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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all!

I have become the proud owner of a Hermanns tortoise about a month ago, but unfortunately the previous owners weren't able to fill in any details about his life history. All they knew for certain was that he hatched in 2000 and that they had to treat some minor shell rot about a year ago that has completely healed up. They believe that he has never been hibernated. However, he has a strange shell deformity that I've never seen before and can only assume that has come from the result of improper care when he was younger (before the previous owners had him). Unfortunately the local specialist exotic vets in my area aren't taking on new patients at the moment, so I'll be taking him to a vets that can deal with tortoises for a check up and to see what they think but I just wondered if anyone else had seen this before.

He seems perfectly healthy in all other respects, and full of character - he is such a cutie!! Realistically I'm just interested in knowing what caused it and if he is likely to have any long-term health issues in the future as a result of it. Would also like to know if anyone knows of any problems with hibernating tortoises with shell deformities like this.

The front of his shell slopes very steeply towards to his head, and it splits in two right at the front. Other people have suggested that he also has a facial deformity. I've attached some photos so it's clear :)
Reptile Gopher tortoise Turtle Pond turtle Tortoise
Vertebrate Gopher tortoise Reptile Terrestrial animal Pond turtle
Reptile Gopher tortoise Terrestrial animal Tortoise Turtle


As I said, I am seeking vet advice as well, but it would be nice to know any more ideas and advice just so I can prepare myself. Thanks all!
 

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Poor thing. I would say that is from poor husbandry - ie being kept in horrendous conditions and fed the wrong food in massive quantities.

His beak needs trimming hence why it appears to be a facial deformity. I wonder how he was kept as shell rot often occurs when left on wet grass or substrate?

Whereabouts are you in case we can recommend a vet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your reply. I did wonder if he needed a trim, his back claws definitely need one as well. Unfortunately I have no idea how he was kept before, but he is fussy feeder which could back up the idea that he's not had much of a good diet in the past.

I'm in West Sussex (Horsham area) so if you know of anyone that would be really helpful! Just even somewhere for now until the more specialist places get an opening. I'm prepared to deal with any long term health issues he might have but I just want to know in advance!
 

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Thanks for your reply. I did wonder if he needed a trim, his back claws definitely need one as well. Unfortunately I have no idea how he was kept before, but he is fussy feeder which could back up the idea that he's not had much of a good diet in the past.

I'm in West Sussex (Horsham area) so if you know of anyone that would be really helpful! Just even somewhere for now until the more specialist places get an opening. I'm prepared to deal with any long term health issues he might have but I just want to know in advance!

Any damage done cannot be undone, but with correct diet and husbandry your tortoise can live a long life:0)
Some of the more damaged tortoises can have a lot of charactor:0)
Just remember no hungry tortoise will refuse food, but they can be the most picky of eaters. And will hold out for all the bad diet foods. Weeds, weeds and more weeds is what is good for them, along with some flowers. If you got to www.tortoises.net you will find a great booklet with pictures of suitable flowers and plants. Along with good husbandry info. Lin King is renown for her tortoises and work in the field with them.
Tortoises naturally have long nails at the back, needed for digging, so should not need trimming unless they are deformed. I cannot see any reason why he/she should not be hibernated (if you have had him/her a while as you do need to get to know habits etc). If he/she has been hibernated before, you might not be able to stop it, as it is a natural thing for them to do. Outside enclosure is a must for most of the year, as they do far better outside than in:0)
If you can post a picture from underneath (plastron) tail end we can sex your tortoise:0)
 

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I would say this looks far more like a genetic deformity. He’s not showing the usual signs of thickened shell, pyramiding and metabolic problems. How does he walk, is it possible to show a video clip of him walking at all. As mentioned a plastron pic would be helpful for many reasons, I’m not totally convinced he is Hermanni, could be a hybrid even. Well done for taking him on.
Can I suggest you give him deeper substrate and if he’s indoors you need to water it as humidity indoors is very very low compared with outdoors. Don’t start him outdoors until next year as the change will send him into hibernation mode at this time of year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks so much for your responses - really appreciated!

I had never even consider a genetic deformity, but this is why I've been so puzzled with him as it doesn't look anything like deformations I've seen in poorly kept tortoises. I will update with a plastron photo tomorrow, but am having trouble posting a video of him walking :( in general he doesn't walk very "high" - his shell is either on the ground or not far off it - unless he is super excited/interested in something and then he will zoom higher off the ground (so pretty standard tort behaviour if there's a treat or toy involved!). I'm maintaining humidity at around 50% at the moment with very light water sprays when needed, but I can certainly add more substrate. I wasn't planning on hibernating him this winter anyways (I'm likely to be moving house in Dec/Jan) but next year he should hopefully have some decent outdoor space and an opportunity to hibernate (if OK'ed by a vet).
 

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Thanks so much for your responses - really appreciated!

I had never even consider a genetic deformity, but this is why I've been so puzzled with him as it doesn't look anything like deformations I've seen in poorly kept tortoises. I will update with a plastron photo tomorrow, but am having trouble posting a video of him walking :( in general he doesn't walk very "high" - his shell is either on the ground or not far off it - unless he is super excited/interested in something and then he will zoom higher off the ground (so pretty standard tort behaviour if there's a treat or toy involved!). I'm maintaining humidity at around 50% at the moment with very light water sprays when needed, but I can certainly add more substrate. I wasn't planning on hibernating him this winter anyways (I'm likely to be moving house in Dec/Jan) but next year he should hopefully have some decent outdoor space and an opportunity to hibernate (if OK'ed by a vet).
Try watering the enclosure, humidity is more natural then. Spraying just evaporates quickly, whereas with watering you will get similar results to outdoors, the deeper parts being damper 😉 Xrays will be needed to determine a genetic problem with joints etc.
 

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I’m guessing your vet did not take xrays or blood profiles. Honestly there is no way he could give a clean bill of health without them. I’m not wanting to be rude, but this tortoise needs a really good exotics vet to determine whether or not hibernation will be safe. Hope you find one very soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
My fault for not clarifying - he has just had a check up at the moment, other stuff will come later. He definitely won't be hibernated this year as its looking increasingly likely that I'll be moving house at some point during the winter and I'm just waiting for a call back from the vets to discuss temp drops over this winter while he's not being hibernated.
 
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