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New and looking for suggestions

Discussion in 'Russian tortoises' started by RSheff87, Jun 23, 2019.

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  1. RSheff87

    RSheff87 New Member

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    Hi everyone! My name is Rebecca. I live in Northeastern Pennsylvania. My family is looking into getting a Russian Tortoise. The breeder says the tort will be about 5 inches big when we get him/her. I have been researching Russian tortoises for awhile now. Our indoor enclosure will be 3 feet long by 2 feet wide until he/she grows a bit bigger then it will be upgraded to accommodate him/her and the outdoor enclosure will be 6x6 (with a wire mess about a foot under the ground. I know they like to dig) I know I need to use coco coir for the substrate and a terra cotta dish for water. I have a list of all the plants they can and cannot eat. I know he/she needs a humid hide, uvb light and ceramic heat lamp with the basking area around 95-100.
    I was wondering if anyone feeds their tort commercial tortoise food also with fresh foods? and if so what kind?
    I would like to put plants into the habitat but was wondering what type of easily available plants i can use in there?
    And if anyone has any other advice on anything i may have forgotten that would be great also.
    I want to know as much as possible before we bring a tortoise home to avoid any first time owner mistakes if possible.
    Thank you all for you time.
  2. RosemaryDW

    RosemaryDW Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Welcome! Thank you for doing your research before you bring your tortoise home. Many of us were not so smart about that. :eek:

    Your tortoise is not likely to get much bigger than five inches if it’s a male. Females will grow larger than that but it takes some time.

    My point being that you should build the bigger indoor enclosure now, especially since the tortoise isn’t living with you yet.

    There are plenty of experienced owners that mix in a prepared food as a supplement, particularly they don’t have good year round access to a wide variety of fiber rich foods. The most common brand is Mazuri. It’s typical sold in large bags but if you look around eBay or talk to some folks here, they can help you locate food in smaller amounts.

    My Russian lives outdoors in a natural area so I’ll let others help with plantings for the enclosure.
  3. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Hello and welcome.

    Something is fishy here... Russians take years to reach five inches. That is a full adult if its a male. Breeders don't usually sell 5" tortoises. Breeders sell hatchlings. Wild caught tortoises come into the country at 5". I suspect that is what you are getting.

    A five inch Russian tortoise needs an indoor enclosure that is around 4x8'. 2x3' is much too small for anything other than a tiny hatchling. 6x6' for outdoors is also too small. Tortoises need a lot of room to move around. The roaming space helps keep their digestive tract moving. Putting them into small enclosures can cause all sorts of problems.

    I use coco coir for babies, but its much too messy for adults. Fine grade orchid bark works best. Also called fir bark. If you can't find that, cypress mulch can work too.

    You probably won't need a CHE unless the room where the tortoise is kept is particularly cold during the day.

    Mazuri tortoise chow, the original type, is a good prepared food, and the ZooMed Grassland food is good for adding fiber and some variety to grocery store greens. Strat slow with it. Only add a tiny little amount at first. I break off a tiny piece and soak it in water until it turns to mush. Then mix it in with the greens. It takes most tortoises some time to get used to it, but eventually they like it and its worth the effort.

    More info here:
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
  4. RSheff87

    RSheff87 New Member

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    Thank you so much for your insight! I can definitely build a bigger indoor and outdoor enclosure before I bring him/her home. Is there any special wood I need to use to build one? I don't want to do anything that could possible hurt him/her.
  5. RSheff87

    RSheff87 New Member

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    Thank you for the information I appreciate it. The breeder sells hatchlings but I asked if I could get an older tortoise if they had any. I know they both take a lot of dedication and care and I'm inexperienced so I thought an adult would be better. I may change my mind. I breeder wants me to know as much as I can before I bring whichever I choose (hatchling/adult) home. I'm not in any rush because I also don't like to bring home an animal unless I know how to properly care for it. That's why I'm doing all the research and asking questions.
  6. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I'm glad you are here and asking questions. Keep them coming. :)
  7. RosemaryDW

    RosemaryDW Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    We have a subforum that is just for enclosure advice; I’d start there. You’ll get the most responses there.
  8. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I Rebecca, and welcome to the Forum!

    A Russian tortoise that big is full grown. They need a lot of space because they are hard wired to wander great distances looking for food (food is scarce where the evolved from). If you put them in a small space they will spend all their awake time scratching and digging in the corner, climbing the wall, pacing the perimeter. Very stressful.
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