5 year old Russian Tortoise. Pyramiding and slanted shell!!

Smol_quackson

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Feb 27, 2019
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Salford
Hello.

I have come on here for help with my 5 year old Russuan Tortoise.

image.jpg
His shell measures 12.5cm x 12.5cm

This is a picture of him when we first got him:
62129D6B-9D36-4162-827A-8E33106FFB5A.jpeg He now however sadly has a slanted and pyramiding shell which prohibits his back to legs from working properly- he drags himself mainly by his two front ones.

Also from what I can tell he has growth lines I believe. Correct me if I'm wrong though. It might be because we moved him to a larger enclosure but I'm not sure.

image.jpg

Also his right leg is constantly like that and I think it might be from the pyramiding??

I've had this little guy for 5 years and sadly I got him as a gift from my dad on my birthday.

I am only 16 so when I got him I was around 10-11 and wasn't really well equipped with knowledge nay the will to properly care for him.

Regardless we kept him- and I know it wasn't the best decision for him and I realise that now. He has lived for the majority of his existence in a 65cm x 45cm (lxw) enclosure - for around 4 years.


He now has a bigger enclosure that's 91cm x 77cm (lxw)
image.jpg

Any substrate recommendations are advised.


His main food source has been the same and we've been feeding him Florette Classic Crispy:
image.jpg
We also give him dandelion if I can find some.
Spinach and carrots sometimes and occasionally fruit such as watermelon and tomates.

I also give him calcium supplements every couple days and bathe him twice a week for 30 mins.
image.jpg

I'm trying my best to correct my mistakes and help him live as happily and long as possible.

If anyone here could please help and refrain from any lectures about my past behaviour because I know what I did was wrong and I'm sorry.

Any other advice will be gladly appreciated, thank you!
 

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
1,898
Hello.

I have come on here for help with my 5 year old Russuan Tortoise.

View attachment 328018
His shell measures 12.5cm x 12.5cm

This is a picture of him when we first got him:
View attachment 328021 He now however sadly has a slanted and pyramiding shell which prohibits his back to legs from working properly- he drags himself mainly by his two front ones.

Also from what I can tell he has growth lines I believe. Correct me if I'm wrong though. It might be because we moved him to a larger enclosure but I'm not sure.

View attachment 328019

Also his right leg is constantly like that and I think it might be from the pyramiding??

I've had this little guy for 5 years and sadly I got him as a gift from my dad on my birthday.

I am only 16 so when I got him I was around 10-11 and wasn't really well equipped with knowledge nay the will to properly care for him.

Regardless we kept him- and I know it wasn't the best decision for him and I realise that now. He has lived for the majority of his existence in a 65cm x 45cm (lxw) enclosure - for around 4 years.


He now has a bigger enclosure that's 91cm x 77cm (lxw)
View attachment 328015

Any substrate recommendations are advised.


His main food source has been the same and we've been feeding him Florette Classic Crispy:
View attachment 328016
We also give him dandelion if I can find some.
Spinach and carrots sometimes and occasionally fruit such as watermelon and tomates.

I also give him calcium supplements every couple days and bathe him twice a week for 30 mins.
View attachment 328017

I'm trying my best to correct my mistakes and help him live as happily and long as possible.

If anyone here could please help and refrain from any lectures about my past behaviour because I know what I did was wrong and I'm sorry.

Any other advice will be gladly appreciated, thank you!
It appears that the tortoise has metabolic bone disease (MBD) which has caused the loss of use of the back legs and the slanted shell. The leg which stays in one position constantly may have a broken bone in it. The beak is overgrown and needs to be trimmed also.

