My Russian tourtise- I am an overthinker and need help.

mads3732

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Hi! I made an account to post this and am excited to meet new people. I need help with my Russian tourtise named Tuttle. He is 8 years old and got him when he was around a year old.
History: I changed his cage from a terrarium to basically what is a 6 × 3 box of wood less then a year ago. In the last 2 weeks I changed his substrate from repti bark to cedar mulch. (Recommended) the day I was changing his new substrate I had him outside in like 80 degree weather and he got out of his gate for about 30 minutes. I found him within out fence, he seemed fine. He loved the substrate.

The past week my fears have gotten bigger. I have tried feeding him more foods since hes always been picky. He Is sleeping alot more, moving around less. He IS eating, just not much. He might eat a piece of squash or two at the most and go back to bed. I've noticed his eyes seem puffy so I've given him eye drops (turtle eye drops) as of today. He has always had slight burn marks on his shell from a heat lamp that's wattage was too high, I'm trying to change it to make it higher soon. For now I'm limiting the time he spends under the heat lamp and am turning it off sometimes. These burns have always been there but they have gotten worse. He also has been chipping slightly under his shell. I love my animals and get paranoid if I notice something off about them. I dont think this is an issue but I kinda have a fear of shell rot for him. Since I've been soaking him everyday he has pooped more and ALOT, more then I see him go in his home. I just want him to be healthy and would love advice and opinions

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Cathie G

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Hi! I made an account to post this and am excited to meet new people. I need help with my Russian tourtise named Tuttle. He is 8 years old and got him when he was around a year old.
History: I changed his cage from a terrarium to basically what is a 6 × 3 box of wood less then a year ago. In the last 2 weeks I changed his substrate from repti bark to cedar mulch. (Recommended) the day I was changing his new substrate I had him outside in like 80 degree weather and he got out of his gate for about 30 minutes. I found him within out fence, he seemed fine. He loved the substrate.

The past week my fears have gotten bigger. I have tried feeding him more foods since hes always been picky. He Is sleeping alot more, moving around less. He IS eating, just not much. He might eat a piece of squash or two at the most and go back to bed. I've noticed his eyes seem puffy so I've given him eye drops (turtle eye drops) as of today. He has always had slight burn marks on his shell from a heat lamp that's wattage was too high, I'm trying to change it to make it higher soon. For now I'm limiting the time he spends under the heat lamp and am turning it off sometimes. These burns have always been there but they have gotten worse. He also has been chipping slightly under his shell. I love my animals and get paranoid if I notice something off about them. I dont think this is an issue but I kinda have a fear of shell rot for him. Since I've been soaking him everyday he has pooped more and ALOT, more then I see him go in his home. I just want him to be healthy and would love advice and opinions
Hello. TFO has care guides and experienced info for Russians. Check out those. I'd take him out of the cedar immediately though if you have to put s/he in a cardboard box. I'm sure other more experienced members will answer you soon. Best wishes with your little friend.
 

Crush da Baum

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I would just raise your basking lamp and keep it on all day. What do you feed him? His diet should consist of broadleaf weeds. You can buy them at tortoise supply. I recommend the Testudo Broadleaf mix. If you are dead set on grocery greens then you will have to buy some other things to balance it out. You can mix it with soaked Zoomed grassland tortoise food, sprinkle dried herbs for tortoises, and I saw this one salad topper on tortoise supply you could use. Your staples should include escarole and endive. Try to add variety and get something different every time, just make sure it is ok for torts. Also you need UVB. Remember not to get compact or coil bulbs. They are ineffective and can hurt their eyes. What you need is a HO tube type bulb. If they have an outdoor enclosure they can go to and get natural sunshine, then you do not need a bulb.
 

Sa Ga

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Cedar is VERY bad for small animals. The aromatic oils can irritate their respiratory system, and his eyes may be swollen from it.

Get it out immediately, rinse him well, and put him in an aired out area/enclosure.
 

mads3732

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Cedar is VERY bad for small animals. The aromatic oils can irritate their respiratory system, and his eyes may be swollen from it.

