Pyramiding? Russian tortoise?

Waltsu

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First of all, I think this is russian tortoise. I am no expert, but the old owner told me so.

I have had this tortoise for one month now. The current terrarium is really small, it's hard to give it proper burrowing area or control humidity. The next week I will build new terrarium for it (2,5 m x 0,8 m). It also walks around the apartment daily for hours. It's very active tortoise. The vet said it's healthy.

How young is "young" tortoise? This is 10 years old. I read that the young tortoise will suffer from pyramiding, is 10 year old still "young" tortoise?

Please take a look at the photo, do you think it has pyramiding? If yes, is it too late to change anything? I give it lots of salad and cucumber, some tomato/carrot and put some calcium/vitamin powder on the food. I don't offer it food once per week, and I give him once or twice a week bath for about 20 minutes. Currently it doesn't have bath in its terrarium.

Is it ok to have red IR-lamp in the terrarium at night? I read that the terrarium should always have warm and cool area, this is why I currenly have lamp on 24/7 so the tortoise can choose in which corner it wants to stay.

I have "level 10" uvb light, and I make it stand under the light for at least 2 hours per day.

Thanks for replies, I am new to tortoise world and I believe I did my homework, however these are things I am a bit worried about, internet has 10 different opinions how I should do things.

Tort
 

Waltsu

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Here's short video of how active he is, he walks around the apartment like that for hours, and then goes to sleep in the corner.
 

JoesMum

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Hi

I am not going to commit myself on species there. There is something weird going on with the scutes there that make me hesitant. It is, I think, one of the Testudo and the care is much the same for all of them.

There is some pyramidding and that won’t go away. This is caused by historical poor conditions, especially being kept too dry, and can become less obvious as a tortoise grows provided it receives the correct care. It looks like the tort is still growing.

Diet is weedy and leafy greens. Lettuce and cucumber contain few nutrients and little fibre and should only be fed sparingly. Your tortoise cannot digest sugars properly - they cause digestive and kidney problems - so sweet foods like red pepper, carrot, tomato and fruit should only be fed very sparingly and very occasionally.

Write a list of greens that grow around you and those that you can buy and look them up on The Tortoise Table Plant Database for suitability to feed
https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/

I guess the weeds aren’t growing well in Finland yet. Many of us use a pelleted food, like Mazuri or Komodo, softened with water as a supplement when the weeds are scarce.

A tiny pinch of calcium powder can be sprinkled sparsely on food 2-3 times a week. No more as you can overdo it.

Your tortoise must have constant access to water. A terracotta plant saucer makes a great safe water dish that your tortoise can climb in and out of.

Your tortoise must not be allowed to roam the floor. It needs a proper sized enclosure (1.5x2.2 metres) with damp substrate (coco coir or fine grade orchid bark), UVB on for 12 hours a day, a basking lamp on for 12 hours a day (temperature directly underneath 35-39C) and complete darkness at night. Use a Ceramic Heat Emitter (CHE), not a red bulb, with a thermostat for night heat. Use timers for the daytime lights as they make life easier for you. The CHE can run 24/7 as it will cut out when not needed.

A terrarium is probably far too small for a tortoise this size. Roaming your floor is not the answer. On the floor it is away from the heat and humidity it needs to be healthy and is exposed to many risks... no matter how closely you watch it.

I recommend you read the TFO care guides and compare them with your setup. We are happy to look over photos of the enclosure and lights and make recommendations :)

These guides written by species experts working hard to correct the outdated information widely available on the internet and from pet stores and, sadly, from some breeders and vets too.

Beginner Mistakes
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/

Russian Tortoise Care (works for all Testudo)
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
 

Waltsu

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Thank you. I thought that the tortoise needs lots of practise, so I take it outside the terrarium. Because it likes to move around a lot.
Thank you for many advices. I will take care of everything you said soon.

Tortoise is not very easy pet, compared to dog for example..
 

Waltsu

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I also had no idea you can overdo the calcium. I was giving it way too much then.
I also have this "grassland tortoise food", but it refuses to eat it, so I didn't offer it again. I will keep trying, maybe it will eat it over time, I think it never got this kind of food before..

Would this kind of "turf" be good for tortoise? It's ment for horses and don't have anything added in it, I could get this for really affordable price.

 

Yvonne G

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I'm not sure what that is, but normally, here in the States, we use ground up pine shavings for horse stalls. Pine is NOT a good tortoise substrate.
 

Waltsu

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I'm not sure what that is, but normally, here in the States, we use ground up pine shavings for horse stalls. Pine is NOT a good tortoise substrate.

Thanks. That is actually found from ground in dried up swamps etc., it's decomposed tree. I might just try that or something else.
 

JoesMum

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Thanks. That is actually found from ground in dried up swamps etc., it's decomposed tree. I might just try that or something else.

That sounds like what we call peat which is very acid.

You should be able to buy coco coir from a garden centre or Amazon (It’s made from coconut husks) Hopefully Google Translate can help you work out what it is called in Finnish.
 

Tom

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Thank you. I thought that the tortoise needs lots of practise, so I take it outside the terrarium. Because it likes to move around a lot.
Thank you for many advices. I will take care of everything you said soon.

Tortoise is not very easy pet, compared to dog for example..

