confused tortoise please help!

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Skyler Nell

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I have a relatively young dessert tortoise, that I've only owned for about a year. I read many articles and I chose that I did not want him to hibernate this past winter so i kept the light on in his tank. I think i may have over fed him prior to his hibernation which may have caused him some confusion. I have left the light on in his tank for the remainder of the winter though he remained sleeping through out. I think my tortoise is now confused if it should be awake or hibernating because there has been no climate change from winter to spring. How should i fix this cycle?? thanks!
 

spikethebest

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Welcome to the forum!

what is the temperatures like in the tank? can you post a picture of the tortoise so we can identify it?
 

Skyler Nell

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spikethebest said:
Welcome to the forum!

what is the temperatures like in the tank? can you post a picture of the tortoise so we can identify it?

Thank you! I'm not sure of the exact temperature but i estimate it to be about 80 degrees F. I have a 40 watt bulb in the tank
 

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spikethebest

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is that really a picture of YOUR tortoise, or a picture you found on the web?

is your bulb UVB/A bulb? do you take him/her out for natural sunshine? do you give regular soakings (baths) ?

you also need to find a way to determine the exact temperatures. there should be a warm side, and cool side. go to a pet store and get 2 thermometers designed for reptile set ups.

what city/state do you live in?
 

Skyler Nell

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spikethebest said:
is that really a picture of YOUR tortoise, a picture you found on the web?

is your bulb UVB/A bulb? do you take him/her out for natural sunshine? do you give regular soakings (baths) ?

you also need to find a way to determine the exact temperatures. there should be a warm side, and cool side. go to a pet store and get 2 thermometers designed for reptile set ups.

what city/state do you live in?

yes this is MY tortoise :)

The bulb is just a regular light bulb, that you would use in a lamp.
I take him outside as often as possible, I've created a small "turtle run" to protect him from birds, and yes i soak twice a week.

well i have the bulb on the left side of the tank and the other is less warm.
I will get those thermometers asap

I live in Anaheim CA
 

spikethebest

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while you get the therometers, please get following...

a UVB/A bulb-- should cost around $40, gives off no heat, just light
a heat bulb-- could be red light or white light.
a heating pad

You need to create a hot spot with the heat bulb, a warm section of the tank, and a cool section of the tank.

feedings and the water dish should be in a cool section.

the heating pad is set to only be on at night. you either have the heat bulb, or the heating pad on, not both.

get a hide for the tortoise to sleep in.

what is its diet? please dont say romaine lettuce or fruit or dog food. if so, stop feeding that please.

also what is the bedding that you have? are those rabbit or alfafa pellets? i hope not.

also please take a picture of the setup. are you in an apartment or house? i am in southern california too.
 

Skyler Nell

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spikethebest said:
while you get the therometers, please get following...

a UVB/A bulb-- should cost around $40, gives off no heat, just light
a heat bulb-- could be red light or white light.
a heating pad

You need to create a hot spot with the heat bulb, a warm section of the tank, and a cool section of the tank.

feedings and the water dish should be in a cool section.

the heating pad is set to only be on at night. you either have the heat bulb, or the heating pad on, not both.

get a hide for the tortoise to sleep in.

what is its diet? please dont say romaine lettuce or fruit or dog food. if so, stop feeding that please.

also please take a picture of the setup. are you in an apartment or house? i am in southern california too.

Well i definitely don't feed my turtle dog food! I feed him (i don't actually know what the sex is, I just think of it as a him) a mixture of Kale, Red Leaf, Romaine (is that bad?) and spinach. I put a powdered calcium supplement on the lettuce once a week. and i live in a house!
 

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spikethebest

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is that a 10 gal tank? that tank is far to small. get a LARGE rubbermaid container from walmart, wide and longer is better, doesnt need to be that tall. let the tortoise roam around, and have a clear distinction between hot and cold areas.

get a hide for the tortoise at the pet store. they need somewhere to get away, and cover themselves. in nature, they have burrows. the hide will look like half a log. they will sleep in it every night.

yes romaine provide NO nutrients at all, its just water. switch to mustard greens, dandelions, weeds (no pesticides or fertiziler), and hibicisus flowers. variety is key.

you should build an outdoor area for him to roam free in the yard and graze on the grasses and weeds as long as you dont use fertiziler or pesticides.
 

Skyler Nell

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spikethebest said:
is that a 10 gal tank? that tank is far to small. get a LARGE rubbermaid container from walmart, wide and longer is better, doesnt need to be that tall. let the tortoise roam around, and have a clear distinction between hot and cold areas.

get a hide for the tortoise at the pet store. they need somewhere to get away, and cover themselves. in nature, they have burrows. the hide will look like half a log. they will sleep in it every night.

yes romaine provide NO nutrients at all, its just water. switch to mustard greens, dandelions, weeds (no pesticides or fertiziler), and hibicisus flowers. variety is key.

you should build an outdoor area for him to roam free in the yard and graze on the grasses and weeds as long as you dont use fertiziler or pesticides.