I think you might want to find a good exotics vet who knows how to treat these conditions and take your tortoise to him/her.
 

bella&george

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Joined
Jun 22, 2021
Messages
29
Location (City and/or State)
AZ
I have quite a similar experience with receiving a tortoise or having an animal placed in my care when I had no knowledge of their care or diet whatsoever. I have made many mistakes and some have resulted in damage, health issues and otherwise. Now, I'm trying to give the animals I didn't care for properly the best life I can after realizing all of the things I was doing wrong. That doesn't make up for what happened in the past, but I can't do anything else about it, and neither can you. (That part wasn't exactly necessary but I hope it might have given you a little motivation) From what I've seen, the best subtrate to use would be organic orchid bark. It looks pretty dry in the enclosure too so wetting the bark to up the humidity after you've put it in would be best. Always make sure your tortoise has a shallow water bowl that they can get into, terra cotta plant saucers seem to work the best. That diet doesn't seem too too bad but adding a variety of tort-safe plants or greens- making sure they are organic and not treated with pesticides- like escarole, endive, many types of lettuce (excluding iceberg), dandelion greens, arugula, collard greens, mustard greens, pot marigold, hibiscus flowers, and many more, or soaked orchard, bermuda, or timothy grass hay if you can get your tort to eat it. I don't know about the calcium but from what i've seen I would cut the calcium supplements to once a week, and instead put some cuttlefish bones around your torts enclosure. Someone like @Tom could give you more info about the proper lighting and enclosure... but if you look around you'll find a ton of useful info. I'll put some links that could help at the bottom.(and possibly add to them later) You have a lovely tortoise 🙂

Thread 'Russian Tortoise Care Sheet'
https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
 

Smol_quackson

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Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
11
Location (City and/or State)
Salford
It appears that the tortoise has metabolic bone disease (MBD) which has caused the loss of use of the back legs and the slanted shell. The leg which stays in one position constantly may have a broken bone in it. The beak is overgrown and needs to be trimmed also.

I think you might want to find a good exotics vet who knows how to treat these conditions and take your tortoise to him/her.
Thank you so much!! I’ll definitely look into finding a vet for him to help.
 

Smol_quackson

New Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
11
Location (City and/or State)
Salford
I have quite a similar experience with receiving a tortoise or having an animal placed in my care when I had no knowledge of their care or diet whatsoever. I have made many mistakes and some have resulted in damage, health issues and otherwise. Now, I'm trying to give the animals I didn't care for properly the best life I can after realizing all of the things I was doing wrong. That doesn't make up for what happened in the past, but I can't do anything else about it, and neither can you. (That part wasn't exactly necessary but I hope it might have given you a little motivation) From what I've seen, the best subtrate to use would be organic orchid bark. It looks pretty dry in the enclosure too so wetting the bark to up the humidity after you've put it in would be best. Always make sure your tortoise has a shallow water bowl that they can get into, terra cotta plant saucers seem to work the best. That diet doesn't seem too too bad but adding a variety of tort-safe plants or greens- making sure they are organic and not treated with pesticides- like escarole, endive, many types of lettuce (excluding iceberg), dandelion greens, arugula, collard greens, mustard greens, pot marigold, hibiscus flowers, and many more, or soaked orchard, bermuda, or timothy grass hay if you can get your tort to eat it. I don't know about the calcium but from what i've seen I would cut the calcium supplements to once a week, and instead put some cuttlefish bones around your torts enclosure. Someone like @Tom could give you more info about the proper lighting and enclosure... but if you look around you'll find a ton of useful info. I'll put some links that could help at the bottom.(and possibly add to them later) You have a lovely tortoise 🙂

Thread 'Russian Tortoise Care Sheet'
https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
Oh my god thank you so much. It feels kinda calming to know I’m not alone in this whole experience. I’ll definitely look into the substrate and the calcium so thank you. Also he does have a water bowl but I think it’s just hidden in the picture. Thank you for all the information :)
 

bella&george

Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2021
Messages
29
Location (City and/or State)
AZ
Oh my god thank you so much. It feels kinda calming to know I’m not alone in this whole experience. I’ll definitely look into the substrate and the calcium so thank you. Also he does have a water bowl but I think it’s just hidden in the picture. Thank you for all the information :)
It's no problem at all! I truly hope it helps you out.
 

harrythetortoise

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Messages
454
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
Does he get any outside time in the sun? The best way to stop further progress of MBD is to make sure he gets good UVB and the sun is obviously the best.
Make sure his indoor enclosure has a fluorescent UVB bulb with hood (Arcadia 12% UVB T5 HO).
I hope everything goes well and keep us updated with the vet visit!
 

