VhaporKingT

New Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2022
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Portland, OR
Hey all,

The Problem: Recently I started noticing white areas at the corners of the scutes and wanted your guys' input on whether it is an indicator I might need to make a change in his care/environment.

Note:
I ask that if you respond, please be kind, don't speak in absolutes (having positive outcomes with your preferred style of husbandry doesn't make other styles inviable), and please know that I am willing to take constructive criticism and make changes in order to help my little guy get the healthy long life he deserves. I am a new tortoise owner and recognize that leopard tortoises are not generally great/easy starter tortoises, but I am up for the challenge and did research before adopting and have trying my best to continue to educate myself as questions arose over the past month since adopting my hatchling.


Care Info:
Tortoise Type: Leopard Tortoise

Adoption: Adopted October 23rd ( was a 40g hatchling) at a local reptile convention. I live in the PNW and it is pretty cold at this time of year (close to 30f in the evening) so he hasn't gotten any real outside time just yet, but I have a big back yard with plenty of grass and weeds that are never touched with fertilizers or pesticides, so I wanna give him some supervised adventure time this summer.

Enclosure Type: 70 gallon glass tank with front-opening doors and a wire mesh top (I know, I know, as you'll see below I've covered the enclosure on top and sides with tin foil to keep moisture and heat inside.

Substrate: Coco Choir and Play Sand Mixture (I'm aware sand isn't ideal and will likely be replacing the substrate next week when I have some time).

Heating: I have a ceramic heating element connected to a thermostat hanging (sensor is placed tortoise-hight near his moss-hide since i'm most worried about temp being kept up in the night time) left of center in the tank, closer to the cooler side where his hide is located to keep that area at a minimum of 80 degrees at all times. On the basking side of the enclosure I have a basking rock area that sits around 95-99 degrees during the day. I check the temps regularly with a temp gun.

Humidity/Moisture: I've got a water bowl I make sure to clean out once a day when it gets substrate in it. I give him daily 30 minute baths in warm water and he usually gets his poops out at this point if he's got any, which always seem pretty solid and healthy. I was having issues keeping the terrarium humid for the first several weeks of having him and it would often drop to the 40%-50% range despite my misting it multiple times a day (I know it was largely due to sand not being great at holding moisture). But last week I got a humidifier that I can have run a 60secs on/60secs off continuous cycle and adjust the humidity intensity. With this addition I've been able to keep his enclosure at a pretty consistent 75-95% humidity.

Light: Underneath the foil on top of the wire mesh top I have a UVA/UVB strip light that spans the entire width of the enclosure. Both the UV light strip and the basking lamp are on a timer that turns on and off automatically on a 12-hour cycle (On: 7am-7pm). Heating element with thermostat stays on at all times obvs😉.

Food: I've been giving him 80% grass ( Clippings from the backyard plus some wheat grass mixed in) and about 20% other things I try to rotate through (Collard greens, red/regular kale, dandelion greens, bell pepper chunks, occasional [non-butter] lettuce). I also will sprinkle about a large pinch of calcium + D powder onto his food about 4 times a week. I do think I may be giving him a tad too much food sometimes though because he usually doesn't eat it all, I'd say he eats about 85% of it. I try and shoot for a shells-worth (based on his shell) but it will often end up more of a "heaping shells-worth" once I've put the grasses and everything else together.

He's still pretty shy and tends to still nap a decent amount, but he definitely still gets some walking around in during the day and seems to be doing ok happiness-wise, though he's still not sure what to think about me and is not a huge fan of bath time. My main theory for the white areas is shell growth and I may be over feeding him, but I wanted to check in with you guys and make sure it's not shell rot or some other issue before I took him to a vet unnecessarily. I'm really trying hard to do right by him, and though I know that glass enclosures aren't ideal, I feel like I've been able to get to a place with my thermostat and humidifier where I can keep the temp and moisture in a good place for him, so comments saying to throw my enclosure away or that I'm a abusive owner for not knowing everything I could possibly know before getting a leopard tortoise are not helpful or why I am seeking advice here. Obviously though, if you think the glass enclosure is the sole reason for the white areas feel free to explain and I'd be open to exploring a more tortoise-table style of enclosure.


