What tortoise bedding should I use

Beloved turkey

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Jul 10, 2024
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Oklahoma
When I first got my tortoise I used bark for his bedding, but then I changed to coco coir and the only bad thing was that he had to eat his carrots in his food bowl so they didn’t get dirty, but I was wondering now that I need to deep clean his cage what is the best bedding for him. He is a Russian tortoise, I’m not sure his exact age but I think he’s about five. Here’s a picture IMG_5339.jpeg
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Welcome to the forum!!😁

I wouldn’t feed carrots personally, if you do, only on occasion. You want to stick with leafy greens and weeds for these guys, perhaps this website below will be helpful to look through🙂


Recommended substrates are coco coir damp and packed down by hand, orchid bark(fir not pine) or forest floor/mulch. Never use anything mixed with sand, no top soils and no kinds of moss. If you’re looking for something less messy I’d go with the forest floor or orchid bark🙂

Whilst you’re here, I don’t suppose we could get a photo of your enclosure? Along with any of the following information would be great also!😊it’s so good to know how new members are keeping their tortoise🥰

What sized enclosure do you have? An adult needs up to 8x4 foot to roam, roaming is vital for their health, it aids in digestion and building muscle strength, they’d walk long distances in the wild. Some people make bases out of flower beds, large shelving laid flat or just make their own.

For a basking bulb you want an incandescent floodlight(example attached) on a 12hour timer, basking temperature directly under the floodlight should be 95-100f. The rest of the enclosure should be ranging 75-80 during the day.
You may also wish to add ambient lighting on the same timer, providing shady areas with hides and safe plants.

Then CHE/CHE’s(ceramic heat emitters) always on a thermostat, for night heat if your house drops below 60’s at night.

What type of uv do you use? Again packaging photos are good! If housed indoors for a large portion of the year, indoor uv is a must.
Uv should be a t5 fluorescent tube, avoid the compact and coil uv bulbs, they don’t give out enough uv and can hurt the tortoises eyes. The uv can be on a 4 hour timer from noon. I’ve attached examples of the two brands to go for and some examples of how to mount them.

With lighting avoid anything labelled halogen or mercury vapour.

How’s your humidity? You want to aim to have the bottom layer of substrate damp, to do this pour lukewarm water into the corners, not loads but enough to dampen the entire bottom layer. To stop that top layer getting dry/dusty, mix the substrate now n then. Check your monitors and substrate to do the pours as and when needed.

For a water dish a shallow terracotta saucer is considered safest, they have grip in the event your tortoise flips themselves, most pet store options are a known hazard.

I’d also always recommend getting your hands on a temp gun, they’re SO handy when setting up a new environment or for checking your monitors are correct🙂

Any information/photos you can provide on your set up would be great😁
 

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Beloved turkey

New Member
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Jul 10, 2024
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Location (City and/or State)
Oklahoma
I do have a bulb like that, I only have a 4x3 ft enclosure, but I make sure to take him outside to let him roam as far as he wants and dig. I am in Oklahoma so the humidity I think is fine, and we just got new land so I’m going to build him an outdoor home and have his current one be a winter home if he needs one, I was hoping to post another thread about what I need on an outdoor enclosure closer to when I build it. I’m planning to make it at least 8x4 ft and still give him time outside of it. I do only give him carrots rarely as a treat, and his water bowl also came with him, it has a ramp so he can get into it, and it’s shallow enough that he shouldn’t drown when soaking. I don’t have a picture right now but I can try to get one. I feed him a mix of romaine lettuce, kale, mustard, turnip, and collard greens. I’m really greatful for all your information as I’m trying to give him as good as a home as he can get because I got him originally because his original owners didn’t have enough time and equipment to keep him as happy and healthy as he could be wich is why I want to get him an outside enclosure because I don’t have room for a bigger inside one, but lots of outside room.
 
Last edited:

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Aw that outdoor enclosure you plan on building sounds perfect! Please post progress of that as you go! I love seeing new big set ups🥰
It’s great you get him out for exercise, just make sure you’re always supervising free roams, heard so many horror stories from people who haven’t watched closely😬
If you don’t hibernate him and he’s housed indoors for the winter, he could probably do with a little bit bigger if you’re ever able to inside😊
With the water dish it’s not always about drowning but the steep sides can be a flipping hazard, pet store options lack grip for the tortoise to be able to right themselves, there may be a time he tries to climb the side instead of the ramp. A large terracotta saucer flush with the substrate really does work great🙂
 

Beloved turkey

New Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2024
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Oklahoma
Aw that outdoor enclosure you plan on building sounds perfect! Please post progress of that as you go! I love seeing new big set ups🥰
It’s great you get him out for exercise, just make sure you’re always supervising free roams, heard so many horror stories from people who haven’t watched closely😬
If you don’t hibernate him and he’s housed indoors for the winter, he could probably do with a little bit bigger if you’re ever able to inside😊
With the water dish it’s not always about drowning but the steep sides can be a flipping hazard, pet store options lack grip for the tortoise to be able to right themselves, there may be a time he tries to climb the side instead of the ramp. A large terracotta saucer flush with the substrate really does work great🙂
Ok I will definitely get him a terracotta saucer for a new water bowl, I’m not ready to start building the outdoor enclosure yet, I want to do more research so I make sure I get it right, and post a thread so I can get tips from experienced people, but I will definitely be posting updates. And I agree with you on only supervised Freeranging
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Ok I will definitely get him a terracotta saucer for a new water bowl, I’m not ready to start building the outdoor enclosure yet, I want to do more research so I make sure I get it right, and post a thread so I can get tips from experienced people, but I will definitely be posting updates. And I agree with you on only supervised Freeranging
Hello and welcome.

-Orchid bark is the best substrate.
-Ramped water bowls are not safe for tortoises. You need to replace that with a terra cotta saucer sunk into the substrate ASAP, before you see first hand what happens.
-4x3 is too small for an adult Russian. The tortoise doesn't care how much space you have. They need what they need. Small enclosures impact their health.
-Free roaming outdoors is not safe. You will lose him eventually if you keep doing that. We see it happen here all the time, and I had to learn this lesson myself the hard way years ago. Make a large, safe, escape proof enclosure for outside. I'll link a thread that sows how to do this safely and effectively for your species in your area.
-Your diet needs big improvement. None of those are great tortoise foods, but they can work if you start adding in the right amendments. All of those foods are okay once in a while for variety. Best to look for more "natural" foods like mulberry leaves, grape leaves, and a wide assortment of the right weeds.

Give this thread a read through to catch you up to speed on the current and correct tortoise care info, and there is a temperate species care sheet near the bottom too.


Questions are welcome.
 
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