Considering rehoming, I don't know what to do.

allthesmallthings

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Hey all. would love to get some advice if possible.

I am realising that I may not be able to provide the healthy home our tortoise needs.

We've had him for about 5 years and we thought he was fine. I realise now that this was down to a combination of bad advice, questionable sources, and our own naivety/ignorance about keeping tortoises. For example he spent years under a MVB because we were told by the store we got him from (which is full of very healthy looking reptiles of all types and ages) that it was the best thing. We have now switched and he has a regular Arcadia heat lamp and a UVB strip (which i believe is also Arcadia). We were told to do weekly soaks, so that's what we did. I now realise that he's probably been too dry from day one.

He is at least 5 (not sure how old he was when we got him), and very small. For the most part throughout his life he has been active, climbing stuff in his table, eating well, etc, so in my ignorant mind I had no need to worry, I just thought he was naturally small. Our circumstances have changed recently and I'm finding myself with less and less time to do all the things he needs, and I have noticed over the last few weeks that he is displaying signs of dehydration. He looks scaly, he's been lethargic, sunken eyes etc.

I feel terrible. I have really done a s*** job at this. He is dehydrated and likely stunted. I'm having a little cry as I write this, yes we followed bad advice but I absolutely know we could have done better, I don't want to shift blame and I want to do the right thing by him.

Over the last couple days I have been doing long soaks, carrot soaks, sunning him in the garden as we are having warm weather, regularly misting his enclosure to keep it humid in there. I'm reading everything I possibly can in this forum and trying to learn how to do better. He is perking up already and really enjoyed splashing around in his carrot bath this morning!! He even had a run around the patio while the slabs were still cool and seemed to have a great time in the sun. I'm making plans to build him an outdoor enclosure so he can get his UVB needs met naturally through the summer months, and I'm changing up his setup to make it more humid and enriching after reading the temperate species care sheet on this forum. I still feel confused about what lights and things he needs but I'm going to figure it out.

On the other hand, we are short on space. We are very short on time. And even shorter on money. I am at college as well as working and raising two teenagers by myself. Our circumstances have changed a lot over the last few years.. My son would be devastated but I am considering whether it would be better to rehome the tort with someone who has the time and the means for optimal husbandry. I want to do that myself but I am overwhelmed by all the information and I don't know whether we can adjust our lives adequately to do it long term. I don't know if I'm just feeling overwhelmed by all of the information (and my guilt) or whether it really is a case of not being able to do it.

For eg, there are some days maybe 2-3 days a week where I have to be out for at least half the day, and there's nobody at home to keep an eye on the setup, so the basking light needs to be left off all day. We live in a flat and there was a fire in our building a couple years ago, and as such I am really concerned about leaving hot bulbs unattended all day - and also the risk of him flipping over and cooking with nobody there to save him (when he was more active he would like climbing his hide and couldn't always get down alright after!)

Basically I just want to know what you good people would recommend in my situation. I really, really want to find a way to make this work if we can. I want the little guy to be happy and well, even if he'll now always be small because of my failings, and for us to be able to provide that without our entire lives being focused around tortoise care - as wonderful as that sounds, there's only one of me and I am spread thin as it is. It would be really helpful to get answers to these questions:

1. How do you manage heat/light stuff when you need to be away from home all day? I can't imagine everyone just stays home all the time or has someone else in the house at all times.
2. How much time do you spend, roughly, each day doing tortoise care and what does your daily routine look like?

Thank you. I really want to make this work but ultimately my main focus is that he gets what he needs, even if I can't provide it. I feel very ashamed.
 
Last edited:

EppsDynasty

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@allthesmallthings ... I commend you for taking credit for the bad things. It is hard to fix something if you are not truthful with yourself.
1. How to handle light and heat while not at home? Timers and heat controllers.
2. Daily routine time and things needed to be done? My wife and I spend at least 4 hours doing the tort chores, BUT we have over 20. With just 1 tort your daily routine would be minimal. The hardest part is getting all the details right then everyday is a breeze. I am not the tech expert and do not know how to copy/paste threads you need to read but there are far more experienced "Experts" here that can help.
@Tom
@Alex and the Redfoot
There are others but hopefully this will get ya started. PLEASE ask any questions that come to mind, we tort lovers are here just for that ... to help others with torts.
 

