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Thread: Red Foot Tortoise with a prolapsed colon

  1. #1
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    Default Red Foot Tortoise with a prolapsed colon

    I am going through hell with my little tort, poor guy. In October his sex organ/penis came out and wouldn't go back in on it's own. This necessitated amputation. At the time I suggested to the vet that I thought perhaps he was constipated as this occurred while in the bath where he often likes to poop. I thought perhaps he had been straining. Vet said it was possible but felt it was more a nutritional thing. He also has a lousy looking shell despite calcium supplementation and proper hydration. It always appears dry. I was sceptical because my other tort is really healthy, great shell but who am I? So I went with that and increased vitamins, calcium and fed him apart from his room mate who is a bit of a food hog.

    Fast forward to this past weekend. Just following a bath again, I see something protruding from him again. I had no idea what it was. Back to the vet we go and I am told it's a prolapsed colon. An x-ray was done this time and it showed he is constipated with a large amount of stool. The vet cannot get at it so we are trying to increase hydration, use stool softeners, increase calcium and manage his pain and hope he will pass the stool. She pushed the colon back in for now and I am watching him closely. He is eating and drinking normally. I have him separated from the other tort.

    2 things to ask:

    1. The vet feels my substrate could be the issue. I have spagnum moss covered with mulch. She think the tort could be eating the mulch. I really don't think he is. I watch him eat and he won't even try and eat a big piece of Kale and will push it back out of his mouth. What is a good alternative if I go with her theory? The vet said shale or granite or reptile carpet. They really love to dig and what I am using holds in the moisture really well. I hate to do it if not necessary.

    2. I am set to go out of country and now feel my pet sitter will not be able to manage this tort and medication administration etc. Is there anyone here who would be willing to care for this guy for a fee? I am gone for 3 weeks as of Thursday. I am considering cancelling my trip because of this but I hate to do it. It will affect a lot of others plans as well. Nothing is refundable and this is a trip of a lifetime. I would be very grateful for suggestions. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Red Foot Tortoise with a prolapsed colon

    With that kind of prolapse, first thing you should be doing is taking the tortoise off mulch entirely. You should be keeping the tortoise on clean, sterile bedding, which admittedly is easier said than done. I'd recommend actual cloth towels, but many find it easier to go with paper towels or newspaper, until the tortoise is fully healed. Whether the tortoise is eating the mulch or not doesn't affect the issue that dragging the intestines in that stuff is not going to help the situation. Keep the prolapse clean and moist. Application of Polysporin will certainly be beneficial (the triple ointment WITHOUT anaesthetics) . Usually, being veggie eaters, stool motility isn't an issue, so this is why there's a good possibility that mulch ingestion is a factor in the impaction. You might try getting some Metamucil, making a very thick solution (think pudding) and mixing that with his veggies before feeding him and see if he'll consume it.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Red Foot Tortoise with a prolapsed colon

    I agree and think that cloth towels are a great compromise that still allows a humid retaining substrate. Did the vet try an enema? I'd assume they would have if the stool was in the distal third of the large intestine. Does this guy have access to a pool of water that he can climb in and bathe? For lubrication, I'd recommend a water base lube like KY jelly. Stay in touch with your vet and pray for some massive bowel movements
    Ian Kanda

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Red Foot Tortoise with a prolapsed colon

    Quote Originally Posted by Herpetologic View Post
    With that kind of prolapse, first thing you should be doing is taking the tortoise off mulch entirely. You should be keeping the tortoise on clean, sterile bedding, which admittedly is easier said than done. I'd recommend actual cloth towels, but many find it easier to go with paper towels or newspaper, until the tortoise is fully healed. Whether the tortoise is eating the mulch or not doesn't affect the issue that dragging the intestines in that stuff is not going to help the situation. Keep the prolapse clean and moist. Application of Polysporin will certainly be beneficial (the triple ointment WITHOUT anaesthetics) . Usually, being veggie eaters, stool motility isn't an issue, so this is why there's a good possibility that mulch ingestion is a factor in the impaction. You might try getting some Metamucil, making a very thick solution (think pudding) and mixing that with his veggies before feeding him and see if he'll consume it.

