Another Question....

axeman25

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Hello all,
I've been reading a lot of the threads on here which have answered many questions but has also raised a few.

The first is routines with the tortoises. I've read that they do get into a routine and just wonder if I should be doing things at around the same of day for them such as feeding? Life can be hectect around here and though I do make time for them everyday it's not always at the same time.

The second is just something that caught my eye in a thread. Hand feeding. I give them their food daily in a dish and they are eating pretty well, but the kids and I do enjoy feeding them some little extra by hand. it's maybe a couple times a week. I ask this because someone made a comment about their tort biting at their fingers and another peerson Said it may be from hand feeding but never gave any pro or cons about it.

The third is I was just wondering if I could take some detailed pictures of my 3 Russians and post them for you guys to look at (I may do it later when I have more time)? I think I would feel much better having you guys give me some feedback on their general condition than trusting theit previous owners word. I don't communicate with him at all (never really new him, just had a friend who did and suggested I rescue them from him) but some of the stuff he told me doesn Seem to add up. He said they have all been together since they were between 5 and 8 months old. Said they were cb but their shells look more like the wc pictdures I've seen. All three are between 4 and 5 inches. He says they are somewhere around 5 to 7 years old. I'm just not really sure. There shells could look like that because they've been in a 29 gallon glass aquarium all their life and it was just to small for the three. Not sure, just speculating. On Thursday I'll have had them for 3 weeks and have been making constant adjustments to their enclosure, food, light, Heating, and humidity.

I have a couple pictures that I've already loaded into previous threads but nothing really detailed of Pavel, Emma, and April. Any thought on this or request on what I should focus the pictures on is appreciated. Thanks again.
 

Yvonne G

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I feed first thing in the morning. I've noticed that my little baby desert tortoises climb up on their half log if they wake up and there's no food at the feeding station. If there's food, I never see them on the half log.

Hand feeding sort of encourages a tortoise to nip the hand that feeds it.

Always happy to look at pictures!
 

mini_max

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I'm sure it probably helps to feed them at roughly the same time. Max stands by his food dish in the morning and at bed time snack because he's come to expect to be fed at those times. I figure, in the wild they graze and eat when it suits them. Life gets busy, I know. I usually feed him before I take the kids to school, but some days.......to be honest, I barely get the kids fed!

I've gotten around worrying too much about this by making sure he has live plants growing in his enclosure that he enjoys eating. I grow aloe, clover, Irish moss, and wheat grass, and a spider plant and i am hoping to plant a hosta and pansies. That way you know he can eat if he's hungry.

As for pictures:
- maybe a sort of side-ish sort of view of the shell would be helpful for diagnosing pyramiding
- one of the plastron to check for any apparent injury or deformity
- one of his face sort of head on or a bit to the side to check if the beak is overgrown and to see of eyes are puffy
- the tail from the underside to confirm gender
- close up of limbs and where they enter the shell to see if too pudgy or thin.

I'm absolutely not the person who can do anything with those photos but thinking of my own vet experiences and areas that can belie poor health, these are my suggestions.
 

Yellow Turtle01

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I feed all the tortsnturtles here early in the morning. In the summer, mr russian expects to be taken outside and placed in his habitat at this time as well. Also in the summer, I don't really 'feed' Cheerio. She just grazes. :D So my routine with them varies during seasons.

I'm guilty of that one... I don't do it often, and I do believe that's true. I only used to feed the turtles treats by dropping them in and letting them have a scavenger hunt, but then I decided to try and hand feed. Now, finger=FOOD. :p Tongs are the way to go ;)
I'd be slightly nervous to 'hand feed' miss sulcata. That's a bit of bite. I do hand feed mr russian, but only on special occasions. He knows where to find his food.

Pictures would be great :D A carpace and a plastron shot of everyone, a headshot would be great, and as mini_max said, a side view. If you don't know/ would like to know, a shot of their little tortsie butts would help :D
 

mini_max

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The good thing about finger food is that it seems like if you stop hand feeding for a while, they get over the biting, or at least mine did.
 

Jodie

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The downside of a routine is that some tortoises will throw a fit, if you sleep in lol. I feed in the morning. Mine don't eat as well if it is very late. I have 1 that tries to hide ehen it's time for soaks. I hand feed mine occasionally aand have only been bit once. She just took too big of a bite. I have never had one purposely try to bite my fingers. We love pictures!
 

axeman25

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Ok, I finally have been able to get some photos that were asked for. They were not happy at all that I woke them at all. Let me know any opinions or concerns. Thanks again.

The first one is the male, Pavel (go Red Wings). The last photo of his underbelly shows some flaking. Is that something I should be concerned about.

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The next one is April. Her and Pavel are currently in the same enclosure. Yes, I know, I am keeping a very close eye on them.