Tom

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1. How do you manage heat/light stuff when you need to be away from home all day? I can't imagine everyone just stays home all the time or has someone else in the house at all times.
2. How much time do you spend, roughly, each day doing tortoise care and what does your daily routine look like?
1. Mount your heating and lighting from over head, securely and safely, check the temperatures under them and adjust as needed, and set the lights on timers and the heating elements on thermostats. Your tortoise needs proper lighting and warmth all day every day. You don't need to be home.
2. For a single tortoise, once it is set up correctly, it takes about three minutes to drop some food in a terra cotta saucer and dump, rinse, and refill the terra cotta water dish. Maybe another minute at night to remove any un-eaten food. Soaks will take a half hour or more, but you can do other things while the tortoise soaks. Carrot soaks are for tortoises that are on death's door. You shouldn't need those.
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Hello!

Honestly, I feel that with your motivation you can be a great tortoise keeper. Unless life circumstances will require to rehome him. Many people have resources and time to care for their pets but do not - that is upsetting.

Don't blame yourself that care was not optimal. Many were the "victims" of bad advice. That's how I've ended with a redfooted tortoise in a suboptimal climate :)

As for the overwhelming amount of care information - we've got you covered and can help to do things right and not to spend money on wrong or unnecessary stuff.

How do I keep things running:
1. Temperatures with thermostats, lights - with timer sockets. Also I have a web camera in the enclosure and a Wifi connected temperature/humidity meter. Camera was really helpful when my tortoise has flipped over - I've got a notification and rushed home.
2. As EppsDynasty mentioned - when setting things up it's time consuming. After that you'll have time for a coffee and watching your happy tortoise. I have one tortoise and don't mess with it much. Most time consuming are soaks but with an adult Hermanns it can be done once a week. Cleaning the enclosure, watering live plants and preparing foods and water takes 10-15 minutes.

Fires and other accidents from tortoise enclosure equipment are rare. I've only seen these with clamp lamps (they fall, always) and when someone sprayed water on the basking bulb (you don't need to spray the enclosure for humidity).
 

TammyJ

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Hi and welcome! That's an awesome explanation and description of your situation and I respect you for it. Maybe after you review the help offered here by our very caring experts, you may find it possible to keep your tortoise, especially for your son's sake, which I am sure is of major importance to you. How old is your son? And may we see some pics of the tortoise so we can help you better? Thanks.
 

Yvonne G

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Timers are pretty cheap. Are you able to shop on Amazon? Look up timers on Amazon.
 

allthesmallthings

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@allthesmallthings ... I commend you for taking credit for the bad things. It is hard to fix something if you are not truthful with yourself.
1. How to handle light and heat while not at home? Timers and heat controllers.
2. Daily routine time and things needed to be done? My wife and I spend at least 4 hours doing the tort chores, BUT we have over 20. With just 1 tort your daily routine would be minimal. The hardest part is getting all the details right then everyday is a breeze. I am not the tech expert and do not know how to copy/paste threads you need to read but there are far more experienced "Experts" here that can help.
@Tom
@Alex and the Redfoot
There are others but hopefully this will get ya started. PLEASE ask any questions that come to mind, we tort lovers are here just for that ... to help others with torts.
Thank you so much for your kind and helpful response. That's exactly it, it all feels very overwhelming now getting everything set up right but once it's done it's done.
 

allthesmallthings

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1. Mount your heating and lighting from over head, securely and safely, check the temperatures under them and adjust as needed, and set the lights on timers and the heating elements on thermostats. Your tortoise needs proper lighting and warmth all day every day. You don't need to be home.
2. For a single tortoise, once it is set up correctly, it takes about three minutes to drop some food in a terra cotta saucer and dump, rinse, and refill the terra cotta water dish. Maybe another minute at night to remove any un-eaten food. Soaks will take a half hour or more, but you can do other things while the tortoise soaks. Carrot soaks are for tortoises that are on death's door. You shouldn't need those.
Thank you for this. Is there a way to reduce the risk of him flipping over under the light when nobody's home? He really likes to climb and it's not unusual at all for him to chuck himself on his back. I guess maybe focusing on ground-level enrichment?
 

allthesmallthings

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Hello!

