Greek Tortoise Advice

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megandrews

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Hey Guys!

I am brand new to the forum and I am so excited to know as much about Greek tortoises as everyone else here seems to! The reason I am posting today is because I have done so much independent research to make sure my Greek (Penny!) is getting the right things from her habitat. What we do have that I hope is right is as follows:

We have a 150W basking light giving a steady temp of around 90-95 degrees on one side of the terrarium. We have a UVB coil light as well that is on all day, and the other side of the terrarium has her hide and is usually between 75-80 degrees. At night we turn everything off and the whole tank gets to about 70 degrees (does not drop below 65). We now know that a glass terrarium is not a suitable place for our Penny, but we have only had her about a week, and that was the advice we received. We will have to remedy it sometime in the future! I have been feeding her green beans, kale, and cactus pads and calcium powder every 3 days. She is active and digs around and has been eating well, but I just want to make sure we are giving her the proper care. It has only been a week but I have grown so attached to her!

Here are my questions:

1) I am having a really hard time finding a consistent answer on what her humidity levels should be--I have found everything from as low as possible to 80, and I am hoping to get some clarification.

2) At the advice of the pet store staff (which I now know to never trust) we have her in about 2-3 inches of repti-bark--will this suffice, or should we be looking in to alternatives? (especially since we aren't sure what her humidity should be at--I would not be surprised if we need to invest in something else)

3) She makes a clicking/rubbing sound when she is eating or if she opens and closes her mouth. It does not seem to be a respiratory thing, but from research, maybe that her beak is getting to long. What would fix this issue? I don't know if it IS fixable, but if that is what is going on, it just sounds plain uncomfortable!

That is all for now, but I am sure I will be asking more advice from you, and as I learn, I hope to be able to advise others :)
 

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megandrews

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Also--I was told she is about 4-6 months old & I know that can be a factor with humidity.
 

Laura

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well she is eating.. that is a good sign!
Id say she is older... Years,, not months..
The bark is not ideal.. Id go with more of a soil type substrate myself..
What are you feeding her? Soaks?
Others who keep this type of tort should be along shortly to help.
and again... WELCOME to our family!
 

Arizona Sulcata

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Welcome!
1) since you have a young tort, humidity is very important. A range of 60-80% humidity is excellent!

2) I like to use coconut coir (some use cypress mulch) both are good substrates. It's hard to keep humidity up in the bark and they can't burrow in it as much. Greeks love to burrow.

3) her beak doesn't need to be trimmed from what I see in the photo. Plus if her age is correct, her beak wouldn't be overgrown at this point.
 

tyrs4u

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Welcome to the Tortoise family... beautiful kid. Appears three years plus. Substrate would be ok but maybe add moist coir ... 60/40. but mine love coir. They are prissy.. ;-)

Beaks do squeak if not trimmed or maintained... if trimmed its just a cute sound it makes... as long as their nose is dry.
 

Tccarolina

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Looking at the picture she looks much older than 4-6 months. I'm thinking 3 years old, maybe more. Can you take another of her shell? Measure the length of her with a ruler.

You won't get a good answer on the humidity, because the hobby is still divided on this topic. Basically, if you keep her in low humidity, she'll probably start pyramiding on her new growth. If you keep her in high humidity, some worry that there might be long-term health problems (although there is no evidence of this, it's just a supposition). Some keepers say they prevent pyramiding by daily soaks, and others say that supplying drinking water alone will prevent pyramiding (these keepers have never been willing to show pics of any tortoises they've raised this way).

At issue is the question of what happens in the wild. It is my belief that greek tortoises, which come from a mediterreanean climate, only grow in the spring time, when food is available. This is the end of the rainy season, and this is when the annual plants they feed on are green and growing. I believe that this makes a pretty humid environment, which prevents the drying of the newest ring of growth. If this ring of growth gets to dry, it warps, pulling the developing soft bone underneath with it. During the very hot dry summer and fall in their native climate, they conserve water by aestivating, and probably don't eat much.

Now, in your tank, you offer food and ideal temperatures all the time. So the tortoise grows. If your humidity is low, your tortoise's new growth can dry out, warping it and the underlying bone, which, when it hardens, becomes permanent and irreversable. Once the tortoise has stopped growing, this is no longer a problem, and as long as the tortoise is provided with sufficient hydration through a bowl of water or wet enough food, it can probably survive well without humidity.

