New Burmese Star Tortoise Owner

roxannew

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Hi! I got a Burmese Star yearling (almost 3 inches) about a year ago, not yet sexed, but named Juno. I had a raised a Russian yearling with my son for six years, but my son took over his car in 2021 when he moved to his own place. So, I am familiar with basic tortoise care. This is the first time, however, that I have raised a tortoise in a closed chamber.

My Burmese Star has some very slight pyramiding already, but nothing major, and I am hoping to minimize it as s/he grows. I read that the tortoises get enough air from when the glass doors are opened, which I do several times, for soaking, feeding, temp checks, etc., but I am a nervous new mama, and I have a few questions:

1. How many times per day do the doors have to be opened for there to be enough air? I trust what I've read about closed chambers on this site, so that is what I set up. But it seems so airtight that it makes me nervous that Juno won't be able to breathe if the doors stay closed too long!

2. So far, Juno seems to prefer half burrowing into the substrate instead of using the humid hide at night, even if I put them in there. Given the closed chamber, does that matter? That was important for my Russian in the open table. I keep the CHE set to 81 for ambient heat at night.

3. I was planning to set up a large plastic tub with a wide wire mess top for 2-3 hours of outside time per day, weather permitting. Does that sound appropriate for a tortoise this age? How old/big do they have to be before I can turn my raised garden bed into the permanent outdoor habitat (which I will only use during the day--too many raccoons and foxes around).

4. Are there any other sources of good info about Burmese Stars, other than this site? I know there is plenty of bad info out there on tortoise care, but Burmese Stars--a species that I read about in glowing terms on this forum--seems to have even less info than other breeds.
 

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wellington

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First, welcome.
The enclosure may look air tight but I doubt it is. A whole lot of caulking, and specific building would have to be done to make it actually air tight.
I personally don't like tall sided boxes/tubs/totes when bring tortoises outside. They can get too hot with the air flow being so high above the tort. A kiddy pool works good or the under the bed type enclosures as they are low sided.
You won't find any better info than this forum. We don't have a lot of Star owners, but the info we have is what is needed to raise them properly.
Any questions though, just ask. Someone will have the answer.
I'm not sure what kind of Stars @Tom has but he might be able to add more info for you.
 

roxannew

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Thanks! I haven't set anything up for outside yet, so thanks for the tip. I do have low-sided sweater boxes I could use. I took my setup advice from lurking on this site. I'll take your advice that Juno is getting enough air. She appears to be functioning just fine, but a closed chamber is a new concept for me!
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Hello!
It seems, your tortoise have a good start and that's great!

I will echo what wellington posted above (I've started typing the answers by the moment she posted)

I can answer only to some of your concerns (general care topics). @Tom can give any specific details.
1. Usual routines like cleaning, filling and removing dishes are enough to replenish oxygen in closed chambers. Tortoises don't need that much as we do because of smaller lung volume and slower metabolism. Someone did the "candle tests" with closed chambers - they didn't show any lack of oxygen/CO2 excess.
2. There is no problem with sleeping burrowed in substrate unless tortoise does it right under ceramic heat emitter. This may indicate that nighttime ambient temperatures are a bit low.
3. See the above post above the tub and outdoors.
4. One of the sites I've found a while ago is https://startortoises.net/ As you can see recommendations there are mostly inline with care sheets on this forum.
 

Ray--Opo

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Welcome, if you make a outside enclosure. You will need to make a wire mesh top. That you can secure to keep dogs and other critters out. When my sulcata was young. I just stayed outside with him. I also stayed close to him because there always seemed to be a hawk circling above. When they are small, they can overheat fast. If you see them trying to go under bushes or find shade. They may be getting to hot.
 

Megatron's Mom

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I used a large kiddie pool. I put cattle panel over it to keep the dogs out. I still never left them alone as it was my chill time to relax and enjoy them.

Added a picture. A little overgrown atm with clover but the bees love the clover.
 

