Leopard Tortoise | Stunted Growth, Bad Diet, Need Help

BIllia

New Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
USA
Hello,

I have a 7 year old Leopard Tortoise. I got him when I was young and inexperienced, and I haven't taken the best care of him. I thought what I was doing was okay, but I am learning that just hasn't been the case. So I am here trying to make up for my lack of research and proper care of this little guy and hoping that, with help, I will be able to get him back on a healthy path.

Enclosure:
-Indoors (Central Ohio is not always warm enough)
-20 Inch by 40 inch enclosure with high walls
-2 hides made from aluminum cooking trays
-Fake plant
-Shallow water dish (Changed Daily)
-Feeding dish
-Basking Rock
-Soil Substrate
-An old Chia Pet
-Calcium Block (He has not used this at all since I've offered it ~year ago)
-Water irrigation pipes (I intend to plant some live plants and use this to get water to the roots effectively)
-Basking Temp: 90-110 F
-Hide Temps: 75-85 F
-Ambient Temp: 80 F
-Basking Light: 160W Solar Glo UVA/UVB Mercury Lamp (Set on a timer with 16 hours on 8 hours off)

Diet:
-Spring Mix (This is where I have failed the most as a keeper. He has lived entirely on spring mix. I have recently started to feed him some ZooMed Natural Grassland Tortoise Food. He ate some today and seemed to like it.)

Behavior:
-Active. He likes to patrol the perimeter and climb in and out of his hides.
-Hungry. He likes to graze throughout the day. When he can't find anymore food, he will retreat to ahide and sleep.
-Thirsty. He can often be found drinking from his water dish.
-Curious. On nice days, when I am able, I take him out in the yard and allow him to explore a bit and munch on the weeds and grasses.

Phsyiology:
-Slight Pyramiding
-Small for his age from what I can gather from the Internet. He still fits in the palm of my hand despite being almost 8 years old.
-Some new growth recently of the shell.
-Some slight springback of the bottom of the shell. I fear his calcium is way under what it needs to be. I am ordering some powder to include in his diet since he doesn't want the calcium block.

Future Plans:
-I have been saving some money to upgrade the size of his enclosure. I'd like to give him a wider area to live in and also add a small ramp to a second level with walls to give him more surface area.
-Live plants. I am looking into getting some live plants for him to eat that grow right out of the enclosure. I am still researching some good choices. I haven't put together a list yet.
-Outdoor Enclosure during the summer. I found a little gated enclosure online that looks like it would work well for him at his current size. But I worry about him being so small. I live in the suburbs and I can easily see a racoon or a possum or something similar trying to get to him.

TL;DR:
I have been a bad keeper of my Leopard Tortoise and need some help to get better at it.

IMG_20200702_102642.jpg IMG_20200702_102638.jpg IMG_20200702_102622.jpg IMG_20200702_102618.jpg IMG_20200702_102615.jpg IMG_20200702_102533.jpg IMG_20200702_102522.jpg IMG_20200702_102450.jpg IMG_20200702_102441.jpg
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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This will explain everything you need to do. And his age doesn't matter. After reading, all your questions and conversation is welcome. :)
 

BIllia

New Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
USA
This will explain everything you need to do. And his age doesn't matter. After reading, all your questions and conversation is welcome. :)
Hi Tom! And thanks for writing that up and directing me to it!

Heating And Lighting:
- I'm sure you've gone over it before, but would you mind giving a bullet point breakdown of why you've moved away from mercury Vapor bulbs? Thats what I'm using now and if it's not good for him, I'd like to replace it.

UV:
- I keep my tortoise enclosure near a window that gets lots of sun. In your experience, would you think this to be enough exposure? I don't have the solarmeter yet to know for sure.

The Enclosure:
- With the guide being written mostly in response to babies, what are your thoughts on my open tortoise setup?
- As a 7 year old, does he still require the 80-100% humidity?
- Does the substrate need to remain moist for a tortoise his age?

Enclosure Size:
- After reading your guide, I've decided to focus some attention and money to building him an outdoor enclosure for the time that it's warm out. But sadly, I'm thinking I may not be the best caretaker for him since I live in Ohio and the climate here isn't exactly great for him. I may need to come to terms with the idea that someone else can raise him better.

Humid Hide Boxes:
- Does this remain true for older tortoises?

Substrate:
- Is soil okay once they are no longer babies?

Water Dishes:
- Glad to see I got at least this correct.

Soaking:
- With his pyramiding, should I be soaking and misting him regularly?

Feeding:
- Spring Mix seems to have been an okay choice according to your guide, but I lacked the variety and supplements he needed. I'll be making those adjustments.

