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How much should I feed my russian tortoise and beak overgrown.

Discussion in 'Russian tortoises' started by Saltwater60, Nov 4, 2018.

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  1. Saltwater60

    Saltwater60 Member

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    I have a nearly full grown Russian tortoise female she seems a bit on the chunky side. I just got her a few days ago. She has been neglected, but seems rather healthy overall. Her beak is a bit overgrown and I will be working on remedying this. She eats like a champ. I know not to feed her fruit. I’m feeding spring mix, raspberry leaves, hibiscus leaves, and water hyacinths. Since it getttig cold I’ll switch to carrot tops and other greens from the grocery store instead of my garden. I’m wondering do I just give her what ever she will eat or can I over feed her. She does seem to leave some food and it’s not all gone daily. Here is a picture of her.

    Also how bad is her beak? Could I take care of this myself with a nail file a bit at a time or should we take her to the vet? I’m not super concerned about the money with the vet I live in nys and it’s getting cold. Also she’s been in 4 different houses in 14 months and I’m building her a new cage next week. I’m more worried about the stress to her with all the constant change. I moved her home and she ate in about 5 minutes after me adding her back in so she seems to go with the flow honestly. I’m now feeding her on a slate rock to hopefully help keep her beaknjnder control.

    Attached Files:

  2. TechnoCheese

    TechnoCheese Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forum!
    Feed her all that she wants every day, and make sure she has a properly sized enclosure. She needs a minimum enclosure size of 8x4 feet, which can be achieved by building a table. Here’s a guide-
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3XVjjTUbDNPUlhnVlN2bG0tUnc/view
    Note that the dividers are completely optional, and you can just do it with two sheets of plywood. Instead of cutting the sides 15 inches tall, cut them 16 inches tall. Then just rout the sides and bottom as shown in the guide, press them together and glue/screw them in place, and you have a finished table. Then all you need to do is silicone around the edges, seal the inside(or half way up)with flex seal, dry lock, or some type of boat paint. After you do that, line the inside with a tarp where you want the substrate, I would recommend doing it at least 6-8 inches up.
    I believe you can also just use a pond liner for the inside.

    Also note that the lamps should be coming straight down from a built in stand or detached one, and not clamped from the side. Clamps are extremely dangerous, and huge fire hazards. Learned that the hard way.(Curtis(my Sulcata)was named Lucky at first for a reason.)

    For the beak, you could file it down, use a dremel tool, or take it to the vet. Really your preference there.

    Be sure to give these a read 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/
    Cathie G and Minority2 like this.
  3. Saltwater60

    Saltwater60 Member

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    Awesome. I’ll read those later on this week.

    I just bought 3 sheets of premium plywood and will make her a 4’x8’ enclosure in a week or so. I’m doing the sides 2’ tall to give her more soil to dig in and wood to climb on. I’m going away for work for the week so I can’t do it sooner. Only thing is the last little bit I need to make the enclosure 3’ wide instead of 4’. I need to be able to get to my electrical panel. She’s only going to loose one foot by one foot. Sorry Pricilla Rose!! Also have to look and I might be able to work something out to make it the full 5’x8’.
    I bought some cypress mulch and 6 cubic feet of organic soil for her to dig in.

    I never thought of flex seal, but thought of doing pond liner and siliconing it in place. I just ordered a 10.0 uvb light to get down to the depth of 24” tall sides. I’ll look at how far the flex seal goes and decided from there. Thanks I appreciate it. I just want to care for her properly since she hasn’t been for so long. If you talk to her she looks at you and moves her arms and head. It’s almosy like she’s excited your paying attention to her. It’s funny.
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  4. TechnoCheese

    TechnoCheese Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like she’s lucky to have you :)
  5. Cathie G

    Cathie G Well-Known Member

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    Sorry I know I'm being a real buthead right now but 4 × 8 is 32 square feet. However you build it. I hate any types of plywood for the floor of a tortoise table from experience unless you put a permanent water proof floor tile on the floor of the enclosure. Seal the edges with silicone and then use whatever substrate you can keep up with. Even good grade plywood can and will get mold. Try to keep the upper stuff something easy to change and clean so you can have more fun with your tortoise. And remember this is just a suggestion. Best wishes to you and little ms.Pricilla Rose.
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  6. Saltwater60

    Saltwater60 Member

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    Good thoughts man. I will paint or seal both sides of the plywood then and I bought 3 tubes of silicone caulk to caulk the joints and caulk the pond liner to the plywood so it doesn’t peel up or move. Her enclosure now is way too small. I just need something way bigger for her. She deserves so much better than what she has now. She’s in a zoomed turtle house. I think it’s 2’x3’.
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  7. Cathie G

    Cathie G Well-Known Member

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    Did you already buy pond liner?
  8. Cathie G

