3 pancakes. Am I doing this right?

samkerns1

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Joined
Jun 29, 2018
Messages
54
Location (City and/or State)
Southwest Georgia
I've been taking care of 3 Pancake tortoises for about 7 years now. Two are 9yrs old (#68 and #53) and the largest is 14 (Stanley).
After viewing posts on this forum, I believe they are all males. I'll include pics for confirmation (Stanley also has slit opening near tail tip but was difficult to photograph).
Until last week, I had not sexed them, but I had to separate Stanley from the others years ago due to aggression. So I had suspected that he at least was male.
I feed them 3 times a week. It's a mix of collards, soaked alfalfa pellets, Repashy Grassland Grazer, and a bit of green pepper and yellow squash. They are on a Ca, Ca+D3, and vitamin rotation (something I researched a while ago, don't recall source). I also put in a few cuttlebones over a year ago, because their beaks look overgrown to me, but they have not used them.
Basking spot is 95F. I use Reptisun T5 H0 10.0, about 2' above them.
68 & 53 live in a roughly 40-gallon exhibit, with sand/peat mix substrate and piled slate rocks. They get to bask and browse outside a few times a month.
Stanley is an outreach animal and lives on newspaper with various hides. He gets outside more often.
They always have access to water. I do not try to increase humidity in their enclosures.

Suggestions for husbandry improvements are very much welcome. 20180705_121308.jpeg 20180705_120720.jpeg 20180705_121448.jpeg 20180704_160522.jpeg
 

ascott

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5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
16,147
Location (City and/or State)
Apple Valley, California
I've been taking care of 3 Pancake tortoises for about 7 years now. Two are 9yrs old (#68 and #53) and the largest is 14 (Stanley).
After viewing posts on this forum, I believe they are all males. I'll include pics for confirmation (Stanley also has slit opening near tail tip but was difficult to photograph).
Until last week, I had not sexed them, but I had to separate Stanley from the others years ago due to aggression. So I had suspected that he at least was male.
I feed them 3 times a week. It's a mix of collards, soaked alfalfa pellets, Repashy Grassland Grazer, and a bit of green pepper and yellow squash. They are on a Ca, Ca+D3, and vitamin rotation (something I researched a while ago, don't recall source). I also put in a few cuttlebones over a year ago, because their beaks look overgrown to me, but they have not used them.
Basking spot is 95F. I use Reptisun T5 H0 10.0, about 2' above them.
68 & 53 live in a roughly 40-gallon exhibit, with sand/peat mix substrate and piled slate rocks. They get to bask and browse outside a few times a month.
Stanley is an outreach animal and lives on newspaper with various hides. He gets outside more often.
They always have access to water. I do not try to increase humidity in their enclosures.

Suggestions for husbandry improvements are very much welcome. View attachment 244494 View attachment 244495 View attachment 244496 View attachment 244497
Sure looks like a pack of males to me....beautiful pack by the way.....and I don't understand your use of the word "outreach animal" I believe I can figure it out but I have learned not to guess but to just ask....what do you mean by that phrase?
 

samkerns1

Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2018
Messages
54
Location (City and/or State)
Southwest Georgia
Sure looks like a pack of males to me....beautiful pack by the way.....and I don't understand your use of the word "outreach animal" I believe I can figure it out but I have learned not to guess but to just ask....what do you mean by that phrase?
He is used by the education department during presentations and often travels around outside of his enclosure. These are animals I take care of at work.
 

ascott

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
16,147
Location (City and/or State)
Apple Valley, California
He is used by the education department during presentations and often travels around outside of his enclosure. These are animals I take care of at work.

So why does he get newspaper? Seems he should have the best digs since he is the working tort.....? :)
 

samkerns1

Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2018
Messages
54
Location (City and/or State)
Southwest Georgia
So why does he get newspaper? Seems he should have the best digs since he is the working tort.....? :)
I've been thinkin the same thing.

I think it was a hold-over from when cleaning fast was the priority. But now the edu dept has the most torts (species specific posts to appear soon), and I'm feeling like it's time to do things better. I've got an enthusiastic new keeper working that area now, too.
 

ascott

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
16,147
Location (City and/or State)
Apple Valley, California
I've been thinkin the same thing.

I think it was a hold-over from when cleaning fast was the priority. But now the edu dept has the most torts (species specific posts to appear soon), and I'm feeling like it's time to do things better. I've got an enthusiastic new keeper working that area now, too.
Enthusiastic new keeper.....can be tiring but super worth it if the person knows what they are doing....for sure....
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
48,475
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I've been taking care of 3 Pancake tortoises for about 7 years now. Two are 9yrs old (#68 and #53) and the largest is 14 (Stanley).
After viewing posts on this forum, I believe they are all males. I'll include pics for confirmation (Stanley also has slit opening near tail tip but was difficult to photograph).
Until last week, I had not sexed them, but I had to separate Stanley from the others years ago due to aggression. So I had suspected that he at least was male.
I feed them 3 times a week. It's a mix of collards, soaked alfalfa pellets, Repashy Grassland Grazer, and a bit of green pepper and yellow squash. They are on a Ca, Ca+D3, and vitamin rotation (something I researched a while ago, don't recall source). I also put in a few cuttlebones over a year ago, because their beaks look overgrown to me, but they have not used them.
Basking spot is 95F. I use Reptisun T5 H0 10.0, about 2' above them.
68 & 53 live in a roughly 40-gallon exhibit, with sand/peat mix substrate and piled slate rocks. They get to bask and browse outside a few times a month.
Stanley is an outreach animal and lives on newspaper with various hides. He gets outside more often.
They always have access to water. I do not try to increase humidity in their enclosures.

