Tortoise seems worse after a vet visit

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Jan 9, 2010
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I have an order of coco coir on its way, along with a hygrometer
As she has always been on very dry substrate (woodchips/straw pellets)
Should I gradually increase her humidity or try to get it to 60%/70% straight away
Straight away.
 

Tarz

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2021
Messages
22
Location (City and/or State)
United Kingdom
Hi Tom having another read through everyone's kind advice.

(As a quick reminder as so you don't have to re-read my first post. This is a 13yr old approx female hermann's)

Previously I had read anywhere from 10-14 hours of UV is what they would need. You have stated that is too long as outdoor levels don't provide that much UV within that time frame. Here in the UK from a quick Google search the UV spike is typically around 12pm-4pm. (Unfortunately the SolarMeter link you attached is a dead link☹)
I'm in the process of making a DIY tortoise table using my old wardrobe. It'll be more spacious than the 4ft viv I have and will allow for 12" deep of substrate.
I had thought the UV light I was using was 10.0 but recently found it is only 5.0

Since I'm using a tortoise table, getting the right distance should be easily adjustable using clamps.

I'll definitely be switching to UVB150 (10.0)
or if not the 12% strip lamps. Do you recommend the T8 rather than T5?

In regard to distance should it be 12" away from the top of the torts shell using the 10% lights and 18" for the 12%?
On another post I read of yours, you wrote that 3-4 hours is enough for the 12%?
If I were to opt for the 10% how long should that run for?

I also read that if I use a reflector I should double the distance? (I have never used a reflector before)

As with positioning I was going to position it in the centre above the table at the right distance. But wasn't sure if I should position it to one side of the table instead to hopefully create some shade? along with using hiding spots.

Humidity Box: should this be in the 75-80% range and what temperature should I keep this at to stop bacteria growing. I'll be using coco coir throughout the enclosure.
Should all areas of the enclosure be 60-70% humidity range? And if so should these keep to the 26-30°C range. I'm worried that when I turn the basking bulb off at night that the temperature drop at around 21-23°C may be too cold if the humidity is high?
(I'll have a CHE on thermostat) Or should the ambient temperature be higher than this at night?

My tort has never laid eggs and I feel this is down to my poor knowledge of not providing the right humidity/substrate/depth of substrate.
I'm hoping with all these new changes she will lay eggs (the vet said she had egg complications- again I think this was down to my poor husbandry of not providing the right conditions for her (again I had assumed over the years that she was a male so I never expected to see eggs)

Providing she has enough substrate, I'm hoping she will nest. She will be infertile as she has never been with males. I read it is best for her to find her own spot rather than force a nesting area. I will be letting her outside during the summer and bringing her in on the night. I heard alot of torts nest outside rather than indoors.
If she were to nest indoors what humidity should I provide plus max substrate depth?
My aim was to provide 70% humidity for the majority of the enclosure. And 75-80% for the humidity box. Should I provide areas of 75% in some areas along side the humidity box as I'm thinking if hatchlings need 75% than maybe she will find area that provides that to support her eggs (as if they were fertile)

I'm also looking to add live plants. I've seen alot of people quick to share the tortoisetable link. But I'm a bit concerned that the "safe to feed" may not be all that safe for every species. I was looking to add aloe vera, spider plant, hibiscus and Carex perhaps. Are these okay? (For hermanns) Is there any other plants/flowers I should consider?
I've never done any planting of any kind so I'm looking for easy maintainance. I'm aware that store-brought plants can contain pesticides in the soil. So I'll be switching them into organic soil for a while to cleanse out the chemicals before planting them into the table (keeping them in their pots). Any idea how long I should wait before putting them in with my tort?

Apologies for so many questions and the huge post. I really appreciate you taking the time to read this and I'm thankful for any questions that you can answer. Feel free to tag anyone else who might be able to add anything extra and maybe know more in-depth for certain species.
You've gotten a lot of the wrong care info. Pet shops and vets are infamous for this. The purpose of telling you all this is not to offend you or hurt your feelings, it is to help you understand how to take better care of your tortoise. I'll point out the issues I see one at a time from the text of your post, and then I'll link the correct care info for you. Questions are welcome.

1. A 4 foot vivarium is WAYYYY too small. This is a likely cause or contributor to the constipation. Like a horse, torts are dependent on locomotion to help keep things moving along in the GI tract. There is not nearly enough room to walk in a 4 foot enclosure. 4x8 feet is the minimum indoors, and the enclosure should be MUCH larger outside in favorable weather.
2. Straw pellet bedding is not appropriate and does not meet your tortoises needs. Switch to orchid bark or cypress mulch. It needs to be kept damp ad you can't do that with straw pellets.
3. 12 hours. day is too much time for the UV. It is't like that outside. There is hardly any UV in the morning and afternoon, but there is a big spike mid day. Best to simulate that.
There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. Light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In colder climates, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12% HO bulbs from Arcadia. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html
4. Long warm soaks, and car rides should break everything loose. Your tortoise may be impacted if those aren't working. The X-ray should have shown that if it was the case and your vet knows how to read it, which most don't.
5. There is no reason to take a tortoise to the vet if everything is fine. You got that part right. Vets often do more harm than good, because almost all of them are ignorant of correct tortoise care.
6. I've never heard of the ovarian problem you describe, but I've often seen stories of vets making stuff like this up. I don't know which is the case here. Either is possible.
7. If a tortoise is cared for correctly and fed the right foods, they can not "grow too quickly for their age". That is old wrong non-sense, and its a clue about where your vet stands on tortoise knowledge.
8. Brumation, done correctly, does not cause complications. It is normal and natural for some species, and I recommend it too. Having said that, it is not "necessary" and you don't have to if you don't want to.
9. It would be harsh and cruel to starve a mammalian primate for a month. That is not how reptiles and tortoises work. Don't let your emotions hamper good decision making for your reptile.
10. Did the vet give the tortoise any injections?
11. If the beak and claws were overgrown, that could be an indication that something is wrong in the care and/or feeding routine. They might not have needed trimming. Got any "before" pics?