Get it out immediately, rinse him well, and put him in an aired out area/enclosure.
I'm so dumb. I'm using cypress mulch. I'm so sorry.
 

mads3732

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Hello. TFO has care guides and experienced info for Russians. Check out those. I'd take him out of the cedar immediately though if you have to put s/he in a cardboard box. I'm sure other more experienced members will answer you soon. Best wishes with your little friend.
I'm actually using cypress mulch. I used the wrong "c" word apparently *facepalm*
 

mads3732

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Messages
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Harrington
Hi! I made an account to post this and am excited to meet new people. I need help with my Russian tourtise named Tuttle. He is 8 years old and got him when he was around a year old.
History: I changed his cage from a terrarium to basically what is a 6 × 3 box of wood less then a year ago. In the last 2 weeks I changed his substrate from repti bark to cedar mulch. (Recommended) the day I was changing his new substrate I had him outside in like 80 degree weather and he got out of his gate for about 30 minutes. I found him within out fence, he seemed fine. He loved the substrate.

The past week my fears have gotten bigger. I have tried feeding him more foods since hes always been picky. He Is sleeping alot more, moving around less. He IS eating, just not much. He might eat a piece of squash or two at the most and go back to bed. I've noticed his eyes seem puffy so I've given him eye drops (turtle eye drops) as of today. He has always had slight burn marks on his shell from a heat lamp that's wattage was too high, I'm trying to change it to make it higher soon. For now I'm limiting the time he spends under the heat lamp and am turning it off sometimes. These burns have always been there but they have gotten worse. He also has been chipping slightly under his shell. I love my animals and get paranoid if I notice something off about them. I dont think this is an issue but I kinda have a fear of shell rot for him. Since I've been soaking him everyday he has pooped more and ALOT, more then I see him go in his home. I just want him to be healthy and would love advice and opinions





Update: I'm actually using Cypress mulch instead of cedar. I'm sorry that was my mistake.
 

Yvonne G

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Ok, let me get this straight. . . appx. seven years ago you bought a little Russian tortoise and named him Tuttle. Because he's so small, you figured (or the pet store told you) that he was about a year old. So now you figure he's about eight years old. Well, I think you've been misled. Tuttle is a full grown male Russian tortoise, and all the dings and scrapes on his shell is old news, been there ever since he was wild caught, before he was ever in that pet store for you to buy. Tuttle is way over eight years of age. In fact, he's so old that all the ridges they develop as they grow have worn smooth.

Ok, now to address your problem. Cypress mulch is an ok substrate, but the stuff you bought is so big and chunky and I'll bet it's pretty hard for that little tortoise to walk through. Go to chewy.com and buy a bag of fir bark:


Pour some water over your existing cypress mulch, then take the flat of your hand and firmly pat your cypress mulch down to compress it as much as you can, then sprinkle the new repti-bark over the top of the cypress mulch. Make it a couple inches thick. Then pat that down with your hand too. You can spray water over the bark every so often to keep it SLIGHTLY moist.

Next the lighting situation. You should never use the clamp features on the clamp lights. We've read many horror stories where the clamp failed and the light fell down into the dry substrate. I've had it happen to me too. Lucky for me though I caught it before it burst into flame. The light landed face down and the dome effectively cut off all oxygen, so when I discovered it the substrate directly under the light was blackened and scorched, but no fire had started. So figure out a way to hang your lights instead of clamping on the sides. By hanging you can also raise and lower them until you get the correct temperature under them. Here are some examples:

Light stand e Light stand g Lights 1 Lights a Lights b

The cardboard box was shown as an example, not as something to use as an enclosure. The stands on either side of the cardboard box are Zoo Med Lamp Stands, and are quite nice. It comes in two sizes. I like them both.

Tuttle may have become a picky eater because you're not offering him the kinds of food Russian tortoises have evolved to eat. In the wild they eat broad leaf weeds and plants. You can do some research and educate yourself on what weeds are edible. This time of year there are many weeds growing for you to sample. Besides weeds, you can offer mulberry and grape leaves, viola and pansies, hosta. And from the produce section of your grocery store, you can get endive and escarole, turnip greens, collard greens.

Please take the time to read our care sheet for Russian tortoises. I know you've had Tuttle a long time, but we all can learn new stuff every day. I kept turtles and tortoises for over 20 years when I first joined this forum, and yet the way I take care of them now, after having learned a whole lot of new stuff here, is way different from how I cared for them before I joined here.

