Setting up for a Russian Tortoise - Constructive comments welcome

Tom

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@Tom @Alex and the Redfoot

Like a worried mother with first born. Only had tortoise a few days from Tyler at Tortoise Supply.

Trying to figure out if I do not have the setup or if this is normal. This is a typical day of temp/humidity readings. Sensors 2" off substrate. All of these spots are the outside temp range of the four evenly spaced heating. Under the heating is mid 70's.
  • Left Front is actually in Humid Hide.
  • Right Back is near Basking light.
View attachment 369470

Tortoise ( Eight to Nine month Russian ) when soaked at 6am is alert, poops, pees and after done I place tortoise by food dish and it eats. When I check in again I place be food and eats again. At 6am, 12pm and 6pm.

But when I come back the tortoise always ends up under the basking lamp. Now has stated to dig in under lamp. Shell reads 95 on temp gun.

Also never seen explore the left side of enclosure. Always the front where I feed tortoise and than when I look again get back to the right side. Sleeps there also at night.

Am I doing something wrong or is this normal? Look at previous posts for more details in setup if needed.

  • To bright? Tried to introduce plant pots, logs, ect for shady areas.
  • Not bright enough?
  • Temperatures wrong?
  • Humidity wrong?
Thoughts? I just have a feeling something is off and I figured I would get ahead of any issues. Hate to think I am making the tortoise suffer.
Definitely not suffering!

Your tortoise is answering your question for you. When they hang out under the basking lamp "too much", it is a sign that the ambient temp in the enclosure is too cool. Your thermometers verify this. I try to keep ambient for a baby Testudo up around 75-80 during the day, and let it drop to 68-70 at night. Your enclosure is over all too cool. Basking temp should be around 100 directly under the light, but you really don't want them sitting under the bulb all day every day. That will cause pyramiding.

Conversely, if your tortoise never went under the basking lamp and stayed over in the cool corners, that would be an indication that temps are too hot over all.
 

David Steere

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Definitely not suffering!

Your tortoise is answering your question for you. When they hang out under the basking lamp "too much", it is a sign that the ambient temp in the enclosure is too cool. Your thermometers verify this. I try to keep ambient for a baby Testudo up around 75-80 during the day, and let it drop to 68-70 at night. Your enclosure is over all too cool. Basking temp should be around 100 directly under the light, but you really don't want them sitting under the bulb all day every day. That will cause pyramiding.

Conversely, if your tortoise never went under the basking lamp and stayed over in the cool corners, that would be an indication that temps are too hot over all.
Thanks @Tom!

I raised the heating up a little, set the thermometer to 80°. Now that enclosure is covered the heating shut off a lot during the day.

Will continue to slowly play around with setting until I reach 75° - 80° around the parameters.

Heating and Basking runs from 6am - 8pm to allow the enclosure to cool off during the night time.
 

Tom

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Thanks @Tom!

I raised the heating up a little, set the thermometer to 80°. Now that enclosure is covered the heating shut off a lot during the day.

Will continue to slowly play around with setting until I reach 75° - 80° around the parameters.

Heating and Basking runs from 6am - 8pm to allow the enclosure to cool off during the night time.
All sounds good. We list some guidelines, generalities, and suggestions, but every enclosure is a custom job. All of them need some fine tuning and tweaking to get them just right, and then you'll get into seasonal adjustments too as the weather changes all year long.
 

David Steere

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All sounds good. We list some guidelines, generalities, and suggestions, but every enclosure is a custom job. All of them need some fine tuning and tweaking to get them just right, and then you'll get into seasonal adjustments too as the weather changes all year long.
Hi @Tom

Will continue fine tune.

Already ahead of you on the hot summer problem. In our basement it will be VERY hot and humid. We have a very large air conditioner which I can use to cool down the basement if temps get to hot.

I plan to continue to take reading at 6am,12pm,6pm and 12am as part of my daily routine so I will see right away if something is amiss.
 

David Steere

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This forum is absolutely AMAZING! Do not believe in coincidences.

Enclosed enclosure is such a powerful toolset. Only a few degrees and Tortoise is already out of basking area and eating! I hope I do not make it to hot.

Will keep an eagle eye on the temp readings.
 

David Steere

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@Tom @Alex and the Redfoot and the rest of the wonderful people on this forum

Think I maybe very close and actually understanding what I need to accomplish to keep Sandy comfortable. Thanks to all your help! I did a lot of tweaking yesterday but left everything alone today. Only picked up Sandy once today but I think she noticed me peeking in each time I checked. I checked in on Sandy every hour or so.