Here is the correct care info:
 

Lyn W

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
22,431
Location (City and/or State)
UK
I can't answer all your questions and I'll have to leave the more technical explanations to far more experienced members but T5 seem to be preferred. If you look at the Arcadia site that has tables of data re height etc. You won't go far wrong if you follow Tom's advice on lighting and heating
Garden centre/shop bought plants take at least a year to grow out any chemicals they've absorbed, if you know anyone with any safe plants you can take cuttings from that will be quicker.
If you leave them in pots and bury them in the substrate they'll be easier to swap if they get nibbled or bulldozed.
I think the Tortoise Table is pretty much for all torts and some people think they are over cautious but I tend to follow their recommendations.
 
Last edited:

Tarz

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2021
Messages
22
Location (City and/or State)
United Kingdom
I can't answer all your questions and I'll have to leave the more technical explanations to far more experienced members but T5 seem to be preferred. If you look at the Arcadia site that has tables of data re height etc. You won't go far wrong if you follow Tom's advice on lighting and heating
Garden centre/shop bought plants take at least a year to grow out any chemicals they've absorbed, if you know anyone with any safe plants you can take cuttings from that will be quicker.
If you leave them in pots and bury them in the substrate they'll be easier to swap if they get nibbled or bulldozed.
I think the Tortoise Table is pretty much for all torts and some people think they are over cautious but I tend to follow their recommendations.
Thank you Lyn , didn't realise it could take a year. Pretty sure my sister has an aloe that she's had for about a year maybe more. If I ask nicely I may be able to get a cutting?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
56,852
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hi Tom having another read through everyone's kind advice.

(As a quick reminder as so you don't have to re-read my first post. This is a 13yr old approx female hermann's)

Previously I had read anywhere from 10-14 hours of UV is what they would need. You have stated that is too long as outdoor levels don't provide that much UV within that time frame. Here in the UK from a quick Google search the UV spike is typically around 12pm-4pm. (Unfortunately the SolarMeter link you attached is a dead link☹)
I'm in the process of making a DIY tortoise table using my old wardrobe. It'll be more spacious than the 4ft viv I have and will allow for 12" deep of substrate.
I had thought the UV light I was using was 10.0 but recently found it is only 5.0

Since I'm using a tortoise table, getting the right distance should be easily adjustable using clamps.

I'll definitely be switching to UVB150 (10.0)
or if not the 12% strip lamps. Do you recommend the T8 rather than T5?

In regard to distance should it be 12" away from the top of the torts shell using the 10% lights and 18" for the 12%?
On another post I read of yours, you wrote that 3-4 hours is enough for the 12%?
If I were to opt for the 10% how long should that run for?

I also read that if I use a reflector I should double the distance? (I have never used a reflector before)

As with positioning I was going to position it in the centre above the table at the right distance. But wasn't sure if I should position it to one side of the table instead to hopefully create some shade? along with using hiding spots.

Humidity Box: should this be in the 75-80% range and what temperature should I keep this at to stop bacteria growing. I'll be using coco coir throughout the enclosure.
Should all areas of the enclosure be 60-70% humidity range? And if so should these keep to the 26-30°C range. I'm worried that when I turn the basking bulb off at night that the temperature drop at around 21-23°C may be too cold if the humidity is high?
(I'll have a CHE on thermostat) Or should the ambient temperature be higher than this at night?

My tort has never laid eggs and I feel this is down to my poor knowledge of not providing the right humidity/substrate/depth of substrate.
I'm hoping with all these new changes she will lay eggs (the vet said she had egg complications- again I think this was down to my poor husbandry of not providing the right conditions for her (again I had assumed over the years that she was a male so I never expected to see eggs)

Providing she has enough substrate, I'm hoping she will nest. She will be infertile as she has never been with males. I read it is best for her to find her own spot rather than force a nesting area. I will be letting her outside during the summer and bringing her in on the night. I heard alot of torts nest outside rather than indoors.
If she were to nest indoors what humidity should I provide plus max substrate depth?
My aim was to provide 70% humidity for the majority of the enclosure. And 75-80% for the humidity box. Should I provide areas of 75% in some areas along side the humidity box as I'm thinking if hatchlings need 75% than maybe she will find area that provides that to support her eggs (as if they were fertile)

I'm also looking to add live plants. I've seen alot of people quick to share the tortoisetable link. But I'm a bit concerned that the "safe to feed" may not be all that safe for every species. I was looking to add aloe vera, spider plant, hibiscus and Carex perhaps. Are these okay? (For hermanns) Is there any other plants/flowers I should consider?
I've never done any planting of any kind so I'm looking for easy maintainance. I'm aware that store-brought plants can contain pesticides in the soil. So I'll be switching them into organic soil for a while to cleanse out the chemicals before planting them into the table (keeping them in their pots). Any idea how long I should wait before putting them in with my tort?

