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New Leopard Owner

Discussion in 'Leopard tortoises' started by Mizcreant, Nov 14, 2017 at 9:04 AM.

  1. Mizcreant

    Mizcreant New Member

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    I purchased my first leopard 3 days ago from a reptile show. I had been researching leopards for about 6 months and decided I would rather purchase one local from a breeder with whom I could ask questions. My new tort is 3 weeks and 3 days old at this point (sex yet unknown). I have my tortoise table built, and have started on a much larger indoor area (for colder months) and will be starting on the outdoor habitat this Spring.

    I'd like some opinions / recommendations on my current setup please. My table measures 30" x 40" (76.2 cm x 101.6 cm). It incorporates moistened orchid moss as the substrate, PowerSun UVA/UVB lamp, ceramic bottom heater (temporarily until my heat mat arrives), 1 large and 1 small hide, temp and humidity gauges, and food/water dishes. Diet consists of a variety of greens, Mazuri diet (small pellets), and ReptoCal which I sprinkle over the greens twice per week. Additionally, I have 2 cameras installed so that I can check on him/her remotely.

    Night temps are maintained at 75F (23.8C) at night and 92F (33.3C) during the day. Humidity is 35% at the low end and 60% at the high end.

    Please offer any suggestions / opinions. I want to make sure I get this right!!! :)

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  2. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    Hi, and welcome!

    For babies I like to keep an overall temperature of 80-85F degrees, day and night. I also cover the habitat and keep it very swamp-like inside.
  3. teresaf

    teresaf Well-Known Member

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    you're going to love all your responses(sarcasm) because this website has got all the up-to-date information on how to keep tortoises and tortoise babies. They require different care. Unfortunately all the books out there are wrong and most of the "Breeders" as well. Closed Chambers are the way to go for babies because you can keep the humidity and temperature precise. You can use the search bar above and type in closed Chambers to get examples of baby enclosures. Basically it's a large fish tank with a plexiglass lid or a box with a plexiglass front door. You're looking to basically enclose/trap the heat and humidity inside a habitat almost air tight. every day you're going to open the door to feed him and water him so don't worry about him running out of air. Dial gauges are notoriously inaccurate. you'll think you have 75 degrees and will maybe have 70 which will kill your tortoise. They're especially inaccurate in high humidity applications which is how you need to use them in this case. By the way, you need to keep the lowest temp end in the darkest coldest corner at least 80 for a baby. a lot of breeders raise their babies dry and they do not thrive but your best chances being successful is following the directions on this website. The Breeders/experts on this website have determined that humidity(with proper heat) is extremely important to a baby tortoise. I will download a picture of what I use from Amazon that's relatively inexpensive and the mechanism could be kept on the outside of your enclosure while the probe is on the interior keeping the mechanism dry. Many of us here had babies that we bought and then found out that we had the wrong enclosure. It's frustrating at first but if you follow the instructions that you get your tortoise may live. I say 'may' because it was not a tortoise from a breeder on this website that raises them closed chamber.

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    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017 at 9:40 AM
  4. teresaf

    teresaf Well-Known Member

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    And you're going to love this too. your babies not 3 weeks old. Still a baby. But it's already pyramiding from being kept too dry. To get any degree of pyramiding it has to be months old. Perhaps three and a half months old instead of weeks? Anyway there's another issue. hopefully you can still send that mazuri back. You bought the ls version which most tortoises won't touch and it's hard to moisten enough for them to be able to eat it anyway. I'll attach a picture of the Mazuri that most tortoises love and only requires about 30 to 45 seconds of soaking before you use it. You would probably only need one nugget for every other meal added to his greens. I've also included a picture of a Terracotta clay pot saucer that comes in different sizes that is perfect for tortoises because they've slanted sides, are shallow, are common and very inexpensive... Don't look at that price on my picture. Lol. that was just off of website. I was trying to find a picture for someone... You can find them at Walmart for couple bucks or off Craigslist, any garage sale, Etc

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  5. Mizcreant

    Mizcreant New Member

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    Thanks for that info. I now have the proper temp/humidity guages on order and should be here sometime today (gotta love Amazon Prime!). Question though: I have the table lined with 6 mil plastic. If I were to replace the top with a piece of plexiglass, do you think that would suffice to maintain temp / humidity levels?
  6. teresaf

    teresaf Well-Known Member

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    It should. You can't put the light inside unless you can guarantee that the hottest spot underneath the light at tortoise level is less than 105 degrees. You don't want to burn the little booger. A bunch of us have cut the plexiglass then placed it on top of the screen. In the process of cutting the plexiglass we cut a hole for the light fixtures so they can sit on the screen. Keep in mind you'll have to cut a hole in the screen but still keep the light above the hole for the UV light. Screen filters UVs. It's all much more efficient if your enclosure is tall enough to hold your ceramic heat emitter and your light inside. Ceramic heat emitter comes on at night to keep it above 80 in every little spot inside the enclosure and the light keeps it hot during the day. No Night Lights. Having the plastic underneath your substrate is good because all you have to do is pour water in to get your humidity up.... You need as high humidity as you can get without it raining...lol