Suggestions for husbandry improvements are very much welcome.
Hello and welcome.

I see several things that need improvement:
  1. The florescent tube is a good one, but it needs to be closer. Only with a UV meter can you know the correct distance, but I'd guess 16-18".
  2. No sand. Sand is very dangerous for tortoises. It can cause impaction and also be a source of skin and eye irritation. The best substrate is fine grade orchid bark. I buy it in bulk at local garden centers.
  3. The two should not be housed as a pair. They need to be in a larger group, or housed individually.
  4. I see all males in your pics.
  5. They should be fed every day.
  6. They need a much better diet. Read this for diet tips and suggestions: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/
  7. 40 Gallons is too small. An individual needs at least 24x48" and bigger for a group.
  8. You didn't mention soaking, but they should be soaked 2 or three times a week.
  9. Humidity for adults like yours is not critical, but the right substrate will give you some moderate humidity which is good.
This is written for sulcatas and leopards, but care is the same:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/

This one might help too:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
 

samkerns1

Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2018
Messages
54
Location (City and/or State)
Southwest Georgia
Hello and welcome.

I see several things that need improvement:
  1. The florescent tube is a good one, but it needs to be closer. Only with a UV meter can you know the correct distance, but I'd guess 16-18".
  2. No sand. Sand is very dangerous for tortoises. It can cause impaction and also be a source of skin and eye irritation. The best substrate is fine grade orchid bark. I buy it in bulk at local garden centers.
  3. The two should not be housed as a pair. They need to be in a larger group, or housed individually.
  4. I see all males in your pics.
  5. They should be fed every day.
  6. They need a much better diet. Read this for diet tips and suggestions: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/
  7. 40 Gallons is too small. An individual needs at least 24x48" and bigger for a group.
  8. You didn't mention soaking, but they should be soaked 2 or three times a week.
  9. Humidity for adults like yours is not critical, but the right substrate will give you some moderate humidity which is good.
This is written for sulcatas and leopards, but care is the same:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/

This one might help too:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
Thank you for taking the time to respond. These are exactly the types of suggestions that I need. After I get the pancakes sorted, I'll be posting on another species specific page. Hopefully, no one will have to repeat themselves as I fix problems across the board.

I have a Solarmeter 6.2 UVB meter. It measures in uW/cm2. When I initially researched UVB guidelines, everything I found was very vague; such as, sunlovers should have 100-130 uW/cm2, forest floor reps may require as low as 15, etc.
When I last positioned the bulbs above these tortoises, the reading was right around 100uW/cm2 at their normal floor height, although it has dropped some in the time that's passed. Do you know of any good sources for suggested UVB requirements that I might use for all the tortoises/reptiles I care for?

I actually looked up orchard bark a few days ago after I read your leopard/sulcata care guide and plan to pick some up from Lowes on my next trip. :)

Some time ago, I swear I read that high humidity caused shell problems with pancakes. That's what I'd been going by for years now. We soak all the other torts, so this is easily remedied.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
48,475
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Thank you for taking the time to respond. These are exactly the types of suggestions that I need. After I get the pancakes sorted, I'll be posting on another species specific page. Hopefully, no one will have to repeat themselves as I fix problems across the board.

I have a Solarmeter 6.2 UVB meter. It measures in uW/cm2. When I initially researched UVB guidelines, everything I found was very vague; such as, sunlovers should have 100-130 uW/cm2, forest floor reps may require as low as 15, etc.
When I last positioned the bulbs above these tortoises, the reading was right around 100uW/cm2 at their normal floor height, although it has dropped some in the time that's passed. Do you know of any good sources for suggested UVB requirements that I might use for all the tortoises/reptiles I care for?

I actually looked up orchard bark a few days ago after I read your leopard/sulcata care guide and plan to pick some up from Lowes on my next trip. :)

Some time ago, I swear I read that high humidity caused shell problems with pancakes. That's what I'd been going by for years now. We soak all the other torts, so this is easily remedied.
There is no definitive guide for UV levels for tortoises. We are all really guessing. It a bunch of people saying what they did, and whether or not it prevented MBD. 100-130 sounds fine to me. I'd probably go a little higher, if that was my sole UV source. Also, we've all switched to the Solarmeter 6.5 as it give a better reading of the specific wavelength that our reptiles need. But you can get by with what you've got for your purposes.

You won't find orchid bark at Lowes. You need to go to a nursery or green center. Sometimes they call it "fir bark". OSH sometimes carries it too.

The high humidity thing was incorrectly assumed for most species. They said it about stars, sulcatas, leopards, pancakes and many more. Its wrong. Dry doesn't work. Its taken decades for some of us to figure this out, and many still haven't. Babies of all of these species thrive with high humidity and good hydration. Adults do well with it too and it prevents a lot of health problems. Dehydration is survivable by many living things on this planet, tortoises included, but its not good for them.
 

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