    Cathie G Well-Known Member

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    I guess what I'm trying to say is really think about what to buy to do your tortoise enclosure. Plywood can be a way for a tortoise to escape. They can probably climb it because of their claws. You do have time to think about what you really want to do. It's becoming winter so a tortoise moves slowly. So just check out stuff. Your lil girl will be ok in the meantime. Take her out with you in your home for a little bit.(not on carpet lol)and research. Then build your tortoise table. You can always move her lights to her permanent home. I feel that pond liner will get mold under it if you seal it. I use peal and stick floor tiles and silicone. Cheap. A good contractor bag can be cut to fit...then do your substrate. And it's really cleanable including the floor of your baby rose's.
  9. Saltwater60

    Saltwater60 Member

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    Not yet. I wasn’t 100% sure what I was doing. I did buy the plywood though. I bought good 3/4” cabinet grade. $40 some bucks a sheet. Not saying it won’t mold, but I bought that because it was really sturdy and figured it wouldn’t bow under a bit of weight. I will re-enforce with 2x4’s for more structure.
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  10. Saltwater60

    Saltwater60 Member

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    I’m making the sides 2 feet tall in all the enclosure except where her den will be they will be 3 feet tall. Do you really think she could climb out? That scares me a bit. I can always put a lip around the top. I’d hate to see her fall since I will put the table on legs so it would be a 4 foot fall for her. Probably not good or safe
    If she falls 4 foot. I can get some 1”x6” poplar or oak for a top rail and I dont think she’d be able to climb 2’ up then navigate around the 6” lip, but in sure you have more experience than I do so please interject and tell me if I’m wrong on this. I don’t want her to take a 4 foot tumble then be cold all day. I just want to do a good enclosure for her that will be roomy, safe, and last a long time.

    Thanks so much for your input. I’m new at this and want to do what’s right for her. All our animals are rescues at this point, but the others are rabbits so this is a learning curve for me.
  11. Cathie G

    Cathie G Well-Known Member

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    You don't have to keep anything unless it's cut. Be100% sure it's what you want. Take your time. If your lil girl weighs 5 pounds you can build a table for her to run around on. Work on your temps and humidity and the tortoise forum can help you better then me with that...
  12. LaLaP

    LaLaP Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I recently trimmed a tortoise beak for the first time and it wasn't so hard. I used a good pair of cuticle trimmers. Those seem more stable that fingernail clippers. I had my boyfriend hold the tort and hold his arms down. I firmly but gently held his head just behind his jaw with my thumb and forefinger. I only trimmed what I could while his mouth was closed but I read an account of someone opening the mouth and using a wooden skewer like a bit for a horse. I took little bits at a time. I read that will prevent cracking. Be sure not to trim too much... just like dogs nails, you will eventually draw blood.
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  13. TechnoCheese

    TechnoCheese Well-Known Member

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    I doubt she would be able to climb out with walls that high. The usually need a lot shorter walls, or ones at angles or with accidental “steps” to climb out.
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  14. Cathie G

    Cathie G Well-Known Member

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    I have a Russian and I use 1×12 inch lumber for walls. And TechnoCheese is right. It's those accidental things that give them a foot hold to climb out like a monkey. Any holes or even inside metal braces can add to their escape techniques....but they also have to have something they can scoot over so their back is against a wall and their claws can walk up the other wall. When Saphire tries it he's just teaching me what to do in his enclosure....lol
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  15. Saltwater60

    Saltwater60 Member

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    Ok great news. I think I’ll be fine with the 2 foot walls then. Where her den and the extra soil will be for her to burrow will be 3 feet tall so I think I’m good.

    Thanks again guys. I’m reading the other articles posted at the top tonight. I already read the enclosure one, but I’ll read it again.
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  16. Saltwater60

    Saltwater60 Member

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    One more question I talk to her and she looks up at me like hey how’s it going? Then after a bit she will move her head and her arms in her shell a bit then back out. She also does this when I feed her. I think she’s kind of excited. Is that what it is?
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  17. Cathie G

    Cathie G Well-Known Member

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    That's a Russian. That's probably why they are a favorite pet tortoise. They are just plain good fun and funny as heck. They also are easily given a good life even when you don't know anything and still a good pet after you know more.
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  18. Viola B

    Viola B Active Member

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    To help with not climbing out of enclosure, add a little lip around top of enclosure. I have added triangle pieces at each corner. I place pots on these of editable plants that I feed my tortoise.
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  19. Cathie G

    Cathie G Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to use your great idea for a cover over my box turtle while she's eating. She's timid and will stop eating if she can see me.
  20. RosemaryDW

    RosemaryDW Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    She’s pumping her legs up and down to breathe. Because of the shell, tortoises can’t expand their diaphragms to breathe the way other animals can. The movements help push air into and out of the lungs.

    Tortoises don’t get excited, I’m afraid. But that doesn’t make them any less interesting. :)
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