Help! I don’t know what to do!

valloveshertort

New Member
Joined
May 15, 2021
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
FL
Hi there.

I’ve had my sweet tortoise for about a year and a half now. I love him so so so much, and I’ve done so much research and tried my very best to care for him the best I can. But lately, he doesn’t seem right. He won’t eat, doesn’t want to even come out of his hide anymore. His eye sockets seem sunken, which I know can be caused by dehydration, which I’m guessing is because he won’t eat his veggies and normal diet. I have been soaking him for about 30 minutes every day, just as the vet suggested when I last took him in. But the vet told me he was likely just hibernating and I shouldn’t worry.

i’m getting so upset because it just feels like I can’t do anything right. I’m starting to wonder if I’m the best person to care for my tortoise, or if I need to consider rehoming him. I’m just scared that I’m not giving him the right care. I don’t interact with him much at all, because everything I’ve read has told me how solitary they are and that they shouldn’t be handled more than is absolutely necessary. But that feels neglectful. I change his substrate about once every month, and I use top soil with a little bit of peat mixed in. He has a large water dish and I feed him fresh food every morning. He gets pellets and re-hydrated freeze dried fruit and veggies with a little flower food topper as well. His hide is large and he spends almost all his time in it. It has sphagnum moss in it that I moisten once every couple days so its nice and humid for him. He is currently in a 40 gallon low enclosure, and is indoors, but has proper lighting.

Can someone please just tell me what I’m doing that’s good and what’s not? I love him and I just want to do the best thing for him.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Jan 9, 2010
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54,503
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Southern California
Hi there.

I’ve had my sweet tortoise for about a year and a half now. I love him so so so much, and I’ve done so much research and tried my very best to care for him the best I can. But lately, he doesn’t seem right. He won’t eat, doesn’t want to even come out of his hide anymore. His eye sockets seem sunken, which I know can be caused by dehydration, which I’m guessing is because he won’t eat his veggies and normal diet. I have been soaking him for about 30 minutes every day, just as the vet suggested when I last took him in. But the vet told me he was likely just hibernating and I shouldn’t worry.

i’m getting so upset because it just feels like I can’t do anything right. I’m starting to wonder if I’m the best person to care for my tortoise, or if I need to consider rehoming him. I’m just scared that I’m not giving him the right care. I don’t interact with him much at all, because everything I’ve read has told me how solitary they are and that they shouldn’t be handled more than is absolutely necessary. But that feels neglectful. I change his substrate about once every month, and I use top soil with a little bit of peat mixed in. He has a large water dish and I feed him fresh food every morning. He gets pellets and re-hydrated freeze dried fruit and veggies with a little flower food topper as well. His hide is large and he spends almost all his time in it. It has sphagnum moss in it that I moisten once every couple days so its nice and humid for him. He is currently in a 40 gallon low enclosure, and is indoors, but has proper lighting.

Can someone please just tell me what I’m doing that’s good and what’s not? I love him and I just want to do the best thing for him.
What species? What size and what age?
What are the four temperatures? Warm side, cool side, basking area, and overnight low?
What heating and lighting equipment are you using? What type of UV bulb?

Soil and peat should never be used as substrate. There is no way to know what is in "soil". It is composted yard waste. Could be toxic plants, or it could have toxic yard chemicals on it. It also typically has additives. Are there little white flecks in the soil you use?

Peat moss should never be used. They always eat it and it can cause impaction.

Unless your enclosure is in a refrigerator, there is no way a tortoise in FL could be hibernating. Its too warm day and night.

There is a lot of bad tortoise info out in the world. Answer these questions, and we will get you on the right track.
 

wellington

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Tortoise Club
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Sep 6, 2011
Messages
40,510
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
What Tom said. We need his questions answered in order to help.
If you don't have a RF then stop feeding fruit until we know what species you have. Fruit is bad for most tortoises.
 

valloveshertort

New Member
Joined
May 15, 2021
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
FL
What species? What size and what age?
What are the four temperatures? Warm side, cool side, basking area, and overnight low?
What heating and lighting equipment are you using? What type of UV bulb?

Soil and peat should never be used as substrate. There is no way to know what is in "soil". It is composted yard waste. Could be toxic plants, or it could have toxic yard chemicals on it. It also typically has additives. Are there little white flecks in the soil you use?

Peat moss should never be used. They always eat it and it can cause impaction.

