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The Mr T Experience

Discussion in 'Sulcata tortoises' started by saginawhxc, Jun 2, 2016.

  1. saginawhxc

    saginawhxc Well-Known Member

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    I have had my tortoise for two and half months now and somehow this little hockey puck has become my biggest past time. So maybe I'm overdue for a progress thread and place to share some of my pictures of Mr T and his extended animal family.

    First thing first, I acknowledge I have zero way of knowing if Mr T (my tortoise) is a he or a she. If it turns out to be female the name Mr T will become a conversation piece. In the mean time I will simply refer to him as a he.

    For those who don't know me yet or remember my introduction thread a couple of months ago my name is Brandon. My sulcata is four months old and even though my family agreed on the name Mr T, I named him Torty McTortface just because my nine year old daughter groans with disgust every time I call him that.

    Like I said we have had him about two and half months now and in that time he has already gained about 85 grams up to his current weight at 125g. He eats a daily mix of store bought greens including collard, turnip, dandelion, mustard, and kale. I mix that about 50/50 with stuff from the yard including grass, fresh dandelion, dead nettles, violets, plantain, and rose leafs. I would love to identify more from my yard, but for now this is the stuff that I feel confident about. I also give him some cactus pad near daily, and he always has access to a cuttlebone. I top all of this off with a little bit of moistened mazuri and tortoise hay from Tortoise Supply.

    Lately, weather permitting, my girlfriend has been putting him in his outside enclosure at lunch time and I have been bringing him back inside for a soak and dinner when I come home about 4.

    He seems healthy, alert, and active. I have the lovely members of the Tortoise Forum to thank specifically for that. With out you guys I don't know that he would be doing as good as I hope he is.

    Anyways my last thread was about a month ago asking about enclosure advice. I spent more time and money than I originally planned, and at one point I am pretty sure Stephanie (my girlfriend of six years) was convinced that I love the tortoise more than her, but after three weeks of degassing the spar urethane coating Mr T is finally out of his tiny cupboard under the stairs known as his original enclosure and is in his new interior home. It is a 6'x3' oak enclosure with sliding acrylic doors and and coroplast liner. He only has about two inches of coco coir in the bottom right now, but I'll pick some more up soon and fill that enclosure in a little more. 18 square feet of floor space ate up six bricks faster than I realized.

    I have five ceramic light bases spread across the top of the enclosure. Each one is set to be controlled either by a timer or a thermostat. Two of my lights are currently housing che's and are being controlled by a thermostat. My general temp probe sits in the middle of the enclosure and kicks on the ceramic bulbs anytime I dip below 85f. This seems to be keeping my night time temp solidly within a degree or two of this, and during the day it is giving me a gradient drop of about 12 degrees across the enclosure. I don't know if I am content with this yet, but I am still in the fine tuning stage of the enclosure. His hide seems to sit solidly around 83 degrees through day and night. My basking temp isn't high enough yet, but I am playing with the right height for the basking light and will get it just right over the next couple of days. I dropped the light two inches today and knocked up it three degrees to 94f. I will keep dropping it a few more till I get to 100f. I believe when I reach this I will also get a better gradient across the length of the space. I am also considering dropping the two LED lights I put in there for supplemental light. I'm afraid he isn't properly utilizing his basking spot because I don't have enough of a gradient over the entire enclosure and the extra lights kick out more light than I intended making the whole space light up.

    I also have a humidistat that controls a fogger keeping my humidity at 80%. The fogger is also connected to a relay so it will only run during daytime hours. I also set all of this on a five minute delay so opening of the doors doesn't automatically set off the fogger. The enclosure seems to hold humidity surprisingly well and over about a ten hour stretch of the doors not being open the fogger only uses maybe 4 to 6 ounces of water. Open the door though and you can watch the humidity drop 40% in thirty seconds. In the mornings after not running the fogger all night the humidistat reads roughly 70%. I've noticed that when the fogger kicks on Mr T makes a straight line and seems to love sitting right under it or at least right off to the side.

    Anyways now that I have wrote the first chapter of a novel I will share a few pictures and call it a night.

    Once again thank you all again for your help. Tom, your threads were especially helpful, thank you for taking the time to share them with us.

    I know I have some things I want to adjust yet. I welcome all advice.
  2. saginawhxc

    saginawhxc Well-Known Member

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    Here is the enclosure. When Mr T becomes too big for it than I am moving in. I am not joking. I think Stephanie is considering forcing me to move in with him now.

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  3. saginawhxc

    saginawhxc Well-Known Member

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    My timer (on the left), thermostat, and humidistat. This was taken while I was playing with the delay on the humidistat. Trying to figure out how long till humidity stabilizes after opening and closing the door. I settled on a five minute delay. I'll probably keep playing with it forever though.

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  4. saginawhxc

    saginawhxc Well-Known Member

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    My solution to setting the height of my basking light... Just keep adding extension rings. I am an electrician by trade and I will tell you officially not to do this. More than one extension is hack work, and if one more ring doesn't get me to where I want to be I have a plan B. Just don't show this to anybody I work with.