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Last is Emma. I separated her from the other two a week and a half after I got them. She has been more lethargic than the others and doesnt want to eat very well. I'm not sure if there was some bullying going on or not. There are no physical signs but she was often hanging out at the edge of the heat lamp or in a corner somewhere. She has the same behavior in her new surroundings but I want to give her some time.

IMAG0121.jpg IMAG0122.jpg IMAG0124.jpg IMAG0120.jpg

Hopefully they pass inspection. Thanks again everyone.
 

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WillTort2

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Because I let my tort room cool down to about 65 at night I find my Russians don't eat until they have warmed up by basking for a while. Their lights come on at about 7 am and then I feed them about 8 to 9 am. I find if I feed earlier it will not be consumed until they have warmed up some.

Good luck.
 

Tom

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1. People who keep a strict regimented routine can have healthy tortoises. People with no routine at all can also have healthy tortoises. Doesn't matter.
2. Hand feeding: The effect will vary with the tortoise, the person and the housing situation. I like it and see no problem with it. If you try it and don't like the results, then simply stop doing it.
3. They look fine to me. I'm going to guess they these are captive raised, but we really can't be sure.

I notice you have a high concentration of sand in your substrate. I strongly recommend you change this before it causes you a problem. Your one tortoise has one eye closed in the pic. Does it always walk around that way? Eye irritation is one of the problems with sand in the substrate.I would also not feed them on the substrate as this will generate even more sand ingestion. Frequent soaks for a few weeks should help clear any damage that has already been done.
 

axeman25

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The Information I've gotten from the previous owner has been very spotty and inconsistent at best. I was told by him that he got them all as hatchlings between 5 & 8 months then I was told by my friend (the one that connected me with the owner to adopt them) that he heard the guys had them for a couple of years at most. So I don't really know much about their history. That worries me to a point but also makes me want to do the best I can for them.

Can anyone tell me about the flaking on my males underbelly? Maybe I should start a new thread with these pics? I just don't want to get people sick of me just yet. Lol
 

Tom

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They can reach that size in two or three years. I have some two year olds that size.

I see the carapace damage you are talking about. That could have been caused by any number of things. I don't think you need to do anything about it at this point. Just provide them with the best conditions and diet you can and keep an eye on that spot to make sure its not getting bigger or worse in any way.
 

axeman25

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Ok thank you. I started this thread in the afternoon but I was unable to take the time to get the pictures until just after midnight so I woke these guys up and none of em were really thrilled about it. At all.

I am switching out the substrate. I had about a 60% organic topsoil to 40% sand mixture and have been switching it out to just the 100% topsoil.

I have been giving them daily soaks since the day I got them. I figured I'd do it daily for the first month and then drop to 2-3 times a week. I'll adjust as needed.

I have been having some issues keeping their humidity levels within range so I am going to put some 3mil plastic I have over the top and see if that helps.

As far as a normal healthy tortoise goes, what should their daily activity level be? I am seeing very little activity, even after soaks. Are they bored (if they can get bored)? I have some logs in there for them to have to move around and climb on. Not anything in the way of plants though, it can be hard to find good plants that are on the list for them right now here in central Michigan. The cage temperatures are well writhing range but they will pretty much all hang out under the basking light for most of the day sleeping. I am wondering a few things, maybe they are less active due to spending their entire life in a 29 gallon aquarium? they also just seem to graze throughout the day. I feed them in the morning between 8am and 11am (as close to a consistent routine as I'm able to get nowadays. Lol) after there lights turn on a they get warmed back up. They don't rush to get the food anymore. They eat most of the greens throughout the day but seem to leave the zoo-med alone. I have been mixing the greens and zoo-med food up so they'll at least get some.

I know that bigger is better and right now I have a bunch of space below the tortoises table taken up only by some of my kids rogue hockey gear. I am thinking about sometime in the next couple months adding a lower level or two to their enclosure. Would it be ok to just have the top level with the uvb and basking lights? I can put another in the new level but that would limit me to only one level and why should I only build one if I can build two? Bigger is better. It would take the enclosure from about 18 square feet to about 54 feet, give or take.

I know I am asking a ton of questions, I have read through several post to try to find my answers before I ask because I know answering the same questions is monotonous.

I again would really like to thank everyone for their comments both positive and constructive. The fact that you take the time out of your day to answer questions (and a lot of the same ones I've seen as I read back through the 154 pages of threads) for the benifit of our new little family members is awesome. I know that you truly care about these wonderful animals and I'd hate to see how many of these guys would be in horrible conditions if it were not for people on this site.

