New Tort / Is she healthy?

whiteknee

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Hi! I just brought home my first red foot tortoise yesterday and I am concerned that she is not healthy! She is about five inches in size and I purchased her from Petco. When I brought her home I noticed her eyes had a milky coat over them that came loose after she soaked in her water bowl. However, today I am noticing a wheezing noise,she hasnt eaten at all, and she isn't very mobile. The pet store didn't keep her in a humid environment. In fact they told me she didn't have a humidity requirement. I have her in a humid environment now, but I'm wondering if her apparent poor care at the pet store has caused some health issues and how I can tend to them. Please help 🙏 I'm a new tort mom and I'm nervous
 

wellington

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Keep up the humid hide. Temps should be around 84. Lots of plants and tube fluorescent uvb.
Give her some time to adjust. Keep giving daily warm soaks for about a week.
The pet store are idiots, so don't listen to anything they told you
@ZEROPILOT can add more.
 

Ink

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Post pictures of the enclosure, lights and tortoise please. It would help you get the correct information and help.
 

ZEROPILOT

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We need a lot more information.
But right now, your Redfoot need a temperature of between 80 and 86. No bright lights.
Humidity of over 70%.
If possible some supervised outdoor sunlight.
Feed him/her some fruit. Make sure you soak and get us photos of your enclosure and your equipment asap.
Also, DON'T buy any of your equipment from Petco. It'll almost certainly be the wrong stuff.
 

whiteknee

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We need a lot more information.
But right now, your Redfoot need a temperature of between 80 and 86. No bright lights.
Humidity of over 70%.
If possible some supervised outdoor sunlight.
Feed him/her some fruit. Make sure you soak and get us photos of your enclosure and your equipment asap.
Also, DON'T buy any of your equipment from Petco. It'll almost certainly be the wrong stuff.
Hi! Thanks for answering ! Ashamed to admit that right now she is in a temp enclosure while I wait for her permanent enclosure and supplies to arrive. Its a tank with a zoo med UVB lamp, her water pool, and a hide hole. It's in a very small room of my house with a humidifier and a heater. It is definitely moist enough in here as the water is dripping off the walls and it is plenty warm. I did leave her some mango, strawberry, romaine, and wet tortoise pellets, but she has only eaten maybe 3 bites of the strawberry. Unfortunately, outside is not an option as it is 20 degrees and foggy. Over the last hour or so she has started to become more mobile and she has drank more water. Im thinking she was quite dehydrated and is coming to now. I also think I might have overreacted before giving her some time to adjudt. I can assure you her permanent enclosure will be much more suitable than the temporary one! I'm just waiting for the tortoise table and mist machine to come in the mail !
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
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Hi! Thanks for answering ! Ashamed to admit that right now she is in a temp enclosure while I wait for her permanent enclosure and supplies to arrive. Its a tank with a zoo med UVB lamp, her water pool, and a hide hole. It's in a very small room of my house with a humidifier and a heater. It is definitely moist enough in here as the water is dripping off the walls and it is plenty warm. I did leave her some mango, strawberry, romaine, and wet tortoise pellets, but she has only eaten maybe 3 bites of the strawberry. Unfortunately, outside is not an option as it is 20 degrees and foggy. Over the last hour or so she has started to become more mobile and she has drank more water. Im thinking she was quite dehydrated and is coming to now. I also think I might have overreacted before giving her some time to adjudt. I can assure you her permanent enclosure will be much more suitable than the temporary one! I'm just waiting for the tortoise table and mist machine to come in the mail !
The tortoise table and the mister are not what you need.
Open topped enclosures are kind of futile. And the wood will rot away.
Search CLOSED CHAMBER ENCLOSURE here on the forum and try to use them as a guideline.
A closed chamber uses evaporation as the humidity source and it keeps in warmth as well.
It's a small, tropical environment.
I'm sorry to give you all of this bad news all at once. But you're not alone. Most of us bought every wrong item you can imagine. Just to learn firsthand that we'd wasted our money.
Let us help you to get what your specialized tortoise needs.
Is your uvb a tube florescent or does it screw in like a light bulb?
That might be another big issue.
I'm not able to post much more at the moment. But I'll check back later.
I'm sure another member will be along to help guide you further soon
 

