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Reptiles/RI leopard tortoise


I rescued a 5" leopard tortoise about 6 months ago. I live in Florida and when the weather is permitting he has a 25'x25' enclosure.  Now because it is too cold he is inside in a 40 gal breeder. I also have two sulcatas in a kiddie pool in the same room but they do not share an enclosure. I use timothy hay and orchard grass as substrate and the dust and small pieces to coat the food. I always feed a type of green everyday. Either mustard collard or turnip. I try to switch it up when available. They also get a treat everyday. Usually a chop of zucchini,  yellow squash, bell peppers and cactus when I can find it in the stores but never from the wild. I have increased his temp slightly because he has been blowing bubbles in the morning so he now has a basking area of approx 105-100 and a cool side of 82-85. I soak them every morning for 20min. I make the water a few degrees warmer than the body of the tortoise.  Desert 10uva uvb florescent tube bulb. I don't remember the brand. On from 7am-7pm.  They get repti-cal 3-4 days a week. So every other day.  He pooped yesterday. He is usually an every other day type of tort. Urate is clear. Here is my question. I noticed last Saturday that he was blowing bubbles from his nose. I did not soak him Sunday to see if perhaps it was the water in his nose. It was not. I took him to the vet Monday. I do not know this vet. I just moved here and took a reference from the tortoise forum. The vet said as long as he is eating not to be concerned. I asked him to run a culture and he said there was not enough mucus. This vet is over an hour and forty minutes away. Tomorrow will be a week since the vet visit and no change. He is still eating and active yet still blowing bubbles in the morning. Some throughout the day but not many. Oh! We moved 18 hours from Houston to Hernando on Dec 1st. During that time we were treating him for pin worms. He became very lethargic while on the panacur with running stool. I had a fecal done last Monday and everything was clear. Last dose of panacur was Dec 11. My question is basically, what should I do? I feel another 4 hour car ride is going to stress him but I feel he should be on antibiotics. Can I get a culture myself and take it to the vet? If so how? Thank you. I'm sorry if I missed any of your questions. I think I got them. I do pick up stool and urate everyday and remove any soiled hay. I fully replace the hay about every two weeks. My humidity gage broke and I haven't replaced it yet...I will do that tomorrow. I set the water under the heat lamps at night and open the windows during the day when it is warm enough since Florida is so humid I figure the moister and natural sunlight is good during the winter. Stool is normal. Solid and no unusual odor like when he had pin worms.

You can of course find the brand of the UV lamp printed right on it.

I'm a little confused by this timeline. You only just moved to FL. on Dec 1? And before that you had this tortoise some number of months in Texas? And during what time EXACTLY was he being treated for pinworms? When was the last dose administered, and how many did he receive?

The vet gave you a feel good answer because he knows nothing. You need to check backgrounds before you throw money at someone who knows nothing about treating reptiles. If he knew what he was doing he could have performed a lung lavage to obtain culture, but it's not exactly necessary until your husbandry has been found to be sound and the symptoms persists.

This is an arid, savannah dwelling tortoise, and you are feeding far too much wet greens. Everyday greens is quite excessive for such a tortoise in my opinion. The largest part of his diet should be grass, hay, flowers, etc. I have cactus all over the place here. You may contact me off site if you want any, but this is also a very high water content food and should be used less frequently.

Your use of supplements every other day is excessive. If he is on a proper diet with decent UVB (I would suggest that your single fluorescent bulb is not enough), there is little need for this, and excessive supplementation can lead to hypervitaminosis/hypercalcemia. Once to twice a week, rotating between calcium and other non-calcium vitamin and mineral powders given separately, is more appropriate. I recommend 2 linear lamps if you are going to use that kind, or a mercury vapor. The only one I am recommending at this time is the ZooMed Powersun.

Reptiles, especially Chelonians, do not respond well to environmental changes caused by moves. This coupled with the already likely immune compromise from the worm infestation, along with excessive dietary intake of high water content plant matter, along with daily simply asking for what has manifested. I would also inform you that a clear fecal sample is not proof of no parasite infestation. It only means no parasites were shed into that sample. It takes more than one sample to declare a host clean, although if his fecals are firm and not smelly, then any infestation is likely well in check for now.

Discontinue your daily green offerings and soaks. Offer more appropriate dry plant matter and offer greens and other high water content foods only every 3rd day, and soaks no more than twice per week as well. Maintain his ~100F basking temps, and keep night time heating to at least 88F until symptoms abate. If he goes for more than a few days, as he might initially, without defecating, then offer warm water soak. He may need time to readjust to the proper drier diet.

