Adapting to new environment?

Jennelos

New Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2021
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
Hello Tortoise Forum!

I recently (a couple weeks ago) got my little Ichabod after 2 years of researching. So first off, thank you all for all your advice and help in educating me. He is a 2 year old Herman, and I am so very attached to him. He can be so outgoing and curious, and then reclusive and shy the next.

I'm trying to understand if this nature is just him adapting to his new environment, or if I'm doing something wrong. Because learning and reading, and actually having a tortoise are two very different things.

His enclosure is 4' x 5', for substrate I have what he was used to from the breeder which is a mix of reptile bark and peat moss which I mist to keep the dust down. His humidity stays at around 20-30%, his warm end has a 93 basking temp and 83 warm light and the cool end just has a UV and stays around 75 degrees. At night his temps go down to 70-75.

For food I feed him mixtures of endives, kale, boy choy, some cucumber on warmer days, and the zoo med grassland feed for extra fiber. I'm currently growing stuff, but it takes time to grow indoors.

I soak him for 20-30 mins everyday in 85-95 degree water.

Now to his behavior, he generally stays with his head against the wall, semi burrowed in the basking area, which at least he's getting warm and UV. He does eat, and he has gone to the bathroom every day regularly (although today he didnt). I don't want to bug him, but on the occasion where I brought him outside or just out of the area with me in the room, he seems to be very curious and explores and seems to have so much more energy.

I don't really know what I'm asking, just looking for clarification and advice on whether it's me or him, or what I should be doing differently. I am building him an outdoor area to explore and visit regularly, but I don't want to stress him out with 2 new environments.

- Also I just realized I posted this under Introductions, I'm so sorry! I don't know how to delete it.
 

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wellington

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Pretty normal for an older tort. Younger ones seem to adjust much faster. As long as he is eating and staying hydrated I wouldn't worry.
I would not use the moss whenever you change it out again. Torts like to eat it and it can cause impaction and they can get it tangled around limbs. Also the basking bulb needs to hang straight down not on an angle.
 

Jennelos

New Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2021
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
Pretty normal for an older tort. Younger ones seem to adjust much faster. As long as he is eating and staying hydrated I wouldn't worry.
I would not use the moss whenever you change it out again. Torts like to eat it and it can cause impaction and they can get it tangled around limbs. Also the basking bulb needs to hang straight down not on an angle.
Okay, I'll make those changes asap, thanks so much!
 

TaylorTortoise

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2020
Messages
959
Location (City and/or State)
Abington
Hello Tortoise Forum!

I recently (a couple weeks ago) got my little Ichabod after 2 years of researching. So first off, thank you all for all your advice and help in educating me. He is a 2 year old Herman, and I am so very attached to him. He can be so outgoing and curious, and then reclusive and shy the next.

I'm trying to understand if this nature is just him adapting to his new environment, or if I'm doing something wrong. Because learning and reading, and actually having a tortoise are two very different things.

His enclosure is 4' x 5', for substrate I have what he was used to from the breeder which is a mix of reptile bark and peat moss which I mist to keep the dust down. His humidity stays at around 20-30%, his warm end has a 93 basking temp and 83 warm light and the cool end just has a UV and stays around 75 degrees. At night his temps go down to 70-75.

For food I feed him mixtures of endives, kale, boy choy, some cucumber on warmer days, and the zoo med grassland feed for extra fiber. I'm currently growing stuff, but it takes time to grow indoors.

I soak him for 20-30 mins everyday in 85-95 degree water.

Now to his behavior, he generally stays with his head against the wall, semi burrowed in the basking area, which at least he's getting warm and UV. He does eat, and he has gone to the bathroom every day regularly (although today he didnt). I don't want to bug him, but on the occasion where I brought him outside or just out of the area with me in the room, he seems to be very curious and explores and seems to have so much more energy.