Enclosure:
20221118_150629.jpg 20221118_150653.jpg

My Tortoise (Jason): Some calcium powder got onto his shell this morning, so ignore the white specs, I'm asking about the white areas where the corners of his scute meet each other.

20221118_150256.jpg 20221118_150307.jpg


What his shell looked like when I first got him:

VideoCapture_20221118-153103.jpg


Thank you so much for your help! Please let me know if this is just normal growth or a sign that I need to modify something about the way I'm caring for him.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
93,374
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
That's just his 'leopard' pattern starting to come through.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
49,344
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Lol wow 😅 now I feel silly for typing up that novel. Thank you for your kind and simple answer. I would've been mortified going to the reptile vet just to have them tell me that.
The sad thing is, the vet probably wouldn't even know. Most do not have a clue about tortoises or how to house them. So always be cautious before going to one. Most of the time the experienced members on here can help you.
 

VhaporKingT

New Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2022
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Portland, OR
The sad thing is, the vet probably wouldn't even know. Most do not have a clue about tortoises or how to house them. So always be cautious before going to one. Most of the time the experienced members on here can help you.
Noted😊 i really appreciate the kindness in responding to a kinda dumb long-winded question post.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
49,344
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Noted😊 i really appreciate the kindness in responding to a kinda dumb long-winded question post.
Never dumb if you have a concern. If you knew, you wouldn't have asked, now you know something you didn't before. Rather be safe then sorry.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
63,039
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Noted😊 i really appreciate the kindness in responding to a kinda dumb long-winded question post.
Your post was not dumb or long winded. You are trying very hard and going to great expense to make sure you are doing everything correctly for your baby. That is respectable and admirable. You seem really worried about being attacked. You can relax. We don't do that here. We are here to help tortoises and learn from each other. When someone is rude, combative, and doing things that are harmful to their tortoises, I am guilty of a snide remark here and there, but that is not you. Not even close. You are among friends here. Your intentions are clearly good, and we want nothing more than to help you keep your tortoise happy and healthy, and for you to have a positive tortoise keeping experience.

Unfortunately, almost all of the tortoise care info found online and from all the usual sources is all wrong. It has been wrong for decades, and most of the tortoise community is still following the old wrong info. It is clear you have found some of that same old info, and I would like to help you avoid some common pitfalls. Here are my observations from your well thought out initial post:

1. The sand has to go right now. Not later. Sand is an impaction risk and possible skin and eye irritant. It has no place in a tortoise enclosure. Every day small amounts are ingested and can begin to pile up in the GI tract. Over time this hampers your tortoise's digestive system and can eventually cause full impaction and kill him. Coco coir is safe, but I find it messy. It needs to be damp, hand packed firmly, and you need a much thicker layer of it. Misting does nothing. You have to dump water into the substrate periodically to maintain dampness. Sometimes just dumping the water bowl daily is enough. This assumes no feces in the water, of course. How much water and how often varies with each enclosure, and it varies seasonally too. You have to go by feel. Its okay if you get it little too damp when figuring this out because it will dry out, and leopards are not susceptible to shell rot in any way.
2. Humidifiers should not be blowing directly into tortoise enclosures. Leopards are probably the worst species to do this with due to their sensitivity to respiratory infections. Humidifiers can be used in the room to increase room humidity.
3. Regular leopards, as opposed to South African leopards, do not favor grass. Its not a big part of their diet in the wild either. They can certainly eat it, but you will have a much better time of it if you offer more broadleaf weeds, leaves, and flowers. Grocery store greens with the proper amendments added can round out the diet when weeds and leaves aren't available seasonally. Supplemental foods like Mazuri, help fill that tummy nicely too. Grass, or soaked grass hay pellets, are a good way to add fiber to grocery store greens. Be sure to chop green grass into small pieces for a baby sized leopard like yours. Long strands can get hung up in the GI tract. Also, yard grass for babies tends to be too thick and too coarse. I would only offer soft, tender, young, freshly sprouted grass to a baby.
4. What type of UV tube are you using? A strong one like an Arcadia 12% HO shouldn't be on all day. A weaker one like a ZooMed T8 type won't hurt anything running all day, but those also don't offer much UV unless they are 8-10 inches away from the tortoise with no screen in-between. I'll copy paste my lighting guide farther down.
5. A small pinch of calcium all mixed in twice a week will be plenty. If he's not eating it, you are using too much.
6. Feed the tortoise as much as it wants to eat. Tortoises are grazers and need to be able to graze all day. If there is a lot of leftover food, feed a little less the next day. If there is no leftover food at the end of the day, feed more the next day. There is no such thing as "over feeding" a tortoise.
7. This species tends to be shy, so that is pretty normal. Lots of interaction and hand feeding will sometimes desensitize them, but not always.
8. Open tables can not work for this species, or any other that needs warm humid monsoon conditions. Glass tanks are fine, and all the on-line stuff that says they are not is simply wrong. That is an often parroted myth. The problem with glass tanks is the open top that lets all the heat and humidity out. You've done what you can to reduce that problem, but you and your tortoise will be much better off when you move him into a large closed chamber, which you will need to do soon since he is growing so nicely now. The closed chamber will also help reduce the pyramiding that is already happening.
9. A word of caution about the bell pepper chunks:

Here is that lighting info followed by the care sheet with the current and correct care info:
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.

Questions and conversation are welcome.
 

Levi the Leopard

IXOYE
10 Year Member!
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
7,968
Location (City and/or State)
Southern Oregon
Hello from someone just a few hours south of you. I'm in Medford ;) and keep a leopard tortoise, too!

I remember the first time I saw the white spots. It can be scary when you don't expect it. Now that you know, you'll have lots of fun watching all the new colors come in!
 

VhaporKingT

New Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2022
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Portland, OR
Your post was not dumb or long winded. You are trying very hard and going to great expense to make sure you are doing everything correctly for your baby. That is respectable and admirable. You seem really worried about being attacked. You can relax. We don't do that here. We are here to help tortoises and learn from each other. When someone is rude, combative, and doing things that are harmful to their tortoises, I am guilty of a snide remark here and there, but that is not you. Not even close. You are among friends here. Your intentions are clearly good, and we want nothing more than to help you keep your tortoise happy and healthy, and for you to have a positive tortoise keeping experience.

Unfortunately, almost all of the tortoise care info found online and from all the usual sources is all wrong. It has been wrong for decades, and most of the tortoise community is still following the old wrong info. It is clear you have found some of that same old info, and I would like to help you avoid some common pitfalls. Here are my observations from your well thought out initial post:

1. The sand has to go right now. Not later. Sand is an impaction risk and possible skin and eye irritant. It has no place in a tortoise enclosure. Every day small amounts are ingested and can begin to pile up in the GI tract. Over time this hampers your tortoise's digestive system and can eventually cause full impaction and kill him. Coco coir is safe, but I find it messy. It needs to be damp, hand packed firmly, and you need a much thicker layer of it. Misting does nothing. You have to dump water into the substrate periodically to maintain dampness. Sometimes just dumping the water bowl daily is enough. This assumes no feces in the water, of course. How much water and how often varies with each enclosure, and it varies seasonally too. You have to go by feel. Its okay if you get it little too damp when figuring this out because it will dry out, and leopards are not susceptible to shell rot in any way.
2. Humidifiers should not be blowing directly into tortoise enclosures. Leopards are probably the worst species to do this with due to their sensitivity to respiratory infections. Humidifiers can be used in the room to increase room humidity.
3. Regular leopards, as opposed to South African leopards, do not favor grass. Its not a big part of their diet in the wild either. They can certainly eat it, but you will have a much better time of it if you offer more broadleaf weeds, leaves, and flowers. Grocery store greens with the proper amendments added can round out the diet when weeds and leaves aren't available seasonally. Supplemental foods like Mazuri, help fill that tummy nicely too. Grass, or soaked grass hay pellets, are a good way to add fiber to grocery store greens. Be sure to chop green grass into small pieces for a baby sized leopard like yours. Long strands can get hung up in the GI tract. Also, yard grass for babies tends to be too thick and too coarse. I would only offer soft, tender, young, freshly sprouted grass to a baby.
4. What type of UV tube are you using? A strong one like an Arcadia 12% HO shouldn't be on all day. A weaker one like a ZooMed T8 type won't hurt anything running all day, but those also don't offer much UV unless they are 8-10 inches away from the tortoise with no screen in-between. I'll copy paste my lighting guide farther down.
5. A small pinch of calcium all mixed in twice a week will be plenty. If he's not eating it, you are using too much.
6. Feed the tortoise as much as it wants to eat. Tortoises are grazers and need to be able to graze all day. If there is a lot of leftover food, feed a little less the next day. If there is no leftover food at the end of the day, feed more the next day. There is no such thing as "over feeding" a tortoise.
7. This species tends to be shy, so that is pretty normal. Lots of interaction and hand feeding will sometimes desensitize them, but not always.
8. Open tables can not work for this species, or any other that needs warm humid monsoon conditions. Glass tanks are fine, and all the on-line stuff that says they are not is simply wrong. That is an often parroted myth. The problem with glass tanks is the open top that lets all the heat and humidity out. You've done what you can to reduce that problem, but you and your tortoise will be much better off when you move him into a large closed chamber, which you will need to do soon since he is growing so nicely now. The closed chamber will also help reduce the pyramiding that is already happening.
9. A word of caution about the bell pepper chunks:

Here is that lighting info followed by the care sheet with the current and correct care info:
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.

Questions and conversation are welcome.
Hi Tom,
Wow thank you so much for your thorough and thoughtful response. I think a lot of my defenisiveness was coming from reading a lot of posts on the tortoise subreddit and some here where people were incredibly snarky or just downright mean to people asking questions that revealed some hole in their knowledge, and having never engaged with the community I worried that I would be one of those people 😅.

In response to your excellent notes:

Food: I will definitely be picking up more leafy greens and keeping an eye out for more wild flowers and weeds that he can eat while on my morning walk. Even though it's cold here, I live in an area with a decent amount of weeds, veg, and wild flowers I can asses with iNaturalist and cross reference with Tortoise Table app to figure out if they are ok for him. I'm not sure what kind of grass is in our backyard, but it isn't the course stuff and most of it is pretty soft/fine, but I can definitely chop it up so he doesn't have issues with long strands. I'll be dropping my calcium supplement frequency down to just a couple times a week now at your reccomendation.

Lighting: I have the following Zoo Med 5.0 UVB light strip that currently sits on top of the wire mesh top about 17'' from the substrate, so it sounds like you're saying I'll need to get a different one, which is a bummer, but I can see what I can do this weekend or next week on that front.

Substrate: Oof, I'd been running into the problem of there being a ton of conflicting info on whether sand is ok and didn't know who to trust being new to the community, but ok I will go and try to track down some orchid bark at a garden center today and do a full substrate replacement.

Enclosure: I'm unsurprised by anything you said about the enclosure and I definitely feel like I'm battling my own stubbornness because I want to make the enclosure I stupidly/naïvely allowed myself to get sold on at the convention work and not have to replace it so soon, but I do want to make sure my lil youngin will grow up with as healthy a shell as possble. So I'm open to just sucking it up and purchasing something to move him into that will be more spacious and better at maintaining a consistant environment. I know there are cost affective ways to set up juvenile enclosures using costco supplies. Is there a bin size/type you'd recommend moving him to that works well? I don't know if I can drop a ton of money buying a fancy nice one like the ones you have on your page at the moment, especially if he's gonna grow out of it in a year or so. He's a few months old now I think and it already growing so fast😊, so going a costco bin route with some mcgivering of lamps and lids is what looks to be a good option. If you have a good link to video or guide for setting up a bin enclosure that would be a good model for me to emulate, I'd super appreciate it.

Humidity: I hear what you're saying about humidity blowing directly into the enclosure, but I live im a pretty open and drafty house, and being able to trap moisture is a bit of a problem. Would these changes help: lessening the humidity intensity, making sure the pipe is oriented up more towards the upper areas of the enclosure so that vapor isn't billowing over areas the tortoise might be walking so that it is diffusing into the ambient air. I know high humidity is importamt for young leopards, especially in their first year, so I'm unsure of how else I could keep him in the right ranges without the support of the humidifier. Current humidity inside my house is around 30%. Though come to think of it, fixing the sustrate issues could lend a lot to this problem... huh

Thanks for your help🤗❤️

My uvb lights:
20221119_122343.jpg 20221119_122352.jpg
 

VhaporKingT

New Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2022
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Portland, OR
Hello from someone just a few hours south of you. I'm in Medford ;) and keep a leopard tortoise, too!

