a few questions about my new Russian

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Hi everyone! Tortilla and I had a fairly stress-free trip back home. Just changed his substrate, bulb and bowls— how’s this looking? Building a bigger home for him this week, but this is what he’s got for now.
Just checking I’ve got a good mix of coco coir and orchid bark, wasn’t sure how much bark to put in. Do I need more?
Also, since changing all of this he hasn’t eaten anything and has just been asleep in his hide— should I be worried, or is this just stress from the change? He ate an entire romaine lettuce last night so I’m not worried about him going hungry😂
Hello! Welcome back! Been wondering how you’ve been getting on😊yay I’m so glad to see some changes have been made, well done! Good job on removing the clamp and opting to hang it, I’d perhaps make it into a hook(making sure it’s screwed in very securely)instead of the straight nail, just incase it were to get knocked or something walking past, but it’s definitely safer than the clamp🙂

For the coir and orchid bark, make sure the coir is nice and damp(not muddy) and firmly pack it down by squishing flat with your hands(you’ll see if you’ve added too much moisture) then with your bark I’d put an entire layer on top instead just the few bits here n there, that way you’ll have a drier layer of bark and a nice damp layer of coir underneath that should be keeping humidity around 50%🙂 I would recommend some sort of temporary lining as it’s made of wood, a mould resistant shower curtain would do the trick👍🏻I know he probably won’t be in there much longer if you’re getting a new more appropriate sized enclosure built, but hopefully it’ll stop any moisture getting on your carpet whilst he is in there. Or maybe even pop some lining underneath the enclosure itself to protect your floors.

His inactivity is likely due to all the change, he’s in a new environment having traveled, and you’ve changed things up in the enclosure, they don’t like any changes even the ones that are better for them in the long run😂just make sure your temps are reading ok, did you manage to get yourself a temp gun? Is he in an area that isn’t dropping below the 60’s at night currently?
Its really good he’s had a bite to eat last night!😊

I’m glad you and Tortilla had a smooth journey home🥰
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Out of interest what kind of enclosure are you planning on building?😊
Some sort of 8x4 base would be great(if space is an issue, just go as big as you possibly can) building your own is good, just make sure the material is safe, perhaps you could get a large bookcase, remove the shelves and lie flat, some people use a flower bed base and line that, all these options would be good to line with some pond liner(you can find ones cheap) just make sure whatever option you’re going with has steep enough sides to stop escape missions taking place🤣
Then to hang the lights and uv you could make your own stands out of timber, something kind of like the pics I’m attaching below🙂
 

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Hi all! I’ll get back to you on enclosure plans asap, but just looking for some quick advice! Tortilla has well and truly got over his inactivity, and for the last hour has been rather manic— climbing, scrabbling at the sides, trailing his food etc. I know this is almost certainly to do with not having enough space to run around, right? Would it help for me to bring him out of his enclosure to roam around the room for a while (seems to be mixed advice on this on the forum so thought i’d ask directly). And is there anything I can do to help calm him down?! He’s going a bit cray z tbh
 
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Hi all! I’ll get back to you on enclosure plans asap, but just looking for some quick advice! Tortilla has well and truly got over his inactivity, and for the last hour has been rather manic— climbing, scrabbling at the sides, trailing his food etc. I know this is almost certainly to do with not having enough space to run around, right? Would it help for me to bring him out of his enclosure to roam around the room for a while (seems to be mixed advice on this on the forum so thought i’d ask directly). And is there anything I can do to help calm him down?! He’s going a bit cray z tbh
Also his breathing is still quite loud! Trying to keep humidity at 50% so not sure what else this could be?
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Hi all! I’ll get back to you on enclosure plans asap, but just looking for some quick advice! Tortilla has well and truly got over his inactivity, and for the last hour has been rather manic— climbing, scrabbling at the sides, trailing his food etc. I know this is almost certainly to do with not having enough space to run around, right? Would it help for me to bring him out of his enclosure to roam around the room for a while (seems to be mixed advice on this on the forum so thought i’d ask directly). And is there anything I can do to help calm him down?! He’s going a bit cray z tbh
A common recommendation is to NEVER let your tortoise roam free in the room. You can use temporary enclosure such as kiddy pool or alike but no free roaming. Some members have own opinion on this, but those with years of experience are against free roaming.

