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Turbo the constipated Sulcata

Mrs Catherine Thomas — 27/10/2014 08:46


Turbo is a two year old Sulcata tortoise, he’s only 400 grams at the moment but when fully grown he could be 30 to 40kg! Turbo came to see Catherine because he seemed to be having difficulty going to the toilet. Despite his difficulties he was still very bright and eating well. After an examination Catherine took some x-rays of Turbo to find an explanation for Turbo’s apparent constipation.


As you can see on the x-ray there were several things which shouldn’t be there. First we saw two small white objects assumed to be in his intestines on the right hand side(circled in green). The size of them menat that they weren’t too worrying and we hoped that these would be able to pass out by themselves. But we also saw something larger in the middle towards his cloaca(circled in red). It looked like it could be a stone in his bladder. A blood sample was also taken and this showed signs of dehydration but fortunately everything else seemed ok. So Turbo was prescribed lots of baths and some laxative to help encourage bowel movements.


A week later the large “stone” was still present on the x-ray and Turbo was still having difficulty going to the toilet. So he was sedated so that it could be investigated further. An endoscope was used to look up through his cloaca and this actually showed that the “stone” in his cloaca rather than his bladder and was white and very hard. A diagnosis of a cloacolith was reached – this means it is an accumulation of urates (a tortoise’s version of urine) which has had all of the water drawn out of it to make it into such a hard stone. At this point it was too large and hard to remove or break up.  So he was sent home to have more baths.


    Turbo being prepared for his anaesthetic

A couple of weeks later Turbo returned. The cloacolith was still there so he stayed in for a full anaesthetic. This time under the anaesthetic the cloacalith was found to be a little softer and it could be broken up and removed in pieces. Turbo woke up from his anaesthetic well and a short while later he seemed very relieved when he passed a large amount of faeces.


      Turbo next to the broken up pieces of his stone


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  • Donna Stocking
    20/12/2014 20:57
    great result for turbo. Could maybe it be added to the story that tortoises of all species require good ventilation, plenty of hydration in form of weekly soaks in shallow warm water and drinking water available at all times. Most importantly, they require a substrate which enables them to thermoregulate, by digging in, such as soil or turf, and thus helps prevent them from 'drying out' and possibly suffering bladder stones.
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