Positive things.
  • Sandy pooped during soak today.
  • Sandy was above ground from 6am-5pm today.
  • Sandy was at eating bowl eating at 6:00am after soak, 9am,12pm and 3pm today.
Negative things.
  • Still have not seen Sandy anywhere except the food and basking areas of the enclosure.
  • When not at the eating bowl Sandy went right to basking area.
  • Sandy dug in again at 6pm in same spot near basking area.
Recap:
  • Light/Heat is ON from 6am - 8pm.
  • Light/Heat is OFF from 8pm-6am.
  • Watered entire enclosure Friday. Large amount of water. Coconut Coir moist everywhere. Dumped the remaining hot water used for soaking near Basking area at Sandy's bury spot since that area due to basking dries out Coconut Coir. Noticed the other day Sandy was rubbing her face. Will keep eagle eye on making sure Coconut Coir is ALWAYS MOIST.
Todays Temperature / Humidity
  • Left Front = Humid Hide
  • Right Back = Near Basking

Sunday
6:00 am12:00pm6:00pm12:00am
Left Back69° / 68%75° / 60%75° / 54%68° / 70%
Left Front69° / 99%76° / 99%76° / 89%68° / 99%
Middle72° / 43%78° / 41%78° / 40%70° / 81%
Right Back70° / 50%86° / 31%86° / 27%70° / 61%
Right Front65° / 41%76° / 42%75° / 43%68° / 62%
Under Heat80°82°83°71°
Outside65°/ 41%65° / 37%66° / 38%66° / 37%

So once again does anyone notice anything I should adjust? Thanks once again!
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Nothing especially concerning. I guess she just needs some time to start exploring. You can also move the humid hide to the warm side and bury it a little. Maybe she will prefer it over sleeping under the lamp.
 

Tom

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@Tom @Alex and the Redfoot and the rest of the wonderful people on this forum

Think I maybe very close and actually understanding what I need to accomplish to keep Sandy comfortable. Thanks to all your help! I did a lot of tweaking yesterday but left everything alone today. Only picked up Sandy once today but I think she noticed me peeking in each time I checked. I checked in on Sandy every hour or so.

Positive things.
  • Sandy pooped during soak today.
  • Sandy was above ground from 6am-5pm today.
  • Sandy was at eating bowl eating at 6:00am after soak, 9am,12pm and 3pm today.
Negative things.
  • Still have not seen Sandy anywhere except the food and basking areas of the enclosure.
  • When not at the eating bowl Sandy went right to basking area.
  • Sandy dug in again at 6pm in same spot near basking area.
Recap:
  • Light/Heat is ON from 6am - 8pm.
  • Light/Heat is OFF from 8pm-6am.
  • Watered entire enclosure Friday. Large amount of water. Coconut Coir moist everywhere. Dumped the remaining hot water used for soaking near Basking area at Sandy's bury spot since that area due to basking dries out Coconut Coir. Noticed the other day Sandy was rubbing her face. Will keep eagle eye on making sure Coconut Coir is ALWAYS MOIST.
Todays Temperature / Humidity
  • Left Front = Humid Hide
  • Right Back = Near Basking

Sunday
6:00 am12:00pm6:00pm12:00am
Left Back69° / 68%75° / 60%75° / 54%68° / 70%
Left Front69° / 99%76° / 99%76° / 89%68° / 99%
Middle72° / 43%78° / 41%78° / 40%70° / 81%
Right Back70° / 50%86° / 31%86° / 27%70° / 61%
Right Front65° / 41%76° / 42%75° / 43%68° / 62%
Under Heat80°82°83°71°
Outside65°/ 41%65° / 37%66° / 38%66° / 37%

So once again does anyone notice anything I should adjust? Thanks once again!
This all looks good and sounds normal.
 

David Steere

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@Tom @Alex and the Redfoot

Is it normal for tortoise to bury themselves for the night. Coconut Coir is very moist.

Since I adjusted temperature, ( pretty close to post #67 ), the tortoise is above ground the whole day. Eating and goes poop and pee when soaking at 7am. Seems to eat on and off all day. Can tell by food dragged out of dish which I put back into dish.

Every day like clockwork around 5pm or 6pm the tortoise digs in deep. Lights/Heat goes off at 8pm.