Apologies for so many questions and the huge post. I really appreciate you taking the time to read this and I'm thankful for any questions that you can answer. Feel free to tag anyone else who might be able to add anything extra and maybe know more in-depth for certain species.
The only worthwhile UV tubes are T5 HO types. ZooMed or Arcadia. T8 bulbs and any 5.0 bulbs is a waste of time. They don't do much.

Those estimates at mounting height are good to start with, but only a UV meter can tell you what YOUR bulbs are doing in YOUR enclosure. Here is a fresh link: https://www.solarmeter.com/product/model65r/

Reflector hoods increase the amount of light and UV getting to the tortoise, but I don't think they double it.

A case can be made for positioning the UV bulb anywhere. I say put it where it is convenient and where you have space. I like to put it sort in the middle but kind of near the basking bulb too. Very scientific! It works from just about anywhere over head, and this is not critical.

Humidity in the humid hide should be near 100%. Don't worry about bacteria. Not an issue. Ambient humidity anywhere from 50-70% is fine. Humidity will rise when the temperature falls. This is normal, natural, and totally fine. Cool damp nights are fine for temperate species, as long as they can get good and warm during the day.

Females usually do not lay eggs when they have not had contact with a male. There are exceptions from time to time, but none of my females have ever laid eggs without a male present.

Any store bought plant will take one year for the systemic pesticides to dissipate. Most of them aren't going to survive in the confines of a tortoise enclosure. Pothos, and spider plants are the two I see frequently used. My torts eat anything they can reach.

These are great questions. I hope my answers help a bit.
 

Tarz

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2021
Messages
22
Location (City and/or State)
United Kingdom
Hello again - I have been wondering how your Sherman/Shermina?... is getting on ? I hope all is going well.
I thought you might like to see how our 21year old Hermann celebrated Christmas !
Angie
View attachment 338535
Hey Angie thank you for dropping by to ask!

Zola looks adorable ? (I'm jealous I'm not by the coast. I love, LOVE the coast)


Sherman has caused a lot of tension between me and my mom unfortunately. Even since I switched to coco coir we've had a fungus gnat infestation (strangely enough they have all migrated to my bedroom but nowhere else )
Sherman is staying on the upstairs walkway so I'm not sure why they are in my room.

Even though it's me who has the insect issue my mom is insisting I switch back to pellet straw bedding or I sell her!

My mom doesn't like that she's in new substrate because "it's messy" ( but tortoises arent here to look nice, they're animals after all and shock horror, they live...outdoors?)

I'm putting my foot down though as I know this is what's best for her. Just worried I'll end up homeless at some point as tension is really building up and she's adamant that sherman is too much maintainance even though she is my responsibility, so she keeps trying to force me to sell her. (I really love this tortoise)

I didn't bake or boil the substrate before I put it in her viv (still planning on upgrading her space- I'll come back to this in a second)

So I think there may have been gnat eggs in it and they hatched, although I don't see any flies in or near her tank at all.
(I brought the substrate from SwellReptiles)

My mom refuses to let me freeze, bake or even boil the substrate (i said I'd buy a pot specifically for the substrate so I could boil it ). She just wants me to give up and either sell her or place her back onto uncomfortable, unhealthy pellets☹ (because "the petshops know best" as she says)
She also doesn't see why I need to upgrade her to a bigger space because "she's been fine all this time"


Shermans flaky shell seems to have gotten slightly worse but I can't be too sure. Her skin (her neck mainly) seems to be alot more hydrated though. Back when she was on pellets her skin always looked so dry but now she looks slightly healthier thanks to the damp substrate. I do worry though as she gets the substrate stuck under her skin (where the shell meets her skin, near her front legs - I don't know scientific names) so I was just worried about skin rot, I give her regular baths but it's impossible to remove the dirt that gets trapped because she keeps hiding in her shell when I try. And although the water line reaches it, it doesn't get flushed out. I still worry about her overgrown foot scales too (pic already posted somewhere on the thread)
She keeps kicking up substrate into her food and she hardly eats it now because it gets covered in coco coir. Or that her legs/claws have coco coir on them so when she uses them to eat her food gets covered in dirt that way too. The other day she dropped some food onto the substrate and she over estimated her bite (as usual) so she got a mouthful of substrate and she was far from impressed she sat there trying to spit it out and using her paws to get it out of her mouth. I flushed her mouth with a bit of water.
So is coco coir edible/safe as she really didn't like that?
I do have an idea on how to solve it (I'll write in another post) but any advice would help too.


