New Leopard Tortoise, water dish and burrowing

TyoteeT

New Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2021
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Logan, Utah
After months of consideration and a week of setting up the enclosure, my hatchling Leopard Tortoise has finally arrived, and I have given her the name of Miira! (I'm a writer and gave her the name of a character I love, I later learned what the name means in different languages!) She's been so curious so far, although I have some questions if her behavior is normal.

When I first got her I soaked her in the warm water and within a few minuets she was walking around and trying to escape the soaking tub (which is just a clear plastic tupperware), and when thrown into the tank she has explored and wandered around the whole thing (47"x23" closed enclosure). Concern 1: Every time I soak her she is trying to walk up the walls, and I haven't seen her drink yet. Nor have I seen her poop as well, even around the enclosure. I have seen her eat, but she will only eat the spring mix I throw in for flavor and not the Alfalfa hay I am hoping she eats for fiber. Is this something I should be concerned about? I am concerned about her eating and not pooping...

I decided to make her a 3D printed water dish using PLA (a biodegradable corn derived plastic; nontoxic) after noticing the clay trays I have aren't deep enough. The dish is .5in deep (~12-13mm) and I usually fill it to ~.4in deep (~10mm). Concern 2: After 2 or 3 days of it being in the tank it is still perfectly clean. I soak her everyday for around 20-30 mins in warm water, and she ravenously ate a piece of an Aloe Vera plant in her tank, so I am pretty sure she isn't dehydrated...? What else can I do to help her use her water dish?

And finally, tonight she did something quite odd for a Leopard Tortoise. She burrowed under her humid hide box and is currently resting, head under the substrate (Coco coir with a layer of Reptibark on the top, it's all I could get) Concern 2: Is a hatchling Leopard burrowing a good 5 or 6 inches and hiding under the substrate normal? The images below show the temp and humidity in the enclosure, I am using a 60 watt incandescent bulb as a basking lamp and it usually gets to ~100 degrees underneath, 90-95 in the rest of the tank, and ~80 at night with the 60 watt ceramic heat emitter. I have a 100 watt ceramic heat emitter coming, and I'll see if that is better, if the temps are too low.

In a week or so I will be purchasing a temp gun with a humidity sensor to get a more accurate reading, something in my gut tells me these thermostats and hydrometers aren't the most accurate things...

Here are some pictures of her enclosure! I have one of those half logs and some Mazuri Tortoise Diet coming from ATC, the place I ordered Miira. Let me know what you think, I know it's humid because the air feels as dense as the Philippines in the summer, and I've taken to watering it with a watering can to maintain 80% humidity throughout the day XD

IMG_20210502_192406.jpg IMG_20210502_192422.jpg IMG_20210502_192441.jpg IMG_20210430_121824.jpg IMG_20210430_122723.jpg

The second to last picture shows 58% humidity because I had finished soaking her and spraying the enclosure, just putting them back in. It's just adjusting.

I love Miira with all my heart, she had it the day she arrived! Thank you for the help, I am happy to do what I can to give her a good life!
 

Jan A

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
1,065
Location (City and/or State)
Boulder, CO
After months of consideration and a week of setting up the enclosure, my hatchling Leopard Tortoise has finally arrived, and I have given her the name of Miira! (I'm a writer and gave her the name of a character I love, I later learned what the name means in different languages!) She's been so curious so far, although I have some questions if her behavior is normal.

When I first got her I soaked her in the warm water and within a few minuets she was walking around and trying to escape the soaking tub (which is just a clear plastic tupperware), and when thrown into the tank she has explored and wandered around the whole thing (47"x23" closed enclosure). Concern 1: Every time I soak her she is trying to walk up the walls, and I haven't seen her drink yet. Nor have I seen her poop as well, even around the enclosure. I have seen her eat, but she will only eat the spring mix I throw in for flavor and not the Alfalfa hay I am hoping she eats for fiber. Is this something I should be concerned about? I am concerned about her eating and not pooping...

