Russian tortoise not eating

KaitlynSch

New Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Woodinville, Washington
Hi everyone! I am a new russian tortoise owner and I just have a few concerns. My little girl wont eat anything, however she is pooping and is very active! She loves to dig in her substrate and sometimes I find that she's completely buried herself in it. I've tried putting some plants in her tank that I have researched and found are healthy for her to munch on (pansies and watercress) however she doesn't eat them, she just digs under them, pushes them, and sits on them. Does it just take time for her to get accustomed to her new environment? I picked her up on Friday and it is currently Monday. I've been putting food down for her every morning when I wake up, I feed her a spring mix of salad greens and I sprinkle a small amount of repti-calcium on them as I was told but she hasn't eaten any of it. She has gone into her water dish and drank water a few times though. Thanks in advance for the help and advice!
 

Jan A

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Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
1,743
Location (City and/or State)
Boulder, CO
Hi everyone! I am a new russian tortoise owner and I just have a few concerns. My little girl wont eat anything, however she is pooping and is very active! She loves to dig in her substrate and sometimes I find that she's completely buried herself in it. I've tried putting some plants in her tank that I have researched and found are healthy for her to munch on (pansies and watercress) however she doesn't eat them, she just digs under them, pushes them, and sits on them. Does it just take time for her to get accustomed to her new environment? I picked her up on Friday and it is currently Monday. I've been putting food down for her every morning when I wake up, I feed her a spring mix of salad greens and I sprinkle a small amount of repti-calcium on them as I was told but she hasn't eaten any of it. She has gone into her water dish and drank water a few times though. Thanks in advance for the help and advice!
Welcome to the site. Pictures of your tort & the enclosure is always helpful, so everyone can see what's happening. Also, where did you get your tort & how old is she?
 

KaitlynSch

New Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Woodinville, Washington
Welcome to the site. Pictures of your tort & the enclosure is always helpful, so everyone can see what's happening. Also, where did you get your tort & how old is she?

Here are some pictures of her and her tank. Her tank is really bare right now as I had to remove the decorations I had in there since she kept tipping them over when she was digging. I also removed the plants as she kept digging under them and walking on top of them. We haven’t used the reptile fogger at all as the humidity seems to be perfect now. I picked her up from a reptile shop but I’m unsure of how old she is, she is pretty small so I would assume she is a younger tortoise. Thanks!
 

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TeamZissou

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Aug 23, 2020
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956
Location (City and/or State)
Albuquerque, NM
Tortoises need time to adjust to a new enclosure. Since you just brought her home, she may not eat for a while until she's more used to the new setup.

That said, it appears that your temperatures are too low, which can also contribute to not eating. I assume that the thermometer on the left is near the heat lamp and hottest area. If so, then 80 degrees is too low. It needs to be about 95 degrees so that the tortoise can get warm enough. Increase the wattage of the flood bulb to improve this. A laser temp gun would be the best tool to measure the temp here.

The size of the enclosure is way too small for a fully grown Russian, which you have. The recommended size is 4x8' minimum.

What all do you have for lighting?

Read this thread, it has a lot of great info and will answer a lot of your questions.

 
Last edited:

KaitlynSch

New Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Woodinville, Washington
Tortoises need time to adjust to a new enclosure. Since you just brought her home, she may not eat for a while until she's more used to the new setup.

That said, it appears that your temperatures are too low, which can also contribute to not eating. I assume that the thermometer on the left is near the heat lamp. If so, then 80 degrees is too low. It needs to be about 95 degrees so that the tortoise can get warm enough.

The size of the enclosure is way too small for a fully grown Russian, which you have. The recommended size is 4x8' minimum.

What all do you have for lighting?

Read this thread, it has a lot of great info and will answer a lot of your questions.

The temperature is usually around 90-95, it was reading lower since she pushed the temperature gage under the substrate which we keep moist for the humidity. As for lighting I have a uvb lamp, a heat lamp, as well as a heat lamp for night time and they are all on timers so that the day time lighting and heating turns on around 8am and off around 9pm and the night time heat lamp turns on around 9:15pm and turns off around 7:45am
 

TeamZissou

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Joined
Aug 23, 2020
Messages
956
Location (City and/or State)
Albuquerque, NM
How cold does it get in the room? If it's above 60, then you don't need any heat at night for Russians.

Is the UV bulb a coil type bulb? If so, then it should be removed as they have been shown to cause eye problems in tortoises. They are also ineffective at producing UV to the levels needed. Look into T5 HO UVB bulb. If you're able to get the tortoise outside for the summer, then UVB is not needed. A much larger, outdoor enclosure for the warm months would be ideal.

I'd say she's probably still just adjusting to the new enclosure. The other unknown is, what was she fed before you got her? Tortoises only eat what they're familiar with. If she was fed only one one thing, she may not eat a lot until she gets really hungry and desperate. Ultimately, a healthy tortoise will eventually eat. You could try some cheaper, common lettuces such as Romaine to see if she takes that, and gradually work in the other, healthier stuff.
 

Lyn W

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UK
If you keep changing things in the enclosure she won't settle easily because torts hate change and it could cause stress and stop her eating.
Plants will make her feel more secure and give somewhere to hide, so put some back in but leave them in pots and sink that in the substrate so that if she does trample on them it is easy to swap them with another. Russians love to dig so I think you need deeper substrate. Is it a type of coco coir? It looks a bit dry for a Russian. The caresheet will help you with that.

Any plants you use should be tort safe and chemical free i.e if shop bought they need to have roots washed, be repotted in fertiliser/pesticides free soil and left for at least a year for any chemicals to grow out so try to get safe plants from cuttings or people who haven't used any chemicals.
Have a look at www.thetortoisetable.org.uk for tort safe plants for food and enclosures.

You need to be thinking about a bigger enclosure because torts are roaming creatures and need space to move about which will also help digestion.
 
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