As a Russian tortoise pet owner, it's important to know what your pet’s eyes should look like. This will help you in the future identify if there are any problems or anything to be concerned about. Your Russian tortoise’s eyes should be open, bright, and shiny. They have excellent eyesight and are able to see a complete range of colors. While they don't have tear ducts, they are able to create their own tears.
Eye infections are relatively common in captive Russian tortoises, which often start as a white spot on the cornea surface, but can quickly spread across the entire eye surface.
- Can see an ulcer on the eye surface
- Eyes closed
- Watering from eyes
- Tortoise is trying to rub its eye
There are a number of things that can cause an eye infection in your pet tortoise, these include:
It is essential that you maintain optimum humidity levels for your Russian tortoise. When the humidity levels get too low, below optimum range, the risk of eye infection is greatly increased.
It is important that you keep your pet’s enclosure clean. Living in poor conditions with dirty water, substrate, poop, urates, and leftover food can cause bacteria and fungus growth, both of which can result in an eye infection.
It is possible for your tortoise to injure its eye when exploring inside and outside the habitat. Injuries can become infected quickly. If you notice your pet’s eye is injured, keep a close eye on it, keep it clean, and if needed, seek veterinary treatment.
Vitamin A Deficiency
Your Russian tortoise living in captivity is prone to Vitamin A deficiency, which is essential for the skin and mucous membranes, their eyes, and reproductive functions. Vitamin A deficiency usually causes your pet’s eye to swell and close, if ignored this can become an eye infection very quickly.
Of course, prevention is always better than cure. But when your pet is already suffering from an eye infection, the first thing you want to do is give its enclosure a thorough deep clean, use reptile disinfectant and rinse thoroughly. Provide fresh substrate and clean water, along with a diet rich in Vitamin A.
Take your pet to the vet. Depending on the severity of the infection it may be given intravenous or topical antibiotics to help fight the infection.
You want to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of your pet Russian tortoise developing an eye infection.
Always ensure you provide your pet with optimum humidity levels. Don't let the humidity drop below the recommended percentage for your pet. Russian tortoises appreciate their humidity between 30% and 50%. You can monitor the humidity levels easily using a digital hygrometer with waterproof probe.
You can reduce the risk of eye infection in your Russian tortoise by keeping its enclosure clean. This requires a daily spot clean to remove any poop, urates, and left-over food and dirt. Remove any soiled substrate and provide clean, freshwater.
Do a weekly clean, where you remove your pet, wash and scrub the enclosure and disinfect it, before rinsing thoroughly and allowing it to dry. All decorations, water, and food bowls should also be washed and disinfected. Add clean substrate and freshwater.
Ensure you provide your Russian tortoise with a healthy diet to help boost their immune system and fight off possible infections. In the wild, your pet is primarily a herbivore and therefore you should try and provide a similar diet. The diet should comprise of dark, leafy greens, such as collard greens, kale, mustard greens, carrot tops, and beet greens.
Your pet will enjoy some variety now and then such as carrots, bell peppers, squash, banana, strawberries, and apples. These treats should only make up ten percent of your pet’s diet.
Make use of supplements that will help your pet remain strong and healthy, such as Calcium and Vitamin D3 supplements, which are essential for a growing Russian tortoise to develop strong bones and shell. Food can be lightly dusted.
Use a multivitamin with younger Russian tortoises needing more frequent supplementation than adults. Multivitamins ensure that your pet gets all the vitamins it needs that it may not be getting directly from its diet.
Eye infections are uncomfortable for your pet and worrying for you. The good news is that they can be prevented by ensuring your pet has a clean habitat, the right humidity levels, a well-balanced diet of dark greens, and the right supplements. Should an eye infection occur, the best course of treatment is always to take your pet to the vet and identify if it needs antibiotics to fight the infection and help your Russian tortoise get back to full health again.