It sounds like you did a lot of research and that is great. There are a few things that might need some refinement to improve your tortoises housing. We say these things not to be mean or hurtful, but to explain what is wrong and how to fix it. I think Joe's Mom did and excellent job of explaining things, but I'd like to offer my own point of view in my own words and add a couple of things.

  • You do have a Russian tortoise. Used to be called Testudo horsfieldii, now called Agrionemys horsfieldii.
  • The shell is misshapen. The carapace is too high and too short. There are many possible reasons for this. I'll list some of the problems I see with your housing and routine, and correcting these things might help.
  • Roaming loose in the house leads to disaster. It should never be done. They do need lots of exercise, but the solution in not the floor of your dwelling. The solution is a large enclosure, and an even larger outdoor enclosure when weather permits.
  • This species needs it cool and dark at night. Unless your house is unusually cold at night, you should not need night heat. Temps as low as 10 C are fine over night, but I usually try for 15-18C overnight, warming up to 22-29 during the day with a basking area around 36 directly under the bulb. If you do need night heat, it is best to use a ceramic heating element or radiant heat panel run through a thermostat. These will keep the night temp where you want it, but still dark.
  • The foods you are offering are not good. Your tortoise needs weeds and leaves that are high in fiber and calcium.
  • There are many types of UV bulb. Which type are you using? Some of them are not effective. Some of them are dangerous. All of them have to be mounted at the correct height.
I typed this for sulcatas, but skip the text and scroll down for a list of good foods for your tortoise.
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/

Hope this helps.
 

Tom

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I also have this "grassland tortoise food", but it refuses to eat it, so I didn't offer it again. I will keep trying, maybe it will eat it over time, I think it never got this kind of food before..

Tortoises are creatures of habit. They will seldom walk up and eat something new the first time they see it, even if it a "good" food. You'll have to introduce new foods slowly by mixing in tiny amounts at first. The ZooMed Grassland stuff is a good food and a good way to add fiber and variety to the other things that you've been feeding. Start with a tiny broken piece of one pellet. Soak it in a little water until it turns to mush. Then mix just a tiny pinch of it in with the day's greens. Mix it thoroughly so the tortoise can't eat around it. After a few days of this, the tortoise will get used to it and you can slowly add more and more.

I don't know of any tortoise that eats the ZooMed stuff plain. I always mix it with other foods.
 

Waltsu

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Thanks for replies! I feel sad that the tortoise already got pyramiding or misshapen carapace, hopefully I can help the tortoise to live long life.

From everything I've read here, I feel really sad for EVERY tortoise living in Finland.. Obviouisly people have no idea how to treat them and didn't do their homework..
They have multiple tortoises in small aquariums, they don't control the humidity, they let them wander on the floor, one guy said they keep the tortoise on the floor 24/7 because it doesn't like being caged. They feed their tortoises strawberries, the list is endless..

It's just really sad, no wonder I got so much false information so far. Thanks for correcting my mistakes!
 

JoesMum

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Thanks for replies! I feel sad that the tortoise already got pyramiding or misshapen carapace, hopefully I can help the tortoise to live long life.

From everything I've read here, I feel really sad for EVERY tortoise living in Finland.. Obviouisly people have no idea how to treat them and didn't do their homework..
They have multiple tortoises in small aquariums, they don't control the humidity, they let them wander on the floor, one guy said they keep the tortoise on the floor 24/7 because it doesn't like being caged. They feed their tortoises strawberries, the list is endless..

It's just really sad, no wonder I got so much false information so far. Thanks for correcting my mistakes!

All over the world there are people ignorant of the best conditions for raising their species of tortoise. That’s how this forum came about and gradually the information is getting out there so these creatures can thrive in captivity rather than survive.

Progress is slow, but as people find us the word is being spread :)
 

Dena

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We have a Russian Tortoise. Yes, yours looks to be pyramiding. You should not let it roam freely around the apartment. You can get a big Rubbermaid container, put substrate in
It, with a hideout and some water. These guys love to (and need to) burrow (especially at night). We have a heat lamp and light bulbs for the day, we turn them both off at night (approx. 12 hours on, 12 hours off). We feed Sheldon a variety of greens (escarole, romaine, spring mix, collards, chard). We also give him radicchio. In the warm weather, he loves clovers and dandelions (just make sure they are free of pesticides). You should soak your little guy several times a week for approx. 20 minutes or so to keep him hydrated. I hope that helps.
 

Waltsu

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Here's my new setup for my tortoise (built it today). It's about 2 x 0,8 meters big.
The ground is half coco coir and half gravel. I will add a bit more the coco later so the tortoise can actually dig in it.
I will also figure a way of putting the lamps hang "from roof". Already ordered different kind of lamps from ebay.

I wanted to make the floor of baskin & bathing spot of gravel to keep it cleaner. you think the gravel can damage the tortoise somehow? It's not as easy to walk on as soft coco so I thought it might give it good practise. The gravel is not sharp, it's got round edges.

Now I think it has pretty much everything needed. I made hiding spot of bucket which I made whole in. What do you think of my setup now? Do you think that for 10 year old tortoise the roof should be closed to better control the humidity? Someone said it's not necessary for older tortoise if you make sure the tortoise has bathing spot and the coco coir remains a bit moist all the time (add water occasionally).
 

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