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HELP GUYS, this lil guy is having a hard time

Discussion in 'Tortoise Health' started by Ben C, Jan 19, 2018.

  1. Ben C

    Ben C New Member

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    Hey, I'm Ben. I'm new to this forum and need some assistance.

    I have a male RF tortoise and I've attached pictures of his enclosure and condition. He's 7 I believe. I use a UVB bulb, a ceramic coil heat bulb, and a heating pad underneath a little substrate (he dug it away). I have more mulch but I'm thinking I should get rid of it and try something else. I spray the enclosure frequently when I'm home (not at school). I haven't soaked him before. His right eye won't open. His scales are indented. Here are the main questions:

    How do I get the humidity up? Does his shell show signs of pyramiding? What do I need to get or do to improve his condition and livelihood?

    Thanks a whole lot in advance. I really want this guy to have a good life.

    IMG_0860.jpg IMG_0860.jpg IMG_0861.jpg IMG_0862.jpg IMG_0863.jpg IMG_0865.jpg IMG_0868.jpg IMG_0870.jpg IMG_0880.jpg
    Jnics10 likes this.
  2. Bambam1989

    Bambam1989 Well-Known Member

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    Hi there Ben, welcome to the Forum.
    It's great that you want to improve the care of your tort. There are several things that could be changed to help your tort.
    1. He looks very dry. I recommend you begin giving daily soaks in warm (not hot) water. You can do this in your bathtub or a plastic tub. Let him walk around/ soak in the water for 20+ minutes. Don't let the water get cool. He is very likely to poop and pee during this time.
    2. The enclosure itself. He needs a much larger enclosure so he has room to move around.
    The mulch your using looks like orchid bark or fir bark. That's a good substrate but you need more of it, about 3 or 4 inches deep. Add water directly into the substrate to moisten.
    You want a water dish big enough for him to sit inside. The one your using is the right depth but needs to be bigger around. Terra Cotta saucers for under pots work well.
    I would get rid of the heat mat. Torts are designed to heat from above and they have been known to burn themselves on mats.
    3. Lights/ heat/ humidity. What kind of uvb light are you using? Some of the compact bulbs (they look twisty or curly) have been known to irritate the eyes. What are his temperatures at? What is the humidity currently at? To increase humidity, add more substrate and water like I mentioned. A closed chamber enclosure will help keep the heat and humidity in. Right now it is all escaping out the top. A temporary fix until your able to build a larger enclosure is to cover the top with tin foil.
    4. Diet. What kinds of food have you been offering. These torts are omnivores and need a wide variation of foods.
  3. Grandpa Turtle 144

    Grandpa Turtle 144 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi Ben
    IMG_1967.jpg
    Ben C likes this.
  4. Unique Username

    Unique Username New Member

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    I was typing while bambam posted but besides editing out i will just post what i got with some overlapping info (although i forgot to mention dehidration like he did)
    Hello Ben and welcome to the forum.
    Would like to start out by saying that you have come to the right place, and it is a good thing that you are trying to improve the quality of life for your tortoise. That being said I must say that his current living condition is quit poor. Don't worry though we have all started out not knowing better.

    There are many experts on this forum that can help with specifics to your species, but I would like to just go over some basics so they don't have to.

    1. The enclose is wayyyy to small. For a tortoise this size he would need an enclosure that is 4feet by 8feet. And some would even say that's to small for his size.

    2. Coil uv bulbs are bad. They are notorious for causing eye problems with tortoises. (This companied by many other things is what is most likely causing his eye problems) tube uv bulbs/hoods are much better, they cover a larger area and do not irritate their eyes.

    3. He needs a hide. A hide is a place in his enclosure that he can well... hide. It can really be anything to plastic container flipped over with a hole cut out of the front to a small cave made with rocks. He needs somewhere that is humid and dark for him to both sleep in and get out of the light during the day. It is essential for him to thermo regulate himself. The hide is usually placed on the warm side of the enclosure.

    4. He needs micro climates. This is one of the reasons he needs such a big enclosure. A lot of owners preach the knowledge and maintenance of the 4 temps. The 4 temperatures being the warm side/basking temp, the cool side of the enclosure, the ambiant/room temp, and the night time low. He needs these micro climates so he can thermoregulate his temp and be comforitible.

    5. He needs a basking light, u have a Che to help with ambiant temp, but you need a basking light that he can use to raise his body temp easily when needed. It also helps aid with digestion.

    6. He needs substrate to dig into. It seems you have some sort of orchid bark (reptibark I assume), which is perfectly fine as a topper. But he needs at least 5 inches of substrate (topsoil coco coir peat moss, or something simulare) to burrow into. This goes back into the micro climates and comfort.

    7. He needs a food and water tray that he can get in and out of easily. Teracota plant saucers work great and are extremely cheap, you can get them from home demo or a simulare retailer for a few dollars. Because they are clay/have a ruff surface they help wear down his claws and beak.

    8. Because he is a tropical species he needs high humidity (and temp, cold and humid kills) with a diet of mixed greens and weeds with fruit. Someone more experienced in redfoots can help you with these specifics.

    9. He has some pretty severe pyrimiding, his shell should be all one smoth piece rather than a bunch of separate clumps smudged together. This was caused by the way he was raised (low humidity). There is nothing you can do now that he is full grown, though pyrimiding doesn't present any life threatning problems.

