Russian Tortoise always sleeping/hiding

taropoo

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Jan 16, 2021
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San Jose CA
Hello fellow tortoise lovers/owners,

We need some help please. We've had Clyde since Feb, 2021, he was born back in August 2020, so he's about 10 months old now. This is the setup we have for him:

- Powersun MVB from 8am to 9pm, basking spot around 100 degrees
- ceramic heat lamp from 9pm to 8am set to on when it's below 80 degrees

We usually wakes him up and bring him out of the hide around noon, occasionally he would wake up early and comes out of his hide, but that doesn't happen often, probably once a month? Then give him a warm bath, then feed him fresh veggies (dandelion greens, collard greens, etc). Then right after he eats, he would go back to his hide. Sometimes he'll come out again around 5pm to eat the rest of the greens, sometimes he doesn't.

I feel like he doesn't move around much, and that worries me. I see a lot of posts about their tortoises walking about and exploring, Clyde doesn't really do that :( I am wondering what are we doing wrong, please help us!

Thanks,
Bonnie
 

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wellington

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Let night temps drop to your house temp, as low as 60 is fine for Russians.
Get some humidity in there, 50-80%
Try adding plants so he feels more camouflaged. Also get a cooler side for day time, closer to 75-78, grading upto 80 and then the basking.
Also, even though he is a year old, he is still young and will sleep a lot.
Make the changes see how he does.
 

taropoo

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Let night temps drop to your house temp, as low as 60 is fine for Russians.
Get some humidity in there, 50-80%
Try adding plants so he feels more camouflaged. Also get a cooler side for day time, closer to 75-78, grading upto 80 and then the basking.
Also, even though he is a year old, he is still young and will sleep a lot.
Make the changes see how he does.
Hi Wellington,

Thanks for getting back to me! I didn't realize we could let night temperature to drop to 60s, I'll definitely keep that in mind. Maybe only use the heat lamp during winter?

Yes, the humidity in the enclosure is around 50-65%, should I get a humidifier to help increasing it more?

I've tried putting in plants before, but he always managing to eat all of it 😅 I'll try to get a few more plants to put in this weekend.

Yes the cooler side of the enclosure is around 75 degrees.

I'll get back to you after making the changes and see how it goes!
 

taropoo

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I forgot to mention we also put on a greenhouse tent during the night to keep the temperature higher inside the enclosure than the house temperature, so should we just lower the heat lamp temperature to 68 degrees (the lowest I can set) and still keep the greenhouse tent on?
 

wellington

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The humidity you mentioned is fine. It will probably go up some with the lower night temps.
Yes keep the tent on as that will help with humidity and if your house temp is not below 60 then turn heat off at night.
Put plants in pots and rig them so he can't knock them over or eat them.
 

taropoo

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Oh it never gets lower than 68 in the house. Although his enclosure is further away from the thermostat, I would imagine it should never be lower than 60s. If you think that’s ok, I’ll just turn off the heat lamp from now on.
Do you have an example on how to rig the plants so he doesn’t knock it over? I thought I had to put the plants deep in the substrate, is that not the case?
 

Tom

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Hello fellow tortoise lovers/owners,

We need some help please. We've had Clyde since Feb, 2021, he was born back in August 2020, so he's about 10 months old now. This is the setup we have for him:

- Powersun MVB from 8am to 9pm, basking spot around 100 degrees
- ceramic heat lamp from 9pm to 8am set to on when it's below 80 degrees

We usually wakes him up and bring him out of the hide around noon, occasionally he would wake up early and comes out of his hide, but that doesn't happen often, probably once a month? Then give him a warm bath, then feed him fresh veggies (dandelion greens, collard greens, etc). Then right after he eats, he would go back to his hide. Sometimes he'll come out again around 5pm to eat the rest of the greens, sometimes he doesn't.

I feel like he doesn't move around much, and that worries me. I see a lot of posts about their tortoises walking about and exploring, Clyde doesn't really do that :( I am wondering what are we doing wrong, please help us!