Smol_quackson

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Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
11
Location (City and/or State)
Salford
Does he get any outside time in the sun? The best way to stop further progress of MBD is to make sure he gets good UVB and the sun is obviously the best.
Make sure his indoor enclosure has a fluorescent UVB bulb with hood (Arcadia 12% UVB T5 HO).
I hope everything goes well and keep us updated with the vet visit!
He has a UVB lamp in his enclosure and also a heat lamp in there too which are on all day and I only turn off only at night.

I live in the UK so it's not sunny too often but when it is I like to put him outside in a smaller enclosure with some of his stuff so he can relax in the sunlight a bit. I also place his little hide out with him in case he needs to, at any point, have some time away from the sun :)
 

Smol_quackson

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Joined
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Messages
11
Location (City and/or State)
Salford
He has a UVB lamp in his enclosure and also a heat lamp in there too which are on all day and I only turn off only at night.

I live in the UK so it's not sunny too often but when it is I like to put him outside in a smaller enclosure with some of his stuff so he can relax in the sunlight a bit. I also place his little hide out with him in case he needs to, at any point, have some time away from the sun

Does he get any outside time in the sun? The best way to stop further progress of MBD is to make sure he gets good UVB and the sun is obviously the best.
Make sure his indoor enclosure has a fluorescent UVB bulb with hood (Arcadia 12% UVB T5 HO).
I hope everything goes well and keep us updated with the vet visit!
I'll also update the thread as soon as we return from the vet! Not sure when I'll be able to go but hopefully within the next week or two!
 

harrythetortoise

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Joined
Dec 3, 2020
Messages
454
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
He has a UVB lamp in his enclosure and also a heat lamp in there too which are on all day and I only turn off only at night.

I live in the UK so it's not sunny too often but when it is I like to put him outside in a smaller enclosure with some of his stuff so he can relax in the sunlight a bit. I also place his little hide out with him in case he needs to, at any point, have some time away from the sun :)
What kind of uvb lamp have you been using?
 

bella&george

Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2021
Messages
29
Location (City and/or State)
AZ
Oh my god thank you so much. It feels kinda calming to know I’m not alone in this whole experience. I’ll definitely look into the substrate and the calcium so thank you. Also he does have a water bowl but I think it’s just hidden in the picture. Thank you for all the information :)
This is a more up-to-date care sheet than the other one I put in. I highly suggest going through this one as well, as it also has a butt load of useful info.

 

KarenSoCal

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It's very good that you have given him a larger enclosure, but you haven't gone large enough.

Indoors, his enclosure should be a minimum of 244cm x 122cm. Russians need a lot of space to walk so that they can digest their food.

In the picture, I see a horizontal tube light. What kind of bulb is in there? Is it UVB? Hopefully it is, but it needs to be hung so the bulb points down, not to the side. If it is UVB, a lot of the UV light is being lost.

The heat/basking bulb in the dome...what kind of bulb is that?

Please study the 2nd care sheet that was posted above... "The best way to raise any temperate species". If you need to buy something, let us know. We can help with links to good products.
 

Smol_quackson

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Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
Salford
It's very good that you have given him a larger enclosure, but you haven't gone large enough.

Indoors, his enclosure should be a minimum of 244cm x 122cm. Russians need a lot of space to walk so that they can digest their food.

In the picture, I see a horizontal tube light. What kind of bulb is in there? Is it UVB? Hopefully it is, but it needs to be hung so the bulb points down, not to the side. If it is UVB, a lot of the UV light is being lost.

The heat/basking bulb in the dome...what kind of bulb is that?

Please study the 2nd care sheet that was posted above... "The best way to raise any temperate species". If you need to buy something, let us know. We can help with links to good products.
Thank you so much for this. We live in a pretty small house so we don’t have a lot of room. I’ve seen a a few people convert dressers into tortoise habitats. Do you think I could do that here? And make sure he has enough surface area to equal a habitat that’s 244x122 minimum (so at least 29,768cm²).
 

zolasmum

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Messages
302
I believe the lamp is ‘Full Soectrum + UVB’ with a UVB output of 2.4%.
I hope that’s not too high or too low.
Hello and welcome from Devon. It's good that you are trying to improve your tortoise's care so much - what I would suggest is also to give him a lot more exercise - even on a grey day, a bit of time outside to walk around outside his enclosure would help strengthen his legs and improve his digestion - but you would have to be with him every second, of course! Do you have a lawn? Or a paved flat area?
Angie
 