Tortoise table:

I was planning to write a new thread literally tomorrow.

I've been planning on building a tortoise table out of my old wardrobe for quite some time now. Sherman will be staying in my room when it's done as there's no other space in the house to put a bigger enclosure for her. Havent started it yet because ive been making the space (I'm in a box bedroom) and then we had covid and my dad couldnt help me as he doesn't live with us so he had to stay away. But I only just found out that chipboard (which I think is what the wardrobe is made from) is toxic to cut down, mainly the dust particles. So I thought if it's harmful for us than I don't want to take chances for sherman as she will be the one living in it.


So I was going to write a thread about what type of would to use, best wood sealant, wood glue or screws etc etc
Also I've seen alot of tables have their basking bulbs facing vertically down. Her basking light at the minute is facing diagonally (how the viv was already set up) When I fit her new basking bulb for the table how do I position it? Down or diagonal?

I did find a thread on here for best wood to use for a hermann (I read pine was toxic?) Though this was a post back from 2008 so I wanted made sure I didn't follow any outdated information just incase. Also read about using silicone to seal the edges. I'm really clueless as this would be my first time building a table. The prebuilt ones on the internet are too small. And the bespoke ones are way out of my price range.

Her viv at the moment is:
Length Width Height
48 x 18 x 18 (inches)
4 x 1.5 x 1.5 (foot)

But only allows less than 2 inches of substrate because of the glass slide doors.
As a quick fix I've added flat wooden pieces of wood inside the viv that push up against the inside of the glass which let's me have 5 inches of substrate now. I do know the viv is way too small.

For the table the measurements if I were using the wardrobe:

Length Width Height
58 x 34 x 22 (inches)
5 x 3 x 2 (foot - approx)

But if I were to use wood that I'd cut to size rather than the measurements of the wardrobe, then measurements could be slightly bigger (length and width) and height if need be


I can only work with the space I have in my bedroom, but as soon as I can move her to a bigger space (realistically that will be when I move out) I can adjust and expand her table even more. It's just at the minute my mom is really giving me a hard time and she doesn't want her downstairs because it makes the room look "untidy". See she wants the pellet bedding because it looks "clean and more nicer looking", that, "sherman has been fine all these years so don't bother changing things! " and "she's too much effort just sell her" In my mom's eyes I'm being overly dramatic with all the changes I'm making and even talking about me to others. They're all laughing at my expense now saying that I'm stupid for wanting to boil the substrate and every other change I plan on doing.

Sorry I didn't mean to bombard the family issues in here. But yeah I'm struggling pretty bad at the minute. I've had sherman for 10 years and I've been taking care of her wrong all these years but I really do want to make it right but everyone's against me for it and I don't know why. Sherman was brought as a Christmas-birthday combo present back in 2011. Alot of people say don't buy pets for Christmas because the novelty wears off and they get neglected. I would of thought she'd love knowing I'm still trying my best to look after her and make changes for the better but she really hates it and she just wants me to go back to bad habits. It's basically an ultimatum: Go back to how I used to do things, or else I need to get rid of her ?

I really need to stop with the long posts ?
But thank you Angie for checking up on me and the little one. Rest assured I aint giving up on her anytime soon!
I hope you had a lovely Christmas and a great start to a new year!

If you have any advice about the table or the substrate covered food, I'd love to know!

I'll probably make a new post with a lot more questions. Specifically for the table.
And any pictures of anyone's tables would be lovely to get inspiration from as well as light fixtures etc (incase anyone else reads this)
 
Last edited:

zolasmum

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 19, 2015
Messages
825
Hey Angie thank you for dropping by to ask!

Zola looks adorable ? (I'm jealous I'm not by the coast. I love, LOVE the coast)


Sherman has caused a lot of tension between me and my mom unfortunately. Even since I switched to coco coir we've had a fungus gnat infestation (strangely enough they have all migrated to my bedroom but nowhere else )
Sherman is staying on the upstairs walkway so I'm not sure why they are in my room.

Even though it's me who has the insect issue my mom is insisting I switch back to pellet straw bedding or I sell her!

My mom doesn't like that she's in new substrate because "it's messy" ( but tortoises arent here to look nice, they're animals after all and shock horror, they live...outdoors?)

I'm putting my foot down though as I know this is what's best for her. Just worried I'll end up homeless at some point as tension is really building up and she's adamant that sherman is too much maintainance even though she is my responsibility, so she keeps trying to force me to sell her. (I really love this tortoise)

I didn't bake or boil the substrate before I put it in her viv (still planning on upgrading her space- I'll come back to this in a second)

So I think there may have been gnat eggs in it and they hatched, although I don't see any flies in or near her tank at all.
(I brought the substrate from SwellReptiles)

My mom refuses to let me freeze, bake or even boil the substrate (i said I'd buy a pot specifically for the substrate so I could boil it ). She just wants me to give up and either sell her or place her back onto uncomfortable, unhealthy pellets☹ (because "the petshops know best" as she says)
She also doesn't see why I need to upgrade her to a bigger space because "she's been fine all this time"