Thanks,
Bonnie
Babies hide a lot. Its instinctive. If they expose themselves in the wild they get eaten. You enclosure needs more decorations and stuff going on. Its too open and barren. Use potted plants to keep the tortoise from demolishing them. You can also clip mulberry, lavatera, hibiscus, grape vines (no grapes, just leaves), or other edible things like this to drop in for cover, hiding and grazing. Replace as needed. These usually last two or three days for me.

Your Russian needs cooler nights. They don't need, and should not have, night heat. Your baby is living in perpetual summer. I would back the thermostat off a couple of degrees every few days until its off all night. This will let him get used to the change gradually. And this is the perfect time of year to do this.

You also don't need the tent. Damp substrate and a humid hide are all you need for a Russian. I'd wean him off of that one too.

No humidifiers over tortoises.

You should not be using a mercury vapor bulb. These cause pyramiding and are very unreliable. Some of them make way too much UV, and this would make a tortoise hide all day to avoid the eye pain. Other make no UV at all, and just get real hot and desiccating. Use a 65 watt flood bulb. Adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under it. Since you live in CA, a friend or relative out of state will have to order these bulbs for you and use your address for "their" delivery to get around the CA light bulb ban. You should not need indoor UV living in CA. Time to make an safe outdoor enclosure if you don't already have something. An hour outside, with lots of shade too, where the torty has access to shade once or twice a week is all that is needed to meet his UV needs. Its fine to skip the entire winter if you hibernate him, and fine to skip several weeks in a row due to weather in winter if you are keeping him up.

All of this and more is right here:

Questions welcome.
 

taropoo

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Thanks Tom! I did look at your guide before we got Clyde, you did an amazing job! Thank you so much!

I did noticed you say no MVB in your guide, but unfortunately we are still trying to figure out Clyde's outdoor enclosure situation, so we can't switch just yet, but we'll definitely keep it in mind.
 

Mike2389

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Hi
First off Clyde is adorable.

We got our Russian (Dorothy) a year ago, she was about 8months when we got her. There was alot of worry in the first year of tortoise parenthood. Initially Dorothy hid alot in her first few months and buried herself alot too.

The above advice (especially Tom) is good, there are some very helpful people on this forum.
Having places for Clyde to explore and hide will encourage him out and about, but it'll take time.

How often and how long do you bathe clyde?

Have you done a stool check for worms since you got him? Dorothy became quite inactive and it turned out she had worms, once that cleared up she was alot more active.
 

taropoo

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Location (City and/or State)
San Jose CA
Hi Mike
Hi
First off Clyde is adorable.
Aww thanks 😊
We got our Russian (Dorothy) a year ago, she was about 8months when we got her. There was alot of worry in the first year of tortoise parenthood. Initially Dorothy hid alot in her first few months and buried herself alot too.

The above advice (especially Tom) is good, there are some very helpful people on this forum.
Having places for Clyde to explore and hide will encourage him out and about, but it'll take time.

How often and how long do you bathe clyde?
We actually give lukewarm bath to Clyde everyday, for 20-30 mins when we wake him up.
Have you done a stool check for worms since you got him? Dorothy became quite inactive and it turned out she had worms, once that cleared up she was alot more active.
That is a good point, we haven’t, do we take him to vet to do this?
 

Mike2389

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Not sure where you're based. I'm in the UK and there are company's that can do it by post, I use wormcount.com. My vet recommended them to me and I then let the vet know the results if positive and they can sort treatment
 

ZenHerper

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Hi Mike

Aww thanks 😊

We actually give lukewarm bath to Clyde everyday, for 20-30 mins when we wake him up.

That is a good point, we haven’t, do we take him to vet to do this?
A lot of offices will do the fecal analysis for you without an appointment (you need a file set up in their system and call ahead). If it is negative, they'll just let you know.

If it is positive for parasites, you will need to bring the tort in for an exam so that the meds can be prescribed.
 
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