Pippa+Tortellini

New Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2022
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
London
Hey ? I’m a first time tortoise owner of 2 weeks and I’m trying to get to know my new 2year old hermann, Tortellini.

He weighs 44g and is about 6cm

So far I think things have been going well.. he tends to sleep quite a lot, which I’m not sure is normal but when he’s awake he tends to be quite active.
I bathe him frequently but I can’t seem to get him to say in the tub long? The water is warm and not to deep/shallow. He always tries to climb out.
I’ve been feeding him leafy greens like rocket, curly kale, the occasional bit of courgette and mix salad. I plan to feed him more weeds and naturally grown veg when the weather gets better.
One thing that is concerning me is quite a lot though is that recently he has been trying to climb the sides of his tortoise table?! He will go to every corner and every wall and stand on his back legs and try to climb.
The dimensions of his house are 32inchX16inch
I use a combination of coco coir, orchard bark and tortoise substrate to give him some variety around his home. I also have a small humid hide with sphagnum moss and part of his enclosure is closed with some dustless hay. He has a flexiwood tunnel, basking rock and water bowl.
The temps are usually around 30°c in the day and 24° at night with humidity between 40-50%

I hope I’m doing the right things and I am more than open to receiving advice and constructive criticism!!! I just want to do right by my lil tort!
I’ve attached some pics of Tortellini trying to climb up the walls :(

Thank you! X
 

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zolasmum

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 19, 2015
Messages
1,658
Welcome from Devon .What Tortellini is doing is absolutely normal - he is checking out his environment.
Angie
 

zolasmum

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 19, 2015
Messages
1,658
Brilliant! Thank you Angie ? I worry about everything he does! I guess I will get used to his quirks over time x
I know just how you feel. I am not an expert, So I will leave it to others to advise you on any changes you could make to improve his environment, but you can feel pleased that he is strong and healthy, and has an inquiring mind.
Just try to make sure that he doesn't flip over when trying to climb, if possible.I would take the moss away, as he may try to eat it, and it causes impaction.
He looks lovely, and I think he is going to be quite a character - rather like Zola, who is a Hermanns too, and is now 21 years old.
Angie x
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
59,374
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hey ? I’m a first time tortoise owner of 2 weeks and I’m trying to get to know my new 2year old hermann, Tortellini.

He weighs 44g and is about 6cm

So far I think things have been going well.. he tends to sleep quite a lot, which I’m not sure is normal but when he’s awake he tends to be quite active.
I bathe him frequently but I can’t seem to get him to say in the tub long? The water is warm and not to deep/shallow. He always tries to climb out.
I’ve been feeding him leafy greens like rocket, curly kale, the occasional bit of courgette and mix salad. I plan to feed him more weeds and naturally grown veg when the weather gets better.
One thing that is concerning me is quite a lot though is that recently he has been trying to climb the sides of his tortoise table?! He will go to every corner and every wall and stand on his back legs and try to climb.
The dimensions of his house are 32inchX16inch
I use a combination of coco coir, orchard bark and tortoise substrate to give him some variety around his home. I also have a small humid hide with sphagnum moss and part of his enclosure is closed with some dustless hay. He has a flexiwood tunnel, basking rock and water bowl.
The temps are usually around 30°c in the day and 24° at night with humidity between 40-50%

I hope I’m doing the right things and I am more than open to receiving advice and constructive criticism!!! I just want to do right by my lil tort!
I’ve attached some pics of Tortellini trying to climb up the walls :(

Thank you! X
Hello and welcome. As requested, I will share some advice and constructive criticism.

