Russian tortoise soaks

becky193

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Hello, just a quick question. My Russian tortoise is about a year old. I had been doing daily soaks but recently I have noticed he is using his water bowl in his table almost daily and taking drinks/pooing in it without me needing to force a soak on him. Do I still need to do the forced soaks or can I just let him regulate himself with his water bowl? Or how many times a week should I be soaking him?

Thanks in advance!
 

Jodie

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I continue soaks about 3 X per week from a year on. Adults I only soak 1X per week unless it gets really hot n dry outside.
 

Tom

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First, I'm opposed the the negatively charged term "forced soaks". There is no force involved. I just gently lift my tortoises and calmly place them in a tub of arm water for a few minutes. That term is used to discourage people from soaking their tortoises, and that is not a good thing.

Here is my point of view on the subject: If you soak your tortoise every day and it doesn't need it, what harm is done? None. On the other hand, if you think your tortoise is drinking enough on his own, but maybe somedays he isn't, serious harm can be done if you are not soaking enough.

How often to soak depends on size. Some russians hit 4" and 400-500 grams in a year. Others stay small and don't even break 100. I like to soak them every day when they are under 100 grams. Not a big deal if you skip a day here an there. After 100 grams I'll start skipping a couple of days a week. By the time they reach 500 grams, two soaks a week should meet their needs as long as they are housed correctly, fed correctly, have access to water on their own, actually use the provided water and bowl. Some people use an inappropriate water bowl sold to them by the pet shop, and their tortoise won't go near it.

My problem is that I cannot sit and watch the tortoise 24/7. I rarely see mine drink, but I know they are doing something in the water bowl daily because they track substrate into it and sometimes poop in it. I still soak them just to make sure they are staying hydrated. The consequence of too little hydration is stone formation, constipation and sometimes death. The consequence of regular soaking and keeping the tortoise well hydrated is a healthy tortoise. If they don't need water, they don't have to drink it. If they did need water, the soak ensures they will get it.

As a side note, soaking is also good for their carapace and shell growth. Regular soaks also afford us the opportunity to handle and inspect our tortoises more frequently than we might otherwise. This allows us to see potential problems early, before they become bigger and more serious problems.
 

becky193

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Thanks for your replies. Okay, I will keep up with soaking him daily as he is still only 51g! I just wanted to make sure I couldn't over do it, if that makes sense as it would mean him having a minimum of two soaks a day!
 
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RosemaryDW

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Not to hijack the thread @Tom but do you think your tortoises drink out of the bowl because your outdoor conditions are quite dry?

Our outdoor Russian has never used her water saucer, not once. I soak her once a week, basically for the reasons you've listed above and she doesn't drink in there, etiher, other than when coming out of hibernation. We actually removed the saucer this year because it was attracting birds (we have cats). She spends a little time sitting out in spring rains and once or twice we've seen her lick water off a bush, also in spring.

She gets plenty of fresh foods and our humidity is relatively high; do you think it might be the humidity that makes the difference? Or perhaps that she was wild caught and simply not used to year round availability of water?
 

Tom

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Not to hijack the thread @Tom but do you think your tortoises drink out of the bowl because your outdoor conditions are quite dry?

Our outdoor Russian has never used her water saucer, not once. I soak her once a week, basically for the reasons you've listed above and she doesn't drink in there, etiher, other than when coming out of hibernation. We actually removed the saucer this year because it was attracting birds (we have cats). She spends a little time sitting out in spring rains and once or twice we've seen her lick water off a bush, also in spring.

She gets plenty of fresh foods and our humidity is relatively high; do you think it might be the humidity that makes the difference? Or perhaps that she was wild caught and simply not used to year round availability of water?

I currently have 26 tortoises, not counting all the hatchlings that are continually coming and going. I see one of my tortoises actually drinking out of a bowl or their water tubs maybe 6 times a year. In other words almost never. Do they drink during the 23+ hours a day that I'm not looking directly at them? Probably. But I seldom see it.

To answer your question: Yes, I think humidity does play a part in how quickly they dehydrate. So does the amount of rain fall in a given area. Every tortoise keeper must customize their soaking routine depends on many factors included climate, current weather and season, species and size, etc… Regular and frequent soaking keeps them hydrated, regardless of all the myriad other factors.

This is the only time I've seen any of my outdoor tortoises drink this year so far. This was back in early March:
IMG_2938.JPG
 
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Tom

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I just wanted to make sure I couldn't over do it, if that makes sense as it would mean him having a minimum of two soaks a day!

I don't know if it can be over done. I've never seen any one over do it. Many people soak twice a day and it does no harm. I don't see a need for that in most cases, but still, it doesn't hurt anything.

My friend @DeanS would sometimes put his young sulcatas outside for 5-6 hours a day in a kiddie pool with water for them to trudge around in. He is in a hot dry climate and he carefully monitored the water temp. That is the most extreme example I know of. His babies were not harmed and in fact they thrived. Some of the best looking, healthiest babies I've seen.
 

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