I decided to make her a 3D printed water dish using PLA (a biodegradable corn derived plastic; nontoxic) after noticing the clay trays I have aren't deep enough. The dish is .5in deep (~12-13mm) and I usually fill it to ~.4in deep (~10mm). Concern 2: After 2 or 3 days of it being in the tank it is still perfectly clean. I soak her everyday for around 20-30 mins in warm water, and she ravenously ate a piece of an Aloe Vera plant in her tank, so I am pretty sure she isn't dehydrated...? What else can I do to help her use her water dish?

And finally, tonight she did something quite odd for a Leopard Tortoise. She burrowed under her humid hide box and is currently resting, head under the substrate (Coco coir with a layer of Reptibark on the top, it's all I could get) Concern 2: Is a hatchling Leopard burrowing a good 5 or 6 inches and hiding under the substrate normal? The images below show the temp and humidity in the enclosure, I am using a 60 watt incandescent bulb as a basking lamp and it usually gets to ~100 degrees underneath, 90-95 in the rest of the tank, and ~80 at night with the 60 watt ceramic heat emitter. I have a 100 watt ceramic heat emitter coming, and I'll see if that is better, if the temps are too low.

In a week or so I will be purchasing a temp gun with a humidity sensor to get a more accurate reading, something in my gut tells me these thermostats and hydrometers aren't the most accurate things...

Here are some pictures of her enclosure! I have one of those half logs and some Mazuri Tortoise Diet coming from ATC, the place I ordered Miira. Let me know what you think, I know it's humid because the air feels as dense as the Philippines in the summer, and I've taken to watering it with a watering can to maintain 80% humidity throughout the day XD

View attachment 324436 View attachment 324437 View attachment 324438 View attachment 324440 View attachment 324439

The second to last picture shows 58% humidity because I had finished soaking her and spraying the enclosure, just putting them back in. It's just adjusting.

I love Miira with all my heart, she had it the day she arrived! Thank you for the help, I am happy to do what I can to give her a good life!
Welcome to the forum & congratulations on your new arrival. She is exquisite. Every tort baby is different. Some experienced tort owners will be along to comment on your concerns. Welcome.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,125
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
After months of consideration and a week of setting up the enclosure, my hatchling Leopard Tortoise has finally arrived, and I have given her the name of Miira! (I'm a writer and gave her the name of a character I love, I later learned what the name means in different languages!) She's been so curious so far, although I have some questions if her behavior is normal.

When I first got her I soaked her in the warm water and within a few minuets she was walking around and trying to escape the soaking tub (which is just a clear plastic tupperware), and when thrown into the tank she has explored and wandered around the whole thing (47"x23" closed enclosure). Concern 1: Every time I soak her she is trying to walk up the walls, and I haven't seen her drink yet. Nor have I seen her poop as well, even around the enclosure. I have seen her eat, but she will only eat the spring mix I throw in for flavor and not the Alfalfa hay I am hoping she eats for fiber. Is this something I should be concerned about? I am concerned about her eating and not pooping...

I decided to make her a 3D printed water dish using PLA (a biodegradable corn derived plastic; nontoxic) after noticing the clay trays I have aren't deep enough. The dish is .5in deep (~12-13mm) and I usually fill it to ~.4in deep (~10mm). Concern 2: After 2 or 3 days of it being in the tank it is still perfectly clean. I soak her everyday for around 20-30 mins in warm water, and she ravenously ate a piece of an Aloe Vera plant in her tank, so I am pretty sure she isn't dehydrated...? What else can I do to help her use her water dish?

And finally, tonight she did something quite odd for a Leopard Tortoise. She burrowed under her humid hide box and is currently resting, head under the substrate (Coco coir with a layer of Reptibark on the top, it's all I could get) Concern 2: Is a hatchling Leopard burrowing a good 5 or 6 inches and hiding under the substrate normal? The images below show the temp and humidity in the enclosure, I am using a 60 watt incandescent bulb as a basking lamp and it usually gets to ~100 degrees underneath, 90-95 in the rest of the tank, and ~80 at night with the 60 watt ceramic heat emitter. I have a 100 watt ceramic heat emitter coming, and I'll see if that is better, if the temps are too low.

In a week or so I will be purchasing a temp gun with a humidity sensor to get a more accurate reading, something in my gut tells me these thermostats and hydrometers aren't the most accurate things...

