New horsefield help needed

Rocky_russian

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So on Tuesday of last week I got my lovely little Rocky (a Russian Horsefield).
I'm unsure of how old he is as the man in the pet shop was rather unhelpful however he doesn't appear to be older than a year if that. However I was informed that he is captive bred.
He ate quite a bit on Tuesday, mainly greens and dandelion/lettuce as well as a tiny bit of apple but hasn't eaten since (nearly a week ago). I've only seen him drink once but have been bathing him daily for Round 5-10mins.
He seems to be incredibly lethargic, sleeping all day and night and barely moving even when bathed. He has yet to explore any of his enclosure let alone dig or bask.
He has a separate heat lamp and uv system on 12 hrs a day (heat at around 90 fh thought the day and not dipping below 65 on a night)
There's no sign of worms in his faeces (although I've only had one chance to check so far) but his shell is slightly soft which is disconcerting.

I'm really worried about how little he's moving/eating/drinking. Am I doing everything right? Is there anything anyone would suggest? Or is he just stressed and needs more time to get used to everything?

I've attached a few pictures of both Rocky and his home (the substrate is tortoise terrain from pets at home).

Thanks for any advice!

image.jpg

image.jpg image.jpg
 

johnsonnboswell

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His substrate is way too dry. It may be too hot in there, too. Tortoises wont eat when it's too hot. Don't feed fruit. They can't digest it & it upsets the gut flora.

What are those little white pellets in the substrate?
 

Rocky_russian

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His substrate is way too dry. It may be too hot in there, too. Tortoises wont eat when it's too hot. Don't feed fruit. They can't digest it & it upsets the gut flora.

What are those little white pellets in the substrate?

Thanks for the reply. I spray down his substrate with a water bottle everyday to moisten it. What temperature would you suggest as most online forums and care sheets have said around 90?

The white bits are limestone grit, they come as part of the 'tortoise terrain' which was recommended to me.
 

Rocky_russian

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have you read care sheets? link below. there are others in the same section that may help too. the second pic he/she looks a bit puffy around the neck and leg areas. maybe just the pic tho. does the enclosure have a heat gradient so he/she can cool down?
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/

Thanks for the reply, yes he has a cool end up to the right hand side where his log hide is moving down towards his basking spot which is kept at around 90f.
As for the puffiness he has looked like this since purchased so I'm unsure whether it is puffy or just him/the angle?
 

johnsonnboswell

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Spraying is not enough. It puts more moisture in the air, but doesn't get deep enough into the substrate. Just pour water in. Think of it as watering a garden bed, not as misting the leaves & surface. You can stir it in it not.

The bottom layer of substrate should maintain some moisture even when the top dries out.
 

johnsonnboswell

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What brand of bulb?

As much water as it takes. Not wet, just moist. You may need to feel it to check.
 

Tom

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I think he might be too cool. A basking spot of only 90 is a bit low in my experience. I keep the basking spot around 100 for my russians when they are inside. 65 at night should be fine ordinarily, but since your are having appetite issues, keeping it in the 70's at night with the use of a CHE on a thermostat might help.

It is also getting late in the season. As the days get shorter their bodies tell them to shut down and get ready for hibernation, so make sure your lights are on for 14 hours a day or so to convince him that its not Fall, even though it is.

The edema (swelling) is cause for concern. There are many possible causes for that, and an experienced tortoise vet should be able to help you diagnose the problem. Good luck finding one. They are hard to come by. If the vet suggests a "vitamin injection" I suggest you decline and go elsewhere. This is a hallmark of a vet that is clueless.

I would not use that substrate. If your tortoise eats enough of that stuff it could block him up.
 

Rocky_russian

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I think he might be too cool. A basking spot of only 90 is a bit low in my experience. I keep the basking spot around 100 for my russians when they are inside. 65 at night should be fine ordinarily, but since your are having appetite issues, keeping it in the 70's at night with the use of a CHE on a thermostat might help.

It is also getting late in the season. As the days get shorter their bodies tell them to shut down and get ready for hibernation, so make sure your lights are on for 14 hours a day or so to convince him that its not Fall, even though it is.

The edema (swelling) is cause for concern. There are many possible causes for that, and an experienced tortoise vet should be able to help you diagnose the problem. Good luck finding one. They are hard to come by. If the vet suggests a "vitamin injection" I suggest you decline and go elsewhere. This is a hallmark of a vet that is clueless.

I would not use that substrate. If your tortoise eats enough of that stuff it could block him up.

Hi Tom,

Thanks for your replying!
I was wondering if hibernation instincts could be an issue, I'll definitely start leaving is lights on a little longer in that case- thanks!

Oh dear I didn't realise he was even particularly swollen, I have a vet close by who says they're good with tortoises so fingers crossed they live up to what they say! Is it an urgent cause for concern would you say?