Supplements:
- I will definitely be getting some cuttlebones and minerall

Outdoor Enclosures:
I think I might try and do an outdoor enclisure, as mentioned before, but I really worry about animals getting to him since he's such a tiny little guy.

Pyramiding:
- Given that he's already been hatched and raised incorrectly for this long, what steps do you recommend to prevent further pyramiding?

Thanks again for your time and effort. It's really appreciated!
 

Ink

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Tortoise Club
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Messages
458
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Virginia
I have my Leopard tortoise inside. He does go outside on nice days but comes in at night. Good luck and there are many experts who will try to help you out. Your tortoise is very pretty. Good luck
 

BIllia

New Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
USA
I have my Leopard tortoise inside. He does go outside on nice days but comes in at night. Good luck and there are many experts who will try to help you out. Your tortoise is very pretty. Good luck
Do you let it roam around the house? Or is yours still little like mine? If you do let it roam around, how are poops and piddles? Does it stick to the water dish, or do you find yourself cleaning up messes?
 

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
766
Hello,

I have a 7 year old Leopard Tortoise. I got him when I was young and inexperienced, and I haven't taken the best care of him. I thought what I was doing was okay, but I am learning that just hasn't been the case. So I am here trying to make up for my lack of research and proper care of this little guy and hoping that, with help, I will be able to get him back on a healthy path.

Enclosure:
-Indoors (Central Ohio is not always warm enough)
-20 Inch by 40 inch enclosure with high walls
-2 hides made from aluminum cooking trays
-Fake plant
-Shallow water dish (Changed Daily)
-Feeding dish
-Basking Rock
-Soil Substrate
-An old Chia Pet
-Calcium Block (He has not used this at all since I've offered it ~year ago)
-Water irrigation pipes (I intend to plant some live plants and use this to get water to the roots effectively)
-Basking Temp: 90-110 F
-Hide Temps: 75-85 F
-Ambient Temp: 80 F
-Basking Light: 160W Solar Glo UVA/UVB Mercury Lamp (Set on a timer with 16 hours on 8 hours off)

Diet:
-Spring Mix (This is where I have failed the most as a keeper. He has lived entirely on spring mix. I have recently started to feed him some ZooMed Natural Grassland Tortoise Food. He ate some today and seemed to like it.)

Behavior:
-Active. He likes to patrol the perimeter and climb in and out of his hides.
-Hungry. He likes to graze throughout the day. When he can't find anymore food, he will retreat to ahide and sleep.
-Thirsty. He can often be found drinking from his water dish.
-Curious. On nice days, when I am able, I take him out in the yard and allow him to explore a bit and munch on the weeds and grasses.

Phsyiology:
-Slight Pyramiding
-Small for his age from what I can gather from the Internet. He still fits in the palm of my hand despite being almost 8 years old.
-Some new growth recently of the shell.
-Some slight springback of the bottom of the shell. I fear his calcium is way under what it needs to be. I am ordering some powder to include in his diet since he doesn't want the calcium block.

Future Plans:
-I have been saving some money to upgrade the size of his enclosure. I'd like to give him a wider area to live in and also add a small ramp to a second level with walls to give him more surface area.
-Live plants. I am looking into getting some live plants for him to eat that grow right out of the enclosure. I am still researching some good choices. I haven't put together a list yet.
-Outdoor Enclosure during the summer. I found a little gated enclosure online that looks like it would work well for him at his current size. But I worry about him being so small. I live in the suburbs and I can easily see a racoon or a possum or something similar trying to get to him.

TL;DR:
I have been a bad keeper of my Leopard Tortoise and need some help to get better at it.

View attachment 298977 View attachment 298978 View attachment 298979 View attachment 298980 View attachment 298981 View attachment 298982 View attachment 298983 View attachment 298984 View attachment 298985
Your tortoise has pretty decent growth lines and is not badly pyramided, so don't beat yourself up too much.

It appears you have a baby sulcata in the same tub with your Leopard. Is that true? If so, numerous people on this forum will tell you that it is not good to keep two tortoises (even of the same species) together NOR is it good to mix different species together in any numbers.
 

Skip K

Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2020
Messages
97
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
The Zoomed is a good start. Without a UVB meter it’s hard to judge if a indoor bulb is fading or too far from the tort to do much good. Calcium powder is good...providing your tort gets proper UVB ( indoors or out) but if not...straight calcium powder won’t help. Maybe pick up some calcium with D3 and use it for one of your dustings. We have a rehomed Leopard with us that had the same stunted growth issue and pyramiding. She also had an issue with a slightly deformed plastron ( the V notch at the tail is angled). It took a while because I wasn’t going to power feed protein to her to make up for “ lost time “ but just gave her a correct diet and enclosure....and summers outside. It took about a year for her to begin growing at what I consider a normal rate. But she’s doing very well now and the pyramiding has been checked. With my Redfoots and Leopards....since they are outdoors mostly and established...I only dust their food once a week with a multivitamin/ pure calcium. With the Zoomed fed a couple times a week...the multivitamin is just safeguard.
 

