Desert tortoise ovariosalpingectomy a success

Last week, the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) announced the full recovery of Tiny Tim, a 40-year-old desert tortoise. The tortoise had undergone an ovariosalpingectomy over a year ago to remove three of six remaining eggs lodged in the tortoise’s reproductive tract. (The eggs had been there since at least the last breeding season.)

Needless to say, “he” was discovered to be a “she” during initial tests.

David Sanchez-Migallon Guzman, LV, MS, DECZM (Avian), DACZM Staff Veterinarian, along with a team of veterinary residents, students, and technicians, initially attempted to get Tiny Tim to pass the six eggs naturally, including with fluid injections and lukewarm water soaks. They also injected oxytocin to increase uterine muscular contractions.

Three of the six eggs passed.

Tiny Tim was sent home to see if nature would take its course. It didn’t, perhaps because of the lack of suitable burrows for digging and burying eggs, despite the owners preparing some loosely-packed patches of earth for her. (Desert tortoises dig multiple burrows as deep as 20 inches in the soil to hide their eggs.)

Tiny Tim returned to UC Davis for an ovariosalpingectomy. That surgery removed the remaining three eggs, ovaries and oviducts. It also eliminated the risk of future reproductive-associated disease.

Now, a year later, the UC Davis staff is celebrating Tiny Tim's full recovery. 

Photo courtesy of UC Davis

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