Problems with my Russian tortoise

Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
Hey, so I’ve had my Russian tort for about 3 years now, I think he’s about 6. Recently he’s had a few problems. First, he eats his wood chips in his cage even when he has lettuce right in front of him. He also eats the carpet sometimes when I let him out. (I don’t think he’s consumed any carpet though.) Another problem is that he makes duck sounds. Literal duck sounds. I don’t know why. One last thing, (and I’m sorry this is so long) but since the day I got him he’s HATED water. If I gave him a bath, he would freak out, and I’ve never seen him drink anything. If you could help me that would be fantastic! Thank you!
 

nicoleann2214

Active Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2020
Messages
398
Location (City and/or State)
NY
Hey, so I’ve had my Russian tort for about 3 years now, I think he’s about 6. Recently he’s had a few problems. First, he eats his wood chips in his cage even when he has lettuce right in front of him. He also eats the carpet sometimes when I let him out. (I don’t think he’s consumed any carpet though.) Another problem is that he makes duck sounds. Literal duck sounds. I don’t know why. One last thing, (and I’m sorry this is so long) but since the day I got him he’s HATED water. If I gave him a bath, he would freak out, and I’ve never seen him drink anything. If you could help me that would be fantastic! Thank you!
Hi, welcome to the forum! Firstly, you shouldn’t be letting your Russian roam around the house it can be very dangerous and if he’s eating carpet there is your first pointer. If you soak him for 30 minutes everyday he is getting hydration, what do you house him in and is his water dish accessible? As in it’s not one of those ramp kinds? I’m not sure about the duck sounds, someone else with more experience may be able to help you with that...
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
Hi, welcome to the forum! Firstly, you shouldn’t be letting your Russian roam around the house it can be very dangerous and if he’s eating carpet there is your first pointer. If you soak him for 30 minutes everyday he is getting hydration, what do you house him in and is his water dish accessible? As in it’s not one of those ramp kinds? I’m not sure about the duck sounds, someone else with more experience may be able to help you with that...
His water dish is accessible, but he normally overturns it quickly.
 

Ruby the Tortoise

New Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2020
Messages
16
Location (City and/or State)
Oregon
Well I have to say from experience that my tortoise loves to be reckless and destroy her house, so I often dig her water dish into the substrate a little, so it is at ground level, much harder to flip. About the other issues, I recommend that you send a picture or two, and I’d also recommend that you check the tortoise feces for any suspicious signs, as it seems that your tortoise needs more attention, and I’m not sure what else your tortoise has consumed.
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
2,709
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
OK, let's look at this problem by problem.

First, you say he eats wood chips when he already has lettuce...what else does he eat? What do you normally feed him? Sometimes animals will eat weird stuff trying to get the proper nutrition that he needs.

The duck sounds I don't know. Do you mean he quacks? When he makes the sounds is any part of his body spasming or anything?

Then the water issue...sometimes you need to convince torts that they like the bath. You do this by putting him in a tub with tall sides and let him get used to it. The water needs to be 95-100° and come up a little bit higher than where his carapace and plastron meet. Don't let the bath water get cool. Scoop some water out of the tub and add in some 100° water. Do this carefully so you don't scald him!

Please post some pictures of him and his house. Tell us what he gets to eat. And read this care sheet...all of it. You can compare how he should be cared for vs how you are caring for him. You might find that something needs to be changed.

Then come back here with any questions. We'll help you get him straightened out.

 

Ceyda

New Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2020
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Turkey
Mine was making those sounds too!! But I searched it on internet and I read that that’s fine. He’s not doing it anymore he did it when he was small.
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
Well I have to say from experience that my tortoise loves to be reckless and destroy her house, so I often dig her water dish into the substrate a little, so it is at ground level, much harder to flip. About the other issues, I recommend that you send a picture or two, and I’d also recommend that you check the tortoise feces for any suspicious signs, as it seems that your tortoise needs more attention, and I’m not sure what else your tortoise has consumed.
What do you recommend for giving him more attention?
 

Ruby the Tortoise

New Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2020
Messages
16
Location (City and/or State)
Oregon
What do you recommend for giving him more attention?
Sometimes I will just take her outside for a while on our lawn for her to “mow down the weeds,” and also check up on her to make sure that everything is okay, as sometimes you will miss things when they are in their cage.
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
Sometimes I will just take her outside for a while on our lawn for her to “mow down the weeds,” and also check up on her to make sure that everything is okay, as sometimes you will miss things when they are in their cage.
Ok sounds great! We use fertilizer on our grads though, nothing else, is that bad for him? Also I have plans to make him an outdoor enclosure! He’ll be much happier then. :)
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
OK, let's look at this problem by problem.

First, you say he eats wood chips when he already has lettuce...what else does he eat? What do you normally feed him? Sometimes animals will eat weird stuff trying to get the proper nutrition that he needs.

The duck sounds I don't know. Do you mean he quacks? When he makes the sounds is any part of his body spasming or anything?

Then the water issue...sometimes you need to convince torts that they like the bath. You do this by putting him in a tub with tall sides and let him get used to it. The water needs to be 95-100° and come up a little bit higher than where his carapace and plastron meet. Don't let the bath water get cool. Scoop some water out of the tub and add in some 100° water. Do this carefully so you don't scald him!

