Is my leopard tortoise to small for its age?

Beetle_Rain

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Hi I got my leopard tortoise from a breeder at Repticon January 21st of this year and his first documented weight was 43 grams it’s now a little over three months later and he’s only about 2.25 inches long and he kind of fluctuates between 46 and 50 grams. I was not told a hatch date so I’m assuming he’s at least 4 months old. I’m worried he wasn’t started the right way or that there is some underlying issue that’s causing the weight fluctuations but it’s like one day he’s 46 grams and the next he could be 50. He hasn’t shown any outward signs of distress and is very alert he eats all day long, has regular poops, and is soaked for 30 minutes one to two times a day and his enclosure is kept at 80% or higher humidity all the time and I am bringing him to our exotics vet in two weeks. I have a list of what I already feed him excluding some improvements I’ve made since then on my page already!
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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Here are some questions: When do you weigh him? (Before or after eating and/or soak and or poop the weight might fluctuate) How do you weigh him? Do you always weigh him the same? How often do you weigh him?

Anyway, the weight difference is so small that it might go with in the margin of error of the scale.
 

Tom

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Hi I got my leopard tortoise from a breeder at Repticon January 21st of this year and his first documented weight was 43 grams it’s now a little over three months later and he’s only about 2.25 inches long and he kind of fluctuates between 46 and 50 grams. I was not told a hatch date so I’m assuming he’s at least 4 months old. I’m worried he wasn’t started the right way or that there is some underlying issue that’s causing the weight fluctuations but it’s like one day he’s 46 grams and the next he could be 50. He hasn’t shown any outward signs of distress and is very alert he eats all day long, has regular poops, and is soaked for 30 minutes one to two times a day and his enclosure is kept at 80% or higher humidity all the time and I am bringing him to our exotics vet in two weeks. I have a list of what I already feed him excluding some improvements I’ve made since then on my page already!
Yes, it is undersize for its age. The lack of growth is of concern, and the stalling at 50 grams is a bad sign too. I'm sorry to give you bad news. Almost no one starts this species correctly and the dehydration kills a large percentage of them in the first few weeks and months.

Vets know very little about tortoise care. You are likely to get bad info, an incorrect diagnosis, and it won't help your tortoise. If they offer a vitamin or calcium injection, you can be sure they don't know tortoises, and they are going off a vet website or handbook in the back. These injections are likely to speed the demise of an already compromised tiny baby.

The best thing you can do is offer excellent conditions, keep up hydration and hope for the best. If this is a case of damage done from dehydration by the breeder or the seller, no one can fix it. Keep trying. Some of them pull through.
 

Beetle_Rain

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Here are some questions: When do you weigh him? (Before or after eating and/or soak and or poop the weight might fluctuate) How do you weigh him? Do you always weigh him the same? How often do you weigh him?

Anyway, the weight difference is so small that it might go with in the margin of error of the scale.
I weigh him after his soak and I try to only weigh him once a week and I weigh him the exact same way with a Vivarium Electronics DS-6000 Digital Scale it’s not quite the fluctuations I’m worried on it’s more of the lack of weight gain I feel he should be like twice his size at least compared to other peoples tortoises.
 

Beetle_Rain

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Yes, it is undersize for its age. The lack of growth is of concern, and the stalling at 50 grams is a bad sign too. I'm sorry to give you bad news. Almost no one starts this species correctly and the dehydration kills a large percentage of them in the first few weeks and months.

Vets know very little about tortoise care. You are likely to get bad info, an incorrect diagnosis, and it won't help your tortoise. If they offer a vitamin or calcium injection, you can be sure they don't know tortoises, and they are going off a vet website or handbook in the back. These injections are likely to speed the demise of an already compromised tiny baby.

The best thing you can do is offer excellent conditions, keep up hydration and hope for the best. If this is a case of damage done from dehydration by the breeder or the seller, no one can fix it. Keep trying. Some of them pull through.
This is exactly what I feared and it’s my fault for not asking the right questions when I got him I was just so excited I waited for three years of careful planning before feeling ready for him. I love him so much and I’m not ready to lose him and I won’t give up if he won’t give up! Right now he seems pretty strong I know things could take a turn pretty quickly do u have any recommendations to make things easier for him. Would switching him to a glass enclosed chamber (have one that he would not be able to see out of that’s about 40 gallons) be a better option for him currently his custom table stays in the right humidity range but only if I spray it three to four times a day which I also don’t mind doing
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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I weigh him after his soak and I try to only weigh him once a week and I weigh him the exact same way with a Vivarium Electronics DS-6000 Digital Scale it’s not quite the fluctuations I’m worried on it’s more of the lack of weight gain I feel he should be like twice his size at least compared to other peoples tortoises.
Yeah, the weight fluctuations are quite small. You are right that the lack of weight gain is a bigger problem. My expertise Leopards pretty much ends here :) I really hope that yours will be able to pull through even though it had a rough start...
 

Beetle_Rain

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Yeah, the weight fluctuations are quite small. You are right that the lack of weight gain is a bigger problem. My expertise Leopards pretty much ends here :) I really hope that yours will be able to pull through even though it had a rough start...
Yeah, the weight fluctuations are quite small. You are right that the lack of weight gain is a bigger problem. My expertise Leopards pretty much ends here :) I really hope that yours will be able to pull through even though it had a rough start...
Thank you! I’m going to do my best and hope everything works out!
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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That's not your fault. We, by default, trust people who should have knowledge and experience (like pet shop guys or breeders). Only to discover later that some of them consider hatchling mortality a norm or use outdated care information.

