Questions/Concerns New Leopard Tortoise Owner

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Discusman88

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I am a new Leopard Tortoise owner and I have a few questions and concerns for everyone. I have done a lot of research and would just like the opinions on here.

First, I have pictures of my set up. I need to get a better way to keep humidity. Any suggestions would help. The rock is a heating rock for night. I leave the UVB/Heat lamp on for about 12 hours a day. I mist everything two or three times a day. and have the little water dish in it as well. He doesn't seem to like the heat at night and likes to burrow into the mulch quite a bit. He doesn't seem to like heat very much at night he always goes away from the light and ends up burrowing into the mulch in a cooler area.

Second, I have a few concerns about his shell. It has very pronounced ridges in between the scutes. I tried to get a good picture of it but it is hard. He also has a ridge down the middle of his back and on the bottom of his shell. He is about a month or so old from what I was told and I have had him almost two weeks. There are also some little spots between some of the scutes that almost look white? but it may just be little tan spots its hard to tell. If anyone knows what those are that would help. Also, I want to make sure that he isn't developing pyramiding already or anything like that.

He is a very active little tortoise and very friendly. He isn't shy at all and loves to have his head scratched. I give him a soak once a day as well.

Hopefully the pictures attached.

Thanks for all of your help!

Also his name is Scootsie and I measured his bottom shell at about 5.5 cm and haven't weighed him yet.
 

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Discusman88

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Beaverton, OR
I am a new user here although I have read quite a bit of threads. I have a baby leopard tortoise and I have a few questions for everyone.

First, I was told it was about three weeks old and I have had him for about 2 weeks now. I don't know if you can tell from the pictures about how old he is or not. I measured his bottom shell and he is about 5.5cm long. I have yet to weight him.

Second, there are some pictures of his enclosure here. I leave the heating lamp (UVB and Heat) on for about 12 hours a day and have the heating rock for night. He doesn't like to use the heating rock and stays away from the hot side most evenings and likes to bury into the mulch or smash himself into a corner. I am in the process of getting a better way to keep a humid hide for him other than the log I have now with the moss. Any suggestions on the whole set up would be nice.

Third, I have a few questions and concerns about his shell. There are some very pronounced ridges between his scutes. I am not sure if this is normal for a baby or if it is the beginning of pyramiding (I really hope not). I give him a soak once a day and I spray down the hot side of the cage two or three times a day. I feed him spring mix because he seems to love it, as well as grasses. I use a calcium and D3 supplement as well. My other concerns about the shell are that he has a ridge going from the front to back of his shell on the bottom and top. Is this normal? There are also some little spots between some of the scutes which I am not sure what those are.

He is a very active little tortoise. He loves to crawl all over the place and he loves to have is head rubbed. He is extremely friendly and will eat right out of my hand. Lastly, his name is Scootsie!

Any and all suggestions and answers are much appreciated!

Thanks
 

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Levi the Leopard

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Welcome to being a new leopard tortoise owner.

Can't always tell age by size but I'd assume the 3 week age you were told was fairly accurate. You can go with that age if you'd like. Get a weight, it will be good for you to track.

I think heat rocks are for snakes, not tortoises. I personally do not use one. Do you know the temperature your enclosure is at night? I prefer using a CHE (ceramic heating element) because it gives me the temperature I want and stays dark to let the tort sleep in peace. Is your heating lamp and UVB and Heat combo? What exactly are you using?
Suggestions for your whole set up: I'd use regular dirt. I'm a fan of that. Others like coco coir or cypress mulch. Something more "dirt like" than wood shavings. I also use high heat and humidity to prevent pyramiding. If you wanted to go that route as well you would need to cover your enclosure for a closed chamber effect.
A humid hide can be made from some tupperware. Cheap, easy to make and readily available.

Not sure about the ridges on his shell. I noticed it, but dont have an answer for you.

The white spots coming in on his shell is marbling. It comes in as they grow and gives them their leopard pattern. Dont worry about that :)

Hope that helps some.