I don't really know what I'm asking, just looking for clarification and advice on whether it's me or him, or what I should be doing differently. I am building him an outdoor area to explore and visit regularly, but I don't want to stress him out with 2 new environments.

- Also I just realized I posted this under Introductions, I'm so sorry! I don't know how to delete it.
How did you get your lights to hang? The double dome fixture? I bought a garden hook thinking that would work and it goes lop sided instead of laying nicely
 

Krista S

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
841
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
Hello Tortoise Forum!

I recently (a couple weeks ago) got my little Ichabod after 2 years of researching. So first off, thank you all for all your advice and help in educating me. He is a 2 year old Herman, and I am so very attached to him. He can be so outgoing and curious, and then reclusive and shy the next.

I'm trying to understand if this nature is just him adapting to his new environment, or if I'm doing something wrong. Because learning and reading, and actually having a tortoise are two very different things.

His enclosure is 4' x 5', for substrate I have what he was used to from the breeder which is a mix of reptile bark and peat moss which I mist to keep the dust down. His humidity stays at around 20-30%, his warm end has a 93 basking temp and 83 warm light and the cool end just has a UV and stays around 75 degrees. At night his temps go down to 70-75.

For food I feed him mixtures of endives, kale, boy choy, some cucumber on warmer days, and the zoo med grassland feed for extra fiber. I'm currently growing stuff, but it takes time to grow indoors.

I soak him for 20-30 mins everyday in 85-95 degree water.

Now to his behavior, he generally stays with his head against the wall, semi burrowed in the basking area, which at least he's getting warm and UV. He does eat, and he has gone to the bathroom every day regularly (although today he didnt). I don't want to bug him, but on the occasion where I brought him outside or just out of the area with me in the room, he seems to be very curious and explores and seems to have so much more energy.

I don't really know what I'm asking, just looking for clarification and advice on whether it's me or him, or what I should be doing differently. I am building him an outdoor area to explore and visit regularly, but I don't want to stress him out with 2 new environments.

- Also I just realized I posted this under Introductions, I'm so sorry! I don't know how to delete it.
Welcome to the forum! I’m in SK too and have a feeling that your Hermann’s is related to my Hermann tortoise. My little guy is 2 years old as well and I believe there’s only one Hermann’s breeder in our province. My breeder also told me to use a mix of peat moss and repti bark lol. I did use peat for the longest time but I learned it’s really not great for the torts and I also got sick of how much dust it creates. Peat is highly acidic and slowly eats away at their shells too. I now just use fir bark mulch exclusively for the last 6 months or so and I have noticed a big difference in my little guys shell, mostly on the plastron. As far as your tortoise not moving around much, it really can take a lot of time for them to get sulking out of their system and feel comfortable and safe in their new home. I moved my guy into a new enclosure in January and I found I needed to move things around, add things, remove things, etc to make him more comfortable. The main thing is to have lots of sight barriers and places for them to hide. They don’t like feeling exposed, especially in a new environment. Maybe try adding more plants, especially on the warm side. There were some areas my tortoise would avoid or not spend a lot of time in, and simply adding another plant or something else to that area instantly made him comfortable enough to use those areas. Is your enclosure in a high traffic area? It looks like the enclosure is on the floor, and I wonder if it might take him longer to feel comfortable because he’s so low to the ground with tall humans walking by. It could be scary for him. Do you have a way to get that enclosure off the floor? Temperature on the floor is always more drafty and cool too. Do you have a piece of slate for him to bask on? When you’re giving the temps in your initial post, do you also have a temp gun to be able to get temperature all over? There’s can be a big difference between ambient air temp and surface temperature. The light that you have on an angle on the warm side…is that a mercury vapour bulb or is it a regular incandescent flood light? What kind of bulbs are you using for UV? The screw in type of uv bulbs are pretty frowned upon now for tortoises as they’ve been known to cause serious eye issues for tortoises. If you are using a screw in type of UV this could be a reason why he’s always pushed up against the wall or partially burrowed. I would also recommend getting your humidity up higher. 20% to 30% is pretty low. It’s awesome that you’re soaking him everyday. I still soak my tortoise everyday too.