    Oh absolutely, he was off that mulch the minute I noticed. I guess that wasn't clear in my post. The picture of the tort was when I first noted it and wanted a photo for the vet. I knew from the previous time to get him right into warm water to clean as best as possible any debris. Then I moved him into another tank lined with warm wet towels and lubricated it immediately. I woke up every few hours that night to moisten and lubricate until I could get him to the vet. Unfortunately it had been prolapsed while I was out and did get dragged on the mulch a bit. Looked a little raw, poor fellow. He is on antibiotics now and is on a stool softener. He remains on towels and is getting 15 mins soaks off an and throughout the day. He pooped a little on the last soak but I know he needs to get rid of more than that. At least he didn't prolapse again. He seems a little more comfortable tonight and has been up and about a lot. He is eating well too. Thanks for the advice. I will re-evaluate the substrate I am using. I have another tort who is living on it. I used to house these 2 together. I will keep the one out until completely healed and will have to decide what to do after that. I did find a vet tech who owns tortoises to watch him while I am away so he should be in good hands.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Red Foot Tortoise with a prolapsed colon

    The vet wanted to do an enema but she said it is too high to get at. Yes he had a large shallow water dish and would sit in it from time to time. I would bath a few times a week but now I'm thinking that wasn't enough. I have been using KY on the prolapse and he has been moved into his own tank and is on warm wet towels. I am giving him 15 minute soaks. On the last soak he moved a little stool but not nearly enough I'm sure. At least he didn't prolapse again. He was working really hard to try and poop. Lots of air bubbles were coming out. I feel so bad for him. I am sure he is in pain. He is on metacam for that. He is also getting antibiotics, extra calcium and a stool softener. I am praying for a big poop. The worry is I am leaving the country on Thursday. I almost cancelled but today I found a vet tech from Park Vet who has tortoises and has agreed to watch him, administer meds etc. She has a direct line to the clinic which is reassuring. Thanks so much for your response.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Red Foot Tortoise with a prolapsed colon

    Good to hear. I'm hoping the calcium supplement is liquid and not powdered?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Red Foot Tortoise with a prolapsed colon

    Park prescribes a liquid concentrate calcium.
    Ian Kanda

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Red Foot Tortoise with a prolapsed colon

    Update:

    Unfortunately I ended up having to euthanize my tort. He had 3 separate prolapses and 2 surgeries. After it happened a third time I made the difficult decision to let him go. The vet could offer no guarantees he could fix the problem. The little guy was making sounds that told me he was in pain. Of course I second guess the decision and feel bad but it's done. Apart from his prolapses he never seemed strong. He had a weak gait and poor looking shell. Although we don't know the underlying cause the vet thought that it was perhaps from ingesting his substrate causing an obstruction. I a a little sceptical about this but I am no expert. Since I have another tortoise, Park advises that I remove the cypress mulch and sphagnum moss and just go with tile or lino. I feel so bad that my remaining tort won't be able to dig. It's sad enough that he is alone, that sounds like a pretty dull life. What about using sand? They thought that perhaps pieces of mulch caused the obstruction.

    Second question. I read that tortoises are fine as solitary animals but my 2 seemed inseparable. They had 2 hides but would always squeeze into one to sleep together. I don't want to get another tort. Should I be looking at rehoming him with a companion? I would love to keep him but want him to be happy.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Red Foot Tortoise with a prolapsed colon

    My deepest condolences. I really feel for your loss. He had a great life with you and was well loved. HUGS>

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Red Foot Tortoise with a prolapsed colon

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb View Post
    My deepest condolences. I really feel for your loss. He had a great life with you and was well loved. HUGS>
    Thank you. I still miss the little guy

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