hogging the prime area, before she could snap I gave her a strong tap on top of her shell and pulled her to the side. While pulling her away and sometimes re-placing her body had been done numerous times before, only the tap I gave I did once before. After, it was as if Jadely thought Luna was responsible for the action and Luna, who has been known to seem to really appreciate me when I rescue him from an "oops" of any kind in general, seemed to acknowledge what had just occurred. Suddenly, the next days/weeks Luna did the occasional bobbing of the head to her and she stops the dominance routine. She, who was becoming super bold inside and outside on my times with her, becomes very apprehensive. Keep in mind there are also construction and landscaping noises that were about to and did occur during the period and I suddenly have less time for them to do their consistent outings. Then at one point, I she stops eating romaine lettuce, their favorite. I notice she nibbled on kale but unbelievably seems to refuse the romaine. I am not there 24 hours a day to see totally who's eating but it appears only Luna is eating romaine or anything. I see her on various occasions "eating" the coco coir unless she is testing it for consistency perhaps to burrow into. I get concerned she could get impacted if she is really eating substrate. They both are more apprehensive than normal-again, the noise/vibration/thud/clunks going on for weeks. Rare and sophisticated as it is when he tends to do it, Luna is the only one inside or outside bobbing head or showing mild dominance. Jadely has stopped this behavior altogether and seems to be not eating. There was a period of it being too warm in their room, then I actually took them outside on occasions where it was below 70, Jadely the last time for a long walk where it was low to mid 60s to make up for their suddenly sparce walking events. They both were less active than normal, but of course sleeplessness from noise and lay low seasonal periods plus lack of exercise I know from history can cause this reaction. Jadely, not just going under a hide, actually starts burrowing. Occasionally she comes out to bask, but I notice no eating. Luna eats little. Luna sleeps a lot but does intermittently bask. Luna comes out of "lay low" around middle of December and eats like a pig, toning down a bit early January. They both were occasionally quite active when temperatures got warmer than normal indoor enclosure. Jadely kept spending more time burrowed. By late November, the only time Jadely is not burrowed is when I drag her out either for the every-five-days soak or to reintroduce her to the bask area or near it and to see food. She immediately or after a half hour just wants to go back to burrow. They both, especially her unusually tend to want to pop their heads in this Fall. Jadely will eventually come alive after a while with wide eyes open but a couple times even rested her head and slept in the soak. She still feels about the same weight, looks healthy as ever, as I know the difference of their poop consistency/texture, I have reason to believe I haven't seen her feces in weeks and weeks and believe she hasn't eaten in weeks and weeks. A scare of hearing her squeak, first I thought was gas, then early January discovered it was through her mouth-this cleared up after she, in multiple day soaks obviously drank water and cleared whatever was going on-possibly too dry substrate or too dry air entering her mouth. During her yawn and the the 4 in a row mouth opening (as if to clear out what was in her mouth or savor the water-nothing unusual for either of them) I got to see the inside of her mouth looked normal. When out and eventually "awake", Jadely keeps/stretches her neck out and looks around. If noise is heard, she pops head in for a bit. Seems to have no eyesight issues. At one point it was as if she would suddenly feel startled OR had a neck discomfort as with a slow regress of her pulling her neck in she would abruptly pull her head all the way in for a moment as if stuck by a pin even when there was no a peep of noise. She also was more inclined to place her neck to one side or the other inwards which could mean nothing and in Luna at least  I have seen bizarre movements with neck and sometimes legs for years, on rare occasion. Meanwhile, I have a female tortoise who hasn't eaten, hasn't defecated and primarily wants to burrow for all too long for my nerves. Is she sick? Is she in discomfort? Is she scared? Is she now with maturity deciding she wants hibernation? Does "my little eater", as I call her, finally realize she ate too much and got too big the last 4 years and thinks it's diet time? By the way, I've been around Luna since August 2011 and he's been solely mine since October 2014, and Jadely has been mine since August 2015. It also should be addressed that  was the first Fall season they were ever exposed to truly burrow-able dirt-like substrate (the EcoEarth coco coir) which I started using end of 2018.
Luna-RT male
Jadely-RT female


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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2020, 06:11:20 PM »
It sounds like you need to separate them as tortoises are territorial. Some times they do ok in a group, but quite often they do not.
ornate wood turtles, american wood turtles, spotted turtles, asian leaf turtle, keeled box turtle hatchling(to come) and a new Russian tortoise