Is anything wrong with my babies?

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Spider Woman

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I haven't had time to read every post since I am new. If I can describe my enclosure and questions I'd appreciate any responses or suggestions.

1. My babies are almost 2 1/2" long and 2" wide that I picked up at a herp show last Sat. Anyone care to guess how old they might be? The whole tank they were selling was approx the same size.

2. I have a 40 gallon tank. I bought some Spangom Peat Moss for substrate. I have Spangom Moss (the longer stringy kind) in their hides that I keep damp. A big water dish (shallow). A ceramic heat lamp that I leave on 24 hrs a day, and a basking light for daytime. Is this setup sufficient? Do I need to keep the ceramic lamp on during the day or just at night since I have the other light for a heat source?

3. I take them outside ALMOST every day, one day almost killed them, I couldn't stay outside with them so I put them in a plastic container and set them outside for 20 minutes. I didn't realize how hot they would get and when I checked on them they were bubbling at the mouth and had their mouths open trying to cool off or gasp for air? I was thinking to bring down their temp slowly but they were scaring me so I went ahead and put them in their plate of water that was cool. Finally they recoverd. I WILL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN! Would what happen cause any long term damage?

4. When I picked them up yesterday to take them out I noticed the underside of their shell was not completely hard. I could press on it and it would mush in some, not like mush just movable. Is that normal or am I keeping the dirt to moist in their cage? The top of the shells are fine.

5. Last for now....I have been feeding them just spring mix. (they don't seem to eat much at all outside in the way of grass or weeds) I have bought some Herptivite and Rep-Cal and sprinkled on there food but I don't think they liked the taste much because the food was still there this morning which is the first! One has an appetite that doesn't stop. Can you over feed them??

Sorry to make this so long, hope nobody minds. I just want to do everything I can to keep these little guys healthy.
 

dmmj

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First thing it is normal for them to be soft, they can often stay soft for months or years in the wiild , you only have to worry is when they are hard and then go soft, so as long as they are not softening then there should be no reason to worry. As for the age it is often near impossible to tell the age without the hatch date, but at your size I would imagine them to be around a year maybe 9 months, that is usually the average age at most shows.
 

Spider Woman

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Wow, are you serious. How small are they when they hatch? That is a normal time frame for someone to keep the hatchlings before they can sell them? Do they start eating on their own when they hatch out? Sorry, just curious. I have dogs/cats/snakes/tarantulas/horses/a macaw, but never a tortous. I love the little guys thou. Some people in the herp society got me hooked and I just had to have one (ended up with 2, ha ha). I guess it wouldn't hurt to get a book at the library. The info on the internet is so contradicting!
 

dmarcus

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I think your hatchlings are just a few months old and unfortunately they will quickly out grow that tank. When you see them in those tanks at the shows, they are usually only in there to be sold and it is easier for the people selling them to keep them all together. I have only ever used coco coir for my Sulcata's so I can't tell you if the moss is good or not.

Just remember if you have them outside to always make sure they have water and some shade to get away from the sun.

Hatchling will have softer bellies that will harden as they get older so unless it become extremely soft don't worry.

Your diet is fine and as they get older it will be easier to get them to eat different food.
 

Dizisdalife

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Welcome to the forum. You will find good, and sometimes contradicting, information here. Just keep coming back and most of your questions will be answered. I was in your position just 6 months ago. One of the best things that I did was to go and buy a temp gun. It has allowed me to fine tune my torts enclosure so that I know what the temps really are. Another thing I would suggest is to get a controller for the ceramic heating elements that you use. This, with a temp gun really helps keep the temps right where you want them to be. Not too hot and not too cool. The temp gun also lets you set the "basking spot" temp, usually by adjusting the height of the lamp above the substrate.
 
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Maggie Cummings

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Spiderwoman...You can get a good care sheet here...


http://africantortoise.com/


You won't find a current book in the library. We are more than willing to answer your questions and help you...
 

DesertGrandma

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Ditto to what Maggie said above. I was in your position awhile back and so understand that you can get conflicting information. If you don't know what type yours is please post a pic and we will be able to tell you. There is a lot of information and help on this forum, but you will also need to do some reading to understand what applies to your tortoises. I printed out the "care sheets" and still refer to them. Good luck!! Welcome to the forum.
 

