having trouble keeping substrate moist

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stinax182

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i understand Russian tortoises substrates should be kept moist if possible, but i have a 5f-5f enclosure with 5"+ coconut fiber coir and i cannot keep it damp. they have a 75w halogen bulb for basking and a florescent tube that stretches across the middle of the enclosure. both on for 14 hours. i don't spray them often but probably three times a week. and i try to take extra care in their burrows but the next say it's always dry and dusty.


should i remove some of the substrate? is 5, 6, 7 inches too much? should i mix it or top it off with some mulch?
 

laney

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Ditto! I spray my enclosure every day and without fail the next day it is bone dry again, it's really frustrating. Hope you get some good advice, you are not alone.
 

RosieRedfoot

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Are these open top enclosures? If so, that's your problem. Try covering most of the top and you'll see a lot less drying out.
 

Alan RF

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I use sphagnum moss and orchid bark (for my RF) it's the best thing I've found to raise humidity. Not sure if this info helps :)
 

diaboliqueturtle

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After moving to a new house, I had that problem. I built a lid in 3 removable panels, from plexiglass and molding with a cutout around the lights, temps and humidity are now holding :)
 

stinax182

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thanks for the replies everyone! half of their enclosure is covered by another tortoise enclosure sitting on top on it. it's not air tight but it keeps the heat in. and their burrows are plastic shoe boxes. i think I'll switch the substrate in their burrows and see how that works. just more humidity in their beds would make me feel better. i feel bad even they wake up and i have to wash them off because they're all dusty lolll.
 

Millerlite

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The substrate moist all layers? I have 7 inches of soil in mine with all layers moist it holds humidity well. The top will dry from the lights, but the under layer stays moist. I turn the soil when needed give it a mix, or spray the top down. I found this to help
 

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Spraying the surface is not effective, as you are seeing. You need to dump larger quantities of water into the substrate to saturate it all the way through. This will have to be done regularly until you get a routine down for the rate of evaporation in YOUR set up and home. I recommend starting slow. You can always add more, but if you get it too wet, you can't take some water back out. :) For a 5x5' enclosure with 5" of substrate you will probably need a gallon or two depending on how dry it is, and how wet you want to make it.
 

stinax182

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thank you tom! i thought of doing that but it'd be kinda hard with there being rocks and logs placed throughout their enclosure. and their burrows are completely covered in dirt so they can climb on top :D one corner is where i grow clover, so it's pretty damp usually. but i think I'll start doing that and just rearranging things, I'm sure they'll enjoy it :) and I'm gonna put some sphagnum moss in their hides too. thanks for the advice guys!
 

GBtortoises

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stinax182 said:
i understand Russian tortoises substrates should be kept moist if possible, but i have a 5f-5f enclosure with 5"+ coconut fiber coir and i cannot keep it damp. they have a 75w halogen bulb for basking and a florescent tube that stretches across the middle of the enclosure. both on for 14 hours. i don't spray them often but probably three times a week. and i try to take extra care in their burrows but the next say it's always dry and dusty.


should i remove some of the substrate? is 5, 6, 7 inches too much? should i mix it or top it off with some mulch?

What is the average ambient air humidity within the enclosure and the room that the enclosure is in?

Russian tortoises should not be kept in wet substrate conditions. They are a temperate dessert species which require hot, fairly dry, well lit daytimes above ground and cool, semi-moist areas underground to retreat to during the daytime and at night. They absolutely should not be kept in consistently moist, damp or wet conditions. They must be allowed to become completely dry during the daytime. Russian tortoises should be maintained much more like American Desert tortoises than any other species, including other Testudo species.
 

stinax182

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i spray the enclosure down daily to water the grass seed and plants and the room the enclosure is in has a constant level of 50-60% humidity. so his dirt is fairly dry but i don't let it get too dusty. by no means is he kept wet.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Christina:

I think you've fallen into the trap that a lot of us fall into here on the Forum. When we talk about keeping it moist for our tortoises, we're usually talking about BABY leopards and sulcatas.

Like GBTortoises told you, having a dry substrate for your adult Russian tortoise is quite ok.
 

stinax182

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yes, this is a fairly older thread and i have since then made the conclusion about the different aged tortoises.

my adult Russian gets misted daily and warm soaks twice a week. in no way is his enclosure kept wet, he actually loves hay so its only wet where the grass seed is. my 2 year old leopard i believe is sort of in between. so she sleeps in a humid hide every night that's a constant 86F with 75%+ humidity and gets daily warm soaks. her entire enclosure ranges from 60% - 80% humidity. she has pyramiding already and weighs 440g and her scl is 4 1/2" so i consider her small enough to still be treated somewhat as a baby.
 
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