    I hope this information helps and you understand the project that you have ahead of you. Also for his current eye treatment I will quote gbtortises and what he told me when I have a simulare problem (although I believe it is most likely your setup causing your problems)

    Also if anyone sees any problems with the info I am giving please correct me, just trying to start him on the right path.
    Maro2Bear, Ben C and TechnoCheese like this.
  5. Unique Username

    Unique Username New Member

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    Quote from @GBtortoises when I had an eye problem with a Russian I adopted

    " If his eye is dried shut but looks normal (not swollen or puffy) it could just be due to an irritant or simple dryness due to environmental conditions. If it appears swollen or puffy it could also be an irritant or possibly infection. The best way to determine which is to take a Q-tip soaked with warm water, eye drops or better still an anti-infection cream designed for eyes and gently rub it on the eye lid up and down (the same direction that it would open and close). This will very often soften the area and allow the eye to open. If any milky or solid materials are seen inside the eye lid once it opens it will likely an eye infection. If the discharge is clear, it's more likely just an irritant inside the eyelid. At the same time you might want to keep a close eye (no pun intended) on the other eye and the nostrils for any discharge or other problems. Incorrect diet, incorrect environment and a change in location and environment can all be stressful to a tortoises digestive and immune system. Problems often first show up in the eyes and nostrils in the form of unusual discharge, swelling and infections. "
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  6. Ben C

    Ben C New Member

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    Omg guys I was not expecting this kind of support. Thank you all so much. I will make sure to utilize all of this information and make some improvements ASAP.

    To address the specific questions: I do have a coil UVB so I’ll make sure to swap that out. I have been feeding him primarily lettuce and melon/tuna from time to time, so I’ll try to increase the variety. The temp in that little hot spot he’s at is around 83 degrees F and the rest of the aquarium is around 75 degrees F. My hygrometer reports the humidity in the enclosure to be a little over 40%, but I suspect it’s not very accurate.

    A couple of quick follow up questions: Would a vet visit be necessary? What’s the best type of sealed enclosure for his size requirements? And a follow-up, are transparent walls a bad idea?

    And quick update: I gave him a lil soak in some electrolytes and his eye opened and looks great!

    Thanks again for the help and support!
    Jay Bagley likes this.
  7. teresaf

    teresaf Well-Known Member

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    These temperature/hygrometers are really good for high humidity applications. The button type dial temperature/hygrometers are notoriously inaccurate. so who knows what actual temperature you have in there....

    Attached Files:

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  8. Ben C

    Ben C New Member

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    Thanks for the suggestion!
  9. Bee62

    Bee62 Well-Known Member TFO Supporter Platinum Supporter

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    Hi Ben,
    you really want that your tortoise has a good life ? Okay, then you have too change asap these things:

    1. the enclosure. It is way too small for a big tortoise like yours. The enclosure has to be much bigger !
    2. the substrate. You need more, much more substrate so he can dig. RF like to dig themself into a humid substrate !
    3. the substrate must be humid. Use a reptile fogger, use water, use what ever you think but make it much more humid !
    4.begin to soak your poor tort immediately. He looks very dehydrated and sick. RF need high humidity 85 - 95 % !

    And yes, he is badly pyramided because of less humidity.
    Jay Bagley likes this.
  10. crimson_lotus

    crimson_lotus Well-Known Member

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    I'd like to add, if not already indicated (sorry, pressed for time!) to put a hide in there.

    Also his shell looks a bit flat...do you monitor and change out the UVB bulbs every 6-12 months? They lose their UVB output after a certain amount of time, and I want to make sure this guy doesn't have a bit of metabolic bone disease.
    Jay Bagley, TechnoCheese and Bee62 like this.
  11. TammyJ

    TammyJ Well-Known Member

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    Looks like you have your work cut out for you, eh???

    Lucky tortoise, to have a caring owner who wants to improve his husbandry! All the best.
    Jay Bagley likes this.
  12. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

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    Hi, and welcome!!

    I really appreciate the gentle way you accepted our criticisms. Thank you. So many new members become argumentative. ☺
    CarolM, Jnics10, Ben C and 3 others like this.
  13. Alaskamike

    Alaskamike Well-Known Member

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    Good you are working on it :)

    Hope all goes well. Welcolm to the forum
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  14. Jnics10

    Jnics10 New Member

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    Welcome!!!!

    I love that you are so accepting of advice and so driven to improve your little guy's life!!! :) I found my tort in pretty bad shape as well, but it has been beautiful to watch his personality blossom as he continues to get healthier. First found him wandering in my yard in the cold, and now he's got his own climate-controlled room full of toys and munchies and things to climb. It has become very hard not to spoil him rotten, lol.

    This site has been such an invaluable resource for me and my tort -- I find myself looking up things on here at least 5 times a week. And while some users on here can be kinda blunt with criticism, everyone's main goal is to keep as many torts as possible as healthy as possible! Seriously, if you ever have ANY questions, just post and someone will respond almost immediately. I've been blown away by the amount of knowledge that so many users here have and are eager to share... I definitely can't name any other online community that is as dedicated as this.

    Cheers to a long happy life for you and your tort!

    P.S. Our RF's could be twins! Check out the pic of my little dude -- his name is Tyrus. :)))) 20171231_105206.jpg
  15. sue white

    sue white Member

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    JUST A TIP>. I have a RF that is now 1 1/2 year old. Had since 8-12 wks old. The hardest thing I've had to deal with is keeping the humidity up in her enclosure. Many sleepless nights. I found that the best way is to use a oil room heater you can get at any store, like Home Depot, in the room she's in during cool/cold weather works like a dream. Keeping the room close to the enclosure around 80 degree's and misting inside her enclosure when needed is the best info I can give. I found this tidbit of info on this site. Thanks to everyone here that have given me back my sleep.
  16. vladimir

    vladimir Well-Known Member

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    Hi @Ben C, how is your red foot doing?
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