Tom

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Hi Spider Woman. Where are you? This may influence the advice you get.

1. I'd guess them to be around a month old at that size. Most breeders want to move them out ASAP. They usually hatch between 32 and 35 grams. Get a kitchen scale at Walmart or Target and give us some weights.

2. Your set up sounds fine, but you need to know the temps. Only a thermometer can answer your questions. You need to know four of them. Warm side, cool side, basking spot and night. You can get a thermometer with a remote probe at any hardware store for $10-20 and an infrared temp gun can be found online for about $25. I like the PE1 (do a google search), but any of them will work.

3. That's a bad deal. There is no way to know, but yes that COULD do long term damage. Don't feel too bad about it. Its a mistake that almost everyone has made. Just give them daily soaks, a good varied diet and the best care possible. They will either make it or not. If they have good appetite and are growing steadily, that will be a good indicator that things are okay.

4. Plastron hardness is a very relative thing. It should feel sort of like plastic. Kind of similar to the package your spring mix comes in. As they grow and it gets thicker it will feel like stiffer and thicker plastic. This is just the best way I can think of to describe it. I hope it helps.

5. I would use more variety in the diet. Look for weeds that are safe and edible. Try some opuntia cactus or grape leaves. How about mulberry leaves? You can introduce new foods by chopping them up and mixing them in with favorites. There are also lots of other grocery store greens for some variety. A little pinch of the vitamins or calcium should not be turning them off. If it does, just feed them the calcium sprinkled greens every day until they don't care anymore. Hunger will eventually win out. If conditions are right, I just let babies eat as much as they want. If you have one with a big appetite and one without, I would separate them. You can buy a 40 gallon tub for about $15 at the hardware store and the rest of the supplies will be much cheaper there too. Pairs seldom work out as one almost always intimidates the other. I like to keep them single or in groups of three or more, personally.

Here is how I like to keep them:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread-How-To-Raise-Sulcata-Hatchlings-and-Babies#axzz1RAE2jZ3g
 

Yvonne G

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Most of the books that you buy would be old information. Just stick with us here on the forum. We won't steer you wrong.
 

Laura

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instead of a container placed out in the sun.. how about building them a safe, secure outdoor enclosure?
they really need it, and it can be done fairly easy. Cinder blocks or boards. At this age they dont need much room, but need protection form birds etc. but really need the sun..
 

Spider Woman

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I'll try to answer all the questions you have for me (from everyone at the same time)

I live in Oklahoma just east of Oklahoma City. It's been in the 100's just about all month, ug!

1. I do have the scales for my snakes so I just weighed one of the sulcata's and he/she was 50g. Does that help narrow down an age?

2. I do have a heat gun and without the ceramic bulb in the day its low 70's one side where the hide with the damp spangum moss is, 80's inbetween and high 90's in the basking spot. Is that ok? and then the ceramic lamp keeps it in the low 80's at night. I have a stand that can be lowered if I need to raise it a few degrees. Just let me know.

3. I do need a little pool set up that I saw on the forum for when I can't stay outside with them. Everytime I take them out (except for the time I about killed them)I stay out with them, I let them roam around everywhere. They have plenty of grass and weeds that they aren't intersted in but they roam everywhere and get very good excersise. When they start heading to the woods or out of sight I go get them and let them start over again. They get plenty of excersise for sure. I do have a question about the direct sunlight vs it just being light outside but where the sun is not directly overhead. I take them out in the early evening when I can stand the heat myself. Do they get any benificiary light if the sun isn't directly hitting them? or any at all in the shade?

4. Yes their underside is like a thicker plastic. Not mushy just moveable.

5. I am afraid to get them much more than the sring mix from reading your article Tom. You said no spinach or iceburg lettuce. What about the romaine mix? Some of it has a little bit of carrots. Should I pick them out or let them have a few bites? We have those wild "grape vines" growing out here that does not produce the fruit and the cactus that is kinda flat and ear shaped with the spikes, will that be ok if I scrape off the spikes? Oh and Tom since I got them on the Spangum Peat Moss they will pull their food off the feeding dish and get some dirt on it when they eat. Do I need to do something different?

