Is this normal? A new Russian owner needs a Tort Whisperer

adapa

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i got Oosy as a re-home so i don't know her age or anything about her previous life. She was eating well and seemed to be adjusting well to SoCal. I also have two Bearded Dragons, a decent reptile shop & boarding for when i go out of town for more then a night. She is a large Russian.

As a new tort owner, i am unsure of what she, Oosy is trying to tell me. I need a Tort whisperer.

Oosy was eating well, enjoying the outdoors but would always find a corner to hide in. I have an indoor box for her but let her wander in my condo & in my fenced in bac yard. When she looked like she wanted to chill I'd put her in the box inside with a hide and a heat lamp. It gets a little chilly here in the winter at night. But i always got the feeling she wanted to hibernate. My Beardies were bromating so i kind of expected it. She never really crashed out for a long time tho, she'd always scratch the box to get out.

I had to go away for a week & brought the whole crew to the guy I trust. He has a shed specifically for boarding reptiles. Oosy was in a small box (for her), at least 90 F /32 C and ate well according to the owner. I've kept my beardie, Bud with this person for months and he always comes back spoiled & fat.

When i got Oosy home she wandered around a little but always hid, hardly ate, didn't like the warm sun in my back 'yard'. There isn't a place for her to dig in the ground. She found a pile of clothing in my bedroom, crawled under it & hasn't moved for about 2 and a half weeks.

is this normal? if so When can i expect her to wake up? I'm trying to get her setup outside despite not having any ground for her to dig in. I'm ok with her being in that pile of clothes for as long as she wants, i just want to make sure she has what she needs. I'm not adverse to getting her into a better home, if she's not happy. I just can't read her yet to know what she wants.
 

wellington

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What isnt normal is that you dont have a permanent indoor and outdoor proper enclosure. She should not be allowed to roam your house, very dangerous.
She needs a proper basking spot of 95-100 in a proper enclosure with proper heat, a proper water dish and hide with proper substrate. Read the caresheet on this forum and make all the needed and important changes asap.
 

adapa

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What isnt normal is that you dont have a permanent indoor and outdoor proper enclosure. She should not be allowed to roam your house, very dangerous.
She needs a proper basking spot of 95-100 in a proper enclosure with proper heat, a proper water dish and hide with proper substrate. Read the caresheet on this forum and make all the needed and important changes asap.
I'm hearing you say i need to re-home her. Is that correct? I have about 100 sq foot outside on concrete and pavers. She does have a proper basking spot & uv lites in her indoor enclosure. Outside is usually sunny & warm during the day.
 

TheTattooedTortoise

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I'm hearing you say i need to re-home her. Is that correct? I have about 100 sq foot outside on concrete and pavers. She does have a proper basking spot & uv lites in her indoor enclosure. Outside is usually sunny & warm during the day.
I don't think concrete and pavers is going to do her any good at all... you'd be far better off knocking together a 15 sq ft, tall sided 'raised flower bed' type deal, fill it in with organic/safe soil, rocks, grasses/plants/bushes to hide under, turned over garden pots for shady hide spots etc. Water dish, food source, job done.
Give her plenty of depth to dig into (the concrete underneath will stop her escaping) and id imagine she will be a whole bunch happier and healthier for it.
As above mentioned, a free roaming house tortoise is not a happy or safe tortoise.
 

wellington

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I'm hearing you say i need to re-home her. Is that correct? I have about 100 sq foot outside on concrete and pavers. She does have a proper basking spot & uv lites in her indoor enclosure. Outside is usually sunny & warm during the day.
Omg no, you dont need to rehome her. Just do not let her roam your house. So many get sick or die from roaming a house. The outside area is not ideal but better then no outside area.
Also that your basking spot is not hot enough. 95-100F. I believe is around 38 celcius?
I may have mistook the indoor box, as just that, a box and not a proper enclosure?
 

adapa

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And as I've said, she is new to me, & I was working on getting her an outdoor space but now i guess, i should re-home her.
I've requested that this thread be deleted since folks seem to be telling me to build a space or turn a lite on & not answering my question about hibernation.
 

wellington

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Wow, I guess you just don't want to understand what people are telling you. Don't see where anyone told you to rehome her.
If that's what you want to do then do it. Or you could take the advice we are trying to help you with and make a better life for the tort.
Like I ask already, re-read your thread and understand we only have your words to go on. A box is not an enclosure!
 

