First time tortoise mama, South Florida, baby red foot

KerryK

New Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
The Acreage, FL
Hello! Loving the forum, even though the quantity of info is overwhelming me...to make a long story short (er)
I’m a recent transplant to Palm Beach County (June 2020) having lived in NJ my entire life. My husband and I didn’t think we would make it to FL until retirement, circumstances gave us the opportunity and we jumped. When I learned we were actually going to live here I decided I wanted a tortoise, began the research and decided on a red foot due to the suitability of the climate. We rented for a year, I somehow managed to stop myself from IMMEDIATELY acquiring one. We just bought a house in The Acreage and I could no longer control myself, found a local breeder and got the most handsome cherry head...we’ve decided he’s a boy and named him Koopa (we have a Mario Bros loving 10 year old son, and amazingly enough his 12 year old brother agreed on the name)
Here is what we are doing, and what we intend in the future...
He is currently in a contractor tub, on a covered, screened porch. Substrate is mostly coir with scattered spaghnum moss. We are feeding him mostly leafy greens (kale, romaine, escarole, and parsley so far), 30% fruit (mango, papaya, watermelon) and mazuri LS diet coming from Amazon soon, from the breeders’ suggestion (I’m planning on Mazuri once a week to easily keep track). I have calcium powder ready if suggested but haven’t used it yet. One corner of the porch gets direct sun for about an hour a day but he’s not living in that corner yet as I have no cover for his temporary enclosure and I don’t want my dog to notice him, so his tub is on a table. I ordered a 5 UVB 13 watt light to clip on the side of the tub if necessary/suggested while we decide on a full time enclosure (I’m leaning toward a cedar wood planter box on wheels as a portable tortoise table) I’ve been unable to figure out if UVB will get to him through the screens, so I ordered the bulb to be ready. I want to build him tortoise paradise in our yard as soon as he will be safe out there, we have plenty of room. I mist him once a day, soak him for 15 minutes a day, mostly let him be, leave food down for about an hour (I take his hide off him at feeding time and find him mostly buried in his bedding - he seems sleepy for 10 minutes or so, blinking like a tired little guy, it’s ADORABLE) he eats, then I bath him, he poops, and I put him back...he usually explores for a couple of minutes then goes back in the hide.
soooo, for those in the know, is this living setup / care routine suitable until FL “winter”? He seems happy, and he’s gorgeous, and I want to keep him that way! As I have no prior tortoise experience, I’d welcome suggestions from those who do. Thank you so much, look forward to hearing from you!
 

Krista S

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
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Aug 4, 2019
Messages
697
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
Meet Koopa. I could EAT him he’s so very cute 😍
I am not the right person to give you advice on a red foot, but I just had to say…what a handsome little guy you’ve got. 🥰 Congratulations on your new baby! It’s awesome to see the effort and thought you’re putting into wanting to give him the best life he can have.
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
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Jul 16, 2014
Messages
24,132
Location (City and/or State)
South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
Hello, fellow south Floridian.
Since you are in the Acreage, I'm going to guess that your tort came from Ryan of SOUTHERN REPTILES?
I'm also going to guess that a large, outdoors enclosure is in the plans.
Welcome to the forum.
I'll be happy to assist you guys in any way that I can. For now, I would highly recommend getting rid of the moss altogether. RF will eat some from time to time and it quickly becomes an impaction hazard for the gut.
We're headed into our rainy season now.
Make sure that your tortoise area is not prone to flooding and make sure he/she has access to shade and a water pool as RF can overheat in direct sunlight.
 

Hotsause

Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2021
Messages
48
Location (City and/or State)
Connecticut
Seems like you got a handle on it pretty well. I am a newbie myself (mines 4 months old), but the only thing I might be able to help you with is that I’ve heard that screens will cut down the effectiveness of the UVB light. You want it to go directly in. Also I’m not sure how hot and humid it is down there, but I know babies need consistent temps in the low 80’s and consistent high humidity of at least 80%. Being that I’m from the north east, Ive had my baby in a closed lid tub with a ceramic heating unit hooked up to a thermostat that keeps the enclosure at around 82 in the middle and 75ish at the edges. Misting it down with water and pouring some into the corners of the substrate keeps it nice and humid as long as the lid is on. Alot of people with tubs that it sounds like you have use small portable greenhouse tents you can get on amazon to keep the humidity in. If you have any questions about any of this stuff I’m sure someone else on here would be able to explain it better haha. Good luck, sounds like you‘re already doing great !
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,116
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hello, fellow south Floridian.
Since you are in the Acreage, I'm going to guess that your tort came from Ryan of SOUTHERN REPTILES?
I'm also going to guess that a large, outdoors enclosure is in the plans.
Welcome to the forum.
I'll be happy to assist you guys in any way that I can. For now, I would highly recommend getting rid of the moss altogether. RF will eat some from time to time and it quickly becomes an impaction hazard for the gut.
We're headed into our rainy season now.
Make sure that your tortoise area is not prone to flooding and make sure he/she has access to shade and a water pool as RF can overheat in direct sunlight.
Outdoors in an open tub on the lanai work for this species in that area? No closed chamber indoors needed?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,116
Location (City and/or State)
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I ordered a 5 UVB 13 watt light to clip on the side of the tub if necessary/suggested while we decide on a full time enclosure (I’m leaning toward a cedar wood planter box on wheels as a portable tortoise table) I’ve been unable to figure out if UVB will get to him through the screens, so I ordered the bulb to be ready.
Don't use cfl type UV bulbs. They sometimes burn tortoises eyes and a tortoise living outside doesn't need it.