    If you don't have the proper temperatures though high humidity is bad. high humidity and cold tortoise will cause a respiratory infection. Dry and hot tortoise will cause pyramiding or failure to thrive... So make sure you have a stable heat Source at the correct temperatures before you introduce the high humidity. Once you get the enclosure set up the first time it makes it much easier to do it again and again. the first time is always the hardest because most of us did it wrong... There are so many people on this website where their babies have failed to thrive and we can trace it back to the Breeders raising them dry. So many others that have had babies that had respiratory infections and we could trace it back to improper temperatures. It happens a lot unfortunately but fortunately we have the statistics here to prove it. This information is invaluable for those people that need proof.
  7. Mizcreant

    Mizcreant New Member

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    Ok....and thanks for the advice! We went out and purchased a piece of plexiglass as you suggested, as well as the Terracotta, ceramic heat lamp, and larger size Mazuri. I will monitor the heat / humidity and adjust accordingly. I also bought a scale so that I could weigh it. 1.4 oz so far. Appreciate all the advice you and Yvonne have given.
  8. teresaf

    teresaf Well-Known Member

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    Now this is just my opinion but if that baby is three and a half weeks old and has raised shoots like that already then he was definitely raised dry and may not thrive. To encourage growth I would feed Mazuri nugget at every meal and concentrate on keeping his humidity and heat at proper readings. Never anything lower than 80 degrees day and night anywhere in his enclosure... And humidity as high as you can get it without it raining... If your scale doesn't measure in grams I would change it out for one that does. Get a piece of paper and write down the dates and weights of him weekly. You want to see growth each week but if he doesn't gain and just stays the same that's fine too once in awhile... The trick to getting proper weights is to weigh him at the same time of the day. Not necessarily the same time but after his bath or before his bath, after he eats or before he eats... make sure it's the same each time you weigh him.

    I don't remember you mentioning baths. They need a daily bath. How we do this is find a bowl that he can't get out of or see through. Fill shallowly with warm water (probably about a half an inch at 95f). Water should come up to the Tortoises shell seam where the top and bottom shells come together. He should be placed in that water for 20 to 30 minutes everyday. Don't let the water get cool. You may want to just put the bowl inside the enclosure near the lamp(not directly under) to keep the water warm.

    I have a feeling there will be someone that comes along and says that that substrate isn't good for babies. I don't know myself so I can't say... I would use Coco coir, it's also on Amazon, it's more of a dirt and it holds moisture real well.

    Enjoy. Hope everything works out real well. Baby tortoises are a pain in the butt but once you have them set up right it takes a lot of the worry out of it. But we do see a lot of baby tortoises that were raised dry that die. My niece(@Peliroja32 ) just went through it. She bought one from tortoise town I believe that never grew more than 10 grams in the few months that she had it before it died. She's now got three from someone on this forum and they've grown more than 10 grams in just a couple weeks... The very same treatment with very different results and the only difference was the breeder. Good luck and by the way tortoises don't do good in pairs... Something nobody seems to know when they get on this website... including myself...
    Mizcreant likes this.
  9. Mizcreant

    Mizcreant New Member

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    I forgot to mention the baths. I have been giving it a bath in warm water every evening. Excellent advice about keeping the water in the habitat to maintain temperature though....that hadn't even occurred to me. The breeder I purchased the tort from mentioned that he had a bath the previous night. I only have his word to go on though. The scale I have will convert to grams....so no problem there. I downloaded a handy chart from the net so i can record its weekly weight. My wife and i went out last night and spent around $200 additional dollars picking up what you suggested. I even got a ReptiFogger so that I can control the humidity a bit better. That plexiglass has helped immensely in that regard!

    I am concerned about any pyramiding. I don't notice any personally when I look at, but I will take your word for it. Perhaps it was the way the light was hitting it when I took the pic? I dunno. Regardless, It concerned me enough to at least be proactive in preventing any further pyramiding. Keep the hits coming... I truly appreciate any and all advice you can give me.
  10. teresaf

    teresaf Well-Known Member

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    The individual raised part of his shell sections(shutes) will stay the same size their entire lives. Hopefully you can see where I've drawn the outline of his shell. The only growth that happens is between the shell shutes and it will grow either in the side to side/lateral (smooth) direction or the upward/vertical direction (pyramided). When there's plenty of humidity and plenty of food the seams will grow lateral and smooth. When it's too dry his shell will grow slowly and vertically causing pyramiding. I attached a picture of my leopard that was raised there in Ohio as well. Already pretty pyramided by the time I got him. You can see all the original shoots that are the same size they were when he was 6 months old and all the growth in between. Ideally he would be shaped similar to a motorcycle helmet.... IMG_20171115_110040.jpg

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