Is there a link to what foods are toxic? or a longer list of what they can have?

Thanks to everyone
Robin
Spider Woman is my name on the herp website so I thought I would keep it the same. If you can remember just call me Robin!





OH, by the way, what is Coco Coir? I have not seen the term Coir on anything I look at. Is that the same as the shredded coconut bedding?

maggie3fan said:
Spiderwoman...You can get a good care sheet here...


http://africantortoise.com/


You won't find a current book in the library. We are more than willing to answer your questions and help you...

Thanks, this looks like it has some good info.
 

wrmitchell22

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Hi, welcome to TFO, my 4 month old Sulcata is 3 inches, so I am not sure why they would think older than 6 months, but I am no expert. I will just let you know what I have learned on here. Definately read the care sheet, it is very helpful and don't be afraid to ask questions. I feed Boulder 2x a day, he gets Mazuri, Grassland Tortoise food, red leaf or green leaf, pansies or agave, cactus or some weeds. I try to vary what I buy in the produce section each week so that he gets a variety of nutrients and doesn't get a taste for just one thing. I have heard mixed reviews on spring mix, but I guess there is a santa barbara mix (fernando is that what it's called?) that has less spinach, haven't found it in AZ yet. I soak Boulder every other day and spray his enclosure with him in it 2 x a day until all is soaked. His hot side is 110 - 98 and his cool side is 77-83. I try to keep the humidity up, but in AZ it is very difficult. I think your 40 gallon tank should help keep the hunidity and heat in. Try to block the bottom of it so they don't do a lot of rubbing while trying to walk through the glass. And lastly, whenever you put them in the sun provide shady areas for them to escape the heat and a water dish they can climb in and out of. Hopefully I did alright with the info, sorry I was so long winded :) good luck and again Welcome to TFO!
 

Spider Woman

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Thanks! I really do always go out with them and let them run around for 20-30 min. and put them back in their tank and feed them, they just don't eat the grass or weeds outside. That was just the first and only time they have been out by themself and without shade.

What is this "Mazuri"? Is it a mix of salad? I can't find it at walmart. The spring mix has no spinach in it and right now they really don't eat the weeds. I have read not to feed them any kind of store bought tortoise food. Is that a true statement? I'm betting that it depends on the state we live in as to what kind of salad mix is in the stores. Never heard of a Santa Barabara mix, could be that I don't do veggies, fruit, salad or anything else healthy myself. Maybe I should try somewhere else than wal-mart for a variety.
 

Dizisdalife

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Santa Barbara Mix is a combination of endive, radicchio, and escarole. I find it in the locale grocery. I also buy endive separately. Cheaper than the pre-mixed bags. Mazuri is a grassland tortoise food produced by one of the pet food manufacturers. I buy it at the locale feed store, but it is also sold on-line and at some pet stores.
 

Cameron

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Robin, glad you made it over here. Great info and great people with lots of experience, like I told you. Mazuri is a manufactured tortoise food, I can get you some if you want to try it. I might be able to make the herp meeting this week and can bring you some if you want to try it.
 

Spider Woman

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So is most people ok with feeding tortoise food from pet stores (of course mixed with the other stuff)? Because one site said "NO, absolutely no tortoise food" not in those exact words but pretty darn close!

Tom, I think I answered some of your questions, If I could get your 1-5 input. That would be great.

And anyone else.

Thanks to all of you for helping! I think I will keep the 2 little ones together unless I start to see any signs of agression, then I will seperate them or rehome one, the guy I bought them from said sometimes when they grow up together they are ok, we shall see :)

Apparently I've got a lot of checking up to do on the diff. types of foods out there! It's funny because they both refuse to eat the red leaf lettuce. go figure.
 

Tom

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1. At that weight, if all is normal, they would usually be between one and three months old. If they have been fed lightly or not well hydrated, they might be older. The growth rates can vary a lot for a wide variety of factors.

2. Your temps sound okay, but let your tortoises be your guide. If they are always under the basking spot and rarely go anywhere else, it may be too cool. If they always stay down at the cool end and rarely bask, it may be too hot. They should move all around the enclosure and bask occasionally.

