Need help with learning how to take care of tortoises

-Vizz-

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My siblings got two new tortoises and I'm looking to help care for them, from what I've heard certain tortoises vary in how they're cared for so if anyone can help educate me that be great. I'd like to know what's the ideal enclosure size, what kind of substrate I should use, what I should feed them, etc. 20201119_123747.jpg
 

Hamiltondood

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Richmond, Texas
My siblings got two new tortoises and I'm looking to help care for them, from what I've heard certain tortoises vary in how they're cared for so if anyone can help educate me that be great. I'd like to know what's the ideal enclosure size, what kind of substrate I should use, what I should feed them, etc. View attachment 311707
can you give us pictures of the carapace and plastron of the tortoise?
looks like a desert tortoise to me
here are some good posts that'll help you

daily soaks will help with the pyramiding.
what bulbs are you using? i'm using a 65 watt incandescent bulb for the basking spot.
you need to separate the tortoises ASAP. pairs will not work out very well.
 

-Vizz-

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Joined
Nov 24, 2020
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Arizona
can you give us pictures of the carapace and plastron of the tortoise?
looks like a desert tortoise to me
here are some good posts that'll help you

daily soaks will help with the pyramiding.
what bulbs are you using? i'm using a 65 watt incandescent bulb for the basking spot.
you need to separate the tortoises ASAP. pairs will not work out very well.
[/QUOT
 

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-Vizz-

New Member
Joined
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Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
Arizona
can you give us pictures of the carapace and plastron of the tortoise?
looks like a desert tortoise to me
here are some good posts that'll help you

daily soaks will help with the pyramiding.
what bulbs are you using? i'm using a 65 watt incandescent bulb for the basking spot.
you need to separate the tortoises ASAP. pairs will not work out very well.
 

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-Vizz-

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as for lighting, I haven't gotten to that yet, is a 65 watt ideal for this kind of tortoise?
 

Hamiltondood

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as for lighting, I haven't gotten to that yet, is a 65 watt ideal for this kind of tortoise?
yes. make sure it's not a halogen bulb. you will also need a different enclosure and a uvb bulb.
i recommend you take them outside for a few hours a week. that way, a uvb bulb isn't needed.
mercury vapor bulbs are not a good source of uvb/heat since the heat will fluctuate.
 

-Vizz-

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yes. make sure it's not a halogen bulb. you will also need a different enclosure and a uvb bulb.
i recommend you take them outside for a few hours a week. that way, a uvb bulb isn't needed.
mercury vapor bulbs are not a good source of uvb/heat since the heat will fluctuate.
I'll start looking, thanks
 

KarenSoCal

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I'll start looking, thanks
Hello, and welcome to the forum!

The first thing to do is carefully read that care sheet that Hamiltondood linked for you. It has vital info in it before you or your siblings spend money on the wrong stuff. Read it, and then come back with questions and concerns.

I'm curious...where did these cuties come from? Do you have any info on how old they may be?

You need to get an incandescent flood bulb. 65 watts should do the job. It needs to be hung so it's pointing straight down. A flat rock or piece of slate or floor tile should be put below the light. The height of the bulb should be such that the temp on the rock is 95-100°F. This should be turned on for 12 hours/day, and off at night. In that tank it might be difficult, but there needs to be space for him to get out from under the bulb, or he'll cook. It's very important that he has a temperature gradient so he can regulate his body temp.

It looks like he is in a fish tank. He needs to be moved into another enclosure ASAP. What size is the tank? 20g? 40g? That's not enough space for him to get the exercise he needs. Torts cannot digest their food unless they do a lot of walking, so they need a home that is bigger than what you would think it should be.

Here is a post about lighting and heating to help you understand.

4 elements of heating: By Tom
There are four elements to heating and lighting:

Basking bulb. I use 65 watt floods from the hardware store. I run them on a timer and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb.

Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT.

Light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish.

UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html

I know I keep writing "he" instead of they. They need to be separated very soon, or they will start fighting. And it is not playing...they will bite and really inflict injury onto each other. So all the equipment that needs to be bought has to be doubled. You have a lot of stuff to buy, but we don't want you to spend money getting the wrong stuff. Pet stores will sell you stuff that is wrong, expensive, and sometimes truly dangerous for your torts. We will help you along the way.

You will read about closed chambers...here are 2 posts about them.


 

Hamiltondood

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My siblings got them from an individual seller who I suppose breeds them, and they didn't manage to get information about them, which I'm trying to figure out. I also realized the tank was too small for them when they showed me. Is this tank suitable? https://www.zenhabitats.com/collect...sures/products/48x24x16-pvc-reptile-enclosure
looks pretty good
you will have to update the size once your tortoises get bigger.
you can also get one from @Markw84 or animal plastics
since you have two tortoises, it's best to have two seperate enclosures
 
Last edited:

KarenSoCal

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Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
They got them from a "seller"?? It is illegal to breed, sell, or buy desert tortoises. If your siblings paid money for them, they broke the law. The state of AZ is very protective of its desert tortoises, as is CA and NV, where buying, selling, and breeding are also illegal. This is just FYI. No one here on the forum is going to give you any trouble.

I like the enclosure, but keep in mind that you will need 2 of them. You will need to use the optional acrylic top that is included to keep the heat and humidity in, so you will be mounting your lights, etc inside the enclosure.

Have you read the link in post # 11 about the different kinds of closed chambers? These torts will probably only be in these enclosures for a year or so, then possibly a year of out during day/in at night, then out all the time, except for brumation. In that post are a couple less expensive ways to accomplish the same thing, if cost is a concern.

Where in AZ are you? Are you some place where it's warm all year? Or where you get really cold temps or snow in the winter? That will have influence on how long they will need to live in indoor accommodations.
 

-Vizz-

New Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2020
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Arizona
They got them from a "seller"?? It is illegal to breed, sell, or buy desert tortoises. If your siblings paid money for them, they broke the law. The state of AZ is very protective of its desert tortoises, as is CA and NV, where buying, selling, and breeding are also illegal. This is just FYI. No one here on the forum is going to give you any trouble.

I like the enclosure, but keep in mind that you will need 2 of them. You will need to use the optional acrylic top that is included to keep the heat and humidity in, so you will be mounting your lights, etc inside the enclosure.

Have you read the link in post # 11 about the different kinds of closed chambers? These torts will probably only be in these enclosures for a year or so, then possibly a year of out during day/in at night, then out all the time, except for brumation. In that post are a couple less expensive ways to accomplish the same thing, if cost is a concern.

Where in AZ are you? Are you some place where it's warm all year? Or where you get really cold temps or snow in the winter? That will have influence on how long they will need to live in indoor accommodations.
Wasn't aware it was illegal to buy these tortoises, I'll be sure to caution my siblings next time. I have read the link, I'll be sure get the needed equipment as soon as possible. I'm specifically located in Tucson, AZ, and it's pretty warm for the most part.
 
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