New Russian Tortoise

TinyT

New Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Park City
Can someone please help. Got a Russian Tortoise on Jan 26th (so 6 days ago)
Initially he seemed alert and adapting to his new environment. Now he seems to just want to sleep. He won’t eat and we are feeding everything recommended and mixing up diet. We have soaked him twice and have a heat lamp on one end that is throwing both UVA/UVB. Just concerned about sleeping for the last two days non stop. Please help. Thank you, Heather
 

Yossarian

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2015
Messages
764
Location (City and/or State)
Wales
Welcome to TFO.

The way it normally goes with a new tortoise is the first couple days the tort is very active, this can be interpreted as them, somewhat frantically, seeking out familiar territory. Once they give that up, the next thing they will do is lay low, they will hide and sleep a lot until they become acclimated and brave enough to go back out and explore the unfamiliar. Sometimes getting pet store torts to eat can be difficult.

The way to deal with this is to give the tort time, dont handle it too much, just let it do its thing for the most part. However, each morning you should take it out of its hide and give him a good warm soak then place the tort near its basking area with some food in front of it, its ok to wake it up and put it in front of some food a couple times a day as well. You may also need to experiment with foods to find what it will eat, then you can use that to introduce new foods.

Key to consider, is your enclosure warm enough? This is the biggie with torts, many owners overestimate the temperatures at the torts level, and activity is directly linked to temperature, a few degrees too low can make a big difference. If you post some pics of your tortoise and the enclosure you are using we can help you correct any issues before they arise.

Finally, here is the care sheet, it is accurate and current, avoid any sources that contradict the info within.

The Best Way To Raise Any Temperate Species Of Tortoise | Tortoise Forum
 

TinyT

New Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Park City
Welcome to TFO.

The way it normally goes with a new tortoise is the first couple days the tort is very active, this can be interpreted as them, somewhat frantically, seeking out familiar territory. Once they give that up, the next thing they will do is lay low, they will hide and sleep a lot until they become acclimated and brave enough to go back out and explore the unfamiliar. Sometimes getting pet store torts to eat can be difficult.

The way to deal with this is to give the tort time, dont handle it too much, just let it do its thing for the most part. However, each morning you should take it out of its hide and give him a good warm soak then place the tort near its basking area with some food in front of it, its ok to wake it up and put it in front of some food a couple times a day as well. You may also need to experiment with foods to find what it will eat, then you can use that to introduce new foods.

Key to consider, is your enclosure warm enough? This is the biggie with torts, many owners overestimate the temperatures at the torts level, and activity is directly linked to temperature, a few degrees too low can make a big difference. If you post some pics of your tortoise and the enclosure you are using we can help you correct any issues before they arise.

Finally, here is the care sheet, it is accurate and current, avoid any sources that contradict the info within.

The Best Way To Raise Any Temperate Species Of Tortoise | Tortoise Forum
 

TinyT

New Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Park City
I really appreciate your advice and I will read over the care sheet thoroughly and begin doing what you recommend as a morning routine.
I also ordered a temperature gauge to see what his heated area is reading.
 

TinyT

New Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Park City
We do live in Utah. House is at 70 and we have the UVA/UVB light at one end of the tank.
not sure if we also need a hitter basking area from the overhead light? Thank you
 

TinyT

New Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Park City
Welcome to TFO.

The way it normally goes with a new tortoise is the first couple days the tort is very active, this can be interpreted as them, somewhat frantically, seeking out familiar territory. Once they give that up, the next thing they will do is lay low, they will hide and sleep a lot until they become acclimated and brave enough to go back out and explore the unfamiliar. Sometimes getting pet store torts to eat can be difficult.

The way to deal with this is to give the tort time, dont handle it too much, just let it do its thing for the most part. However, each morning you should take it out of its hide and give him a good warm soak then place the tort near its basking area with some food in front of it, its ok to wake it up and put it in front of some food a couple times a day as well. You may also need to experiment with foods to find what it will eat, then you can use that to introduce new foods.

