Need help with inherited red-footed tortoise

FenderStrat73

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Joined
Apr 25, 2018
Messages
16
Location (City and/or State)
New York, NY
Hello all! I recently inherited a lovely red-footed tortoise named Sonny after a friend of mine passed away. His wife had no idea how to take care of it, so I've had to do lots of research. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. I worry that I'm not caring for it correctly. I have so many questions.

Here's the equipment I've got and what I've been doing to care for Sonny based on what I've read (or misread?). Most of what I have came with the tortoise, some I've added myself. Please let me know anything I'm doing wrong or could be doing better.

Housing:
I have a terrarium (18" x 48" x 20" tall) The tortoise's shell is 6" x 10". I realize he will probably need a bigger space. Thinking about some kind of coffee table terrarium. For lighting, I have an all in 1 lamp. Heat light on one side, UVB light on the other end, and a long fluorescent bulb (unsure if it's needed) that runs the length of the lamp. It sits on top of the screen lid. I turn them all on when I wake up, and turn them all off 12 hours later at night. I don't have any timers. There is also a heating pad attached to the bottom. The substrate is some kind of mulch, I'm guessing cypress mulch. I added sphagnum moss around the water bowl, but Sonny kept trying to eat it... and it stank. So I removed the moss. For humidity, I spray warm water all over the terrarium in the morning and again when I get home after work. The humidity is ok but I think it should be better. I'm thinking about making the terrarium closed chamber by covering the lid with aluminum foil around the lights. Is that ok for getting oxygen in the terrarium? Or should I get a Repti Fogger? I live in Brooklyn NY. Even if the climate here was ok, there's no outdoor space. He has a Hubba Hut for a hiding place. Seems to like it.

Water/Soaking:
The tortoise came with a pet store water bowl that was too small for him. So I got a 14" planter saucer recently. I was taking him out and letting him soak in a large tub with warm water every other day before I got the saucer. Now that he can fit fully in his water bowl, do I still have to take him out and soak him?

Food:
My understanding is they need lots of leafy greens, some fruit and veggies, and very little meat. So far I've been feeding Sonny kale, spring mix, collard greens, spinach, broccoli, carrots (didn't like them), blackberries, raspberries, banana, cantaloupe, strawberries, and cat food. Daily I give him 2/3 greens and 1/3 fruit. Cat food once a month, but I'm not sure how much. Is it true that kale and spinach are bad for them? Is it easier/better to just feed him Mazuri Tortoise Diet? I'm also not sure how often to feed. So much conflicting information. I started feeding him as much as he could eat for 30 minutes. I tried skipping days as I had read. But now I just feed him whenever he looks like he wants food. One bigger meal in the morning. When I get home from work I remove any uneaten food and give him a smaller meal (he eats less in the evening). I tried using food bowls, but he doesn't like them. He prefers when I dump the food in there so he can "forage". I don't think he's eating substrate as a result.

I'm attaching photos to illustrate some of the above. Sorry for the long post. I'm questioning a lot. I hope you tortoise experts can help me out.
 

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Robber

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Food variety is pretty good(you can pass on the spinach and broccoli) - keep that up, maybe add a calcium supplement once a week and as many different greens and weeds as you can add. Mazuri is good on occasion and especially on occasions when you run out of other stuff. As long as temps are between 75 and 95, you should be in good shape. But....
It needs MUCH more space; should have at least 16 ft² of space for a tortoise of that size, preferably more. A larger enclosure will also help achieve a wider range of temperature, which is good(should be cooler and warmer areas in the cage to choose from). At that size, they don't need to be super moist all the time, but you certainly don't want humidity much below 50% long term; it is probably much lower than that currently with the lights and open top. Covering the top will go a long way in alleviating that. Also, it needs a lot more cover/hides;. Redfoot do not prefer to be out in bright open spaces all the time.
 

ascott

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Hello all! I recently inherited a lovely red-footed tortoise named Sonny after a friend of mine passed away. His wife had no idea how to take care of it, so I've had to do lots of research. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. I worry that I'm not caring for it correctly. I have so many questions.

Here's the equipment I've got and what I've been doing to care for Sonny based on what I've read (or misread?). Most of what I have came with the tortoise, some I've added myself. Please let me know anything I'm doing wrong or could be doing better.

Housing:
I have a terrarium (18" x 48" x 20" tall) The tortoise's shell is 6" x 10". I realize he will probably need a bigger space. Thinking about some kind of coffee table terrarium. For lighting, I have an all in 1 lamp. Heat light on one side, UVB light on the other end, and a long fluorescent bulb (unsure if it's needed) that runs the length of the lamp. It sits on top of the screen lid. I turn them all on when I wake up, and turn them all off 12 hours later at night. I don't have any timers. There is also a heating pad attached to the bottom. The substrate is some kind of mulch, I'm guessing cypress mulch. I added sphagnum moss around the water bowl, but Sonny kept trying to eat it... and it stank. So I removed the moss. For humidity, I spray warm water all over the terrarium in the morning and again when I get home after work. The humidity is ok but I think it should be better. I'm thinking about making the terrarium closed chamber by covering the lid with aluminum foil around the lights. Is that ok for getting oxygen in the terrarium? Or should I get a Repti Fogger? I live in Brooklyn NY. Even if the climate here was ok, there's no outdoor space. He has a Hubba Hut for a hiding place. Seems to like it.

