It can be alarming if you notice your tortoise is suffering from prolapse. While the severity of prolapse can range widely, it’s important that you treat it as soon as possible. In this article, I will review how to treat tortoise prolapse at home, and also explore causes and symptoms of prolapse in tortoises.
Tortoise prolapse home treatment
The key to treating tortoise prolapse at home is to soak your tortoise in a solution of betadine, sugar, salt, and warm water. You might also need to apply a topical antibiotic.
Below are the steps you should take if your tortoise is suffering from prolapse:
Step 1: Isolation
The very first thing you should do if your tortoise has prolapse is to separate them from other tortoises if more. Unfortunately, it is common for other tortoises to try and bite the organ that is coming out of another tortoise’s cloaca, which can definitely make the condition worse.
Secondly, isolating your tortoise can help prevent the exposed organ from getting infected.
Step 2: Soaking
After you have separated your tortoise, the next step is to soak your tortoise in a solution comprised of betadine, sugar, salt, and warm water. It’s very important that you act on this step quickly, as an exposed organ can dry up quickly, which can make it much harder for your tortoise to recover. Below is an overview of all the ingredients you need to put in the soaking bucket:
Betadine: Betadine is an antiseptic which can help prevent your tortoise from developing an infection from the exposed organ.
Sugar: Sugar can act as a natural lubricant, which can make it easier for your tortoise to suck the organ back into their body.
Salt: While salt isn’t mandatory, it is recommended if your tortoise’s tail/cloaca is swollen. This is because salt can help reduce swelling.
Warm water: Warm water is suggested because it can help your tortoise’s body fight off infection. Similar to sugar, it can also act as a lubricant to make it easier for your tortoise to squeeze the organ back inside their body. It’s important that you don’t fill up the water too high. You only want the water to submerge your tortoise’s tail/cloaca. You want your tortoise to be able to stand comfortably in the water without their head being submerged.
There is no perfect time for how long you should keep your tortoise soaking in the solution. It will likely depend on how severe your tortoise’s prolapse is.
I suggest checking in after 30 minutes to see if there is any progress. You might have to leave your tortoise in the soaking bin for a couple hours in order to see improvement.
Step 3: Change water
If you keep your tortoise in the water for an extended period of time, I suggest that you change the water at least every 6-8 hours. This will help keep the water clean and free from bacteria.
Step 4: Dry docking
Since tortoises are naturally land animals, you shouldn’t keep them in the water for more than 24 hours consecutively. You should take your tortoise out of the water for an hour or two break. When you take them out, you should but them in a container that has a lining of paper towels so it is comfortable for them.
You should make sure they have access to a water bowl when they are dry docking.
Step 5: Applying antibiotic
If your tortoise’s condition does not improve after a day, and you notice swelling on their tail, you should apply a topical antibiotic to the wound. You can use Neosporin. If you don’t have Neosporin, you can apply sugar to the wound to try and lubricate the wound.
In extreme cases, people have put saran wrap over the wound to prevent the organ from sliding out further.
Step 6: Take to the vet
If your tortoise’s prolapse has not improved over 2-3 days, you should take them to the vet. I know it can be a hassle and cost a lot of money. However, prolapse can be extremely painful for your tortoise, so it is better that they don’t suffer.
Now that you know how to treat prolapse in tortoises, looks dive a little deeper into what prolapse is and what causes it in the first place.
Prolapse in tortoises
In the simplest of terms, prolapse refers to a condition where an internal organ starts to protrude out of your tortoise’s cloaca. The cloaca is the hole located on the bottom side their tail that your tortoises uses for pooping and mating.
Types of prolapse in tortoises
In male tortoises, penile prolapse is the most common. Luckily, this is one of the less severe prolapses.
However, it is also common for tortoises to have their intestines fall out of their cloaca, which can be harder to treat.
What causes prolapse in tortoises?
Prolapse in tortoises can be caused by a wide range of conditions, including
Fighting: if tortoises get in a physical altercation, it can result in prolapse.
Constipation: When a tortoise is constipated, they will try their hardest to push out waste. This can sometimes result in them pushing out organs instead. You can help prevent this by feeding them a balanced diet.
Bladder stones: Similar to constipation, if a tortoise has a bladder stone, they will be trying to push it out really hard. They might push so hard that one of their organs is pushed out.
Diarrhea: While it isn’t as common, diarrhea can also cause your tortoise to poop out an organ.
Impaction: This refers to when your tortoise eats something that they can’t digest, such as small rocks or pebbles. If this goes through their digestive tract, there is a chance it can knock loose some of their organs and causes them to get pooped out.
Mating: If your male tortoise is trying to mate with a female, they will likely extend out their you know what. Sometimes, they will extend it out too much, which can make it harder to retract. Additionally, if it is exposed to air for too long, it can dry out.
While prolapse can be severe in tortoises, it can usually be treated at home if you catch it early. The key is to catch it early and take fast action. The longer your tortoise is left treated, the higher the chance that their organ get’s dried out. This will make recovery more difficult.
If you are not able to improve their condition in 2-3 days, you should take them to the vet.