Here is a link to the most current care information you can find. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, so wanted to link it. I think you’ll find some care info differs from what the breeder said. I follow this care sheet as closely as possible and have seen better results in my little guys growth once I did start following it. Please take a read and ask as many questions as you like.


Anyhow, I don’t want to overwhelm you. I am so glad to see someone else from SK on here with the same species of tortoise, and the fact that they’re the same age?! So cool!
 

Jennelos

New Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2021
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
How did you get your lights to hang? The double dome fixture? I bought a garden hook thinking that would work and it goes lop sided instead of laying nicely
I actually bought a hanger from a pet store, it was really handy! It's from the brand Thrive.
 

Jennelos

New Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2021
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
Welcome to the forum! I’m in SK too and have a feeling that your Hermann’s is related to my Hermann tortoise. My little guy is 2 years old as well and I believe there’s only one Hermann’s breeder in our province. My breeder also told me to use a mix of peat moss and repti bark lol. I did use peat for the longest time but I learned it’s really not great for the torts and I also got sick of how much dust it creates. Peat is highly acidic and slowly eats away at their shells too. I now just use fir bark mulch exclusively for the last 6 months or so and I have noticed a big difference in my little guys shell, mostly on the plastron. As far as your tortoise not moving around much, it really can take a lot of time for them to get sulking out of their system and feel comfortable and safe in their new home. I moved my guy into a new enclosure in January and I found I needed to move things around, add things, remove things, etc to make him more comfortable. The main thing is to have lots of sight barriers and places for them to hide. They don’t like feeling exposed, especially in a new environment. Maybe try adding more plants, especially on the warm side. There were some areas my tortoise would avoid or not spend a lot of time in, and simply adding another plant or something else to that area instantly made him comfortable enough to use those areas. Is your enclosure in a high traffic area? It looks like the enclosure is on the floor, and I wonder if it might take him longer to feel comfortable because he’s so low to the ground with tall humans walking by. It could be scary for him. Do you have a way to get that enclosure off the floor? Temperature on the floor is always more drafty and cool too. Do you have a piece of slate for him to bask on? When you’re giving the temps in your initial post, do you also have a temp gun to be able to get temperature all over? There’s can be a big difference between ambient air temp and surface temperature. The light that you have on an angle on the warm side…is that a mercury vapour bulb or is it a regular incandescent flood light? What kind of bulbs are you using for UV? The screw in type of uv bulbs are pretty frowned upon now for tortoises as they’ve been known to cause serious eye issues for tortoises. If you are using a screw in type of UV this could be a reason why he’s always pushed up against the wall or partially burrowed. I would also recommend getting your humidity up higher. 20% to 30% is pretty low. It’s awesome that you’re soaking him everyday. I still soak my tortoise everyday too.

Here is a link to the most current care information you can find. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, so wanted to link it. I think you’ll find some care info differs from what the breeder said. I follow this care sheet as closely as possible and have seen better results in my little guys growth once I did start following it. Please take a read and ask as many questions as you like.


Anyhow, I don’t want to overwhelm you. I am so glad to see someone else from SK on here with the same species of tortoise, and the fact that they’re the same age?! So cool!

Oh my goodness!! Well it's nice to meet you, and I'm happy to find someone with a tort possibly related to my Ichabod!

No please, I need as much information as I can as I really don't want to miss important things. I have that care sheet actually copied and saved onto my phone haha.

For the fir mulch, where did you find it or what brand are you using? I get worried with how things can be treated or what not with certain mulch so I thought I'd stick with peat for now, but the acidity will prompt me to switch sooner rather than later.

