Tortoise substrate

D-a-n_L

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I am transferring my Russian Tortoise “Rex” to a new enclosure. I am going to use coconut husk fibers substrate in the below habitat. Should I put the substrate through out the entire habitat or just inside or just outside his cave. He loves to burrow. He is kept inside because it gets cold and wet up here. Thank you.

C78154D2-F5FC-48FD-B24E-8B239A0D386D.jpeg
 

Yvonne G

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Hi, and welcome!

Because of the bleak conditions from where Russian tortoises evolved, they are hard wired to wander great distances (looking for food, etc.). So your neat enclosure isn't suitable for the species. He needs a very big enclosure so he can do lots of walking and exploring. In the above enclosure he'll scratch at the corners, try to climb the walls, and dig, dig, dig. It will drive you crazy.

Naturally, the best option is a safe, large outdoor area, but if that's not possible, maybe two of those shown above put together with openings to each.
 

SinLA

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you need about 4 of those strung together to get close the size you should have for an adult russian, even then it will be a little small (4 of those would be 4x6' you should do 4x8 minimum if you can). Good news is those pretty easily remove walls and can be put together "habi-trail" style if you want.
 

Levi the Leopard

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I am transferring my Russian Tortoise “Rex” to a new enclosure. I am going to use coconut husk fibers substrate in the below habitat. Should I put the substrate through out the entire habitat or just inside or just outside his cave. He loves to burrow. He is kept inside because it gets cold and wet up here.
Hello fellow PNW'er.

Is this pictured enclosure the new one for Rex?

To simply answer your question, put substrate everywhere. The entire habitat. Deep enough to burrow is great.

Answering a little deeper, trust me, I get wanting to keep a pet tortoise despite living in a colder/wetter climate. It just means that people like us have to rise to challenges our southern neighbors don't face. :) One of those challenges is providing them with room to roam. LOTS of it! Because my tortoise is much larger than yours and I don't want to dedicate a bedroom in my house just to him, I have found a way to house him outside, all year long down here in southern Oregon. You have the fun opportunity to find a way to properly house Rex, up there in Seattle.

If it were me, I'd line the walls with a long skinny enclosure. Desk height. Wouldn't take up floor space and would give the length needed for walking back and forth. You get totally get creative with it, too! Let us know what you come up with. Use this current "tortoise enclosure" for now but mark our words...once you experience the endless scratching at the walls from a cooped up russian, you'll start going crazy. At which point you'll either want to give the tortoise up, or work double time to get a bigger space set up for him. I really hope you choose the latter!
 

Tom

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I am transferring my Russian Tortoise “Rex” to a new enclosure. I am going to use coconut husk fibers substrate in the below habitat. Should I put the substrate through out the entire habitat or just inside or just outside his cave. He loves to burrow. He is kept inside because it gets cold and wet up here. Thank you.

View attachment 351104
Hello and welcome.
I agree with the other posters: That enclosure is way too small, and you'll need substrate covering the floor of the entire enclosure.

Most of the care info found for this species online and from pet stores is all wrong. Here is the correct care info:
 

D-a-n_L

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Hello fellow PNW'er.

Is this pictured enclosure the new one for Rex?

To simply answer your question, put substrate everywhere. The entire habitat. Deep enough to burrow is great.

Answering a little deeper, trust me, I get wanting to keep a pet tortoise despite living in a colder/wetter climate. It just means that people like us have to rise to challenges our southern neighbors don't face. :) One of those challenges is providing them with room to roam. LOTS of it! Because my tortoise is much larger than yours and I don't want to dedicate a bedroom in my house just to him, I have found a way to house him outside, all year long down here in southern Oregon. You have the fun opportunity to find a way to properly house Rex, up there in Seattle.

If it were me, I'd line the walls with a long skinny enclosure. Desk height. Wouldn't take up floor space and would give the length needed for walking back and forth. You get totally get creative with it, too! Let us know what you come up with. Use this current "tortoise enclosure" for now but mark our words...once you experience the endless scratching at the walls from a cooped up russian, you'll start going crazy. At which point you'll either want to give the tortoise up, or work double time to get a bigger space set up for him. I really hope you choose the latter!
 

D-a-n_L

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I read and appreciate the all feedback. I ordered another extension to give Rex some more room and this will be temporary until I build a proper enclosure for him. Until I get that done I still have questions about using lighting in this enclosure. I have read up on it and am still totally confused. These are the two bulbs I am using now and want to know if these are ok and most importantly where to position them.

I have two of these ceramic lights.
F2DC949D-AA93-4F93-A61A-AFA46F964701.jpeg

I have these two bulbs. The heat one points directly down on a piece of slate. The other the UVB sits above the closure.

