Braveheart Elvis the chelonian

Our next Braveheart award goes to our chirpy chelonian friend Elvis. Here is her story.

Elvis the Leopard tortoise has lived with Miss Waters for five years. A very bright tortoise with a cheeky personality, she is something of an escapologist! So when she became very quiet and lethargic, not moving much and not really eating anything, Elvis’ owner booked an appointment for her to be seen here at Sandhole by exotic vet Daniella. By the time she arrived, Elvis' condition had worsened and she was very dehydrated with severe stomatitis (inflammation of the mucous membranes).  She was also experiencing great difficulty breathing and had discharge coming out of both nostrils.

Daniella did a full clinical examination and diagnosed her with runny nose syndrome, or RNS - an upper respiratory tract infection that is common in leopard tortoises and which is often accompanied by mouth rot. Without treatment it can develop into chronic or acute pneumonia, which can be difficult to cure.

Clearly this was a very poor prognosis for Elvis, and we gently explained to her owner that whilst we would do everything we could for her, unfortunately she might not pull through. Elvis was admitted to our hospital and we began an injectable course of antibiotics in order to treat the infection. We also nebulised Elvis twice daily for 10 minutes with an antimicrobial solution to help her dyspnoea (difficulty breathing), and carefully cleaned out her nostrils.

The nursing team tried their best to tempt her to eat with plenty of fresh greens, but as Elvis did not want to eat of her own accord we inserted a stomach tube to feed her with a formula called Emeraid.

By day two Elvis’s demeanour was visibly better and she was looking a lot brighter. Her breathing had improved but she had begun to regurgitate the food that was being stomach-fed to her, so this was stopped whilst we continued to closely monitor the improvement in her condition.  It wasn't long before she began to return to her mischievous ways, trying to escape from the vivarium. By the end of her seven-day stay, Elvis was eating of her own accord, enjoying some delicious grass out in the sunshine with our nurses. She only had minimal nasal discharge and her mouth rot had resolved, so she was allowed home.

The whole team here at Sandhole got very attached to Elvis during her stay and we were all relieved that she pulled through and made a full recovery. We have recently heard from Miss Waters that she is doing extremely well at home and is back to her cheeky self!