Water/Soaking:
The tortoise came with a pet store water bowl that was too small for him. So I got a 14" planter saucer recently. I was taking him out and letting him soak in a large tub with warm water every other day before I got the saucer. Now that he can fit fully in his water bowl, do I still have to take him out and soak him?

Food:
My understanding is they need lots of leafy greens, some fruit and veggies, and very little meat. So far I've been feeding Sonny kale, spring mix, collard greens, spinach, broccoli, carrots (didn't like them), blackberries, raspberries, banana, cantaloupe, strawberries, and cat food. Daily I give him 2/3 greens and 1/3 fruit. Cat food once a month, but I'm not sure how much. Is it true that kale and spinach are bad for them? Is it easier/better to just feed him Mazuri Tortoise Diet? I'm also not sure how often to feed. So much conflicting information. I started feeding him as much as he could eat for 30 minutes. I tried skipping days as I had read. But now I just feed him whenever he looks like he wants food. One bigger meal in the morning. When I get home from work I remove any uneaten food and give him a smaller meal (he eats less in the evening). I tried using food bowls, but he doesn't like them. He prefers when I dump the food in there so he can "forage". I don't think he's eating substrate as a result.

I'm attaching photos to illustrate some of the above. Sorry for the long post. I'm questioning a lot. I hope you tortoise experts can help me out.

My first question is, how was the tortoise housed with his prior human? If the tortoise was doing well in that environment I would replicate.....then I would start to implement changes, if necessary.
 

FenderStrat73

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Joined
Apr 25, 2018
Messages
16
Location (City and/or State)
New York, NY
My first question is, how was the tortoise housed with his prior human? If the tortoise was doing well in that environment I would replicate.....then I would start to implement changes, if necessary.

This is the housing that came with the tortoise from the previous human owner. It needs some fixing.
 

FenderStrat73

New Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2018
Messages
16
Location (City and/or State)
New York, NY
Food variety is pretty good(you can pass on the spinach and broccoli) - keep that up, maybe add a calcium supplement once a week and as many different greens and weeds as you can add. Mazuri is good on occasion and especially on occasions when you run out of other stuff. As long as temps are between 75 and 95, you should be in good shape. But....
It needs MUCH more space; should have at least 16 ft² of space for a tortoise of that size, preferably more. A larger enclosure will also help achieve a wider range of temperature, which is good(should be cooler and warmer areas in the cage to choose from). At that size, they don't need to be super moist all the time, but you certainly don't want humidity much below 50% long term; it is probably much lower than that currently with the lights and open top. Covering the top will go a long way in alleviating that. Also, it needs a lot more cover/hides;. Redfoot do not prefer to be out in bright open spaces all the time.

Thank you for all the advice! This all makes sense. Would something like this be acceptable? It's 36″ x 24″, 12″ high. https://zoomed.com/tortoise-house/
 

daniellenc

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Maryland
Honestly the easiest housing is homemade and much cheaper than buying tortoise houses meant for hatchlings. I use a huge rubbermade tub, but my guy is only a year and 3.5 inches long. It's 4 ft long, 18 inches high, and 2.5 feet wide......and this will be too small by next year, lol. You can find enclosure ideas here as well as in the enclosure forum: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/easy-red-foot-enclosure.162059/

Tortoise Library is also a good reference for suggested food items: http://tortoiselibrary.com/species-information-2/chelonoidis/

With food just keep it varied and avoid kale/spinach and other greens high in oxalates. Tortoise table is an invaluable resource for food suggestions. Kale and spinach can be fed but sparingly btw so it's not like a huge deal every now and then.
 

daniellenc

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I would do 8 ft long, by 4 ft wide, and 18 inches tall for an adult which yours seems to be.
 

FenderStrat73

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Messages
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New York, NY
I would do 8 ft long, by 4 ft wide, and 18 inches tall for an adult which yours seems to be.

Hmmmm, my wife will not be pleased. The enclosure would have to double as a piece of furniture. Maybe I could build a human bed/tortoise enclosure. Is that a bad idea? Haha. I was told he is 5 years old, which I assume is adult.
 

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lisa127

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Look on amazon for frame pools. Very affordable and come in lots of sizes. There is a round one thst is 5 feet diameter and 15 inches tall that is cheap. Made by bestway i think.
 

lisa127

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Hmmmm, my wife will not be pleased. The enclosure would have to double as a piece of furniture. Maybe I could build a human bed/tortoise enclosure. Is that a bad idea? Haha. I was told he is 5 years old, which I assume is adult.
No hes got growing to do.
 
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