So, have an open mind, and read the care sheet: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
 

mads3732

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Joined
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Messages
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Ok, let me get this straight. . . appx. seven years ago you bought a little Russian tortoise and named him Tuttle. Because he's so small, you figured (or the pet store told you) that he was about a year old. So now you figure he's about eight years old. Well, I think you've been misled. Tuttle is a full grown male Russian tortoise, and all the dings and scrapes on his shell is old news, been there ever since he was wild caught, before he was ever in that pet store for you to buy. Tuttle is way over eight years of age. In fact, he's so old that all the ridges they develop as they grow have worn smooth.

Ok, now to address your problem. Cypress mulch is an ok substrate, but the stuff you bought is so big and chunky and I'll bet it's pretty hard for that little tortoise to walk through. Go to chewy.com and buy a bag of fir bark:


Pour some water over your existing cypress mulch, then take the flat of your hand and firmly pat your cypress mulch down to compress it as much as you can, then sprinkle the new repti-bark over the top of the cypress mulch. Make it a couple inches thick. Then pat that down with your hand too. You can spray water over the bark every so often to keep it SLIGHTLY moist.

Next the lighting situation. You should never use the clamp features on the clamp lights. We've read many horror stories where the clamp failed and the light fell down into the dry substrate. I've had it happen to me too. Lucky for me though I caught it before it burst into flame. The light landed face down and the dome effectively cut off all oxygen, so when I discovered it the substrate directly under the light was blackened and scorched, but no fire had started. So figure out a way to hang your lights instead of clamping on the sides. By hanging you can also raise and lower them until you get the correct temperature under them. Here are some examples:

View attachment 291939 View attachment 291940 View attachment 291941 View attachment 291942 View attachment 291943

The cardboard box was shown as an example, not as something to use as an enclosure. The stands on either side of the cardboard box are Zoo Med Lamp Stands, and are quite nice. It comes in two sizes. I like them both.

Tuttle may have become a picky eater because you're not offering him the kinds of food Russian tortoises have evolved to eat. In the wild they eat broad leaf weeds and plants. You can do some research and educate yourself on what weeds are edible. This time of year there are many weeds growing for you to sample. Besides weeds, you can offer mulberry and grape leaves, viola and pansies, hosta. And from the produce section of your grocery store, you can get endive and escarole, turnip greens, collard greens.

Please take the time to read our care sheet for Russian tortoises. I know you've had Tuttle a long time, but we all can learn new stuff every day. I kept turtles and tortoises for over 20 years when I first joined this forum, and yet the way I take care of them now, after having learned a whole lot of new stuff here, is way different from how I cared for them before I joined here.

So, have an open mind, and read the care sheet: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/

I bought him from a breeder.
 

mads3732

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Joined
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Messages
67
Location (City and/or State)
Harrington
Ok, let me get this straight. . . appx. seven years ago you bought a little Russian tortoise and named him Tuttle. Because he's so small, you figured (or the pet store told you) that he was about a year old. So now you figure he's about eight years old. Well, I think you've been misled. Tuttle is a full grown male Russian tortoise, and all the dings and scrapes on his shell is old news, been there ever since he was wild caught, before he was ever in that pet store for you to buy. Tuttle is way over eight years of age. In fact, he's so old that all the ridges they develop as they grow have worn smooth.

Ok, now to address your problem. Cypress mulch is an ok substrate, but the stuff you bought is so big and chunky and I'll bet it's pretty hard for that little tortoise to walk through. Go to chewy.com and buy a bag of fir bark:


Pour some water over your existing cypress mulch, then take the flat of your hand and firmly pat your cypress mulch down to compress it as much as you can, then sprinkle the new repti-bark over the top of the cypress mulch. Make it a couple inches thick. Then pat that down with your hand too. You can spray water over the bark every so often to keep it SLIGHTLY moist.

Next the lighting situation. You should never use the clamp features on the clamp lights. We've read many horror stories where the clamp failed and the light fell down into the dry substrate. I've had it happen to me too. Lucky for me though I caught it before it burst into flame. The light landed face down and the dome effectively cut off all oxygen, so when I discovered it the substrate directly under the light was blackened and scorched, but no fire had started. So figure out a way to hang your lights instead of clamping on the sides. By hanging you can also raise and lower them until you get the correct temperature under them. Here are some examples:

View attachment 291939 View attachment 291940 View attachment 291941 View attachment 291942 View attachment 291943

The cardboard box was shown as an example, not as something to use as an enclosure. The stands on either side of the cardboard box are Zoo Med Lamp Stands, and are quite nice. It comes in two sizes. I like them both.