Maro2Bear

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 29, 2014
Messages
10,085
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
Id say that your enclosure is too small, too dry and not humid enough! Tom attached his care sheet, so I’m sure you can get back on track If you try to follow his points. Larger fully enclosed enclosures help maintain heat & humidity. Good luck!
 

Ink

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
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Joined
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Messages
458
Location (City and/or State)
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I don't let him roam around the house. He could eat something or get hurt. When he is outside he in a wood pen. I soak mine about every other day, and he will usually poop in the water during his soak. Do you soak yours in a shallow tub with enough water to get to the bottom of the first scute, warm water? And I do have to clean up after him. Mine is 13ish years old, I have had him since he was a hatchling.
 

BIllia

New Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
USA
Your tortoise has pretty decent growth lines and is not badly pyramided, so don't beat yourself up too much.

It appears you have a baby sulcata in the same tub with your Leopard. Is that true? If so, numerous people on this forum will tell you that it is not good to keep two tortoises (even of the same species) together NOR is it good to mix different species together in any numbers.
I'm always really hard on myself when it comes to caring for something other than me. I appreciate the thoughts! Good eye, but that is a decorative tortoise figurine and not a baby Sulcata :)

The Zoomed is a good start. Without a UVB meter it’s hard to judge if a indoor bulb is fading or too far from the tort to do much good. Calcium powder is good...providing your tort gets proper UVB ( indoors or out) but if not...straight calcium powder won’t help. Maybe pick up some calcium with D3 and use it for one of your dustings. We have a rehomed Leopard with us that had the same stunted growth issue and pyramiding. She also had an issue with a slightly deformed plastron ( the V notch at the tail is angled). It took a while because I wasn’t going to power feed protein to her to make up for “ lost time “ but just gave her a correct diet and enclosure....and summers outside. It took about a year for her to begin growing at what I consider a normal rate. But she’s doing very well now and the pyramiding has been checked. With my Redfoots and Leopards....since they are outdoors mostly and established...I only dust their food once a week with a multivitamin/ pure calcium. With the Zoomed fed a couple times a week...the multivitamin is just safeguard.
Thank you so much for the tips! I will be getting a solarmeter soon. Hopefully that will help me determine the right kind of calcium powder and lighting I need.

Id say that your enclosure is too small, too dry and not humid enough! Tom attached his care sheet, so I’m sure you can get back on track If you try to follow his points. Larger fully enclosed enclosures help maintain heat & humidity. Good luck!
After reading his care sheet, I very much agree! I have already rehydrated the enclosure both under and above the substrate and in the hides. I found a good hydrometer today that will measure the temperature and humidity. Now that I know the humidity needs to be higher, that will help a lot. I'm also looking at getting a larger enclosure for him. I'm a little bit at a loss as for what to use however. I can't keep him outside all year long and Tom's care sheet said not to use glass tanks. I'll have to keep looking and maybe someone can suggest what they've used that has worked.

____________________________________

The only thing I'm uncertain of is the duration that the care sheet applies. For example, in warmer months, if my tortoise is being kept outside, there's no controlling for humidity. And older torts that live outside full time don't have controlled humidity either. So I'm just a little lost on how the care process changes from a hatchling to an adolescent. My little guy is 7 years old but
 

Ink

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Hopefully someone can help you try to enclose your current top to get it more hummid. Make a list of things you need to fix and try to prioritize your list. Get what you can when you can. I am very happy you changed his diet. You can also get zucchini or yellow squash along with the proper greens. I am sure someone with more experience will be able to help you. What is your tortoise 's name?
 

BIllia

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Joined
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Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
USA
Hopefully someone can help you try to enclose your current top to get it more hummid. Make a list of things you need to fix and try to prioritize your list. Get what you can when you can. I am very happy you changed his diet. You can also get zucchini or yellow squash along with the proper greens. I am sure someone with more experience will be able to help you. What is your tortoise 's name?
I'm putting together an amazon list right now. I think by doing this, I'll easily be able to reorder any items that I start get low on.

His diet was in major need of change. He didn't eat much of the grass pellet mash, so I intermixed some of the spring mix into it and he ate some more. I will gradually fade out the spring mix so he can adjust to the new food more easily. Thanks for the tips on the Zucchini and Yellow Squash! I wouldn't have thought of that.

