New Manouria: setup, observations, and questions...

XDX

New Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2016
Messages
5
Hi,
I just recently bought two (supposed to be male/female, but time will tell) Manouri emys emys, about 1yr old, and although I've done a ton of research, I still have a lot of questions. I have experience keeping other reptiles and amphibians, but no turtles or tortoises ever. Something inside me just told me getting a pair of tortoises was the thing to do, so I did.

I chose Manouria sp. because, based on their care needs and lifestyle, they seemed like a better fit. I wanted BIG tortoises, not a box turtle, and while the sulcatas and leopards did seem like they would be easier short-term, I think that I would struggle to accommodate all of their needs later in their lives. From what Ive read, it seems like Manouria tortoises might be slightly harder to care for in their early years, but later would be easier for me. I live in the temperate PNW, where the summers can be hot and sunny, but are often short. The majority of the year is wet but pleasant, very green, with mild winters usually. I figured I could house the tortoises indoor during the winter while they are young, and set up an area outside where they can rummage and graze while I kick it and do garden work in the warmer months. In a year or so, I am moving to a property a little further south, where the the temps will be slightly warmer and seasons more mild. Here, I can set them up a more long-term base for the next decade or so. That's as far as I've gotten...

Right now, I have them set up in a box measuring about 6'*3'*1.5' (180*90*45cm). It was a piece of what looks like a counter for a house that I found on the side of the road. So its like a bathroom counter piece, flipped upward so the cabinets face upwards, with the doors, hinges, and dividers taken off. I then reinforced tome of the thinner pieces of *not*wood, filled the gaps with expanding foam sealer, painted with 2n1 exterior latex-based primer/paint, and let dry for a week or so. I filled the bottom 2 inches with hydroton expanded clay balls, followed by another inch or 2 of fine coco substrate, topped with another 2 inch of coco bark nuggets. Around the edges in select spots, I've buried more sustaining soil, and have planted edible plants such as mustard, collards, okra, kale, nasturtiums, There are also some other more landscape plants, Philodendron, Pathos, Callisia, as well, but everything still needs to grow in more. We'll see how they all do with the low light.

To the far right, there is a log hut, some potted plants, & food dish, with red heat lamp on all times, about 6" above the whole box, making it about 18-24" from the highest spot at the top of the hut, and closer to 24-30" from the ground. Moving left, In the middle, I placed one of those seed-starter trays that holds a bunch of 6-packs of plants, I don't know the exact dimensions, probably 2'*1'*2" (60*30*5cm), as a soaking pool. There are 2 big rocks in the tray to help with getting in/out of the pool, or just hanging out on. Just left of the pool, hanging slightly over, I have a 3 bulb fixture with 1 UVB100 bulb, 1 reptile natural light bulb, running for 6-8 hrs/day, and the third bulb is blue night bulb, 75w I believe, on all times. this fixture sits directly above the box, so it is about 14-18" from the ground. Left from there, there's not a whole lot; cool, dark, with some plant sprouting up. The whole box sits on a foldout banquet table in a room in my basement. The room has a heater set full blast 86F (30C), but when I check with infrared thermometer, I rarely see temps outside 68-75F (20-24C). a few feet from the table is another table set up with plants and 4*4 T5 bulbs, with Mylar on the far wall, so there is some decent ambient light, but only what is taller than the walls of the box.

I just moved them into this box a few weeks ago. Prior to that, they were in a large tote, and were NOT happy.

I have tried feeding a few different things; originally, I tried mixing it all up, but they proved more picky than that. So I started only feeding a few things at a time, in order to better monitor. Their basic go to is organic baby spring mix with baby romaine, kale, radicchio, & arugula, etc no spinach. They mow this stuff down. More mature kale, little bit sometimes. Cauliflower, sometimes but not really. Broccoli, no go. Bok-choy, devoured. Carrots, kind of, sometimes, if I mash it up. Cilantro, good stuff. Wheat grass, sometimes. Mushrooms, surprisingly, I'm not seeing it. Pineapple, nope. Mango, I think so. Turtle sticks, nope. Dusted food, nope. Silkworms, definitely. Superworms, maybe if they weren't so crunchy and tried to bite back. That is about the extent of my dietary experiments thus far. so in conclusion, mostly non-brassica greens, and occasional slow moving things for treat. I purposefully try to avoid spinach, citrus, alliums (onions, garlic), and nightshade foods (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants), unless someone experienced here suggests otherwise.

So that's my set up. In summary, two 1yr Mee's indoors in wood box 180*90*45cm, temps 20-24C, misting twice a day, ~8 hrs daylight, ~8 ambient light, ~8hrs red/blue night lights. Feed every other day, good hand-full of greens+.

