Inherited Horsfields

wanderlust

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I inherited two 5-6 year old male Horsfields about a month ago from an elderly lady who purchased them as babies from PetSmart. At least towards the end of her life, they were not taken care of properly. They were both kept in a single pad heated, 10 gallon tank, half filled with timothy hay and covered with a blanket to keep them in the dark except every third day which was feeding day. On feeding day, they were moved to a 40 gallon terrarium with two heat bulbs, a towel on the bottom, and 2 rocks for them to eat off of. They were each given 2 peas, 2 carrots, 2 pieces of corn, and 2 green beans. I don't think they got water except for an occasional bath. This lady was very much involved in tortoise society and I can't imagine that this is how they always lived. My guess is that it was just her last year or less as her mental state and health rapidly declined. I would think that they would exhibit much more pyramiding if they had been kept like this long term?

This brings us to their time under my care.

I'm really enjoying these little guys! Before, while she was seeking medical treatment, they were not active at all. They barely moved and it was a pain to get them to eat. Now they are on the move a lot and eating like little lawnmowers. Like the Sulcata I spoke of in another thread, they are spending their days outside. Most days have been in the 80's and 90's though we did have one day last week where it got to 100+ in the center of the valley but we are on a bench. They dig down into the tall cool grass and clover and dirt and hang out under their clay pots during the hottest hours (I'm in northern UT in a valley on the ID border so it's not quite as hot and dry as the SLC side of the mountains) and spend the mornings and evenings wandering and munching in their 4 x 8 enclosures. At night they have been coming inside to a 40 g terrarium (both have been in the same terrarium since they dig in and go right to sleep) with Mountain West brand topsoil and Reptibark mixed substrate. I need to find a local source for cheaper orchid bark. Both my local Lowes and Home Depot do not have it in stock according to their websites. Reading through the RT care sheet, it sounds like while this was not a good substrate choice for my sulcata, it does work well for my RTs? They have access to a clay flower pot dish for water throughout the day and access to all the weeds and grasses they want as we've been moving their enclosures around the yard. They are also getting a soak in the tub a few times a week. As soon as I brought them home their received beak and nail trims.

Currently, at approximately 5 years old, their sizes are 11.92 oz and 3.75" and the other is 13.33 oz and 4". I think their scutes look decent but I'd love some feedback. One does have some shell deformities (shell has indents along the spine) and what looks like it might be an extra scute? Does like look like deformity at birth or nutritional/environmental? Is this size small for 5 years and size-wise would they be considered sub-adults?

I'm really looking forward to your insight, Tom. I'm adding additional posts to make it obvious which images belong to which RT.

Please forgive my pictures of them together. I now know they should not be kept together.

IMG_8568.jpg
61395961036__A9455BAF-6CAD-4EF4-8C17-2FC10EFD938A.JPG
 
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Tom

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Petsmart doesn't sell babies, and they don't sell or receive any that are under 4 inches. I suspect the lady got them somewhere else.

I wouldn't use soil for any tortoise enclosure. Its made from composted yard waste and there is no way to know if its safe or not.

The big box stores really don't sell orchid bark. You find it in bulk at local garden centers. Its also called fir bark.

Its amazing that they survived the routine you described above. They are lucky to be in better and now.

Be careful with the hot weather. They need heavy shade, and its best if they can get under ground too. I like to dig out little retreats for them, then cover the hole with a board and then pile dirt on top of all that. Underground is much cooler than topside if done correctly. I'll usually put them in it a few times to show it to them.

They both look like the typical wild caught Russians from Petsmart. They've got the normal wear and tear. The beaks are a little over grown, but that might sort itself out with some time.
 

wanderlust

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This is what they looked like and how small of a tank they were in when we first brought them home after their owner passed away. IMG_7668.jpg IMG_7665.jpg IMG_7664.jpg IMG_7662.jpg
 

wanderlust

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The only reason I know she got them from PetSmart is that her friend of 30 years and caregiver for a good chunk of those (our mutual connection) was with her when she purchased/insisted on rescuing them. Sadly, I saw very small testudos in our local PetSmart the other day. This lady lived in east-central Nevada so even hotter and drier than where they are now.
 

Pistachio's Pamperer

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@Tom
Smaller one with the irregularities definitely looks male from the tail.
But does the larger one look like it could be female to you? I can’t zoom in enough from my mobile to see.
Asking since there is size difference and maybe purchased as a “pair”?
-Meg
 

Sarah2020

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Glad you have provided them with a vastly improved home, now they can live a tortoise life!
 

wanderlust

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@Tom
Smaller one with the irregularities definitely looks male from the tail.
But does the larger one look like it could be female to you? I can’t zoom in enough from my mobile to see.
Asking since there is size difference and maybe purchased as a “pair”?
-Meg

I'm certain they are both males. They have very long tails.
 

wanderlust

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@Tom

I have a couple questions.

Do their scutes look ok? I would think they'd look much worse off if they had been kept in such conditions for the past 5 yrs.

This is the reason that I thought dirt was ok for them but I see that this fact sheet is from 2013 so it's probably outdated.

https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/

Is there a more updated fact sheet I can review?

I'd also love tho see your images that are no longer available on that page.
 

Pistachio's Pamperer

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@wanderlust
I have been a long time lurker and did a lot of reading before I joined the site. I read through tons of the old posts and took notes. Then finally broke down and took in a Russian that needed me.
This exchange between myself and a new member at the time might help you find some answers.

And as @Tom always says, questions are always welcome.
-Meg
 

Tom

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@Tom

I have a couple questions.

Do their scutes look ok? I would think they'd look much worse off if they had been kept in such conditions for the past 5 yrs.

This is the reason that I thought dirt was ok for them but I see that this fact sheet is from 2013 so it's probably outdated.

https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/

Is there a more updated fact sheet I can review?

I'd also love tho see your images that are no longer available on that page.
Their scutes look normal. Scute anomalies happen during early growth. These tortoises were already grown when the other lady got them. Those poor housing and feeding conditions would not have changed the growth that was already there.

Dirt is okay if it is of the right composition. Bought-in-a-bag soil is what is not safe.

Those old pics are gone. I've learned a thing or two over the last 7 years. Here is the updated care sheet:
 

wanderlust

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@wanderlust
I have been a long time lurker and did a lot of reading before I joined the site. I read through tons of the old posts and took notes. Then finally broke down and took in a Russian that needed me.
This exchange between myself and a new member at the time might help you find some answers.

And as @Tom always says, questions are always welcome.
-Meg

Thank you for sharing the link! I will be sure to read it.
 

wanderlust

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Their scutes look normal. Scute anomalies happen during early growth. These tortoises were already grown when the other lady got them. Those poor housing and feeding conditions would not have changed the growth that was already there.

She had these tortoises for 5-6 years. If they were purchased at PetSmart 5-6 years ago, does that mean they are older than that?
 

Pistachio's Pamperer

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Wanderlust.. more than likely.... pet stores typically get the adult wild caught ones which are typically full grown. I would only be guessing but I would say 5-10 years old when caught and then add time they were with the lady. So 11-16 years old probably. Possibly more.
Will see if anyone else has any ideas. As I still consider myself somewhat a novice in this.
My vet can only guess-itmate that my Pistachio is about 10 and I will have had him only a year in a couple of months.
-Meg
 

Tom

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She had these tortoises for 5-6 years. If they were purchased at PetSmart 5-6 years ago, does that mean they are older than that?
Yes. They were adults when she got them. They are most likely 10-15 years old now. Maybe more. No way to tell.
 
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