Please post some pictures of him and his house. Tell us what he gets to eat. And read this care sheet...all of it. You can compare how he should be cared for vs how you are caring for him. You might find that something needs to be changed.

Then come back here with any questions. We'll help you get him straightened out.

100 degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius? Also, I’ve been trying to give him a more balanced diet (thanks to the thread you linked) like peppers, cilantro, still lettuce. I’m planning to build a large outdoor enclosure for him with a nice shady spot. I’ll feed him whatever I can find that’s good for him, maybe give him some of those tortoise pellets. I’ll let him outside during the day and inside at night and during the winter, does that sound like a good situation? This is his current house but I’m going to build a 4 by 8 ft tortoise table soon.
 

Attachments

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
679
100 degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius? Also, I’ve been trying to give him a more balanced diet (thanks to the thread you linked) like peppers, cilantro, still lettuce. I’m planning to build a large outdoor enclosure for him with a nice shady spot. I’ll feed him whatever I can find that’s good for him, maybe give him some of those tortoise pellets. I’ll let him outside during the day and inside at night and during the winter, does that sound like a good situation? This is his current house but I’m going to build a 4 by 8 ft tortoise table soon.
100 degrees Fahrenheit. Definitely not 100 degrees Celsius. That would be boiling water and way too hot.
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
2,709
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
100 degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius? Also, I’ve been trying to give him a more balanced diet (thanks to the thread you linked) like peppers, cilantro, still lettuce. I’m planning to build a large outdoor enclosure for him with a nice shady spot. I’ll feed him whatever I can find that’s good for him, maybe give him some of those tortoise pellets. I’ll let him outside during the day and inside at night and during the winter, does that sound like a good situation? This is his current house but I’m going to build a 4 by 8 ft tortoise table soon.
It says in your profile that you're in CO, so I used Fahrenheit. I should have specified though. Sorry for the confusion.

I'm sad when I see where your tortoise is living. 😢 He doesn't have nearly enough space to walk around. It is dangerous for him to walk around the house, and with no outdoor enclosure, he's in a bad way for getting enough exercise.

And he doesn't have anywhere to hide. Tortoises like to have a box with a hole cut for a doorway. They go in there at night and sleep, and they feel safe and secure. For a tortoise, being out in the open at night is very frightening.

I'm so glad you are planning an outdoor pen, and a 8x4 table. If you can go even bigger on the table, go for it! He will appreciate every inch you can manage, both inside and outside.

Peppers are not good for him. The cilantro is good. Stuff you might be able to find would be safe weeds, mulberry leaves (no fruit), grape leaves (no fruit), hibiscus-the whole plant, rose flowers and leaves. I have a huge list of good foods for tortoises. If you want it I'll post it for you. If your tortoise won't eat new foods, you have to cut the new food into tiny pieces and mix it up with his lettuce. Then you can slowly decrease the lettuce and slowly increase the good stuff.

Your plan of out by day and in by night/winter is a good one. At night in summer it depends on the outdoor temps, and whether you have predators in your area.
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
Hi, welcome to the forum! Firstly, you shouldn’t be letting your Russian roam around the house it can be very dangerous and if he’s eating carpet there is your first pointer. If you soak him for 30 minutes everyday he is getting hydration, what do you house him in and is his water dish accessible? As in it’s not one of those ramp kinds? I’m not sure about the duck sounds, someone else with more experience may be able to help you with that...
Happy birthday!
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
It says in your profile that you're in CO, so I used Fahrenheit. I should have specified though. Sorry for the confusion.

I'm sad when I see where your tortoise is living. 😢 He doesn't have nearly enough space to walk around. It is dangerous for him to walk around the house, and with no outdoor enclosure, he's in a bad way for getting enough exercise.

And he doesn't have anywhere to hide. Tortoises like to have a box with a hole cut for a doorway. They go in there at night and sleep, and they feel safe and secure. For a tortoise, being out in the open at night is very frightening.

I'm so glad you are planning an outdoor pen, and a 8x4 table. If you can go even bigger on the table, go for it! He will appreciate every inch you can manage, both inside and outside.

Peppers are not good for him. The cilantro is good. Stuff you might be able to find would be safe weeds, mulberry leaves (no fruit), grape leaves (no fruit), hibiscus-the whole plant, rose flowers and leaves. I have a huge list of good foods for tortoises. If you want it I'll post it for you. If your tortoise won't eat new foods, you have to cut the new food into tiny pieces and mix it up with his lettuce. Then you can slowly decrease the lettuce and slowly increase the good stuff.

Your plan of out by day and in by night/winter is a good one. At night in summer it depends on the outdoor temps, and whether you have predators in your area.
Ok thank you! He hasn’t been eating the peppers, might know it’s not good for him. I would love a food list!
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
It says in your profile that you're in CO, so I used Fahrenheit. I should have specified though. Sorry for the confusion.

I'm sad when I see where your tortoise is living. 😢 He doesn't have nearly enough space to walk around. It is dangerous for him to walk around the house, and with no outdoor enclosure, he's in a bad way for getting enough exercise.

