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RE: Is digging a real problem?

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Posted by: tglazie at Mon Apr 14 01:56:06 2008  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by tglazie ]  
   

Lost three sulcatas one winter following exposure to a leopard tortoise that must've been a passive mycoplasma carrier, so I've theorized. At the time, I'd had this wild-caught leopard living in isolation away from my captive bred sulcatas. She had a slightly runny nose when I got her, which I attributed to allergens and the stress of being in a new climate. After having kept her through the spring, summer, fall and winter, I figured the following spring was an ideal time to introduce her to her fellow cows. Spring time in South Texas can be tricky, and it often experiences severe fluctuations in temperature and temp variation. As a result, I would allow the tortoises run of the pen during the heat of the day, after which I would collect them and place them into a series of kiddie pools in a heated room. Having already introduced the leopard to the group, I kept them together, both indoors and out. Over the course of a week, all of my sulcatas fell ill. I separated the leopard to her own enclosure in my own bedroom and returned her outdoor excursions to the quarantine pen. I then scheduled an appointment with the vet. He couldn't find definitive evidence of cross contamination, though his swab of the leopard's nares showed the same bacteria as was spewing from the sulcatas (this doesn't necessarily prove anything, as they may have come from the sulcatas). His course of baytril ultimately proved useless, and several boarding fees, lab fees, and med costs later, the animals simply grew weak from going off feed and died over the course of a few weeks. All died within three weeks to a shade over a month of initial treatment. The leopard is still alive in the hands of a friend of mine, who was interested in it as a backyard pet. Like clockwork, she becomes ill during the winter, bubbling at the nose, going off feed. But, every spring, she's back to grazing and being as shy as any tortoise I've seen.

You are wise to have never kept wild caught tortoises. I have no wild caught tortoises in my collection anymore, but when I did, I would always have problems with disease. I suppose such is why I'm so wary of it. As for the sulcatas, they can be a handful when they get big, I'll tell ya. But hey, why else do we keep them? I guess I see in a sulcata what Steve Irwin saw in salty crocs or what David Barker sees in retics. They're awesome tortoises.

T.G.


   

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