Andromeda (now Marco) the Aldabra Tortoise

Tolis

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Hello guys and ladies, I am Tolis. I have an account with a random username which I don't like, and since I am a daily lurker on this forum for a few months now, I have created this new one.

I am starting this thread for my newly acquired baby Aldabra. From now on and in the future I will be posting anything related to it on this thread.

I will start by sharing his night box and how I built it, hopefully, it will help someone reading it. Each day we started around noon and was around 4-5 hours of work, but I was well prepared and built the box in my head before we started. You can find a lot more info about these boxes from our member Tom he has shared many variations of these boxes throughout the years. Just search the word 'box' by user 'Tom' and you will find the threads.

DAY 1

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DAY 2

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DAY 3
On the third day, I worked on the doors and top lid. Unfortunately, by then I had run out of "Tom question tokens" and he wouldn't bother to explain to me how his doors open up to create a ramp. His hinges are not visible on pics so he puts them on the inside but even after puzzling for an hour, I could get it to create a ramp. I remember reading someone asking for details on the doors but I couldn't locate that thread. Maybe his hinges are a different type. You will see later how this in combination with poor planning on my behalf when leveling the ground has created problems making a very steep ramp for the tort.
No hard feelings Tom, I have been bombarding you and everyone else on this forum with questions and I learned an encyclopedia of information in just a couple of months. You have added a few more dozens to the list of countless torts whose quality of life was vastly improved because of the knowledge you've been sharing all these years. When you die all these souls will be waiting for you in heaven:<3:

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Tolis

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Fast forward to painting, adding the electricals, and moving the box in position.
P.S: I messed up the imperial to metric conversion so the plywood I used is half the thickness (4mm instead of 9mm) of the one Tom uses. To mitigate my mistake I added a piece of 8mm marine plywood on top of the lid to make it more robust.


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Tolis

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I have placed some small Bluetooth thermometers on the top and bottom of the box and have noticed a difference of 5 Celcius. I am keeping the thermostat sensor close to the floor because that's where the tort is.

BLUETOOTH THERMOMETERS
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I am using an Inkbird ITC-308 wifi thermostat and I love the fact that I can check on him when I am laying in bed in the middle of the night. It also has an alarm and will let me know if something malfunctions and temps drop below a certain level. Still playing with the settings but for now, I keep it set between 23.5C-25C. I use Seychelles weather as a reference. I rather have it on the lower end I don't want to cook him.
ITC-308 THERMOSTAT
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SEYCHELLES YEARLY TEMPERATURE

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Tolis

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Through my horticulture hobby, I have learned about vapor pressure deficit (VPD). In a few words, you can say it describes the rate at which the leaves transpire which depends on the temperature and humidity Using the VPD chart I see that in Seychelles the VPD is between 0.55-0.85 depending on the season.
Therefore I will try to match that VPD by example misting the area during the summer months.
Of course, the chart was made for plants, not animals and I could be full of BS, Therefore I will first try to match that 23C-30C and 80%RH sweet spot and only play with VPD when the sweet spot is not possible.

I will place sprinklers or something to spray for a minute or so every hour during the summer months and also make a little pond for him.


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Tolis

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This is the little dude/dudette. He is exactly 2 years old according to the seller. As I expected he sees the devil in me and always tries to hide or run away from me. He never feels comfortable eating when I am around. In the 4 days that he is here I have seen him eating a couple of hibiscus flowers (he always goes for the pollen first it must taste good) and mallow growing in his enclosure. He could be munching on the alternanthera bush he is hiding in all day long as far as I know. He seems healthy, hopefully, he will soon stop being afraid of everything, not because I want to pet and hand-feed him but because stressing is bad for his health.

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Here he is next to Dexter, his Jack Russell older brother. As you can see Dexter was helping me paint the torts night box :p
 

Relic

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I've never had the pleasure of caring for an Aldabra, but it could be the presence of the dog - for now - might be a stress-producing event for the tortoise. But your meticulous attention to duplicating the natural environment is admirable.
 

Tolis

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He started getting used to the dog actually and rarely puts his head in when the dog is around. He immediately hides in his shell when sees me approaching from a distance. The dog couldn't care less about his presence so he rarely approaches it to sniff it and make it feel uncomfortable.

I have seen some very reputable members here being strict about dogs saying that the dog WILL eventually hurt the tortoise. With all due respect, they might be outstanding tortoise owners but terrible dog trainers. 10 years now he has not hurt a single tort. My mom says she saw him helping a flipped over tort get back on his feet. I think he was just checking to see what's wrong with it and accidentally flipped him with his nose. Who knows...
 

Tom

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Looks like you figured out the doors just fine.

No one runs out of ask Tom questions tokens, but I'm not always on the forum. Sometimes I get busy for a day or two having a fun life. :)

I like you shelf placement inside. Keeps the shelves out of the way.

I don't like that style of space heater. They burn a lot of electricity, and tend to really dry things out the more they run. How is the humidity staying in your box?