I remember the first time I saw the white spots. It can be scary when you don't expect it. Now that you know, you'll have lots of fun watching all the new colors come in!
Hey there! GLad to know keeping a leopard in Oregon is doable and things are going well :). What kinds of weeds/grasses/flowers are you finding round that are forageable or do you plant and grow your own food? Also, what kind of enclosure did you keep your hatchling in during its first winter here? Would you argue against letting your leopard run around outside for an hour if it's in the 40s and 50s?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
63,039
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hi Tom,
Wow thank you so much for your thorough and thoughtful response. I think a lot of my defenisiveness was coming from reading a lot of posts on the tortoise subreddit and some here where people were incredibly snarky or just downright mean to people asking questions that revealed some hole in their knowledge, and having never engaged with the community I worried that I would be one of those people 😅.

In response to your excellent notes:

Food: I will definitely be picking up more leafy greens and keeping an eye out for more wild flowers and weeds that he can eat while on my morning walk. Even though it's cold here, I live in an area with a decent amount of weeds, veg, and wild flowers I can asses with iNaturalist and cross reference with Tortoise Table app to figure out if they are ok for him. I'm not sure what kind of grass is in our backyard, but it isn't the course stuff and most of it is pretty soft/fine, but I can definitely chop it up so he doesn't have issues with long strands. I'll be dropping my calcium supplement frequency down to just a couple times a week now at your reccomendation.

Lighting: I have the following Zoo Med 5.0 UVB light strip that currently sits on top of the wire mesh top about 17'' from the substrate, so it sounds like you're saying I'll need to get a different one, which is a bummer, but I can see what I can do this weekend or next week on that front.

Substrate: Oof, I'd been running into the problem of there being a ton of conflicting info on whether sand is ok and didn't know who to trust being new to the community, but ok I will go and try to track down some orchid bark at a garden center today and do a full substrate replacement.

Enclosure: I'm unsurprised by anything you said about the enclosure and I definitely feel like I'm battling my own stubbornness because I want to make the enclosure I stupidly/naïvely allowed myself to get sold on at the convention work and not have to replace it so soon, but I do want to make sure my lil youngin will grow up with as healthy a shell as possble. So I'm open to just sucking it up and purchasing something to move him into that will be more spacious and better at maintaining a consistant environment. I know there are cost affective ways to set up juvenile enclosures using costco supplies. Is there a bin size/type you'd recommend moving him to that works well? I don't know if I can drop a ton of money buying a fancy nice one like the ones you have on your page at the moment, especially if he's gonna grow out of it in a year or so. He's a few months old now I think and it already growing so fast😊, so going a costco bin route with some mcgivering of lamps and lids is what looks to be a good option. If you have a good link to video or guide for setting up a bin enclosure that would be a good model for me to emulate, I'd super appreciate it.

Humidity: I hear what you're saying about humidity blowing directly into the enclosure, but I live im a pretty open and drafty house, and being able to trap moisture is a bit of a problem. Would these changes help: lessening the humidity intensity, making sure the pipe is oriented up more towards the upper areas of the enclosure so that vapor isn't billowing over areas the tortoise might be walking so that it is diffusing into the ambient air. I know high humidity is importamt for young leopards, especially in their first year, so I'm unsure of how else I could keep him in the right ranges without the support of the humidifier. Current humidity inside my house is around 30%. Though come to think of it, fixing the sustrate issues could lend a lot to this problem... huh

Thanks for your help🤗❤️

My uvb lights:
View attachment 351881 View attachment 351882
You are welcome. We have a vast and diverse membership here. There are so many people that most of the time you can find all sorts of people that have gone through what you are going through, and get all sorts of tips to help.

I didn't take your request for kindness as defensive. I know darn well where you are coming from and it upsets me terribly that bad people out in the world attack other people that are looking for help and trying so hard to do the right thing. There is so much misinformation out there and it seems like the people who are the most insulting to newcomers have the worst wrong info to share. FB is TERRIBLE, YT is worthless, and I still have yet to here anything good about the reddit info. Luckily, we have good people here that have been learning, sharing, and figuring out what really works best for decades. I have learned so much from so many members here over the years. Its really a great site, and I'm glad you found us.

