Its been weeks--How long should I leave my 5 year old burrowed?

TortoiseBlobs

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I tried hard to find the answer elsewhere and the fact that my wife and I were unsuccessful makes me all the more concerned.

Kirby, a Dalmatian Herman’s I got as a hatchling in 2015 (and posted about back then), has spent April and May in weeks long periods of burrowing. I dug her out after a week or two to feed and soak her the first 2 times. Now Ive let her go for over 3 weeks. I have read in so many places not to bother her and I always try to leave her alone, but this is straining my patience. Temperatures are fine--soil is 78 degrees generally, there is a MVB in one corner, a flood light in another area, there is a CHE elsewhere (close to where she settles in). How long should I let her stay burrowed? There hasn’t been so much as a noticeable stirring once every few days MAYBE, usually NO MOVEMENT. I know this is kind of normal for a baby but she’s 5 and it also seems excessive based on what I’ve read here (most people talk about burrowing for 1-2 days).

Any thoughts? I have a the same lighting, substrate and other conditions I’ve had for years all based on the guidance of the expert, HermanniChris. The only thing that was new right before she began this behavior is I did a large scale cleaning to remove the old cypress mulch and dumped in 3 big bags of new cypress mulch. Plus my wife and I are suddenly home all the time due to quarantine.

One last thing: the past 3 times Ive dug her out, she has resumed relatively regular behavior (exploring, eating, bathing with healthy looking pooping and urates).

This has never happened before outside of the colder months of NOV - FEB. And even then I dont think it was for 3 weeks straight...oh and she laid an egg about 18 months ago for the first time but Chris said that was OK.

THANK YOU for your responsiveness! Im also attaching a fresh photo of the enclosure and my most recent photo of her.

Danny
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Ink

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I am not an expert but how far are your lights off of the substrate and tortoise?
 

TortoiseBlobs

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I am not an expert but how far are your lights off of the substrate and tortoise?
Thanks Sleppo and Ink. There are three lights (one was off when I took the photo but its normally on). One short fluorescent zoo med tube light across the width, one MVB, and one regular indoor/outdoor 90 watt floodlight.

I do have the ability to install an additional 4 foot long flourescent zoo med across the length of the enclosure on the opposite side from the other lights but Ive held off on adding that back (it was there from 2016-2018 but removed when I did a big enclosure makeover in late 2018) as I wasnt sure if it was overkill.
 

Maro2Bear

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A head scratcher for sure. How about temps? I see you are using a standard petstore special temp/humidity gauge. Most agree they can be really off. Have you utilized an IR temp gun? I’m thinking maybe your setup is just a lot cooler than you think. Resulting in your tort burrowing in & staying there.
 
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I’ve been having this exact same problem with my 6 1/2 year old male Hermanns tortoise George he’s been burrowing on his cooler end of his enclosure coming out maybe every three to four days to eat unless I wake him up myself for his soaks
 

TortoiseBlobs

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A head scratcher for sure. How about temps? I see you are using a standard petstore special temp/humidity gauge. Most agree they can be really off. Have you utilized an IR temp gun? I’m thinking maybe your setup is just a lot cooler than you think. Resulting in your tort burrowing in & staying there.
Thanks and good question. We have a Ceramic Heat Emitter on a thermostat that turns on to prevent soil from going below 60, which is only an issue in the cold months. When I test soil with a meat thermometer, its around 77-79F an inch down. Its been pretty warm here since mid-May so its hard to believe she is too cold. But Im no expert, maybe Im missing something.

Thanks for the idea on the IR temp gun. Ill look into that for more added peace of mind.
 

Yvonne G

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I think adding the other fluorescent light is a good idea. Then every morning get her out first thing and set her in a bowl of warm water to soak as you prepare her food. Do this daily and if she never starts coming out on her own just keep it up.
 

Canadian Mojo

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I know nothing about these guys, but could this be a photoperiod issue? The day length tells him it's winter so he wants to burrow even though it's warm.
 

TortoiseBlobs

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Hi @Yvonne G , thank you so much for weighing in. I followed your guidelines this morning. She was fiesty as always when I dug her out. Thats the 4th time that Ive dug her out in the past couple of months and she never seems dazed or sleepy which seems to go against what I thought I knew about animals that do this kind of hibernating (I dont know much so this isnt surprising I guess).

Kirby took her soak in warm water well, pooped, pushed out urates that looked dry to me, then wandered around a bit until she found her way to the mix of radiccio and mazuri, and she gobbled up a good portion of it, then wandered a bit more before burrowing again!! Same spot.

So I will continue this and also add the light. And I will update if she ever stops burrowing.

@Canadian Mojo , thanks for your thoughts. I'm in New York City so I dont know how she could think its winter, unless you mean there isnt enough internal light (she is close to two windows).
 

Canadian Mojo

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@Canadian Mojo , thanks for your thoughts. I'm in New York City so I dont know how she could think its winter, unless you mean there isnt enough internal light (she is close to two windows).
Yeah, that's basically what I was wondering, and if it's even an issue for them. My science education is mostly plants, and I know you can bugger them up pretty good by growing them indoors because of day length issues, but I don't really have any idea if this would apply to torts. I also have a Redfoot, which is a rather different animal than your Herman.

If she's got lots of light, I would doubt it's confusion about day length. New York is in the same latitude range as the Med, so it really shouldn't be an issue since it is going to match her natural preferences.
 

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