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Turtles/My Indian star tortoise


My Indian star tortoise is a female and i havent been able to really find out if it's  really a male or female. Today it started to pull its head in and out of its shell violently like it was having spasms twice. It's still pretty small and has some plastic covering white substance all over its body. its violent spasms resulted into a tear in that coat. my tort usually has trouble breathing, a running nose, white stools sometiimes sticky and powdery and has a problem walking with its back right leg. it usually feels that it is having trouble pulling its leg back in. but then it becomes well again. What could it be? Please reply soon.

Hi Siddhi,

Your tortoise needs to go to a vet IMMEDIATELY.  I can't even begin to diagnose everything that's wrong with it, but it should have had vet care a long time ago.

1)  Difficulty breathing and runny nose indicate a respiratory infection.  This can be fatal in and of itself without treatment.

2)  Thick urates (the white stools) indicate severe dehydration, which probably means a developing bladder stone as well.  This may be the cause of the rear leg issue, but that could be related to something else as well.

3)  I have no idea what the plastic covering could be, other than some kind of skin infection, but it is NOT normal.

I can't help you over the internet.  Your tortoise needs vet treatment urgently.  Since you're in India, I'm guessing that you don't have access to a reptile vet, and if that's the case you cannot treat your tortoise at home, meaning it may very likely not survive.  PLEASE don't get another tortoise UNLESS you have a good vet and know how to care for a tortoise PROPERLY.  If a tortoise is housed and fed correctly, keeping them healthy is much easier than if they receive improper care, and it's almost impossible to save a tortoise as sick as yours appears to be.  In the meantime, soak your tortoise in shallow, tepid water for 20 minutes daily to help with the dehydration.  

Please post a picture if you can.  


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Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.


I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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