New tort and don’t know what to do?! Help!

TechnoCheese

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Do you still have the packaging? I can’t really help you with the light if I don’t know what light it is.
 

TechnoCheese

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I see a plethora of things that need to be changed. It is extremely important that you take a look at the links I gave you.

Baby tortoises need to be kept in closed chambers with 70-80% humidit. What is your substrate?
 

TechnoCheese

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Also, your enclosure is much too small. Your baby needs to be in a MINIMUM of 40 gallons, like a 40 gallon tank.
 

TechnoCheese

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That will not work. You need a light that gives uvb AND uva. You need to find a light ASAP.

You need to buy a strip uvb light or a murcury vapor bulb that emits uvb. They are costly, but they are the few that work. The problem with MVBs are that they stop making uvb in a few months, but there’s no way to tell when. Strip lights will last you forever, and emit a good amount of uvb.

MVBs aren’t recommended for babies, as they are very harsh, and dry out the shells quick.

If you go the strip light path, you will need a daylight heat lamp.

Also, tortoises need total darkness to sleep at night, so be sure to turn them off.

Tortoises can not produce their own body heat, and need heat sources like lamps. Your tortoise needs to have temps of NO LESS than 80 f for them to properly digest food and function.
 

hollygaucas

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That will not work. You need a light that gives uvb AND uva. You need to find a light ASAP.

You need to buy a strip uvb light or a murcury vapor bulb that emits uvb. They are costly, but they are the few that work. The problem with MVBs are that they stop making uvb in a few months, but there’s no way to tell when. Strip lights will last you forever, and emit a good amount of uvb.

MVBs aren’t recommended for babies, as they are very harsh, and dry out the shells quick.

If you go the strip light path, you will need a daylight heat lamp.

Also, tortoises need total darkness to sleep at night, so be sure to turn them off.

Tortoises can not produce their own body heat, and need heat sources like lamps. Your tortoise needs to have temps of NO LESS than 80 f for them to properly digest food and function.

Thanks so much I will definitely sort the light problem out. Can you recommend to me which heat, light and heat measuring supplies which I will need? Thanks I am extremely grateful for all of your help. I also read through the care sheet and mistake guide which you gave me.
 

Tom

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I used this one but the packaging is in the bin.

That is a good bulb, and as long as it maintains your temperatures correctly, that should be all you need for a while. This type of bulb will eventually stop producing UVB, even though it still lights up and seems to be "working". Without a meter, there is no way to know if your tortoise is still getting UV from the bulb or not. If your tortoise is indoors most of the year, you need to be sure you are providing the correct amount of UV from your bulbs. A good UV meter is a necessity in this case. Here is the only one I recommend: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html

Other things I see:
  • I agree that you need a much larger enclosure in the near future.
  • The sides on your food and water bowls are too steep. Terra cotta plants saucers work best, and you need to sink them into the substrate so the rims are near level with the surface. The water bowl also need to be large and shallow enough for the tortoise to climb into it and self-soak, in addition to you soaking the tortoise frequently in a separate tub.
  • What is in the food bowl?
  • Does the tortoise eat the dried colorful pellets?
  • Beech chips are not a good substrate and they are much too dry and you can't dampen them. Your tortoise already has some significant pyramiding and this is caused by growth in conditions that are too dry. He needs a damp substrate. EIther coco coir or fine grade orchid bark will work well for you there.
  • Related to the point above, you need a humid hide. Use and opaque plastic tub. Turn it upside down and cut out a door hole just big enough for the tortoise.
Hope these things help! :)
 

TechnoCheese

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Thanks so much I will definitely sort the light problem out. Can you recommend to me which heat, light and heat measuring supplies which I will need? Thanks I am extremely grateful for all of your help. I also read through the care sheet and mistake guide which you gave me.

Get a digital humidity gauge, and one of these-
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Ultra-Performance-Non-Contact-Infrared-Thermometer-39102/300227498

It doesn’t matter what brand you get, just make sure it has good reviews.

Your heat and lighting set up will depend on your enclosure, and yours is much too small to have a heat gradient. You need to switch to something bigger, like a 40 gallon tank.

You need to change your substrate to something that holds humidity, like fine grade orchid bark or coco coir (orchid bark is recommended), and make sure that your humidity stays at 70-80%, and do daily soaks in warm water for 20-30 minutes a day. Make sure the water stays warm.
It is really great that you found this forum. The day I found it , I learned that I had to change a lot of stuff to get it ready for my new baby tort. You made the right choice with sticking around :)
 

hollygaucas

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Get a digital humidity gauge, and one of these-
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Ultra-Performance-Non-Contact-Infrared-Thermometer-39102/300227498

It doesn’t matter what brand you get, just make sure it has good reviews.

Your heat and lighting set up will depend on your enclosure, and yours is much too small to have a heat gradient. You need to switch to something bigger, like a 40 gallon tank.

