Newbie owner!

CaggyQ

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Hi everyone,

I’m so glad I found this forum! I am a newbie tort owner; I’ve a little baby Horsefield. I’m a bit worried about him at the minute: I changed his substrate to cypress mulch and now all he’s doing is digging in and snoozing. I would feel a lot more content about that if he was eating, but he hasn’t has a proper meal in about four days.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated! ?
 

Happytort27

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Usually babies sleep a lot and need some time to get used to their surroundings. I would give him a nice, long, warm soak for about 30 minutes and see if he perks up a little. Also, he may be getting ready for hibernation soon.

Please read this thread very carefully and make the needed adjustments to your care:

https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threa...ise-any-temperate-species-of-tortoise.183131/

If you’re curious about hibernating, take a look at @Tom’s post #19 on this thread. It’ll tell you about the process of hibernating your tortoise or keeping him up:

 

CaggyQ

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Usually babies sleep a lot and need some time to get used to their surroundings. I would give him a nice, long, warm soak for about 30 minutes and see if he perks up a little. Also, he may be getting ready for hibernation soon.

Please read this thread very carefully and make the needed adjustments to your care:

https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threa...ise-any-temperate-species-of-tortoise.183131/

If you’re curious about hibernating, take a look at @Tom’s post #19 on this thread. It’ll tell you about the process of hibernating your tortoise or keeping him up:

Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly! I’ve been reading everything you suggested very carefully and I’m going to make some adjustments. I’m in a bit of a colder climate, so I can understand why he wants to dig deep, but I don’t want to I overheat him either! When temperature adjustments are mentioned: I’m just wondering what’s the best way to do that? I just have two lights, his basking light and his UV one, but they’re on for 12 hours a day. The basking temperature is about 34 degrees celcius; I placed the little thermometer just at the back of the vivarium just below the light.
Sorry for all that info... I just want to make sure he’s happy and healthy!
 

Happytort27

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When you say “temperature adjustments,” are you referring to the height of the bulbs? Can I see a picture of your setup? @Tom
 

Happytort27

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I would also like to mention that I do not advise you to hibernate your tortoise if you don't know if he's healthy or not. Unless you got your tortoise from a reputable breeder that fed him a wide variety of food and kept him in an appropriate enclosure, I wouldn't decide to hibernate him. I just gave you the thread to read just in case you were interested.
 

CaggyQ

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When you say “temperature adjustments,” are you referring to the height of the bulbs? Can I see a picture of your setup? @Tom

Yes of course! Here’s a photo here. He’s currently in his little cave. I also added lots of rocks and built the substrate up around his cave so he can climb. The ball he has occasionally shoved but he mostly ignores it!

The lights were installed in the vivarium and just hang as you see in the picture. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. I am so thankful for all of your advice and support already!

Take care ?
 

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CaggyQ

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I would also like to mention that I do not advise you to hibernate your tortoise if you don't know if he's healthy or not. Unless you got your tortoise from a reputable breeder that fed him a wide variety of food and kept him in an appropriate enclosure, I wouldn't decide to hibernate him. I just gave you the thread to read just in case you were interested.

Oh I completely understood that - thank you! It’s a great read ☺️
 

Tom

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Yes of course! Here’s a photo here. He’s currently in his little cave. I also added lots of rocks and built the substrate up around his cave so he can climb. The ball he has occasionally shoved but he mostly ignores it!

The lights were installed in the vivarium and just hang as you see in the picture. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. I am so thankful for all of your advice and support already!

Take care ?
Hello and welcome. You are doing pretty good so far. I have three recommendations for you: 1. That water bowl isn't the best. The sides are too tall, too steep, and its too slippery. Trade it out for a terra cotta saucer sunk into the substrate.
2. No spot bulbs. They concentrate too much heat into too small of an area and cause pyramiding. Use a low wattage flood bulb or regular round bulb instead.
3. The light to the right, is that your UV bulb. We can't see what it is in the picture. CFL type bulbs can sometimes burn their eyes, and they are not effective UV sources any way. I would immediately turn that one off. That is probably the reason why he's still hiding and not active. You can replace it with a low wattage LED for some light during the day, and get a HO tube for UV.

There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 36-37.
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 15-16 at night.
  3. Light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html
 

CaggyQ

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Hello and welcome. You are doing pretty good so far. I have three recommendations for you: 1. That water bowl isn't the best. The sides are too tall, too steep, and its too slippery. Trade it out for a terra cotta saucer sunk into the substrate.
2. No spot bulbs. They concentrate too much heat into too small of an area and cause pyramiding. Use a low wattage flood bulb or regular round bulb instead.
3. The light to the right, is that your UV bulb. We can't see what it is in the picture. CFL type bulbs can sometimes burn their eyes, and they are not effective UV sources any way. I would immediately turn that one off. That is probably the reason why he's still hiding and not active. You can replace it with a low wattage LED for some light during the day, and get a HO tube for UV.

There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 36-37.
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 15-16 at night.
  3. Light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html

Thank you so much for all of this detailed feedback - you’ve no idea how much I appreciate it! I turned off the light straight away and gave him a warm, thirty minute bath. I also replaced the water bowl. For the first time, he spent a good hour exploring his cage. I’ve attached a photo for you!

Regarding the UV light: I’m going to go for the bulb you suggested. I’d love to let him out two hours a week, but I actually live in Donegal (Ireland). It’s quite cold at the minute! I was thinking along the lines of t-shirt weather being the equivalent to tortoise weather. What do you think?

