A little advice on a a russian i just rescued

KatQ

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Hello! I've been utilizing these forums in the background- I've only posted once but am grateful to have such a knowledgeable resource. Today I have some questions that I just can't find the answers to in old posts. I just got a russian tortoise from a friend of friend of friend. I don't think he's in the worst shape but compared to the Hermann's I've had for the last almost 2 years he's not in the best of shape. The only time I posted was about thinking about getting a hermanns and I listened to the responses and read re-read and read some more held off for a little while so I could make better choices and because I did I have a wonderful 2 year old that eats everything I buy and grow for it. She has no white urates- she is still on daily or almost daily bath she likes them, I like the opportunity to interact with her. Has a pretty smooth shell - not 100 percent smooth but it's very slight. It is just about 700 grams, just turned 2 in May and is pretty darn personable. I think it's a she but It's not known for sure and her name is Tortellini. Other than getting ready to move out of the big xmas tree tote and in to a proper table - I followed everything this forum recommends.
So, someone gave me a russian tortoise because they didn't have time for it any more and I'm thinking - so weird I don't really have to "spend time" on mine per say. Just you know- feeding it and making sure it's doing what it's supposed to do. We don't hang out or anything- it's not a dog that demands the company of humans. So I took him. His name is Franklin. They said he was 9 but I don't know how that was arrived at. This person only had him for the last 3 years. He came in a small open tub with some weird bedding that was like pellets. His beak hangs quite a bit over his bottom jaw- they said it was just trimmed. (Tortellini's is flush. She almost looks like an old man) His claws are Edward scissor hands so long I think it affects the way he walks. He had a spot light on a clamp not even remotely pointed in the right direction. No UVB- they took him outside. (I don't know what they did for the other 8 months Chicago is too cold for going outside) I was told his favourite things to eat is Romaine, cherry tomatoes and watermelon and they weren't kidding. He hasn't been very interested in real greens and we got all kinds from store bought to home grown weeds. I wait a couple days and then give in giving him the romaine. (NO tomato or watermelon) he won't eat mazuri LS (Tortellini would sell her soul for mazuri LS she gets up early on the 2 days a week she gets them). They claimed he used a mineral block but He won't. He won't eat cuttle bone either. His shell is very round and smooth but looks a but weathered. Not damaged but some weird seams and marks. He sits weird twith all 4 of his legs splayed out. Instead of being tucked in I'm not sure if His nails have something to do with that. His poop is messy not really solid - from the Romaine? it's all water.
So first things I changed the bedding- coir and bark, added uvb tube, swapped the spot with a 65 flood off the clamp and on screen facing down so he actually gets heat and it won't set my place on fire. At the end of this week His larger tote will come in- same xmas tree storage 15958116913131261023256.jpg 20200717_114222.jpg 20200713_071327.jpg 20200621_111438.jpg . I've been giving him baths he seems to enjoy them. He poops weird lettuce flakes out.
So these are my concerns:
Are his limbs normal? I don't think he had good footing on the weird pellet bedding it just gave under him could that be causing the splaying? Is this MBD or is this what Russian Tortoises look like? He also looks too big for his shell- can they get over weight? Is the beak thing ok? He's using a terracotta dish now and I have flagstone for the new place when it all comes together. Will that go down on it's own or maybe this what Russians look like? The quicks in his nails look long can his nails even be cut? How do I get him to start eating better? Will the poop get better when he eats better?
Lastly- he's an adult- when the larger tub comes in should I utilize the lid and close the tub or at least partially close it? In Tortellini set up we use the lid- one side has her hide, LED lights and a 40w radiant heat panel set for 80 on a thermostat all closed in for humidity. The other side has her basking 75 w flood and a uvb tube on chicken wire so there is a heat gradient. These are all in timers to go off and cool down to room temp at night. When she was younger I closed it up fully to keep that 80 percent humidity all around. She was in a tank for a few months when she was tiny tiny. She spends equal amounts of time roaming. She has live plants though it's hard to keep up with replacing them as she continuously destroys them. The coir and bark are frequently sprayed and watered to stay damp and she has a terracotta saucer for water and eats off a piece unglazed tile. I'm in a suburb North of Chicago very close to the lake and the river so when the radiators aren't on the humidity is at about 50-60 in the room. Winter is harder- heat is high so it's warm cause I have no control over a radiator but they suck the moisture out so it's like 30-40 percent.
Should I mimic the set up for Franklin or is fully open ok?
Anything else I should know about that is different for Russians? they seem like they don't need as much humidity but overall they run very close to hermanns needs. They couldn't be more opposite in behavior and personality. Franklin is set in his bad habits. Tortellini is set in her ways but she has much better ways. Thanks to this forum actually.
Attached is the set up, pics of Franklin and the last is Tortellini.
I want to note that I understand BOTH need larger enclosures for the long term. That will happen in the next year or two as I work toward purchasing a permanent home. As a renter I move often and I can't accommodate moving giant table- now two giant tables.
Sorry this has been so long- please let me know if there's any more info needed and thanks for all the advice!
 

janevicki

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:)🤚
I'm not an expert on your tortoise species, but I am here to say 'Welcome and someone will come after and help you!".