If he is "running wild" and have trouble breathing, perhaps temperatures are outside comfort zone. What are they (daytime cold/hot areas, nighttime low and basking zone)?
 
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Out of interest what kind of enclosure are you planning on building?😊
Some sort of 8x4 base would be great(if space is an issue, just go as big as you possibly can) building your own is good, just make sure the material is safe, perhaps you could get a large bookcase, remove the shelves and lie flat, some people use a flower bed base and line that, all these options would be good to line with some pond liner(you can find ones cheap) just make sure whatever option you’re going with has steep enough sides to stop escape missions taking place🤣
Then to hang the lights and uv you could make your own stands out of timber, something kind of like the pics I’m attaching below🙂
Thank you so much for the advice on this! I think I’m going to go for the bookcase idea, and have an IKEA pretty near me so I’m planning to head down asap and get the biggest thing I can find. Space it a bit limited in my house, so I think it’ll have to just be 8 x 4 or a little less.
I’ve changed his bulb over and temps are reading 39 under there!
He’s been a bit strange with eating since the renovation — suddenly not interested in anything from his bowl, even lambs lettuce which was his favourite before. He’s pretty much only accepted things out of my hand: a bit of lambs lettuce, watercress, and has eaten an entire sweet gem + romaine on his own in the last two days. But thinking it’s a bit strange that he won’t eat from his bowl— is it just because it’s new?! I didn’t know they were such dramatic animals!
 
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A common recommendation is to NEVER let your tortoise roam free in the room. You can use temporary enclosure such as kiddy pool or alike but no free roaming. Some members have own opinion on this, but those with years of experience are against free roaming.

If he is "running wild" and have trouble breathing, perhaps temperatures are outside comfort zone. What are they (daytime cold/hot areas, nighttime low and basking zone)?
Hi, thanks for this!! Great to know he shouldn’t free roam— that was something the previous person looking after him recommended that I do🤦‍♀️
Temps under basking are 104F, and just over 60 on the cool side. They never drop below 60 in the room he’s in
 
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Oh also just a tip on why I’d say to make sure the coir is nice and packed, if left more fluffy and loose, I see it drying out quicker which will make it dusty, something you want to avoid with the coir as substrate to avoid any respiratory problems🙂
Thank you! I fixed the bark a few days ago— he seems to be loving the chance to dig down into more humid layers. It’s so lovely to see him (very very slightly) appreciate the changes. Though he still seems quite angry at me for most of it😂
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Hi, thanks for this!! Great to know he shouldn’t free roam— that was something the previous person looking after him recommended that I do🤦‍♀️
Temps under basking are 104F, and just over 60 on the cool side. They never drop below 60 in the room he’s in
Temperatures are fine, so you are probably right and he needs more space.

A question about the bark - what brand is it? It should be a fir bark, not pine (both can be sold under "orchid bark" title). Just to double-check.
 
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Temperatures are fine, so you are probably right and he needs more space.

A question about the bark - what brand is it? It should be a fir bark, not pine (both can be sold under "orchid bark" title). Just to double-check.
It’s ‘HabiStat Orchid Bark’, as recommended by Littleredfootbigredheart.
I did catch him trying to eat a piece of it earlier, not sure what that was all about
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Hi all! I’ll get back to you on enclosure plans asap, but just looking for some quick advice! Tortilla has well and truly got over his inactivity, and for the last hour has been rather manic— climbing, scrabbling at the sides, trailing his food etc. I know this is almost certainly to do with not having enough space to run around, right? Would it help for me to bring him out of his enclosure to roam around the room for a while (seems to be mixed advice on this on the forum so thought i’d ask directly). And is there anything I can do to help calm him down?! He’s going a bit cray z tbh
Hello again! Looking forward to hearing your plans😊

Lol bless him, him being super active is a positive but I completely understand your concerns here, I will say Russians are very feisty little personalities and often like to plan escape missions, that being said the climbing at the sides being so excessive is likely due to the frustration of it being a small size, they really do love to wonder. Though I would also double check your temps with a heat gun if you've got one, just to be safe🙂
He also knows he’s in a new environment and likely desperate to explore the parameters, these are my best guesses anyway, hopefully others can give some input. There’s a chance it’s a sign of stress, which has be unavoidable with you moving him to your home, and there’s had to be a few changes in the enclosure, they really don’t like change even if it’s good in the long run🥲

When did the breathing louder start? Have you noticed him doing it before the move or is it recent?

