Leopard tortoises can be prone to developing “Runny Nose Syndrome” more than other species. This illness can cause major problems for your pet if it is not treated quickly. “RNS” is not strictly a disease but a way of describing a number of symptoms indicating an upper respiratory tract infection. There can be a number of causes for this but if left unchecked can cause pneumonia and death.
It can occur in all tortoise species but is most often prevalent in the Leopard (Geocheelone Pardalis) due to its inability to cope well with damp and high humidity. Always be sure to finish any treatment advised by your vet as it will easily return.
Once your pet has had runny nose syndrome they can become a carrier which means they may not show symptoms but will be highly infectious to other tortoises. For this reason an infected pet will need to be quarantined from the rest of the group as “RNS” will spread rapidly amongst a colony.
Do not ever ignore a runny nose thinking it will go away of its own volition as this may prove fatal for your prized pet tortoise. This illness can also occur in conjunction with “mouth rot” (stomatitis).
Possible causes of Runny Nose Syndrome:Dusty conditions which can cause the mucus membranes to become irritated Any sort of foreign body lodged in the nostrils. Too high humidity Inappropriate temperature within the enclosure Inappropriate photoperiods or lack of sunlight Too small an enclosure especially an outside one with damp grass Overcrowded enclosure Malnutrition – inappropriate diet/feeding StressOne of the main ways to avoid your pet getting this illness is not to mix species in the same enclosure. If you get a new pet tortoise keep it in quarantine before introducing it to an established group. You will need to quarantine it for at least 6 months as it may be a carrier or have recently had Runny Nose Syndrome.
If you are ever unsure if your Leopard tortoise has been unwell or is developing this illness consult your vet as soon as possible.
Ellie Bear is a tortoise enthusiast and she owns and maintains http://www.tortoisetips.com where you can find more information on different types of tortoise.