If this does not clear up his wet nose symptoms within a week, then he may need antibiotics, but that is not the proper call at this time until the other issues are addressed first to rule out diet and environmental transient causes. If he does go off food, become lethargic, or open mouth breathing, then he would be a more appropriate candidate for antibiotics at that time.

Also, a humidity gauge is going to be important for this species, but I would recommend getting him into a tortoise table or kiddie pool of his own right away.  


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YOU WILL GET A REJECTION OF YOUR QUESTION IF YOU FAIL TO FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS TO QUESTIONER IN FULL!. I am primarily here to assist with health concerns. I am here for the more difficult questions. Not for questions that you could research & easily find the answer yourself. My standards are that you provide DETAILED and RELEVANT background history on your pet before you ask me any question about it other than GENDER or ID. The requested information is in the instructions to questioner. Failure to answer each of those questions to provide that background, will result in your question being rejected. I can answer questions related reptile husbandry, identification (esp. in Texas and the SW), legal aspects, and advanced level medical care. I am the director of Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue (TX), a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in reptiles, a founding member of The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation, a subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service,, educational content contributor to, and a Dept of State Health Services accredited animal control instructor (CE) for reptile handling. I do most of my own veterinary care in-house, including minor surgery and necropsy. I am most experienced in Chelonia with box turtles and common smaller tortoises; and in Squamata with everything from Anoles, Geckos, Beardies, and Monitors, to venomous snakes. I am most known for my expertise with horned lizards (Phrynosoma). With snakes, my primary expertise is in Crotalids (rattlesnakes), but I can answer a broad range of questions about various species. I am not aware of any reptile related question that I would not be able to provide some reasonable answer for. I have a direct style and may tell you something you did not want to hear; but the welfare of the animal comes FIRST with me, and I will always reflect that position in my answer, despite how it might make you feel.


I am a non-academic herpetologist with 25+ years reptile experience, and I am an accredited Texas Dept of State Health Services Animal Control Instructor for Reptiles (CE). I am a reptile rescuer, reptile wildlife rehabilitator, and subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service, wikivet, and article/journal content contributor to Lafebervet. I have medical and scientific resources available, and I perform in house reptile veterinary care for my rescues. I am not a vet, but I read from the same materials and have had to correct quite a few in the past. The average vet is not well versed with reptile physiology and medical treatments.

Animals that I am currently caring for, or have significant rehabilitation and husbandry experience with: Horned Lizards (5 species); Eastern and Western Box Turtles; Painted, RES, YBS, Soft-Shell, and Cooter aquatic turtles; Russian Tortoises; Fire Bellied Toads; Fire Bellied Newts; Ornate Horned Frogs; Green Iguanas; Desert Iguanas; Spiny Lizards; Long Nosed Leopard Lizards; Anoles; Racerunners; Collared Lizards; Bullsnakes; Eastern Ratsnakes; Great Plains Ratsnakes; Kingsnakes; Gartersnakes; Cornsnakes; Boas; Pythons; Bearded Dragons; Water Dragons; Massasauga Rattlesnakes; Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes; Leopard, Mediterranean, Golden, Indo-Pacific, African White-Spotted Geckos; Savannah Monitors; Jeweled Curly-Tailed Lizards; Long-Tailed Grass Lizards; Fox Squirrels; Deer Mice; Hispid Cotton Rats; Merriam's Pocket Mice; Eastern Cotton-Tails; Blue Bar racing pigeon; Budgies; Asian Forest Scorpions.


Co-Founder & Director: Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue

Founder: The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation

Publications contributor. The Horned Lizard Husbandry Manual - self published 75 pages of care information on genus Phrynosoma.

Wikipedia entry "Horned Lizards" - contributed to a majority of the content., and various reptile related forums and email lists under the handles "fireside3" and PhrynosomaTexas".

My hands-on field, rehabilitation, and captive husbandry experience beats a PhD any day of the week. I am also a state accredited animal control instructor for reptile handling.

Past/Present Clients

I was requested to provide my care manual on the Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), for the Montreal zoo. My manual is also used by several other zoological institutions in N. America. I also teach reptile education to summer camps, and instruct wildlife rehabilitators on live saving and rehab techniques with reptiles.

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