Soaking Baby Russian Tortoises- Will it hurt them if you don't soak daily?

Ellie933

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I am a little worried that I am not soaking my baby Russian Tortoise enough. She is only two months old, and very healthy and sweet. She is perfect by pretty much any standard you could put, shiny shell, clear eyes and nose, eats and drinks, outgoing, affectionate, etc. I love her with all my heart- and I want to do what is best for her. I have been getting mixed advice however- I have heard people saying I need to soak her twice a day, but I haven't been doing that. I have been soaking her daily (occasionally I miss a day because of circumstances outside my control). Her enclosure is ~90F° basking and ~75F° humid hide. Her humidity is roughly 50% under her basking lamp and 80% in her humid hide, but she loves basking and is there a lot. I often feed her hydrating foods like romaine and cucumbers (I grow them myself) within a varied diet. She has a large water bowl which I have seen her soaking in before. She likes to sleep a lot, and I don't want to wake her up to soak her-- but will it hurt her if she misses a night? I know I am probably being ridiculous, but I just worry because I want only the best for my little friend. Any advice would be appreciated! Here are some pictures of her, just in case she looks dehydrated to anyone.
 

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wellington

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Where is the gauges you are ready for temp and humidity and what kind are they?
What kind of heat bulbs are you using?
I ask because there seems to be some slight pyramiding starting but it could just be the angle of the pic or lighting.
Is she in a closed chamber? It's pretty much impossible to keep humidity and temps where they need to be in an open top enclosure and almost impossible to grow them smooth in open top. Russians don't pyramided as easily as some other species so hopefully what I am seeing is just angle.
Answering my questions though will give us more info to help you.
 

wellington

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Btw at least the first year it's best to soak twice daily but at least once. Won't hurt if missed except it doesn't help with pyramiding.
 

Tom

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I am a little worried that I am not soaking my baby Russian Tortoise enough. She is only two months old, and very healthy and sweet. She is perfect by pretty much any standard you could put, shiny shell, clear eyes and nose, eats and drinks, outgoing, affectionate, etc. I love her with all my heart- and I want to do what is best for her. I have been getting mixed advice however- I have heard people saying I need to soak her twice a day, but I haven't been doing that. I have been soaking her daily (occasionally I miss a day because of circumstances outside my control). Her enclosure is ~90F° basking and ~75F° humid hide. Her humidity is roughly 50% under her basking lamp and 80% in her humid hide, but she loves basking and is there a lot. I often feed her hydrating foods like romaine and cucumbers (I grow them myself) within a varied diet. She has a large water bowl which I have seen her soaking in before. She likes to sleep a lot, and I don't want to wake her up to soak her-- but will it hurt her if she misses a night? I know I am probably being ridiculous, but I just worry because I want only the best for my little friend. Any advice would be appreciated! Here are some pictures of her, just in case she looks dehydrated to anyone.
There is no need to soak twice a day. Once a day is best until they reach at least 100 grams.

Basking area should be 95-100.

Most of the care info online and from FB or YT is terrible. Here is the correct care info:
 

Ellie933

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Oct 10, 2022
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Fairhope Alabama
Where is the gauges you are ready for temp and humidity and what kind are they?
What kind of heat bulbs are you using?
I ask because there seems to be some slight pyramiding starting but it could just be the angle of the pic or lighting.
Is she in a closed chamber? It's pretty much impossible to keep humidity and temps where they need to be in an open top enclosure and almost impossible to grow them smooth in open top. Russians don't pyramided as easily as some other species so hopefully what I am seeing is just angle.
Answering my questions though will give us more info to help you.
Her shell is very smooth from what I can tell, here is a picture of her from the side. I have only had her for about a week, so I doubt it could be recent pyramiding. I included pictures of the brands I use for heat and gauges. She has a humid hide, but also has an open area. Weather permitting I take her outside to roam (I watch her) for about 3 hours. I live in southern Alabama so it rarely gets cold and it is very humid (for example, today we had a humidity of 90%). I also mist her cage 2× A.M. and 2×-3× P.M.
 

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Ellie933

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There is no need to soak twice a day. Once a day is best until they reach at least 100 grams.

Basking area should be 95-100.

Most of the care info online and from FB or YT is terrible. Here is the correct care info:
I'll try to keep her basking a little warmer then! Thank you! It will definitely be warmer in summer lol.
 

