Just got three Russian(?) tortoises. (Picture and text heavy)

FishFanatic

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Hey there folks! You can call me Zim; i've been a long(ish) time reader of the forums; but never have posted. I've wanted tortoises for a few years; but have been putting it off because although I've spent the last few years learning about them online/through books/videos/ect, in my mind i was never quite ready. (I never even saw a tort outside of a petshop until tonight, let alone cared for one...)

But; i ended up getting these three from a family member. They were apparently rescues that her daughter got, brought with her when she moved back into her moms house, then left there when she moved out again to collage. So; please do not blame me for how they look. I've had them a total of seven or eight hours (depending on how long it takes for me to finish typing!).

The family member i got them from didn't feed them pelleted food; but instead plants like:
Kale, dandelions, carrot tops, spring mix, 'Wild green mix' (basically a spring mix we get in stores around here that has much darker leafy greens. Nothing brighter than kale-shade-green. No spinach, even has some dandelion in it sometimes.), shredded carrots, things like that.

I'm not sure if it was organic or not; but we live in a pretty rural area and it's not hard to find organic goods here.

I'll be continuing with the feeding leafy-greens and limiting the carrots and other sugary veggies/fruit. (Apparently they have a history of starving themselves if they have anything like strawberries!)


But here are the three of them; i know it's bad to have them all together; but they've been together the entire time my relatives had them and seem okay; and this has much more space then the tank i got them in (12 inches wide by 36 inches long, the tub they're in now is 18 wide and 40 long). Tomorrow morning i'll be trying to find a way to heat the tank they came in and the extra tank; so at least they can't risk fighting. Luckily they don't seem to have any bite marks (that i can see) on them.




(I know; silly speech bubbles. It's an easy way to introduce them to my nieces through the world wide web, and making them a bit more human-ish helps introduce them to reptiles without them being so alien, i guess... I put them together over there so it would be easier to get a clear up-close photo showing their differences.)



(This shows their current set up; i used Echo Earth but i think i might need to use the repti-carpet that they came with for Tootsie. She seems to have a mobility issue...)

The following is Tootsie, i'd love some clarifying on if they are just horribly pyramided Russian torts or not.









The last is a close up of her front foot; because he spikes seem pretty long. I was half terrified when i first saw them that they were just young sulcatas! (It was dark! And i recently saw one in a petshop saying it would only grow to be 12 inches... Yet another reason why i had been putting off getting one. You never know what petshops say to sell them, as i'm sure you guys know!)



As for Tootsie; i let them run around on the floor for a bit, (I had the doors closed; it's a empty room other than a few peices of furnature and heaters. Thank goodness for only just moving...) while i got everything set up for them and tried to find a way to have their heater/light over the tub. I normally do this when i get a brand new animal that i'm not sure about anyways; just so i can watch them moving about and see if there's any big issue.

Tilly lapped the room a few times and chased the cat allot. Her only issue with walking is that she seems to be running; but at least she wasn't having any 'accidents', and wasn't trying to bite or ram him. Didn't have her mouth open at all. She just seemed to enjoy chasing him; but i don't know how tortoises act. So; i'm not sure what she was doing.

Trent seemed to hang out around the furniture allot. (Under the chairs, around the little table, near the heater.) He didn't seem to have any issue walking; it just took him a few minuets to learn how to walk on something that wasn't repti-carpet. After that he was zooming around; although not nearly as fast as Tilly.

Tootsie on the other hand doesn't seem to be able to move her hind legs very well, which worries me. The entire time she was on the floor she moved probably a foot, at most. She seems to try and move; her front legs drag her around (she's pretty good at spinning), but her hind legs don't seem to come out of her shell as much as they should, and only seem to push her forward when on the repti-carpet, but not as much as they should. The 'dirt' that's in the tub is giving her a bit of trouble; but she's moving around a few inches a minnuet.
Her hind legs seem very stiff; they don't bend like Tilly and Trents do. They remind me of a dog who's broken a leg; and it healed straight when the vet didn't add a bend into it. She can wiggle them but can't really walk... I can try getting a video later; if it would help.

They also have the two shallow water pools with warm water, although by now they've turned one of them into a mud pit.

I think that's enough info for now; at least. I don't want to wright an entire book...


(And as for the name; my mother named them tonight and it stuck...)

Edited because i messed up the pictures
 

Yvonne G

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Well, the good news is they aren't Russian tortoises. The bad news is your habitat is much too small for three adult tortoises to live in. I'm not good at identifying the Testudo species, but your new tortoises are either Greek or Hermanns. We'll send a shout-out to @HermanniChris he's very good at identifying these for us.

Try to either set each tortoise up separately, or else get a much, much bigger habitat for the three of them. Then, in the spring. put them outside into a safe and secure outdoor habitat.

Many of our members live on the east coast and have their tortoises outside during good weather. It's the best place for them, for their mental and physical well-being.

