New Hermann's owner, a few worried questions about health?

HewHermannsmum

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Apr 6, 2021
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Hi there!
I am new to this forum and a new Hermann's tortoise owner so please bear with me. Ive only had my little one for 6 days and I'm already panicking! Not sure if I'm being an over-worried owner but it seems the more I read the more I worry. So it would be great to hear some level-headed advice from more experienced owners.

Firstly, about my new baby tortoise. He (pretty sure he's a he) is under a year old. He weighs 64g at the moment and is about 2 1/2 inches. His Jackson ratio is 0.2 which I'm pleased with. His shell has a nice healthy dome and his eyes are bright and clear.
His enclosure is indoors at the moment as he is so young. I have a 110cm×70cm table, with a heat + UVB and UVA bulb - basking temp. about 30°C. His "hot side" stays around 25°C during the day, cooler side around 19-20°C. At night this drops to room temp about 18°C.
I know the enclosure will need to be bigger when he grows, but for now it seems plenty big enough.
He is pooping every day (normal solid but not dry). He is eating about 2 thirds of the food I feed him - a mixture of dandelion, rocket, baby lamb's leaf, baby red lettuce and radicchio at the moment. I will be growing more weeds and picking clover as I hope to give him the most natural diet possible. I also sprinkle a pinch of calcidust on his food. He munches on his cuttlefish every now and then too.
I bathe him once a day for about 20 mins in warm water. Twice he has passed the white "urate" stuff and always dunks his head and takes a small drink.

My worries are:
He seems to be "yawning" a lot. I have read this might be a sign of resp. illness. To clarify, he is not gaping all the time, just seems to be opening his mouth a fair amount (maybe once every half an hour or so). Otherwise seems to be breathing through his nose OK. His nostrils appear dry and no discharge that I can see. Is this normal??

Secondly, he keeps climbing the walls of his table! At first I thought it was because one side is glass and he could see through, but he does it at all other sides too. Yesterday he nearly flipped himself over doing this :/ He paces back and forth with his body half up the wall. Is this dangerous??

Lastly, I am concerned about the heat and humidity of his table. Do you guys think he might be too cold? Or too hot? I spritz the enclosure every day with room temp. water but still struggling to get humidity above 30%. Is that enough for a Hermann's. Everything I've read says something different :/

Hope someone can help. Thanks xx
 

HewHermannsmum

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Quick update:
He hasn't opened his mouth yet this morning except to eat/drink. Phew maybe he was just sleepy or something yesterday!
However, he's hardly eaten this morning! Every day so far he's eaten really well. But this morning he had about 3 mouthfuls and then just walked off. Seems to be more interested in eating his cuttlefish bone!
 

Yossarian

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Please post some pics of your tortoise and enclosure.
 

Yossarian

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Looks pretty good tbh, Im a bit busy so cant give you a proper response right now.

First things that stand out are the substrate, I know this is the tortoise substrate that pet stores sell but it will need to be changed, ideally for orchid bark. This stuff has limestone bits in it that are a digestive blockage hazard for torts. Orchid bark is much better at maintaining moisture and humidity.

Others should be along soon with more, if not I will have a look again later.
 

HewHermannsmum

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Thanks! So today I went out and bought some top soil for a new substrate, couldn't find orchid bark but have ordered some to come tomorrow. Hopefully that'll help with the humidity.

He ate more as the day went on and now he's basking...so adorable!

Would love to hear more advice if anyone has any thoughts - as I said I'm a newbie with tortoises, so all help very appreciated! X
 

Lyn W

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Hi there this is the most up to date caresheet you'll find for your tort and if you follow the advice in that you won't go far wrong. Please read carefully and ask as many qestions as you like.

 

HewHermannsmum

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Thanks Lyn :)
The person who wrote the care sheet mentioned they wouldn't recommend topsoil. I have seen so many people on here recommending it though, so I have just put some in the enclosure.
I have ordered orchid bark to come tomorrow too.
What are your thoughts on topsoil? Will it damage the health of my tortoise?