813D9F6B-338E-4B16-8325-BDA51A1B85B7.jpeg7D0B5B36-745B-4B46-AC5E-C58C623572D1.jpeg

Do I have the right lights, type, position. Also what is the schedule? Use just during day time.
This is the temporary enclosure (x 2) I am using now. Thank you all for your time.

EBA655DC-2DA2-44C7-8FB1-9C4CB8854889.jpeg
 

D-a-n_L

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I read and appreciate the all feedback. I ordered another extension to give Rex some more room and this will be temporary until I build a proper enclosure for him. Until I get that done I still have questions about using lighting in this enclosure. I have read up on it and am still totally confused. These are the two bulbs I am using now and want to know if these are ok and most importantly where to position them.

I have two of these ceramic lights.
View attachment 351307

I have these two bulbs. The heat one points directly down on a piece of slate. The other the UVB sits above the closure.

View attachment 351308View attachment 351309

Do I have the right lights, type, position. Also what is the schedule? Use just during day time.
This is the temporary enclosure (x 2) I am using now. Thank you all for your time.

View attachment 351310
The heat light is 75W
 

Tom

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I read and appreciate the all feedback. I ordered another extension to give Rex some more room and this will be temporary until I build a proper enclosure for him. Until I get that done I still have questions about using lighting in this enclosure. I have read up on it and am still totally confused. These are the two bulbs I am using now and want to know if these are ok and most importantly where to position them.

I have two of these ceramic lights.
View attachment 351307

I have these two bulbs. The heat one points directly down on a piece of slate. The other the UVB sits above the closure.

View attachment 351308View attachment 351309

Do I have the right lights, type, position. Also what is the schedule? Use just during day time.
This is the temporary enclosure (x 2) I am using now. Thank you all for your time.

View attachment 351310
Hi Dan. The incandescent bulb is okay if it is not a "spot" type bulb. You need a flood bulb for that one.

The other bulb is a CFL and those should never be used. They are an ineffective UV source, and some of them burn tortoise eyes.

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. In most cases 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. Some people in colder climates or with larger enclosures will need multiple CHEs or RHPs to spread out enough heat.
  3. Ambient 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 LED 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 A good UV bulb only needs to run for 2-3 hours mid day. You need the basking bulb and the ambient lighting to be on at least 12 hours a day.
 

D-a-n_L

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Hi Dan. The incandescent bulb is okay if it is not a "spot" type bulb. You need a flood bulb for that one.

The other bulb is a CFL and those should never be used. They are an ineffective UV source, and some of them burn tortoise eyes.

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. In most cases 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. Some people in colder climates or with larger enclosures will need multiple CHEs or RHPs to spread out enough heat.
  3. Ambient 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 LED 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 A good UV bulb only needs to run for 2-3 hours mid day. You need the basking bulb and the ambient lighting to be on at least 12 hours a day.
This how it turned. I’ll change the lights to your recommendation.
 

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D-a-n_L

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Ok I took out the CFL bulb out and put the basking bulb in. Looks like this now. Am I close?

E7FE737C-1F5D-4AC2-9429-D94034A48ABC.jpeg
 

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LJL1982

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He appears to be exceptionally emaciated and dehydrated possibly. It's difficult to identify his breed in his condition. His claws are exceptionally overgrown especially on his back feet.

If necessary take some of the claws down by clipping so he can move about.

When was he soaked last? Does he have access to water? What is he being fed?

No reason it can't be sorted out, but might be worth getting him to a vet for a check up.
 

LJL1982

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Hi beak also needs trimming urgently so he can eat properly.
 

LJL1982

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OP I am very slightly concerned that your tortoise is a turtle that should be in water and if so you need to rectify his conditions ASAP, can you get him soaking in warm water as it shouldnt harm him either way?
 

PollyAda

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OP I am very slightly concerned that your tortoise is a turtle that should be in water and if so you need to rectify his conditions ASAP, can you get him soaking in warm water as it shouldnt harm him either way?
@D-a-n_L I agree with LJL1982 - as Rex looks like a turtle, there will be work needed to make a more appropriate enclosure for Rex. For the time being, I would follow the suggestions made by LJL1982 as soon as you can. There will be other threads you can search for to help with nail and beak trimming
 

LJL1982

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OP I am very slightly concerned that your tortoise is a turtle that should be in water and if so you need to rectify his conditions ASAP, can you get him soaking in warm water as it shouldnt harm him either way?
@D-a-n_L I'm nearly 99% sure Rex is a mid turtle, I'd guess from his shape or colour either a yellow or Eastern mud turtle. Yellow are endemic to the US so maybe more likely.

I hope others will come on line to confirm, but if you can give him a long soak it's a start.

Maybe you too can have a Google and have a look at possible care options.
 
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