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Introduction / New Leopard - Food Aversion

Discussion in 'Leopard tortoises' started by lyingcat8, Oct 29, 2019.

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  1. lyingcat8

    lyingcat8 Member

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    Hi everyone -- I'm Anne from Indianapolis, IN.

    Let me start by saying that the internet is vast and full of misinformation re: tortoise keeping. So I've come here to a place where after reading posts for an afternoon it seems the information is consistent and people are successful using it.

    We (my boyfriend Chris) and I got a Leopard Tortoise hatchling three weeks ago today. We thought it was a girl, so we named her Eliza. Vet confirmed it is actually a boy, now Pepperoni, still just as cute.

    Some background info:
    Arrived on 08 Oct 2019 - captive bred - current weight: 51.7g.

    We originally thought a tortoise table was the way to go - the web said open air flow was just absolutely imperative... well, we weren't able to retain any humidity, Pep was seeming to slow down. So, I made a vet appointment for them.

    Vet gave me some immediate instruction to get him out of the table, get rid of the substrate we were using and to put him in an aquarium. We had a 55 gallon aquarium in the garage, so I was able to clean it up and essentially did exactly what the vet described. I have a 75 watt heating bulb, a UVB bulb, as it is now getting wintry and chilly in Indy. I bought this 'shelf liner' to use as the 'substrate' even though I'm not a huge fan of how it looked - she said that it would be easy for them to walk on with their little feet, and unlike substrate, it won't cause a respiratory infection. Prior to this we were using coconut coir and coconut bark.

    We do keep some spagmoss in the tank, there's a little cluster of it under the heat bulb which I keep moist so he can stay humid while he basks. We also have a humid and dry hide.

    So, on the 18th of October he was moved into an aquarium.

    Temperatures in the tank are: Basking - 100F, and then a nice gradient with the cool end at 70 - 75F. Maintained at these temps throughout the evening, too, as we use a ceramic heat bulb for night time with a thermostatically controlled outlet.

    We have a humidifier set up to run 30 minutes every 2 hours or so. But the humidity is only maintaining about 40%. We spray it with a water bottle maybe 2 times a day.

    Diet: We are offering him a little bit of everything that they are supposed to have, to be honest, just in hopes that he will eat some of it. Timothy hay chopped finely, grass, dandelion greens, collard and mustard greens, romaine, carrots, flowers... We've only seen him eat dandelion greens in the table, but we've not seen him eat anything in the tank. We've chopped his food into very small bites, we've left it whole.

    He has not lost any weight, but he's not really gained any, and I'm afraid if he doesn't start eating he may fail quickly.

    He is being soaked two times a day currently, just to really push for hydration... His eyes, nares, chubby little legs look good to my best knowledge. He's active and paces a bit in his tank. I really want to create something larger for him. We are trying to keep handling to a minimum since he's still new, and since we've switched his enclosure around so much...

    He was clicking for a little bit, but we've not heard him do this anymore. It was definitely coming from his beak, like he was using the top and bottom to click. He'd do this after drinking, and one time he did it while standing over some rose petals, like he wanted to eat them, but just ... stood there clicking. The vet said his beak didn't need trimmed.

    Essentially, after reading the recommended care sheet for Sulcatas / Leopards on here, I know that I need to find a way to completely cover the tank to retain humidity at about 80% - I am guessing I should increase the frequency that the humidifier is on, and also up the temps.

    Any other suggestions? Anything we are doing glaringly wrong? I am really smitten with this baby, and it would be devastating to lose him.

    I'm struggling to upload photos - Keeps giving me a "server failed" error, but I hosted a few photos on my onedrive, understand if you don't want to click on external links! https://1drv.ms/u/s!AvvGpHlK7GIH0QBGQsMcUR8qUgP-?e=VtPsQG
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  2. Blackdog1714

    Blackdog1714 Well-Known Member

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    THe leopard care sheet is https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.78361/ The temps and humidity are critical
    1. Laser temp gun
    2. Temp & Humidity Contoller Inkbird ITC-308 Temperature Controller with IHC-200 Humidity Controller with Outlet
    3. Cover for the aquarium
    4. Fir Bark fine grade for substrate- some garden stores carry big bags other wise little bags are Orchid Bard or ReptiBark (Way more expensive)

    Sorry I forgot to say welcome and you have a lovely baby leopard!!! Nice short-cut for the photos. The aquarium will be fine for a little while- they will grow fast. Use a pencil and paper and trace around the edge of your torts shell, add date and weight. This will give you a very accurate measure of growth for pennies!
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  3. lyingcat8

    lyingcat8 Member

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    Thank you for the recommendations! Chris and I are going to try to cover the aquarium tonight. I do have an IR gun for the temps, and the temperature version of that outlet -- will look at getting the humidity one!
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  4. Blackdog1714

    Blackdog1714 Well-Known Member

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    IT really helps you dial in the temps and ensure you do not over or under heat your baby!. We are looking to more photos. My baby is up to 199 grams!
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  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Hello and welcome Anne.

    Wow. What a whirlwind of info! I'll cover things point by point from your post.