Well i was planning to move him outside for the summer, for him to stay all the time, is he still too young? I will definitely get him a hide! What are mustard greens? and are there any type of weeds that would be harmful to him? Are the other type of lettuces i listed okay?
 

egyptiandan

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Hi,
I'm not quite understanding what happened to him. You said you decided not to hibernate, but that you fed him before hibernation.
I know you left the light on, but if the base temperatures got below 70F your tortoise decided it was to cool and shut down (whether you had the light on or not). The way to get him back to being active and eating is to raise the temperatures in the enclosure. If your using a 40 watt bulb, try using a 60 or 75 watt bulb.
Romaine lettuce is fine, but the spinach isn't. Have a look through this list for things you can feed your Desert tortoise. http://tortoiseforum.org/thread-5823.html

Danny
 

Skyler Nell

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egyptiandan said:
Hi,
I'm not quite understanding what happened to him. You said you decided not to hibernate, but that you fed him before hibernation.
I know you left the light on, but if the base temperatures got below 70F your tortoise decided it was to cool and shut down (whether you had the light on or not). The way to get him back to being active and eating is to raise the temperatures in the enclosure. If your using a 40 watt bulb, try using a 60 or 75 watt bulb.
Romaine lettuce is fine, but the spinach isn't. Have a look through this list for things you can feed your Desert tortoise. http://tortoiseforum.org/thread-5823.html

Danny

Well back in october I decided i wanted to keep his inclosure warm so he would not hibernate, but i fed him quite often and he ate ALOT more then usual (I think he was preparing for hibernation). And he has been sleeping throughout winter and is still sleeping. When i soak him or put him outside for a bit he begins to wake up but then goes right back to sleep after i return him to his tank. I havent changed anything in the tank since i got him, and he was always fine before this.
 

egyptiandan

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So this was his first winter with you?

Well with how he acted the enclosure wasn't warm enough and I'm guessing the lights weren't on long enough (they need to be on 12 to 16 hours a day to keep a tortoise up).

I'm sure if you raise the temperatures in his enclosure he will start to be more active and eat again. :D

Danny
 

Skyler Nell

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egyptiandan said:
So this was his first winter with you?

Well with how he acted the enclosure wasn't warm enough and I'm guessing the lights weren't on long enough (they need to be on 12 to 16 hours a day to keep a tortoise up).

I'm sure if you raise the temperatures in his enclosure he will start to be more active and eat again. :D

Danny

yes this was the first winter!
I keep the light on all the time...
jeez I thought I knew what I was doing but I guess not!
So all you would advise is a higher watt bulb and no more spinach?
and do you think I should move him outside for the summer or is he still too young? I live in Anaheim CA and it gets pretty warm here
 

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Has he been eating? I don't think he is hibernating, I think there may be a more serious problem. Granted I have never kept desert tortoises, but I think it is odd that he would hibernate even at room temperature with no heat.

Even giving a calcium supplement does no good if he does not have UV lighting. They need UV to produce vitamin D3, which is needed to absorb calcium. That and the spinach he has been eating is high in oxalic acid, which also blocks calcium absorption, among causing other health problems.

The bedding that he is on is very inappropriate. Tortoises need humidity, other than just soaks and drinks of water. You can get bricks of coconut coir, or "forest bedding" such as Eco-earth or Bed-a-Beast for around $4. Hydrate the brick of coir according to the directions on the package, and mix it 50/50 with dry play sand. This will create a much better environment for him. I agree with spikethebest that you need to go get a rubbermaid or sterilite type storage tub. It should cost you less than $15, and the poor guy needs more room so that he can regulate his body temperature, once you get more heat for him.

Kristina

Please do not leave the light on ALL the time - he needs it to be off to sleep at night. If you can create a predator-proof pen, then he would be all right outside during the day, but I would bring him inside to sleep.

There is much more to making a better environment for you tort than just the bulb and cutting out the spinach - please stick around, continue to ask questions and you will find that there is a lot to learn. Tortoises have more requirements than a lot of people are led to believe.

Kristina
 

Skyler Nell

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kyryah said:
Has he been eating? I don't think he is hibernating, I think there may be a more serious problem. Granted I have never kept desert tortoises, but I think it is odd that he would hibernate even at room temperature with no heat.

Even giving a calcium supplement does no good if he does not have UV lighting. They need UV to produce vitamin D3, which is needed to absorb calcium. That and the spinach he has been eating is high in oxalic acid, which also blocks calcium absorption, among causing other health problems.

The bedding that he is on is very inappropriate. Tortoises need humidity, other than just soaks and drinks of water. You can get bricks of coconut coir, or "forest bedding" such as Eco-earth or Bed-a-Beast for around $4. Hydrate the brick of coir according to the directions on the package, and mix it 50/50 with dry play sand. This will create a much better environment for him. I agree with spikethebest that you need to go get a rubbermaid or sterilite type storage tub. It should cost you less than $15, and the poor guy needs more room so that he can regulate his body temperature, once you get more heat for him.

