New Leo Owner

Nsav

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Hi All,

I’m a first time owner of a baby leopard tortoise. Desmond, is about 4 months old and I’ve had him for 2 months. Prior to this, my last tortoise was an Sulcata, who was stolen back in 2001, so it’s been a while. A lot has changed in tortoise husbandry in the past two decades so I’m catching up as quickly as I can.

Des has been gaining weight steadily and put on 20g in the past month. He currently weighs 70g at four month old, which seems fine.

I have him on a diet of mixed greens, dandelion greens, collard greens, and his favorite, Mazuri’s 5M21. He’s not as keen about the LS version or ZooMed’s Grassland Tortoise Diet, but I’m working on it. I also recently ordered cactus from Kapidolo Farms, which I’m introducing into his diet as well.

I have him in an indoor tortoise house but after reading the posts in this forum, I modified it with a plexiglass top to keep in humidity and heat. The house has UVB, an heat lamp that keeps daytime temps at around 90 degrees with a basking area that is about 95-100 degrees. I also keep a ceramic heat emitter on a night to keep the temps between 75 to 80. He’s got plenty of places to hide and even a non-heated room that he generally stays away from. Additionally, I have sphagnum moss in his hiding spots which I keep moist, and use a reptifogger to keep humidity between 60-70%. The top of his house also has a pet camera so I can enjoy sneak peaks while I’m at work or away from home for more than a day. I also soak him every day in warm water for about 20 minutes.

He seems to be adjusting well: he wakes up and eats, then goes back somewhere to hide and sleep, and repeats this process a few times a day until lights out at 8pm. Everything is on a 12 hr timer except the CHE, which stays on overnight since I live in the northeast. Des is a little shy but trusting. He allows me to hand feed him and pet his head. During his soaks, I clean his shell with turtle wax. Only joking — I clean his shell with a baby toothbrush and water and he doesn’t seem to mind the gentle scrubbing.

I’ve purchased about a dozen books on raising Leopard Tortoises in the last few months, and most of them seem to be written by people who know very little about raising Leopard Tortoises since they give outdated and contradictory information about tortoise husbandry in general, but particularly about pyramiding and diet.

The most helpful books I’ve read lately come from AC Highfield, Phillipe de Vosjoli, and Richard and Jerry Fife. But I’d love it if you could recommend others.

But the greatest resource so far has been this tortoise forum. So many subject matter experts willing to help others new to herpetology with tips and advice. I learn something new every day by reading the posts, so I really want to say THANK YOU.

Below are some photos of the little Babcocki.

Take care, and thanks again.
 

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wellington

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Remove the moss can cause impaction and tangle limbs
Temps over all never lower than 80, basking temp 95-100.
Do not use the mercury vapor bulb it causes pyramidimg even in the most humid conditions.
You want a tube florescent for uvb, incandescent flood bulb for basking and ceramic heat emitter for any needed extra day heat and night heat.
Humidity 80%.
The disc gauge is unreliable, replace with digital and needs to be tortoise height not above.
Do not use a fogger, humidifier or anything similar. In a closed chamber with damp substrate, the heat and humidity should be held steady
The uvb only needs to be on 4 hours a day. Basking 12-14 heat 24/7.
 

TechnoCheese

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Welcome to the forum! You have quite the cute little guy, I’m excited for you to watch him grow :)

To better hold humidity, try finding a small greenhouse tent that will fit over you heating and lighting. This way, the heat from your lamps will be drawing less of your humid air out.
 

Nsav

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Remove the moss can cause impaction and tangle limbs
Temps over all never lower than 80, basking temp 95-100.
Do not use the mercury vapor bulb it causes pyramidimg even in the most humid conditions.
You want a tube florescent for uvb, incandescent flood bulb for basking and ceramic heat emitter for any needed extra day heat and night heat.
Humidity 80%.
The disc gauge is unreliable, replace with digital and needs to be tortoise height not above.
Do not use a fogger, humidifier or anything similar. In a closed chamber with damp substrate, the heat and humidity should be held steady
The uvb only needs to be on 4 hours a day. Basking 12-14 heat 24/7.
Very helpful. Thanks. Can I ask two questions.

First, I have a handheld digital thermometer that measures heat only. Can you recommend a digital for the house that measures heat and humidity.

Second, you mentioned the vapor bulb. I don’t think I have that, but wanted to confirm.
For UVB, I’m using a, a 10.0 UVB reptisun. And for heat, I’m using a repti basking 100w bulb and a 75w ceramic infrared heat emitter for nighttime heat.

I should replace the UVB reptisun bulb with a tube right? Thanks.
 

Nsav

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Welcome to the forum! You have quite the cute little guy, I’m excited for you to watch him grow :)

To better hold humidity, try finding a small greenhouse tent that will fit over you heating and lighting. This way, the heat from your lamps will be drawing less of your humid air out.
I’ve struggled with trying to keep 80% humidity with the tortoise table. Having the plexiglass top with cut outs for the lamps has helped a lot but you’re absolutely right, I’m still losing some heat/humidity which I understand is key. Can you recommend a greenhouse? Many thanks!
 

wellington

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Very helpful. Thanks. Can I ask two questions.

First, I have a handheld digital thermometer that measures heat only. Can you recommend a digital for the house that measures heat and humidity.

Second, you mentioned the vapor bulb. I don’t think I have that, but wanted to confirm.
For UVB, I’m using a, a 10.0 UVB reptisun. And for heat, I’m using a repti basking 100w bulb and a 75w ceramic infrared heat emitter for nighttime heat.