You need to change your substrate to something that holds humidity, like fine grade orchid bark or coco coir (orchid bark is recommended), and make sure that your humidity stays at 70-80%, and do daily soaks in warm water for 20-30 minutes a day. Make sure the water stays warm.
It is really great that you found this forum. The day I found it , I learned that I had to change a lot of stuff to get it ready for my new baby tort. You made the right choice with sticking around :)

Thanks I did think the substrate was too dry but on the bag it does say for horsfield torts though. I’m looking into getting a temperature gun. I will look into getting a larger tank in the future.
 

hollygaucas

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That is a good bulb, and as long as it maintains your temperatures correctly, that should be all you need for a while. This type of bulb will eventually stop producing UVB, even though it still lights up and seems to be "working". Without a meter, there is no way to know if your tortoise is still getting UV from the bulb or not. If your tortoise is indoors most of the year, you need to be sure you are providing the correct amount of UV from your bulbs. A good UV meter is a necessity in this case. Here is the only one I recommend: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html

Other things I see:
  • I agree that you need a much larger enclosure in the near future.
  • The sides on your food and water bowls are too steep. Terra cotta plants saucers work best, and you need to sink them into the substrate so the rims are near level with the surface. The water bowl also need to be large and shallow enough for the tortoise to climb into it and self-soak, in addition to you soaking the tortoise frequently in a separate tub.
  • What is in the food bowl?
  • Does the tortoise eat the dried colorful pellets?
  • Beech chips are not a good substrate and they are much too dry and you can't dampen them. Your tortoise already has some significant pyramiding and this is caused by growth in conditions that are too dry. He needs a damp substrate. EIther coco coir or fine grade orchid bark will work well for you there.
  • Related to the point above, you need a humid hide. Use and opaque plastic tub. Turn it upside down and cut out a door hole just big enough for the tortoise.
Hope these things help! :)

Thanks for the recommendation I will be sure to check it out.

I will look into getting a larger enclosure in the future.
I will sort the food and water bowls out so Trevor is able to get into it!
In the food bowl is cucumber, it does also have a grape in it which I am aware needs to be taken out.
I haven’t yet seen Trevor eat the pellets yet, do you know why?
I am aware that the beech chips should be swapped with orchid bark but the beech chips packaging says that they are great for horsfield torts. Is pyramiding something I should be worrying about?!
I will sort the hide out but is it needed right now?

Thanks for your help!
 

TechnoCheese

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Beach chips may say that they are for tortoises, but like most products, they aren’t at all. They are based on decade old myths and misconceptions about tortoises that have recently been debunked, like people thinking that tortoises need to be kept dry.

Cucumber is not suitable to be fed often because it is 95% water and had little to no nutritional value.

You should not really feed those colorful pellets, because a food that is full of artificial color isn’t exactly trustworthy. I recommend the zoomed grassland tortoise food to mix in with greens, because your tort might not eat it without them.

You need to put in a humid hide immediately, because humidity is an absolute necessity for baby tortoises.

Look up pyramiding on google. I don’t think you want that ;)

If you make these changes, you should be ready for a happy future with your tortoise.
 

hollygaucas

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Beach chips may say that they are for tortoises, but like most products, they aren’t at all. They are based on decade old myths and misconceptions about tortoises that have recently been debunked, like people thinking that tortoises need to be kept dry.

Cucumber is not suitable to be fed often because it is 95% water and had little to no nutritional value.

You should not really feed those colorful pellets, because a food that is full of artificial color isn’t exactly trustworthy. I recommend the zoomed grassland tortoise food to mix in with greens, because your tort might not eat it without them.

You need to put in a humid hide immediately, because humidity is an absolute necessity for baby tortoises.

Look up pyramiding on google. I don’t think you want that ;)

If you make these changes, you should be ready for a happy future with your tortoise.

Thanks for the information but you must understand that I have spent £250 on a tort and all of his equipment already so I can’t handle the cost of all of the other things that are definitely not as necessary as you may prove them to be. He already has a hide which is for reptiles... AND TORTOISES... I understand that heat and lighting means a lot for torts but I have already spent a fortune on lighting and heating and somebody has told me that the light I am using is fine. Not to mention that you don’t actually own a horsfield tortoise and know nothing about the lighting they use as you said on the other one.
 

TechnoCheese

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If you don’t want to listen to me, then listen to all of the other people on this forum. And definitely listen to Tom.

Tortoises are not easy or cheap pets. I’ve probably spent more 500 dollars on mine, and I only got it last year. They are not good beginner reptiles. But I promise you, everything is a necessity. I might not know everything about lighting, but I do know the basics, like “strip lights are good” and “coil bulbs are bad”. I have been on this forum for almost two years now, and I think I know enough about Russian tortoises to direct someone who did little to no research and got one as an impulse buy. And again with what Tom said, if you want to use a Murcury vapor bulb, you need to buy a solar meter to be sure that your tort is getting the uvb it needs, so that it can properly use the calcium you give it.
 

TechnoCheese

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Not to mention that you don’t actually own a horsfield tortoise and know nothing about the lighting they use as you said on the other one.
I own a sulcata. They have almost identical heat and uvb needs, and the only thing that is different is that Russians need a temp drop at night. This is what I use for lighting. IMG_1514751385.846513.jpg

A strip light, a daylight basking bulb, and a ceramic heat emitter. The reason I couldn’t help you with the lighting was because the normal lighting set up doesn’t work for such a small enclosure, because it can over heat easily, and it is very hard to achieve the good temperature gradient that a Russian (and sulcata) needs to find the temperature it likes best.
 
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