I'm worried about my boy

Joined
Apr 21, 2023
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39
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Scotland
Hi everyone i've been worried about my tortoise for a few weeks and wanted to see if what I'm worrying about is real if that makes sense. My tortoise turbo has not been active and is sleeping most of the time which isn't like him and I did think that it could be because it's cold in Scotland right now but when It was winter (it was alot colder then than it is now) he was still really active so I'm a bit confused on why he's not active, i've also noticed that I can hear him breathing alot more than I used to and he's been breathing kinda weird I think sort of fast and heavy at times (not sure if that's normal?) he has been sniffing the ground alot too is that normal? He is active when I take him out of his enclosure to walk around my room he does multiple laps and climbs over stuff and I put his light out so he can get a hearing while still being out and that's really the only time he's active. He eats well most of the time but he has being going to the bathroom less frequently and always when I put him in the bath. He has a uvb strip light and a heat lamp and the temps for under the heat lamp are in the late 30C and everywhere else is about 20-23. He's just not acting like his usual self and I attached some photos of him and his set up.
 

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TammyJ

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Hello and welcome. Thanks for coming here for help, it's the best place and your tortoise will benefit from good advice. @wellington @Alex and the Redfoot. The most important thing you can do now is stop letting him roam around in your room outside of his enclosure.
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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What substrate do you use? Is it dusty? What is the humidity in his enclosure? Have you kept track of his weight, if so has he lost some? Has he a proper water bowl for soaking? Is there a chance he could have eaten some dust or something like that of the floor (it could cause an obstruction and explain why he is not pooping normally)? Is there something in his enclosure he could have eaten but should not, like sphagnum moss or other substrate?

It sounds like a possible respiratory infection, but I would wait for some one more knowledgeable than me to confirm this :)
 

wellington

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First you need to get him a much bigger enclosure. A 4x8 foot minimum. He will not be able to stay healthy/keep things like digestion and legs working right in such a small enclosure.
The basking temp needs to be 95-100F on 10-12 hours
All over day temps a range of 75-80F
Night temp I would keep at 70F
Humidity 30-50%
Uvb on 4 hours
And make the area brightly lit.
Pack the substrate down so it's easier to walk on without dragging so much with him. Maybe even put orchid bark or fir bark on top.
While he seems to be off some, keep the night temp at 75 until he seems his normal self then go back to above temps.
Make changes and see how he does.
 
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What substrate do you use? Is it dusty? What is the humidity in his enclosure? Have you kept track of his weight, if so has he lost some? Has he a proper water bowl for soaking? Is there a chance he could have eaten some dust or something like that of the floor (it could cause an obstruction and explain why he is not pooping normally)? Is there something in his enclosure he could have eaten but should not, like sphagnum moss or other substrate?

It sounds like a possible respiratory infection, but I would wait for some one more knowledgeable than me to confirm this :)
I use cocoir and he is getting due for a change so it's a bit dusty but I do hydrate it with water everyday. I don't keep track of his weight, I don't have anything to weigh him with. He has a water bowl but I'm not sure he can soak on it, I want to get him a bigger one but I'm not sure he has space for one, I'm trying to get him another one of his enclosure that attaches but I don't have the money at the moment. No I really don't think he would eat anything off the floor the only thing he's ever tried to eat is my shoes lol and no he couldn't have ate anything he wasn't supposed to in his enclosure except for his dirt maybe? And what's sphagnum?
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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I'm a bit late :) Rightful questions and advice have been posted :)

In the late February Turbo had similar symptoms yet things got better after replacing substrate as I remember. Also you mentioned there that you soak him once or twice a week. If he doesn't actively use his water dish for drinking and soaking (easy to tell by amount of mess), you may need to hydrate him more and do daily soaks.

