Another Lethargic Russian (w/ good light & temps)

tee_tee_bee

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After many bumps, bad advice from the pet shop, and my own fails learning as I go I think I have my tortoise in a fairly decent set up. I know it’s not ideal. I’m trying to figure out why my Russian tortoise lethargic all day and if I should just keep doing what I’m doing now and wait it out longer or if there may be something else wrong. I read as many other posts as I can on this site and taken as much advice as I can from them. Hoping I’m doing things right.

Some background: I’ve only had her for four months. We’ve upgraded her home size twice now. She was very active when we first got her but slowed down in a month around the time we found out she had worms. A couple of doses of Panacur from the vet fixed that but at the time she would only eat escarole and endive. I know that they can be picky but the vet said that it was okay to just feed her those while she was sick because at least she’d eat something. We found her eating her old substrate reptichip (coconut) a few times so we went back to orchid bark. She was fairly lethargic at this time. I had been trying to incorporate new foods back in but she was hardly eating. I thought I could be a mineral or vitamin deficiency since she was basically only eating endive and escarole. She wouldn’t eat anything when I sprinkled anything on the greens, so I tried carrot soaks. Once a day in the evening for one hour. They seem to have helped. She started only eating what I’d hand feed her while she soaked. Now she finally is eating pretty much anything I give her with anything sprinkled on it. MinerAll a couple of days a week. Herbal hay added to her regular rotation of greens: dandelion, mizuna, endive, escarole, plantain, spring mix, nopales etc. I’ve been doing the carrot soaks for one week now. Her appetite seems okay but she hasn’t perked up yet.

Her day is basically I get her out of her hide and put her near the basking area. She moves onto the saucer to bask. Morning soak for about 20 to 30 mins, urates and poo during that time. Daily salad served. She eats and basks two or three times in the span of a couple of hours. Then naps near the basking area or in one of the smaller hides in the main area for the rest of the day till I get home. No activity whatsoever. Carrot soak in the evening and sometimes she’ll eat more after. Then she goes to her main hide for the evening.

Attached are some pictures of the enclosure set up and my tort. The interior pics are taken with the wifi camera I have set up so I can check in on her while at work. The dark hide behind it isn’t visible in the pics.

I think temps and lighting are good. 95 to 100 F in the basking area with a MVB. Warmer area in the 80s and coolest area in the 70s. I have a ceramic bulb but it’s been hot here so I haven’t needed to turn it on the past few days. The shop light has 2 – 48” LED tubes at 6500k.

The carrot soaks seemed to help her get her appetite back, which I’m very happy for but the lethargy worries me. Her eyes are clear. No discharge from the nose. She goes poo daily and the stool isn’t runny. The vet did a blood test when we got the first dose of Panacur and said everything looked good. Honestly, I just feel really horrible because I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong at this point and I don’t want my tort to have something wrong because of my incompetence.

To note, yes I know the water dish should be changed. I had a regular terracotta saucer in there but the water just seeped thru. I’m going to be purchasing a glazed saucer soon. The depth of the water in the current dish isn’t much so it works for now.



PC home.jpg PC in.jpg PC today.jpg PC.jpg
 

Lyn W

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Hi and welcome.
Lovely table!
I wonder if he could be too warm? Torts will aestivate if conditions are too warm and dry.
Here is the most up to date caresheet you'll find useful to check your temp ranges etc and humidity to help you make any adjustments.
Read that and ask as many questions as you like. Just adding water to the substrate can improve humidity.

MVBs have been found to dry and damage shells, plus the uvb output from them fades quickly so aren't recommended now. T5 HO tubes are the uvb sources mostly used with flood bulbs for basking.
 

Tortoisebreeder

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I know this may not be the information you’re looking for but if you recently purchased him from a pet store I would have a pretty good feeling that what you were experiencing is a sign that he has parasites there are some pretty good deworming methods that you can do at home that I would recommend once again just an idea that came to mind
 

tee_tee_bee

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Hi and welcome.
Lovely table!
I wonder if he could be too warm? Torts will aestivate if conditions are too warm and dry.
Here is the most up to date caresheet you'll find useful to check your temp ranges etc and humidity to help you make any adjustments.
Read that and ask as many questions as you like. Just adding water to the substrate can improve humidity.

MVBs have been found to dry and damage shells, plus the uvb output from them fades quickly so aren't recommended now. T5 HO tubes are the uvb sources mostly used with flood bulbs for basking.
Thanks, Lyn! Really appreciate the reply. I’ve went thru the care sheets a bunch of times to fix the original bad info I got and keep tweaking as I read more here. I’ve been trying to control the humidity. I have a few temp and humidity gauges in the enclosure. The main area generally reads in the 50’s for humidity and the enclosed hide is usually in the 60’s. I spray the substrate pretty well each morning and once a week I’ve been soaking some of the substrate and then mixing it back in with the rest to help add humidity.

