New tortoise mom

GrammyBee

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Oct 16, 2019
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4
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McKinney, TX
What I can see in your picture you seem to have sand. Get rid of it, it causes impaction. He also needs a much bigger enclosure. Minimum of a 4x8 foot.
The water dish is too small. Needs to he big enough to fit in it. A clay saucer is the best.
 

KarenSoCal

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Jul 8, 2017
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Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
I'm so sorry to hear about your best friend. I lost mine just over a year ago, and life just isn't the same without her. 🥺

For your tortoise, it's true that lots of changes need to be made. Beamer just isn't getting the nutrition he needs from romaine. Torts are amazingly stoic animals, and have the ability to go a long time in less than good conditions before they finally just give out.

What I would do is take these changes slowly, one step at a time. First, get a digital thermometer/hygrometer at Home Depot or Lowe's. If you can find one with a probe, get that one. Then we will know what the temps and humidity are running. If you see a laser temp 'gun', get one. It makes checking temps so very easy.

I don't know the temp there in WI, but when you get a nice sunny day with temps in the 70's, take Beamer outside in the sunshine for an hour. If you can do this twice a week, you won't need to get an indoor UVB bulb until autumn.

Don't throw away your blue bulb yet. It might be working as a basking bulb for the time being. But to know that, we need to have that thermometer. It might be easier for you to pick up an incandescent flood bulb at Lowe's or HD. You want flood, not spot, about 65 watts.

These changes don't have to be tackled all at once. They can be done a step or two at a time, and we can help you do that by recommending good products and equipment.

Just like Wellington said, get some dark greens and cut them up very small, and only a very small amount. And as soon as your dandelions bloom, torts love dandelions once they know it is food. If you have mulberry, hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, many different kinds of weeds...he can learn to like them all. There's a list in the care sheet linked above, and if you need more, I have a humongous list. 🙂
 

Beamermom

New Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
11
Location (City and/or State)
Kenosha WI
I'm so sorry to hear about your best friend. I lost mine just over a year ago, and life just isn't the same without her. 🥺

For your tortoise, it's true that lots of changes need to be made. Beamer just isn't getting the nutrition he needs from romaine. Torts are amazingly stoic animals, and have the ability to go a long time in less than good conditions before they finally just give out.

What I would do is take these changes slowly, one step at a time. First, get a digital thermometer/hygrometer at Home Depot or Lowe's. If you can find one with a probe, get that one. Then we will know what the temps and humidity are running. If you see a laser temp 'gun', get one. It makes checking temps so very easy.

I don't know the temp there in WI, but when you get a nice sunny day with temps in the 70's, take Beamer outside in the sunshine for an hour. If you can do this twice a week, you won't need to get an indoor UVB bulb until autumn.

Don't throw away your blue bulb yet. It might be working as a basking bulb for the time being. But to know that, we need to have that thermometer. It might be easier for you to pick up an incandescent flood bulb at Lowe's or HD. You want flood, not spot, about 65 watts.

These changes don't have to be tackled all at once. They can be done a step or two at a time, and we can help you do that by recommending good products and equipment.

Just like Wellington said, get some dark greens and cut them up very small, and only a very small amount. And as soon as your dandelions bloom, torts love dandelions once they know it is food. If you have mulberry, hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, many different kinds of weeds...he can learn to like them all. There's a list in the care sheet linked above, and if you need more, I have a humongous list. 🙂
Thanks you and to everyone who has posted here. Yes changes need to be made slowly I agree. First thing is to have him wake up again. I'll get a thermometer, try some of the different greens and a new water dish. I do worry about feeding dandelions from my yard as it's a condo and the grass is heavily treated with pesticides but I do have a good friend who has a certified nature habitat so I could pull some from her yard to try. She said I could bring him over to roam, but I might put a harness on him with a little lead so I don't lose him, that did happen to his prior owner. She used to let him out to walk about the house in cold weather too so that's an option. I'm not going to rush changing the material he's in, he's tolerated it well for years and I don't want to stress him out again. Would love to give him a larger habitat but my place is quite small so we'll see
 

KarenSoCal

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Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
Thanks you and to everyone who has posted here. Yes changes need to be made slowly I agree. First thing is to have him wake up again. I'll get a thermometer, try some of the different greens and a new water dish. I do worry about feeding dandelions from my yard as it's a condo and the grass is heavily treated with pesticides but I do have a good friend who has a certified nature habitat so I could pull some from her yard to try. She said I could bring him over to roam, but I might put a harness on him with a little lead so I don't lose him, that did happen to his prior owner. She used to let him out to walk about the house in cold weather too so that's an option. I'm not going to rush changing the material he's in, he's tolerated it well for years and I don't want to stress him out again. Would love to give him a larger habitat but my place is quite small so we'll see
We highly recommend not letting your tort loose outside without an enclosure.