Key to consider, is your enclosure warm enough? This is the biggie with torts, many owners overestimate the temperatures at the torts level, and activity is directly linked to temperature, a few degrees too low can make a big difference. If you post some pics of your tortoise and the enclosure you are using we can help you correct any issues before they arise.

Finally, here is the care sheet, it is accurate and current, avoid any sources that contradict the info within.

The Best Way To Raise Any Temperate Species Of Tortoise | Tortoise Forum
 

TinyT

New Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Park City
Here are some photos of set up. Please let me know what you think.
 

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Yossarian

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2015
Messages
764
Location (City and/or State)
Wales
Here are some photos of set up. Please let me know what you think.

I think your tortoise looks really good. The enclosure is not sutiable for it, it is too small. Most people find giving torts enough space to be difficult, but they do need a large footprint. The care guides we refer to call for 4ft x 8ft (32sq ft) minimum for an adult of your species. Even that amount of space is a poor reproduction for an animal that would have a range potentially covering a sq mile or more in the wild. Unfortunately letting them run around an open floor is not a suitable alternative, many such cases end in tragedy.

The water dish your using is a potential hazard, because of the straight sides the tortoise can invert in the water dish and torts have drowned in similar dishes. Most keepers, and our care guides, call for terra cotta plant saucers with the sloped sides instead, these can be sunk into the substrate and are easy to get in and out of without risk of flipping.

I am not sure if the substrate is wood chips or cypress mulch, giving you the benefit of doubt I assume its cypress mulch, if so great, but you could use more of it, a deeper substrate holds more moisture which means better humidity and also Russians like to dig down to sleep. The three substrates that are suitable are cypress mulch, orchid bark, and coco coir, dont be tempted to use soil or wood chips or anything else.

shining the light through the screen top is a bad idea, the screen reflects a significant amount of both heat and light, including UVB. Members have tested lights under screens with photometers. You will also struggle with maintaining a humid enough enclosure with a screen top, your region is very dry due to the elevation and to counteract that you need to use a closed chamber.

Finally a humid hide will be pretty essential for your tort, and it is a good idea to give the tortoise some other things to hide and break up sight lines, torts would almost never be found in open ground.

These things are all covered in the care sheet I posted. You have a healthy looking tortoise, it needs more room though, and you have some challenges to address due to where you live to ensure this tort remains in good health.
 

TinyT

New Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Park City
I think your tortoise looks really good. The enclosure is not sutiable for it, it is too small. Most people find giving torts enough space to be difficult, but they do need a large footprint. The care guides we refer to call for 4ft x 8ft (32sq ft) minimum for an adult of your species. Even that amount of space is a poor reproduction for an animal that would have a range potentially covering a sq mile or more in the wild. Unfortunately letting them run around an open floor is not a suitable alternative, many such cases end in tragedy.

The water dish your using is a potential hazard, because of the straight sides the tortoise can invert in the water dish and torts have drowned in similar dishes. Most keepers, and our care guides, call for terra cotta plant saucers with the sloped sides instead, these can be sunk into the substrate and are easy to get in and out of without risk of flipping.

I am not sure if the substrate is wood chips or cypress mulch, giving you the benefit of doubt I assume its cypress mulch, if so great, but you could use more of it, a deeper substrate holds more moisture which means better humidity and also Russians like to dig down to sleep. The three substrates that are suitable are cypress mulch, orchid bark, and coco coir, dont be tempted to use soil or wood chips or anything else.

shining the light through the screen top is a bad idea, the screen reflects a significant amount of both heat and light, including UVB. Members have tested lights under screens with photometers. You will also struggle with maintaining a humid enough enclosure with a screen top, your region is very dry due to the elevation and to counteract that you need to use a closed chamber.

Finally a humid hide will be pretty essential for your tort, and it is a good idea to give the tortoise some other things to hide and break up sight lines, torts would almost never be found in open ground.

These things are all covered in the care sheet I posted. You have a healthy looking tortoise, it needs more room though, and you have some challenges to address due to where you live to ensure this tort remains in good health.
I really appreciate advice. We will make some adjustments in hopes of providing a better environment.
 

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