My little guy's name is Fump. When i saw him, thats the first sound that popped into my head. Unconventional, but it fit for him. I also call him pet names like Fumpster, Fumperdoo, Fumple, and Fumperdink ;)
 

BIllia

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Joined
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If you want something easy, cheap, and has all sizes, I use a grow tent for my leopard and redfoots closed chambers! Keeps temps and humidity like a dream! Just have to do a few small tweaks and your all set.
*Awesome Tent Setup Pic*
Wow! What size did you opt for?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
49,587
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hi Tom! And thanks for writing that up and directing me to it!

Heating And Lighting:
- I'm sure you've gone over it before, but would you mind giving a bullet point breakdown of why you've moved away from mercury Vapor bulbs? Thats what I'm using now and if it's not good for him, I'd like to replace it.

UV:
- I keep my tortoise enclosure near a window that gets lots of sun. In your experience, would you think this to be enough exposure? I don't have the solarmeter yet to know for sure.

The Enclosure:
- With the guide being written mostly in response to babies, what are your thoughts on my open tortoise setup?
- As a 7 year old, does he still require the 80-100% humidity?
- Does the substrate need to remain moist for a tortoise his age?

Enclosure Size:
- After reading your guide, I've decided to focus some attention and money to building him an outdoor enclosure for the time that it's warm out. But sadly, I'm thinking I may not be the best caretaker for him since I live in Ohio and the climate here isn't exactly great for him. I may need to come to terms with the idea that someone else can raise him better.

Humid Hide Boxes:
- Does this remain true for older tortoises?

Substrate:
- Is soil okay once they are no longer babies?

Water Dishes:
- Glad to see I got at least this correct.

Soaking:
- With his pyramiding, should I be soaking and misting him regularly?

Feeding:
- Spring Mix seems to have been an okay choice according to your guide, but I lacked the variety and supplements he needed. I'll be making those adjustments.

Supplements:
- I will definitely be getting some cuttlebones and minerall

Outdoor Enclosures:
I think I might try and do an outdoor enclisure, as mentioned before, but I really worry about animals getting to him since he's such a tiny little guy.

Pyramiding:
- Given that he's already been hatched and raised incorrectly for this long, what steps do you recommend to prevent further pyramiding?

Thanks again for your time and effort. It's really appreciated!
Mercury vapor bulbs ae expensive, delicate, finicky, and fragile, but the two main problems are that they run too hot, which will over heat a closed chamber, and they desiccate the carapace, which will cause pyramiding if there is growth.

UV doesn't penetrate glass. You'll need sunshine in a safe outdoor enclosure in the warmer months, and an Arcadia HO time for winter.

A full grown 7 year old leopard can survive in a drier environment. Because yours still has a lot of growing to do, he would benefit from an enclosure that simulates monsoon conditions. Hot and humid.

Humid hide boxes are good for all ages and sizes.

The potential toxicity of bought-in-a-bag soil doesn't change with the size or age of the tortoise. Soil is not good for any species or any size.

I would soak this tortoise every day for the foreseeable future, and misting several times a day will be helpful in preventing pyramiding as he grows.

Spring mix is okay for variety once in a while. If you must rely on grocery store greens, favor endive and escarole as the main staples, and add in arugula, dandelion greens, spring mix, kale, collards, turnip and mustard greens, etc... for variety. Definitely add in some of the dried leaves from Kapidolo farms, or the herbal hay mix from tortoisesupply.com. Best to skip the store and feed mulberry leaves, grape vine leaves, a wide assortment of weeds, grasses, flowers, and succulents. Real food.

Lots of threads on how to make a safe secure outdoor enclosure. The tortoise should never be running loose on the floor in the house or outdoors. That is a recipe for disaster.

To prevent/reduce pyramiding: Humid warm enclosure, daily long soaks, humid hides in the enclosures, damp substrate, frequently carapace spraying with water.
 

Skip K

Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2020
Messages
97
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
About your question about outside humidity and keeping torts outside. Different locations have different characteristics . Here in Northern Va...we have blistering sun and debilitating humidity in the summer. When the torts are outside I hose down the enclosures...not for more humidity but more for cooling....even the outdoor baby Sulcatas enclosure. The larger torts have a little pond and hand made burrows in their enclosure. The babies have shade areas from a hibiscus bush and other cover and a water bowl. Even on non humid days there is a natural humidity at ground level. At my location...I don’t worry so much about humidity outside..I worry more about the heat. Here are two of our enclosures. The main one is about 6’ by 20’. The hatching enclosure ( v-shaped ) is moveable and about 40 square feet. If it looks asymmetrical it’s because I used left over lumber...of different sizes and lengths.. from the main enclosure build...lol

image.jpg
 
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