But when folks do it anyway...
One way of not losing them is a leash, as you mentioned. Another way is to tie a helium balloon onto him. If he doesn't cut the string, he's easy to spot. And finally, people have tied bright reflective ribbon on them with a 'tail' that follows along behind them on the ground.
 

Beamermom

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Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
11
Location (City and/or State)
Kenosha WI
The romaine has to be changed. Get some of the darker greens from the store. Collards, some kale not a lot, mustard greens, endive, spring mix. Tortoise safe broad leaf weeds even better. Add more romaine then the other greens and chop it all up small. Spritz with water. As he eats this, slowly use less and less of the romaine. He is not getting a proper diet or nutrients from just romaine.
He also needs a uvb light. Very important he gets uvb. If you can give him an outdoor enclosure to live in 24/7 during the warm months he doesn't need a uvb light. The blue light can go it's not of any use. Get a ceramic heat emitter for when temps get below 60.
Sorry about your friend. All the info she got on this torts care is not good. It really needs to be changed including a bigger enclosure. Some people build a two level enclosure to give enough room. For the health of the tortoise to live his long life he needs all the changes everyone mentioned or linked for you.


I checked the temperature of Beamer's habitat, it ranges from the low 70s to 90. I replaced the water dish with one that is larger and easier for him to get in and out of. He has poked his head out a few times but then goes back under, still adjusting i guess? I do put a little fresh food out every day in case he's getting hungry. Not sure I should do any more right that might disturb him since he is moving around a little. It's been a few weeks since he came to me but I guess in tortoise time that's not very long.
 

Beamermom

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Apr 15, 2021
Messages
11
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Kenosha WI
Hi everyone. Beamer had his first vet visit since he came to me. I found a reputable exotic pet veterinarian near me. The vet identified him as a Russian Tortoise. He's a little malnourished but given how overgrown his beak was, not surprising. She said he knew what was coming too and was a little rascal but she was able to hold his head long enough to give it a good trim. Better but not where it should be so he will have another trim in six weeks or so. Once we got home he ate a great deal so the beak was definitely an issue. I'm soaking him every other day for a while to stimulate him to to potty. This morning he did poop so good. Adding some carrots to his diet once in a while too. Vet recommended ditching the crushed wlanut substrate and replacing it with 75% shredded newspaper and 25% organic potting soil ?? Adding a UV light too. We're getting there! Thanks everyone!
 

Yvonne G

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Beamer doesn't need carrots. Too much sugar for a russian.
 

Mrs.Jennifer

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Jul 22, 2020
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Hi everyone. Beamer had his first vet visit since he came to me. I found a reputable exotic pet veterinarian near me. The vet identified him as a Russian Tortoise. He's a little malnourished but given how overgrown his beak was, not surprising. She said he knew what was coming too and was a little rascal but she was able to hold his head long enough to give it a good trim. Better but not where it should be so he will have another trim in six weeks or so. Once we got home he ate a great deal so the beak was definitely an issue. I'm soaking him every other day for a while to stimulate him to to potty. This morning he did poop so good. Adding some carrots to his diet once in a while too. Vet recommended ditching the crushed wlanut substrate and replacing it with 75% shredded newspaper and 25% organic potting soil ?? Adding a UV light too. We're getting there! Thanks everyone!
It’s great that Beamer’s beak got trimmed! It will help his eating immensely. I too have a Russian. I definitely would follow the care sheet listed in post #6. Definitely ditch the walnut shells. I was given the wrong advice on substrate. However, I followed the advice in the care sheet posted and have NEVER been sorry. Orchid bark is the way to go!
 
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