So the question is, is it healthy for the tortoise to be in constant high humidity all year long until it becomes a mature adult?
Maybe not. We don't know. A natural setup would be to give your tortoise a humid period with lots of food, then allow it to aestivate, offering little food, and plenty of water. This is probably not practical, and is not the ideal setup to enjoy your tortoise.

Of course, there's the side that says it is about water, but simply soaking the tortoise daily or providing fresh water will do the trick. And there's the side that says pyramiding is all about diet. Obviously you can see the side I'm on, and others might be able to explain there positions well. For me, I've never seen convincing evidence (pictures) that show tortoises can be raised smoothly by diet alone in a dry environment or by simply providing fresh water.

Since this community has not settled this issue, you'll have to make the decision of what you will do. One question you'll have to answer, is whether pyramiding bothers you or not. It probably doesn't bother the tortoise as long as there is no Metabolic bone disease (MBD) accompanying it. If you don't mind pyramiding, then it's an easier decision.

Good luck,
Steve
 

l0velesly

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Your Greek looks great! Are you feeding him only every 3 days? I think it'd be better to feed every 2 days. I also heard the coil bulbs are no good for the eyes and that it can cause blindness. I recommend the mercury vapor bulb that provides UVA/UVB.
I'm not sure about the humidity for Greeks, but humidity does seem to help the shell grow smoothly.
How long has your tortoise made that clicking noise? It doesn't look like it has a long beak in the picture. I wouldn't worry too much unless he displays other signs of respiratory illnesses. My little leopard tort makes clicking noises when it eats too ever since I got him.
 

megandrews

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We feed her every morning---only as much as she will eat and then we remove it. We have only had her 5 days but we have tried kale, cactus pad, and green beans. We have sprinkled her green beans with calcium powder once and will be doing so again tomorrow. We are planning on soakings twice a week, and have done one so far (which she seems to hate so far!). When we do her "bath time" I was going to snap a few more pictures and measure her, so those stats will go up late tonight or tomorrow for anyone interested in helping me with her age (or if she is even a her.....). One more question so far:

1) When she starts moving around in the morning, she will periodically yawn (no more than about 3 times in about a 30 minute span), and then I didn't notice all day yesterday after that. Is that normal?


I will post pics sometime soon! Thanks to everyone for the responses!
 

yoda3106

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megandrews said:
Hey Guys!

I am brand new to the forum and I am so excited to know as much about Greek tortoises as everyone else here seems to! The reason I am posting today is because I have done so much independent research to make sure my Greek (Penny!) is getting the right things from her habitat. What we do have that I hope is right is as follows:

We have a 150W basking light giving a steady temp of around 90-95 degrees on one side of the terrarium. We have a UVB coil light as well that is on all day, and the other side of the terrarium has her hide and is usually between 75-80 degrees. At night we turn everything off and the whole tank gets to about 70 degrees (does not drop below 65). We now know that a glass terrarium is not a suitable place for our Penny, but we have only had her about a week, and that was the advice we received. We will have to remedy it sometime in the future! I have been feeding her green beans, kale, and cactus pads and calcium powder every 3 days. She is active and digs around and has been eating well, but I just want to make sure we are giving her the proper care. It has only been a week but I have grown so attached to her!

Here are my questions:

1) I am having a really hard time finding a consistent answer on what her humidity levels should be--I have found everything from as low as possible to 80, and I am hoping to get some clarification.

2) At the advice of the pet store staff (which I now know to never trust) we have her in about 2-3 inches of repti-bark--will this suffice, or should we be looking in to alternatives? (especially since we aren't sure what her humidity should be at--I would not be surprised if we need to invest in something else)

3) She makes a clicking/rubbing sound when she is eating or if she opens and closes her mouth. It does not seem to be a respiratory thing, but from research, maybe that her beak is getting to long. What would fix this issue? I don't know if it IS fixable, but if that is what is going on, it just sounds plain uncomfortable!

That is all for now, but I am sure I will be asking more advice from you, and as I learn, I hope to be able to advise others :)

Once I get the time, I'll leave you a message :) should be in the next couple days!! I have 3 Greeks so know quite abit!! ;) I'd like to hope!! Ha help most people out :)
 

NudistApple

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A terrarium isn't a bad home for your tortoise! And it is especially helpful for holding in the humidity. I agree that she looks much older than 3-4 months. My little greek is 7 months old, and she is much smaller than that.

I agree on giving her a substrate that is easier to burrow in. I just got a few 40lb bags of organic topsoil from Lowes (they were about 6$ all together) and used that. I have a slope in her terrarium, so it's about 6-7 inches deep on her basking side, and only 2-3 on her cool side, where her water dish is.