I wouldn't use cedar. The reason bugs don't like it is because it emits toxic fumes.

Your tortoise will thrive as an adult living outside with a proper shelter in your area, but I'm not so sure that is a good way to raise a baby. I will defer to Zeropilot who lives there and has extensive experience with RFs.
 

KerryK

New Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
The Acreage, FL
Thank you all for the welcome, advice, and the compliments on my little man! I would have been back sooner to reply but life and work has been nutso. I did get Koops from Ryan, I was so happy to find his site, I didn’t want to use shipping unless I had to. We met at a produce stand he told me about, and I was like “hey I know where that is, it’s like 3 minutes away 😂” He offered help and advice if needed but I know he has a human young’un running around and that’s more than enough to be getting on with, so I came here instead.

Im gonna attach pics of the lanai and his tub (btw none of the native Floridians I work with knew what a lanai was… they were all like, do you mean a screened in patio?”) 😂😂😂 Not a screened roof so no direct sun - I just pick the whole enclosure up and move it to the side where the sun does come in for an hour or two. I’ve also heard that UVB gets cut down by screens, so I got the bulb to be sure.
What type of bulb should I get instead? That’s not a problem, and I am loving the clip on gooseneck fixture, so what distance should I place it from the substrate with the light you recommended?
I can take out the moss for sure, it’s just lightly scattered.

soooooo much humidity down here in summer, I go outside and it’s like walking into a cloud.
sucks about cedar I didn’t know anything about it repelling bugs I thought it just was more resistant to water rot 😢

I got a bunch of tortoise safe plants today and some terracotta pots to just bury in his substrate, i’m sure if I attempted to actually plant them out of pots they would promptly die - any recommendations there?

I don’t see him much but when I do he is unbelievably charming - I’m sooo happy I decided I wanted a tort, watching him just walk around like a little mobile rock cracks me up. My kids lI’ve him too, they’re really good about helping with his care 🥰
 

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KerryK

New Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
The Acreage, FL
Thank you all for the welcome, advice, and the compliments on my little man! I would have been back sooner to reply but life and work has been nutso. I did get Koops from Ryan, I was so happy to find his site, I didn’t want to use shipping unless I had to. We met at a produce stand he told me about, and I was like “hey I know where that is, it’s like 3 minutes away 😂” He offered help and advice if needed but I know he has a human young’un running around and that’s more than enough to be getting on with, so I came here instead.

Im gonna attach pics of the lanai and his tub (btw none of the native Floridians I work with knew what a lanai was… they were all like, do you mean a screened in patio?”) 😂😂😂 Not a screened roof so no direct sun - I just pick the whole enclosure up and move it to the side where the sun does come in for an hour or two. I’ve also heard that UVB gets cut down by screens, so I got the bulb to be sure.
What type of bulb should I get instead? That’s not a problem, and I am loving the clip on gooseneck fixture, so what distance should I place it from the substrate with the light you recommended?
I can take out the moss for sure, it’s just lightly scattered.

soooooo much humidity down here in summer, I go outside and it’s like walking into a cloud.
sucks about cedar I didn’t know anything about it repelling bugs I thought it just was more resistant to water rot 😢

I got a bunch of tortoise safe plants today and some terracotta pots to just bury in his substrate, i’m sure if I attempted to actually plant them out of pots they would promptly die - any recommendations there?

I don’t see him much but when I do he is unbelievably charming - I’m sooo happy I decided I wanted a tort, watching him just walk around like a little mobile rock cracks me up. My kids lI’ve him too, they’re really good about helping with his care 🥰
Also, is fir ok for the enclosure or is that a type of cedar? Pine? I love the raised garden beds on wheels, aesthetically pleasing and I want to be able to roll him around. My husband is handy and could probably make most any thing suggested with enough lead time, but I do insist it looks pretty 😁
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,116
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Also, is fir ok for the enclosure or is that a type of cedar? Pine? I love the raised garden beds on wheels, aesthetically pleasing and I want to be able to roll him around. My husband is handy and could probably make most any thing suggested with enough lead time, but I do insist it looks pretty 😁
Fir or pine is fine to use for construction. Most wood is.

That cfl type bulb is the one that can burn their eyes. I would turn that off immediately. That might be one reason he doesn't come out much.

He also needs more plants, hides and cover. It should look like a jungle in there. I see pathos growing wild all over Florida, you can plant clippings of that around the enclosure.
 
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