Tuttle may have become a picky eater because you're not offering him the kinds of food Russian tortoises have evolved to eat. In the wild they eat broad leaf weeds and plants. You can do some research and educate yourself on what weeds are edible. This time of year there are many weeds growing for you to sample. Besides weeds, you can offer mulberry and grape leaves, viola and pansies, hosta. And from the produce section of your grocery store, you can get endive and escarole, turnip greens, collard greens.

Please take the time to read our care sheet for Russian tortoises. I know you've had Tuttle a long time, but we all can learn new stuff every day. I kept turtles and tortoises for over 20 years when I first joined this forum, and yet the way I take care of them now, after having learned a whole lot of new stuff here, is way different from how I cared for them before I joined here.

So, have an open mind, and read the care sheet: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/

And if hes that old, how old do you think he is? When I went to the vet they had guessed around ten which lines up to when I bought him.
 

Crush da Baum

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I wouldn't get discouraged if he is old, a study in New York showed that torts live indefinitely and their cell's DNA do not deteriorate over time. It actually showed that their cells become more resilient as they get older. The mortality rate in tortoises significantly declines as they age. This phenomenon is called Negligible Sencesence and few animals have it. So basically he will not die unless something makes him. And yes you could argue "well we don't just randomly die when we get older" but we are muuuuuuch more susceptible to diseases and there is a lot of diseases cause purely by old age. Torts are little tanks and will keep chugging along with you for a very long time. If you give him the right environment you will have him for the rest of your life.
 

mads3732

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I wouldn't get discouraged if he is old, a study in New York showed that torts live indefinitely and their cell's DNA do not deteriorate over time. It actually showed that their cells become more resilient as they get older. The mortality rate in tortoises significantly declines as they age. This phenomenon is called Negligible Sencesence and few animals have it. So basically he will not die unless something makes him. And yes you could argue "well we don't just randomly die when we get older" but we are muuuuuuch more susceptible to diseases and there is a lot of diseases cause purely by old age. Torts are little tanks and will keep chugging along with you for a very long time. If you give him the right environment you will have him for the rest of your life.
It's just blowing me away honestly. I never would have thought he could be wild caught. We did so much reasearch on who we were buying from to try and prevent this. Its crushing me a little. I feel awful.
 

Crush da Baum

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It's just blowing me away honestly. I never would have thought he could be wild caught. We did so much reasearch on who we were buying from to try and prevent this. Its crushing me a little. I feel awful.
Where did you buy him from? Recently they are trying to "farm" them and call them captive bred but a lot of them come with pyramiding and deformities which yours has none. Why do you feel awful? You just gave a happy home to a little tort that was needing one.
 

Yvonne G

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I was only going by my experience. If you bought the little guy from a breeder, then naturally, he's younger than I thought. I assumed pet store because there aren't that many Russian breeders in the U.S. Plus, he just looks wild caught and older to me. Sorry for the confusion.
 
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LasTortugasNinja

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The white spotches on the shell look like a healed bite wound from a dog. I've seen them before on rescues. This little guy had a tough life prior to meeting you.
 

mads3732

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I was only going by my experience. If you bought the little guy from a breeder, then naturally, he's younger than I thought. I assumed pet store because there aren't that many Russian breeders in the U.S. Plus, he just looks wild caught and older to me. Sorry for the confusion.

Dont apologize! What are some signs of a wild caught tourtise?
 

mads3732

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Where did you buy him from? Recently they are trying to "farm" them and call them captive bred but a lot of them come with pyramiding and deformities which yours has none. Why do you feel awful? You just gave a happy home to a little tort that was needing one.

We have a local guy in my state that breeds them. He does overnight shipping.
 

mads3732

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The white spotches on the shell look like a healed bite wound from a dog. I've seen them before on rescues. This little guy had a tough life prior to meeting you.

When I actually got him they were never there. The Mark's are from a heat lamp that was too close to him and left some burn Mark's. :(
 
L

LasTortugasNinja

Guest
When I actually got him they were never there. The Mark's are from a heat lamp that was too close to him and left some burn Mark's. :(

Wow. I've never seen scars like that from a lamp, especially with that spacing. Interesting.
 
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