13 Year Old Sulcata in Need of TLC

Markw84

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Tim. Just curious. What do you see as damage on the carapace? I'd it the way the growth is disproportionally greater on the sides vs top? Not sure I've ever seen or was aware of that type damage
 

Thor's Mommy

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Hi Tom. Thanks again for the help. I am curious now. I will weigh Thor and let you all know.

A couple more questions:

1) You said: "You are feeding him well and hopefully keeping him hydrated and that is what matters most." I have a large plastic tub in the yard that collects rain water and sprinkler water. Also a good part of his enclosure is on the north side of the house so there is usually dew on things. I do not have any water currently in the night house. Should I add a bowl in there? This will also increase the humidity. I am worried if I put a bowl in there, he will tip it over (like he does the food bowl) and the water will just keep getting everywhere and rot the wood or create bacteria problems. I guess we could cut a hole in the floor and put the bowl in the hole so he can't knock it over... What do you use for a water bowl in the night house?

2) I read your links to the night houses you built for your tortoises. I haven't yet read all the posts, but I didn't see anything about the heating mats you used. What are they called and where can I find one?

Thanks!
 

Thor's Mommy

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Tim. Just curious. What do you see as damage on the carapace? I'd it the way the growth is disproportionally greater on the sides vs top? Not sure I've ever seen or was aware of that type damage

Thanks for the question Mark. I am curious about this too. There are a couple spots that look like they might be little burn marks (it's kinds hard to see them from the picture). I thought maybe you meant the overall coloration like the one in the example Maggie3fan gave?

I still plan to replace the bulbs with another heat source, I am just curious so I know what to look for in the future.
 

Tom

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Tim. Just curious. What do you see as damage on the carapace? I'd it the way the growth is disproportionally greater on the sides vs top? Not sure I've ever seen or was aware of that type damage

Many times I've seen large tortoises, especially here with our cold nights, who sit under incandescent heat lamps and end up with a damaged carapace. I call the process a "slow burn". It get a little too hot on top, but the tortoise doesn't move because the rest of the body is still too cold from being it cold air or their belly resting on cold ground. I only see this in the larger species and usually only when they live outdoors or in indoor areas that are too cool, like the floor of a basement or garage.

Here is what I'm talking about. This example is at the top of a pyramided scute, but it happens in smooth ones too.
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/open-topped-pyramided-scute.19691/
 

Tom

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Hi Tom. Thanks again for the help. I am curious now. I will weigh Thor and let you all know.

A couple more questions:

1) You said: "You are feeding him well and hopefully keeping him hydrated and that is what matters most." I have a large plastic tub in the yard that collects rain water and sprinkler water. Also a good part of his enclosure is on the north side of the house so there is usually dew on things. I do not have any water currently in the night house. Should I add a bowl in there? This will also increase the humidity. I am worried if I put a bowl in there, he will tip it over (like he does the food bowl) and the water will just keep getting everywhere and rot the wood or create bacteria problems. I guess we could cut a hole in the floor and put the bowl in the hole so he can't knock it over... What do you use for a water bowl in the night house?

2) I read your links to the night houses you built for your tortoises. I haven't yet read all the posts, but I didn't see anything about the heating mats you used. What are they called and where can I find one?

Thanks!

1. They need a water source and they should be soaked too. There are many reasons why a tortoise might choose to not use its provided water source, and regular soaks ensure good hydration whether they drink enough or not. If you soak a tortoise that didn't need it, it does no harm. I use appropriately sized shallow tubs sunk into the ground in my outdoor enclosures for my adults and I use terra cotta saucers sunk into the substrate for my smaller indoor housed juveniles.

2. Kane heat mats. You can order them online. I usually use the 18x28" ones.
 

Thor's Mommy

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The tub we have is sunken into the ground and we have rocks at the bottom so it is not too deep. It is large enough for him to sit in, but I have never seen him do it. How do you get them to soak? And for how long should they soak? He does play in the sprinklers sometimes and in the rain too when it's not too cold out. Is that a good alternative to soaking?
 

Thor's Mommy

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Tom, you said: "I'm still very concerned about his carapace with those lights. Have you come up with an alternate heating strategy yet? Its time. He's too big for those lamps and I'm afraid damage is already being done."