All three tortoises are suffering from MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease). This is a painful condition causing softening of the bones and shells. In order to try to fix this, you will need a GOOD UVB light and a light dusting of calcium over the food two or three times a week. The type of light you need will be one of these two kinds:


mercury vapor bulb.jpg T-5 fluorescent bulb.jpg



Welcome to the forum! While we're waiting for Chris to see this thread and I.D. your tortoises for you, you can read the care sheets pinned at the top of the Hermanns and the Greek section. Care for the two is similar.
 

crimson_lotus

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The tortoise not being able to move her hind legs is a symptom of severe metabolic bone disease, as indicated by Yvonne - their shells are rather sunken in rather than domed, and they have quite a bit of pyramiding going on. You will need to get UVB lighting so they can properly process the calcium in their food and supplements.

I don't really know much about tortoise species that aren't Red Foots, but I second that these are either hermanns or greeks.

Good luck, it sounds like you will give them the proper care they need!
 
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Maggie Cummings

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Hermanni....not Russian
Chris is gonna want plastron pix I bet. Something about 2 black lines running down the plastron. Or...maybe I'm wrong....
 

FishFanatic

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Well, i'm glad you thought of one that looks more like them than the Russians do! And i completely agree; that up there is at-most going to hold one of them at a time as soon as i go get two more of them. It's about the floor space of a 50 gallon; which is still tiny; but at least now they can wander. Would that size tub be 'okay' until i figure out how to make their tables? I could probably find some kiddy pools still if i'm lucky; would that work?

As soon as spring hits; i'll be surveying the yard to see where their pen/s will be going and waiting on the snow to melt. In the meantime; it'll be planning and trying to figure out ways to keep curious animals and kids out.

And i'm glad that at least you guys can tell me which issue they have; and hopefully now i can at least get it from getting worse! Maybe Tootsie will be able to get around more eventually too.

We have a repti Glo 2.0 UVB 15w that came with them; so i'm not sure if it still works. We also have five Reptisun 10.0 UVB 15w that we found packed away when we moved into our new house; but those have been sitting for at least two years and i have no idea if they'd even work.
Sadly; we don't even have the light fixture for them to go into. Thank goodness for petshop runs.

What i do have is a whole box of cuttle bones! Once i get their light for the UV; would it be okay to put one in each of their containers, or should i hold off? I already have some calcium powder; but of course they stuck the price tag over the bit that says 'without d3'.



And thank you for seconding! I'll be trying to give them the best care i can..!

I'll add on a a picture; it definitely looks promising! Two very clear lines at least. :)

(Uh... Whoops. How do i delete one of those..? Didn't realize drafts saved the picture too..)
 

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crimson_lotus

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@Alaskamike has been doing some water therapy on his tortoise with metabolic bone disease and it seems to be producing positive results for her mobility. You may want to check out some of his posts.

The thing about UV lights is that you have to change them every 6 months to a year of use. If they've been used longer than that, they are probably not effective. The best way to tell WHEN they're ineffective would be to get a UV meter, but those are pretty expensive.

15w is a bit low, I would get a temp gun or one of those Acu-Rite hygrometers at Home Depot to make sure they have the temperature range they need. They may not be warm enough, and if they aren't, they cannot properly digest their food.

If you need clarification on their sex, they can be ID'ed here with some plastron shots of each tortoise.
 

FishFanatic

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Hello everyone! :)

Thank you for telling me! I will be trying to find some of his posts on it then; try to figure out how to get some of her mobility back and when to start on it.
And i agree that they're low for heat; but i don't even have them set up yet. I don't have the ficture i'd need for them; and i have no idea how old they are. Unless the petshop has a reader they can use to check for me; i think i'll just get a new bulb that will fit one of the fictures i've got. :)

But for heating they have a infered 100 wat ceramic bulb, and a red-light that puts off some heat too. It's about 85 in the hottest spot; right over the 'warm bath' water bowl, and down to about 70 in the coolest part of the tank. The two that can move easily spend time on both sides of it; but the little girl is just hiding out burred in a spot that's about 80.

And clarification would be very much appreciated! The picture i put up in the last post is of Trent; who i think is a boy. Not positive, though.

Bellow are the two girls. Or at least i think they are... Tilly is the first; and Tootsie is the second.
 

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Yvonne G

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DO NOT USE THOSE BULBS. The compact fluorescent bulbs like what they came with are harmful to tortoises' eyes.
 

FishFanatic

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Okay; i just shut off the bulbs real quick untill i get a reply to clarrify.

I have two of these:
091197270000C.jpg


Without the bulbs that come in them; and without the clamp.

In the larger one i have a:
zoo-med-repticare-ceramic-infrared-Heat-Emitter.jpg


Which produces heat; but no light

And for the other one i have a:
100watt_red_reflector.jpg


Type bulb; although i'm not positive which brand.