You are making a mistake with the dog. I'm pretty sure I'm not a terrible dog trainer. Nearly every person who has had a tortoise chewed up by a dog was SURE the dog was wonderful, well trained, and a loving family pet that would never hurt their tortoise. They all realized they were wrong one day too late. You will too. Just keep them separate, and never let the dog out in the area where the tortoise lives. The dog should not ever have unsupervised access to the tortoise or the tortoise area. This is a matter of instinct, not training.
 

Tolis

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I don't like that style of space heater. They burn a lot of electricity, and tend to really dry things out the more they run. How is the humidity staying in your box?
I dont mind the electricity the whole house runs on solar. But the humidity inside the box is indeed quite lower than outside.

This 300W RHP literally just arrived. I was initially planning to use it combination with the heat mat I also attach below. I cannot find kane or osborne heat mats in europe.

Should I use the RHP in combination with the ceramic fan heater?
 

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Tom

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I dont mind the electricity the whole house runs on solar. But the humidity inside the box is indeed quite lower than outside.

This 300W RHP literally just arrived. I was initially planning to use it combination with the heat mat I also attach below. I cannot find kane or osborne heat mats in europe.

Should I use the RHP in combination with the ceramic fan heater?
I would see if the RHP can handle it on its own. It looks like your box is very well built, sealed and insulated, so the 300 watt RHP might be able to do it alone. For comparison, I use an 80 watt Kane mat and a 78 watt RHP to maintain 80+ degrees when night temps drop into the low 30s in winter. That's 0 C.

Or, you could set them to be redundant. Set the RHP on one thermostat to 82 degrees and set a separate thermostat on the other heater for 79 degrees. If ever the RHP can't get the job done, the other one will kick in and save the day.
 

Tolis

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Well it might just be enough because here it falls to 41F but never freezing/snowing temps and thats on the rare cold winter nights. I will mount it tomorrow and see how it does.
 

Tolis

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A friend who raised an aldabra from hatchling says that it was scared of him even when it grew up to be 30kg. Ever since he moved it to another place with other aldabras he saw a completely different character it is way more outgoing and friendly. Is there anyone on the forum that has only 1 aldabra that share his own experience? Please tag them if you know someone
 

BlakeL

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A friend who raised an aldabra from hatchling says that it was scared of him even when it grew up to be 30kg. Ever since he moved it to another place with other aldabras he saw a completely different character it is way more outgoing and friendly. Is there anyone on the forum that has only 1 aldabra that share his own experience? Please tag them if you know someone
My one aldabra Misha is almost 2.5kg and is still very shy. Sometimes when outside he musters up the courage to come over to me and check out my shoe but when inside his closed chamber he is almost always skittish.
 

lazybfarm

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I have 2 , I keep them separate when inside, they are together when they are outside. They get along great and are more outgoing when they are together. I figure it is less stressful when in their indoor enclosures to be by themselves. They usually only eat and sleep when inside. They are beginning to be less shy as time goes on.
 

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NorCal tortoise guy

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I have 2. Kept apart most of the time. Mine were shy to start but I have found over the last 2 years there curiosity has got the better of them and they come to inspect me when I open the cage inside. They are less interested in my when In the great outdoor so far.
 

phengx83

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I have 2 together always and they share everything together. I have 2 different food tray set up everyday and also 2 hide placed and they always eat out of the same food tray and in the same hide so I think its ok to have more then 1. 1 is still skittish then the other when I'm around but is coming around nicely.
 

Tolis

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thank you all for your feedback, I should stop stressing about it and just see how it goes. I suppose I could try to socialize him by spending time in his environment so he gets used to my presence but now is not the time, I should let him acclimate first. We got 200 years ahead of us slow and steady is the way! :tort:
 

Tolis

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I was about to mount the 300w radiant heat panel when I finally found an oil radiator short enough to fit in the box. It cost only 15 euros so I figured I can use the RHP for my sulcata indoor setup. Maybe it's too big for a baby sulcata, I have to research some more.

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@Tom was right (again). When I was using the ceramic heater fan the floor temp had a 4C (40F?) difference from the ceiling, which made me believe I somehow messed up the box insulation. Now the difference is less than 1C.
The humidity was 10% lower on the ceiling, now it's the same.
Lastly, it is ON for 20% longer but burns 50% less electricity, therefore, it is also more economical.
It's not even debatable; oil radiator - ceramic heater 3-0

Now on to cosmetics. I noticed that one of his nails is broken and discolored and he has a small scratch on the plastron but I suppose these are not something that time won't fix.

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The poop looks healthy, it is sticky, neither dehydrated nor diarrhea. I never thought the day would come when I would be thrilled to pick up poop:D!

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Here he is going to town on the mallow plant growing in his enclosure. He eats that same plant every day but he can't keep up with its growth. These plants start growing now and reach 8 feet or more by July. They overpower all other weeds and take over the fields.

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Until next update, take care friends!
 

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