I copied this picture from one of your links. We placed an order for a Kane Heat Mat....what is the white pad you attached to the lid? Is there anything else I should include in Thor's modified night house (besides making it smaller and adding insulation) to keep him warm without damage?


30bk60g.jpg
 

Big Charlie

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Tom, you said: "I'm still very concerned about his carapace with those lights. Have you come up with an alternate heating strategy yet? Its time. He's too big for those lamps and I'm afraid damage is already being done."

I copied this picture from one of your links. We placed an order for a Kane Heat Mat....what is the white pad you attached to the lid? Is there anything else I should include in Thor's modified night house (besides making it smaller and adding insulation) to keep him warm without damage?


30bk60g.jpg
http://www.reptilebasics.com/rbi-radiant-heat-panels
Radiant heat panels. I got the 80 watt. You should connect both heaters to a thermostat control.
 

Tom

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Yes. What Big Charlie said.

For soaking you need to place him in a large tub with warm water. The water should come about halfway up his body and the sides should be too tall for him to see over or climb out of. Horse watering troughs, large kiddie pools, or large cement mixing tub's all work for soaking large sulcatas. Since he's probably a little on the dry side now, I would soak him three times a week for the next month or so. After that I do once a week in cold weather and 2 to 3 times a week in warmer weather.
 

Thor's Mommy

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We are making progress!

The night house is all cleaned out, a smaller cubbie has been made in Thor's favorite corner to trap in more heat. I have the Kane mat and am about to order a Radiant heat panel. I have a couple more questions:

1) I need to purchase a thermostat for the radiant heat panel in addition to the thermostat for the Kane mat, correct?
2) What temperature do I need to set the mat and the panel at? Same temperature for both or different temps? (sorry if this was already said...I can't remember)
3) Should I keep the heat on all the time at the same temperature and let Thor decide whether he wants to go in or not? Or should I have different night and day temps?
4) Since he is typically outside the night house during the day, I was thinking maybe I could have the heat panel on all the time then just have the mat on at night. Would that be a good idea?

It is usually about 65-70 degrees F around here right now during the day, and about 45-55 degrees F at night.

Thank you, thank you again everyone for all your help. :)
 

Thor's Mommy

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Thor has not been coming out of his house as much during the day since I installed the Kane heat mat, and he hasn't pooped for 3 days...he usually goes every day. I thought maybe this is because he is a little cold. I currently have the heat mat set at 90 degrees F and I have an infrared heat lamp overhead (although higher than it used to be so it doesn't burn him) until the Radiant Heat Panel gets here.

At what temperature should I have the Kane heat mat set?
Also, what air temperature do you all recommend I shoot for?

Thanks!
 

Odin's Gma

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I think 90 might be a little high, but I have not yet used a Kane mat so I don't know how their temp settings affect the air temp. From what I have learned here, somewhere in the low to mid 80's for air temp at tort level overall with a basking spot closer to 100 seems to be ideal for them. Larger torts can handle a greater variance and lower temps when they are healthy.
The lack of poop and not coming out for a few days isn't immediate cause for concern. They are notoriously grumpy and stubborn and even slight changes to their environment can set them off on a days long pout. When mine does it, I make a point to dig him out every day and set him in front of his food and give him a soak if he looks the least bit dry. Mine is less than 2 years old and had a dry start so I am still hyper-vigilant, but with older ones you won't have to dig him out daily,personally I would at least try for once or twice a week, but that would be more for my peace of mind.
Hopefully one of the more experienced sully keepers like @Tom @DeanS or @Yvonne G will chime in with better info.
 

Tom

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Thor has not been coming out of his house as much during the day since I installed the Kane heat mat, and he hasn't pooped for 3 days...he usually goes every day. I thought maybe this is because he is a little cold. I currently have the heat mat set at 90 degrees F and I have an infrared heat lamp overhead (although higher than it used to be so it doesn't burn him) until the Radiant Heat Panel gets here.

At what temperature should I have the Kane heat mat set?
Also, what air temperature do you all recommend I shoot for?

Thanks!

What is the general air temp in his enclosure? Day and night?

What is the tortoises temperature when he's under his lamp and on his mat? Check his carapace temp on the side farthest from the heat lamp.
 

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