Looks like you are doing the best that you can now for now and you got the heat and humidity up.

The 2nd picture is the close up of the tortoise he looks like he will need his beak trimmed.

But to me they both are very beautiful!😻

Congrats on your new rescue tortoise!🐢🐢
 

Tom

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He doesn't look too bad. I'm sure he's suffering from malnutrition, but you can fix that. It will take time to get him eating better foods. Start by mixing in the old familiar stuff with tiny amount of the new and better stuff. It will take weeks or months, but you'll get there. The poops should get better as the diet improves.

What this tortoise really needs is large enclosures for lots of exercise. No tote is large enough. You need a minimum 4x8' table or closed chamber. Humidity isn't critical at this size, so don't worry too much about that. The outdoor enclosure should be even bigger. Get this tortoise walking. A lot.

Here is the current care info:
 

Hutsie B

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He does not look like a Russian to me. Anyone else see that?
 

KatQ

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He doesn't look too bad. I'm sure he's suffering from malnutrition, but you can fix that. It will take time to get him eating better foods. Start by mixing in the old familiar stuff with tiny amount of the new and better stuff. It will take weeks or months, but you'll get there. The poops should get better as the diet improves.

What this tortoise really needs is large enclosures for lots of exercise. No tote is large enough. You need a minimum 4x8' table or closed chamber. Humidity isn't critical at this size, so don't worry too much about that. The outdoor enclosure should be even bigger. Get this tortoise walking. A lot.

Here is the current care info:
Thanks for the input. I understand they both need large tables and that will be in the cards for their future. I have a friend who is excited to be able to build something like that so I need to own a place to live so I don't have to move all the time and that will be a reality in the next couple years. I don't know if we'd ever get outdoor space unless someone drops a house on me. In the interim I can provide something 100 percent better than what he's been living in even if it's not the exact requirements. It's all a work in progress. He does seem more active just with the addition of the UV light and if it doesn't look like he has MBD then that's good to hear as well. I'll be getting him in to the vet to get those nails done and make sure he doesn't have anything major wrong with him. As of now he is totally not interested in eating anything that isn't plain romaine lettuce. Even if chopped up and mixed with other stuff at smaller ratio he won't touch it. Is there anything to not offering food for a week and trying when he's more hungry or is that too dangerous?
Thanks again!
 

Tom

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Thanks for the input. I understand they both need large tables and that will be in the cards for their future. I have a friend who is excited to be able to build something like that so I need to own a place to live so I don't have to move all the time and that will be a reality in the next couple years. I don't know if we'd ever get outdoor space unless someone drops a house on me. In the interim I can provide something 100 percent better than what he's been living in even if it's not the exact requirements. It's all a work in progress. He does seem more active just with the addition of the UV light and if it doesn't look like he has MBD then that's good to hear as well. I'll be getting him in to the vet to get those nails done and make sure he doesn't have anything major wrong with him. As of now he is totally not interested in eating anything that isn't plain romaine lettuce. Even if chopped up and mixed with other stuff at smaller ratio he won't touch it. Is there anything to not offering food for a week and trying when he's more hungry or is that too dangerous?
Thanks again!
What type of UV have you got?

Be careful with the vet. Most of them know nothing about tortoises and do more harm than good. The nails do not need to be trimmed. Those are normal size for a Russian. There is really nothing a vet can see from looking at the outside, and they don't have the insight that we do to know what is wrong and how to right it, because they don't keep and breed tortoises.

If the tortoise is refusing romaine with new stuff mixed in, then you are trying to mix in too much new stuff. Mince it all up so the tortoise can't eat around it, and keep offering it until the tortoise starts to eat it.
 

KatQ

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What type of UV have you got?

Be careful with the vet. Most of them know nothing about tortoises and do more harm than good. The nails do not need to be trimmed. Those are normal size for a Russian. There is really nothing a vet can see from looking at the outside, and they don't have the insight that we do to know what is wrong and how to right it, because they don't keep and breed tortoises.

If the tortoise is refusing romaine with new stuff mixed in, then you are trying to mix in too much new stuff. Mince it all up so the tortoise can't eat around it, and keep offering it until the tortoise starts to eat it.