1. 44 grams at two years old is very small. Something is wrong somewhere. He has probably been underfed, or under hydrated, or both. Or they told you the wrong age. Or he might be partially impacted from that sandy substrate or the wrong incubation media.
2. Use a tall sided opaque tub for soaking. Its is normal and fine for them to try to climb the sides, and I refer to this as the "tortoise treadmill" This is good for them. Let him walk in the tub. Tortoises rely on locomotion to help move food through the gut, much like a horse, which leads me to...
4. Your enclosure is really too small. I prefer to start babies in 24x48 at the smallest, but bigger is better. Yours is on the small side.
5. Babies do better in large closed chambers, aka vivariums. Its much easier to maintain the correct temperatures and humidity.
6. Grocery store foods are not great. You have to amend them if that is what you must rely on for part of each year. Best to find or grow weeds, leaves, flowers and succulents, which I saw is your intention. More explanation of this in the care sheet that I will link.
7. The tortoise substrate you bought with the little white bits is dangerous and needs to be removed. Encouraging a tortoise to eat its sandy substrate to satisfy its calcium cravings is a terrible idea. The other two substrates are good.
8. Moss will be eaten and can cause impaction. That should be removed ASAP.
9. Your substrate needs to be kept damp, both for humidity, and to keep dust down. This will make hay mold. The hay should be removed ASAP. Hermanni are not a grass eating species anyway.
10. Basking area should be 36-37C directly under your bulb. 30 is okay as a daytime ambient. 24C at night is fine for a little one.
11. I'd shoot for 50-75% humidity for a little one. Adults are fine with lower humidity, but babies do better with humidity a little higher.

The most likely causes of climbing the walls are:
1. Too small of an enclosure. This is a possibility for you.
2. Unfamiliar with surroundings and trying to get "home". Also a possibility since you've only had him a short time.
3. Too hot. I think we can eliminate this one.
4. Wrong lighting and its burning his eyes. What are you using for heat, light, and UV?

Here is a care sheet with the current and correct care info. Pet shops are infamous for giving out terrible advice and selling all the wrong products and lighting. Breeders and vets too. Its a sad situation for tortoises out in the world right now.

This might also help:
There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. In most cases you'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. Ambient light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in LED bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In colder climates, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12% HO bulbs from Arcadia. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html A good UV bulb only needs to run for 2-3 hours mid day. You need the basking bulb and the ambient lighting to be on at least 12 hours a day.
Questions are welcome!
 

Pippa+Tortellini

New Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2022
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
London
Hello and welcome. As requested, I will share some advice and constructive criticism.

1. 44 grams at two years old is very small. Something is wrong somewhere. He has probably been underfed, or under hydrated, or both. Or they told you the wrong age. Or he might be partially impacted from that sandy substrate or the wrong incubation media.
2. Use a tall sided opaque tub for soaking. Its is normal and fine for them to try to climb the sides, and I refer to this as the "tortoise treadmill" This is good for them. Let him walk in the tub. Tortoises rely on locomotion to help move food through the gut, much like a horse, which leads me to...
4. Your enclosure is really too small. I prefer to start babies in 24x48 at the smallest, but bigger is better. Yours is on the small side.
5. Babies do better in large closed chambers, aka vivariums. Its much easier to maintain the correct temperatures and humidity.
6. Grocery store foods are not great. You have to amend them if that is what you must rely on for part of each year. Best to find or grow weeds, leaves, flowers and succulents, which I saw is your intention. More explanation of this in the care sheet that I will link.
7. The tortoise substrate you bought with the little white bits is dangerous and needs to be removed. Encouraging a tortoise to eat its sandy substrate to satisfy its calcium cravings is a terrible idea. The other two substrates are good.
8. Moss will be eaten and can cause impaction. That should be removed ASAP.
9. Your substrate needs to be kept damp, both for humidity, and to keep dust down. This will make hay mold. The hay should be removed ASAP. Hermanni are not a grass eating species anyway.
10. Basking area should be 36-37C directly under your bulb. 30 is okay as a daytime ambient. 24C at night is fine for a little one.
11. I'd shoot for 50-75% humidity for a little one. Adults are fine with lower humidity, but babies do better with humidity a little higher.

The most likely causes of climbing the walls are:
1. Too small of an enclosure. This is a possibility for you.
2. Unfamiliar with surroundings and trying to get "home". Also a possibility since you've only had him a short time.
3. Too hot. I think we can eliminate this one.
4. Wrong lighting and its burning his eyes. What are you using for heat, light, and UV?

Here is a care sheet with the current and correct care info. Pet shops are infamous for giving out terrible advice and selling all the wrong products and lighting. Breeders and vets too. Its a sad situation for tortoises out in the world right now.