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roxannew

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Thanks! Yes, I would probably put him out when I was out gardening, so I could watch the heat/predator situation--always with water and a hide. I know he's too little for a lot of outside time. I like your kiddie pool idea--cheap, but big. Thanks for welcoming me here. I missed being part of the tortoise community--I don't know anyone near me (I live in IL) who is a tortoise person!
 

Tom

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Hi! I got a Burmese Star yearling (almost 3 inches) about a year ago, not yet sexed, but named Juno. I had a raised a Russian yearling with my son for six years, but my son took over his car in 2021 when he moved to his own place. So, I am familiar with basic tortoise care. This is the first time, however, that I have raised a tortoise in a closed chamber.

My Burmese Star has some very slight pyramiding already, but nothing major, and I am hoping to minimize it as s/he grows. I read that the tortoises get enough air from when the glass doors are opened, which I do several times, for soaking, feeding, temp checks, etc., but I am a nervous new mama, and I have a few questions:

1. How many times per day do the doors have to be opened for there to be enough air? I trust what I've read about closed chambers on this site, so that is what I set up. But it seems so airtight that it makes me nervous that Juno won't be able to breathe if the doors stay closed too long!

2. So far, Juno seems to prefer half burrowing into the substrate instead of using the humid hide at night, even if I put them in there. Given the closed chamber, does that matter? That was important for my Russian in the open table. I keep the CHE set to 81 for ambient heat at night.

3. I was planning to set up a large plastic tub with a wide wire mess top for 2-3 hours of outside time per day, weather permitting. Does that sound appropriate for a tortoise this age? How old/big do they have to be before I can turn my raised garden bed into the permanent outdoor habitat (which I will only use during the day--too many raccoons and foxes around).

4. Are there any other sources of good info about Burmese Stars, other than this site? I know there is plenty of bad info out there on tortoise care, but Burmese Stars--a species that I read about in glowing terms on this forum--seems to have even less info than other breeds.
1. What are you using for a closed chamber? Almost all of them have some venting.

2. Doesn't really matter, but I'd put him in the hide an hour or two after lights out.

3. Yes. That sounds good. I like to use some sort of a cage for little ones. A low sided tub with some wire on top will work, but make sure there is lots of shade and cover available. Deep shade from high over head. I also like to clip some mulberry branches, grape vines, lavatera or rose of Sharon branches, or something like that so they have vegetation to hide in and nibble on when outdoors. Clumps of suitable weeds will work for this purpose too.

4. Nothing that I have found.
 

roxannew

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Thanks! I have an acrylic box-type enclosure with sliding front glass doors. There are vents on the sides, but I taped them closed. Should I remove the tape?

Thanks for all the other great info!
 

Tom

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There are vents on the sides, but I taped them closed. Should I remove the tape?
Only your hygrometer can answer this question. If humidity is constantly at 100% and everything is sopping wet all the time and there is no other venting, then yes, I would remove it.

In most cases, in most of my PVC closed chambers, I don't have to cover the vents. In one of my tall ones with sliding glass doors, I did have to cover some vents with electrical tape to keep it from being too dry in there for my Solomon Island skinks. Let your digital hygrometer be your guide.
 

Ray--Opo

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This is what Tom is talking about. To measure temp and humidity. Locate at the height of your tort. Get the digital unit like this. Home Depot or Lowe's are cheaper than a pet store.
Screenshot_20211211-140532_Chrome.jpg
 

roxannew

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Thanks for answering my first set of questions! I will watch the humidity levels, and see if I need to untape some or all of the vents.
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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1. What are you using for a closed chamber? Almost all of them have some venting.

2. Doesn't really matter, but I'd put him in the hide an hour or two after lights out.

3. Yes. That sounds good. I like to use some sort of a cage for little ones. A low sided tub with some wire on top will work, but make sure there is lots of shade and cover available. Deep shade from high over head. I also like to clip some mulberry branches, grape vines, lavatera or rose of Sharon branches, or something like that so they have vegetation to hide in and nibble on when outdoors. Clumps of suitable weeds will work for this purpose too.

4. Nothing that I have found.
Deep shade means at least a shade under another shade : https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-importance-of-deep-shade.123288/
 

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