The basking light: I’m going to replace that straight away and invest in a new thermometer that will allow me to carefully read the temperatures.


Thank you so much! ☺️?
 

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Maggie3fan

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Also, pay more attention to his humidity as well. He looks a little pyramided and correct food, exercise and humidity will stop that
 

CaggyQ

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Also, pay more attention to his humidity as well. He looks a little pyramided and correct food, exercise and humidity will stop that
Thank you! I’m sorry for all the questions, but would you mind telling me how much exercise he should have, and what the humidity should be for a Russian? I promise many years down the line to pay all of this advice forward to a new newbie!
 

Maggie3fan

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Thank you! I’m sorry for all the questions, but would you mind telling me how much exercise he should have, and what the humidity should be for a Russian? I promise many years down the line to pay all of this advice forward to a new newbie!
This will tell you better than I would. Also Tom is giving you great advice...

Russian Tortoise Care Sheet
 

Tom

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Thank you so much for all of this detailed feedback - you’ve no idea how much I appreciate it! I turned off the light straight away and gave him a warm, thirty minute bath. I also replaced the water bowl. For the first time, he spent a good hour exploring his cage. I’ve attached a photo for you!

Regarding the UV light: I’m going to go for the bulb you suggested. I’d love to let him out two hours a week, but I actually live in Donegal (Ireland). It’s quite cold at the minute! I was thinking along the lines of t-shirt weather being the equivalent to tortoise weather. What do you think?

The basking light: I’m going to replace that straight away and invest in a new thermometer that will allow me to carefully read the temperatures.


Thank you so much! ☺?
I think "t-shirt" weather is a pretty good guideline for a Russian tortoise.

The care sheet that happy tort linked for you in the 2nd post of this thread is the most current and correct care info.

I think with your viv, you probably have decent humidity, but that spot bulb was drying out the carapace, which is what causes the pyramiding. Added dampness and a humid hide can start to help new growth come in smoother.
 

CaggyQ

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I think "t-shirt" weather is a pretty good guideline for a Russian tortoise.

The care sheet that happy tort linked for you in the 2nd post of this thread is the most current and correct care info.

I think with your viv, you probably have decent humidity, but that spot bulb was drying out the carapace, which is what causes the pyramiding. Added dampness and a humid hide can start to help new growth come in smoother.
Hi there,

You have all been so good to me, and I’m so happy to have found such a supportive community to be a part of. ☺️
I’ve been reading the care sheet carefully.

I’m going to change up his diet too and get more weeds!

I found this light that I can purchase. Would I also need a heat bulb if I just had this one? I can’t wait to get rid of the spot bulb. I’m so worried about the pyramiding!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00101JIFG/?tag=

Also, if I was to spray some water around the enclosure, will that help with the humidity?

Thank you all so much again!
 

Tom

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Hi there,

You have all been so good to me, and I’m so happy to have found such a supportive community to be a part of. ☺
I’ve been reading the care sheet carefully.

I’m going to change up his diet too and get more weeds!

I found this light that I can purchase. Would I also need a heat bulb if I just had this one? I can’t wait to get rid of the spot bulb. I’m so worried about the pyramiding!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00101JIFG/?tag=

Also, if I was to spray some water around the enclosure, will that help with the humidity?

Thank you all so much again!
That bulb will run way too hot for your viv, and it will also cause pyramiding. You need just a regular hardware store type flood bulb. Not a reptile product.

Spraying water can help with humidity, but you shouldn't need to do that if your substrate is damp and there is not too much ventilation letting all your warm humid air out into the room.
 

CaggyQ

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That bulb will run way too hot for your viv, and it will also cause pyramiding. You need just a regular hardware store type flood bulb. Not a reptile product.

Spraying water can help with humidity, but you shouldn't need to do that if your substrate is damp and there is not too much ventilation letting all your warm humid air out into the room.

Hi Tom,

Thank you so much (again!). I’m going to pop into town tomorrow with a list of your recommended lights and collect them. Would you mind if I send you a photo of the vivarium after I’ve set it up?

he currently doesn’t have a UVB light which is making me a little uneasy, but he seems so much happier! ☺️
 

Maggie3fan

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Hi Tom,

Thank you so much (again!). I’m going to pop into town tomorrow with a list of your recommended lights and collect them. Would you mind if I send you a photo of the vivarium after I’ve set it up?

he currently doesn’t have a UVB light which is making me a little uneasy, but he seems so much happier! ☺
He can live perfectly fine without UVB while you fix his situation...
 

CaggyQ

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Hi there,

I just wanted to update everyone who was so kind to help me last month on getting my little’s guy’s vivarium all set up. He is so happy! He happily explores his enclosure now and is such a cheeky character. He does love climbing and jumping, which can make me nervous at times but he’s loving it. Thank you guys - I’ve such a happy tort thanks to your support!

Karen :)
FDBDB1E4-4250-447C-9595-14AEF7159CE6.jpeg
 

Mrs.Jennifer

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Hi there,

I just wanted to update everyone who was so kind to help me last month on getting my little’s guy’s vivarium all set up. He is so happy! He happily explores his enclosure now and is such a cheeky character. He does love climbing and jumping, which can make me nervous at times but he’s loving it. Thank you guys - I’ve such a happy tort thanks to your support!

Karen :)
View attachment 313553
It's always wonderful to hear from members who have taken in the knowledge offered to them and made a positive change for their tortoises. As an aside, that is an ADORABLE baby!
 

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