You can use a "cheap and dirty" hack and cover the table with a greenhouse top. This will help to keep humidity high with all other table benefits like temperature/lightning gradients and a space to exercise. Also, with a covered table you can just pour water in substrate to have stable high humidity and dry substrate top.
 

Tom

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This is exactly what I feared and it’s my fault for not asking the right questions when I got him I was just so excited I waited for three years of careful planning before feeling ready for him. I love him so much and I’m not ready to lose him and I won’t give up if he won’t give up! Right now he seems pretty strong I know things could take a turn pretty quickly do u have any recommendations to make things easier for him. Would switching him to a glass enclosed chamber (have one that he would not be able to see out of that’s about 40 gallons) be a better option for him currently his custom table stays in the right humidity range but only if I spray it three to four times a day which I also don’t mind doing
Open tables don't work for this species. You need a closed chamber but 40 gallons is too small, and tanks have open tops. Misting is not effective it just evaporates and cools the enclosure. You need to contain your humidity.

Check this out:

 

Beetle_Rain

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Open tables don't work for this species. You need a closed chamber but 40 gallons is too small, and tanks have open tops. Misting is not effective it just evaporates and cools the enclosure. You need to contain your humidity.

Check this out:

Thank you so much I will make as many improvements as I can. I have a horrible feeling that it’s already to late that I can’t shake off I weighed him this morning and he’s down to 43 grams but still very active and eating and I feed him a lot twice a day way more than he should be able to eat so he’s grazing all day.
 

Beetle_Rain

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That's not your fault. We, by default, trust people who should have knowledge and experience (like pet shop guys or breeders). Only to discover later that some of them consider hatchling mortality a norm or use outdated care information.

You can use a "cheap and dirty" hack and cover the table with a greenhouse top. This will help to keep humidity high with all other table benefits like temperature/lightning gradients and a space to exercise. Also, with a covered table you can just pour water in substrate to have stable high humidity and dry substrate top.
I am currently using this method until I can get him a full enclosed chamber however I’ve not had any issues with his humidity or heat being wrong since I’ve had him
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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If the greenhouse top works for you, there is no need to change the enclosure. This will might be unnecessary stressful for him.

Can you post some photos of the enclosure and details on heating and lightning you use? Also a brief on his diet and supplements would be helpful.
 

Beetle_Rain

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If the greenhouse top works for you, there is no need to change the enclosure. This will might be unnecessary stressful for him.

Can you post some photos of the enclosure and details on heating and lightning you use? Also a brief on his diet and supplements would be helpful.
I just ordered an official greenhouse top for his enclosure but I have his current set up posted on my page except I changed his water dish for a large terracotta saucer and took a lot of the clutter out per the suggestion of others. As for heat during the day I use a 100 watt ceramic heat emitter and and at night I switch to a 60 watt and that typically keeps the enclosure with an 80 degree ambient temperature and a 95 to 100 degree basking spot and my lighting is also in that post!
 

Lyn W

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I hope he will be OK.
What is his typical diet and do you use calcium or other supplements?
 

Beetle_Rain

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I hope he will be OK.
What is his typical diet and do you use calcium or other supplements?
His current diet is so many things spring mix without the spinach, endive, escarole, arugula, dandelion greens, cactus pads, and some other items I can’t remember off the top of my head. I supplement my grocery store greens with tons of dried options from Kapidolo farms and I supplement twice a week with calcium and herptivite multivitamin!
 

Tom

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His current diet is so many things spring mix without the spinach, endive, escarole, arugula, dandelion greens, cactus pads, and some other items I can’t remember off the top of my head. I supplement my grocery store greens with tons of dried options from Kapidolo farms and I supplement twice a week with calcium and herptivite multivitamin!
This sounds excellent. I sincerely hope your tortoise pulls through. You are a great tortoise keeper.
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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I just ordered an official greenhouse top for his enclosure but I have his current set up posted on my page except I changed his water dish for a large terracotta saucer and took a lot of the clutter out per the suggestion of others. As for heat during the day I use a 100 watt ceramic heat emitter and and at night I switch to a 60 watt and that typically keeps the enclosure with an 80 degree ambient temperature and a 95 to 100 degree basking spot and my lighting is also in that post!
I've found your post, I guess.
1. Do you still use T8 10.0 lamp? At what height? T8 lamps have rather weak output and it may be not enough. Do you use timer with a lamp, how long is it turned on?
2. Maybe I misunderstood you, but you use 100W ceramic emitter (CHE) for the basking area? I suggest to change it for an incandescent flood or classic shape bulb. This should improve lightning in the enclosure and will give "visual hint" to your tortoise where to find a basking area. A combination of visible and infrared light from an incandescent lamp with UVA/UVB from a T8 lamp is closer to the natural sunlight spectrum. Also ambient LED lights (like under cabinet light from a hardware store) will enhance overall lightning spectrum and add some brightness.
3. Do you use a thermostat with CHEs?
 

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