One thing which is of less concern, but still may be affecting his behaviour: UVB tube light is not mounted straight top-down. Under such angle he may get some direct UV light in his eyes which is uncomfortable at least. Try to mount the tube to the edge of the lid or just put it over the mesh along the short enclosure side.
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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I use cocoir and he is getting due for a change so it's a bit dusty but I do hydrate it with water everyday. I don't keep track of his weight, I don't have anything to weigh him with. He has a water bowl but I'm not sure he can soak on it, I want to get him a bigger one but I'm not sure he has space for one, I'm trying to get him another one of his enclosure that attaches but I don't have the money at the moment. No I really don't think he would eat anything off the floor the only thing he's ever tried to eat is my shoes lol and no he couldn't have ate anything he wasn't supposed to in his enclosure except for his dirt maybe? And what's sphagnum?
Coco coir is good, but it has to me kept hydrated so it doesn't become too dusty. Sounds like you don't have any sphagnum moss, it is a type of moss sold for reptiles but not recommended for tortoises since they might eat it even though they can't digest it. I would recommend you read Tom's care guide for Russian tortoises, you can find it under the species specific threads. A large terracotta saucer just a bit larger than him will do the trick, hope that fits in your enclosure.
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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I'm a bit late :) Rightful questions and advice have been posted :)

In the late February Turbo had similar symptoms yet things got better after replacing substrate as I remember. Also you mentioned there that you soak him once or twice a week. If he doesn't actively use his water dish for drinking and soaking (easy to tell by amount of mess), you may need to hydrate him more and do daily soaks.

One thing which is of less concern, but still may be affecting his behaviour: UVB tube light is not mounted straight top-down. Under such angle he may get some direct UV light in his eyes which is uncomfortable at least. Try to mount the tube to the edge of the lid or just put it over the mesh along the short enclosure side.
Yeah, I agree with Alex and the Redfoot, if he doesn't have a proper soaking dish in his enclosure you should soak him more often. Dehydration can cause multiple problems, even some of the symptoms listed.
 
Joined
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Location (City and/or State)
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What substrate do you use? Is it dusty? What is the humidity in his enclosure? Have you kept track of his weight, if so has he lost some? Has he a proper water bowl for soaking? Is there a chance he could have eaten some dust or something like that of the floor (it could cause an obstruction and explain why he is not pooping normally)? Is there something in his enclosure he could have eaten but should not, like sphagnum moss or other substrate?

It sounds like a possible respiratory infection, but I would wait for some one more knowledgeable than me to confirm this :)

First you need to get him a much bigger enclosure. A 4x8 foot minimum. He will not be able to stay healthy/keep things like digestion and legs working right in such a small enclosure.
The basking temp needs to be 95-100F on 10-12 hours
All over day temps a range of 75-80F
Night temp I would keep at 70F
Humidity 30-50%
Uvb on 4 hours
And make the area brightly lit.
Pack the substrate down so it's easier to walk on without dragging so much with him. Maybe even put orchid bark or fir bark on top.
While he seems to be off some, keep the night temp at 75 until he seems his normal self then go back to above temps.
Make changes and see how he does.
If I get him another of the enclosure he already has and put them together would that be big enough? If not do you know where I can get one that is, preferably on the cheaper side. I don't know if this helps but I do take him out everyday to walk about my room and he does walk alot and climbs over stuff. I'm trying to get the temps up and I try to keep the heat in my room as best I can but it's really hard because it's so cold here, do you have any advice to keep it up? I have a fan heater I could put on but I can't have it on all day.
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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If I get him another of the enclosure he already has and put them together would that be big enough? If not do you know where I can get one that is, preferably on the cheaper side. I don't know if this helps but I do take him out everyday to walk about my room and he does walk alot and climbs over stuff. I'm trying to get the temps up and I try to keep the heat in my room as best I can but it's really hard because it's so cold here, do you have any advice to keep it up? I have a fan heater I could put on but I can't have it on all day.
Depends on what size is your current enclosure?
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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If he is still a juvenile that would be enough. Those enclosures are meant for babies, two of them together are meant to be a juvenile enclosure, a bit like children's expanding beds. If he is fully grown 8 foot by 4 foot enclosure is recommended. What age is your tortoise and what is his carapace length?
These are the measurements
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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If I get him another of the enclosure he already has and put them together would that be big enough? If not do you know where I can get one that is, preferably on the cheaper side. I don't know if this helps but I do take him out everyday to walk about my room and he does walk alot and climbs over stuff. I'm trying to get the temps up and I try to keep the heat in my room as best I can but it's really hard because it's so cold here, do you have any advice to keep it up? I have a fan heater I could put on but I can't have it on all day.
Most enclosures sold in stores are expensive and too small at the same time. There are cheaper options, for sure, if you have room space.

