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Baby Russian Staying Burried

Discussion in 'General Tortoise Discussion' started by MoonchildDave, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. MoonchildDave

    MoonchildDave New Member

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    The first few weeks we had him, he seemed to be on a fairly normal schedule where he'd get up shortly after the lights came on, bask, get a bath, eat, bask a little more, and then head back to his hide. Lately he's been staying burried and not coming out at all.

    1) Is it ok to dig him out to get his bath and at least offer food? Even when we have done so, he's not eating much or staying out to bask more than 30 minutes.

    I've bumped up the temp a bit on the warm side of his enclosure to see if that helps.

    Temps are: cool side - 78, warm side - 88, basking - 100, overnight - 70

    Basking light (that I cut a section of the screen out for) comes on at 10am for 13 hours. The day light (on the left) comes on at 11:30am with the warm side heater for 8 hours. Air humidity runs between 55-70%. Been keeping the substrate moist by watering it every day (about 1 liter a day, and every other day about 2 liters).

    He was about 1.6 oz on Oct 2. Today (Nov 5) he is about 1.5oz.

    Attached Files:

  2. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    If this is a hatchling your temps are too cold. Basking 95-100 for hatchling and adult. All over for hatchling 80 and I wouldn't let it drop lower then 78 at night. Hatchlings can't take it as cold as adults can.
    If this is an adult then raise the basking spot and the day temp.
    Any tort hatchling needing a higher humidity which is most if not all need to be kept warm. Humid and cold makes a sick tort
  3. MoonchildDave

    MoonchildDave New Member

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    We took him to the vet after receiving him - and she guessed he was about 6 months old (you can kind of see him on the basking slate in the picture I shared. How old is still considered a hatchling? I think it was Minority2 who told me that overnight heating was not needed, and that they need a temperature drop. My basking is 100, did you misread my temps? So, I should let the heater run 24/7 (on a themostat)?
  4. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    They can handle adult temps more around 3 years. That's when the night temps can drop. Not as hatchlings.
    I some how read the basking wrong. I thought it said 88-100.
  5. Minority2

    Minority2 Well-Known Member

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    1. What devices are you using to measure your temperature zones and humidity levels?

    Russian hatchlings will not usually require night time heating for an indoor enclosure if the ambient temperature does not fall below 65-60F. That is what I said and I still stand by this, however, there are some cases with tortoises, even Russians, that are less hardy than the average and may require an additional bump in heat. Definitely try it to see if it helps.

    If you already have a ceramic heat emitter, that device should always be paired up with a thermostat. Are you leaving it on for 8 hours without one?

    2. I have mentioned keeping humidity levels at 70-80%. Are you having trouble keeping humidity levels that high?

    3. What lights are you currently using? Please be specific. Include link(s), picture(s) of the bulbs, and official description if possible.

    The Powersun you have, shown in a previous post has recently been said to cause pyramiding. The intense heat and brightness could also be one of the reasons why your young tortoise is burying itself. @wellington is one of the more recent members I've seen in this forum that has voiced her opinion on the negative factors of using mercury vapor bulbs over a long period of time and the effects that can happen to tortoises from doing so.

    4. Explain how you are watering your enclosure? Please be specific.

    Something is wrong with your setup. A closed chamber style enclosure that is well sealed should last more than a single day before requiring additional water to raise humidity levels.

    5. Do you have a weight journal to keep track of weekly weigh-ins?

    Your tortoise was purchased from Tortoise Town. Has this tortoise ever have a steady weight gain period or has it always just lost weight?

    6. Why does your schedule start at 10:00 am instead of something earlier like 6:00am?

    Are you using timers? If not, please buy timers. They are essential.
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  6. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Curious, are you keeping hatchlings in high humidity and temps into the 60's at night?
    I know adults can handle that but not any hatchling tortoise?
  7. Minority2

    Minority2 Well-Known Member

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    Not the low 60's no. My lowest indoor ambient temperature when I still had hatchlings in 70-80% humidity was around 64F. There weren't too many of those days in a year but I've always made it a point to check to see if they ever developed any symptoms that required a vet visit during those nights. They never did.

