Could Walter my Russian Tortoise be depressed?

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AlishaT

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I know this might sound silly but since the weather has become cooler I have had to keep indoors on some days. When he is in the yard he is like a machine toddling around eating and trying to find an escape. He is always active and perky. On the days when he is inside he just sort of sits on his basking spot and that's about it. He doesn't try to escape, he doesn't walk around, nothing. I actually have to hold his Dandelions up to his face to entice him into eating. Is it possible that being inside is making him unhappy and depressed? I'm worried about him. As far as I can tell there doesn't seem to be anything physically wrong with Walter except for this sad behavior. Is it possible that he is actually sad and feeling depressed about his indoor situation? What can I do to help him through these upcoming winter months?
 

pepsiandjac

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My Russian hates being inside too.He stomps about for the first hour then he goes and sits in the corner for hours.
 

wellington

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I wouldn't call it depressed, but yes, they would be much happier outside. When my leopard was younger and lived inside, I figured out that changing his enclosure around would perk him up for a few days.
 

AlishaT

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I think it really is that he is just bummed out when he comes inside. The weather finally cleared up later this afternoon and so I took him outside. He was like the running man. Not even for roses would that little man stop. I don't know where exactly it is that he thought he was headed but was going to make sure that he did. For about two hours he sprinted (Walter style) the entire time never stopping to eat. Then of course when he had to come inside his mood soured and he went back to sulking. Poor, poor Walter!
 

Tom

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Sounds to me like he is comfortable in his indoor enclosure and relaxes. He knows there are no predators. He knows where the food, water and warmth are. Why run around and waste energy?

Turning him loose in the yard is probably freaking him out. Gotta find cover in this strange land. Where are the predators? Am I in some other tortoises territory?

The not stopping to eat should be a good sign that your tortoise is stressed.

You might want to evaluate your heating and lighting situation indoors. Sometimes a little change can make a big difference. What are you using for heat, light and UV? What are your four temps? Warm side, cool side, basking spot and night?
 

ascott

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Sounds to me like he is comfortable in his indoor enclosure and relaxes. He knows there are no predators. He knows where the food, water and warmth are. Why run around and waste energy?
Exactly what came to mind Tom...
 

AlishaT

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So his "running" wasn't that he was glad to be free but his feeling stressed? Ugh! I'm so confused. As for his indoor habitat, I'm working on it. I bought a thermometer but it's not showing anything so I'm guessing its broken but I have a heat lamp over his basking Area that is I'm guessing around 80'. I need to go get a UVB lamp this week. Since Walter hasn't needed on up until Friday the only one we had was being used by my sons bearded dragon. Walter was outside everyday from around 8am until 6pm. Because of this it's not until now that I'm going to need to build him a proper indoor habitat. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Size, substrate, temps, all of those issues I need some help with. Walter is about the size of say an average size adult hand. Would he be more happy in a family area where all the action is or a more quiet and secluded room like my front room that I go to read and there is no tv etc? Thanks for all your detailed help, I really appreciate it and so will Walter I'm sure.
 

Tom

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We are just guessing based on what you've told us and our own previous personal experience. If a tortoise is running around all manic, and not eating for hours, that suggests a stressed fearful tortoise to me.

He needs a basking spot of 95-100. He might be less active indoors because its too cool. They need a warm spot to be able to warm up to "operating" temps. The rest of the enclosure can just fade to room temp. No need for night heat. You really need a reliable thermometer. Reptiles are very dependent upon correct temperatures to function properly. Good thermometers can be found at hardware or department stores for about $10-20.

For your heating lighting UV needs, I like the mercury vapor bulbs, like the power sun. You can also use a long tube style florescent UV tube. I recommend against the coil type bulbs as those can sometimes burn reptile eyes.

For an indoor enclosure I suggest getting a 4x8' sheet of plywood, adding some 2x12 sides, and possibly lining the bottom with some plastic painters plastic sheeting. Add some substrate, some terra cotta plant saucers sunk into the substrate for food and water bowls, a humid hide box, and whatever potted plants and decorations you want to put in there. Put some legs on it and WHAMMO! You are done!
 

Sprinkles

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I find that my Leopard torts are more social when they are inside. Their indoor enclosure is in my living room and they are always watching me. When I sit on the floor next to the pen, they come right over to me and I get to pet their legs and necks. They act more like little dogs. Outside, they areole like cats... Doing their own thing and coming over to me when I have food or when I'm barefoot ....they like to smell and poke at my toes. Weirdos.


Leopards: Sprinkles and Sobe
Redfoot: Tory
 

AlishaT

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Haha Tom, after I read your first post I ran to Home Depot and bought everything I need to build a habitat for Walter that is exactly what you described! I think it's going to be awesome! Thanks for all the helpful advice, now Walter will get a little smile on his cute little face!
[hr]
I wanted to give you the specs to get your advice as to the size. It's about 3 1/2 ft width and 4 1/2 length. Will this be large enough? Also, we have tossed around the idea to add another tortoise perhaps not if the same species. After getting a clean bill if health and if the other is female would it be ok to house them together until one grows too large? It would be for sure years before the female ( or possibly Walter for that matter) were old enough for mating so that wouldn't be an issue. I just wonder if they are both healthy would they get along?
 

Tom

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I like adult russian enclosures to be at least 4x8'. Bigger is better. Russians sometimes cover miles a day in the wild. Give him as much room as you can.

Species should never be mixed.

Tortoises should not be kept in pairs.

They would most likely not get along.

If you want another tortoise, simply make another indoor and outdoor enclosure, keep them separate, and then everybody lives happily ever after.

Check out this thread from earlier today:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread-79458.html
 
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