Advice and knowledge needed!!

Amy.and.Elsa

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hi, I'm new to this so please hang in there with me!

We got our tortoise (Freddie) just over a month ago from a lady who said she just wasn't giving him what he needed. She said he was two years old (debatable I think)!From what I gather he was in a small vivarium and barely handled, and he was fed 2 meals a day of cucumber, bell peppers and lettuce. She offered me the vivarium and heat lamp (no uv lamp was mentioned so not entirely sure if he ever had one) but I didn't take them as I have read bad things about vivariums!

SO. He's home now. When we got him home I weighed and measured him, he was 417g and roughly 16cm in length. From the little I know I think he's probably around maybe 5/6 years old?
However, a few weeks later I weighed him and he'd lost just under 20g - I went into panic mode!
Since I've had him he's had full roam of the garden when the weathers been warm enough and has also got most of our downstairs if he wants to wander round with both heat and uv lamps available! I've also changed his diet, he's now on lambs lettuce with the occasional slice of my daughters banana or strawberries. When he's in the garden he demolishes the dandelions and also has access to geraniums, begonias and pansies and we are waiting for our 'tortoise seed mix' to grow (tho he hasn't really touched any of the flowers!)

Also in the last week he hasn't lost any more weight and has maybe gained 1/2g.

Could it be that he's just burning more energy chasing the cat around the garden all day and eating more healthily? I know there seems to be problems with tortoises being a bit greedy and over eating?

Also he has pyramiding, but I've noticed the last couple days his scutes seem smoother towards the bottom of each pyramid, I hope this is a good thing but I'm worried it's not and I've got this whole thing totally wrong?!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, I just want a happy Freddie and want to give him the best I can

Many thanks
Amy
 

Yvonne G

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Hi, and welcome to the Forum!

It's good that the tortoise is allowed in the garden to browse at his heart's content. Try to limit his fruit intake to just a little snack (one piece) maybe once a week. Fruit isn't good for that species.

If you post a picture of the tortoise, topside and bottom side, including the tail, we can tell you the appx. age and sex.
 

Amy.and.Elsa

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heyy! So I've got up this morning and his heat bulb has packed up, he still has his uv lamp and I've ordered a heat&uv combined Mercury bulb online so hopefully it'll be here soon. A friend has said I can borrow her heat lamp til it arrives!!
Now before I put the pictures up I just want to say I know some things aren't ideal, but please hear me out cause I'm trying my best!!

So at the moment his 'home' is rather small. I have a bigger one but at the moment he's outside any day it's warm enough and only really goes in his 'home' when he's sleeping. It's a balance between finding something big enough for him and one that actually fits in my house! If I don't hibernate him this winter I will be bringing his bigger home in so that he has more space but right now he's up n out as soon as he wakes up anywhere.

ALSO he has a reptile carpet thing. I know that's not great as he likes to burrow HOWEVER I also have a cat, who after a month or so on a rainy day decided that Freddie's soil substrate thing is actually just a huge litter box I know the carpet isn't ideal however it's the lesser of two evils right now. I'd rather he was roaming on carpet than cat poop! It also holds moisture quite well! I've also just read not to use hay? Do I need to get rid of that right away? I spray it every day to keep the humidity up.

I've taken pictures of his top and bottom and tail. I know he has two marks on his belly which were there when I got them.
Also please note he also has a little scuff/chip on his side where my daughter has had a slight accident We've been in touch with a reptile rescue centre who told me how to clean it up et and said he should be fine!

Thanks again for all yr help!
 

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Amy.and.Elsa

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I can't seem to upload all the pics together!! I'm sorry!
 

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Amy.and.Elsa

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Nailed it
That's the garden as well for when he goes outside (not today as it's hideous) but he has the stones and the grass and the shade and the hidey bits and all sorts ☺️

image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg
 
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Kori5

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Hi :D. This in not a right way to measure them. You need to put him near a wall, paper under him, he tucks his head in and you put a mark on the paper at the end of his shell. I'll try to find you a link. His weight is a little too low, but with right diet he will catch up. You really need to use some other kind of substrate like coconut coir. And find a way to cover the top so your cat can't get in :).
 

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Amy.and.Elsa

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Thank you the links, I'll try again this afternoon when my two year old isn't trying to be so 'helpful'!
I know the carpet stuff isn't ideal, it was coconut stuff I had before. I tried to cover it with a net hooked underneath, I also tried closing the doors to the area that Freddie is in so the cat can't get in. However the cat is a Bengal, so opens doors, takes covers off etc with no problem at all. He's also very protective so if he's closed away from my daughter, myself or the tortoise he flips out!!
 