He actually has his own room! The only time someone is in there is when I'm in there and when my roommate is grabbing something from a closet (she's rarely home). But I do want him off the floor and I'm slowly adding new plants and hides for him. So whenever I'm in there I always lay on the floor to get to his level. Drafty actually helps in this situation as I don't have AC, so I'm hoping to get a table or table legs later this summer. The humidity though I did add more moisture to his enclosure and its bumped up to 40% so I'll keep working on that (also to help with the dust, I don't want him breathing that in).

The 2 lights at the back are mercury bulbs, and the little UV is on the cool end which is a screw in bulb, so I may switch to other lighting, what would you recommend? I have many thermometers, hahaha including a smart one I can access on my phone so I'm not constantly checking in the room. I do have a temp gun so I'll give that a shot and see how that does.

Thanks for the reassurance too! I'm glad to know that things are going well for you and your little tort now that you've gotten their care all sorted out.
 

Krista S

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
841
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
That’s awesome that he has his own room! My tort does too. So we can eliminate scary humans constantly walking by as being a reason for him to be spending so much time against the wall or borrowed 😂. They are fascinating and I just love trying to figure out what makes them happy or not happy.

About the fir bark mulch…when I upgraded my enclosure size earlier this year I went on the hunt to find something other than reptibark because at $30 plus tax per bag, it would have been ridiculous. So you’ve probably noticed the same thing I noticed in the stores is that most of our mulch is cedar or has a ton of colorant and additives in it. I did a ton of research and ended up finding this company based out of BC called Rocky Mountain Landscape Bark. Their website ( https://www.rockymountainbark.ca/ ) states it’s Douglas fir bark and is all natural with no additives. Douglas fir bark is what reptibark is, so I got pretty excited. I called the company and they were fantastic. They confirmed it’s all natural fir bark mulch and even told me they have a relationship with Home Hardware. I was able to order the bags online (it was in winter so wasn’t stocked in store) and had them shipped to the store at no additional cost. So heres the exact product I’m using…


These bags are huge and only $7.49 each. One of the bags from home hardware is equivalent to more than 3 bags of the biggest reptibark from the pet store. Massive savings. This Mulch did have a few sticks that made made it in the bag that I took out and it’s not quite as small as reptibark, but the size is not too big for our 2 year olds. I was worried that Dozer (my tortoises name) would have a hard time adjusting from reptibark (like I always used in his old enclosure) to the stuff from home hardware, but he had no issue with it.

An idea if you wanted to get your enclosure off the ground is to use a platform style bed frame. That’s what I have my enclosure on. It’s worked well and is nice that it gives storage underneath as well. A lot of bed frames sold these days have slats running across the structure, so you could lay a sheet of plywood on top of that just sit the enclosure on it as is. Mine is just sitting on the bed frame itself. Here’s a link to more about my little Dozer and there’s a picture in there that shows the enclosure on the bed frame too.


As for the UV, the reptisun 10.0 T5 HO or Arcadia 12% T5 is what works best. Personally, I have a SunBlaster fixture with reflector from Amazon and I use it with the reptisun 10.0 bulb.

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0748CH4B9/?tag=

It looks like the 22” bulb is sold out at the moment, but here’s a link to the next size up so you can see the bulb I’m talking about.

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00AQU8HKO/?tag=

For basking I use incandescent flood lights 65 watt. I have used these ones from Amazon (when they go on sale)

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B002CZ1E4M/?tag=

And also these from Canadian Tire


Both brands of bulbs have been excellent. I started out with mercury vapour bulbs too…because that’s what the breeder told me to use, but boy did I see a difference (for the better) in Dozer when I made the switch to a proper UV T5 and the flood light.

It sounds like you’ve got all the bases covered with thermometers 😂. I’m the same way. I’ve got 3 smart thermometer/humidity gauges in Dozers enclosure and still constantly using the temp gun. Oh, and the smart ones are so cool, aren’t they?!

Don’t hesitate to ask if you have more questions!

Take care,
Krista
 
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