This might also help:
There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. In most cases you'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. Ambient light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in LED bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In colder climates, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12% HO bulbs from Arcadia. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html A good UV bulb only needs to run for 2-3 hours mid day. You need the basking bulb and the ambient lighting to be on at least 12 hours a day.
Questions are welcome!
This is really helpful! Thank you!
His lighting is all wrong! I am using just one basking lamp for his whole enclosure and a red light at night time, I will change this soon as possible!
Moss has been removed now :) I read lots of stuff saying spaghnum moss was safe for them! Lots of contradicting information on the internet (hence why I’m so confused).
This weekend I will be building him a larger tortoise table with the help of my dad and getting rid of that bag of nasty tortoise substrate!!
I’m excited to try his new bath routine this evening!
What foods do you suggest for him? What weeds/flowers are good for them and also what supermarket food you think is acceptable if needs must?

When I bought him at the pet shop he was living in a very small vivarium with about 10-12 other young tortoise.. I found this very concerning. Could this have affected his size/weight? Is 44g severely underweight?? He is around 6-6.5cm long. His papers say that he hatched in 2020 so I assume he is 2, now I am very worried that he is malnourished :(
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
59,374
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
This is really helpful! Thank you!
His lighting is all wrong! I am using just one basking lamp for his whole enclosure and a red light at night time, I will change this soon as possible!
Moss has been removed now :) I read lots of stuff saying spaghnum moss was safe for them! Lots of contradicting information on the internet (hence why I’m so confused).
This weekend I will be building him a larger tortoise table with the help of my dad and getting rid of that bag of nasty tortoise substrate!!
I’m excited to try his new bath routine this evening!
What foods do you suggest for him? What weeds/flowers are good for them and also what supermarket food you think is acceptable if needs must?

When I bought him at the pet shop he was living in a very small vivarium with about 10-12 other young tortoise.. I found this very concerning. Could this have affected his size/weight? Is 44g severely underweight?? He is around 6-6.5cm long. His papers say that he hatched in 2020 so I assume he is 2, now I am very worried that he is malnourished :(
I recently started watching YouTube videos on several reptile species that interest me. Bearded dragons, scrub pythons, emerald tree skinks, Ergenia skinks, false water cobras, the entire Drymarchon genus... Tortoise care videos kept popping up on my feed, so I clicked some of them. I think the sulcata ones are the worst. The same wrong info is repeated in every video. Wrong info that will kill babies and cause harm to adults. Wrong foods, wrong humidity, wrong care routines, wrong temperatures, etc... The bad info is rampant. I had to stop watching them because is was making me upset and there is nothing I can do about it, but come here and try to share the correct info with as many people as I can.

Anyone can make one of these videos. Most of the people admit to only having one of these animals, and they've often only had it for a few months, and there they are teaching everyone else all the wrong info they were taught. This is exactly what I used to do too. I read all about these animals in books, talked to vets, talked to breeders and keepers at the annual reptile shows, and all of us had the wrong info and wrong ideas. We all shared that wrong info in an effort to "help" other people take proper care of their animals. I worked in pet shops and told people all about how sulcatas come from the desert and any humidity will make them sick, and they need dry rabbit pellets for substrate and infrared heat lamps. etc... All wrong. Many years and many experiments, as well as a lifetime of first hand experience and study has now taught me otherwise. Anyone can do what I've done and learn the same things, but that would take as many years of doing it all wrong as it took me.

I don't know how to tell new tortoise keepers who to listen to and who to ignore. Why should they listen to me instead of 15 YT videos all saying the same thing, opposite of what I'm saying? How do they know I'm not some 15 year old kid on the internet making things up? There are whole FB groups perpetuating that old wrong info, and they ban anyone who says anything otherwise and tries to show obvious evidence to back their claims. Its crazy. This tortoise forum is the only place I have found where debate and discussion will help us all figure out which info is correct and why. If it wasn't for TFO, I think ALL of the info out there would be wrong.

In time, people will figure out what works and what doesn't. My goal is to help shorten that learning curve, for the benefit of the tortoises in their care. Questions and conversation are welcome.
 

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