After talking to the vet and my wonderful reptile rescue friend Mary Esther (I will introduce her to you in a later post!) we decided to treat all of my torts for worms. Joe was living with Mo, so he probably had some. Although I quarantine my rescues from Timmy and Roz, most tortoises do carry a small number of parasites in their gut, so it certainly couldn't hurt to just treat them all, since I had to purchase the medicine in a bigger dosage anyway.
We chose to treat with fenbendazole (the active ingredient in Panacur and Safeguard), which is safe for tortoises (and some other reptiles) in the proper dosage. The dosage is calculated by weight. I am not going to post the dosage here, because it is important that you work with your vet and/or someone experienced in treating tortoises for parasites... an overdose can kill a tort. Plus, make sure that after the treatment (which is usually 2 doses 2 weeks apart), you have a fecal sample examined by a vet to make sure you killed the worms.
|The "horse" paste version is best for herbivores such as tortoises. Ask your vet about proper dosage.|
Mo and Joe were easy to dose. They are both so friendly and laid back, and like to eat out of my hand. Roz is GREEDY, and while he'll come right to me to eat out of my hand, he's also accidentally bitten me a few times. I held his 'cigar' at the veeeery end, and as usual, he went to town and gobbled it up. Timmy wanted nothing of hers (she doesn't like to eat out of anybody's hand), and Roz kept trying to nab some, so I finally took Roz out of the enclosure and let him run around the floor for a little while. After 2 tries, Timmy finally took her dose. Boo is so new, I haven't dosed him - he still hides whenever anyone comes near, and is also a bit of a picky eater. I'll probably just collect a fecal sample to see if it's even necessary to treat him when I have fecals run for the other torts.
Don't be surprised if your tortoises act kind of nauseated for a few days. As long as the dosage was correct, and they are getting enough water, they will be ok. After about 2 days, Mo began pooping out big clumps of dead worms (sorry, TMI). This was good, because it meant the meds were working!
I gave the torts a second dose of fenbendazole 2 weeks later, to be sure that any newly hatched worms were killed, too. This time around, Mo's droppings looked much better, with only the occasional worm.
Now that treatment is complete, I will wait a couple of weeks, and have the vet run a fecal sample for each tort. You may also want to feed some probiotics. I purchase TNT supplement from Carolina Pet supplies, and these include probiotics if you choose that option, which I did. This will help your newly wormless tort to grow healthy digestive flora in his gut.
While (very) small numbers of worms are 'normal' in wild-caught specimen, large numbers of worms can draw nutrients away from the tort, causing vitamin deficiencies. After treating Mo, I noticed a steep increase in activity and alertness. He acts so much more like a tortoise now, and seems healthier overall.
|Mo chowing down on some arugula.|