Treating Tortoises for Constipation

Treating Tortoises for Constipation


Treating tortoises for constipation, 04/11/2024 Ver#2 

Its not unusual for Aldabras to get constipated or a partial blockage when they get cold. Their GI slows down, the movement of the GI system virtually stops peristalsis below 60 degrees. 

This causes bloating, gas and pain. 


Giant Tortoise are very susceptible to bloat and constipation, but it is often misdiagnosed as a respiratory illness. 

Constipation is typically caused by foods and how and when you feed them, as well as weather changes and feeding during cold spells 


Symptoms of constipation 

Signs are not producing stool or producing small darker dried stools. Most animals continue to eat for a time even though they are constipated 

They will typically show signs of drooling and witness or saliva at the mouth Sometimes you can hear gurgling sounds. Typically they are largergic and do not want to move.

They are actually in pain. They appear alert when you walk up to them. sometimes looking around. Sometimes you can hear gurgling and gas if you listen carefully. 


Giant tortoises can also limp on the rear right leg from bloating Ruling out Respiratory infections 

symptoms of constipation include if a tortoise defecates less than twice a week when the animals are eating normally.

If the tortoise is not eating it will not produce regular stools.

I have seen them not defecate for two months after being constipated 

Hard or dry dark stools.

straining to defecate.  if a tortoise strains to defecate typically they will raise their back legs up with their butt in the air 

typically you will see them swinging their tail side to side.


Try to rule out respiratory infection

Animals with a respiratory infection sleep and lay around a lot, some will stick their necks stretched out. Their eyes may be swollen or have a mucus discharge. They typically look out of it, somewhat unresponsive. Some may not move or walk around simply because they are too weak. A good way to judge the strength of a tortoise is watching how they walk. Sick tortoises will walk a few feet and stop and sit down, they won't walk for long distances without stopping. they may drag their real legs and walk unnaturally. 


Is your tortoise sick or not?

Essential products every tortoise and a Iguana keeper should have


Treatment for constipation 

I have treated Giant Tortoise with this therapy. Feed greens, Papaya, melons,high water content foods. 
Don’t feed carrots, sweet potatoes and other hard to digest foods.   If they eat,  feed Romaine,  feed them Metamucil (mixed to a jelly) in between the Romain leaves and pour mineral oil on her food. either or or alternate the two.


Soak them in a baby pool with warm water. Another therapy is to put them in a truck and drive them around for a while. Make sure they are warm in their shelter; 

Shell temperature should be 86 to 89* Dont lock them in the shelter they need to be able to move away from the heat if she wants. 

You can also soak them in Epsom salt (which is a laxative)

keep them warm,  Tortoises can become constipated as the weather cools this slows their digestion.

their metabolism is driven by their body temperature.


you should be checking their gram weight.
if you see a drop in weight that might be a reason to noche up the diagnostics,

we can send some stools to the Lab


Test for parasites ask me about my service, you can send samples directly to my Lab and I will have the results in a few days and we can go over them. $35.

How to take stool sample for use with my Lab

Download this document and send it with your sample to the lab address at the bottom of the page (do not send it to my farm)
Bronson Lab Submit Templete.pdf


By this time you probably have a good idea if it is a respiratory or a constipation. But you can go further


Further Diagnostics if you can get X-Rays will help visualize the GI system and the lungs. In the lungs we look for fluid and congestion. In the GI system we can see gas & Bloating and foreign objects. Doing a blood test will determine if there are other problems with organs or infections. The problem is most local vets can't get blood from tortoises, If they are not experienced with Tortoises, especially big tortoises, they can't find the vein where to get the blood. (See my other articles and videos) The blood will tell us a lot if it has infection, organ problems and any general overall health. problems then we know how aggressively we have to treat her.

Sam Pascucci 04/20/2023  

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