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baby tortoise not eating much and stay hid

Discussion in 'General Tortoise Discussion' started by bigbeaks, Jun 22, 2010.

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  1. bigbeaks

    bigbeaks Member

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    Hi,
    I purchased two baby greek tortoises two weeks ago. I have a golden and a normal. The golden is doing awesome, eats all the time and is very active. The normal seems to not be right, and I don't know what to do for him. I've only seen him eat maybe three times since I've had him. He stays hid most of the time. The golden is out for most of the day and I see her eat every day, sometimes several times a day. They have a basking area that is close to 95 degrees. They have a nice enclosure that measures 3' by 3'. I will include a pictue below of their cage. I am feeding a variety of foods. Mazuri tortoise chow, dandelion greens, cactus pads, spring mix greens, etc... I soak them every other day, and they also have a water area in their cage if they want to get in it. They have a cave area that is moist and is heated below and stays about 85 degrees but they don't use it all the time. Any suggestions that that anyone may have on what I can do to get this guy a little more active and eating better I would appreciate it very much. His eyes look clear, and no discharge from his nose or anything like that. I can't seem to get the company I purchased them from to reply to my messages to help me.

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  2. tortoisenerd

    tortoisenerd New Member

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    Welcome to the forum! Does the normal Greek hide all the time in the cold part of the enclosure? Do you have a hide directly near the basking spot you can place the tort in to encourage it to warm up, so then it will want to eat? I recommend to place the tort in front of the food twice a day, changing the food out at that time (keeping food out at all times until they get on a routine). I would not use any type of under enclosure heat for any reason for a small tort. Use a ceramic heat emitter if you think they must have heat at night, but in nature they get a temperature drop at night and all heat is from above. There is a small risk that the under belly heat can burn them or they can get overheated from not moving off of it, and that is a risk I wouldn't ever want to take. How much you want their temperature to drop is up to you. I would have 75-100 in the day and 70 at night. Some say never go below 75. Have you had a vet check out both torts and do a fecal exam?

    Two weeks is starting to get a bit too long as far as settling in and being inactive. From what I can see with the enclosure, it is very large and overwhelming for hatchlings. I would have them in something half the size for now--you can even block half off with a board. Then, add more hides so that they barely have to move until they see and can use a hide. Fake plants, cardboard boxes, a pile of the substrate or timothy hay, etc. That may get the inactive tort more comfortable to move around. My guess is the tort is spending all the time in the cold area due to being scared. Having that hide right next to the basking spot is key. That was my major problem when setting up my tort for the first time. Sure, all the temps were fine, but the tort wasn't using the warmer temps. What is the coolest temp in the enclosure? That is a large enclosure to be eating, and although the basking temp might be good, the rest of it might be cool. I'd want no spot below 75 F. An accurate thermometer is key to tort husbandry. A temp gun like the PE1 for $25 is a good choice and very affordable. I wouldn't trust the cheap ones, and the probe ones take so long to get a reading.

    They look very very tiny. What is their shell length, SCL? I really don't like when breeders sell such tiny torts, because sometimes they just aren't ready to go to a new home and have trouble thriving. Do you know how old they are? Was the normal tort eating well for the breeder? Were they shipped? I think a vet visit to someone experienced with torts is in order to see if they can spot anything, and focus on the temperatures and hides.

    Can they actually climb in and out of that water dish? I do want to warn you that I bought that one and I had the paint flake off. I was scared that it could be toxic so I stopped using it. Take a look at it and if you see any flaking paint, I suggest to get something different. I love the Groovy Jacuzzi dish with steps.

    Where is the food in the enclosure? Feeding in a slate tile is a good idea to wear down the beak and nails, and keep the food away from the substrate. Diet sounds good! They need hides that if boxes aren't much larger than the tort so they feel safe and secure. Some torts like mine only like things like the hay pile or fake plants, and won't even go in a box or half log hide. The more you describe the behavior of the inactive tort, such as where in the enclosure and in what temperature it is spending its time will be helpful. Has the shell softened at all since you got it? Are you sprinkling pure calcium daily over the greens? UVB light?