You can find some ideas here:

Also, raised garden beds work fine (like this: https://www.lifetime.com/lifetime-6...sed-garden-bed-with-one-early-start-enclosure).

To keep up with temperatures you need to make a cover for the enclosure. The cheapest option is a portable greenhouse tent or a plastic box of a suitable size. Then you add a ceramic heat emitter with a thermostat to maintain temperatures day and night. I believe you will save on electricity bills in a couple of months comparing to room heater.

Letting him for a walk in the room certainly helps with exercise but it's very dangerous for numerous reasons. And floors are usually too cold. I think you can get him a hamster wheel in the enclosure to avoid risks of free roaming and let him to exercise enough. That, unfortunately, doesn't mean that small enclosure will suffice.
 
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If he is still a juvenile that would be enough. Those enclosures are meant for babies, two of them together are meant to be a juvenile enclosure, a bit like children's expanding beds. If he is fully grown 8 foot by 4 foot enclosure is recommended. What age is your tortoise and what is his carapace length?
He's only 3 or 4 years old and he's small. At the moment I can't measure him but I will later .
 

Yvonne G

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He's only 3 or 4 years old and he's small. At the moment I can't measure him but I will later .
He's fine in that enclosure for a while. When he gets a bit bigger you'll have to think about either putting him outside in a safe area or get a bigger indoor enclosure.
 
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He's fine in that enclosure for a while. When he gets a bit bigger you'll have to think about either putting him outside in a safe area or get a bigger indoor enclosure.
Yes I am planning on getting him a bigger enclosure but do you have any advice on the problems that I wrote about in the post?
 
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Hello and welcome. Thanks for coming here for help, it's the best place and your tortoise will benefit from good advice. @wellington @Alex and the Redfoot. The most important thing you can do now is stop letting him roam around in your room outside of his enclosure.
Why do I have to do that? It's the only way that he gets exercise because he doesn't run about his enclosure he only does it when he's out
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Why do I have to do that? It's the only way that he gets exercise because he doesn't run about his enclosure he only does it when he's out
Many, too many stories of free roaming end bad. Tortoises eats screws, needles (no one knows how did it get there), hair and dust bunnies. They get pushed, kicked and stepped on. They jam in doors, under heaters and furniture. And so on and on. And everyone was "closely watching" their tortoises. If you can make *really secure* tortoise space in your room - this would be an enclosure, not a free roaming.
 
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I'm a bit late :) Rightful questions and advice have been posted :)

In the late February Turbo had similar symptoms yet things got better after replacing substrate as I remember. Also you mentioned there that you soak him once or twice a week. If he doesn't actively use his water dish for drinking and soaking (easy to tell by amount of mess), you may need to hydrate him more and do daily soaks.

One thing which is of less concern, but still may be affecting his behaviour: UVB tube light is not mounted straight top-down. Under such angle he may get some direct UV light in his eyes which is uncomfortable at least. Try to mount the tube to the edge of the lid or just put it over the mesh along the short enclosure side.
Is this what you mean about putting the uvb straight down?
 

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Alex and the Redfoot

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Is this what you mean about putting the uvb straight down?
Yes, almost. You need to provide UVB and heat/visible light over the same area. That's more natural and tortoises understand it better. So just rotate the UVB strip 90 degrees (so it will be along the short wall) and move closer to the basking lamp as far as mesh allows.
 
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