I’m buying a Russian turtle want to make sure he’s healthy

Ambeezy16

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May 12, 2021
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2
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Phoenix, AZ
Hello! I am a mom to a 7 year old reptile obsessed son. I have done ALOT of research and have decided to get him a Russian tortoise. I went to a couple local reptile shops and found one that was perfect. I paid for him and put him on hold. I haven’t picked him up yet because I need to get his enclosure ready. But I am worried because the more I look at the picture I took of him I see a black spot in his neck and his shell looks like it’s got something black on it. I just want to make sure we have a happy and healthy turtle. He was very active and alert. Should I be concerned about these spots?
 

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method89

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Tortoise is not the same as a turtle.


It looks like dirt but I think you should get better pics of the neck area
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Hello! I am a mom to a 7 year old reptile obsessed son. I have done ALOT of research and have decided to get him a Russian tortoise. I went to a couple local reptile shops and found one that was perfect. I paid for him and put him on hold. I haven’t picked him up yet because I need to get his enclosure ready. But I am worried because the more I look at the picture I took of him I see a black spot in his neck and his shell looks like it’s got something black on it. I just want to make sure we have a happy and healthy turtle. He was very active and alert. Should I be concerned about these spots?
That one is not perfect. It is a wild caught import. Its likely full of diseases and parasites. Most of them don't survive for very long. Also, pet shops tend to give terrible advice and sell you all the wrong products.

I know this will bum you out when you initially read it, but think of all the heart break, trouble and expense I just saved you from by telling you BEFORE you made the same mistakes that we all make before we know better.

Buy a captive bred baby from a good breeder. Don't buy from the first online site that pops up. Individual breeders take proper care of their animals. They start babies correctly and well hydrated. Most of them will give you good care advice, steer you away from pet shops, and direct you to the hardware store for most of your housing and supplies.

Here is the current and correct care info:

There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. Light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In the UK, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12%. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html
Questions and conversation are welcome! I'm glad you found us and glad you asked BEFORE you brought home a big mistake.
 

Ambeezy16

New Member
Joined
May 12, 2021
Messages
2
Location (City and/or State)
Phoenix, AZ
That one is not perfect. It is a wild caught import. Its likely full of diseases and parasites. Most of them don't survive for very long. Also, pet shops tend to give terrible advice and sell you all the wrong products.

I know this will bum you out when you initially read it, but think of all the heart break, trouble and expense I just saved you from by telling you BEFORE you made the same mistakes that we all make before we know better.

Buy a captive bred baby from a good breeder. Don't buy from the first online site that pops up. Individual breeders take proper care of their animals. They start babies correctly and well hydrated. Most of them will give you good care advice, steer you away from pet shops, and direct you to the hardware store for most of your housing and supplies.

Here is the current and correct care info:

There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. Light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In the UK, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12%. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html
Questions and conversation are welcome! I'm glad you found us and glad you asked BEFORE you brought home a big
That one is not perfect. It is a wild caught import. Its likely full of diseases and parasites. Most of them don't survive for very long. Also, pet shops tend to give terrible advice and sell you all the wrong products.

I know this will bum you out when you initially read it, but think of all the heart break, trouble and expense I just saved you from by telling you BEFORE you made the same mistakes that we all make before we know better.

Buy a captive bred baby from a good breeder. Don't buy from the first online site that pops up. Individual breeders take proper care of their animals. They start babies correctly and well hydrated. Most of them will give you good care advice, steer you away from pet shops, and direct you to the hardware store for most of your housing and supplies.

Here is the current and correct care info:

There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. Light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In the UK, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12%. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html
Questions and conversation are welcome! I'm glad you found us and glad you asked BEFORE you brought home a big mistake.
I can not say thank you enough. But THANK YOU!! I ended up getting a refund (I feel horrible that I did not buy him but don’t want to add to the problem either.) I joined an Arizona tortoise group on Facebook and asked if anyone knew of any reputable breeders or captive breed adoption agencies and was put in contact with one. I feel a lot better about this decision and your knowledge has helped me so much. I am currently in the process of setting up a house for this little guy and am having problems with finding what substrate to use. I’ve read all kinds of things saying the eco earth and sand are not good for Russian torts. But I have seen people use half play sand and half potting soil but then others use pellets? Do you have any insight on what is best?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,106
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I can not say thank you enough. But THANK YOU!! I ended up getting a refund (I feel horrible that I did not buy him but don’t want to add to the problem either.) I joined an Arizona tortoise group on Facebook and asked if anyone knew of any reputable breeders or captive breed adoption agencies and was put in contact with one. I feel a lot better about this decision and your knowledge has helped me so much. I am currently in the process of setting up a house for this little guy and am having problems with finding what substrate to use. I’ve read all kinds of things saying the eco earth and sand are not good for Russian torts. But I have seen people use half play sand and half potting soil but then others use pellets? Do you have any insight on what is best?
Orchid bark works best for adult Russians in indoor housing. Outside, you can just use whatever ground is there. The main thing outside will be to have an underground shelter for the scorching hot summer days, and deciding what you want to do about hibernation.

Have you considered other species? There are lots of good ones.
 

TaylorTortoise

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2020
Messages
791
Location (City and/or State)
Abington
That tortoise is adorable. However, the pet store tortoises are definitely not the best option compared to breeders. (From my own experience owning a pet store tortoise) I love my guy and I was very fortunate to have a healthy happy tortoise, but most of them likely are ill, or carry many parasites/diseases. I KNEW when I saw my guy, that he was the one and I was saving him from being in the situation he was in.

I had visited many pet stores, before deciding that my guy was the one. I noticed which tortoises had watery stools, which looked dehydrated, or their eye and shell health did not look the best. I also trusted and went with my gut when picking out my guy. I knew he was alright. And will thrive with me!

You're making the best decision for being on here. I wish I knew about this forum before buying a pet store tortoise, But I'm also glad I was introduced to my Tank. My second tortoise will be hatching next month and from a desirable breeder. So I am making the right choices for my tortoise and myself health wise, and long term for my new hatching.
 
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