For the free roaming, generally it’s not recommended for numerous reasons, there’s been so many unpredictable things happen to peoples tortoise who have been allowed to do it.

This could just how he is when stressed so I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if he possibly acts like this in the new set up too despite it being bigger, hopefully given time he will settle down.

It’s ‘HabiStat Orchid Bark’, as recommended by Littleredfootbigredheart.
I did catch him trying to eat a piece of it earlier, not sure what that was all about
We’ve used this brand for our red foot going back before her upgrade, we have to get bigger bags now so had to switch, but I’ve seen lots of forum members use this brand substrate too, as far as all my research went it’s genuine orchid bark so I see no issues there, for him trying to eat it, all I can think is because it’s new😕
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Oh as for the not eating from his dish, again I am inclined to say it’s been all the changes, they are indeed very dramatic creatures😂

If for whatever reason you want to switch the bark, forest floor is also a good choice on top of the coir, it’s just a bit more expensive so wanted to suggest orchid first, the orchid bark should be fine though, as I say we used that brand not too long back and it’s a reputable reptile brand here I’ve seen lots of folks use, but if you wanted to try something different in the new set up, the forest floor will work just as well and can be maintained in the same way🙂
 

Cathie G

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It’s ‘HabiStat Orchid Bark’, as recommended by Littleredfootbigredheart.
I did catch him trying to eat a piece of it earlier, not sure what that was all about
Hello. Since you saw him try to eat it I'd be watching closely . You don't want him to get impacted if he actually does eat some. It could have been just a tryout. 🤗 Hopefully after all your efforts that'll be the case.
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Yeah I’m hopeful he was just trying it out too lol, the substrate needing switching no matter what so I guess any new substrate runs the risk of him giving a test bite

How has he been doing?🙂
 
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Yeah I’m hopeful he was just trying it out too lol, the substrate needing switching no matter what so I guess any new substrate runs the risk of him giving a test bite

How has he been doing?🙂
He's been so much better!! It's lovely to see-- he's actually waking himself up every morning, getting under his lamp, and sitting in his water bowl between soaks (he's never ever done this before!). So much more active!!
And since the weather has been so lovely where I live in the last few days, I've been able to get him outside in the sun whenever he's getting a bit hyper. He's loving a run around and exploring the outside world! And he's always absolutely knackered after that, so I get a bit of peace😂
I think he's naturally a very active tortoise, who just hasn't had the chance or health to really be himself. It's so rewarding to see him start to improve.

Do you think his loud breathing is just him being a bit.. out of shape? Seeing as he's running around more than he's ever been able to before. Trying to keep the humidity up to eliminate that as a possibility

Only thing is, he's still refusing to eat out of his water bowl, and I don't want him to get hungry since he's moving so much more these days. Is there anything I can do for this, or does he just need more time?!
 
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Hello. Since you saw him try to eat it I'd be watching closely . You don't want him to get impacted if he actually does eat some. It could have been just a tryout. 🤗 Hopefully after all your efforts that'll be the case.
Thank you!! I think the pieces are far too big for him to swallow, and probably too thick to bite through, so we should be good. I'll keep an eye on him to make sure!!
 
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Oh as for the not eating from his dish, again I am inclined to say it’s been all the changes, they are indeed very dramatic creatures😂

If for whatever reason you want to switch the bark, forest floor is also a good choice on top of the coir, it’s just a bit more expensive so wanted to suggest orchid first, the orchid bark should be fine though, as I say we used that brand not too long back and it’s a reputable reptile brand here I’ve seen lots of folks use, but if you wanted to try something different in the new set up, the forest floor will work just as well and can be maintained in the same way🙂
Great, thanks, I'll look for this when I next switch his substrate over! Am I right in saying every 3 weeks is what I should be aiming for?
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Great, thanks, I'll look for this when I next switch his substrate over! Am I right in saying every 3 weeks is what I should be aiming for?
No. You need to change substrate every year or even a few years (depending on amount of outdoors time and waste he makes). But daily spot cleaning is obligatory.
 

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