    • Most of the info you find is old, out dated and wrong. The info here has been tried and tested. Me and several other here have been experimenting with new and better way to raise tortoise for about a decade. I did it "their way" for about two decades. It doesn't work. "They" have never done it my way, so most of them don't know the difference. Doesn't stop them from arguing...
    • Most vets know less than the veteran tortoise keepers. Yours is no exception. You can't sex a 50 gram baby by looking at it. You won't know the sex for at least 18 months with a leopard. Longer for other species.
    • Where did you get the tortoise? This is the single biggest factor in whether your tortoise lives or dies. Most people start them all wrong. Few do it right. Doing it wrong makes them stall at around 50 grams and eventually die after not growing for a few weeks or months.
    • The vet was right about the open table, but wrong about the substrate. Substrate doesn't cause respiratory infections and its essential to helping maintain humidity. As Blackdog said, fine grade orchid bark is best, but your coco coir was fine too, just messy.
    • I don't like humidifiers. Hold in your humidity rather than continually adding more from a humidifier. You need a closed chamber.
    • 70-75 is way too cold at night, especially with humidity. This is likely the appetite killer. Night temp should never fall below 80 in the coldest part of the enclosure.
    • What type of UV bulb are you using. The typical cfl ones are ineffective, and sometimes dangerous. Lack of UV over the long term could be the problem too.
    • Get rid of the moss. It does nothing, and most of them will eat it. It can cause impaction.
    • Timothy hay isn't good tortoise food too stemmy. Even when chopped up, its only for adults. Not for little babies. Babies need freshly sprouted soft grasses. But forget all of this because regular leopards really aren't all that into eating grass. Broadleaf weeds, leaves, succulents and flowers are the way to go. I wrote this for sulcatas which are major grass eaters. Skip the text and scroll down for a list of good tortoise foods for a leopard. https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/

    Lets start with these things. Feel free to ask lots of questions. Its difficult to sort through all the contradictory info at first. In time, it will be obvious. Stick around and keep reading.
  6. lyingcat8

    lyingcat8 Member

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    Hi Tom - Thank you for the information! We still have a lot of work to do!

    We bought them from captivebredreptiles.com -- they had a lot of very good reviews. Are they one of the places you mentioned that have problems? If yes, there's nothing we can do to help them along if they've hindered them in some way?

    We're using the bulb the vet recommended -- she said to specifically buy this one: Zoo Med T8 ReptiSun 5.0 UVB Fluorescent Reptile Lamp.

    I feel like I've just been throwing money at supplies and substrates the internet has said is THE one.

    Chris and I covered our set-up tonight and were able to get the temps and humidity up to the specs recommended in your care post. He immediately went to his food and started to munch. He didn't get very far, I think because it's so late at night, and went to sleep for a bit, but it was a huge relief to see him eating. I'll get some substrate tomorrow to try to hold more of the humidity in, rather than pumping it into the tank continuously.

    Thanks for the info! Hopefully Pepperoni isn't doomed...

    Anne
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  7. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Hi, Anne, and welcome!

    Is it possible for you to contact the seller of this baby? Quite often tortoises won't eat if you're not offering the same types of food they're used to eating at their old home. So try to find out what he's used to eating, and offer that. They don't eat that much grass, so unless you have the grass cut up into tiny pieces and it sticks to the other food, he's probably not going to eat grass. I feed my leopard babies a combination of mulberry leaves, escarole, endive, romaine, turnip greens, dandelion greens, edible weeds from the yard, and I always have on hand the dried weeds and flowers that kapidolofarms.com sells, to sprinkle over the top sparingly.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2019
  8. lyingcat8

    lyingcat8 Member

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    Thanks, Yvonne! They have been very responsive to my questions, here's what they told me the tort was eating before we got them:

    Greens all chopped to about 2 inch pieces- collard, mustard, endive, kale, dandelion, and romaine (mostly just to ensure they are getting enough water in them, so don’t use it as a main staple).
    Veggies all chopped very small or shredded- yellow squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, bell peppers (any color), carrots, green beans, peas, others are also an option but you’ll want to do research before offering anything
    Fruit should be offered no more than twice per month since it is very high in sugar- cactus pad, cactus pear, mango, and papaya.

    We've upped the temps and the humidity, and closed the aquarium off, and I swear he's a different tortoise. I cried with relief last night while he ate and splooted like crazy. It was magical.
  9. Blackdog1714

    Blackdog1714 Well-Known Member

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    Awesome!!
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  10. Kapidolo Farms

    Kapidolo Farms Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Maybe it's more my glasses than what there is to see?? Don't go to that vet again. Unless they did a surgical sex procedure, they have no better than 50/50 correct answer, about the same a dart board. Tom already covered the substrate matter, I prefer orchid bark as well, but coco husk chunks are good as is cypress mulch.
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  11. lyingcat8

    lyingcat8 Member

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    I’ve got some fine organic orchid bark arriving tomorrow. We also got a few things to try to close the aquarium better.

    How far away from them should their heat source be? We have a ceramic heat bulb, but I’m curious how far above them it should be.
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  12. Gijoux

    Gijoux Active Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    The heat source should be at a distance to maintain the temp you desire. Usually 12 - 14 inches, but it all depends on what you are using for the heat and the size of your enclosure. I use the Radiant Heat Panels now, because it distributes the heat nicely across the cage and seems to allow humidity to stay up better. Distance is more critical for the UV light to ensure the UV is adequate for little Pepperoni/Eliza to make sufficient Vitamin D, especially now that winter is upon us and sunning outside where you live will be limited. I am so happy to hear he/she is doing better. Congrats on your little beauty.
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  13. lyingcat8

    lyingcat8 Member

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    Thank you so much for the polite response! They were sooooo good this morning, ate for like 30 minutes and then I saw them go back for more twice. I definitely cried with relief. It's been a rough 3 weeks of knowing we weren't doing something right... and it was so comforting to see him monching away. We may need to lower our UVB bulb, right now it's about 18'' above them. We actually found a pretty reasonable enclosure that is MUCH better on Amazon and are going to try to get it in the next few months.

    But yes, thank you for your response! :) I'll try to post some photos as he grows bigger. Have a great weekend!
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