What substrate would you suggest? Previously I was using wood chillings when I first got him but he was struggling to get about on them so pets at home suggested this special 'tortoise terrain'. Trust them to be wrong, ehy? :p
 

johnsonnboswell

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Coconut coir.

Their instincts to hibernate do kick in, and it is our job to either allow it to safely happen, to make it happen, or to safely prevent it.

The fact that instinct is at work does not ensure a good result when they cannot choose their circumstances. In the wild, they mostly succeed. Not always. In captivity, wild caught animals often do not survive their first year. Pet store guy may have misled you.

Instinctive behavior doesn't always couple well with captivity. These remarks are aimed at the world here, so I hope you don't feel this is too gruff. I've too often heard keepers talk about their animals hibernating when in fact they are starving. Thinking the behavior is normal and natural, even though it is, can lead to disaster. It's great that you are concerned and haven't let this go on for months.
 

Rocky_russian

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Coconut coir.

Their instincts to hibernate do kick in, and it is our job to either allow it to safely happen, to make it happen, or to safely prevent it.

The fact that instinct is at work does not ensure a good result when they cannot choose their circumstances. In the wild, they mostly succeed. Not always. In captivity, wild caught animals often do not survive their first year. Pet store guy may have misled you.

Instinctive behavior doesn't always couple well with captivity. These remarks are aimed at the world here, so I hope you don't feel this is too gruff. I've too often heard keepers talk about their animals hibernating when in fact they are starving. Thinking the behavior is normal and natural, even though it is, can lead to disaster. It's great that you are concerned and haven't let this go on for months.

I literally got him a week ago so thought I was maybe overreacting. But am now incredibly worried and upset. Have wanted a tort for ages now and got given him for my birthday so only hope I can help the little guy.

Gunna ring round vets to find a good one tomorrow. Thanks for your advice.
 

johnsonnboswell

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Don't panic. Just do everything you can to provide the right environment. Keep researching. Russiantortoise.org is another source of good information.

Tortoises respond well to improvements in care. You can bet your little guy came from a less than ideal home.
 

jeffjeff

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coco coir or topsoil is a good choice of substrate ,best to take no notice of pet shops as most are clueless and just try to sell what they have in stock. i've found this forum a great source of accurate information. hope he feels better soon
 

Yellow Turtle01

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http://russiantortoise.net/care_sheet.htm Please read that, it'll tell you everything about russian care.
johnsonnboswell is completely right, that substrate is no good. If digested, that'll cause impaction and heath problems down the road. Coco coir or orchid bar (equals fir bark and repti-bark) are much better choices that can hold humidity and moisture. Which is a much right now, because your tort looks to have some pyramiding! Soak EVERY day for a 20 mins+ and mist daily also. Different subtarte will help SO much. Is that light an MVB? If not, your not giving him the UVB he needs... Also, yes, fruit is a nono...
 

Tom

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http://russiantortoise.net/care_sheet.htm Please read that, it'll tell you everything about russian care.
johnsonnboswell is completely right, that substrate is no good. If digested, that'll cause impaction and heath problems down the road. Coco coir or orchid bar (equals fir bark and repti-bark) are much better choices that can hold humidity and moisture. Which is a much right now, because your tort looks to have some pyramiding! Soak EVERY day for a 20 mins+ and mist daily also. Different subtarte will help SO much. Is that light an MVB? If not, your not giving him the UVB he needs... Also, yes, fruit is a nono...


Have you read that care sheet you are linking and recommending? It says aquariums are bad and then list tubs that are of similar shape and dimensions as fine. They recommend a 50% sand substrate. That could be disastrous.

Please be careful about what you are promoting.
 

Tom

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What substrate would you suggest?

I prefer coco coir for young russians. Orchid bark would be my second choice.

I'm not a fan of any sort of wood chips, "top soil" whatever that is, or any amount of sand in any mixture.
 

Yellow Turtle01

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Yes, I read that when I first got my russain. I like it for the plant list it provides, the lighting help, and the overall 'care' part of it. It has great tortoise table ideas, and promotes good welfare (IMHO) of russian tortoises :) I do NOT agree with their substrate mixture, and even some tortoises are okay with glass, and it doesn't bother them. I support this link because I agree with the overall care they are 'suggesting' :D People can choose to use something other than sand, and probably will, considering the vast quantities of people who rightfully say (coco coir, for example) is better.
I understand some people may interpret their suggested care in a different way, and I will fully take responsibility for that, but also, caresheets are a 'guideline' for people who are getting/have a tortoise, and to some degree, we the care providers, are responsible for doing our research too.
Thank you for pointing that out though, I did just assume everyone would take it the same way as me :D
 
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