Many many hermanns questions

Avery.s

New Member
Joined
Nov 26, 2017
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Toronto, Canada
hello! my name is Avery, I'm very new to the tortoise world. I felt very prepared for the little tort to arrive after all my research, right until he actually got here. He (we've been saying he for now) is about two months old and named Allo (picture in my profile pic). my list of questions (sorry in advanced) is the following
1. he buries himself quite a lot, which I've read is normal, but my concern is the substrate. it was recommended that we buy a fir bark (reptibark), but right away I could tell it wasn't working for him. its too big for his small feet and isn't good at retaining any humidity, so its really dry. the dryness is causing it to be dusty, so I'm worried that the dust will get in his nose and possibly cause issues. I plan on switching to a coconut coir or a soil asap, but I was just wondering in the mean time.
2. temperatures, I have the temperatures in the table at around 80 overall and 90 in the basking area. This is what has been a frequent recommendation, but he seemed to be panicky trying to get out of the heat even though he has two cooler hiding spots. I've raised the lamp to cool it down, but I've just been worried that I'm letting it get too cold.
3. It was recommended that only dust every few meals with the calcium and vitamins, so I've been doing every other meal or every three if he is eating frequently. (side note, any recommendations on how to keep greens from drying up during the day?)

I think that is all, again I'm so sorry for the length! I definitely was not expecting to be so nervous about everything, so I appreciate anyone taking the time to read this. Thanks again!
 

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Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Hello and welcome.

I can tell from your issues that you are using an open topped enclosure. Fir bark is a good substrate and it holds moisture very well, just as well as coir or soil, but no substrate will stay damp in a warm/hot open topped container. You have to keep wetting it. How much water and how often depends on many factors and can change with the seasons even in your own enclosure.

There is no size reference in your picture, but for a two month old Testudo, my substrate preference would be coco coir. It will dry out too, and you will continually need to be dumping water into it. I usually dump the water saucers into the coir and then rinse them into the coir with a cup of water before refilling. You might have to do that much, or more, or less. You'll have to go by "feel", but no substrate should be too wet, or too dry. Lightly damp is what you are after.

Use a thick layer of coir and hand pack it down firmly. It will be messy at first, but it tends to "settle in" after a couple of weeks.

Reptibark is good for older/larger Testudo, but I think the pieces are too large for babies. Also, you can get it in bulk and much cheaper from a nursery or garden center than a pet store.

I don't like bought-in-a-bag soil from the store for several reasons: 1. There is no way to know what sort of composted material the soil is made of. Could be safe stuff or it could be oleander leaves and chemically treated grass clippings. No way to know. 2. Its messy. It turns to mud when wet. 3. Most store bought soils are meant to grow plants in, so they typically have lots of additives like perlite, guano and "wetting agents". Not good stuff for a tortoise to live on.

80 is okay as an ambient temp during the day, but your basking area needs to be 95-100 so the baby can warm up. I like a gradient from about 75 on the cool side to 95 under the heat lamp. In summer my ambient is sometimes higher than that, and sometimes cooler in winter. I like to let babies drop into the low 70s at night, but high 60s should also be fine.

I like to use calcium twice a week and vitamins once a week with a good weedy diet.

If your greens are drying up, then so is your little baby tortoise. The way to keep your greens from drying out is the same way to keep your tortoise and substrate from drying out: Use a closed chamber. Open topped tables and large open enclosures can work just fine for adult Testudo, but it is difficult to maintain correct conditions for babies with an open top in a typical heated or air conditioned house, as you are experiencing first hand.

Read these for more explanation. The title says russians, but the care is similar for both.
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
 

Avery.s

New Member
Joined
Nov 26, 2017
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Toronto, Canada
Hello and welcome.

I can tell from your issues that you are using an open topped enclosure. Fir bark is a good substrate and it holds moisture very well, just as well as coir or soil, but no substrate will stay damp in a warm/hot open topped container. You have to keep wetting it. How much water and how often depends on many factors and can change with the seasons even in your own enclosure.

There is no size reference in your picture, but for a two month old Testudo, my substrate preference would be coco coir. It will dry out too, and you will continually need to be dumping water into it. I usually dump the water saucers into the coir and then rinse them into the coir with a cup of water before refilling. You might have to do that much, or more, or less. You'll have to go by "feel", but no substrate should be too wet, or too dry. Lightly damp is what you are after.

Use a thick layer of coir and hand pack it down firmly. It will be messy at first, but it tends to "settle in" after a couple of weeks.

Reptibark is good for older/larger Testudo, but I think the pieces are too large for babies. Also, you can get it in bulk and much cheaper from a nursery or garden center than a pet store.

I don't like bought-in-a-bag soil from the store for several reasons: 1. There is no way to know what sort of composted material the soil is made of. Could be safe stuff or it could be oleander leaves and chemically treated grass clippings. No way to know. 2. Its messy. It turns to mud when wet. 3. Most store bought soils are meant to grow plants in, so they typically have lots of additives like perlite, guano and "wetting agents". Not good stuff for a tortoise to live on.

80 is okay as an ambient temp during the day, but your basking area needs to be 95-100 so the baby can warm up. I like a gradient from about 75 on the cool side to 95 under the heat lamp. In summer my ambient is sometimes higher than that, and sometimes cooler in winter. I like to let babies drop into the low 70s at night, but high 60s should also be fine.

I like to use calcium twice a week and vitamins once a week with a good weedy diet.

If your greens are drying up, then so is your little baby tortoise. The way to keep your greens from drying out is the same way to keep your tortoise and substrate from drying out: Use a closed chamber. Open topped tables and large open enclosures can work just fine for adult Testudo, but it is difficult to maintain correct conditions for babies with an open top in a typical heated or air conditioned house, as you are experiencing first hand.

Read these for more explanation. The title says russians, but the care is similar for both.
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
Thank you SO much!
 
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