TheTattooedTortoise

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And as I've said, she is new to me, & I was working on getting her an outdoor space but now i guess, i should re-home her.
I've requested that this thread be deleted since folks seem to be telling me to build a space or turn a lite on & not answering my question about hibernation.
Dude I think your being a touch dramatic, nobody is telling you to rehome her... just make the correct adjustments.
If it's too cool and uncontrolled then your tort is going to try to hibernate because that's what it's body is telling it to do.
Captive hibernation is super controlled. Not just 'let em hide under the washing pile'.
I'm literally a brand new tort owner and even I've done enough research to understand the basic needs and requirements of tortoise husbandry. You sound like you have potentially fantastic space.. just tweak some stuff, get set up properly.
 

TeamZissou

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Your tortoise needs specific temps to run its immune system, digest food, and generally be active. It needs an ambient temp of 80 F during the day and a basking spot that's about 95 F. These conditions can't be found on the floor of your house. He's hunkering down hoping that conditions improve soon. It won't be long before he has a respiratory infection due to the low temperatures. He may also eat something on your floor that he shouldn't.

An adult Russian needs a minimum enclosure size of 4x8 feet with proper temps and lighting. Here's a care sheet that explains everything. Though the title is "the best way to raise..." all the care recommendations are the same for adult tortoises.

 

adapa

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Omg no, you dont need to rehome her. Just do not let her roam your house. So many get sick or die from roaming a house. The outside area is not ideal but better then no outside area.
Also that your basking spot is not hot enough. 95-100F. I believe is around 38 celcius?
I may have mistook the indoor box, as just that, a box and not a proper enclosure?
yes, it's a proper basking spot & tort home with water, substrate & a dark area for sleeping. but it is just a tort box & she scratches & wants to get out so i let her roam about for a bit during the day while i'm home. Mostly outdoor in my tiny, secure back yard which i am in the process of changing up to accommodate her. According to all the papers i've read, she needs space to wander & my place is a tiny condo.

but back to my actual question, Oosy had been crashed out in a pile of clothes for about 20 days. how can i tell if this is normal hibernation? if so how do i tell if she's waking up? She's had a rough 4 months with the rehoming & I want to make her comfortable. my guess is she feels comfortable enough now to sleep but i am not familiar with tort's at all
 

wellington

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This time of year, no, I would not consider it normal hibernation.
I would pull her out and put her in a nice warm water soak for 20-30 minutes keeping the water warm and then put her in one of her enclosures.
Her enclosure should be a minimum of a 4x8 foot. I understand you live in a small place. Lots of people in small spaces build a second level with a ramp to give more room.
If you can, post pics of the enclosure and we can give ideas of how to add more space.
 

adapa

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Your tortoise needs specific temps to run its immune system, digest food, and generally be active. It needs an ambient temp of 80 F during the day and a basking spot that's about 95 F. These conditions can't be found on the floor of your house. He's hunkering down hoping that conditions improve soon. It won't be long before he has a respiratory infection due to the low temperatures. He may also eat something on your floor that he shouldn't.

An adult Russian needs a minimum enclosure size of 4x8 feet with proper temps and lighting. Here's a care sheet that explains everything. Though the title is "the best way to raise..." all the care recommendations are the same for adult tortoises.

Thank you for the link, that is very informative.

so I should wake her up & put her back into her box (indoor tort box with water, proper lights and a hide) under the heat lamp? I live in San Diego so thought the outdoor sun would be good for her & she would like it but she seems to avoid the heat lamp and sunshine.

The ambient temp is about 80 F during the day & 70 at night, i've got lizards too so keep the place warm. they all have heat lamps & uv lights.
 

adapa

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This time of year, no, I would not consider it normal hibernation.
I would pull her out and put her in a nice warm water soak for 20-30 minutes keeping the water warm and then put her in one of her enclosures.
Her enclosure should be a minimum of a 4x8 foot. I understand you live in a small place. Lots of people in small spaces build a second level with a ramp to give more room.
If you can, post pics of the enclosure and we can give ideas of how to add more space.
It is my intention to construct the out door 'back yard so that she can have free roam but it's a multi layer project that is dependent on the steps being taken in order. Oosy's current box is 3x4 and not large enough for long term. One of the designs i'm looking at raised house with a ramp outside space with a raised bed for weeds and digging.

Thank you very much for the warm soak suggestion, that will be done asap.
 

wellington

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Thank you for the link, that is very informative.

so I should wake her up & put her back into her box (indoor tort box with water, proper lights and a hide) under the heat lamp? I live in San Diego so thought the outdoor sun would be good for her & she would like it but she seems to avoid the heat lamp and sunshine.

