6 Month Old Horsefield/Russian Tortoises... Help

bwdyer

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Oct 1, 2018
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Hello All,

(and Thank You Yvonne for helping me set up this thread)

I am brand sparkly new to being a tortoise owner - Yesterday I picked up two gorgeous 6 month old horsefield tortoises! They were born together and brought together and have been advised that they get on well.

I have them in a large enclosed Vivarium (66 x 76 x 55cm (26 x 30 x 20") - I know they can be quite controversial but It's enclosed because we have 6 dogs and while they are so tiny I don't want the dogs to think they are a "crunchy snack!" - They will go outside when the weather allows and move onto a tortoise table when they're larger than 3 fingers put together....

I have put in there the following lighting: 25w Repti Glo fluorescent light tubes; Medium glow light reflector; Daylight basking spot lamp 100w and a 30w double light unit.

One end of the area is temperature 36.2 degrees celsius and the other end is temperature 24.3 celsius.

They're on a diet of dandelion leaves, spinach, kale and watercress and I have some Calci-Dust to add to their diet too.

Today they came out and had a luke warm dip for about 10 minutes, but put the water container into their home so they saw familiar surroundings as to not stress them out...

I hope I'm doing everything okay so far?? :( :/

One of the little hero's is worrying me - it's skin is peeling a little and it's eyes don't appear to be as bright as the other little hero's... I have taken photos and hopefully they're attached on here for you to see and offer advice...

Please send your thoughts. MORE than happy to take to the vets! Just not too sure if I'm jumping the gun a little bit....


Thanks in Advance!

PS. Please be kind, I'm nervous and trying my bestest by my new little buddies! (Yet to be named but thinking of Hufflepuff and Gryffindor!)

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katieandiggy

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Hello welcome, He really does not look happy.

I can’t tell you that you are going to need to separate them, tortoises do not do well being kept together. They are solitary animals and don’t do well when kept in pairs. Russians are possibly one of the worst to keep together.

Your little tortoises eyes look swollen. Where did they come from? I’m wondering if they were using the wrong kind of lighting. I’ve seen eyes look like that under the coil type bulbs.
Is it eating ok?
I would soak him for 30 mins per day and separate them as soon as you can.
 

bwdyer

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We got them from here - http://www.wildworldreptiles.co.uk

We were advised that they would live well together having grown up together?? Yvonne has messaged me the same as yourself though!

Yeah they're eating okay.... I have set up a tortoise camera so I can watch them while i'm at work. They're both sleeping lots though.

Will the eyes heal naturally under the bulbs I have them with? Or do I need to seek vet advice?
 

Yvonne G

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I think they've been kept too dry. You're not using the coil shaped bulb, right?

I would do things a little differently from the way you're doing it: I would buy more bark, but smaller 'kibble.' Those larger chunks look like it would be hard for them to walk on. So then spread the smaller chunks over the larger chunks. I would then moisten the substrate, a deep moistening all the way through. Soak them daily for about 15 minutes.

You can buy these products online (you don't need both, one or the other):

eye ointment a.jpg eye ointment b.jpg

After their soak, dry the little one's eyes (the one whose eyes don't look bright) then dab on a bit of the ointment or gel. Leave it on.

Your enclosure looks big enough you might get away with fencing it in half and have one on each side. This should work until they get a bit bigger.

If it were me, I would show the pictures of the two of them together to the place where you bought them and tell them you think the one is sick. See if they offer to replace it.
 

bwdyer

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The housing is three times larger than what they have come from!

I don't have the packaging for the one (it came with this - http://www.petsathome.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/en/pets/bearded-dragon-accessories-pack) I have in there at the moment but I brought this one as a spare and it is the same shape and wattage...

42967023_714532282242783_3293340919247405056_n.jpg

They're definitely not coil shaped (as in a curling light shaped)

They have sand, bark and the special bedding (substrate) at the moment. Tomorrow I am going to buy some small slate and yes, some smaller bark! They have an extra large food dish, filled with luke warm water which I change twice a day. I have also put some water around the dish on the bark and on the sand...

Should I cool the cooler side of the cage? Maybe its too warm and drying them out quickly?

Do you think it is sick? Or is it just the dryness or bad lighting from the shop? I would hate to discard the little hero just because he is poorly - I would much rather nurse him back to health and give him a great life!
 

katieandiggy

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We got them from here - http://www.wildworldreptiles.co.uk

We were advised that they would live well together having grown up together?? Yvonne has messaged me the same as yourself though!

Yeah they're eating okay.... I have set up a tortoise camera so I can watch them while i'm at work. They're both sleeping lots though.

Will the eyes heal naturally under the bulbs I have them with? Or do I need to seek vet advice?

A lot of pet shops give outdated info on tortoises.
I’m in the U.K. too and I bought mine from Jolly’s Pets, he was being kept all wrong, very dry and it took me a couple of weeks to deal with that.

Tortoises can literally fight to the death. If you look at a lot of tortoises that have been kept in pairs, you will usually see that one is tiny compared to the other, even though they both been kept exactly the same. Bullying is not always visual, it’s a mental thing with tortoises too, following, crowding, sleeping close together all can be subtle signs of aggression. Groups can sometimes work but not really pairs and one will always be inferior to the other.

With regards to the eyes, do what Yvonne said, she knows her stuff!
 

Minority2

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The housing is three times larger than what they have come from!

I don't have the packaging for the one (it came with this - http://www.petsathome.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/en/pets/bearded-dragon-accessories-pack) I have in there at the moment but I brought this one as a spare and it is the same shape and wattage...

View attachment 253114

They're definitely not coil shaped (as in a curling light shaped)

They have sand, bark and the special bedding (substrate) at the moment. Tomorrow I am going to buy some small slate and yes, some smaller bark! They have an extra large food dish, filled with luke warm water which I change twice a day. I have also put some water around the dish on the bark and on the sand...

Should I cool the cooler side of the cage? Maybe its too warm and drying them out quickly?

Do you think it is sick? Or is it just the dryness or bad lighting from the shop? I would hate to discard the little hero just because he is poorly - I would much rather nurse him back to health and give him a great life!

Get rid of all the sand and what I believe is aspen bedding. Sand has been known to cause eye and impaction issues. Aspen bedding is very dry and will mold if wet. Young Russians should be housed in relatively high humidity levels of 50-70%, the more the better. Substrate level should also be at least the total length of a burrowing tortoise's body length if not more. Coco coir and fine grade orchid/fir bark are 2 very highly recommended and safe substrate choices to use.

I also agree with @Yvonne G. Those two tortoises look dry. I also believe the sand is irritating them.

Your current enclosure size is also quite small for a young tortoise. Tortoises need a lot of space for exercising, exploring, and thermoregulating. I would suggest getting/building a minimum of at least 2x (4 x 2 ft) enclosures and to house both tortoises separately.

Weirdly shaped resin water dishes can be easily flipped over. Heavy clay and resin plant saucers, which are uniformed shaped and can be easily submerged into the substrate is usually the most recommended choice for an indoor water/soaking dish.

Ignore all the previous advice you've been given. The outdated information that is often given by various sources (pet shops, rescues, veterinarians, for profit breeders, and wild life organizations) are most likely one of many contributing causes to the death rates among young tortoises every year.

Here is a very good thread on Russian tortoise care. Follow these guidelines:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
 
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