    Good luck!
  3. bigbeaks

    bigbeaks Member

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    Hi Kate,
    Thank you for all your suggestions. I was told that they are 10 to 12 weeks old. They measure about 2 to 2 1/2" long. The normal greek (the one not acting great) is actually the larger of the two. His shell feels hard to me and looks nice. I have a fluorescent 5.0 bulb above their cage, along with a ceramic heat emiter. The under tank heater I have is a fairly small one, and was told by the breeder to use this instead of overhead heating for the hide area. I can lay my hand directly on top of it without it burning me, so my guess would be it shouldn't burn them? Or am I wrong? The area that I find this tort in the most when he's hiding is under the mulch near the heat emitter and in the hide area that I have the under tank heater near. I have a really nice new digital themometer that reads indoor / outdoor temps from Radio Shack so I can put the probe in any location to get the temp. At nigh the temp in the room probably goes down to about 74, maybe a little less, but usually not. During the day it stays in the upper 70's, close to 80. I haven't taken them to the vet yet, but have thought seriously about it. But we don't have any vets very close to me that will see them. I will try and section their cage off so they don't feel so overwhelmed. That will be easy to accomplish. I haven't been putting calcium on the food yet because the few times I did he definately wouldn't eat, so I just really want to see him pig out like the other before I discourage him from eating at all. Know what I mean. I know something is getting in him cause earlier today when I soaked him he pooped in the water, so something has to be going in. Oh and yes, they were shipped to me, overnight. The golden ate as soon as I took her out of the box. Thank you very much for all your suggestions and help.
    Chris
  4. maggie3fan

    maggie3fan Well-Known Member

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    Your CHE looks to be kind of far away from the substrate, how far is it? What is the temp on the substrate under it? Do you every see them basking under the CHE? I think you need a hotter basking light...
  5. bigbeaks

    bigbeaks Member

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    Hi,
    I'm not sure what "CHE" is??? The basking light and UVB light is only about 14 inches above the substrate. the basking area gets up to 95 degrees.
  6. tortoisenerd

    tortoisenerd New Member

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    CHE is ceramic heat emitter. It is heat only, no light, so not sure if you have one. You use them at night if its too cold in your house because you want it to be dark but have heat.
  7. bigbeaks

    bigbeaks Member

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    Yes, I have a ceramic heat emitter. Since I put this post up, I made their cage a lot smaller and he seems to be doing better. Not hiding as much and seems to be eating more. So I'll keep my fingers crossed it was because he had "too much room" and didn't feel secure.
  8. Stephanie Logan

    Stephanie Logan Active Member

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    What a tiny little peanut in that huge beautiful enclosure!

    Can you post some close-up photos of both your little munchkins for us to admire?

    Good luck and keep us updated on your babies' progress. :D
  9. tortoisenerd

    tortoisenerd New Member

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    Those are all good signs, but I would still take them both to a vet if at all possible. Even if they looked completely healthy I'd recommend this, because as a new tort owner and with hatchlings, there are things you may not be able to spot, and a fecal test for parasites is a really good idea (my captive bred hatchling had parasites--just because they are young and captive bred doesn't mean they can't have them, as their mothers pass them on, or breeders keep hatchlings in shared housing). So glad there was some improvement. The smaller enclosure is also probably warmer if you use the same heating elements over the smaller area. I would buy a temp gun (like the PE1, $25) so you can aim and press a button and get a temp anywhere, not wait for the probe to register. You need to know the entire temperature gradient in the enclosure. No matter how cool the heat pad, I would never use one on a small tort. Use CHEs as needed, but you do want a range from 75 to 95/100 so the torts have a chance to thermoregualte.

    You want hides in each temp zone. Hatchlings are known to say cooler or warmer than they'd like just to stay safe in a hide, so best to offer them hides all over the enclosure so they can dart from one to another. Safety comes before thermoregulation and food for them as in the wild they spend almost their entire day hiding from predators. Do some research on how reptiles naturally get heat from above, and how heat pads can fail and overheat, and some torts don't realize they should get off of them when they are warm, as they expect the heat from above, not below. That night temp is good. Once the appetite picks up (your hatchlings may be able to put away a pile of greens as large as they are), then start to sprinkle the pure calcium daily, starting with a really small amount, and increasing it over time to get them used to it. If you have even a tiny bit of concern that they aren't sharing the food well, feed them separately. Hatchlings at that age should get as much food as they want. Be on the look out for signs of silent bullying--if one tort is growing at a much faster pace, etc, this could be going on. Read up on the signs as it isn't always obvious.

    When you get a chance later on, unless they are to be living outside, I'd recommend a 100 Watt T-Rex Mercury Vapor Bulb. These are top of the line of UVB output, far superior to the tube bulbs. You use one fixture for heat, light, and UVB. You need a ceramic socket fixture and a lamp stand to adjust the height, with the bulb face parallel to the substrate for the safety of the torts and the bulb longevity. See http://www.uvguide.co.uk/mercuryvapourlamps.htm vs http://www.uvguide.co.uk/fluorescenttubes.htm for some data on how the two bulb types compare, and it will be obvious why I recommend the MVB! It most closely mimics natural sun. Most people actually see their torts perk up and become a lot more active when they put in a MVB. These last 12 months vs. 6 months for the tube, so even thought the price tag is more like $50, you replace it less often and buy less bulbs and fixtures. I replaced my tort's old MVB with a new MVB and even that caused a huge increase in basking and walking around. UVB bulbs start to rapidly decay as soon as you turn them on.

    Good luck!
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