Greeks looove to dig (as has been mentioned). Al'tuin digs down 2-3 times a day, depending on how many naps she has. When she goes to sleep for the night she usually digs down inside of a little pot that I have turned on it's side for her. My ambient humidity averages at about 60%, and I make sure to let the top layer of her substrate dry out between spraying, since being on wet substrate all of the time can cause them to develop shell rot.

Congrats on your new addition!

PS: Spring/Herb mixes you can get at the grocery stores make a really excellent staple for these guys. Giving them as many weeds and edible flowers as possible is also good. I give Al'tuin a variety of those things, as well as a few ZooMed tortoise blocks a week, and I give her calcium dust on her greens 1-3 times a week.
 

megandrews

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yoda3106 said:
megandrews said:
Hey Guys!

I am brand new to the forum and I am so excited to know as much about Greek tortoises as everyone else here seems to! The reason I am posting today is because I have done so much independent research to make sure my Greek (Penny!) is getting the right things from her habitat. What we do have that I hope is right is as follows:

We have a 150W basking light giving a steady temp of around 90-95 degrees on one side of the terrarium. We have a UVB coil light as well that is on all day, and the other side of the terrarium has her hide and is usually between 75-80 degrees. At night we turn everything off and the whole tank gets to about 70 degrees (does not drop below 65). We now know that a glass terrarium is not a suitable place for our Penny, but we have only had her about a week, and that was the advice we received. We will have to remedy it sometime in the future! I have been feeding her green beans, kale, and cactus pads and calcium powder every 3 days. She is active and digs around and has been eating well, but I just want to make sure we are giving her the proper care. It has only been a week but I have grown so attached to her!

Here are my questions:

1) I am having a really hard time finding a consistent answer on what her humidity levels should be--I have found everything from as low as possible to 80, and I am hoping to get some clarification.

2) At the advice of the pet store staff (which I now know to never trust) we have her in about 2-3 inches of repti-bark--will this suffice, or should we be looking in to alternatives? (especially since we aren't sure what her humidity should be at--I would not be surprised if we need to invest in something else)

3) She makes a clicking/rubbing sound when she is eating or if she opens and closes her mouth. It does not seem to be a respiratory thing, but from research, maybe that her beak is getting to long. What would fix this issue? I don't know if it IS fixable, but if that is what is going on, it just sounds plain uncomfortable!

That is all for now, but I am sure I will be asking more advice from you, and as I learn, I hope to be able to advise others :)

Once I get the time, I'll leave you a message :) should be in the next couple days!! I have 3 Greeks so know quite abit!! ;) I'd like to hope!! Ha help most people out :)

That would be UH-MAZING! I am sure I am just being an overbearing owner, but I just want to make sure she is getting everything she needs and I am not doing something stupid.
 

eudora09

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She looks older like many have said. Mine is a year and a half old and is 3 1/2 inches long. I built her a cage from a bookshelf, clear shower liner, and organic top soil. I think it cost me a total of $30. I wouldn't suggest feeding her the green beans. Mine loves mazuri ( i find this at the local feed store and i just soak it for a few minutes til it's soft then i feed it to her), kale, collard greens, butter lettuce (this is fed sparingly as a treat), dandelion greens (i find this at sunflower market), baby spring mix salad. Humidity wise I just spray mine down in the morning and in the afternoon and she has done great no pyramiding and I've had her since she was a few months old. Also I would suggest getting a MVB and not using the coil (it's bad for their eyes). Plus the MVB makes it where you only need that one bulb since it also produces heat as well as the uvb/uva rays.

Here's a pic of my enclosure and a pic of Belle. Also I had her cage where half was top soil and the other aspen bedding to try to keep the dirt out of her water but it just got full of bedding so I removed that and made it all top soil with a slate tile under her water to help keep the tracking down.
 

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megandrews

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Ok! After trying to take pictures by myself this morning, I had to enlist my husbands help and together we got a few snapshots of Penny tonight. Hopefully some of you can give me an idea of around what age she is so that we can monitor her humidity levels accordingly.

Her measurements were as follows:
Shell--5 inches
Head to Tail--6.5 inches

We have also made a few changes since my original post so let me know if I am on the right track:

1) We mixed in Eco-Earth Loose Coconut Fiber Substrate with our Repti-Bark to give a more comfortable substrate that she can dig in, and to help with being able to accomplish a more steady humidity.

