Am I doing this right?

Wolfie

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So I have two torts, a male russian and a female greek. I wasn't planing on getting a tortoise, but a homeless man literally threw them at me. I've had them now for about two months.

In the first couple days, they stayed in my bathtub and were fed dandelions. I soon moved them into a plastic tub with paper towels. When Lulu (the greek) started to eat the paper, I removed it and bought them some reptibark substrate. The didn't have a light, their water bowl was a tupperware dish lid, and their sleeping hut was an old cardboard box.

The vet said that when I got them, they were close to death. Even staying with me in a temporary home had saved them and helped them get healthy. After a family meeting we decided to keep them and I started working on a more permanent enclosure for them. I got and old bookshelf (3ft by 2ft) took out the shelves and put linoleum in the bottom. I bought them a cave and a heat lamp and a water dish.

Soon after that, Tank (the russian) nearly drowned in his water bowl. I learned the sides were too steep for them and bought some terra cotta pots. I noticed that Tank was bullying Lulu. He'd shove her out of the way when basking, sat on the food so she couldn't eat, and at one point he slept across the entrance to their little cave and wouldn't let her out!

I was told in another post that keeping them together was a very bad idea and that Lulu was living on borrowed time. I quickly built another enclosure for her (2ft by 2.5ft). She's only been there two days and she's already coming out of her shell. I can see now that she has a real big personality for such a small little thing.

I feed them a mixture of kale, dandelions, green/red romaine lettuce/baby romaine, red and green leaf lettuce, collard greens, and endive. I mix it up every week. (One week could be kale endive and collards, the next week the rest.)

I just want to make sure I'm doing this right. I didn't plan to get a tortoise, let alone two. I really had no prior knowledge about them before. I also have a couple questions:

Can the heat lamp catch the reptibark substrate on fire?

I use a reptile water conditioner that take out chlorine and chloramine. Its called Reptisafe instant terrarium water conditioner by Zoo Med. Its two drops of the stuff to a cup. Some people say to use it, some people say not too. Should I continue to use it?

Their basking rock gets really hot, but they still lay on it. Sometimes the lay next to it. Is it too hot for them to be on?

I feed them once a day, but it's a big meal. Sometimes they don't even eat it all. Is that alright? Should I feed them more often with smaller meals?

Lulu wont sleep in the hide box I built for her. She just sleeps in the corner. What should I do?

I don't have a night heat lamp yet, is it alright to turn off the day one for the night? My room never drops below 75*f.

They don't like the calcium powder and wont use a cuttle fish bone. Sometimes I shake the bone over their food to let a little of that get into them. Is that okay? Should I try something else? My mother suggested maybe egg shells, but I don't want them eating and protein.


Tank likes to climb on top of his cave. He fell once and kinda slid down it onto his front feet and neck. Can he hurt himself this way? How do I stop him?
 

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Jodie

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Wow. You are Definately on the right track and I applaud the job you're doing. I don't have Greeks, but night heat is not needed for the Russian.
I hide calcium powder in Mazuri. Use a very small pinch is all 2X per week. Scraping cuttle bone also works.
As for diving off of stuff, mine do this too. You can't stop it. None of mine have hurt themselves.
Feeding once a day is fine. I often give a treat or something in the afternoon.
Good job doing your research and making corrections so far.
 

Wolfie

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Wow. You are Definately on the right track and I applaud the job you're doing. I don't have Greeks, but night heat is not needed for the Russian.
I hide calcium powder in Mazuri. Use a very small pinch is all 2X per week. Scraping cuttle bone also works.
As for diving off of stuff, mine do this too. You can't stop it. None of mine have hurt themselves.
Feeding once a day is fine. I often give a treat or something in the afternoon.
Good job doing your research and making corrections so far.

Thank you so much! I love the way you describe them diving off of stuff. Perfect words for what he's doing.
 

Gillian M

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Hi and a very warm welcome to the forum.

So far so good, keep up the good work!
 

wellington

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Hello and Welcome:). I like what your doing. Couple changes in need though. The enclosure are too small. They each should,have a minimum of 4x6. The water conditioner you can stop using. The night temps you mentioned are fine. The bulbs should not start a fire unless they are too close. As for the heat of the rock, what so the temp of it? This is where a point and shoot infrared temp gun comes in handy and they are pretty cheap and a mist have in my opinion. As for Lulu not sleeping in the hide, it's okay, but if you want, put her in it every night and she probably will start putting herself in it. She might think that Tank is in there not wanting to let her in or out.
 

johnsonnboswell

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The water conditioner is not necessary. It's not harmful, but it's completely unnecessary.

Toss in a piece of cuttlebone.

If the lights are secure & won't fall, and the substrate is moist, there should be no fire hazard.
 

Angel Carrion

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The heat rock you're talking about, is it a plug in heat rock, or is it a rock that you put under the basking light for them to lay on and therefore the basking light is what is making it hot?
 

johnsonnboswell

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What kind of light bulb are you using?

Electric heat rocks are dangerous. Bottom heat is unnecessary.

Night temps can fall to 60, so no additional heat needed.
 

Wolfie

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The heat rock you're talking about, is it a plug in heat rock, or is it a rock that you put under the basking light for them to lay on and therefore the basking light is what is making it hot?

It's just a rock under the heat lamp. I used a temp gun the other day and it was hot! Way too hot! 150*. No wounder neither sit on the rock. I'm gonna remove them and let it just heat the substrate. The bulb is a 75 watts.
 

Angel Carrion

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It's just a rock under the heat lamp. I used a temp gun the other day and it was hot! Way too hot! 150*. No wounder neither sit on the rock. I'm gonna remove them and let it just heat the substrate. The bulb is a 75 watts.
Yeah I was going to say if it is a heat rock in the sense that you plug it in and it produces heat on its own, take that out right now. Those get too hot and are dangerous. But if it is just a rock under the heat lamp, then check the temp on the surface of the rock, and remove or keep it depending on that temp.
But you already did that, so we're good. :)
 

Tidgy's Dad

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Hello, Wolfie, and a very warm welcome to Tortoise Forum to you Lulu and Tank.
Looks like you're doing what so many of us have done when suddenly a tortoise (or two) are thrust upon us, learning by experience and reading and making adjustments as you go.
Good job so far, and good advice given for your next set of changes!
 
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