Opinions/Advice on Updated Enclosure & Care

Tommy03

Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2021
Messages
51
Location (City and/or State)
England
Hello,

After finding this forum about 2 months ago, I unfortunately realised for years I had been misinformed about my adult Russian Tommy's care which I feel incredibly guilty about. However, with thanks to this forum & the amazing help from everyone (especially @Tom!), I'm hoping Tommy will be much healthier & happier as I have since made many changes. I've attached some photos of his new 8x3ft vivarium that I've only just put him in today and of Tommy himself, & would be really grateful for some opinions/advice on his new enclosure & general care.

- I tried 60W opal golfball incandescents but 3 blew within 48 hours so currently he has an Arcadia 50W Floodlight in a 12inch dome giving a basking spot of 96F on the left hand side with a slate underneath. I have ordered some more incandescents but they're quite difficult to find so may have to stick with the Arcadia if they keep breaking. Near the middle, there's a 100W CHE in a wire cage (set on an Inkbird thermostat to turn on below 68F during the daytime & 63F at nightime, with the probe on the cool side), & a 4FT 40W LED tube (6000K & 4800LM) set on a 12 hour timer with the basking bulb. For UV, there's an Arcadia ProT5 Kit 12% 54W towards the right side on timer for 4 hours midday. I don't have a UV meter currently but there's 3 Inkbird thermometers/hygrometers in the enclosure (& I have a temperature gun) which read 73F & 72% on the warm side & 73F & 83% on the cool side: I'm not sure why there isn't a temperature gradient. He has a humid hide (95%) on the warm side & a log hide on the cold side. I would appreciate some recommendations on decor & plants if anyone has any as I know it's pretty bare!
- He currently eats a mix of Florette crispy salad (frisée, lamb's lettuce & radicchio), chicory, red & green leaf lettuce, romaine, kale & rocket but I’ve just got some cactus pads & ZooMed Grassland, & am currently trying to order some dried leaves and seeds. He has Calcidust twice weekly & access to a cuttlefish but I've also just bought some Reptivite with D3 & MinerAll Indoor to give him both once weekly.
- I changed his water bowl from a reptile one & have since noticed him peeing a lot more, & he poops regularly. Since then, he has really liquidy or toothpaste-like urates (never gritty) more often. Is this okay?
- There's 2-3 inches of damp fine grade orchid bark. I think he unfortunately has some pyramiding from his previously dry conditions & his shell looks quite dry. I soak him twice weekly for about 20-40 minutes but should I spray his shell too? I'm also not sure if his beak & nails need trimming.
- I also noticed him occasionally making this sneeze-like sound a few weeks ago in his old enclosure which I thought may have been to do with the wood shavings that he had before as he shows no other signs of an RI like bubbles, loss of appetite or lethargy. However, he has also just done it a few times now after being in his new place for a few hours as well as made a slight whistling sound for the first time which he wasn’t doing this morning during his soak. I’m not sure if it could be from the from the old substrate being in his system still or if the bark is not damp enough, or if it was dust from the cuttlefish he’d just been eating. I will keep an eye on him but should I be concerned? I haven't been able to catch it on camera but it's identical to this:

Sorry for the long post! Thanks so much in advance :)
 

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Tom

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All of this is just fantastic! Well done!

I think your 60 watt Arcadia flood bulb is going to work great. No need for other types. Buy a spare or two to have around.

High humidity isn't necessary for this species once they are mostly grown. Its more important for little growing babies. I would gradually let things dry out a bit, and just keep it damp under the humid hide. Some moisture will also spread out from the water bowl too, and this is all fine.

Your dietary improvement all sound perfect too.

I wouldn't worry about the sneezing just yet. Keep an eye out, and if all is good, he should be fine.
 

Mrs.Jennifer

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362
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Norwich CT
Hello,

After finding this forum about 2 months ago, I unfortunately realised for years I had been misinformed about my adult Russian Tommy's care which I feel incredibly guilty about. However, with thanks to this forum & the amazing help from everyone (especially @Tom!), I'm hoping Tommy will be much healthier & happier as I have since made many changes. I've attached some photos of his new 8x3ft vivarium that I've only just put him in today and of Tommy himself, & would be really grateful for some opinions/advice on his new enclosure & general care.

