Hello from Gabby!

Dcatalano

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My Russian, Gabby, was a classroom pet at the Montessori school where I work. Due to covid, they needed every bit of classroom space so he is now a member of our family. He’s so cool and we love having him. I would really like to know your thoughts on his age, if it’s possible to estimate. He’s been in the classroom for 8 yrs or so, before my time at the school.

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KarenSoCal

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Hello and welcome to TFO!

It's really nearly impossible to know the age of a tortoise unless you know the hatch date. Do you know if he was full grown when the school got him? If not...well, he's at least 8 years old ;)

Are you sure he's a he? If not, send us a picture of his plastron, clearly showing the tail area.

Did you care for him at the school? Lots has been learned about proper care for torts since 8 years ago. This is the new, most up-to-date care sheet there is. Compare it to how you are keeping him, and you might find some things that could be improved. It was written for babies, but does have info for adults. Come back with questions or concerns...we're happy to explain why we recommend what we do.

 

Yvonne G

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I would say he's full grown, and probably about 10 years old. Normally I don't like to see tortoises as school pets because they really don't get what they need in a classroom (lights during school's down time, heat, etc.) but this tortoise doesn't seem the worse for wear, with the exception of the up curled edges of the shell. Beak looks fine, eyes bright and interested. It's good you've taken him into your home. Be thinking about a nice, safe outside yard for him for warm weather.

He doesn't need the humidity that a young tortoise needs, however, his shell does look awfully dry, so changing out the substrate to something that can be moistened might help a bit. You want something you can moisten, but that will be dry on top. And for a while, until he gets used to living with you, soak him in warm water daily for about 15 minutes - maybe for a couple weeks - after that you can get by with having a waterer in the enclosure and weekly soaks.
 

Dcatalano

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I would say he's full grown, and probably about 10 years old. Normally I don't like to see tortoises as school pets because they really don't get what they need in a classroom (lights during school's down time, heat, etc.) but this tortoise doesn't seem the worse for wear, with the exception of the up curled edges of the shell. Beak looks fine, eyes bright and interested. It's good you've taken him into your home. Be thinking about a nice, safe outside yard for him for warm weather.

He doesn't need the humidity that a young tortoise needs, however, his shell does look awfully dry, so changing out the substrate to something that can be moistened might help a bit. You want something you can moisten, but that will be dry on top. And for a while, until he gets used to living with you, soak him in warm water daily for about 15 minutes - maybe for a couple weeks - after that you can get by with having a waterer in the enclosure and weekly soaks.


Thank you for this info, Yvonne!
I had some coconut fiber substrate in his enclosure but the reptile store told me that can cause eye infections so we now have a cypress mulch in there. I'll read the care sheet for tips on what to use too!

Though he was loved and cared for, I agree that the classroom wasn't a great place for Gabby and we're thrilled to offer a home with better conditions. Is the shell curling from dehydration? Can it be reversed? We're in Colorado so I"m excited to build an enclosure for the warmer months - we can put him there during the days and bring him in at night for safety. Any tips welcome! We have chickens so I know how to predator proof an enclosure, but I don't want him to escape.

We soaked him once this week, since he's been with us. I will try to do daily soaks for a couple of weeks now. Thanks! Happy to be part of this group.
 

Dcatalano

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Hello and welcome to TFO!

It's really nearly impossible to know the age of a tortoise unless you know the hatch date. Do you know if he was full grown when the school got him? If not...well, he's at least 8 years old ;)

Are you sure he's a he? If not, send us a picture of his plastron, clearly showing the tail area.

Did you care for him at the school? Lots has been learned about proper care for torts since 8 years ago. This is the new, most up-to-date care sheet there is. Compare it to how you are keeping him, and you might find some things that could be improved. It was written for babies, but does have info for adults. Come back with questions or concerns...we're happy to explain why we recommend what we do.


Hi KarenSoCal!

I will ask at the school if he was full grown when they got him - I don't know the answer to that.

I can upload a pic of his tail area - and we did think Gabby was a she until a family who cared for him temporarily learned that she is a he. Tail is curled to the side and he's smaller than a full grown female.

I cared for Gabby on school breaks but have much to learn so thank you for the care sheet!
 

Dcatalano

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Jan 22, 2021
Messages
60
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
Hello and welcome to TFO!

It's really nearly impossible to know the age of a tortoise unless you know the hatch date. Do you know if he was full grown when the school got him? If not...well, he's at least 8 years old ;)

Are you sure he's a he? If not, send us a picture of his plastron, clearly showing the tail area.

Did you care for him at the school? Lots has been learned about proper care for torts since 8 years ago. This is the new, most up-to-date care sheet there is. Compare it to how you are keeping him, and you might find some things that could be improved. It was written for babies, but does have info for adults. Come back with questions or concerns...we're happy to explain why we recommend what we do.


Tail area pics, taken during and after today’s soak. Now I’m wondering if it’s Gabby is indeed a girl!
Also, my boss said Gabby came from a family at school and has been there for 11 years! Not sure if he/she was full grown then or not.
 

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Lyn W

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Hi and welcome.
My guess is that Gabby is a she but I could be wrong!
If you had a male I think you'd know - he would have flashed his bits at you by now.😲 Not a pretty sight!!!
I wonder if the shell is curling up because s/he was reared in too dry an environment as a baby? I know that causes pyramiding on the shell
I'm sure someone who can answer that with more certainty will pop in soon.
 

Dcatalano

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Hi and welcome.
My guess is that Gabby is a she but I could be wrong!
If you had a male I think you'd know - he would have flashed his bits at you by now.😲 Not a pretty sight!!!
I wonder if the shell is curling up because s/he was reared in too dry an environment as a baby? I know that causes pyramiding on the shell
I'm sure someone who can answer that with more certainty will pop in soon.

Thanks for your input - the vent looks like a she to me too but a family who cared for her thought they saw confirmation that it was a boy when soaking one day.
 

Yossarian

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Is the shell curling from dehydration?

It is kind of like pyramidding, caused by too dry conditions while growing. It wont improve in terms of aesthetics, and the growing is mostly down now so it wont get worse. It isnt a problem and wont affect long term health in any sense. Im not too sure, from the pics you supplied what the gender is, Maybe @Yvonne can tell, a pic of the whole plastron would help if you are curious.

Also, I saw your question about lighting, tell us what lighting you have now and we can help you figure out if it needs to change and where you can source new stuff.
 

Dcatalano

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Jan 22, 2021
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Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
It is kind of like pyramidding, caused by too dry conditions while growing. It wont improve in terms of aesthetics, and the growing is mostly down now so it wont get worse. It isnt a problem and wont affect long term health in any sense. Im not too sure, from the pics you supplied what the gender is, Maybe @Yvonne can tell, a pic of the whole plastron would help if you are curious.

Also, I saw your question about lighting, tell us what lighting you have now and we can help you figure out if it needs to change and where you can source new stuff.

Ok. Thanks for the explanation!
Here is a picture of the whole plastron.

Currently there is just one dome fixture with a ceramic heat bulb. A family who housed him temporarily said it was heat and UV light. That didn’t sound right and was different from what she had before so I ended up here. :)
If I need heat, basking light and UVB, does that mean 3 different fixtures?
And when she has time outside in warmer weather, the UVB can be eliminated?
Also, for as long as I have been around Gabby, her heat source is on 24/7. I understand now that is not necessary.
Yossarian, how do you manage your setup? Thanks!
 

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