If you haven't already read up on the threads
End of Pyramiding II
Closed Chambers
...there are some more that Wellington usually refers too, hopefully she'll chime in with those links.

Good luck
 

wellington

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Hello and Welcome:) I also agree the heat rock should be removed. The temps should not go below 80 day and night with the humidity also at 80% I would also use different substrate. I like the coconut coir, however all the ones Team Gomberg suggested is also good. The threads that were mentioned is posted at the bottom of my post. They are Toms and all of them, even the sulcata ones pertain to raising a smooth healthy tort. I like the mvb ( mercury vapor bulb) for light, heat and UVB and the CHE (ceramic heat emitter) for day and night heat. If you are using a coil bulb, get rid of it. They have been know to cause eye problems. My leopard does not hang out right under the light, usually off to the side. I don't know why some torts have the ridge on the top of their shell. The ridges between scutes are growth lines.


Almost forgot, you will have to cover 1/2 to 3/4 of the enclosure, maybe all of it to keep humidity up. Also, a temperature infrared gun is they best to read temps.
 

Discusman88

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Thanks for all of your help. Here is what I was planning on doing... I wanted to get rid of the heat rock and get a pad that will go underneath to keep the heat up at night as well as thinking about getting the CHE, will that be enough? For the humidity I was going to take a bigger tupper wear tub and cut a hole in it and replace the log with it. Keep moss inside the tupper wear and and keep it moist. If it is clear tupper wear it should create a pretty nice humid hide for him to try out. As much as I would like to prevent pyramiding I don't want to force scootsie into a humid environment if that is not what he wants. As far as temps, I do not have the infrared gun how much do those cost? The warm side stays around 100 during the day and about 73-75 at night, but the CHE and the heating pad underneath should get those up more. Do I need the heating pad if I get the CHE? I use the Mercury Vapor bulb and I have read the thread on the end of pyramiding. My personal opinion is that I will provide the environments for humidity but not force him into it. Wellington do those growth lines indicate the beginning of pyramiding? and will that ridge on the top go away with time?

Thanks for all your help!
 

Tortus

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Yes, I would get rid of that dry substrate and use coconut coir/fiber. Zoomed "Eco Earth" is good and cheap if you get the bricks. Drsfostersmith.com has it for a good price.

And stay away from anything that could mold. I thought I was keeping up with changing the hay, but had to learn the hard way.
 

wellington

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It's hard to tell from the pic. It looks like the scutes may be very slightly raised. If raised with 80% humidity, he should grow nice and smooth. Any raised scutes will in time not be so noticeable. You won't be forcing him into the humidity. In the wilds, under the substrate, is moist and humid. That's why it works for the little ones. That's where they would spend most of their time. When my leopard was younger, he had the choice of a humid enclosure and one not humid. Until he was over a year old, he would spend most if his time in the humid side. I personally don't like the heat mats but that's just me. I would do the CHE and the mvb. If one CHE isn't enough to keep temps at 80 at night, you can always add another.
 

Levi the Leopard

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I would not use a heat pad. I prefer to use only the CHE at night.

You can make a humid hide instead of an entire humid enclosure. Its up to you. Some keepers prefer offering the tortoise options. Just know that if your tort chooses not to use the humid hide and instead prefers the dry area you may have pyramiding. Its not the end of the world if that happens but you need to consider that a possibility.

I prefer an entire humid enclosure so that my tort has to be in a humid environment (when kept indoors) and he has no pyramiding because of it.
 

Discusman88

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So I got most of the things fixed here and wanted to post some more pics to see if you had any more suggestions. I took out the heating rock for starters, made a humid hid box out of an old tupper wear, got a CHE and also cut a piece of wood that I can move from side to side to help keep the heat and humidity up during the day and the night. I have posted pictures of everything as well as a nice pic of him hanging out in his water dish.

He doesn't seem to like the humid hide very much I tried to put him in there when i first added it to show him what it was like, and he just kind of crawled around and then left pretty quick. He is still active and eats like a champ.

Thanks for all the help!
 

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