- I tried 60W opal golfball incandescents but 3 blew within 48 hours so currently he has an Arcadia 50W Floodlight in a 12inch dome giving a basking spot of 96F on the left hand side with a slate underneath. I have ordered some more incandescents but they're quite difficult to find so may have to stick with the Arcadia if they keep breaking. Near the middle, there's a 100W CHE in a wire cage (set on an Inkbird thermostat to turn on below 68F during the daytime & 63F at nightime, with the probe on the cool side), & a 4FT 40W LED tube (6000K & 4800LM) set on a 12 hour timer with the basking bulb. For UV, there's an Arcadia ProT5 Kit 12% 54W towards the right side on timer for 4 hours midday. I don't have a UV meter currently but there's 3 Inkbird thermometers/hygrometers in the enclosure (& I have a temperature gun) which read 73F & 72% on the warm side & 73F & 83% on the cool side: I'm not sure why there isn't a temperature gradient. He has a humid hide (95%) on the warm side & a log hide on the cold side. I would appreciate some recommendations on decor & plants if anyone has any as I know it's pretty bare!
- He currently eats a mix of Florette crispy salad (frisée, lamb's lettuce & radicchio), chicory, red & green leaf lettuce, romaine, kale & rocket but I’ve just got some cactus pads & ZooMed Grassland, & am currently trying to order some dried leaves and seeds. He has Calcidust twice weekly & access to a cuttlefish but I've also just bought some Reptivite with D3 & MinerAll Indoor to give him both once weekly.
- I changed his water bowl from a reptile one & have since noticed him peeing a lot more, & he poops regularly. Since then, he has really liquidy or toothpaste-like urates (never gritty) more often. Is this okay?
- There's 2-3 inches of damp fine grade orchid bark. I think he unfortunately has some pyramiding from his previously dry conditions & his shell looks quite dry. I soak him twice weekly for about 20-40 minutes but should I spray his shell too? I'm also not sure if his beak & nails need trimming.
- I also noticed him occasionally making this sneeze-like sound a few weeks ago in his old enclosure which I thought may have been to do with the wood shavings that he had before as he shows no other signs of an RI like bubbles, loss of appetite or lethargy. However, he has also just done it a few times now after being in his new place for a few hours as well as made a slight whistling sound for the first time which he wasn’t doing this morning during his soak. I’m not sure if it could be from the from the old substrate being in his system still or if the bark is not damp enough, or if it was dust from the cuttlefish he’d just been eating. I will keep an eye on him but should I be concerned? I haven't been able to catch it on camera but it's identical to this:

Sorry for the long post! Thanks so much in advance :)
I too realized after finding this forum that I had been doing things wrong while also making too much work for myself! My Russian is sooooo much happier, active and hydrated.

I would advise a beak trim however. It will make eating less of a chore for Tommy.
 

Tommy03

Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2021
Messages
51
Location (City and/or State)
England
All of this is just fantastic! Well done!

I think your 60 watt Arcadia flood bulb is going to work great. No need for other types. Buy a spare or two to have around.

High humidity isn't necessary for this species once they are mostly grown. Its more important for little growing babies. I would gradually let things dry out a bit, and just keep it damp under the humid hide. Some moisture will also spread out from the water bowl too, and this is all fine.

Your dietary improvement all sound perfect too.

I wouldn't worry about the sneezing just yet. Keep an eye out, and if all is good, he should be fine.
Thank you very much for your reply.

I'm so glad you think so - wouldn't have known where to start without your caresheet & help! Tommy seems to have settled in well so far which I'm really relieved about :)

What humidity would you recommend? The substrate feels pretty dry already so I'll make sure to just dampen it under the hide - I was just concerned that it might become too dusty & maybe that's what could cause his sneezing. Should I become concerned if the sneezing persists even if he doesn't get any other symptoms?
 
Last edited:

Tommy03

Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2021
Messages
51
Location (City and/or State)
England
I too realized after finding this forum that I had been doing things wrong while also making too much work for myself! My Russian is sooooo much happier, active and hydrated.