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  5. saginawhxc

    saginawhxc Well-Known Member

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    I already have his new hide made, but he hasn't outgrown this one yet. He has a che that sits over top his hide. I also had to add an extension ring to this because putting the ceramic base directly on wood was a suicidal oversight. Surface temp of the wood near the light base was 155 degrees. Just adding an extension brought me back to 115f. I am glad I realized this before I ended up with a tortoise barbecue.

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  6. saginawhxc

    saginawhxc Well-Known Member

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    I have hundreds of pictures of Mr T but this is the first time I've caught him with his mouth open. I'm pretty sure he was telling me to quit letting out all of his fog, but my anxieties tell me he is dying and this is a warning sign. Maybe he is just bored of my bull crap already and this is just a yawn. If that is the case he is a smart tortoise, it took Steph years to realize how full of it I am.

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  7. saginawhxc

    saginawhxc Well-Known Member

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    Oh, and two last points before I go to bed.

    1. I am working on growing seed trays that will fit in his enclosure. Until then I am trying to figure something out. All that space looks really empty.

    2. The top of that enclosure will not always be that messy. It is just general construction chaos that I haven't cleaned up yet.
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  8. Gillian Moore

    Gillian Moore Well-Known Member

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    A very warm welcome to the forum! :) A cute little tort, that is. GOD bless.

    Please read the so-called "Beginners Mistakes" Thread and different care sheets. And ask any question whenever in doubt.

    What is the climate like back there? If it is dry take care: torts need humidity. ;) And please give your sweet little tort daily soaks in warm water.:tort:
  9. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I wish everybody put in this much effort. I think he will reward you with good health and smooth growth.

    The whole things looks and sounds great.
  10. Speedy-1

    Speedy-1 Well-Known Member

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    You have done a GREAT job Brandon , Mr. T will have a good life ! [​IMG]
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  11. krh11b23

    krh11b23 Active Member

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    Awesome enclosure!! That's one lucky tort
  12. saginawhxc

    saginawhxc Well-Known Member

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    Michigan is a middle of the road state in humidity. Not as humid as the southern states but we are still basically surrounded by water. We have the Great Lakes and supposedly you are never less than ten miles from a river or lake. It is commonly about 55-65% here.

    Mr T gets daily soaks. Usually right after outside time. He has often been getting an extra morning soak on the weekends.
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  13. saginawhxc

    saginawhxc Well-Known Member

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    I added a lock to the sliding glass doors already. We have a 15 month old toddler here that took like 10 seconds to figure how to open the doors. I figured without a lock it was only a matter of time till we caught her hanging out with Torty inside his enclosure.
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  14. Gillian Moore

    Gillian Moore Well-Known Member

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    You tort is lucky enough with that percentage of humidity as well as water. Here (in Jordan), GOD only knows how dry the climate is. This keep me worried, and I soak Oli two to three times a day and maybe more.
  15. saginawhxc

    saginawhxc Well-Known Member

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    My phone says it is 14% in Jordan right now. I couldn't fathom living in that dry of a climate. Is that fairly typical of a yearly average?
  16. Gillian Moore

    Gillian Moore Well-Known Member

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    Yes. It is known for its dry climate be it in Summer or Winter.This is, after all "desert climate.":( (Imagine: freezing cold Winter and boiling hot Summer; NO Autumn, NO Spring).:mad:
  17. Linhdan Nguyen

    Linhdan Nguyen Well-Known Member

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    It looks great! I think Mr. T LOVES it . what a cute picture, its actually really nice with the fog and his open mouth and the coco coir substrate stuck on him.
  18. saginawhxc

    saginawhxc Well-Known Member

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    New problem with the tort enclosure has developed. The plexiglass doors are collapsing inwards enough that they are popping out of their tracking. Plus the wood strips that serve as the tracking for the doors are swelling enough they now pinch the doors dead in their tracks. So I widened the tracking and added aluminum supports for the doors.

    I also planted some window boxes and trays for inside the enclosure with some seed mix from Tortoise Supply.

    Plus we even managed to make it down to the Detroit Zoo today. Now unwinding and watching some Stanley Cup action. ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1465092094.881426.jpg ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1465092144.971954.jpg
  19. saginawhxc

    saginawhxc Well-Known Member

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    Oh, and I want to steal this little guy from the Detroit Zoo. ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1465092317.717599.jpg
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  20. saginawhxc

    saginawhxc Well-Known Member

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    Mr T is up to 139 grams. That is over a ten percent increase in weight in a week. I'm glad we don't gain weight that easily.

    In other news I doubled the amount of substrate this week and added a section for removable trays for interior plant life. I'm astounded by how well the tray inside seems to grow in a day. I initially planted two trays and figure I could swap them out, but the one inside probably grows three times as quick. I figured with artificial lighting and way too much moisture I thought they were doomed. Like reported by others though whatever is inside he is learning to mow to the ground as quick as it grows. So I bought several more trays and am planting those too. Plus he dug into a corner of one of the trays and must have tracked a few seeds around the enclosure because I now have a few mystery sprouts growing elsewhere. So on that note I also planted some seeds around the rest of the enclosure. Later I will post some pictures of his new set up.
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