Food: You can post pics here and we will try to help ID your local weeds and plants, or take a sample to a local nursery and ask for the local plant nerd. There is always at least one there that knows everything about every local plant. Make friends with that person!

UV: The 5.0 T8 bulbs make almost no UV at all, even from a few inches away. Even the 10.0 bulbs of that type make hardly any UV. Also, the screen top filters out a large percentage of any UV that is produced. If you put a UV meter down where your tortoise is, I'm certain you'd get a reading of 0.0 with your current set up. But don't worry too much. Your tortoise has been getting dietary D3, and that alone will be enough until you get something else worked out over the next few weeks. What works best is the "Pro T5" kits from Arcadia. You only need the 22" version, but a longer version is fine to use too. ZooMed also makes a T5 HO tube and fixture set up if you can't find the Arcadia. It only needs to run from about 10am-2pm to simulate the UV spike that happens outside daily. Tortoises need D3 for sure, but that can be provided in the diet. It doesn't take hours and hors of daily UVB exposure for them to make enough D3 in their skin. There are no scientific studies done, but it appears that they can make all they need to last a while in 15 minutes of exposure. There are many variables in play, but even a little UV once in a while will get the job done in most cases. Running a high quality HO tube for four hours a day will absolutely 100% get the job done, even with no D3 in the diet.

I'm well aware of all the conflicting info on substrate. I am glad you have decided to NOT learn this lesson the hard way.

The enclosure dilemma is one that almost all new people face. There is an easy solution, but its not cheap. There are cheap solutions, but they are not easy or ideal... Sometimes we get kids here that can't afford the right enclosure, or we get adults that are understandably frustrated that they were told to buy the wrong thing.... Everyone has to figure how how best to solve this problem for themselves. Here is my take: Just bite the bullet and get the right enclosure. It will make your life SOOOOOO much easier and life for your tortoise SOOOOOOO much better. The best option for this is the "Smart Enclosures" that our own @Markw84 makes. You can get the starter enclosure now and add the expansion pack later when your tortoise starts getting bigger. These enclosures cost less than if you bought all the stuff separately, built it all, and installed all the heating and lighting yourself. They are the perfect life support system for baby tortoises and meet all of their needs perfectly. Humidity worries and temperature woes will be a thing of the past.

If that just doesn't work for you for any reason, then a large tub from Walmart inside of a portable plastic green house tent will work better than an open enclosure. You might even be able to fit your current enclosure into one of those tents. Hopefully someone reading this will drop a link to the greenhouse tents for you. I've never used one, but I've seen other people here use them and report good results.

Your humidity problems will not be solved until you get the right enclosure set up. This is just physics. Blowing the wet air with the micro droplets into a leopard tortoise enclosure is likely to cause a respiratory infection. Dry and pyramiding would be better than sick, so the humidifier is just not a good solution.
 

VhaporKingT

New Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2022
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Portland, OR
You are welcome. We have a vast and diverse membership here. There are so many people that most of the time you can find all sorts of people that have gone through what you are going through, and get all sorts of tips to help.

I didn't take your request for kindness as defensive. I know darn well where you are coming from and it upsets me terribly that bad people out in the world attack other people that are looking for help and trying so hard to do the right thing. There is so much misinformation out there and it seems like the people who are the most insulting to newcomers have the worst wrong info to share. FB is TERRIBLE, YT is worthless, and I still have yet to here anything good about the reddit info. Luckily, we have good people here that have been learning, sharing, and figuring out what really works best for decades. I have learned so much from so many members here over the years. Its really a great site, and I'm glad you found us.

Food: You can post pics here and we will try to help ID your local weeds and plants, or take a sample to a local nursery and ask for the local plant nerd. There is always at least one there that knows everything about every local plant. Make friends with that person!