Lights/Heat comes on at 6am and by 7am I open up enclosure to soak and feed the tortoise and the tortoise is above ground.

I know they like to dig but since I am new just wanted to check what everyone thinks. Is this a normal thing or is something wrong with the enclosure conditions?
 

Tom

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@Tom @Alex and the Redfoot

Is it normal for tortoise to bury themselves for the night. Coconut Coir is very moist.

Since I adjusted temperature, ( pretty close to post #67 ), the tortoise is above ground the whole day. Eating and goes poop and pee when soaking at 7am. Seems to eat on and off all day. Can tell by food dragged out of dish which I put back into dish.

Every day like clockwork around 5pm or 6pm the tortoise digs in deep. Lights/Heat goes off at 8pm.

Lights/Heat comes on at 6am and by 7am I open up enclosure to soak and feed the tortoise and the tortoise is above ground.

I know they like to dig but since I am new just wanted to check what everyone thinks. Is this a normal thing or is something wrong with the enclosure conditions?
Yes sir. Totally normal and good for a baby too. They create their own little humid micro climate when they dig down like that which helps them grow smoother.
 

David Steere

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@Ink
@wellington
@Alex and the Redfoot
@Tom
@Yvonne G
@SinLA
@Cathie G
@jaizei
@SinLA
@Pippen's Pal
@Kala
@MenagerieGrl

Currently I am feeding Sandy the following.
  • Zoo Med Natural Grassland Tortoise Food
  • Mazuri Original 5M21 Tortoise Food
  • Grocery Food ( See my list in setup writeup on this thread. )
  • Wild Violets Leaf's from yard
  • Dandelions Leaf's from yards
Plants in Encloser I also saw Sandy eat.
  • Sage
Plan to buy the following plants to put in enclosure for Sandy to eat.
  • Spider Plant
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Aloe Plant
Currently in pots or planters.
  • Broadleaf testudo mix ( Can actually start feeding Sandy the larger grown plants, will let the other types grow better)
  • Wild Violets Leaf's from yard
  • Dandelions Leaf's from yards
Plan to buy and place in very large pot:
  • Mulberry Tree ( 24" or 36" pot )
  • Grape Vine ( 24" or 36" pot )
My question. I want to plant 10 or 12 more different types of plants in window planters which I can grow indoors. Idea is to have a huge supply over the colder months in Rhode Island.

Could you supply a list that I can grow from seeds under grow lights in my basement which I can use to feed Sandy? If you could pick the plant what would you grow in my situation.

Goal is to get Sandra 100% off grocery food as soon as possible.
 

wellington

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Rose of Sharon, hibiscus, optunia cactus, pothos, hosta, lilac, Boston fern, day lily, but it has to be a certain kind, not all are safe. Sorry if I duplicated some you already mentioned
 

SinLA

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OK that is a LOT to take in. I don't know about Sage, I thought that was an "ok to have in the yard but they likely won't eat it" but I'll defer to others on that.

Just so its easier to find, this is what you are referring to with Grocery food, yes? Its a little hard to follow so not sure this is the latest/right post:

  • Grocery Items: Spring mix, endive, escarole, carrot tops, cilantro, mustard, turnip and collard greens, arugula, cilantro, kale, squash leaves, romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, watercress, celery tops and much more.
Now here is the thing. I know @Tom can be a little terrifying at times, and yes you should try to get off grocery store greens, but you do not need to fear that because you are using some grocery story greens its a horrendous situation. There are things you simply should never do (ie: never have a ramped water bowl, never "not" soak, never not have basking temps or access to UVB) but using grocery store greens until you can get yourself into a good situation is OK. I have had Fezzik 2+ years now, and I still supplement him with grocery greens. He simply loves radicchio and endive, but I also add in usually one other depending on what is available when I shop. I personally never do any kind of lettuce at all, and I am one of those that thinks Cilantro is the devil's weed so I rarely buy it, but the point is, if you need to use grocery store greens now or in the future to supplement, its not the worst thing in the world. Don't let "perfect" be the enemy of "good."

A real world comparison is that -- it is true that breastfeeding babies is "better" for baby health. I don't think there are many who would argue otherwise. But sometimes people go a little crazy with it and suggest if you do anything OTHER than breast feed 100% you are actively "harming" your child. But if someone is in a situation where breastfeeding either all the time, or at all, simply isn't an option (adoption, other biological reasons, etc.) you don't want to STARVE a baby because of an "its breastmilk or nothing" mentality. So sure - garden greens are better - but don't get yourself in a tizzy that you can never use grocery store food, or that if you continue to use grocery store food to supplement you are doing something "bad." You're not.