3. You don't have to use a kiddie pool. Its just one option. Like Laura suggested, bricks or boards work well too, just make sure they can escape the intense heat and sun. I like to make underground shelters for them to get out of the heat. This can be as simple as cutting a five gallon bucket in half and covering it with lots of dirt. They do get SOME UV from refraction, even in the shade, but direct sunlight will give them more. On 100 degree days this is best accomplished in the early morning or late afternoon when it starts to cool off. Just make sure they always have shade available and a cool retreat if possible. On hot summer days I like to have lots of shade available. Sometimes my adults just walk around in the heat, but my babies usually hunt for shade once the temps start climbing into the high 90's. I also frequently sprinkle the babies and their whole enclosure on hot days. It is much safer to pick a spot in the yard and build them a proper enclosure. I also like to ID all the weeds in my enclosures, just to be safe.

4. So hard to tell over the internet, but they sound okay to me.

5. There are a whole bunch of things listed on the care sheet. For grocery store stuff here are a few: Endive, escarole, kale, collard mustard and turnip greens, carrot tops, cilantro, parsley, red and green leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, watercress, bok choy, swiss chard and red chard. There are more, but variety is key. I buy my Santa Barbara mix at Smart and Final and my Spring mix at Costco. The cactus pads will be difficult to deal with if they are of the "spiny" variety. You can buy the spineless type at many ethnic grocery stores or order the pads online here on the forum. Mazuri is a pelleted diet that was formulated for tortoises. Many of us like it. I think its a good way to balance out any slight nutritional deficiencies that you might have. I feed it around twice a week.

Coco coir is also marketed as "Bed-a-Beast" and ... oh, I can't remember the name of the other one. Somebody help me out... It comes in a brick and when you wet it it expands.

I feed mine on upside down butter tub lids and that helps keep the food where I want it. Terra cotta plant saucers work well too. If they eat a little bit of substrate with the food once in a while, it shouldn't hurt anything.

Another key element, in my opinion is hydration. It hasn't been mentioned much here, but I like to soak mine every day. Usually after a sunning session. I feel that this is a critical element to maintain good health.
 

Spider Woman

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Cameron said:
Robin, glad you made it over here. Great info and great people with lots of experience, like I told you. Mazuri is a manufactured tortoise food, I can get you some if you want to try it. I might be able to make the herp meeting this week and can bring you some if you want to try it.

That would be wonderful Cameron. Nice to have someone I know over here on this forum. Don't feel like such a stranger. Everyone has been very nice. Can I bring the little guys to the herp meeting?
 

Cameron

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yeah bring them, hopefully i will be able to make it. depends on if my wife has class that night or not. i would love to see those little fellas!
 

Spider Woman

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Thanks Tom, you've been a big help. I do find them all over the tank so I think Im good on the temp. I will tell you, one scared me half to death, I thought he was dead, his little head, and limbs were all out of his shell laying limp on the substrate like he just passed away. I was all prepared to bury him and picked him up and low and behold the little turkey popped up and looked at me like "what in the world did you bother me for"! I said "you little sh__" and was very releaved. He's my favorite. Soooo anyway I have learn that they have gotten used to their new home and is just chillen and basking. If I'm wrong feel free to pipe in.

Couple things Tom to your reply, The pool sounds like a cheap and quick fix until I can get them something built. When I take them out it is usually around 7:00pm and the sun has started going down but still has direct rays and it's cooled off in the 90's by then, they are truckin around in and out of the shade. When you talk about soaking them I have a Plate like thing (really a painted saucer for the bottom of a pot) in the tank that they walk through all the time that I will bring them in and put them in but usually they just climb right out. With me keeping the moist spangum moss in their hide and them walking in the water all the time is that sufficient or do I need to put them in a bucket that they can't get out of? and for how long? I know they are going in and out of the water because I change it everyday and by the time I get home from work its filled with substrate, sometime so much there's no water left, just mud. I do mist once a day. I really don't have time to do anything in the mornings before work.

The brick your refering to I get from Alligator Alley and use it for my Tarantula's. It is shredded coconut. But there is differnt bricks out there like more of a bark and one that is moss. not sure which one your referring to. Would that be better than on top so when I mist it, it doesn't stick to their leggs like the peat moss?

Sorry again for all the ques. I think I might be getting to the end here pretty quick LOL
 
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