Here are some pictures of her enclosure! I have one of those half logs and some Mazuri Tortoise Diet coming from ATC, the place I ordered Miira. Let me know what you think, I know it's humid because the air feels as dense as the Philippines in the summer, and I've taken to watering it with a watering can to maintain 80% humidity throughout the day XD

View attachment 324436 View attachment 324437 View attachment 324438 View attachment 324440 View attachment 324439

The second to last picture shows 58% humidity because I had finished soaking her and spraying the enclosure, just putting them back in. It's just adjusting.

I love Miira with all my heart, she had it the day she arrived! Thank you for the help, I am happy to do what I can to give her a good life!
Its normal for them to try to escape the soaking tub. We call it the "tortoise treadmill". Its no problem. Just make sure the soak water stays warm for the entire soak.

Terra cotta plant saucers sunk into the substrate work best. You bowls don't look too bad, but if the baby isn't using them, you might want to switch. With daily soaks, the baby should stay hydrated even without using the water bowls.

Digging in and burying is normal too. Babies are vulnerable to all sorts of predators in the wild. Hiding keeps them alive and also gives them the humid microclimate needed for good shell growth. Your enclosure parameters sound good.

Spring mix by itself is not a good tortoise food. Neither is alfalfa hay. Read this for diet info:
If the breeder didn't take the time to introduce the right foods, you will have to do it.

Weigh the tortoise weekly. Let us know when it passes 50 grams.
 

Yaaapops

Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2021
Messages
40
Location (City and/or State)
AZ
Its normal for them to try to escape the soaking tub. We call it the "tortoise treadmill". Its no problem. Just make sure the soak water stays warm for the entire soak.

Terra cotta plant saucers sunk into the substrate work best. You bowls don't look too bad, but if the baby isn't using them, you might want to switch. With daily soaks, the baby should stay hydrated even without using the water bowls.

Digging in and burying is normal too. Babies are vulnerable to all sorts of predators in the wild. Hiding keeps them alive and also gives them the humid microclimate needed for good shell growth. Your enclosure parameters sound good.

Spring mix by itself is not a good tortoise food. Neither is alfalfa hay. Read this for diet info:
If the breeder didn't take the time to introduce the right foods, you will have to do it.

Weigh the tortoise weekly. Let us know when it passes 50 grams.
Hey Tom quick question! How do you keep the water warm when giving a soak? Mine gets cold in like 3 minutes 🤦🏻‍♂️
To the OP, looks awesome!! Very similar to my set up! I have been using the same green house as well and it has been keeping the humidity at a perfect 80 or so even for a couple days after I soak the soil real good :) I agree with others to mix up the diet a little bit I’ve seen endive/green leaf/escarole/mustard and dandelion greens all work really well for my guy but they are all different. Best of luck my friend.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
39,864
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Hey Tom quick question! How do you keep the water warm when giving a soak? Mine gets cold in like 3 minutes 🤦🏻‍♂️
To the OP, looks awesome!! Very similar to my set up! I have been using the same green house as well and it has been keeping the humidity at a perfect 80 or so even for a couple days after I soak the soil real good :) I agree with others to mix up the diet a little bit I’ve seen endive/green leaf/escarole/mustard and dandelion greens all work really well for my guy but they are all different. Best of luck my friend.
I'm not Tom but can answer your question. I used to soak in bathroom sink. Would just pull the plug, drain and refill with warm water.
You can also put the soaking container in the torts enclosure but not right under the basking light but to the side. You can also just keep dumping and filling a soaking container.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,125
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hey Tom quick question! How do you keep the water warm when giving a soak? Mine gets cold in like 3 minutes
Barb gave the long answer. I say: Soak the tortoise somewhere warmer.
 

Yaaapops

Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2021
Messages
40
Location (City and/or State)
AZ
Thank you barb :) and others! I sometimes give him his bath in the sink but he does not like the running water it seems.. (even pencil width) I’ve tried replacing the water too but it seems like I replace it 10 times a bath 😂 Would a heating pad work or would that get way too hot? Maybe I’ll buy a weaker basking lamp for his baths 🤷🏻‍♂️
 
Top