JoesMum

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And measuring him properly he's 13.5cm
Hi
I'm guessing you're in the UK?

You do need to make a secure enclosure outdoors for your tort. They escape far too easily and with the split levels outside, you have a risk of him/her falling or tipping over.

The blue slate chips make an excellent basking spot - they really heat up - I use them.

Enclosures, both indoors and out, should be a minimum of 8' x 4' (1.5 x 2.2 metres). An old bookcase with it's shelves knocked out makes a great tortoise table. Line it with a shower curtain or pond liner.

Have you been directed to TFO's Beginner Mistakes Guide?
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
 

Amy.and.Elsa

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Hiya, yeah I read through the beginner mistakes page which is where I saw not to use hay!
The garden is more than secure, I've checked it all, there's no way he's getting out or anything else is getting in! My daughter has also made a little slope that goes in the step for him when he's out so he doesn't fall down!
The problem I have is that I need to also have room for a very energetic two year old, as it he has free reign of the front room if he ever is stuck inside but goes outside as often as possible!
His favourite it the blue slate chips He has them in the middle of the garden where it's sunny all day and at the top in the shade with lots of shrubs to hide under, I always know where he is cause I can hear his scrabbling over the slate
 

Linhdan Nguyen

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Hello & welcome ! Your russian tortoise is lovely !
Did you come across our russian tortoise care sheet ?
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
Here will also talk about foods that are appropriate for him. No more fruit (or give a small piece as a treat very rarely) due to the sugar content. Russians should eat weeds and broad leaf veggies. The Tortoise table is a great reference on which foods are safe to feed. Its great that you are trying to give him a better home :)
http://m.thetortoisetable.org.uk/m/tortoise_home_1.asp
 

Amy.and.Elsa

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Thank you to all your replies!! I have been googling non stop since we got him!!
I know he won't necessarily have a perfect home right away and there's things I need to build upon and improve when I can but knowing I'm not failing miserably is good, and I'm confident I'm providing for him a lot better than the lady who had him before.
He's lively and active!

A quick request, from the pics I posted before can it be confirmed he is a boy? Just starting to doubt everything he previous owner told me!

Thank you!!
 

jockma

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Have you soaked him?

Sometimes they "lose" a lot of weight after pooping and before soaks, I don't know if that's the case here if he only gained 1-2g. They also get much lighter when dehydrated. You can put a light-feeling tort in a soak and when you pick them back up they feel twice as heavy.

I wouldn't feed much if any fruit. RTs don't find much fruit in the wild so they can't digest it as well as tropical species, who find fruit all the time :D

Pyramiding takes a long time to improve. The growth pattern is set in the bone before it shows on the scutes, so if his pyramiding is improving and the new growth is coming in smooth you may not see it for several months. If the new growth looks smoother it's because the previous owner improved their husbandry before you got him.
 

Amy.and.Elsa

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hi! I'm after help again!!
So I took Fred to the vet to be told he's a Freda.
HOWEVER for the last two weeks he/she has bitten everything and anything. My daughters had a chunk out of her tummy, the cats had multiple tufts of fur from his tail (which is a shame cause he likes to cuddle up on the warm stones with the tortoise) and this morning I had a chunk out of my ankle.
Tortoise is eating fine, sleeping fine but appears to patrol the garden then when she sees you she literally charges and takes a chunk. It's really unlike her which is why I'm thinking she maybe is a he?
I'm going to get an old shoe and see if anything happens but is there any other advice? I don't want an angry tortoise

Thanks
 

JoesMum

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Can you show is a good clear plastron (undershell) photo of Fred(a) so we can confirm gender?

The photo needs to clearly show all the plastron plus the tail

Females can be territorial, but the behaviour you describe sounds quite male.

(One vet told me that Joe was female once - having seen Joe's penis, I knew the vet was wrong)
 

Amy.and.Elsa

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Hi, thanks for your reply! I've taken pictures the best I can!
The vet told me to put him/her in a warm bath and see if the penis comes out, apparently I wouldn't miss it Nothing happened so I took the vets word for it!
 

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Linhdan Nguyen

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Im sure thats a male..
My russian male isnt mature of shown any signs of sexual maturity BUT i would assume that not all male tortoises pull out their man parts every time they are soaked.
If they do.. Then i still hope my male never matures.
 
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