This is why the SPCA is opposed to people keeping Tortoises as pets. This boy came to me yesterday, he is in a very bad shape. He can be saved, but it will take a lot of long hard work.
He is suffering from Metabolic Bone disease and has probably got secondary infections from the damage and exposure.
The term 'Metabolic Bone Disease' (or 'Disorder') is not an actual disease, but a catch-term for a wide variety of things that can soften or deform a tortoise's shell and skeleton. Some MBD's are due to disease processes, like 'Fibrous osteodystrophy', 'Hypertropic osteopathy', 'Paget's Disease', etc. Most MBD's are due to problems with diet and basic cares. The most common is 'Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism' or NSHP. Common names for this condition are 'rubber jaw' in lizards, or 'soft shell' in turtles and tortoises. The root cause is usually a combination of too little calcium, too much phosphorous, or too little vitamin D, but can also be aggravated by poor temps, poor hydration, etc. Pyramiding is usually a form or symptom of NSHP as well.
NSHP shows up in tortoises as a softened, leathery, or rubbery shell, but by the time the shell shows obvious problems, there may be problems in the bones. Things like pyramided or raised scutes (A horny, chitinous, or bony external plate or scale, as on the shell of a turtle or the underside of a snake), deformed jaws, weak and/or deformed limbs, splayed walking, dragging limbs, paralysis, and cloacal prolapses (In zoological anatomy, a cloaca is the posterior opening that serves as the only opening for the intestinal, reproductive, and urinary tracts) are signs something is wrong.
Treated properly, the tortoise should recover fully, although some shell or skeletal deformity will remain, and there may be residual muscle or nerve problems. The earlier it is caught, the better the chances for a complete recovery.
Untreated NSHP can be fatal, so make sure the tortoise gets the right care.
Please Folks, I ask very politely…. Leave wildlife where they belong, in the wild.
First photo 2nd Photo (1/11/2013)
Update on Thomas the Tortoise (1/11/2013)
Since his UV/sun/ Vitamin D treatment, his appetite has improved drastically. Veggies, blackjacks, meal worms and snails are his all time favorites. If he carries on like this he will be well on his way to recovery. He has been de-wormed and is on strong antibiotics at the moment, but he is looking good.