And he doesn't have anywhere to hide. Tortoises like to have a box with a hole cut for a doorway. They go in there at night and sleep, and they feel safe and secure. For a tortoise, being out in the open at night is very frightening.

I'm so glad you are planning an outdoor pen, and a 8x4 table. If you can go even bigger on the table, go for it! He will appreciate every inch you can manage, both inside and outside.

Peppers are not good for him. The cilantro is good. Stuff you might be able to find would be safe weeds, mulberry leaves (no fruit), grape leaves (no fruit), hibiscus-the whole plant, rose flowers and leaves. I have a huge list of good foods for tortoises. If you want it I'll post it for you. If your tortoise won't eat new foods, you have to cut the new food into tiny pieces and mix it up with his lettuce. Then you can slowly decrease the lettuce and slowly increase the good stuff.

Your plan of out by day and in by night/winter is a good one. At night in summer it depends on the outdoor temps, and whether you have predators in your area.
And not trying to be rude or anything, I’m just wondering how is it dangerous for him? I just want to know more so I can help him. 😀
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
85,209
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
When a tortoise eats rocks or bark or substrate it means he's trying to find the nutrients that are missing in his diet.

The sound might be he had a piece of wood chip stuck in his throat.

Lettuce has no nutrition.

When soaking a tortoise use a bowl he can't climb out of and make the water level come up to the middle of his sides.
 

Skip K

Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2020
Messages
74
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
If he is eating wood chips...make sure that he is pooping. Impaction might be a problem...especially if he is not drinking. You might try a different substrate like coconut coir...which is easier to pass if accidentally or deliberately ingested
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
2,709
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
And not trying to be rude or anything, I’m just wondering how is it dangerous for him? I just want to know more so I can help him. 😀
When torts roam the floors, they will eat (or try to eat) anything they find. Dog or cat hair, carpet fibers, thumb tacks, electric cords, dust bunnies, paper...you name it. And even if your mom just vacuumed and mopped, can you guarantee that a cellophane candy wrapper didn't get missed under your bed?

They are also vulnerable to accidents: they get kicked, stepped on, and closed into doors. If big enough, they knock things down. They fall down stairs.

It's a neverending list of pitfalls.

Speaking of lists, here's the foods list:

Compiled by Tom:
Good foods for tortoises are "chicories," types of lettuce that are likely to be on the far side of the more common floppy green heads of lettuce most people buy. Anything labeled as simply "chicory" is good, as are radiccio, frisee, escarole, and endive; you might even find something labeled as dandelions. You may find a bag of "Spring" or "Spicy" mix that is good, just check the label to be sure it has some of the chicories I just mentioned. The leaves (just the leaves) of turnips and radishes are also good, as are carrot tops. Collards, mustard greens, bok choy, and other dark, leafy greens are okay as well. If you have any kind of Mexican/hispanic market near you, they will sell cactus, labeled "nopales." Cactus is a great food to rotate in the diet, as it is high in calcium.

You don't need to feed all of these at one time, just make sure your tortoise is getting access to different types of food. As you get more experienced, you can find the better types of food listed on the care sheets.

Here are a whole bunch of non-grocery store suggestions.

Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Geraniums
Gazanias
Nasturtium
Lavatera
Pansies
Petunias
Hostas
Honeysuckle
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

Weeds:

There are soooooooo many...
Dandelion
Mallow
Filaree
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Nettles
Trefoil
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Clovers
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed
Hawksbit
Hensbit
Hawksbeard

Other good stuff:

"Testudo Seed Mix" from http://www.tortoisesupply.com/SeedMixes

Pasture mixes or other seeds from http://www.groworganic.com/seeds.html

Homegrown alfalfa

Mazuri Tortoise Chow

ZooMed Grassland Tortoise Food

Ones that you can buy in every store:
Arugula
Lambs lettuce
Chicory
Kale
Mustard greens
Organic kohlrabi leafs
Organic carrot leafs
Organic radish leafs
Dandelions
Radiccio


Their main diet should be broad leaf weeds, succulents and grasses. Store bought foods are okay, but not the best. Collards and dandelions are a good food, but neither should be used every day. Check out the plant ID section for lots of ideas on weeds to feed. You can get spineless opuntia cactus pads from most Mexican grocery stores, or grow them yourself. You can also easily grow grape leaves, african hibiscus, regular hibiscus (if it will survive in your area), and mulberry leaves. You can try red apple, ice plant, and jade plant too. Also look into Gazania, pansies, nasturtiums, carnations, geraniums and many others. At the grocery store, favor endive and escarole, but also use cilantro, carrot tops, mustard and turnip greens, bok choy, radiccio, swiss chard, watercress, parsley, all the lettuces, etc. Lots of variety is best. There are also tortoise "weed" seed mixes that you can grow. I like the "Testudo Mix" from Tortoisesupply.com.
Buckwheat; cactus; vetch; Mohave aster; creosote bush; desert four o’clock; tacoma stans; bladderpod; globe mallow; goldenhead; burro weed; so many things!
 
Top