Tortoise Sunken Eyes? What to do!

Sunken eyes are a sign of dehydration, and swollen body tissues and pasty or liquid feces are signs of malnutrition or an infection. Instead, a tortoise that seems to be too heavy might have a lot of bladder stones, which needs to be treated by a vet.

Eye problems in torts are caused by dehydration, vitamin imbalance (too much vitamin A), and environmental factors like the wrong substrate and coil bulbs.

Check to see that you aren’t overfeeding your tortoise fruit or vegetables, and make sure that your substrate/decorations are safe for your tortoise to live in.

These uva/uvb coil bulbs are also for your heat lamp. They are not meant to be used tipped down (which is how 90 percent of heat lamps have them positioned). When this type of bulb is used, the tortoise is blinded by the light.

My two had swollen eyes that went away after I replaced their coil bulb.

Ahhhh… To be honest, I don’t like to say this, but soaking is not enough to fight dehydration. If you aren’t getting enough water, taking a half-hour long bath won’t help. Human skin is more water-permeable than reptile skin is.

It’s important for Red-foots to drink enough water.

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1. Humidity is the most important factor. Some of the habitat should be warm and very humid (85F temps, 90%+ humidity). The rest of the habitat should be warm and humid, over 70% or so most of the time, but not as humid as the warm and humid part.

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Every breath should help hydrate the tortoise. If you don’t know, don’t guess.

2.) Wet foods. They need to eat dry food, but Red-foots like to eat a lot of wet food. If feeding a dry diet (like pellets), they need easy access to a lot of fresh water- and some keepers have noticed that younger tortoises do not freely drink enough.

3.) A place to get water. My younger boys don’t drink, but my biggest one drinks a lot. People need to be able to get to the water, and they need to keep it clean. These people like to use the water dish as a toilet.

4) Health checks. People who aren’t getting enough water can have sunken or tearing eyes, lose weight, dry skin, dry droppings, and more.

Soaking isn’t going to solve everything. Reptile skin is water-resistant, and the cloaca isn’t going to get a lot of water in. Some tortoises get so excited when they get soaked that it may not be worth it for them.

As for giving an animal antibiotics when it isn’t drinking, that isn’t a good idea. It makes it hard to figure out how much and how well the chemicals work. Antibiotics can make the animal more dehydrated by making it sick.

Subcutaneous injections can also be used to rehydrate. Make sure to talk to a vet about this.

Tortoise Sunken Eyes

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Russian Tortoise Sunken Eyes

Other than giving him a soak, you can also make sure that everything is right for him. There is a good chance that what you learned about caring for your pet from a pet store is wrong. I’ll give you a summary, and some links where you can learn more.

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A tank isn’t the best place for tortoises to live because the air doesn’t move well. They should have an open area that is at least 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 1 to 2 feet deep. It’s possible to build a fence around a garden pond or a plastic wading pool for a child (one of the larger sizes).

Large RubberMaid totes can also be turned into things. Here is a website where you can see pictures of tortoises living inside and outside. itemId=965

It should be 70*F to 85*F in the enclosure, with the basking area at 95*F. During the night, the temperature can fall as low as 70* to 75*F, so you probably don’t need to keep the heat on at night. In order for tortoises to stay healthy, they need to go down at night to stay cool.

If it’s a little too cold during the day, people will be tired and lose their appetite.

It’s important to use a good digital probe thermometer to accurately measure temperatures.

Your tortoise needs UVB rays, too, so make sure it gets them. All the lights that are called full spectrum for reptiles aren’t really full spectrum at all. They don’t give off any UVB rays at all. If the light doesn’t say “UVB,” it doesn’t give off UVB rays.

Without UVB, tortoises get a disease called Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). It causes a very slow and painful death, which can last for months or even years. I recommend a light called the Reptisun 10.0 for UVB rays.

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After 6 months, even though they may look good, UVB bulbs don’t work anymore and must be changed twice a year. In order to avoid MBD, calcium is also needed. To make sure your tortoise has it, give him or her a cuttlebone, which is in the bird section of pet stores.

Tortoises need to eat a lot of fiber. This is what you should feed your horse. It should be made up of hay and grasses. As long as you can watch him, take him outside to graze. As long as there is grass hay, it should be there.

People who own pets can buy bags of timothy hay at pet stores in the rabbit aisle. Also, greens like dandelion, collard greens, and turnip greens are good for your body and can help you lose weight.

Fruits and some vegetables are not good for tortoises, and they can cause a lot of sickness.

Soak your tortoise twice a day to make sure it’s getting enough water. If his condition doesn’t improve by Monday, it would be best to go to a reptile doctor to get it checked out.

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