Meet Turk, our Pismo Beach Veterinary Clinic “Pet of the Week.”
Turk is an approximately 40 year old, male California Desert Tortoise that came to PBVC with symptoms of decreased appetite and energy, as well as some signs of upper respiratory infection. We took some x-rays and performed bloodwork (not easy on a tortoise!) and found him to have a HUGE bladder stone.
Turk was started on eye drops and antibiotics (tortoises tend not to absorb medications orally, so his antibiotics were given as intramuscular injections into his arm) and improved over a few weeks. Bladder stones are extremely common in tortoises, in part due to high calcium in their diets and chronic dehydration.
We suspect that in Turk’s case, the bladder stone may not be causing any problems right now. However, in some tortoises these stones need to be removed to alleviate pain and other lower urinary tract issues. Surgery is difficult due to the thick shells covering over 90% of a tortoises body. Below are some pictures of a bladder stone removal surgery that Dr. Conn performed a few years ago for a similar patient. After replacing the shell, a fiberglass patch is placed using 2-ton epoxy. This patch typically stays on for 1-2 years until the shell completely heals.