How to raise a Healthy Star Tortoise.

NorCal tortoise guy

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Hi Mark
just some quick questions I live near you and tried to keep some of my tortoises in the garage and it worked great all winter but on our 100f + days my enclosures started to overheat so I had to move the tortoises. Do you have this problem? or is your garage cooled? or do you have another way of beating the heat? Thanks!
 

Markw84

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Hi Mark
just some quick questions I live near you and tried to keep some of my tortoises in the garage and it worked great all winter but on our 100f + days my enclosures started to overheat so I had to move the tortoises. Do you have this problem? or is your garage cooled? or do you have another way of beating the heat? Thanks!
My garage is fairly well insulated and heats to the high 80°'s on a 100° day. But that is still a problem with the lights in the enclosure. I have my basking lights on a thermostat to kick OFF at 95°. I also give them outdoor time during that time of year, so can turn off the UVB light, or limit it to 9AM to 12PM and it will kick off before the heat of the day. For ambient lighting, LED lighting can also help keep the heat down, but be sure to get a good LED that is full spectrum if possible. So far, that is working well for me. I am looking at getting a small window AC unit for the garage this summer as I am planning for more hatchlings. My larger stars (6" +) have full time outdoor enclosures that time of year.
 

NorCal tortoise guy

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My garage is fairly well insulated and heats to the high 80°'s on a 100° day. But that is still a problem with the lights in the enclosure. I have my basking lights on a thermostat to kick OFF at 95°. I also give them outdoor time during that time of year, so can turn off the UVB light, or limit it to 9AM to 12PM and it will kick off before the heat of the day. For ambient lighting, LED lighting can also help keep the heat down, but be sure to get a good LED that is full spectrum if possible. So far, that is working well for me. I am looking at getting a small window AC unit for the garage this summer as I am planning for more hatchlings. My larger stars (6" +) have full time outdoor enclosures that time of year.
Thanks!
 

RickyGoldsmith

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My thick head just dont get the exact idea about the humidity..
Can u explain?
In my opinion, if you belong to the same region that is these species' natural habitat, then you don't need to worry much about temperature control. Just ensure you give them a close to natural habitat.
 

Dipa

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Ok
I am close enough to his natural habibat
I will
But just when the enclosure arrive...
Untull then temporary enclosure will work best
 

Markw84

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In my opinion, if you belong to the same region that is these species' natural habitat, then you don't need to worry much about temperature control. Just ensure you give them a close to natural habitat.
I feel a statement like this is quite misleading. This common feeling leads many to raise tortoises in conditions that not only visibly pyramid them, but simply puts the tortoise in conditions that often leads to serious health problems. Most tortoises raised in captivity in their native range are quite pyramided. It is the norm that we are dealing with health issues and tortoises lethargic and not feeding in posts from people that do live in the actual range of the star. Also, @Dipa lives in India, but not in the specific areas where stars are found. It is much drier - 20% humidity today.

As soon as you place a captive tortoise in an enclosure, you are also changing and limiting the micro climates the tortoise will normally find "in the wild". Even outside, a barren, open enclosure will become far drier than the weather station says it is. The ability to hide a protect itself from desiccation is vital. In the wild, they are under cover, buried, or pushed under plants. They cover themselves in mud soaking in puddles they find. They hide and do not come out and feed and grow during the drier times. In captivity we alter all of that. Inside, the climate of our home is very different than the weather station reports. In a city, the climate is going to be much different than in the country just a few miles away.

Living in a tortoise's natural range is a big help - especially with a good outdoor enclosure. But it is the micro climates you create for your tortoise that dictates how well it will do. You still must be careful of the temperatures, and humidity, the enclosure you make creates.
 

Dipa

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I feel a statement like this is quite misleading. This common feeling leads many to raise tortoises in conditions that not only visibly pyramid them, but simply puts the tortoise in conditions that often leads to serious health problems. Most tortoises raised in captivity in their native range are quite pyramided. It is the norm that we are dealing with health issues and tortoises lethargic and not feeding in posts from people that do live in the actual range of the star. Also, @Dipa lives in India, but not in the specific areas where stars are found. It is much drier - 20% humidity today.

As soon as you place a captive tortoise in an enclosure, you are also changing and limiting the micro climates the tortoise will normally find "in the wild". Even outside, a barren, open enclosure will become far drier than the weather station says it is. The ability to hide a protect itself from desiccation is vital. In the wild, they are under cover, buried, or pushed under plants. They cover themselves in mud soaking in puddles they find. They hide and do not come out and feed and grow during the drier times. In captivity we alter all of that. Inside, the climate of our home is very different than the weather station reports. In a city, the climate is going to be much different than in the country just a few miles away.