Previously I was had a T5 22” HO tube but about a week ago after having issues with lethargy and trying everything I can, I switched out the tube for a MVB. I read a thread on here where a couple of the old timers said that the MVB should really only not be used for babies but for beyond that it’s okay. I was really just trying anything. I did swap out the MVB this morning for the flood bulb I was using and put back up the T5 HO. Also to note, I have two domed fixtures up but have been only using one daily lately since the temps went up here. The temps on the care sheet seem to align with what I currently I have, I think. My basking area, the current only source of heat is 95 – 100. The area around that is in the 80s as result and then it tapers to current room temp which is in the 70s here right now. This morning the ambient temp was reading 70 and the surface temp 72 in the coolest area. I know it will warm up a bit during the day – I’m in southern California, but I’m not really sure how or if I should then cool down the enclosure if you think my tort might be aestivate.
 

tee_tee_bee

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I know this may not be the information you’re looking for but if you recently purchased him from a pet store I would have a pretty good feeling that what you were experiencing is a sign that he has parasites there are some pretty good deworming methods that you can do at home that I would recommend once again just an idea that came to mind
Thanks for the reply Tortoisebreeder. I took my tort to the vet about two months in and found out she had worms. I’ve done two rounds of Panacur. Kept the enclosure cleaned out, using only puppy pads and shredded newspaper changed daily till about three weeks ago when I took another stool sample back to the vet for a fecal float. They said they didn’t see anything. Would there be a different parasite they need to check for?
 

Yvonne G

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Your problem MIGHT be lack of UVB. Your screen top filters out the majority of the UV rays. Its amazing how good they feel when they have a GOOD, bright UVB light.
 

ZenHerper

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Fenbendazole (panacur) is a good all-round dewormer. BUT.

It can kill off beneficial digestive flora. A reptile probiotic replacement is a good idea.

***************

The first thing I thought when I saw your set up was: Wow - that is very bright.
Tortoises don't gravitate to bright vistas unless they are specifically in need of absorbing higher body heat. More hides and plantings (in pots - torts 'doze over everything green) may help your new pet to feel more comfortable.

The first days a tort comes home (especially from a U.S. pet store, since it is probably wild-caught) it wanders all around the enclosure. Not having a happy lookey-loo, but trying to find a way to Get Back Home. Reptiles are intensely territorial. Once they realize they cannot leave, the can become psychologically depressed for a period of time and do Absolutely Nothing.

As long as there is eating when you bring s/him to food, that is fine. Be patient. Provide more places to hide in shade from the brightness of the lamps. (Imagine living under an MVB hanging just above your head at that distance. They really put off too much glare and not enough - or too much - uvb radiation.) A twenty minute sit outside (in a secure pan that you don't walk away from for any reason) will provide enough daily UVB radiation to improve your pet's metabolic systems, and possibly their mood.

The carrot has a lot of sugar in it that can pass into the kidneys undigested (and damage them over time), so start doing plain warm water soaks twice a day to maintain hydration and to provide a gentle, neutral interaction on a schedule. The best thing to do for a depressed tort that is otherwise healthy is to tweek the habitat climate and to establish a regular routine.

Let us know how you get on.
 

Yvonne G

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I take back what I said about your screen. When I first looked at your picture only the first one loaded and it looked like a very fine mesh screen. I see in the other pictures the screen is ok. You DO have a UVB light, right
 

wellington

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Your problem MIGHT be lack of UVB. Your screen top filters out the majority of the UV rays. Its amazing how good they feel when they have a GOOD, bright UVB light.
I had originally thought the same thing, but at a second look, it doesn't look like screen to me. More like a hardware cloth type.
 

ZenHerper

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This is an enclosure built for baby turtles, so the plants are not in pots, but it gives you a good sense of what kind of landscape is more comforting:
 

tee_tee_bee

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Your problem MIGHT be lack of UVB. Your screen top filters out the majority of the UV rays. Its amazing how good they feel when they have a GOOD, bright UVB light.
Hi Yvonne. Do you think I should remove the screen from the side where I now have the T5 HO tube is now? I had read about the mesh screens filtering the UVB but the screen on this enclosure has wider gaps, I would say about 1.5 cm squares, so I thought I’d be okay. I’ll remove it if you think it’ll help.

