MY BABY TORT HAS TOTALLY BURIED HERSELF TWICE!! IS THIS NORMAL?

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Aristotle

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HELP! I came home today and I couldn't find Ari. I sifted through the substrate (coco coir) and I found her, completely covered in the coco coir, cold to the touch. I just moved her into a wood tortoise house (ZooMed) - she was in the large hide where the temperature was about 75 degrees. I immediately put her in the hottest place in the enclosure in her little "dish" she slept in last night and she warmed up. Then I gave her some dinner (dandelion greens - for the first time). She ate about half of it. Then I soaked her but she only stayed in the water for about 3 minutes, if that. Now she just buried herself again!! Experts - please let me know if this is normal! I'm really worried that she is sick. Could it be that it's difficult to adjust from a glass aquarium to a larger wooden house? I put all of her things she is used to (hide, rocks, food and water dishes) in the house to try to make the transition easier.
 

Tim/Robin

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It is completely normal for a hatchling (or adult for that matter) to bury themselves. Just make sure it comes out daily for heat, food, and a soak. Baby tortoises eat, drink and hide. It is how they survive!
 

bikerchicspain

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Its pretty normal,
especially if you have changed their environment as well, Just keep an eye on it to make sure its eating.

the best way for this is to weigh it every so often to see if it has weight gain or loss..
 

caymaria

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I had a very similar scare the other day! We went to take Tater out for her soak and looked everywhere. I could have sworn I must have forgot to put her back in her enclosure. My heart nearly stopped but I found her completely buried in her substrate. She seems to like burying herself so now I just leave her be and she comes out every morning and evening for food. She is an Ibera Greek. I also added a terra cotta pot in her enclosure on the warmest end and she loves hanging out in there when she's not buried :)
 

Edna

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caymaria said:
I had a very similar scare the other day! We went to take Tater out for her soak and looked everywhere. I could have sworn I must have forgot to put her back in her enclosure. My heart nearly stopped but I found her completely buried in her substrate. She seems to like burying herself so now I just leave her be and she comes out every morning and evening for food. She is an Ibera Greek. I also added a terra cotta pot in her enclosure on the warmest end and she loves hanging out in there when she's not buried :)

"Tater" is such a cute name!!
 

dmarcus

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My hatchling has started to do that as well when he is sleeping other wise he is very active especially when he is outside enjoying the sun and grazing..
 
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stells

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If you have changed her enclosures she will need time to resettle... handling kept at a minimum... basicly i have found the best way... is to leave them to their own devices to settle back in again...

If you keep plucking her out... the process will take longer...
 

Aristotle

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Thanks everyone. Ari stayed buried until late this afternoon and I was able to resist the urge to find her under the soil (thanks to Tim and Robin!). All is well tonight. She emerged and explored her new home. She ate a little lettuce (didn't touch the dandelion root), stayed still about 2 mins for a soak (she didn't drink anything), and nibbled on her cuttlebone. I was ecstatic when she climbed into her new hide (flower pot half buried on its side). All of that said, I have a further question related to yet ANOTHER PLANNED MOVE based upon the following comments from Yvonne's and Kelly's posts:

Yvonne: "Its pretty normal, especially if you have changed their environment as well, Just keep an eye on it to make sure its eating. "

Kelly: "If you have changed her enclosures she will need time to resettle... handling kept at a minimum... basicly i have found the best way... is to leave them to their own devices to settle back in again.. If you keep plucking her out... the process will take longer..."

Here's the background. I unexpectedly moved Ari out of her glass aquarium in a rush late Thursday night after the permanent fixture (for heat) in the glass aquarium malfunctioned, and I had no other means to safely provide heat. Last week I purchased two ZooMed [wood] tortoise houses (one for Ari and the other for Slader, my son's 2-year-old leopard tort). Because I was waiting for the waterproofing epoxy to cure (applied last Tuesday), my house was not assembled and the 72 hour cure period had not expired. The house for Slader was assembled but not waterproofed. It's a long story but in order to somewhat protect the non-waterproofed house, I rushed to Target to purchase contact paper and quickly put it on the floor and part-way up the walls (very sloppy). I had other things to do to make the house safe/comfortable for Ari, and I moved her in at about 1am on Friday morning. So now she is adjusting to Slader's house! But I need to move her into HER house in the next day or two, as Slader will come home with my son on Wednesday. Will this second move further traumatize Ari? Will a delay help or hurt? I'm leaning toward doing the final move tomorrow since Ari is still transitioning, and once she gets through it, it's done. Her house is identical to the other house she's currently occupying (I will set the new house up identically but with some live plants that I haven't purchased yet) - the only difference is that there is cured epoxy resin on all inside surfaces. I assume that Ari will smell the difference (even though the stained walls are safe they still have a faint smell) and will thus be aware of yet another changed environment.