Unless your enclosure is in a refrigerator, there is no way a tortoise in FL could be hibernating. Its too warm day and night.

There is a lot of bad tortoise info out in the world. Answer these questions, and we will get you on the right track.
I was told he is a Russian tortoise. He is about the size of a dessert plate, probably a little smaller, and I am unsure about his age. I only have a thermometer on one side of the tank (warm side). I’m guessing I need one on each side? Temp on the warm side is about 80, and it tends to dip to about 75 at night. His day bulb is a 100 watt uvb, and the night bulb is a 75.

the soil is top soil, sorry should have mentioned that. All natural and no additives or fertilizers. Noted about the peat. I’ll remove it tomorrow when I change his substrate out. And okay. So if he doesn’t hibernate, then what is likely going on? He’s lethargic and doesn’t want to eat anything.
 

harrythetortoise

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Joined
Dec 3, 2020
Messages
454
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
I was told he is a Russian tortoise. He is about the size of a dessert plate, probably a little smaller, and I am unsure about his age. I only have a thermometer on one side of the tank (warm side). I’m guessing I need one on each side? Temp on the warm side is about 80, and it tends to dip to about 75 at night. His day bulb is a 100 watt uvb, and the night bulb is a 75.

the soil is top soil, sorry should have mentioned that. All natural and no additives or fertilizers. Noted about the peat. I’ll remove it tomorrow when I change his substrate out. And okay. So if he doesn’t hibernate, then what is likely going on? He’s lethargic and doesn’t want to eat anything.
It could be that he is too cold. Needs to be around 95 degrees under the light.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,503
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I was told he is a Russian tortoise. He is about the size of a dessert plate, probably a little smaller, and I am unsure about his age. I only have a thermometer on one side of the tank (warm side). I’m guessing I need one on each side? Temp on the warm side is about 80, and it tends to dip to about 75 at night. His day bulb is a 100 watt uvb, and the night bulb is a 75.

the soil is top soil, sorry should have mentioned that. All natural and no additives or fertilizers. Noted about the peat. I’ll remove it tomorrow when I change his substrate out. And okay. So if he doesn’t hibernate, then what is likely going on? He’s lethargic and doesn’t want to eat anything.
Start with this care sheet:

It will explain the correct housing, heating, temperatures, and substrate. Get your temps right, and get the tortoise well hydrated. Then get him on the right substrate, not soil or peat, and then we can go from there once these elements are eliminated.
 

valloveshertort

New Member
Joined
May 15, 2021
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
FL
I'd like to see a picture of the tortoise just to be sure it IS a Russian
Absolutely! I’d like to add that that this picture is a little dated, his substrate isn’t the repti bark anymore because I was advised against it, though now it sounds like the top soil isn’t the way to go either. Looking into orchid bark now. He doesn’t have the fake plants anymore either.
 

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harrythetortoise

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2020
Messages
454
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
Absolutely! I’d like to add that that this picture is a little dated, his substrate isn’t the repti bark anymore because I was advised against it, though now it sounds like the top soil isn’t the way to go either. Looking into orchid bark now. He doesn’t have the fake plants anymore either.
Repti bark is basically orchid bark packaged by the Zoomed company. A lot of the members here use the repti bark w/o any problem.
 

Crazy bird lady

New Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2021
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
England, Manchester, Oldham
I just read through this and I am new to all this tortoise stuff, I am thinking about getting one. By reading this I have had ideas about what I should do if we do get a tortoise.
I have ducks and chickens and quail. The quail used to be at the back of the ducks on top of like a wood chip soil substrate. They were fine on that, now they have got a different enclosure, the area hasn’t been cleaned or moved so all the substrate is still there. Do you think this is best for a tortoise? And do you think they will be OK at the back of a duck enclosure? If the substrate isn’t ok what do you think I should change it to? I am designing a home area for a tortoise and it will be so the ducks can’t get in and harm the tortoise. It is away from the quail and chickens so they shouldn’t bother either.
mid you can answer these questions it will help a lot.
 

Cathie G

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Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Aug 9, 2018
Messages
8,813
Location (City and/or State)
Lancaster
Noted! It is kinda expensive so I’m hoping I can find some at a gardening center for cheaper 😂
I found mine on sale at a pet shop. It was something like buy one get one free. Then mix that with what everyone is recommending. Orchid bark and such. If you like. I wouldn't want to use it by itself. It needs mixed with something so it's more stable for them to walk around on.🙂
 
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