First time Russian Tortoise owner!

jamie.lynn1121

New Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2018
Messages
23
Location (City and/or State)
Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
I have recently bought a Russian tortoise hatchling off of tortoise town. I received him on Tuesday (01-30-18), he was active as soon as I took him out of the box. I decided to name him Bubba (because of one of the first episodes of full house). I just want to make sure that I’m doing what I can to give him a long happy and healthy life.

Terrarium: I purchased a “tortoise house” wooden box off of chewy.com that is 36” in length 24” in width and 12” in height. I am currently using coconut fiber as substrate mixed with fir and sphagnum peat moss along with natural sphagnum moss soaked in water put in some spots to help hold humidity (having some trouble with that). I will be switching to potting soil substrate later today (as recommended by breeder) in hopes that that will help with some humidity along with putting some plexi glass on top of some of the open top of the terrarium. I spray his terrarium with Zilla tropical mist 1 to 2 times a day. The humidity is currently reading 40% and temperature of 87 in the warm section. A basking spot of 98 and a cool side of 70 degrees. I have a log for him to climb on and hide under. I have a good dish and water bowl. I placed rocks around the food bowl and water dish to help him get in and out. I also placed rocks inside of his water dish to make sure it’s not too deep for him and so it’s not “as far of a fall” to get into the water. I have a Zoo Med ReptiSun 10.0 UVB bulb and a fluker’s ceramic reptile heat emitter 100-watt bulb (doesn’t produce any light). I keep both bulbs on 24/7. Should I be shutting any of them off at night? I did some research and found lots of mixed opinions on turning off either the light or heat or both.

Food/Water: I have been giving him spring mix along with zucchini, cucumber and yellow squash. Spring mix seems to be what he eats the most of and will sometimes take a couple bites of zucchini. I also purchased zoo med gourmet tortoise food. He doesn’t seem to like it as much so I stopped giving that to him. I have been spraying his food with Zilla calcium supplement food spray. I had a powder but he didn’t eat when his food had the powder sprinkled on top. I also have a calcium block with cactus and vegetables placed in his terrarium, he likes to climb on it more than eat it. As for his water I get it straight from the faucet but put drops of zoo med reptisafe water conditioner in it.

Bubba himself: Bubba likes to bury himself at night and will not come out for HOURS! He usually does not come out on his own I end up having to dig him up. Should I just let him go and not dig him up? Or should I continue to dig him up? Yesterday when I dig him up he kinda hissed at me but after was active. He ate and was climbing on top of his log he was still up and moving around when I finally fell asleep at 3AM he is currently buried now. I also have a vet appointment scheduled for him on the 15th of this month just for a check up to make sure everything is okay. I will be taking him to the vets yearly and as needed. Last thing is there any way for me to tell if he is a male or female besides the tail? Or is it still too early to tell? I’m not sure exactly how old he is but I’m guessing under 6 months.. the breeder had the tortoises advertised as hatchlings or well started 6 month old tortoises.

Thank you so much everyone! Any comments or suggestions are appreciated :)

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TechnoCheese

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Feb 20, 2016
Messages
4,163
Location (City and/or State)
Lewisville, Texas
Welcome to the forum!
I would not listen to tortoise town. They have a very bad reputation. Your substrate is perfect as it is.
Yes, you should be turning off the lights at night. Tortoises need total darkness to sleep.
Spring mix does not have enough fiber. Your Russian needs to be eating broad leaf weeds.
You cannot tell gender yet.
Please read these links and come back with questions!
Russian Tortoise Care Sheet
https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/Russian-Tortoise-Care-Sheet.80698/
Beginner Mistakes
https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/Beginner-Mistakes.45180/
 

jamie.lynn1121

New Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2018
Messages
23
Location (City and/or State)
Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
Welcome to the forum!
I would not listen to tortoise town. They have a very bad reputation. Your substrate is perfect as it is.
Yes, you should be turning off the lights at night. Tortoises need total darkness to sleep.
Spring mix does not have enough fiber. Your Russian needs to be eating broad leaf weeds.
You cannot tell gender yet.
Please read these links and come back with questions!
Russian Tortoise Care Sheet
https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/Russian-Tortoise-Care-Sheet.80698/
Beginner Mistakes
https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?threads/Beginner-Mistakes.45180/

Thank you! Both of those have helped out a lot! I also just read up some more on tortoise town and am now worried about my little hatchling! I wish I would’ve came on here and read other people stories instead off reading reviews off of Facebook and google. I was turned away from one place I was going to buy my tortoise after reading reviews and really wish the same would’ve happened with tortoise town. I’m hoping all checks out okay on his vet appointment coming up.
 

TechnoCheese

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5 Year Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
4,163
Location (City and/or State)
Lewisville, Texas
Thank you! Both of those have helped out a lot! I also just read up some more on tortoise town and am now worried about my little hatchling! I wish I would’ve came on here and read other people stories instead off reading reviews off of Facebook and google. I was turned away from one place I was going to buy my tortoise after reading reviews and really wish the same would’ve happened with tortoise town. I’m hoping all checks out okay on his vet appointment coming up.

Just remember, your tortoise has a chance of not being a victim of tortoise town, so don’t get worried yet :)
 

TechnoCheese

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Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
Lewisville, Texas
Also, don’t let the vet give your tortoise any vitamin injections! For some reason, a lot of vets think that every tortoise they see needs one, even when they have no idea what’s wrong with it...
 

RosemaryDW

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Tortoise Club
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Feb 17, 2016
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Newport Coast, CA
Welcome to the forum! I can see you want to take the best care of your baby. :)

TechnoCheese has good advice; I am just going to add a few comments.

Baby tortoises are just like any other baby animal; they sleep a LOT. If your temperatures are right (not too hot or cold), let him be. Or she, you won’t be able to tell gender for several years.

He’s not hissing at you; that’s the sound a tortoise makes when it’s frightened and pulls all his limbs into the shell very quickly.

I am not a baby expert but I think he has some pyramiding going on; someone with plenty of babies can advise on that and how to improve humidity, if needed. Don’t panic; if that’s happening you’ll get good information on how to smooth out his growth.
 

Alex Z

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Joined
Sep 15, 2016
Messages
792
Location (City and/or State)
NYC
Get a plastic sheet and you can trap heat and humidity. Or build a rack system to hang the lights from and drape the sheet over that.
 
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