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TORTOISES &parasites

Our garden tortoises are exposed to higher worm burdens than their wild counterparts.

Our gardens have many more slugs & snails that transmit these parasites who thrive in damp grass.

Recommended testing frequency: 2 times per year

Highest risk period: before hibernation

ASCARIDS

aka the Large Roundworm Nematodes:

Angusticaecum

SYMPTOMS

Large, thick white worms, up to 10cm long

Diarrhoea

Lethargy

Slow growth rate

Can migrate through other organs

Death through bowel rupture in extreme burdens

pinworms

aka Oxyurids:

SYMPTOMS

Small thread-like worms

Unknown - 

these guys live in the large bowel feeding on poo

They may even be helpful by preventing constipation

Can survive hibernation by going into stasis alongside their host

flagellates

Trichomonads

Hexamita 

SYMPTOMS

Microscopic Bugs

Heavy burdens in causes:

Anorexia

Reduced gut motility

Diarrhoea

Poor growth rate

Hexamita causes renal failure if it migrates up from the cloaca to the kidneys, with slimy urine

cryptospoidium

aka Crypto

SYMPTOMS

microscopic parasite

Diarrhoea (often pasty)

Blood & mucus in faeces

Can be fatal

 
 

Worming Treatment Options

Fenbendazole

Broad spectrum. Liquid - easy to accurately dose and administer.

Can be given at 25 mg/Kg once daily in food for 3 days, or at 50-100 mg / Kg as a single dose by stomach tube (never give medicines direct by mouth as windpipe entrance is on the base of the tongue - too easy to aspirate)

Repeat after 3 weeks if clinical symptoms seen

Drug

Method

Dose

25 - 100 mg / Kg

Oral liquid

Fenbendazole

Treats: ascarids (roundworms) and oxyurids

Brand names: Panacur, Lapizole, generic 2.5 or 10% fenbendazole

Metronidazole

Oral liquid.  POM-V a prescription from your vet is required

Not particularly palatable - best administered directly by stomach tube. If regurgitated a tablet can be crushed into water and given by tube

Various doses recommended: Jackson (1977) suggests 160mg/kg every 24 hours for 3 days. Donaldson (1975) suggests a single large dose of 275mg/Kg. Zwart (1987) suggests 25mg/Kg over 10 days.

Drug

Method

Dose

25 - 275 mg/Kg

Oral Liquid

Metronidazole

Treats: Flagellates

Brand names: Flagyl, Eradia, generic metronidazole

High tannin diets

Substantial evidence has proven high tannin diets prevent & reduce worm infestation in the ruminants

These foods are well tolerated by tortoises (although high tannins makes leaves taste bitter)

Anecdotal evidence supports tortoises with high weed & flower diets have lower worm burdens

We are running a clinical trial to monitor the effect of Diatomaceous earth & high tannin diets - watch this space

Drug

Method

Dose

1.5ml / bird for 3 days

liquid

NONE

Plants: ladys mantle (alchemilla), Meadowsweet, Shephers Purse, young willow tree leaves, greater plantain, flat-leaved plantain, blueberries, legumes, pink - purple edible flowers 

Diatomaceous Earth

DE works by physically traumatizing the external walls of parasites. 

Multiple clinical trials have proven significant reductions of worms burdens in birds from roundworms such as ascarids & oxyurids, with some effect against coccidia. No trials have been conducted in reptiles

We are running a clinical trial to monitor the effect of Diatomaceous earth & high tannin diets - watch this space

Drug

Method

Dose

1/2 tsp / tortoise for 3 days

powder added to food

NONE

Ingredients: microscopic fossilized diatoms, ground into a powder 

Brands: generic, multi-mite

 

controltips

Good parasite control is about more than regularly using a wormer

You can reduce risk & use of anthelminthic drugs:

  • Avoid overcrowding

  • Avoid using damp areas of the garden

  • Feed on a tile or slate

  • Keep grass short to increase sunlight on the earth

  • Rotational graze if possible

  • Ensure new tortoises have a clear faeces check

  • Bath regularly & poo-pick the enclosure

  • Maintain a high fibre diet - plenty of weeds rather than bagged salads

Follow our Small Holding at Orlestone Farm for 'Worm of the week' and 'Plant of the week' tips:

pinworm

Yuk, but possible good guys