Also I do take my tort outside in a supervised area on Saturday and Sunday when I'm home for a couple of hours each day to get some rays.
 

wellington

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50% humidity for an adult is fine. I'm thinking maybe all the moving to a new enclosure may be the problem. Some adults take a long time to get adjusted to a new home and you have given 3 new homes in 4 months.
As long as you have temps, humidity and uvb correct, and as long as she gets hydrated and eats, poops and urinates, I would leave her be and give her time to get adjusted.
One thing to think about though. If she is actually a she, she will need appropriate depth and kind of substrate to nest in. Tortoise can lay eggs with or without being bred. If you is from a pet store, she could be wild caught and may possibly been bred at some point and they can maintain the sperm for some time.
 

wellington

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Hi Yvonne. Do you think I should remove the screen from the side where I now have the T5 HO tube is now? I had read about the mesh screens filtering the UVB but the screen on this enclosure has wider gaps, I would say about 1.5 cm squares, so I thought I’d be okay. I’ll remove it if you think it’ll help.

Also I do take my tort outside in a supervised area on Saturday and Sunday when I'm home for a couple of hours each day to get some rays.
No the mesh is fine, it's not the fine screen
 

tee_tee_bee

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@Yvonne G @wellington @ZenHerper

Thank you very much!!!
Here's some answers to your questions:

I do have a UVB. I was using a 22” T5 HO tube 10%, I think, but switched to an MVB last week because I just wanted to see if that might work given the lethargy. I took down the 2nd dome fixture I wasn’t using, didn’t need it temp wise, and put the T5 back up and swapped out the MVB for the flood I was using before in the basking area.

The carrot soaks were a last resort because she wasn't eating and her diet was picky (endive and escarole). They did seem to help because immediately she started eating more and different foods and supplements. I was planning on tapering them off since she’s now eating again. I haven’t fed fruits or any veg with sugar in it thus far.

I did buy and am using the TNT with probiotics from Carolina Supply to help build the digestive flora back up after the Panacur.

Shade wise, I bought a couple of ferns to add in but was waiting a few weeks before adding them because of possible issues with new plants. I wasn’t sure about fake plants because I was afraid my tort might eat them.

I kept reading that RTs need very bright light and that between 5000k and 6500k was recommended, so that’s what I went with for the tubes. Don’t know if it matters but they’re LED tubes.

Like Wellington said, I’m hoping it’s an adjustment period for my tort from all of my bumps and adjustments to try and get a proper set up after starting with a 40 gallon terrarium and a purple heat lamp from the pet store, which only lasted a week till found this site and started ordering up. I wanted to put this out there and see if there are changes I should make, something I’m missing, keep going wait it out or go back to the vet again.

When I first got my tort she was active and spent hours moving about but the worm population bloomed and then after the two doses of Panacur (last dose was a month ago) she just seems to have pepped back up. I hope it’s okay. I just feel like I’m failing her sometimes. I read some posts on here and people just find their tort dead one day and sometimes it’s something they could have prevented unfortunately. I'd like to do what I can now to prevent that.
 

ZenHerper

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General full-spectrum LEDs are really only useful for plants, otherwise they're really really blaring (again, hold one at arm's length over your face). An incandescent flood bulb combined with the uvb tube puts out enough ambient light until you build up the landscaping.

For plants kept in pots tall enough so torts can't bite them, I remove the original potting mix, wash the pot if reusing, rinse the root ball in distilled water, and repot in organic peat moss (NO perlite, vermiculite, or other pale pellets). Trim leaves that fall over too far - pesticides can persist in the plant body for up to a year's time. Use a pet-safe house plant food as instructed on the label.

A side benefit from a lot of plantings is that the damp pots keep the humidity more stabilized over the course of a day.

Situate plants along the center of a tort habitat -- torts like to walk their perimeter and you'll have fewer maintenance and flip-over problems if the outside "track" is kept clear of furniture.

Keep on with the TNT Professional.

Stress is a very real health problem for all organics. Let things settle down, move slowly, keep the room quiet, and monitor food intake, elimination output, and get into a rythmn with each other.
 

tee_tee_bee

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@ZenHerper Thank you again. Sorry for the delayed reply – felt a little under the weather last week.

I did a bit more plant research and found a couple of sites that sell reptile friendly, organically grown plants, NEHERP and The Bio Dude, plus cutting from existing ferns and such I have growing at home already without pesticides. I’m going to research those more for later. I’ve been using The Tortoise Table site and the plant posts on here a lot as references. Really appreciate your planting tips as well! The idea of real plants helping to add humidity is wonderful since I’ve notice it’s work to keep up the humidity with an open top.

I decided that even though I didn’t want to go the artificial route at first, for now that might be best to get some shade and hiding spots in the enclosure quickly. Once my tort is more adjusted I’ll slowly start swapping out for real plants, down the road. I want to give her time to adjust and be comfortable.

Attached are pics of the enclosure with the artificial plants added. All of the plants are situated away from the walls enough to give her room to walk around them. I tried to bend them back to shade over.

PC full view.jpg PC left view.jpg PC right view.jpg
 
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