Honestly, I feel that with your motivation you can be a great tortoise keeper. Unless life circumstances will require to rehome him. Many people have resources and time to care for their pets but do not - that is upsetting.

Don't blame yourself that care was not optimal. Many were the "victims" of bad advice. That's how I've ended with a redfooted tortoise in a suboptimal climate :)

As for the overwhelming amount of care information - we've got you covered and can help to do things right and not to spend money on wrong or unnecessary stuff.

How do I keep things running:
1. Temperatures with thermostats, lights - with timer sockets. Also I have a web camera in the enclosure and a Wifi connected temperature/humidity meter. Camera was really helpful when my tortoise has flipped over - I've got a notification and rushed home.
2. As EppsDynasty mentioned - when setting things up it's time consuming. After that you'll have time for a coffee and watching your happy tortoise. I have one tortoise and don't mess with it much. Most time consuming are soaks but with an adult Hermanns it can be done once a week. Cleaning the enclosure, watering live plants and preparing foods and water takes 10-15 minutes.

Fires and other accidents from tortoise enclosure equipment are rare. I've only seen these with clamp lamps (they fall, always) and when someone sprayed water on the basking bulb (you don't need to spray the enclosure for humidity).
This is so reassuring and I really appreciate your kindness - I don't feel like I deserve it but I shall hold onto it!! The camera idea is a winner. I won't always be able to get home immediately if he flips but I wonder if I can set up a system where I can turn the light off remotely should that happen and I'm stuck away from home for a few hours - obviously it's far from ideal but at least he won't cook. The wonders of technology!
 

allthesmallthings

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Hi and welcome! That's an awesome explanation and description of your situation and I respect you for it. Maybe after you review the help offered here by our very caring experts, you may find it possible to keep your tortoise, especially for your son's sake, which I am sure is of major importance to you. How old is your son? And may we see some pics of the tortoise so we can help you better? Thanks.
Thank you, I appreciate your kindness. The information given here is invaluable, and it does make me feel like we might be able to make it work. My son is 13, he loves the little dude so much and though I know he would want what's best for him I'm sure his preference would be for us to be providing it! I will post a picture of the Tort later on yes. Thank you.
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Thank you for this. Is there a way to reduce the risk of him flipping over under the light when nobody's home? He really likes to climb and it's not unusual at all for him to chuck himself on his back. I guess maybe focusing on ground-level enrichment?
You need to remove all flipping hazards from under the basking lamp. Also, a "lip" along the perimeter so he can't stand on his two trying to climb out can prevent flipping.

Yes, there are smartphone controlled sockets and even powerstrips to remotely turn/off things. I use them as timers for the lamps and as a "killswitch" for the thermostat. Out of less expensive options are probably Govee and TPLink Tapo (this brand has a 3 or 4 way powerstrip too).
 

EppsDynasty

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This is another example of what a special place TortoiseForum.org is (TFO). I love it when someone in need is given help, answers and confidence so fast. @allthesmallthings you've already gotten the hard part over with .... "Where to get answers." Hang around and you'll fall in love with this place.
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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I felt so bad reading the part you said you were having a cry😔
Please don’t feel guilty! Not one of us here has been the ‘perfect tortoise owner’ so many of us have made similar mistakes, many members have spent years perfecting their care, what makes you a wonderful owner is recognising something was off and you’re wanting to change it, you’ve joined this forum which is the perfect first step! They’ll always be someone here to help guide you on care and answer any questions you have! Hopefully that will make things feel less overwhelming, it definitely did me knowing we have this community here❤️
 

TammyJ

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I felt so bad reading the part you said you were having a cry😔
Please don’t feel guilty! Not one of us here has been the ‘perfect tortoise owner’ so many of us have made similar mistakes, many members have spent years perfecting their care, what makes you a wonderful owner is recognising something was off and you’re wanting to change it, you’ve joined this forum which is the perfect first step! They’ll always be someone here to help guide you on care and answer any questions you have! Hopefully that will make things feel less overwhelming, it definitely did me knowing we have this community here❤️
Happy Birthday to you. Littleredfootetc.!!!
 

Anastasia 22

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Hello!
I was crying while I was reading your post. It reminded me of....me...and my first tortoise.
Please don't make my mistake. Don't rehome your tortoise. You are still able to correct the situation!
This forum is really really helpful! You can find here all information you need.
 
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