You may be thinking "Why doesn't Kristina just leave Ari where she is and give the other house, once it's assembled, to Slader?" Excellent question! The answer is that due to the amount of work and excessive length of time it took for me to apply the epoxy resin (I am anything but "handy"), as well as the fact that Slader will be living with me only half the week (my custody schedule), I decided to take less drastic measures to protect the house (painter's plastic will line the floor and walls). The house can be emptied and aired out in the sun on a weekly basis. On the other hand, Ari is permanently with me, so a more aggressive and permanent method of waterproofing is necessary.

Now that you understand why the logical solution won't work, I would appreciate any feedback you can provide regarding my planned second move of Ari in less than 5 days. Thanks!
 

Edna

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I vote for leaving her in the enclosure she's in now until her new one doesn't smell any more. Torts' sense of smell is much better than ours and I've noticed that certain smells really bother them. When my torts are annoyed by a smell they try to escape it, which looks like a super active tort, but not in a good way. Hold off, give the epoxyed enclosure a couple of extra days to outgas, and set up your son's tort in something temporary and inexpensive like a plastic tub with a clip-on lamp.
 

Aristotle

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Thanks Edna. Great advice - I do have a plastic tub for Slader. But I started thinking about the stress of moving Slader back and forth each week, given what I'm going through with Aristotle's transition. I've done a bit of research on leopard torts, and I recall that they're very shy and don't like being handled. My ex-husband bought Slader for my son (quite pricey!) and it took some negotiating to share "custody". We basically split the week in half - my kids (and grand-tortoise) are with me from Weds afternoon to alternate Saturday afternoons/Sunday mornings - that's 2 transitions per week. Too much change/chaos for a tort? I'm thinking yes [and does anyone in the LA area want a fully assembled but slightly used Zoo-Med tortoise house?]. I would appreciate feedback on this issue - should I start a new post? I wonder if anyone else has shared "custody" of a tortoise?!?!?!?

BTW - This morning I put Ari's future home outside on my patio to air out - it's a beautiful sunny day here in LA - and now I can't smell anything at all. But there will definitely be a delay in the move - thanks to this forum and I have a TON of ideas for the house, including using rough tile for the floor to enhance the waterproofing. I found some old 18" x18" tile I used for a remodel a few years ago. The bottom is rough and is perfect to line the floor. But I need to find someone to cut it into the right-sized pieces. And I have things to get to increase the humidity. I LOVE THIS BLOG but I think that my enclosure will be the project that never ends! :) But in a good way (at least until I run out of $).
 

Edna

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I have a 2 year old Hermanns, quite small still, that is travelling to school and back home with me every day. 2 transistions a day and I'm monitoring her weight to make sure she's handling it OK. The two enclosures are similar, one has cage mates, the other doesn't. She just basks, sleeps, hides, eats as if there were no transistion at all.

You're so right about the enclosure being a project that never ends. You'll get it just right, then in a couple of weeks you'll see where you can improve it a little or a lot. Your little one will take all this in stride once she's more confident in her own ability to survive. The changes are probably even a good thing for them, as each change presents challenges. I have a large tub in my basement just for all the extra bulbs and CHEs in varying wattages, heat cables, rocks, bark, this and that so when I need/want to make a change the stuff is there waiting for me.
 

Aristotle

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Your "traveling" Hermanns is adorable. I guess that's life in 2011 - always on the move, even for tortoises! I am comforted by your situation and the fact that your little girl is handing it fine. That said, the more I think about the specifics of my situation, the more strongly I feel that the back-and-forthing is NOT a good idea for Slader (even though our homes are just a mile or so apart). We have very different enclosures at each house - my ex has a large glass aquarium (very barebones), and I think that Slader is pretty much ignored over there. My son is 10 (11 tomorrow!) - not the age to care that much about pets. I just can't stay away from the torts - I love soaking them, cleaning their cages, feeding them, etc. If I can't convince my ex to let Slader stay with me full-time, I'm going to give him the tortoise house once I fix it up for Slader. Then at least Slader will have a better quality of life, not scratch against the glass, get sufficient humidity, have multiple hides, etc., and I can teach my son as well.

Speaking of my never-ending enclosure project - I just got back from Home Depot with a car-full of things. I, too, am building a stock of supplies!! It's so fun! Off to work on Ari's house - joints to seal, vinyl to install . . .

Edna - Thanks for all of your advice and for sharing your experience with me - it was all very helpful.

- Kristina, Aristotle & Slader
 
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