Other Medical Issues


Technical term for blood infections. Signals include red tinge between scutes or red streaks on soft tissues. Cannot be treated without determining what the infectious agent is and using the right antibiotic. Needs to be seen by a vet.

Heat Emergencies

Tortoise feels hot to the touch, may be unresponsive or limp, area temps over 100F.


  1. Cool tortoise in coolish (not cold) spray or soak.
  2. Make sure it is well-hydrated and has access to cooler, shady hiding places.
  3. Monitor hydration and condition over the next several days.
  4. Treat for shock and dehydration. Transport if no improvement.

Cold Emergencies

Tortoise feels cold, acts sluggish or non-responsive. Temps under about 50F.


  1. Gently bring the tortoise up to a normal temp: put it in a warm/humid room (bathroom with the tub filled with hot water for humid heat?)
  2. Offer a warm soak as described earlier.
  3. Monitor and prepare to treat for pneumonia or other complications. See a vet if needed.


Stress in animals is defined by Dr. Mader as the gap between what the animal needs in captivity, and what it gets. The more energy or effort the animal uses to fill in the gap, the more stressed it is.

For example, it takes a certain amount of calcium and other nutrients to build a healthy shell, nerves, and skeleton. If it needs calcium, it may actually steal it from other systems, weakening it. Tortoises are also fairly quiet, shy animals.
If there is a lot of activity near the habitat or hides, the animals may not be able to relax and develop stress from that.

Stress is often part of any problem, and reducing stress is almost always part of the answer. Keeping a stressed tortoise warm, humid, calm, quiet, and well-fed goes a long way to helping with almost any issue. (See Shock and Nursing Care)

All new tortoises should be quarantined before being introduced to the others. This simple step can save you heartbreak and expensive vet bills by preventing an infected animal into your collection.

To be sure the new tortoise is completely free of disease organisms or parasites, a few months of quarantine would be best, but you can reduce this time if you are buying from a reliable breeder, especially if the rest of your herd came from there.

When you think about all the pathogens that a tortoise can carry – protozoans, HerpesvirusMycoplasma, E. coliSalmonella, tapeworms, mites, and dozens of other things, a few months of quarantine is not that big a deal to protect everyone.

A true quarantine completely separates the animals so they do not share water, air, food, etc. You should not carry tools or any materials between them.

Edited 8-16-2012 (C) Mark Adkins