UV: The 5.0 T8 bulbs make almost no UV at all, even from a few inches away. Even the 10.0 bulbs of that type make hardly any UV. Also, the screen top filters out a large percentage of any UV that is produced. If you put a UV meter down where your tortoise is, I'm certain you'd get a reading of 0.0 with your current set up. But don't worry too much. Your tortoise has been getting dietary D3, and that alone will be enough until you get something else worked out over the next few weeks. What works best is the "Pro T5" kits from Arcadia. You only need the 22" version, but a longer version is fine to use too. ZooMed also makes a T5 HO tube and fixture set up if you can't find the Arcadia. It only needs to run from about 10am-2pm to simulate the UV spike that happens outside daily. Tortoises need D3 for sure, but that can be provided in the diet. It doesn't take hours and hors of daily UVB exposure for them to make enough D3 in their skin. There are no scientific studies done, but it appears that they can make all they need to last a while in 15 minutes of exposure. There are many variables in play, but even a little UV once in a while will get the job done in most cases. Running a high quality HO tube for four hours a day will absolutely 100% get the job done, even with no D3 in the diet.

I'm well aware of all the conflicting info on substrate. I am glad you have decided to NOT learn this lesson the hard way.

The enclosure dilemma is one that almost all new people face. There is an easy solution, but its not cheap. There are cheap solutions, but they are not easy or ideal... Sometimes we get kids here that can't afford the right enclosure, or we get adults that are understandably frustrated that they were told to buy the wrong thing.... Everyone has to figure how how best to solve this problem for themselves. Here is my take: Just bite the bullet and get the right enclosure. It will make your life SOOOOOO much easier and life for your tortoise SOOOOOOO much better. The best option for this is the "Smart Enclosures" that our own @Markw84 makes. You can get the starter enclosure now and add the expansion pack later when your tortoise starts getting bigger. These enclosures cost less than if you bought all the stuff separately, built it all, and installed all the heating and lighting yourself. They are the perfect life support system for baby tortoises and meet all of their needs perfectly. Humidity worries and temperature woes will be a thing of the past.

If that just doesn't work for you for any reason, then a large tub from Walmart inside of a portable plastic green house tent will work better than an open enclosure. You might even be able to fit your current enclosure into one of those tents. Hopefully someone reading this will drop a link to the greenhouse tents for you. I've never used one, but I've seen other people here use them and report good results.

Your humidity problems will not be solved until you get the right enclosure set up. This is just physics. Blowing the wet air with the micro droplets into a leopard tortoise enclosure is likely to cause a respiratory infection. Dry and pyramiding would be better than sick, so the humidifier is just not a good solution.
Thanks for the recommendations, I just reached out to Mark to see about getting a nice enclosure built and I will work on getting a better UVB light situation in the meantime! Really appreciate the help, I know you've already saved both my tort and I lots of sickness and heartache. Cheers:)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tom

Levi the Leopard

IXOYE
10 Year Member!
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
7,968
Location (City and/or State)
Southern Oregon
Hey there! GLad to know keeping a leopard in Oregon is doable and things are going well :). What kinds of weeds/grasses/flowers are you finding round that are forageable or do you plant and grow your own food? Also, what kind of enclosure did you keep your hatchling in during its first winter here? Would you argue against letting your leopard run around outside for an hour if it's in the 40s and 50s?

My leopard was raised in a hot and humid chamber with access to a heavily planted outdoor enclosure as weather permitted for the first 2 years. By the time we was 3 years old, he lived outdoors with reign of the backyard and a fully insulated tort house heated with an oil filled radiator run on a thermostat.

My entire backyard is dedicated to him. His main food source is the lawn made up of a variety of grasses and weeds. I also grow grape vines for him and have a few reputable sources where I can harvest mulberry leaves for him. Occasionally he gets scraps from our store bought lettuces, from friend's gardens or a plate of soaked Mazuri.

In the winter, I either serve him "breakfast in bed" and pile food inside his heated house or if the sun is out, I pile food on the grass close to his door. That way he doesn't have to walk too far to eat.

Levi wants his door open every day and will walk around outside even when it's cold out. BUT he's much larger than yours and has a good routine established. He knows how long he can be out before needing to return home to warm back up. Someday, I hope to have a large heated shed for him though.

I would recommend against putting your tortoise outside on a 40/50 degree day. It's still too small and just not needed.
 

New Posts

Top