Shermans flaky shell seems to have gotten slightly worse but I can't be too sure. Her skin (her neck mainly) seems to be alot more hydrated though. Back when she was on pellets her skin always looked so dry but now she looks slightly healthier thanks to the damp substrate. I do worry though as she gets the substrate stuck under her skin (where the shell meets her skin, near her front legs - I don't know scientific names) so I was just worried about skin rot, I give her regular baths but it's impossible to remove the dirt that gets trapped because she keeps hiding in her shell when I try. And although the water line reaches it, it doesn't get flushed out. I still worry about her overgrown foot scales too (pic already posted somewhere on the thread)
She keeps kicking up substrate into her food and she hardly eats it now because it gets covered in coco coir. Or that her legs/claws have coco coir on them so when she uses them to eat her food gets covered in dirt that way too. The other day she dropped some food onto the substrate and she over estimated her bite (as usual) so she got a mouthful of substrate and she was far from impressed she sat there trying to spit it out and using her paws to get it out of her mouth. I flushed her mouth with a bit of water.
So is coco coir edible/safe as she really didn't like that?
I do have an idea on how to solve it (I'll write in another post) but any advice would help too.


Tortoise table:

I was planning to write a new thread literally tomorrow.

I've been planning on building a tortoise table out of my old wardrobe for quite some time now. Sherman will be staying in my room when it's done as there's no other space in the house to put a bigger enclosure for her. Havent started it yet because ive been making the space (I'm in a box bedroom) and then we had covid and my dad couldnt help me as he doesn't live with us so he had to stay away. But I only just found out that chipboard (which I think is what the wardrobe is made from) is toxic to cut down, mainly the dust particles. So I thought if it's harmful for us than I don't want to take chances for sherman as she will be the one living in it.


So I was going to write a thread about what type of would to use, best wood sealant, wood glue or screws etc etc
Also I've seen alot of tables have their basking bulbs facing vertically down. Her basking light at the minute is facing diagonally (how the viv was already set up) When I fit her new basking bulb for the table how do I position it? Down or diagonal?

I did find a thread on here for best wood to use for a hermann (I read pine was toxic?) Though this was a post back from 2008 so I wanted made sure I didn't follow any outdated information just incase. Also read about using silicone to seal the edges. I'm really clueless as this would be my first time building a table. The prebuilt ones on the internet are too small. And the bespoke ones are way out of my price range.

Her viv at the moment is:
L W H
48 x 18 x 18 (inches)
4 x 1.5 x 1.5 (foot)

But only allows less than 2 inches of substrate because of the glass slide doors.
As a quick fix I've added flat wooden pieces of wood inside the viv that push up against the inside of the glass which let's me have 5 inches of substrate now. I do know the viv is way too small.

For the table the measurements if I were using the wardrobe:

L W H
58 x 34 x 22 (inches)
5 x 3 x 2 (foot - approx)

But if I were to use wood that I'd cut to size rather than the measurements of the wardrobe, then measurements could be slightly bigger (length and width) and height if need be


I can only work with the space I have in my bedroom, but as soon as I can move her to a bigger space (realistically that will be when I move out) I can adjust and expand her table even more. It's just at the minute my mom is really giving me a hard time and she doesn't want her downstairs because it makes the room look "untidy". See she wants the pellet bedding because it looks "clean and more nicer looking", that, "sherman has been fine all these years so don't bother changing things! " and "she's too much effort just sell her" In my mom's eyes I'm being overly dramatic with all the changes I'm making and even talking about me to others and they're all laughing at me expense saying that I'm stupid for wanting to boil the substrate and everything else with the changes.

Sorry I didn't mean to bombard the family issues in here. But yeah I'm struggling pretty bad at the minute. I've had sherman for 10 years and I've been taking care of her wrong all these years but I really do want to make it right but everyone's against me for it and I don't know why. Sherman was brought as a Christmas-birthday combo present back in 2011. Alot of people say don't buy pets for Christmas because the novelty wears off and they get neglected. I would of thought she'd love knowing I'm still trying my best to look after her and make changes for the better but she really hates it and she just wants me to go back to bad habits. It's basically an ultimatum: Go back to how I used to do things, or else I need to get rid of her ?

I really need to stop with the long posts ?
But thank you Angie for checking up on me and the little one. Rest assured I aint giving up on her anytime soon!
I hope you had a lovely Christmas and a great start to a new year!

If you have any advice about the table or the substrate covered food, I'd love to know!

I'll probably make a new post with a lot more questions. Specifically for the table.
And any pictures of anyone's tables would be lovely to get inspiration from as well as light fixtures etc (incase anyone else reads this)
It
Hey Angie thank you for dropping by to ask!

Zola looks adorable ? (I'm jealous I'm not by the coast. I love, LOVE the coast)


Sherman has caused a lot of tension between me and my mom unfortunately. Even since I switched to coco coir we've had a fungus gnat infestation (strangely enough they have all migrated to my bedroom but nowhere else )
Sherman is staying on the upstairs walkway so I'm not sure why they are in my room.

Even though it's me who has the insect issue my mom is insisting I switch back to pellet straw bedding or I sell her!