Thanks, The UV is a HO Tube - Zoo Med reptisun- 5. I have ordered the Arcadia tube but they aren't in yet. The one I got is stronger but it will be further away from him in the new set up.
I've kept exotics for a good part of my life - not just reptiles, so I am already familiar with finding the right vets. Luckily the Chicago area has a few exotic only places to choose from. We see a vet who specializes in Reptiles at Animal House in Chicago. I was thinking the nails needed trimming because it looks like he can't plant his foot down because of them but if they are normal then that's cool - I'll leave them.
I was mincing up the food tiny but yeah, maybe it's just too much of the new green. It appears that if he can't eat around it he's not even going for it. I have tried a couple pellets smashed on the romaine and he turned his nose up at it. it wasn't even that large of an amount he could have eaten around it but didn't touch the whole amount as if I ruined it. It's only been a few weeks- I just need to be more patient.
 

Maro2Bear

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Greetings. In the interim while you are changing up a lot of things, perhaps you can get a second tote and cut one side off one tote and one side off the other. Be creative. Grab some nice duct tape, fasten the containers together, overlapping by a few inches will make it water tight. This is very easy to do AND will in one day DOUBLE the amount of crawl space available.

There are some posts, probably under Enclosures, that demo how others have done this.

Materials Needed: one new tote, same size/width/height; duct tape; utility knife; a few additional scoops of mulch.

good luck
 

KronksMom

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It's not uncommon for torts to stop eating for 5-7 days just because you changed their habitat around. That on top of the new foods, don't be surprised he's being stubborn. Mix in only like 10% new food, 90% old food. Then bump it to 20% once he's eating consistently. And just keep going from there. He'll probably also eat better once that beak is a little shorter. No doubt that's making things a bit difficult for him.
And yea, their front legs are a bit weird. They are built more like backward shovels for digging than anything else. You could always try attaching a video of him walking around if you're concerned about the way he carries himself though.
 

Maro2Bear

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Greetings. In the interim while you are changing up a lot of things, perhaps you can get a second tote and cut one side off one tote and one side off the other. Be creative. Grab some nice duct tape, fasten the containers together, overlapping by a few inches will make it water tight. This is very easy to do AND will in one day DOUBLE the amount of crawl space available.

There are some posts, probably under Enclosures, that demo how others have done this.

Materials Needed: one new tote, same size/width/height; duct tape; utility knife; a few additional scoops of mulch.

good luck

Here‘s a link to one of the options of combining two torts...

 

KatQ

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Greetings. In the interim while you are changing up a lot of things, perhaps you can get a second tote and cut one side off one tote and one side off the other. Be creative. Grab some nice duct tape, fasten the containers together, overlapping by a few inches will make it water tight. This is very easy to do AND will in one day DOUBLE the amount of crawl space available.

There are some posts, probably under Enclosures, that demo how others have done this.

Materials Needed: one new tote, same size/width/height; duct tape; utility knife; a few additional scoops of mulch.

good luck
Thank you. Yes- we just got in a tote double the size and am working on changing it over. It was my first concern to get him into something as large as I can accommodate until we own a home and can build a permanent table in the appropriate size.
 

KatQ

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Here‘s a link to one of the options of combining two torts...

Great idea! This wasn't what I initially understood you were mentioning but thanks for clarifying it! I think that might be doable.
 

KatQ

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It's not uncommon for torts to stop eating for 5-7 days just because you changed their habitat around. That on top of the new foods, don't be surprised he's being stubborn. Mix in only like 10% new food, 90% old food. Then bump it to 20% once he's eating consistently. And just keep going from there. He'll probably also eat better once that beak is a little shorter. No doubt that's making things a bit difficult for him.
And yea, their front legs are a bit weird. They are built more like backward shovels for digging than anything else. You could always try attaching a video of him walking around if you're concerned about the way he carries himself though.
Yeah, this guy is just going through a ton of change and there will be more to come. Thanks for the ratios I'll keep that in mind while trying to get him in better eating habits. I think I was so focused on getting him off romaine stat since it's all water that I'm not considering how set in his ways he is and that it's just going to take time. My other tort eats anything and we grow things because people in our area frequently treat their lawns I don't feel comfortable picking from outside. The diet is important I just wanted him off the junk! But I need to be more patient cause he's a stubborn tortoise very set in his ways!
 

KronksMom

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When I get frustrated with how stubborn Kronk is, I try to remind myself of how long his life span is and how old he probably is (he's wild caught, so there's no way to be sure). Tortoise time just runs slower. So while it feels like I'm giving him PLENTY OF TIME, come on guy, it's been weeks! For him, that's just the blink of an eye. He still won't eat flowers. Leaves and stems, yes, but then he rips the flower off right as it gets to his beak. Time for me to follow my own advice and cut it all up so he can see how delicious they are.
 
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