2) We replaced our 20W UVB florescent coil bulb with a 15W Repti Glo lamp

If anyone needs different pictures please just let me know. I am more than willing to oblige.

Thank you, everyone, for all of your help!! :D
 

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CGKeith

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Well, 4 to 6 months may be how long the pet store had it in captivity. That is minimum 3 years old, probably more. I'd venture to say that is a wild caught import as well. Terrestris subspecies. Probably Antakyan or maybe Antakyan X Golden cross.

Great looking colors and pattern. :)
 

yoda3106

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megandrews said:
Hey Guys!

I am brand new to the forum and I am so excited to know as much about Greek tortoises as everyone else here seems to! The reason I am posting today is because I have done so much independent research to make sure my Greek (Penny!) is getting the right things from her habitat. What we do have that I hope is right is as follows:

We have a 150W basking light giving a steady temp of around 90-95 degrees on one side of the terrarium. We have a UVB coil light as well that is on all day, and the other side of the terrarium has her hide and is usually between 75-80 degrees. At night we turn everything off and the whole tank gets to about 70 degrees (does not drop below 65). We now know that a glass terrarium is not a suitable place for our Penny, but we have only had her about a week, and that was the advice we received. We will have to remedy it sometime in the future! I have been feeding her green beans, kale, and cactus pads and calcium powder every 3 days. She is active and digs around and has been eating well, but I just want to make sure we are giving her the proper care. It has only been a week but I have grown so attached to her!

Here are my questions:

1) I am having a really hard time finding a consistent answer on what her humidity levels should be--I have found everything from as low as possible to 80, and I am hoping to get some clarification.

2) At the advice of the pet store staff (which I now know to never trust) we have her in about 2-3 inches of repti-bark--will this suffice, or should we be looking in to alternatives? (especially since we aren't sure what her humidity should be at--I would not be surprised if we need to invest in something else)

3) She makes a clicking/rubbing sound when she is eating or if she opens and closes her mouth. It does not seem to be a respiratory thing, but from research, maybe that her beak is getting to long. What would fix this issue? I don't know if it IS fixable, but if that is what is going on, it just sounds plain uncomfortable!

That is all for now, but I am sure I will be asking more advice from you, and as I learn, I hope to be able to advise others :)





Hey, sorry it took a while to write back :) hope your tort is doing fine!!!

Right, I'll help out as much as poss, like I said, I have 3 Greeks so I kinda know my stuff!! :)

Your basking temps are absolutely fine :) these are the temps we use for ours when they come in for the winter months (November-April) you need to make it similar to what it is outside on a nice summers day!! A vivarium is also ok, I don't see what is wrong with them lol again, it's what we have for them for when there living inn, it is much better for them to live outside so it's replicating them living in the wild but a glass viv is ok :) have you got a garden??

As for substrate, I keep saying to new owners, over and over, just use natural soil you get in the garden!! Fine soil/mud is what they are us to in the native countries and in there inside viv, they have about 4inchs of fine mud with hay as bedding in a little self built cave I built :) and there fine!! They live on it outside in there enclousure to :) I live in Cyprus and this is the closest it gets to there native countries, turkey, Syria etc

I not to sure on the clicking :( but I sure it's not bad!! If you think it's the beak, try cuttlebone :)

I have loads of answers so anything, let me know!!

Dan
 

megandrews

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So she is starting to dig in and nap underneath her basking light. I am taking that as a good sign, right?
 

megandrews

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Ok--new questions.

So far Penny is doing excellent, and since all of the controversy regarding her age is over (I have concluded she is between 3 and 5 years old), I have some new questions.

At the age of 3-5 years, is she considered an adult (just because I know that the rules change from hatchling, to adolescent, to adult)? If so, what would you suggest for humidity we are keeping her anywhere from ~20-50 humidity?

How much, on average, should she be eating a day? I have been feeding her collard greens, mustard green, and kale mostly. She seems to like it all, but I am wondering if we are giving her enough. I keep seeing people who are leaving really large amounts of food (heads of lettuce, or bunches of greens for their torts) and I have only been putting in a leaf or two a day?

Thanks again to everyone!
 

JoesMum

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Your tort won't generally over-feed itself. A mound of food roughly the size of the shell is a good starting point for volume. As long as your tort has a varied diet, is growing and steadily gaining weight, you have little to worry about.

I can't advise over humidity changes... it's too long since Joe was that age! :) Maturity does go by size rather than age in tortoises though.
 
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