Kristina

He has been eating recently (as if he was coming out of hibernation) but he still acts very groggy. Do you think it would be better for me to move him outside and create a totally new enclosure there or change the inside one?
 

Kristina

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Both. Being outside is good for him, if the temperatures are warm enough. But he needs a proper retreat for when he is indoors too.

Kristina
 

Skyler Nell

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kyryah said:
Both. Being outside is good for him, if the temperatures are warm enough. But he needs a proper retreat for when he is indoors too.

Kristina

okay. So if he will be living mostly outdoors will the 10 gallon tank i have now be suitable? or should i get a totally new tank? and how should i set up the tank/outdoor enclosure? Thank you so much for everyone's help!
 

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Hi Skyler Nell:

708718jtpif35jly.gif
to the forum!

1. Tortoises empty their digestive systems of all food before hibernation. The way they do that is by not eating for two or three weeks before they go down for the winter.

I don't think your tortoise thought he was hibernating. There was something else wrong with the way he was being kept that was making him stay hiding all the time.

2. Your aquarium is WAY too small for that size tortoise. I know that you plan to put him outside this summer, but in the meantime, you MUST set him up properly and get him eating again or you're going to have a very sick little tortoise on your hands.

You can buy a couple of large plastic tubs and cut out one end on each of them. then you put the open ends together to make one long tub. With something like this, you can have a hot side and a room temperature side. So you'll attach your lights to one end, and adjust the height of the light so that directly under it the temp is around 110 degrees or so. Be sure that this light is a good UVB light. You'd be amazed at how active your tortoise gets when he starts receiving the ultra violet light rays. A good light to buy is the 100 watt flood, active UV/heat put out by T-Rex. I believe the instructions on the box for this light tell you to place it appx. 12" above the floor of the habitat.

You should use some sort of substrate that you can moisten. Even though the desert tortoise comes from the desert, they do require humidity in order for their shells to grow correctly. In the desert, they poop and pee in their burrow and this gives them the humidity they need. I like cypress mulch or orchid bark.

Being from Southern California, your weather might be good enough right now for the tortoise to go outside during the daytime. Then you can bring him back inside to spend the night. If this is the case, then the aquarium would be fine, because he's just going to sleep in it and he'll get his UV from the actual sun. Is your outdoor habitat sheltered from the wind?
 

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I wouldn't get a new tank. Tanks are not good for tortoises, but that ten gallon really is not suitable, it is MUCH too small, even for a young tortoise. Glass tanks don't allow for a very good heat gradient, and they don't allow good airflow. The tortoise can't understand the concept of glass, and will try and try to get into the room that it can see but never reach. It is very stressful for them.

Either build him an indoor "tortoise table" (You could build him an outdoor one, too) or use a large storage tub.

You can take an old bookshelf, remove the shelves and lay it on it's back, or even pick up a used table at a garage sale or freecycle and add walls around the outside.

Look here for some ideas

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&source...&aqi=g10&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&fp=bcdf8cbbf06dc4f

Kristina
 

Skyler Nell

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emysemys said:
Hi Skyler Nell:

708718jtpif35jly.gif
to the forum!

1. Tortoises empty their digestive systems of all food before hibernation. The way they do that is by not eating for two or three weeks before they go down for the winter.

I don't think your tortoise thought he was hibernating. There was something else wrong with the way he was being kept that was making him stay hiding all the time.

2. Your aquarium is WAY too small for that size tortoise. I know that you plan to put him outside this summer, but in the meantime, you MUST set him up properly and get him eating again or you're going to have a very sick little tortoise on your hands.

You can buy a couple of large plastic tubs and cut out one end on each of them. then you put the open ends together to make one long tub. With something like this, you can have a hot side and a room temperature side. So you'll attach your lights to one end, and adjust the height of the light so that directly under it the temp is around 110 degrees or so. Be sure that this light is a good UVB light. You'd be amazed at how active your tortoise gets when he starts receiving the ultra violet light rays. A good light to buy is the 100 watt flood, active UV/heat put out by T-Rex. I believe the instructions on the box for this light tell you to place it appx. 12" above the floor of the habitat.

You should use some sort of substrate that you can moisten. Even though the desert tortoise comes from the desert, they do require humidity in order for their shells to grow correctly. In the desert, they poop and pee in their burrow and this gives them the humidity they need. I like cypress mulch or orchid bark.

Being from Southern California, your weather might be good enough right now for the tortoise to go outside during the daytime. Then you can bring him back inside to spend the night. If this is the case, then the aquarium would be fine, because he's just going to sleep in it and he'll get his UV from the actual sun. Is your outdoor habitat sheltered from the wind?

Thank You for the welcome Yvonne!
Well I do plan to move him outside quite soon after all this new information but I don't have any type to enclosure for him yet because he has been living inside since I've gotten him. What is needed to keep him happy and healthy??
 
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