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Enrichment help with Russian

Discussion in 'Russian tortoises' started by ld118, Mar 6, 2018.

  1. ld118

    ld118 New Member

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    Hello, I am new here and I have had my Russian for almost a year now she is an adult and I have recently started having problems with her trying to escape. I dont mind her trying to climb the walls of her enclosure but she has started to injure herself in the process and I know she must be bored. I am a full time college student and I have my own room but her enclosure here at school is smaller than her house when I am home. Right now she is in a 50 gallon tote which is smaller than what I had her in but she figured out how to climb out of the previous enclosure and the tote was the next best thing I could do. I have the zoo med power sun 100 watt bulb, I use cypress mulch as bedding which she loves digging in, I have tried different houses but she prefers a towel to hide under. She does like this grass basket looking house I got her but now shes trying to climb out with it and flipping on her back so I dont let her have it unless she is walking around in my room. I know the enclosure size has an effect on her trying to escape but I figure if she has things to climb it might limit the amount of time she tries to escape.

    So my question is does anyone have any ideas of what I can put in her enclosure that will allow her to climb and keep herself entertained with out her being able to flip over?
  2. TechnoCheese

    TechnoCheese Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forum!
    The reason she’s trying to escape is because her enclosure is much, much too small. Adult Russians like yours require a minimum enclosure size of 8x4 feet. We have plenty of tutorials on here to help you build a tortoise table that large, and she is not going to stop until you give her the correct enclosure size.
    Take a look at these links and come back with questions-
    Russian Tortoise Care Sheet
    https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/Russian-Tortoise-Care-Sheet.80698/
    Beginner Mistakes
    https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/Beginner-Mistakes.45180/
  3. ld118

    ld118 New Member

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    I cant give her a table of that size here at school, as that is basically the size of my room. And I cant bring the table she lives in when I am home here either.
  4. Bambam1989

    Bambam1989 Well-Known Member

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    Another option is to make a multi level enclosure. Most torts seem to enjoy going up and down the ramps.
    TechnoCheese likes this.
  5. TechnoCheese

    TechnoCheese Well-Known Member

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    Can you do a double decker? 4x4 with a second layer and a ramp? Even 6x3 will work in a pinch, and you could do a 3x3 double decker.
    Your tortoise is a grazer that roams miles in days in the wild in search of food, and that need to roam to properly digest their food. Keeping it in such a small space is both detrimental to its health, but also to its quality of life.
  6. ld118

    ld118 New Member

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    I plan on doing that with her table at home this summer when I am done with school as that will be her permanent residence. Her table at home is 4x2. But while she is here a double decker is not possible because her enclosure has to fit under my bed with enough clearence so the heat lamp doesnt touch the bed. I had her in a larger enclosure but she figured out how to climb the walls and I did not want her to fall from the top of it and crack her shell or break a leg. She was also flipping on her back and as I have 3-4 hour labs and classes I dont want her to flip over and suffocate or have any other internal damage. Right now the biggest and safest enclosure I can give her is this tote which is why I asked if there was anything I can put in it to help increase the floor surface area to make the small space seem a bit bigger to her as she climbs around while I am in class. When I am not in class she has free reign of my room. She does not have poor quality of life.
  7. TechnoCheese

    TechnoCheese Well-Known Member

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    You should not be letting her roam the floor. It is too cold, and so, so many bad things happen. Just here, I’ve seen-
    Tortoise getting stepped on, tortoise getting slammed in door, tortoise being eaten by dog, getting stuck under couch, getting lost, getting too cold, tortoise getting kicked, getting bit by ants, eating something they can’t, getting tangled in cords, getting impacted by dust bunnies, getting dust in their eye, tortoise falling 1.5 feet off of stair onto back. There’s a new one every month. Your tortoise needs a dedicated enclosure that it can stay in 24/7, and it being let out is another reason why she’s constantly trying to escape. Once they know there’s a world out there, they will stop at nothing to get to it.
    Are you able to connect several tubs together? The 4x2 table is only 1/4th the size that she needs.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
  8. ld118

    ld118 New Member

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    I have no dogs, I pick up all wires, I sit in my bed or on a stool and watch her very carefully while I do homework, I also block off every single crevice that she might possible try to get into. And while she is out she still has access to her heat lamp if she wishes and my room is a constant 70 degrees to begin with. Letting her explore my room is the only thing I have done so far that has caused a reduction in her trying to escape her tote. I also let her outside when it is warm enough so she can obtain real UVB. But let me guess, it is too dangerous to let a wild animal be outside.

    I am a licensed veterinary technician on my way to veterinary school for exotic animal medicine. I know how to care for an animal. I know her basic needs. I know what temperature she needs, I know what her diet entails probably better than most tortoise owners. And to me from a medical stand point I would much rather baby sit my tortoise while she explores my room than have to treat her for an infection because her shell is cutting her legs because as I have stated My dorm room is too small to give her the proper size enclosure.

    If your only intention is to tell me that I am "abusing" my animal and not help me with what I asked for help with what so ever then please stop commenting.
  9. TechnoCheese

    TechnoCheese Well-Known Member

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    My intention is not to tell you that you are abusing your tortoise. It is, however, to keep you from making the mistakes that so many before you have.
    I have seen these things happen time and time again. The owner is beyond extremely cautious, and watches their tortoise at all time while they let it “roam”. But, alas, all of the posts asking for help start with something along the lines of “I was watching them like a hawk, and I turned my head for ________ seconds, and ________ happened!” We don’t want the same thing to happen to you.
    You asked for advise, and I gave it. There is no way getting around this. The only way you can give your tortoise enrichment, and make her stop trying to escape, is to give her the closest to a proper sized enclosure that you can. These are things that must be addressed.
    And congrats on your education.
    Cheryl Hills and Melis like this.
  10. Bambam1989

    Bambam1989 Well-Known Member

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    Please do not get upset. We want to help you and your tort.
    It is only fair that we warn you of any potential hazards from your tort being loose on a floor. Just like I am now going to point out the possible danger of pesticides or chemical fertilizers used on grass outside your dorm that could be hazardous if ingested.
    Do you plan on specialising in tortoises? That would be a commendable goal. Not near enough exotic vets know how to properly care and treat tortoises and turtles.
    Anyways back to your original topic. Can you possibly fit a second tote in your room? Some keepers have used two or more totes and connected them by cutting out a hole and connecting them with a plastic box or large plastic pipe.
    Cheryl Hills, Melis and TechnoCheese like this.
  11. Melis

    Melis Well-Known Member

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    There's no one on this forum that will tell you any different from what @TechnoCheese has already stated. No one says these things to bash the owner, but if you ask for advice, this is what you will get. Techno has given many suggestions to try to help you, all while maintaining a helpful tone and not being judgemental at all. Bottom line is, the enclosure isn't big enough and your tort will continue to try to escape. I would hope a vet tech would encourage pet owners to educate themselves on all aspects of the needs of their pet. I would also think someone going to school for veterinary medicine would appreciate scientific facts. Your tort needs more room.
    Cheryl Hills and TechnoCheese like this.
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