Smol_quackson

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Salford
Hello and welcome from Devon. It's good that you are trying to improve your tortoise's care so much - what I would suggest is also to give him a lot more exercise - even on a grey day, a bit of time outside to walk around outside his enclosure would help strengthen his legs and improve his digestion - but you would have to be with him every second, of course! Do you have a lawn? Or a paved flat area?
Angie
Sadly no I don’t. It’s a shared terrace and many people let their cats wander around it and it’s covered in stones and has wooden planks. I do however have a smaller enclosure but he doesn’t move around it much. Sometime however we do put him on our sun lounger with some food and water and let him walk up and down- I’m with him at all times during this process
 

KarenSoCal

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Thank you so much for this. We live in a pretty small house so we don’t have a lot of room. I’ve seen a a few people convert dressers into tortoise habitats. Do you think I could do that here? And make sure he has enough surface area to equal a habitat that’s 244x122 minimum (so at least 29,768cm²).
Yes, converting a dresser or bookcase works well. Also, please read this post...you may find it helpful...

Post in thread 'Russian Enclosure' https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-enclosure.192334/post-1950780

The lamp you are using...is it a merc vapor bulb? (MVB) If so, it contributes to pyramiding, plus may or may not be outputting UVB. Or is the bulb a "basking" bulb sold for reptiles in a pet store? Since you are using either of these bulbs, is the tube fluorescent I see in the picture just to make the enclosure brighter? In either case, you are not using the correct lighting on your tortoise. Give this a read....

4 elements of heating: By Tom
There are four elements to heating and lighting:

Basking bulb. I use 65 watt floods from the hardware store. I run them on a timer and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb.

Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT.

Light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish.

UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.htm
 

Smol_quackson

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Salford
Yes, converting a dresser or bookcase works well. Also, please read this post...you may find it helpful...

Post in thread 'Russian Enclosure' https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-enclosure.192334/post-1950780

The lamp you are using...is it a merc vapor bulb? (MVB) If so, it contributes to pyramiding, plus may or may not be outputting UVB. Or is the bulb a "basking" bulb sold for reptiles in a pet store? Since you are using either of these bulbs, is the tube fluorescent I see in the picture just to make the enclosure brighter? In either case, you are not using the correct lighting on your tortoise. Give this a read....

4 elements of heating: By Tom
There are four elements to heating and lighting:

Basking bulb. I use 65 watt floods from the hardware store. I run them on a timer and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb.

Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT.

Light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish.

UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.htm
Thank you so much for this. I’ll look into getting all of these available for him soon.

I also responded in an earlier comment with what type of uvb that was- Full Soectrum + UVB’ with a UVB output of 2.4%.

The basking element, I believe, is a 50 watt infrared heating lamp with a tungsten filament.

I keep them both on during the day and at night I turn them both off.
 

KarenSoCal

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Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
Thank you so much for this. I’ll look into getting all of these available for him soon.

I also responded in an earlier comment with what type of uvb that was- Full Soectrum + UVB’ with a UVB output of 2.4%.

The basking element, I believe, is a 50 watt infrared heating lamp with a tungsten filament.

I keep them both on during the day and at night I turn them both off.
OK, these are the lights you should be using. The UVB tube light comes in a kit that includes the fixture. After this first purchase, you only have to buy the bulb. It needs to be mounted with the bulb facing down toward the substrate. The other bulb is a basking bulb with no UVB. It's a flood bulb, which will not cause so much damage to his shell.

Post in thread 'Lighting distance/temperature' https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/lighting-distance-temperature.192277/post-1950553
 

Smol_quackson

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Feb 27, 2019
Messages
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Salford
OK, these are the lights you should be using. The UVB tube light comes in a kit that includes the fixture. After this first purchase, you only have to buy the bulb. It needs to be mounted with the bulb facing down toward the substrate. The other bulb is a basking bulb with no UVB. It's a flood bulb, which will not cause so much damage to his shell.

Post in thread 'Lighting distance/temperature' https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/lighting-distance-temperature.192277/post-1950553
Ok great thank you so much! :)
 
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