Living in a tortoise's natural range is a big help - especially with a good outdoor enclosure. But it is the micro climates you create for your tortoise that dictates how well it will do. You still must be careful of the temperatures, and humidity, the enclosure you make creates.
I know and thats why since a week i only read this forum
And tried to do what is best for cookie.
And still trying.
I will do that in proper way.
Dont worry
 

Warrick Go

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Thanks for the post.

I understand that some run smaller than others but is there a general length and weight bracket where a certain age of IST fall in?

Reason I'm asking is, I got 2 male IST's but I don't know their age. They are 4.1" and 4.5" SCL, 410 and 480grams.
 

Markw84

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Thanks for the post.

I understand that some run smaller than others but is there a general length and weight bracket where a certain age of IST fall in?

Reason I'm asking is, I got 2 male IST's but I don't know their age. They are 4.1" and 4.5" SCL, 410 and 480grams.
Indian Star Tortoises G. elegans, really do show a great variation in size throughout their natural range. The ones from the further north you go in India, often tend to be where you find some really large Indian Stars. On top of that, the way they are kept will tremendously effect growth rates. Now add that genetically some are just smaller than others from even the same clutch. Unfortunately, no good answer for you!

I have seen/heard of adult, mature males at 5" and 14"+. Females at 6" and 14"+
 

Warrick Go

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Indian Star Tortoises G. elegans, really do show a great variation in size throughout their natural range. The ones from the further north you go in India, often tend to be where you find some really large Indian Stars. On top of that, the way they are kept will tremendously effect growth rates. Now add that genetically some are just smaller than others from even the same clutch. Unfortunately, no good answer for you!

I have seen/heard of adult, mature males at 5" and 14"+. Females at 6" and 14"+
I thought so, thank you
One more question, how about SCL to weight ratios? Just a way to check if they're at a healthy weight for their size.....
 

Markw84

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I am quite a statistics guy. For me I started using a formula over 30 years ago that has proven a very good indicator to me. Straight length to weight alone does not give me what I want as it is so variable. With stars for example, males have a bigger length to width ratio than females. So I use a cubed volume to weight ratio. I simply measure with calipers to get a straight measurement in inches. I take length x width x height. I divide that into weight in grams. A healthy tortoise should fall in the 7.0 - 8.5 range. The less pyramided the more I want the 8.0 range.
 

enchilada

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Is there a big difference in setting up temperature/ humidity perimeters between Indian star and Burmese star hatchling ?
I live in Southern California, can I keep them outside in shaded area during the day ? Temperature is around 70-90F most of time .
 

Markw84

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Is there a big difference in setting up temperature/ humidity perimeters between Indian star and Burmese star hatchling ?
I live in Southern California, can I keep them outside in shaded area during the day ? Temperature is around 70-90F most of time .
I would treat Indian stars exactly the same as I do Burmese stars. Outdoors for a young tortoise, is too desiccating. When we create a small enclosure outside to keep our tortoise safe, it is a very different micro-climate we get in that enclosure, even in "humid" areas of the world. Baby tortoise spend at least 95% of their time buried in moist dirt / mud / leaf litter / deep in grass clumps. They are rarely seen in the wild. Their shells are protected from and minimally exposed to circulating air. When very young and actively growing, their shells are extremely prone to desiccation. The controlled environment of a closed chamber is so much easier to control and provide optimal conditions. Once a star reaches about 600g - 800g, their shells (and internal organs) are much better developed and able to mitigate less favorable climatic conditions through more body mass. Even then, I would ensure an outdoor enclosure includes plenty of plants and grasses for cover. I have sprinklers mist the enclosure every 2 hours or so to keep plants damp.
 

Markw84

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My female that laid some eggs got a 9. Is that ideal or should the number be lower?
A star with little pyramiding can often "score" a 9 - 9.5. Especially as they get a little older. A female laying eggs will score higher as well as she has the the eggs and she will hold extra water for the laying process as well.

Sorry I did not see this before. Please tag me when you have a question, so I get an alert.
 

Scotts_Radiated

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How much of the info you supply for your torts can I apply to my radiated tortoise. I have a 2yr old radiated in a 180 gal fish tank 72"x24"x24. I am concerned that he is not getting enough humidity and was going to introduce either a reptirain , reptifogger, or monsoon ( high-pressuer misting system) on one end of the tank, The top of the tank is not sealed but can be which is obviously one of my problems after reading this thread.
 

Stoneman

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How much of the info you supply for your torts can I apply to my radiated tortoise. I have a 2yr old radiated in a 180 gal fish tank 72"x24"x24. I am concerned that he is not getting enough humidity and was going to introduce either a reptirain , reptifogger, or monsoon ( high-pressuer misting system) on one end of the tank, The top of the tank is not sealed but can be which is obviously one of my problems after reading this thread.
That seems like a practical solution. But I think it might be a little extra work than necessary. You could just temporarily convert into a closed chamber. That would solve humidity loss problems, and retain temperature better.
 

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