Multiple Female Russians???

MarkW_76

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Just found this forum today, and I'd like to hear a few opinions.

Current set up is a ZooMed 3'x2' enclosure with a customized 8" wide ramp and mezzanine addition for more roaming room for two female Russians (Shelby and Natasha).

Shelby (been with us about a year) has grown nicely and has a voracious appetite (she's just over 5" long).

New addition this weekend Natasha (about 3" long) just arrived Sunday and they have been spending time together all over the enclosure, and slept in separate corners dug in and content last night.

I am a new member today to the forum and just read an article about the dangers of cohabitation two torts, and I want to know what to look for in terms of Multiple Females. These were BOTH PetSmart torts. Shelby was solo when purchased last year, and Natasha was in with a bigger male when I purchased her this weekend.

These are the pet's my Daughters wanted as well as my wife and I and they are an exciting part of our day to day life, so obviously I want them to be happy, healthy and to enjoy their space.

As I mentioned we've done some customization to the pen so far to make it more interesting for them, and to give them options.

What should I be looking for in terms of behavior? What about Feeding them together? Same dish? Separate Ones?

Thanks again!
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Mark, and welcome to the Forum!

I keep multiple russians together without a problem, but they are in a pretty large area. The females seem to do better as a pair than males or a male/female pair. Just watch them to be sure both are eating. Bullying sometimes is pretty covert. I call it mental bullying because you don't see it happening. The dominant tortoise tells the subordinate to get out of the territory, and the sub, having no way to get out, simply hides all the time or stays in a corner, trying to keep out of the others' way.

Just to be on the safe side I would offer two separate feeding stations and a couple choices of hiding places.
 

mijojr

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Maybe a more experienced member will coment, but I think you might need to get a new setup soon. 3x2 ft is a bit small for two russian torts.
 

smarch

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Female pairs are the best chance of making it work. But usually groups of 3 or more do best (since if theres one specifically dominant it will lessen the picking off exclusively one tortoise.) Signs of bullying would be like stated above, also if they seems to spend a lot of time together it may not actually be them liking each other and "cuddling" it would be one not leaving the other alone. Or is one stops eating. Plants to block them from seeing each over all the time would help too.
Also watch out when adding new tortoises, ones from petco and petsmart (my tort is too so i'm just letting you know) are wild caught, and the stores don't do horribly much about possible parasites they may be carrying from being wild, which could then be passed to the other, so say the new one had worms, the other could then get them from the new one, as a cat or dog could from another in the house, I wouldn't worry about it now since you've already put them together so if anything was there its already there, but if you were to ever add another its some food for thought. Or in in the future one gets sick, you'll want a separate temporary enclosure so sickness wouldn't spread.
Credibility: I do only have one tort, so i'm not speaking from experience, but I've looked a lot into group housing to hold a group in the future, so those are some facts I learned.
 

Tom

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You need a quarantine period before introduction, but too late for that now...

Those ZooMed houses are too small for one tortoise, much less two. The second story helps, but its still too small.

Tortoises should not be housed in pairs. The behavior you are seeing (following and spending time together) is the tortoise way of saying "get out!". They don't want or need company. It is stressful on them. This species in particular is very scrappy. I suggest you separate them before blood is drawn or someone loses some scales or an eye. Female russians can be just as combative as males sometimes. They will usually do okay in groups in large outdoor enclosures, but a pair in a small indoor enclosure is really worse case scenario.

Hello and welcome to the forum. Hope we can help.

Here are some threads to help you out:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/semi-underground-russian-box.98590/
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
 

mijojr

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Especially since the new tortoise is quite a bit smaller, the big one could really injure the smaller one.
 

MarkW_76

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Thank you all for the input. I'll be setting out to design a larger enclosure to house them, more than likely seperately.

As an update they BOTH ate this morning in separate areas and there was no reported angst or aggressive behavior to report.

The consensus seems to be that unless I have a LARGE area, then they'll need to be separated. More than likely that's what I'll do to keep the possibility of something catastrophic from happening.
 

Tom

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Thank you all for the input. I'll be setting out to design a larger enclosure to house them, more than likely seperately.

As an update they BOTH ate this morning in separate areas and there was no reported angst or aggressive behavior to report.

The consensus seems to be that unless I have a LARGE area, then they'll need to be separated. More than likely that's what I'll do to keep the possibility of something catastrophic from happening.

Adding a third female once the enclosure has been greatly enlarged might also help get rid of the whole pair dynamics thing. In the case of russians though, it might lead to combat too. If it goes well, your problem might be solved. If it does not go well, you might have to build and maintain THREE enclosures...
 

bouaboua

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Hello Mark and Welcome to the forum.

Looks like you got one of the best member (Tom) to answer your question. Good to have you here. This is a great place to learn and share.
 
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