I should replace the UVB reptisun bulb with a tube right? Thanks.
If it's the compact uvb bulb, with bends in it then yes, replace it with the straight tube kind. The coil bulbs are not safe, doesn't give off much UV and are hung the wrong way for how they we're meant to be used.
The basking bulb, if it's a spot light then it's too intense in a small area. A flood bulb spreads the heat out in a bigger area, making it safer and a variable in temps for basking. The che is good.
 

wellington

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Do a Google search for popup portable greenhouse. You will find rectangle and square ones. Don't get the tall ones.
Anything similar to this one in pic. You can use only the greenhouse as the enclosure adding a tarp as the floor or put it over what you have. Lights and heat can hand from the frame. This is for indoors and you can eventually use it outside when your tort is larger. There are also square ones if you keep searching.
Screenshot_20231228-154220.png
 

Ink

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Welcome to the forum. I have Leopard tortoise too.
 

wellington

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Oh and I meant to tell you in my last post. Ask all the questions you want. That's what we are here for. To help you and your tortoise have a great life together.
 

Lyn W

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Hi and welcome.
I have a leopard too - not easy in the UK but we're doing OK thanks to this forum. Mine was between about 3 - 5years when I got him. There is a great caresheet in the species section for the care of Sullies and Leopards and the Info for New Owners gives most of the do's and don'ts and explains about heating and lighting substrate, diet etc. Well worth a read.
He'll soon outgrow the table and vivs so best to always keep a step ahead and make plans for future housing.
 

Nsav

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Hi and welcome.
I have a leopard too - not easy in the UK but we're doing OK thanks to this forum. Mine was between about 3 - 5years when I got him. There is a great caresheet in the species section for the care of Sullies and Leopards and the Info for New Owners gives most of the do's and don'ts and explains about heating and lighting substrate, diet etc. Well worth a read.
He'll soon outgrow the table and vivs so best to always keep a step ahead and make plans for future housing.
Thanks. I’ll look at the care sheet and start planning for the larger pen!
 

Nsav

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Oh and I meant to tell you in my last post. Ask all the questions you want. That's what we are here for. To help you and your tortoise have a great life together.
Wellington, thanks for all your sage advice. I’m shopping around for the greenhouse now and will hang the UVB tube light inside with the basking and CHE. Out of curiosity, who are foggers bad? if i get rid of it, how else to keep the enclosure at 80% humidity? Pour lots of water in the soil? Can I use regular tap water for that? Right now I’ve been using spring water for the tort, and distilled water for the fogger. Take care.
 

wellington

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Yes, making the substrate damp. Don't just spray it, that will just dry up quickly. Pouring warm water into it, enough to make it damp, not so much that it's sitting in water. With a closed chamber that will work and you will have to judge, but you will only have to add water like once a week or so once it's damp
If you can drink your tap water then it's safe to use for the tortoise.
 

Nsav

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Yes, making the substrate damp. Don't just spray it, that will just dry up quickly. Pouring warm water into it, enough to make it damp, not so much that it's sitting in water. With a closed chamber that will work and you will have to judge, but you will only have to add water like once a week or so once it's damp
If you can drink your tap water then it's safe to use for the tortoise.
Ahhh. I see. I was using a spray and it only lasted a few hours. I switched to pouring water directly in and let’s see what that does to my humidity levels. Thanks again.
 

Lyn W

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Depe
Thanks. I’ll look at the care sheet and start planning for the larger pen!
My leo was too big for a table or viv when he adopted me and our climate is too cold and wet for outside living so he has own adapted room in the house which he lives in all year with access to the garden in the warmer months. It will be a while before you have to worry about that though.
pa250005-jpg.336705
 
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Nsav

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Depe

My leo was too big for a table or viv when he adopted me and our climate is too cold and wet for outside living so he has own adapted room in the house which he lives in all year with access to the garden in the warmer months. It will be a while before you have to worry about that though.
pa250005-jpg.336705
WOW. That’s a beautiful tortoise. How old is he, and did you make the tortoise house yourself or buy one pre-made? Thanks.
 

Lyn W

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WOW. That’s a beautiful tortoise. How old is he, and did you make the tortoise house yourself or buy one pre-made? Thanks.
He is about 12 -15 years old I think. He was found almost 10 years ago in a field by a colleague and unclaimed. My sister was supposed to take him but I ended up giving him a home. He has some pyramiding which he already had, but I think I've managed to stop it getting worse. He also has a left rear foot missing but no idea how that happened - maybe rats or perhaps a birth defect. He's a bit wonky when he walks but he manages well. He was about 9 inches long then but now nearer 15.
His hide is an insulated dog kennel I bought off Amazon (medium, Pet Imperial). It is heated by a reptile radiator (like a flat che) which lies on an oven shelf I fitted because the roof is sloping so I wanted to level it off. It is very cosy in there. Before I bought that I used to leave my heating on 24/7 so this is a lot cheaper. His other basking lamp is in his room.
 

Nsav

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Yes, making the substrate damp. Don't just spray it, that will just dry up quickly. Pouring warm water into it, enough to make it damp, not so much that it's sitting in water. With a closed chamber that will work and you will have to judge, but you will only have to add water like once a week or so once it's damp
If you can drink your tap water then it's safe to use for the tortoise.
I switched from spraying the substrate to soaking it and it has increased humidity to 80%. Thanks for the tip! I also ordered a digital thermometer that also records humidity levels from ZooMed.
 

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