Cowgirl

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Hi! Thanks for answering ! Ashamed to admit that right now she is in a temp enclosure while I wait for her permanent enclosure and supplies to arrive. Its a tank with a zoo med UVB lamp, her water pool, and a hide hole. It's in a very small room of my house with a humidifier and a heater. It is definitely moist enough in here as the water is dripping off the walls and it is plenty warm. I did leave her some mango, strawberry, romaine, and wet tortoise pellets, but she has only eaten maybe 3 bites of the strawberry. Unfortunately, outside is not an option as it is 20 degrees and foggy. Over the last hour or so she has started to become more mobile and she has drank more water. Im thinking she was quite dehydrated and is coming to now. I also think I might have overreacted before giving her some time to adjudt. I can assure you her permanent enclosure will be much more suitable than the temporary one! I'm just waiting for the tortoise table and mist machine to come in the mail !
You have found the right resource - this forum - for getting help. Unfortunately the pet stores sell us the products they have and they don’t seem to know anything about taking care of tortoises. It results in us spending lots of money for supplies that aren’t going to keep our animals healthy. Most of us have made this mistake. I have an old, empty glass aquarium sitting outside as evidence. If you follow the care guides here and listen to the recommendations of the forum members you will be set up correctly and your tortoise should thrive. It might not be too late for you to return the things that won’t work. Keep us posted.
 

whiteknee

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Jan 24, 2024
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Missouri
You have found the right resource - this forum - for getting help. Unfortunately the pet stores sell us the products they have and they don’t seem to know anything about taking care of tortoises. It results in us spending lots of money for supplies that aren’t going to keep our animals healthy. Most of us have made this mistake. I have an old, empty glass aquarium sitting outside as evidence. If you follow the care guides here and listen to the recommendations of the forum members you will be set up correctly and your tortoise should thrive. It might not be too late for you to return the things that won’t work. Keep us posted.
Hi! Thanks for responding. I knew the information the pet store provided wasn't accurate. I purchased an open top tortoise table for the size of the enclosure and plan to modify it with plexiglass to keep the moisture in! One of many modifications it will require. I appreciate all the feedback and will definitely keep y'all posted about her new home as it comes together. Her current accommodations are only going to last about a week more. Unfortunately, a blizzard slowed the mail down quite a lot so currently just adapting to the circumstances until better supplies slowly gets delivered. Having a tropical tortoise in the Midwest is definitely a challenge, but one I am up for :) I am excited to have access to a responsive forum with a wealth of knowledge to help me along the way.
 

whiteknee

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Jan 24, 2024
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Missouri
Hi! I just brought home my first red foot tortoise yesterday and I am concerned that she is not healthy! She is about five inches in size and I purchased her from Petco. When I brought her home I noticed her eyes had a milky coat over them that came loose after she soaked in her water bowl. However, today I am noticing a wheezing noise,she hasnt eaten at all, and she isn't very mobile. The pet store didn't keep her in a humid environment. In fact they told me she didn't have a humidity requirement. I have her in a humid environment now, but I'm wondering if her apparent poor care at the pet store has caused some health issues and how I can tend to them. Please help 🙏 I'm a new tort mom and I'm nervous
I said I would update with my torts enclosure when it all arrived ! Thankfully, I didn't have to wait a week as it all arrived over the weekend. I waterproofed a wooden enclosure and added a plexiglass top instead of the chicken wire it came with. Added misters, heat lamp, and tube UBV lighting. Planted some tropical plants I sourced from St Louis growers. The humidity is sitting at 85% and the temp is about 80F. She seems much happier in this environment! She is much more active
 

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Alex and the Redfoot

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Hello! The result is really great looking!

Just a couple of suggestions:
1. I see something which looks like a sphagnum moss on ground. If so - the moss should be removed (tortoises sometimes eat it and it may cause a deadly impaction). If it's just a coco coir - you can hand pack it (to prevent it getting dry and dusty on top).
2. Red light should be replaced. Colored lights mess with tortoises color vision and they might start eating things they shouldn't. If it's for heating - replace it with ceramic heat emitter (CHE). CHEs get very hot, so be careful when hanging it over the plexiglass.
3. UVB lamp when placed over the glass or plastic have no effect (UV-B is completely filtered out). You need to cut out plexiglass or move the lamp underneath.
4. Less important, but still a thing: thermometer and hygrometer gauges (discs) are inaccurate comparing to digital ones. Also, it's better to move them down, 1-2 inches above substrate - you need to measure temperatures where your tortoise is.
5. Misters are usually not required to keep humidity high in closed-type enclosures: pouring some water in corners to wet lower substrate layer and keep top layer dry works surprisingly good. Dry substrate top is helpful to prevent shell fungus since redfoots are prone to it.
 

whiteknee

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Jan 24, 2024
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Missouri
Hello! The result is really great looking!