Here are my questions/concerns:

1. How can I tell if these two like each other? At first, I believed they were of opposite sex, although I am not entirely convinced, and am not sure if it can even be determined accurately yet. Are these type of tortoise territorial? Could they be competing for food, basking spots, sleeping spots, etc? the reason i ask is because the behavior between the two, while similar in a lot of regards, is also quite different. One, the darker one, which I originally believed to be the female (the tail was more tucked away, and is generally so, although it sticks out occasionally), is super chill wherever she is. She is a little slower to respond to her environment, but then just does her thing; goes and soaks, munches away, goes and basks, etc. not too worried about her. She doesn't like being handled as much, but that's cool, well warm up as time goes on. The other, lighter colored, presumably male (his tail is pretty much always visible), I'm not so sure about. I can't tell if hes just more curious, or if hes not happy, or some combination of both. When they were in their temporary tote box, the female would just soak/sleep through it, but the male would constantly pace the edges trying to find a way out. Id take him out and let him run loose around the room to burn some energy, and he's pretty cool with being handled and moved, just makes his way to a shady place. First I covered the sides do they weren't see through, then I put the whole box in a dark corner, and he seemed a bit happier with less light. Then I got them moved into the big wood box, and they both seemed immediately much happier. They were bobbing their heads at me, and just seemed much less reserved. But then, and its been a couple weeks now so I do not remember exactly what happened, they seemed to be acting weird towards each other, very obvious social things, head bobbing and throat swelling, mouth gaping, etc. I tried to investigate a little online, and mostly found info related to mating. After that, I've found the male off exploring the far end of the box, still trying to get out sometimes, but usually not. It might be too cold at that end. it seems when these torts get too cold, they just stop, drop, and nap- no need to go home or build a nest, its on their back, wherever they rest! anyway, ill take him back to the warm end and he will go about his way. the other day, I found that he had half buried himself down in the mulch under some pathos leaves. scared me, I couldn't find him for a bit! So whats up with this guy? They are too young to mate, but are they too young to practice courting rituals? Or are these two being territorial, and the looser is trying to find somewhere else to go? Do they need separate individual hide spots? the log they have is not huge, but big enough for them both with room, if they were cool with sharing, that is. Or am I just being over-paranoid parent, and just let them settle in more?

2. What foods do these guys love? I'm vegetarian, and in the warmer months, I grow a lot of fruits and veggies, so I'll probably just end up sharing most of my food with them, so it should be super easy to keep them fed. But what do they really love? How can I spoil them? I live next to a bunch of different ethnic markets, mostly Asian and Hispanic, and they have sooo much unique produce, at least 30 different kinds of greens, a bunch cool roots, unique mushrooms, tropical fruits, etc. Are there any DO NOT FEED items? Any special feeding suggestions for while indoors to compensate for lack of sunlight?

3. What lighting/heating suggestions do you all recommend? I get it, these guys don't like bright lights, or much light at all. Outdoors, even shady spots get some UV rays and such. But indoors, these UV's aren't present, and are usually supplied by artificial lighting. BUT, these tortoises don't like the lights. Sow how do I make sure they are getting all they're light-heat-calcium-vitamin D needs balanced correctly? When it is warmer outside, they will have some time in real sunlight, but until then...
In the past, with other critters, I have always used the blue night lights that look like blacklights, but then I found a red night light in a box of supplies I have here and have been using that as well. Ive never used the reds before, but I did some research, don't quite remember what i read, but determined it was worth trying, and the torts seems to enjoy basking under it. Then there are ceramic heat bulbs, which i have no experience with. What are your experience with these different heat/night bulbs in relation to Manouria tortoises? How do they effect their vision and their heating needs compared to each other? how do they compare in output, efficiency, and lifespan? Any other lighting advice anyone would like to share?

I think that's it for now. Thank you for reading my very long post (hopefully somebody made it!). I'll take some pics to post tomorrow when there's some light.

Have a good night,

~XDX~
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
89,228
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
The Manouria seem to get along ok in pairs, but be watchful and make sure both of them are eating and acting normal. Bullying is not necessarily overt. If one stays hidden all the time it's a sign of bullying.

I feed my Manouria fruits, vegetables, greens and occasionally animal protein. They like to move the substrate around and sleep in a 'nest,' so I give them leaves rather than bark as substrate.

Because they eat animal protein, I don't use a UVB light. I use a regular 100 watt bulb for heat, with a 60 watt black light at night. There are plenty of plants around the enclosure to diffuse the bright light. I occasionally add Purina Layena to the food I give the Manouria.

I've never had problems using either the black or red lights, but some members have found their tortoise eating substrate under red lights. I use red lights in some of my outdoor sheds for heat with no problems.

It's quite ok to use any of the ethnic foods for your tortoises. If a human can eat it so can your tortoises.
 

XDX

New Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2016
Messages
5
Thanks for your reply and info!
I'll make sure to keep monitoring their behavior, just to make sure no one gets too rowdy.
I'm going to go check on them right now, actually, and see if I can take some decent pictures to share. I just misted and put some food out a little bit ago, do they should be out for lunch.

~XDX~
 

XDX

New Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2016
Messages
5
Okay, here's some pics for you all!

1 IMG_2268.JPG 2 IMG_2271.JPG 3 IMG_2272.JPG 4 IMG_2273.JPG 5 IMG_2274.JPG 6 IMG_2275.JPG 7 IMG_2276.JPG 8 IMG_2277.JPG

1. The two grubbing down under the red light
2. and with the light off
3. zoom out of same area, log, food, plants
4. moving left, soak pool & rocks
5 and further left, lights some plants
6. back to right side, red light on (usually is)
7. further zoom out
8. whole box

Hit me with any suggestions you may have! Please! These fellows' happiness, healthiness, and comfort that's most important here.
the whole thing is relatively bare, I know. there's some pretty quick growing plants in there and some veggie sprouts coming up, it should fill in fairly fast, but i could probably still use more light and more heat over the left end of the box. those sprouts are super leggy right now.

Hope you all enjoy the pics, Im looking forward to some feedback. I will pick them up and get some close in individual pics after they finish eating.

~XDX~
 
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top