The ambient temp is about 80 F during the day & 70 at night, i've got lizards too so keep the place warm. they all have heat lamps & uv lights.
You can still put her outside if its warm enough. I'm not in CA and here in Chicago, one day our temps are great for spring and warm enough for torts. Our nights are still down in the 40's and then the next day might only be 40's or 50's.
So day by day here yet. But you can put her outside too.
 

wellington

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It is my intention to construct the out door 'back yard so that she can have free roam but it's a multi layer project that is dependent on the steps being taken in order. Oosy's current box is 3x4 and not large enough for long term. One of the designs i'm looking at raised house with a ramp outside space with a raised bed for weeds and digging.

Thank you very much for the warm soak suggestion, that will be done asap.
Totally understand the step process. A lot of us have had to do the same thing. Bad thing is, it can get addictive and we can't stop changing it up and making it better. It's fun to do though.
Also, if you are positive it's a female, be sure to give an area of deep substrate for digging nests. Even if she was never with a male, she can still lay eggs. My female leopards dug about 12 inches down. I would guess a Russian 6 to 8 inches. I only have a Male russian so it's only a guess.
 

TeamZissou

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Thank you for the link, that is very informative.

so I should wake her up & put her back into her box (indoor tort box with water, proper lights and a hide) under the heat lamp? I live in San Diego so thought the outdoor sun would be good for her & she would like it but she seems to avoid the heat lamp and sunshine.

The ambient temp is about 80 F during the day & 70 at night, i've got lizards too so keep the place warm. they all have heat lamps & uv lights.

Yes without a doubt remove her from the clothes pile. Do a soak for 30 minutes after that before returning her to her box. Look for any signs of nasal discharge as well.

What lights are you using for heat and UV? Tortoises and lizards need different style UV bulbs. Anything that screws into a socket is not good for tortoises and cause burns to the eyes.
 

jsheffield

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Your request for advice is a bit confusing because it feels like you're being a bit defensive and not fully forthcoming... if she's got a proper inside enclosure, how has she been sleeping in a pile of your laundry for twenty days... people asking for clarification don't mean you need to rehome the tort or close the thread.

People here on TFO only want to help you and your tortoise, but you have to be open about the conditions you're keeping the tortoise and receptive to the help being offered.

If you read that guide to keeping your tort, follow the advice insofar as you can, and keep asking questions, your tort will be happy and healthy for years to come.

Jamie
 

adapa

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You can still put her outside if its warm enough. I'm not in CA and here in Chicago, one day our temps are great for spring and warm enough for torts. Our nights are still down in the 40's and then the next day might only be 40's or 50's.
So day by day here yet. But you can put her outside too.
I just soaked her for 20 min's in 90 degree water, made sure her hide in the tort box is humid(not dusty), put water in her dish & put her under the heat lamp.
she spent about a min under the lite & went into the hide and dug herself a hole is napping. The ambient temp is about 78F
I just have a feeling she's trying to tell me something that i don't understand.

I am not sure she's a female but trust the organization i got her from to be accurate. They specialize in re-homing.
 

wellington

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What kind of bulbs are you using? The Coil type causes eye problems and the halogens are too harsh. Any of those might make her not want to be out with them?
Also some older torts take a while to get adjusted to their new home. Lots of them the first day or so will act normal checking everything out, then they do what yours is doing. She may just need more time to adjust to her new surroundings. Best thing for that is to make sure all temps, etc is correct then carry on with giving daily fresh food and water and don't mess with her too much. Try to set a routine with same time feedings, lights out, on, etc and when you take her outside. This helps with them getting used to what's going to happen at those times.
 

adapa

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Yes without a doubt remove her from the clothes pile. Do a soak for 30 minutes after that before returning her to her box. Look for any signs of nasal discharge as well.

What lights are you using for heat and UV? Tortoises and lizards need different style UV bulbs. Anything that screws into a socket is not good for tortoises and cause burns to the eyes.
I've been using zoo med heat bulbs that screw in. I get them at the local reptile store which has a decent reputation. Is there a better heat bulb/uv set up? I just did a google search for Tort bulbs but only saw the zooMed screw in heat lights.

There isn't any nasal discharge and Oosy was actively trying to get out of the water, In retropect she probably would like the tub better then the kitchen sink.
I took her activity as a good sign. She seems normal aside from the fact that she went back into her hide soon after i put her back into her box & is back asleep. Maybe I need to put stealth heat into her hide, like under floor heat/ceramic heat bulbs?
 
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