Just a couple of suggestions:
1. I see something which looks like a sphagnum moss on ground. If so - the moss should be removed (tortoises sometimes eat it and it may cause a deadly impaction). If it's just a coco coir - you can hand pack it (to prevent it getting dry and dusty on top).
2. Red light should be replaced. Colored lights mess with tortoises color vision and they might start eating things they shouldn't. If it's for heating - replace it with ceramic heat emitter (CHE). CHEs get very hot, so be careful when hanging it over the plexiglass.
3. UVB lamp when placed over the glass or plastic have no effect (UV-B is completely filtered out). You need to cut out plexiglass or move the lamp underneath.
4. Less important, but still a thing: thermometer and hygrometer gauges (discs) are inaccurate comparing to digital ones. Also, it's better to move them down, 1-2 inches above substrate - you need to measure temperatures where your tortoise is.
5. Misters are usually not required to keep humidity high in closed-type enclosures: pouring some water in corners to wet lower substrate layer and keep top layer dry works surprisingly good. Dry substrate top is helpful to prevent shell fungus since redfoots are prone to it.
Hi! Thanks for the feedback. I am not finding any sources that say moss is dangerous to torotises. Are you able to provide any resources for me to educate myself on those risks? The red light is for heat! I was having trouble getting the tempature up. I found resources that stated red and black lights are acceptable for red foots to get the heat up, but I will research the effects of red light on their vision. I was considering a ceramic heat emitter so I am open to that switch. I made sure the glass I used is actually not UVB filtering, it is UBV transmitting similar to glass used in greenhouses. For my thermometer and hygrometer, I am sure the digital ones are better, but I am a tort-mom on a budget so they will have to do for now. I will definitely move them closer to the surface for more accurate readings ! I just wasn't sure if my tort would mess with them if I placed them in her sight line. I did see that a lot of people in this group are not fans of misters, but because I am having difficulty maintaining the heat in the enclosure there wasn't enough moisture being put into the air. They are only set to spray for 40 seconds a twice daily so the substrate is not being saturated. The usage of the misters is adjustable so I can use less frequently if needed. I will definitely consult my vet if it becomes a danger to my tortoise's health. I appreciate the feedback !
 

SinLA

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This would be a good place to start: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/info-for-new-people-please-read-this-first.202363/#post-2036954

The best source of info is other tortosie owners, and places like this where we see people whose tortoises have died from poor husbandry. An exotic vet may have a dozen tortoise clients over their career, even two dozen, along with beardies, birdes, etc. There are not studies on animal husbandry for tortoises like there is for farm animals or dogs/cats, so you're not going to find a lot in scientific journals.

Read the attached site, its the common wisdom recommendations of the tortoise keepers here.
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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1. About moss: you can search this forum. There are numerous sad stories about it. That's enough to not to use it (even if 1 tortoise of 100 eats it and dies, I don't want it to be mine). It's really great for maintaining humidity, but there are other, safer ways. Proper, deep enough substrate in a closed top enclosure keeps humidity 80-90+% for weeks, so moss is redundant. As an option, I would put it in a bowl on top the hide or somewhere near the heat source and keep it out of tortoise's reach

2. Tortoises tend to eat red-colored foods, so they might eat substrate under red lamps. And they sleep better in darkness. Ceramic heat emitters or radiant heat panels give no light at all and are considered better options.

3. UVB-transparent glass is a really good finding! I have never seen new keepers using it. (But I have to make a disclaimer, that I'm a new keeper myself).

4. On misters: the microscopic water droplets aren't a great thing to inhale. And that's the bad thing about them. The second concern is that temperatures might drop when they work (I'm not so sure it makes difference with 40-second intervals). The wet substrate surface is the third, but seems it's not an issue in your case.
 

zolasmum

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I'm just reiterating what Alex said about moss - the problem is that tortoises will eat it, but are unable to digest it, so it just sits there in their gut, building up to a blockage which can be extremely serious. Why risk
it?
Angie
 

TammyJ

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You can go all over the place and get all kinds of advice and opinions about what and what not to do, but you cannot get more tested and reliable information anywhere else but right here. I can't make you believe that, of course not, but if you trust what you're told here and give it a shot, what I am saying will be proven. By the way, mini greenhouses are a wonderful option to keep your tortoise enclosure nice and humid! You can put one over the whole enclosure with all your lights hanging from the greenhouse frame. Maybe someone here can post a picture for you to demonstrate this option. All the best and welcome to the forum!
 

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