We are all familiar with this life-threatening condition in humans. Almost everyone knows someone who has a relative or friend who is anorexic. We read in magazines all about the latest celebrity to succumb to this horrible wasting disease, but are you aware that your tortoise could be suffering the same condition?
Now obviously there is a difference between the tragic, self-imposed starvation regimes of the human race and the plight of the humble tortoise, but the outcome, if not recognised and treated, will be the same – a potentially agonizing and unnecessary death.
So what can cause our shelled friends to suddenly turn into ‘super models’? Is it a sudden desire to look better than their companions? Do they have a burning desire to star in the latest blockbuster film so must just ‘lose a few extra grams’? No of course not. The answer is much simpler than that. It is caused by a worm infestation.
But not just any worm will do this – it is one with a very fancy name: Tachygonetria. This chap is part of the Oxyurid family of pinworms. It is thankfully relatively rare and is most common in Hermann’s tortoise though it is also found in all other torts. It comes in on contaminated grass and other vegetation.
We at Wormcount.com are finding more and more every day; so we are now adding it to the worm count results on our report email. Last month we did a worm count on a young Horsefield which had a worm egg count of well over 3000 eggs per gram. More than half of these were Tachygonetria. The owner had mentioned that her pet had been losing weight over the past few weeks and she sensibly had a worm count done to check for parasites.
This poor little chap had an immediate appointment with his Vet and thankfully, after a serious amount of treatment and medication, he is now on the mend. The treatment involved his being put on a fenbendazole and electrolyte drip and fed with a feeding tube permanently attached to his shell.
The reason the owner of this tiny tort had him worm counted was because she saw some white, wriggly things near his cloaca and, of course, the aforementioned weight loss. The sad thing is that if the animal looks’ wormy’ as this one clearly did, then it is often too late. Don’t let this nasty parasite take hold of your tortoise. Have a routine worm count done for peace of mind at www.wormcount.com.