Its a good thing to strive for, but don't hurt yourself over it.
 

SinLA

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OK that is a LOT to take in. I don't know about Sage, I thought that was an "ok to have in the yard but they likely won't eat it" but I'll defer to others on that.

Just so its easier to find, this is what you are referring to with Grocery food, yes? Its a little hard to follow so not sure this is the latest/right post:

  • Grocery Items: Spring mix, endive, escarole, carrot tops, cilantro, mustard, turnip and collard greens, arugula, cilantro, kale, squash leaves, romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, watercress, celery tops and much more.
Now here is the thing. I know @Tom can be a little terrifying at times, and yes you should try to get off grocery store greens, but you do not need to fear that because you are using some grocery story greens its a horrendous situation. There are things you simply should never do (ie: never have a ramped water bowl, never "not" soak, never not have basking temps or access to UVB) but using grocery store greens until you can get yourself into a good situation is OK. I have had Fezzik 2+ years now, and I still supplement him with grocery greens. He simply loves radicchio and endive, but I also add in usually one other depending on what is available when I shop. I personally never do any kind of lettuce at all, and I am one of those that thinks Cilantro is the devil's weed so I rarely buy it, but the point is, if you need to use grocery store greens now or in the future to supplement, its not the worst thing in the world. Don't let "perfect" be the enemy of "good."

A real world comparison is that -- it is true that breastfeeding babies is "better" for baby health. I don't think there are many who would argue otherwise. But sometimes people go a little crazy with it and suggest if you do anything OTHER than breast feed 100% you are actively "harming" your child. But if someone is in a situation where breastfeeding either all the time, or at all, simply isn't an option (adoption, other biological reasons, etc.) you don't want to STARVE a baby because of an "its breastmilk or nothing" mentality. So sure - garden greens are better - but don't get yourself in a tizzy that you can never use grocery store food, or that if you continue to use grocery store food to supplement you are doing something "bad." You're not.

Its a good thing to strive for, but don't hurt yourself over it.

actually correction - I *do* do escarole/frissee lettuce, but not any other kind
 

wellington

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Tom

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OK that is a LOT to take in. I don't know about Sage, I thought that was an "ok to have in the yard but they likely won't eat it" but I'll defer to others on that.

Just so its easier to find, this is what you are referring to with Grocery food, yes? Its a little hard to follow so not sure this is the latest/right post:

  • Grocery Items: Spring mix, endive, escarole, carrot tops, cilantro, mustard, turnip and collard greens, arugula, cilantro, kale, squash leaves, romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, watercress, celery tops and much more.
Now here is the thing. I know @Tom can be a little terrifying at times, and yes you should try to get off grocery store greens, but you do not need to fear that because you are using some grocery story greens its a horrendous situation. There are things you simply should never do (ie: never have a ramped water bowl, never "not" soak, never not have basking temps or access to UVB) but using grocery store greens until you can get yourself into a good situation is OK. I have had Fezzik 2+ years now, and I still supplement him with grocery greens. He simply loves radicchio and endive, but I also add in usually one other depending on what is available when I shop. I personally never do any kind of lettuce at all, and I am one of those that thinks Cilantro is the devil's weed so I rarely buy it, but the point is, if you need to use grocery store greens now or in the future to supplement, its not the worst thing in the world. Don't let "perfect" be the enemy of "good."

A real world comparison is that -- it is true that breastfeeding babies is "better" for baby health. I don't think there are many who would argue otherwise. But sometimes people go a little crazy with it and suggest if you do anything OTHER than breast feed 100% you are actively "harming" your child. But if someone is in a situation where breastfeeding either all the time, or at all, simply isn't an option (adoption, other biological reasons, etc.) you don't want to STARVE a baby because of an "its breastmilk or nothing" mentality. So sure - garden greens are better - but don't get yourself in a tizzy that you can never use grocery store food, or that if you continue to use grocery store food to supplement you are doing something "bad." You're not.

Its a good thing to strive for, but don't hurt yourself over it.
I like this explanation.

I would add that grocery store greens by themselves are not great tortoise food, but grocery store greens are a great vehicle to get the right stuff into a tortoise if a care taker simply adds in some amendments like calcium powder, fiber from one source or another, and some dried leaf options for variety and nutrition.
 

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