    I also like to add that my substrate of choice in the past, coco coir, has always been thoroughly hand mixed. So much so that the substrate is able to stay above 80% humidity and no longer sticks to a tortoise's skin; that is, unless they self soak and or purge themselves. I have no control over that.
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  8. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Forgive my confusion. Over the years I have always read on different threads/post hatchlings are not to be kept cold and humid. I also have read over the years how the Russian and Hermanns care is the same. But Hermanns are not suppose to drop temps that low at night and just finding out the Russians can.
    So I guess your temps are fine. Again sorry.
    I understand even more now the confusion still on this forum.
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  9. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Thanks. If you read my post just before this one, you will see I was confused from what I have read over the years to what is now being said more often then not about the hatchling Russian. The often used saying by myself and many others "hatchlings kept cold and humid will get sick" doesn't apply as a blanket statement like it is used.
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  10. MoonchildDave

    MoonchildDave New Member

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    Etekcity Lasergrip 774 Non-contact Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer Temperature Gun (for spot checking)
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00837ZGRY/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    Pangea Digital Reptile Thermometer (at either end of the enclosure)
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B079HDYPQH/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    AcuRite 00613 Humidity Monitor with Indoor Thermometer, Digital Hygrometer and Humidity Gauge Indicator (middle of enclosure)
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0013BKDO8/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    Hydrofarm Jump Start MTPRTC Digital Controller Thermosta, 9-by-19Inch (sensor is inside enclosure at about shell height)
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000NZZG3S/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    Paired with

    Zacro Reptile Heat Lamp 150W with One Digital Thermometer, Infrared Ceramic Heating Non-light Lamps Emitter 110V
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075KFFVVM/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    Yes, even after covering the top in heavy duty foil (taped to the screen). Would I benefit from using some kind of mister in the enclosure?

    Daylight bulb:

    Anyray LED PAR38 E26 (90-Watt Equivalent) E27 10W Flood Light Dimmable IP65 Wet Location
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01HXNNISM/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    Zoo Med Powersun UV Self-Ballasted Mercury Vapor UVB Lamp
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002AQDJK/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20


    MyLifeUNIT Bottle Cap Sprinkler, Dual Head Bottle Watering Spout, Bonsai Watering Can for Indoor Seedlings (attached to a 1 liter bottle)
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M6E9QK9/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    Evenly watering the entire enclosure with the above and misting with a spray bottle a few times a day.

    Yes, but have not been doing weekly weighings - just once a month.

    As noted, today was only his 2nd weigh in, perhaps we'll go to weekly. Also, we have only had him for a few days over a month now. I think the change in behavior came when I moved the CRE to the timer to cut off at night per your suggestion.


    Personal preference - that's about when my wife gets up (she works weekends). It's her tortoise - I'm just the weekend caretaker, and message poster. LOL!

    Yes, I have a smart home (mixed X10/Insteon).
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  11. Minority2

    Minority2 Well-Known Member

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    Many owners from UK, France, and other European countries often believed that housing native tortoises outdoors at 50-55F night time temperatures was the recommended and ideal care for them regardless of their age. I was also taught something similar to this when I was first introduced to tortoises and the dry method way back when. It's hard to refute these claims even in this day and age because it has worked for some people and that there just aren't enough definitive studies on tortoises to outright prove otherwise.
  12. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    I think a lot of them though dont consider their location and if having to use artificial heat.
    I think that's what gets confusing a lot of the times. One living in natural high humidity and warm temps most of the time and keeping a tort that is housed outside with no added humidity or hot lights don't consider the complete opposite locations.
  13. Minority2

    Minority2 Well-Known Member

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    2. Check for gaps or exposed areas which may allow heat and humidity to escape. Double check your lid and seal any openings if necessary.

    4. Watering and misting alone does nothing but seep water deep down into the bottom of the substrate where it sits. You need to hand mix the substrate so that the water gets completely absorbed. Pour an entire jug of water and hand mix it until no trace of water is left on the bottom. That should keep your enclosure moist and humid for several days if not weeks.

    6. I suggest keeping a realistic daily schedule set on a timer such as 5:00am-7:00pm because ambient outside temperatures can cause a closed chamber enclosure's temperature levels to rise and fall slightly depending on the time of day. My guess is that indoor tortoises are able to instinctively tell when winter is coming because they're able to pick up hints from these particular rises and falls. Keeping a tortoise's lights past sunset may confuse their way of interpreting this.
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  14. Minority2

    Minority2 Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. I also do this something with other members. Interjecting and voice my own opinions and queries to make sure there are at least another option or method to choose from. The important thing is to give the original poster as much data as they need to make their own decisions. Any information is still better than no information.
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  15. drew54

    drew54 Well-Known Member

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    Just cover it with a plastic shower curtain. Using just foil and tape doesn't seal it very well. I had the same issue with my enclosure until I essentially made it a green house. The foil will help keep in some humidity and heat, but it isn't that effective to keep proper humidity.
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  16. MoonchildDave