I would advise a beak trim however. It will make eating less of a chore for Tommy.
That's so good to hear about your Russian!

Okay, thank you. I'll look into it :)
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,116
Location (City and/or State)
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Thank you very much for your reply.

I'm so glad you think so - wouldn't have known where to start without your caresheet & help! Tommy seems to have settled in well so far which I'm really relieved about :)

What humidity would you recommend? The substrate feels pretty dry already so I'll make sure to just dampen it under the hide - I was just concerned that it might become too dusty & maybe that's what could cause his sneezing. Should I become concerned if the sneezing persists even if he doesn't get any other symptoms?
50-70% is good for Testudo. Lightly damp substrate and a humid hide make it all work. Keeping the substrate lightly damp will also prevent dust.
 

TaylorTortoise

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Joined
Mar 24, 2020
Messages
807
Location (City and/or State)
Abington
50-70% is good for Testudo. Lightly damp substrate and a humid hide make it all work. Keeping the substrate lightly damp will also prevent dus
How many times do you recommend to spray the substrate a day?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Joined
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Messages
54,116
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How many times do you recommend to spray the substrate a day?
In a closed chamber it shouldn't be needed at all. Even in an open topped enclosure, spraying the surface does very little. You need to dump water into the substrate to keep it damp. How much water and how often varies tremendously with each enclosure due to climate, season, current weather and many more factors. It must be done by "feel" in everyone's enclosures. To maintain humidity, you must reduce ventilation. How much reduction in ventilation? Only your hygrometer can answer that question. Every tortoise enclosure and every house is different.
 

TaylorTortoise

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Joined
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Messages
807
Location (City and/or State)
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In a closed chamber it shouldn't be needed at all. Even in an open topped enclosure, spraying the surface does very little. You need to dump water into the substrate to keep it damp. How much water and how often varies tremendously with each enclosure due to climate, season, current weather and many more factors. It must be done by "feel" in everyone's enclosures. To maintain humidity, you must reduce ventilation. How much reduction in ventilation? Only your hygrometer can answer that question. Every tortoise enclosure and every house is different.
So spraying the enclosure with a mist doesn’t do anything? Do you suggest damping substrate once every day for open tops? I’m working on making my enclosure closed.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
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Messages
54,116
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
1. So spraying the enclosure with a mist doesn’t do anything?
2. Do you suggest damping substrate once every day for open tops?

3. I’m working on making my enclosure closed.
1. Correct. It does very little.

2. No. I suggest adding as much water as is needed, as often as is needed, based on feel. Some enclosures do need it every day, other less so. Same for quantity of water. Some enclosure need two gallons a day, other need only the contents of the water dish twice a week. It varies tremendously. You will have to judge how much water and how often to add it based on how damp or dry your substrate is on a given day. If its damp enough, add nothing that day. If its too dry, add water. Even more dry the next day, add more water. Too damp the next day? Split the difference next time.

3. That will reduce the rate of evaporation, increase humidity, and improve conditions for your tortoise.
 

TaylorTortoise

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Joined
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Messages
807
Location (City and/or State)
Abington
1. Correct. It does very little.

2. No. I suggest adding as much water as is needed, as often as is needed, based on feel. Some enclosures do need it every day, other less so. Same for quantity of water. Some enclosure need two gallons a day, other need only the contents of the water dish twice a week. It varies tremendously. You will have to judge how much water and how often to add it based on how damp or dry your substrate is on a given day. If its damp enough, add nothing that day. If its too dry, add water. Even more dry the next day, add more water. Too damp the next day? Split the difference next time.

3. That will reduce the rate of evaporation, increase humidity, and improve conditions for your tortoise.
Thanks for breaking that up for me Tom.
Do you recommend damp substrate for russian tortoises & western hermanns 24/7?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,116
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Thanks for breaking that up for me Tom.
Do you recommend damp substrate for russian tortoises & western hermanns 24/7?
Yes. Lightly damp, not wet. This will aid with humidity and also prevent dust.
 
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