Putting the new substrate and plants in has helped to bring the humidity to 45% and he seems to love exploring his new things...seems much more active with the humidity too. Wish I'd done this from the start!
 

Yossarian

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Thanks Lyn :)
The person who wrote the care sheet mentioned they wouldn't recommend topsoil. I have seen so many people on here recommending it though, so I have just put some in the enclosure.
I have ordered orchid bark to come tomorrow too.
What are your thoughts on topsoil? Will it damage the health of my tortoise?

Putting the new substrate and plants in has helped to bring the humidity to 45% and he seems to love exploring his new things...seems much more active with the humidity too. Wish I'd done this from the start!

We dont reccomend Top Soil, it is not terrible but there are a few risks associated with it. You wont be able to verifiably know what is in it, it could easily have composted plant material in it that is toxic, it could have chemicals in it, and it could have other adulterants like nails, screws, bits of plastic, etc. . . All of these can be dangerous for torts. I have also found another risk with top soil, the sand and gravel content can bond with wood walls and pond liner over time and turns the walls of your enclosure into sandpaper, my tort has actually damaged his shell while I was away on holiday once from rubbing the same part on the wall over and over while it did its laps. We reccomend Coco Coir and Orchid bark primarly as you can be sure 100% whats in the bag, they hold moisture very well, and provide a good substrate for torts to dig in and are not abrasiive. Orchid bark is by some measure the cleanest option, and it smells nice.

Also, that person that wrote that care sheet has raised more torts, and other animals than most of us will ever see in our lifetimes. His word is very well respected around here because many torts have been raised with his methods and they produce healthy thriving torts if you dont try to cut corners.
 

HewHermannsmum

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Sheffield
We dont reccomend Top Soil, it is not terrible but there are a few risks associated with it. You wont be able to verifiably know what is in it, it could easily have composted plant material in it that is toxic, it could have chemicals in it, and it could have other adulterants like nails, screws, bits of plastic, etc. . . All of these can be dangerous for torts. I have also found another risk with top soil, the sand and gravel content can bond with wood walls and pond liner over time and turns the walls of your enclosure into sandpaper, my tort has actually damaged his shell while I was away on holiday once from rubbing the same part on the wall over and over while it did its laps. We reccomend Coco Coir and Orchid bark primarly as you can be sure 100% whats in the bag, they hold moisture very well, and provide a good substrate for torts to dig in and are not abrasiive. Orchid bark is by some measure the cleanest option, and it smells nice.

Also, that person that wrote that care sheet has raised more torts, and other animals than most of us will ever see in our lifetimes. His word is very well respected around here because many torts have been raised with his methods and they produce healthy thriving torts if you dont try to cut corners.
Absolutely I respect the views of experts above all else! I will look into Coco coir and orchid bark as a substrate as soon as I can.
 

Sarah2020

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Are you in Sheffield UK? If so check out swell reptiles for supplies inc orchard bark. Have a read of the care sheet as heat, light, humidity, substrate, diet, hydration and soaks are all important fir health and smooth shell. I recommend keeping a weekly or monthly weight log and weight on digital scales you will see growth and also monitor no growth quickly and be able to act.
 

Lovethetorts!

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My Hermann tortoise Sophie is a year old tortoise and she yawns every morning so I think it is normal that your tortoise is yawning but I don't why he is doing it so often?
 
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Humidity can be hard to upkeep in an open tortoise table setup that you have - I also have an open table for my 4month old, an easy way to lock in the humidity is by putting a shower curtain (clear ones allow you to keep an eye on the tort) over your setup. Meaning you would drape it over the lights to fall over the table. here's my setup: 1958DF23-2DA6-4E27-893E-F2FF27814BF0.jpg 75D8D39B-28BD-43C6-9C9C-B9053E8B8489.jpg
 

Jannra

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I can't answer to the yawning but as for pacing the edges of an enclosure my tortoise always does that one foot somewhere new it stops after few days if the area is large enough once he's convinced himself of the limits of the area then he is more interested in examining what's around the inside. You don't seem to have very many things for him to climb around and look at inside maybe he's just bored. Try putting a few things here and there so that it's not just open space.
 
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