My mom doesn't like that she's in new substrate because "it's messy" ( but tortoises arent here to look nice, they're animals after all and shock horror, they live...outdoors?)

I'm putting my foot down though as I know this is what's best for her. Just worried I'll end up homeless at some point as tension is really building up and she's adamant that sherman is too much maintainance even though she is my responsibility, so she keeps trying to force me to sell her. (I really love this tortoise)

I didn't bake or boil the substrate before I put it in her viv (still planning on upgrading her space- I'll come back to this in a second)

So I think there may have been gnat eggs in it and they hatched, although I don't see any flies in or near her tank at all.
(I brought the substrate from SwellReptiles)

My mom refuses to let me freeze, bake or even boil the substrate (i said I'd buy a pot specifically for the substrate so I could boil it ). She just wants me to give up and either sell her or place her back onto uncomfortable, unhealthy pellets☹ (because "the petshops know best" as she says)
She also doesn't see why I need to upgrade her to a bigger space because "she's been fine all this time"


Shermans flaky shell seems to have gotten slightly worse but I can't be too sure. Her skin (her neck mainly) seems to be alot more hydrated though. Back when she was on pellets her skin always looked so dry but now she looks slightly healthier thanks to the damp substrate. I do worry though as she gets the substrate stuck under her skin (where the shell meets her skin, near her front legs - I don't know scientific names) so I was just worried about skin rot, I give her regular baths but it's impossible to remove the dirt that gets trapped because she keeps hiding in her shell when I try. And although the water line reaches it, it doesn't get flushed out. I still worry about her overgrown foot scales too (pic already posted somewhere on the thread)
She keeps kicking up substrate into her food and she hardly eats it now because it gets covered in coco coir. Or that her legs/claws have coco coir on them so when she uses them to eat her food gets covered in dirt that way too. The other day she dropped some food onto the substrate and she over estimated her bite (as usual) so she got a mouthful of substrate and she was far from impressed she sat there trying to spit it out and using her paws to get it out of her mouth. I flushed her mouth with a bit of water.
So is coco coir edible/safe as she really didn't like that?
I do have an idea on how to solve it (I'll write in another post) but any advice would help too.


Tortoise table:

I was planning to write a new thread literally tomorrow.

I've been planning on building a tortoise table out of my old wardrobe for quite some time now. Sherman will be staying in my room when it's done as there's no other space in the house to put a bigger enclosure for her. Havent started it yet because ive been making the space (I'm in a box bedroom) and then we had covid and my dad couldnt help me as he doesn't live with us so he had to stay away. But I only just found out that chipboard (which I think is what the wardrobe is made from) is toxic to cut down, mainly the dust particles. So I thought if it's harmful for us than I don't want to take chances for sherman as she will be the one living in it.


So I was going to write a thread about what type of would to use, best wood sealant, wood glue or screws etc etc
Also I've seen alot of tables have their basking bulbs facing vertically down. Her basking light at the minute is facing diagonally (how the viv was already set up) When I fit her new basking bulb for the table how do I position it? Down or diagonal?

I did find a thread on here for best wood to use for a hermann (I read pine was toxic?) Though this was a post back from 2008 so I wanted made sure I didn't follow any outdated information just incase. Also read about using silicone to seal the edges. I'm really clueless as this would be my first time building a table. The prebuilt ones on the internet are too small. And the bespoke ones are way out of my price range.

Her viv at the moment is:
Length Width Height
48 x 18 x 18 (inches)
4 x 1.5 x 1.5 (foot)

But only allows less than 2 inches of substrate because of the glass slide doors.
As a quick fix I've added flat wooden pieces of wood inside the viv that push up against the inside of the glass which let's me have 5 inches of substrate now. I do know the viv is way too small.

For the table the measurements if I were using the wardrobe:

Length Width Height
58 x 34 x 22 (inches)
5 x 3 x 2 (foot - approx)

But if I were to use wood that I'd cut to size rather than the measurements of the wardrobe, then measurements could be slightly bigger (length and width) and height if need be


I can only work with the space I have in my bedroom, but as soon as I can move her to a bigger space (realistically that will be when I move out) I can adjust and expand her table even more. It's just at the minute my mom is really giving me a hard time and she doesn't want her downstairs because it makes the room look "untidy". See she wants the pellet bedding because it looks "clean and more nicer looking", that, "sherman has been fine all these years so don't bother changing things! " and "she's too much effort just sell her" In my mom's eyes I'm being overly dramatic with all the changes I'm making and even talking about me to others. They're all laughing at my expense now saying that I'm stupid for wanting to boil the substrate and every other change I plan on doing.

Sorry I didn't mean to bombard the family issues in here. But yeah I'm struggling pretty bad at the minute. I've had sherman for 10 years and I've been taking care of her wrong all these years but I really do want to make it right but everyone's against me for it and I don't know why. Sherman was brought as a Christmas-birthday combo present back in 2011. Alot of people say don't buy pets for Christmas because the novelty wears off and they get neglected. I would of thought she'd love knowing I'm still trying my best to look after her and make changes for the better but she really hates it and she just wants me to go back to bad habits. It's basically an ultimatum: Go back to how I used to do things, or else I need to get rid of her ?