Tom

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Her shell is very smooth from what I can tell, here is a picture of her from the side. I have only had her for about a week, so I doubt it could be recent pyramiding. I included pictures of the brands I use for heat and gauges. She has a humid hide, but also has an open area. Weather permitting I take her outside to roam (I watch her) for about 3 hours. I live in southern Alabama so it rarely gets cold and it is very humid (for example, today we had a humidity of 90%). I also mist her cage 2× A.M. and 2×-3× P.M.
That is a great UV bulb.

Spot lamps shouldn't be used over tortoises. Just like the MVBs, they concentrate too much heat into too small an area and it will cause pyramiding even if everything else is great. Flood bulbs or regular round bulbs in a hooded fixture are best for basking.

There is so much bad info out there for tortoises care. I know it is frustrating, but its admirable that you are trying so hard to do your best. We are happy to help.

For outdoor time you really need a secure enclosure. Letting her roam loose will eventually result in her loss. It happens all the time.
 

Ellie933

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That is a great UV bulb.

Spot lamps shouldn't be used over tortoises. Just like the MVBs, they concentrate too much heat into too small an area and it will cause pyramiding even if everything else is great. Flood bulbs or regular round bulbs in a hooded fixture are best for basking.

There is so much bad info out there for tortoises care. I know it is frustrating, but its admirable that you are trying so hard to do your best. We are happy to help.

For outdoor time you really need a secure enclosure. Letting her roam loose will eventually result in her loss. It happens all the time.
Thank you so much, is there a specific brand that you could recommend for basking? She is fenced in outside, but she doesn't know that lol. It's a pretty big area and I sit out there with her watching her. The breeder I got her from recommend only using UVB 3 hours a day- do you agree with that?
 

Ellie933

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Thank you so much, is there a specific brand that you could recommend for basking? She is fenced in outside, but she doesn't know that lol. It's a pretty big area and I sit out there with her watching her. The breeder I got her from recommend only using UVB 3 hours a day- do you agree with that?
I should note that that spot bulb is in a reflective dome fixture- if that could be relevant.
 

Tom

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Thank you so much, is there a specific brand that you could recommend for basking? She is fenced in outside, but she doesn't know that lol. It's a pretty big area and I sit out there with her watching her. The breeder I got her from recommend only using UVB 3 hours a day- do you agree with that?
Any flood bulb from the hardware store or Walmart will work. Most reptile marketed products are over-priced junk. The HO UV tubes are an exception to this.

I do agree with that breeder. There is no UV outside in the early morning and late afternoon. It builds slowly, peaks mid day, and is back to zero by late afternoon. Our tortoises do NOT need to be bombarded by high levels of UV for 12 hours a day. With your high quality HO UV tube, three hours mid day is plenty of UV, and your bulb will last for years that way too. Best to use a UV meter (Solarmeter 6.5) to mount the tube at the correct height and make sure it is still putting out good UV as the months and years pass.

The spot bulb being in a dome doesn't change anything about it.
 

Ellie933

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Do I need to get a ceramic heat emitter? My house doesn't drop past 68 at any time throughout the year, but I know that baby tortoises can be a little more sensitive when it comes to cold.
 

wellington

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Do I need to get a ceramic heat emitter? My house doesn't drop past 68 at any time throughout the year, but I know that baby tortoises can be a little more sensitive when it comes to cold.
No you don't need a che. Baby Russians can take it colder at night then most other species.
Change out the bulb Tom mentioned and to help up the humidity I would pour some warm water into the corners so it will dampen the bottom layers of substrate, leaving the top dry. Don't pour a lot, a little at a time. Misting helps very little as it dries so quickly but misting her with warm water helps.
 

Tom

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Do I need to get a ceramic heat emitter? My house doesn't drop past 68 at any time throughout the year, but I know that baby tortoises can be a little more sensitive when it comes to cold.
68 is fine for a Russian as long as he can warm up each day, and as long as he isn't trying to brumate against your wishes. So no need for a CHE in your case.
 

TammyJ

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Your little tortoise is adorable. You don't soak her at night, right?
 

Ellie933

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Nope! I usually soak her right when I get home (~3:50) in 90°-95° water for 15-20 minutes.
But she is a baby, so when she is sleeping I don't like waking her up to soak her, because I worry about messing up her circadian rhythm or stressing her out. For future reference, would it be a problem if I soaked her a night?
 

Tom

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But she is a baby, so when she is sleeping I don't like waking her up to soak her, because I worry about messing up her circadian rhythm or stressing her out. For future reference, would it be a problem if I soaked her a night?
I would not pull a sleeping tortoise out of a darkened enclosure at night for a soak. Any time during the day is fine though, even if she is in the hide.
 

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