Are these safe..? They do not have compact florescent bulbs; i can't use them in the house. I get severe migraines from any bright light. Even candles hurt my eyes sometimes. (The red light would kill my eyes if i could see it properly; if pictures online are anything to go by)

Please get back to me soon; as they are their only sources of heat.
 

FishFanatic

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I've turned the heat-bulb back on by now sense it doesn't emit any light; before they freeze. The red light is staying off until someone can clear it with me. If these bulbs are unhealthy for them; please point me towards other options.
 

crimson_lotus

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The red bulbs aren't ideal as they can confuse/disorient some tortoises. Sometimes they even eat their substrate. Plus they don't emit any UVB which you will need during the winter.

If you can get an MVB (mercury vapor bulb) that supplies light, heat, and uvb, you can use that during the daytime and have the ceramic heat emitter for night. I use the ceramic heat emitters myself, they're great.

And careful if you use the clamps on that light fixture, as they have been known to fail and start fires. If you can get/make a lamp stand, that would be best.

Plus if you want that Acu-rite hygrometer I recommended earlier for temp/humidity readings, they're only $10 at Home Depot.
 

Yvonne G

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Everything pictured is just fine to use. You will also need the UVB bulb. I use red bulbs and black bulbs for night time heat, but as long as you have that CHE, you can use that instead. I have never had a problem using a red bulb. Some members have told of their tortoises eating the substrate under a red bulb, but since I only use my red bulb at night, my tortoises are sleeping when it's on and they don't eat while they're sleeping.
 
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Maggie Cummings

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I use black light bulbs for nighttime heat, $3.49 at K-Mart
 

leigti

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Until you can get a mercury vapor bulb, which I suggest you get tomorrow :), you can just use a regular old lightbulb for light during the day. And it will also give off heat. I'm not sure your tortoises actually need night heat but it might be a good idea to keep it a little warmer for them until you figure out how their health is doing. I personally would not use the red bold at all. The CHE will give you night heat if you want it.
I'm glad you were able to take these tortoises in. I have used this as a temporary enclosure. You can get them at Home Depot relatively cheaply. Not the best but very definitely better than what they've had. And if you separate them and give them each their own enclosure they will be happier. ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1446871084.445359.jpg ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1446871120.544138.jpg ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1446871154.677263.jpg
And a couple other things I got at the hardware store which are very handy, the temperature gun and something to measure heat and humidity. Most of the stuff they sell at the pet store, except the mercury vapor bulb, is not very good. You can get better things at the hardware store usually. And I would also recommend don't listen to the people at the pet store. All the information you need is here on this forum. I would soak your tortoises, the greens sounds like a great idea, and I would also use your calcium powder two or three times a week like Yvonne said. That will get them started on the right path. And I think the coconutcoir is a great substrate. For the one that has trouble walking, and the others to actually, press it down with your hand to make it firm. Make sure it is a little damp but not soggy.
 

Tidgy's Dad

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Hello, Zim, and a very warm welcome to Tortoise Forum to you, Tilly, Tootsie and Trent.
Be careful the information from books, videos and the net as a lot of the information out there is out of date or just plain wrong. Everything you need to know is here.
I, too think they are Testudo hermanni
Look at http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
and http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/sticky-hermanns-tortoise-care-sheet-updated.101410/
for some great information.
Pairs rarely work with tortoises, but threes can if you have enough room, more than you have at the moment, of course. If they are biting at each other, they need to be separated before any real harm is done.
For a water bowl, I use a cheap, shallow, terracotta saucer, big enough for the tortoises to soak in, sunk into the substrate so it's easy for the tortoises to drink from and exit and enter.
 

FishFanatic

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Ey everyone! As a quick update; all three of my little torts are all doing well! They have their special UVB light, as suggested, and are hooked up with a temperature/humidity gauge. They are all becoming much more active, and were getting daily soaks, and are now down to every four days, other than Tootsie, who gets one every other day. She has started moving around a little bit better, and seems much more 'with it'. She also has her very own Lego-water-wheelchair-system-thingy, which means when she's having her soak she can wheel around to her hearts content (supervised, of course). It seems to be building up some mussel slowly but surely, between that and the UVB light she can now drag herself around their entire space.

All three of them seem to be getting better as they days go by. No more sitting in one spot all day, and there haven't been any puffy eyes for quite awhile now.


As for heat; it's definitely needed. Now that it's winter, or getting closer to winter, we keep it around 40-60F and i still get overheated. So the little cold-blooded critters all need their special heating devices! (Even though we are keeping it warmer. Usually we keep it either at the same temp. as our house naturally would be, or about 10 degrees warmer.)

(And as a note for emergency heating, we have a closet in the middle of the house dedicated purely to a space to keep warm for the small animals. We had this back at the other house too; only this one's better because it's just big enough for them + the set up.)


Future updates will be in the Herman tortoise area, instead of on this thread.
 
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