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Old 03-09-2009, 12:02 AM   #1
liverpoolfanusa
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Unhappy Major Trauma

Today while I was out trimming flowers, I watched as Taco tried to jimmy her way through a narrow opening between a sprinkler box and the timbered walls of her enclosure. She managed to pull herself up and angled herself onto the edge of her shell, when suddenly she lost her (already precarious) balance, tumbled backward and landed on her back. With enormous effort, I forced myself not to run to her aid immediately and instead wait and see if she could right herself without my help. After what seemed like an eternity, as she writhed and panted and used her head ( grotesquely hyperextended) as a lever, she managed to push herself against a nearby brick and flip back onto her plastron. The whole event probably lasted all of 60 seconds.

I think she was mildly annoyed afterward at being hugged and cried upon. I have worried so much that she might overturn when I am gone somewhere and be unable to right herself, and I am wondering if any of you tortoise owners on this forum have lost a pet due to this natural hazard. Does anyone know if overturning is perhaps very common and easily reversed by the tortoises themselves, without needing human aid? I am so traumatized by having to watch that, and have spent the past two hours going over every possible danger spot and item to try to make her enclosure hazard-proof, even though I know that is not 100% possible.
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Old 03-09-2009, 12:43 AM   #2
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torts always tip themselves over, they have to learn how to right themselfs, just make sure ou have pebbles around the enclosure so they can use them to pright themselfs x
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Old 03-09-2009, 07:00 AM   #3
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I have said this just recently on another thread but of my two torts, the one with the more rounded shell topples over least often and when it does it rights itself more easily than the other one whose shell is much flatter.

Unfortunately a few people on this forum have lost torts after they have turned over under their heat lamps. They will die within 10 minutes under the lamp.

It is best when they are indoors to have stones places a shell width from the edge of the walls of their enclosure particularly at the lamp end.

Outdoors it's best that they don't have things they can fall off, however one of mine does that same thing both indoors and out and that is stand upright against the wall then topples over backwards. Outdoors it's not such a worry for me because the other tort will come along and act as an unwitting means of help
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Old 03-09-2009, 08:42 AM   #4
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Whenever either of us are in, we always notice that quite frequently ours manage to get on to their back and we generally right them, but if they do this when we're in, they must do it when they're out and we've never come home to find one on its back, so they must be able to right themselves. Its a good idea, as the others have said, to have stones and other things for them to grab on to, to help flip themselves over.
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:19 AM   #5
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If there are 2 torts or more then one is always likely to be passing by the other at some point so will get an accidental helping hand.. they only need to be able to reach anything and they will get up. If there is only one tort then it becomes more of a problem. Also, when on their backs for too long the weight of their lungs becomes a burden and they can die because of that.

When mine are indoors they are not kept together because they continually tip each other over.
I have stones in place indoors for when they fall backwards....

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Old 03-09-2009, 01:46 PM   #6
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I have had this happen twice, when i went out for the afternoon, i left them in their outside enclosure, and they always have a habit of climbing the sides then getting on their back (even though there are 6 of them, they have so much space they rarely walk past each other to give each other a hand) anyway one afternoon i went out for 2 hours, in that time my little sulcata was on its back and when picked it up it had bright red lips!! then another time i had left my other sulcata for about 2 hours again he had green lips, you could see it slowly fade back to normal when he was upright.

I always wonder at which stage they were both at to become near to death! as you could see they were suffocating.

Its so hard to keep an eye on them, but i only go out for a few hours so i can come back and check on them or get someone to check on them half way through the day if im out.

So i havnt actually had a death happen but a near one i think!
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Old 03-09-2009, 05:18 PM   #7
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[QUOTE=caledonia;321179]If there are 2 torts or more then one is always likely to be passing by the other at some point so will get an accidental helping hand.. they only need to be able to reach anything and they will get up. If there is only one tort then it becomes more of a problem. Also, when on their backs for too long the weight of their lungs becomes a burden and they can die because of that.

When mine are indoors they are not kept together because they continually tip each other over.
I have stones in place indoors for when they fall backwards....

Hi Caledonia, first I must say that I love your "avatar"; I never saw (or noticed) that Shelled Warriors logo, that is really cute--especially the smiling teeth!

Thanks for the helpful advice and the photo of your indoor enclosure-I can easily set up something similar indoors and yesterday during my frenzied repairs I did pile up mounds of smaller rocks near that gap (and I also blocked the gap with a vertical, upright paving stone that she cannot climb onto). It took me about three different configurations before I was satisfied that I was making it more safe and not just more tempting for her to try to traverse
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Old 04-09-2009, 11:08 AM   #8
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Thanks. The stones are good for indoors, as long as they have enough gap to to walk round between the stones and the sides of the enclosure so if the topple backwards when trying to climb up the walls ( ) the should be able to right themselves.

Outdoors a good idea would be to have the soil sloping away from any perimeter they are likely to try to scale so that if they fall, the slope will make it easier for them to turn over again
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Old 04-09-2009, 03:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sammkins View Post
I have had this happen twice, when i went out for the afternoon, i left them in their outside enclosure, and they always have a habit of climbing the sides then getting on their back (even though there are 6 of them, they have so much space they rarely walk past each other to give each other a hand) anyway one afternoon i went out for 2 hours, in that time my little sulcata was on its back and when picked it up it had bright red lips!! then another time i had left my other sulcata for about 2 hours again he had green lips, you could see it slowly fade back to normal when he was upright.

I always wonder at which stage they were both at to become near to death! as you could see they were suffocating.

Its so hard to keep an eye on them, but i only go out for a few hours so i can come back and check on them or get someone to check on them half way through the day if im out.

So i havnt actually had a death happen but a near one i think!
hi, my little ones manage to do this aswell, only last night i found one still on its back under the heat lamp, was real worried that he died as he was not moving but to my releif he pulled through
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Old 05-09-2009, 03:33 AM   #10
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Taco did something similar the very next day, when she was trying to bulldoze her way up a steep slope to the tree trunk that "borders" the back of her pen. She pushed herself into a vertical position, then poised there for a second, before she lost her balance and tumbled straight back and down slope, where she landed on her back right next to a rock I had positioned there per advice from this forum, and she quickly rocked herself back onto her plastron in about 3 seconds.

I've definitely joined those who believe tortoises do overturn themselves fairly regularly, and manage to right themselves fairly regularly as well. It still worries me though, and I spent another two hours yesterday totally blocking off the tree trunk area of her pen, and then transferred river rocks from our landscape border to the "one-shell-width" distance from the pen's sides, at regular intervals all the way around the perimeter. I am beginning to fully comprehend the necessity of frequent changes in the arrangement of tortoise enclosures!
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