    MoonchildDave New Member

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    Thank you!!! Really the only exposed area is the section of the screen cut out around the MVB - so I'm going to try taping some lighter foil around the fixture to get a better seal with the top of the enclosure. Also, we are now mixing the substrate by hand - hadn't thought about water just pooling on the bottom. We also plan to add another bag of coco coir (currently the substrate is 3 bags of soil, and 1 bag of coco coir). Now leaving the CHE on 24/7 and adjusted the schedule of the others - basking on at 6am (for 14 hours) and daylight on at 10:30am (for 8 hours). I probably should have also mentioned, the foil I am using on top is:

    St. Louis Crafts 12"X10' 36GA Aluminum Foil Sheet Roll (a bit thinner than an aluminum can, held in place with packing tape)
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0042SSQMU/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    Wife took him to the vet (a different one) last night. She got a fecal sample that came back clean, and she said he looked good, eyes, not scaly, etc. The vet also told her that the sad reality is that 50% of hatchlings usually don't make it to a year - but it sounded like we were doing everything right. She confirmed that the more realistic schedule was also called for as they can absolutely tell the time and seasons. She also said that sometimes hatchlings just don't know any better and will try to hibernate - and we should NOT ALLOW THAT. Her advice was that he should only be allowed to stay dug in for a day at the most - and if he hasn't come out, to dig him out, soak him, and offer food. Wife was very impressed with the vet - they even have a turtle rehab room with injured ones that are brought in. And the vet even said if there were any other concerns, we could call in and she'd try to brainstorm ideas with us over the phone to try and prevent us having to bring him in (since it is getting colder here in Maryland).

    That's another idea I may try if mixing and adding more coco coir doesn't help. I could cut the curtain to size, and tape it to the underside of the screen (cutting out a hole for the MVB of course).

    Again, thanks for the helpful advice!
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
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  17. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    You have been given lots of useful advice.

    The basics are:
    1. Lights must be on for 12-14 hours a day. Trying to adjust your tortoise's hours to what suits you won't work - they do seem to know when the sun comes up and goes down and a lack of activity from mid-afternoon onwards is common. Do use a timer to bring the lights on first thing in the morning - 8am or earlier - and go off automatically.

    2. Start the day with a soak in warm water for at least 20 minutes, place food during the soak and tidy the enclosure. Replace your tort and walk away. Food must be available for your tort to browse and on through the day. Your tort is most likely to eat first thing in the morning and the soak encourages pooping and encourages eating.

    3. Babies do spend a lot of time hiding. Lots of things want to eat them when they're small so it is only natural. Resist the temptation to spend loads of time watching until your tort has decided you are the bringer of yummy food; this may take some time.

    4. Babies must have a minimum of 80F, day and night, and high humidity. I think the temperature question may already have been addressed. Cold and humid/wet leads to respiratory disease.
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  18. MoonchildDave

    MoonchildDave New Member

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    One other thing... since you mentioned the MVB may not be the best idea. We just also purchased one of these:

    Solarmeter Model 6.5R Reptile UV Index Meter
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076GXJFJG/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    The Powersun 100W MVB is only about a month old now - but I am only reading about 1.3 or so at carapace height. Also, I can't move the light any closer or the basking area gets too hot. Would you recommend a tube style UVB - and if so, what would be the preferred one (with fixture)?
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  19. Minority2

    Minority2 Well-Known Member

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    Yes this is a common problem with mercury vapor bulbs. Some of these bulbs can and will stop producing enough UV(B) rays in as little as a month of use.

    Arcadia and Reptisun linear florescent UV(B) bulbs are some of the more reliable brands. The fixtures linked below look similar in quality to Sunblaster T5 fixtures. They're also slightly cheaper:
    http://www.reptilebasics.com/t5-light-fixtures/
    http://www.reptilebasics.com/arcadia-desert-12-uvb/

    Make sure to cut a new section of the mesh top to allow the new linear florescent fixture UV(B) bulb to fully shine through.

    Replace your mercury vapor bulb with a incandescent flood bulb. If height adjustments are not possible, wattage will largely depend on height from the substrate and the ambient temperature level inside the room of the enclosure.
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  20. MoonchildDave

    MoonchildDave New Member

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    Thanks again! Just for fun (but also out of curiosity), I placed a wireless IP camera in his enclosure to keep tabs on him when we aren't around or are sleeping. Also we now seem to be maintaining about 75% humidity.
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