Many autopsy findings from suddenly deceased Radiated Tortoises often show a diffuse and increased bacterial load as well as inflammation of various organs as a secondary diagnosis. An unfavorable and excessive bacterial load weakens the immune system and promotes the occurrence of various diseases. A bacterial load is unfavorably promoted by the following factors in housing:
• Density stress: Too many tortoises live together in too small a space and contaminate each other and repeatedly with their own bacteria and the bacteria of conspecifics. The permanent confrontation with conspecifics leads to repeated stressful situations, which further weaken the immune system.
● Lack of hygiene: Unhygienic animal husbandry always promotes the emergence and spread of germs (viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi, etc.). The risk of contamination in a dirty environment is increased many times over. Radiated Tortoises from unsanitary stocks have weakened immune systems and are often carriers of diseases and parasites. Without quarantine with expensive and time-consuming health checks, such animals can contaminate and wipe out entire herds with dangerous pathogens.
● Socialization with other species: Tortoises from different geographical distribution areas are carriers of various microorganisms. Some species show a very high tolerance to certain bacteria, but for another species the same bacteria can be devastating. Astrochelys radiata is particularly hypersensitive to certain alien microorganisms (e.g. certain intestinal bacteria of European tortoises and leopard tortoises). If these are ingested in excess, the intestinal flora can be suppressed or die off. As a result, the immune system is significantly and permanently weakened, and chronic and insidious inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract can occur. However, these foci of inflammation can also spread throughout the body and lead to generalized organ failure. The low tolerance of Astrochelys radiata to alien microorganisms is probably related to the isolated, endemic occurrence of this species and the adaptation to a very special ecosystem.