THANK YOU SO MUCH AND KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!!!!!!!
 

axeman25

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Your one tortoise has one eye closed in the pic. Does it always walk around that way? .

sorry Tom I didn't really answer this. No all of their eyes are wide and clear. I had just woke them up, turned on a bright light, then shoved a camera in their face.
 

mini_max

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My tortoise spends a lot of time snoozing under his basking light. Seems like whenever im watching thats what he does. But I do catch him at odd times just trucking around. You may just not be seeing it. And you could be right about that being what they are used to, though sometimes I think its just personality. I mean given the choice, I know what I would do :)

I have a few spots where I put food, so it helps get him moving. I put his favorite stuff the furthest (so mean I know).

Also, for live plants, some of mine are from home depot, just transplanted out of the vermiculite. I share your pain, as I live in Alberta. Always somewhat envious of those Californians.
 

Tom

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I have been giving them daily soaks since the day I got them. I figured I'd do it daily for the first month and then drop to 2-3 times a week. I'll adjust as needed.

I have been having some issues keeping their humidity levels within range so I am going to put some 3mil plastic I have over the top and see if that helps.

The cage temperatures are well writhing range but they will pretty much all hang out under the basking light for most of the day sleeping.

Your questions are great. Keep 'em coming.

1. I think your soaking plan is excellent. Its exactly what I would recommend.
2. Don't worry about the humidity level for russians this size. Provide deep damp substrate (I prefer orchid bark or coco coir. I'm not a fan of topsoil.) for them to burrow into and provide a humid hide or two on the warm side of the enclosure. This, along with your soaks and water bowl, will satisfy their humidity and hydration needs.
3. I quoted your clue about their activity level above. If they are sitting under the light most of the day, then your ambient is too cold. The typical North American home has cold room temps during the day in winter. Its great they have a basking area to warm up, but the whole enclosure needs to warm up during the day as if it were late spring or summer outside. During cold wether they hibernate. Cold temps all day with a little warm spot to sit under is a strange situation for them and not good for their carapace. Add a CHE on a thermostat AND timer for day time use and watch things change. Cooler night temps are fine, but let the over all ambient get warmer during the day.
 

axeman25

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I'm pretty sure you did recommend that soaking plan Tom. Lol.

Question about the CHE. Does this cover a wide area? My enclosures are about 3'x6'. I have a basking light and uvb set up at one end which covers a little less than half the enclosure with light. I would put the CHE at the other end to warm up their non-basking area Correct?

Which now makes me think of another uvb lighting question. I have one 24" uvb sitting at an angle over one end of the cage. It is about 14" above the substrate. How much of an area does this cover roughly? If I raised it to its maximum recommended height would it cover more area? are they any less effective at higher heights? Or: Should I just leave the damn thing alone and not worry about it because it is giving them plenty of uvb?
 

Tom

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I'm pretty sure you did recommend that soaking plan Tom. Lol.

Question about the CHE. Does this cover a wide area? My enclosures are about 3'x6'. I have a basking light and uvb set up at one end which covers a little less than half the enclosure with light. I would put the CHE at the other end to warm up their non-basking area Correct?

Which now makes me think of another uvb lighting question. I have one 24" uvb sitting at an angle over one end of the cage. It is about 14" above the substrate. How much of an area does this cover roughly? If I raised it to its maximum recommended height would it cover more area? are they any less effective at higher heights? Or: Should I just leave the damn thing alone and not worry about it because it is giving them plenty of uvb?

More good questions...

1. Generally if I am using a CHE to raise the over all ambient I will put it near the middle, and I put the thermostat probe over near the cool side.
2. This depends on what you are using. The regular 10.0 bulbs are only effective if they are no more than 10-12" from the tortoise with no screen in between. If you have an HO bulb, those are good anywhere from 18-24". In any case, if you rely on UV for months of each year due to weather in your area, you NEED a UV light meter. This is the only way to know if your chosen bulb is producing enough UV for your tortoise, or too much. Different bulbs will perform differently in different enclosures. Not having a meter in this situation is akin to not having a thermometer to tell your temperature. If you live in an area that has warm weather year round and the tortoises can get out for real sunshine all year, then you don't need to worry about this. In MI, you need to worry bout this.
 

Anyfoot

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More good questions...

1. Generally if I am using a CHE to raise the over all ambient I will put it near the middle, and I put the thermostat probe over near the cool side.
2. This depends on what you are using. The regular 10.0 bulbs are only effective if they are no more than 10-12" from the tortoise with no screen in between. If you have an HO bulb, those are good anywhere from 18-24". In any case, if you rely on UV for months of each year due to weather in your area, you NEED a UV light meter. This is the only way to know if your chosen bulb is producing enough UV for your tortoise, or too much. Different bulbs will perform differently in different enclosures. Not having a meter in this situation is akin to not having a thermometer to tell your temperature. If you live in an area that has warm weather year round and the tortoises can get out for real sunshine all year, then you don't need to worry about this. In MI, you need to worry bout this.
@Tom . Again I stalk you and learn so much :)

What is a HO bulb
 
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