I really need to stop with the long posts ?
But thank you Angie for checking up on me and the little one. Rest assured I aint giving up on her anytime soon!
I hope you had a lovely Christmas and a great start to a new year!

If you have any advice about the table or the substrate covered food, I'd love to know!

I'll probably make a new post with a lot more questions. Specifically for the table.
And any pictures of anyone's tables would be lovely to get inspiration from as well as light fixtures etc (incase anyone else reads this)
I wish I could be more help - it is a shame your mom is giving you a hard time for trying to help improve Sherman's life. Could you get rid of the substrate for now, and just use a few layers of newspaper for a few days, until you can find out more about substrates. There is lots of information here - if you start a new post asking about substrate and housing, I think you will soon get good advice. Zola has a conservatory with flagstones on the floor, but I also use newspaper in areas where he chooses to pee etc.
I think it is great that you are trying hard to help Sherman - maybe your mom will end up being proud of your efforts.
Angie
 

Jan A

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
1,709
Location (City and/or State)
Boulder, CO
Hey Angie thank you for dropping by to ask!

Zola looks adorable ? (I'm jealous I'm not by the coast. I love, LOVE the coast)


Sherman has caused a lot of tension between me and my mom unfortunately. Even since I switched to coco coir we've had a fungus gnat infestation (strangely enough they have all migrated to my bedroom but nowhere else )
Sherman is staying on the upstairs walkway so I'm not sure why they are in my room.

Even though it's me who has the insect issue my mom is insisting I switch back to pellet straw bedding or I sell her!

My mom doesn't like that she's in new substrate because "it's messy" ( but tortoises arent here to look nice, they're animals after all and shock horror, they live...outdoors?)

I'm putting my foot down though as I know this is what's best for her. Just worried I'll end up homeless at some point as tension is really building up and she's adamant that sherman is too much maintainance even though she is my responsibility, so she keeps trying to force me to sell her. (I really love this tortoise)

I didn't bake or boil the substrate before I put it in her viv (still planning on upgrading her space- I'll come back to this in a second)

So I think there may have been gnat eggs in it and they hatched, although I don't see any flies in or near her tank at all.
(I brought the substrate from SwellReptiles)

My mom refuses to let me freeze, bake or even boil the substrate (i said I'd buy a pot specifically for the substrate so I could boil it ). She just wants me to give up and either sell her or place her back onto uncomfortable, unhealthy pellets☹ (because "the petshops know best" as she says)
She also doesn't see why I need to upgrade her to a bigger space because "she's been fine all this time"


Shermans flaky shell seems to have gotten slightly worse but I can't be too sure. Her skin (her neck mainly) seems to be alot more hydrated though. Back when she was on pellets her skin always looked so dry but now she looks slightly healthier thanks to the damp substrate. I do worry though as she gets the substrate stuck under her skin (where the shell meets her skin, near her front legs - I don't know scientific names) so I was just worried about skin rot, I give her regular baths but it's impossible to remove the dirt that gets trapped because she keeps hiding in her shell when I try. And although the water line reaches it, it doesn't get flushed out. I still worry about her overgrown foot scales too (pic already posted somewhere on the thread)
She keeps kicking up substrate into her food and she hardly eats it now because it gets covered in coco coir. Or that her legs/claws have coco coir on them so when she uses them to eat her food gets covered in dirt that way too. The other day she dropped some food onto the substrate and she over estimated her bite (as usual) so she got a mouthful of substrate and she was far from impressed she sat there trying to spit it out and using her paws to get it out of her mouth. I flushed her mouth with a bit of water.
So is coco coir edible/safe as she really didn't like that?
I do have an idea on how to solve it (I'll write in another post) but any advice would help too.


Tortoise table:

I was planning to write a new thread literally tomorrow.

I've been planning on building a tortoise table out of my old wardrobe for quite some time now. Sherman will be staying in my room when it's done as there's no other space in the house to put a bigger enclosure for her. Havent started it yet because ive been making the space (I'm in a box bedroom) and then we had covid and my dad couldnt help me as he doesn't live with us so he had to stay away. But I only just found out that chipboard (which I think is what the wardrobe is made from) is toxic to cut down, mainly the dust particles. So I thought if it's harmful for us than I don't want to take chances for sherman as she will be the one living in it.


So I was going to write a thread about what type of would to use, best wood sealant, wood glue or screws etc etc
Also I've seen alot of tables have their basking bulbs facing vertically down. Her basking light at the minute is facing diagonally (how the viv was already set up) When I fit her new basking bulb for the table how do I position it? Down or diagonal?

I did find a thread on here for best wood to use for a hermann (I read pine was toxic?) Though this was a post back from 2008 so I wanted made sure I didn't follow any outdated information just incase. Also read about using silicone to seal the edges. I'm really clueless as this would be my first time building a table. The prebuilt ones on the internet are too small. And the bespoke ones are way out of my price range.

Her viv at the moment is:
Length Width Height
48 x 18 x 18 (inches)
4 x 1.5 x 1.5 (foot)

But only allows less than 2 inches of substrate because of the glass slide doors.
As a quick fix I've added flat wooden pieces of wood inside the viv that push up against the inside of the glass which let's me have 5 inches of substrate now. I do know the viv is way too small.

For the table the measurements if I were using the wardrobe:

Length Width Height
58 x 34 x 22 (inches)
5 x 3 x 2 (foot - approx)

But if I were to use wood that I'd cut to size rather than the measurements of the wardrobe, then measurements could be slightly bigger (length and width) and height if need be


I can only work with the space I have in my bedroom, but as soon as I can move her to a bigger space (realistically that will be when I move out) I can adjust and expand her table even more. It's just at the minute my mom is really giving me a hard time and she doesn't want her downstairs because it makes the room look "untidy". See she wants the pellet bedding because it looks "clean and more nicer looking", that, "sherman has been fine all these years so don't bother changing things! " and "she's too much effort just sell her" In my mom's eyes I'm being overly dramatic with all the changes I'm making and even talking about me to others. They're all laughing at my expense now saying that I'm stupid for wanting to boil the substrate and every other change I plan on doing.

Sorry I didn't mean to bombard the family issues in here. But yeah I'm struggling pretty bad at the minute. I've had sherman for 10 years and I've been taking care of her wrong all these years but I really do want to make it right but everyone's against me for it and I don't know why. Sherman was brought as a Christmas-birthday combo present back in 2011. Alot of people say don't buy pets for Christmas because the novelty wears off and they get neglected. I would of thought she'd love knowing I'm still trying my best to look after her and make changes for the better but she really hates it and she just wants me to go back to bad habits. It's basically an ultimatum: Go back to how I used to do things, or else I need to get rid of her ?

I really need to stop with the long posts ?
But thank you Angie for checking up on me and the little one. Rest assured I aint giving up on her anytime soon!
I hope you had a lovely Christmas and a great start to a new year!

If you have any advice about the table or the substrate covered food, I'd love to know!

I'll probably make a new post with a lot more questions. Specifically for the table.
And any pictures of anyone's tables would be lovely to get inspiration from as well as light fixtures etc (incase anyone else reads this)
I do believe you will have better luck with orchid bark (fir bark) as your substrate I believe you can buy ZooMed's Reptibark online where you bought the coco coir. It can even go on top of the coco coir. It is much less dusty if you keep underneath the surface damp, nor is it easy for the tort to bite at like coco coir. Some of us do bake it to make sure it's egg & bug free. Yes, I will be ridiculed. But many others tort owners do not.

I use an old roaster to bake mine out in the garage. I let it cool down in a plastic tub while I'm doing another batch. I am not having problems with substrate bugs in my house.

In building your new enclosure out of your dresser, you can line it with "pool liner" available at hardware or gardening stores (used to line outdoor ponds) or even a couple of shower curtains/ liners. I would put more liner or curtain underneath the enclosure to protect your flooring.

I sympathize with you on your mom. Mine was intolerable. My sister-in-law insisted on making soup in the roaster while she was here, & it didn't turn out tasting like tree bark. So you're not ruining anything by baking or roasting bark. Perhaps a grandparent or aunt or uncle can help with your baking project or you can give unbaked orchid bark a try.

There are a lot more enclosure builders here on the forum & they can give more helpful advice. Your ingenuity is limited only by letting people shut you down & telling you "my way or the highway," as we say here across the pond. Keep reading here on the forum. It's a new year. We do want to help.
 

Cathie G

Well-Known Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Aug 9, 2018
Messages
10,335
Location (City and/or State)
Lancaster
I do believe you will have better luck with orchid bark (fir bark) as your substrate I believe you can buy ZooMed's Reptibark online where you bought the coco coir. It can even go on top of the coco coir. It is much less dusty if you keep underneath the surface damp, nor is it easy for the tort to bite at like coco coir. Some of us do bake it to make sure it's egg & bug free. Yes, I will be ridiculed. But many others tort owners do not.

I use an old roaster to bake mine out in the garage. I let it cool down in a plastic tub while I'm doing another batch. I am not having problems with substrate bugs in my house.

In building your new enclosure out of your dresser, you can line it with "pool liner" available at hardware or gardening stores (used to line outdoor ponds) or even a couple of shower curtains/ liners. I would put more liner or curtain underneath the enclosure to protect your flooring.

I sympathize with you on your mom. Mine was intolerable. My sister-in-law insisted on making soup in the roaster while she was here, & it didn't turn out tasting like tree bark. So you're not ruining anything by baking or roasting bark. Perhaps a grandparent or aunt or uncle can help with your baking project or you can give unbaked orchid bark a try.

There are a lot more enclosure builders here on the forum & they can give more helpful advice. Your ingenuity is limited only by letting people shut you down & telling you "my way or the highway," as we say here across the pond. Keep reading here on the forum. It's a new year. We do want to help.
I don't bake my repti bark because I assume that when I'm paying more to Zoo med they have already baked it pet safe. They better have. But I have to say I've never had a problem with bugs using it and coco choir mixed within my torr's enclosure also. The coco choir was from Lowe's garden center and natural.?
 
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