New tortoise owner questions

Leisy Lou

New Member
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
HOUSTON
Hello!

I have a new baby cherry head red footed tortoise, and I wanted to make sure I am doing what I need to be/asking some advice.

I have posted pictures of little Hermann's enclosure and the cutie. He (it? since I don't actually know the sex) is about 2 in and still has his egg sack scare (which is slowly falling off. Is that normal or should it just fall off all at once?).

His enclosure is 80"x24"x12" so he should be able to grow for awhile. I currently have 2 coconut shell substrates, one that is wood chip-like and one that is similar to dirt. I have 2 water bowls, a couple pieces of live moss and a moss hut (not live). I also have a basking plate and just put in a calcium block.

I spray the cage down with water twice a day to keep the humidity up. Low temps at night get to be about 70 and highs get in the 80s. I believe I need to get the temperature up during the day, and would appreciate advice on how to do that. I have 2 double some light fixtures with uvb lights in each, and I need to replace one of the heat bulbs since it was defective.

The breeder told me to alternate feeding him spring mix veggies with zucchini or squash for 2 days and mazuri tortoise diet pellets 2 days. He also said to avoid feeding him fruit while he is still little. Hermann is being really picky, and I can't figure out how to make him eat the pellets or anything other than ruffly dark greens.

I soak him for 30 minutes a day where he constantly tries to escape the bowl. I also bring him outside (I live in Houston) when I can so he can get direct sunlight.

I have only had him a week and I think he is still nervous about his new home so he is not moving around much (except when soaking) and hides in the dark part of the cage in a corner. I am trying to also limit my handling of him so I don't make things worse.

Sorry for the really long post, but I wanted to try to give all of the information I could.

Is there anything I can do to get him more comfortable and active? Or should I just give him time?

Also, does anyone have any advice on how to get him eating the pellets?

Thank you guys so much!!
 

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Leisy Lou

New Member
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
HOUSTON
Hello!

I have a new baby cherry head red footed tortoise, and I wanted to make sure I am doing what I need to be/asking some advice.

I have posted pictures of little Hermann's enclosure and the cutie. He (it? since I don't actually know the sex) is about 2 in and still has his egg sack scare (which is slowly falling off. Is that normal or should it just fall off all at once?).

His enclosure is 80"x24"x12" so he should be able to grow for awhile. I currently have 2 coconut shell substrates, one that is wood chip-like and one that is similar to dirt. I have 2 water bowls, a couple pieces of live moss and a moss hut (not live). I also have a basking plate and just put in a calcium block.

I spray the cage down with water twice a day to keep the humidity up. Low temps at night get to be about 70 and highs get in the 80s. I believe I need to get the temperature up during the day, and would appreciate advice on how to do that. I have 2 double some light fixtures with uvb lights in each, and I need to replace one of the heat bulbs since it was defective.

The breeder told me to alternate feeding him spring mix veggies with zucchini or squash for 2 days and mazuri tortoise diet pellets 2 days. He also said to avoid feeding him fruit while he is still little. Hermann is being really picky, and I can't figure out how to make him eat the pellets or anything other than ruffly dark greens.

I soak him for 30 minutes a day where he constantly tries to escape the bowl. I also bring him outside (I live in Houston) when I can so he can get direct sunlight.

I have only had him a week and I think he is still nervous about his new home so he is not moving around much (except when soaking) and hides in the dark part of the cage in a corner. I am trying to also limit my handling of him so I don't make things worse.

Sorry for the really long post, but I wanted to try to give all of the information I could.

Is there anything I can do to get him more comfortable and active? Or should I just give him time?

Also, does anyone have any advice on how to get him eating the pellets?

Thank you guys so much!!
Oh I also use the attached calcium to dict his food with.
 

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ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
Tortoise Club
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Platinum Tortoise Club
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Messages
24,227
Location (City and/or State)
South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
Well, I disagree with your breeder. But that's not unusual. Since we all have our preferred methods. But the fact that they didn't also warn you about that enclosure and those lights have made me want to chime in.
First off, Redfoot have the largest variety of foods that they can eat of any other species. And they can eat them as soon as they can shove them in their mouths.
Fruit can be fed in abundance. 70% fruit is my current summer diet. Mostly seasonal tropical fruits and berries.
Then green leafed plants. Mushrooms, edible flowers. Bell pepper, tomato (also technically a fruit) squash, zucchini, even animal protein and eggs. And hundreds of other things!
They are jungle floor vacuum cleaners.
My adults eat like hogs.
So have all of my babies. Although for hatchlings, I've chopped up the food. But I use the same diet for all.
Now for your enclosure: its wooden. And it's open topped...
The wood will rot if you close the top with plexiglass. But making a "closed chamber" is definitely what you need for a tropical Redfoot. They need humidity of over 75% 24/7 and you can spray that enclosure 10 times a day and never reach that.
Your lights are wrong. That double dome fixture is wrong.
You need a strip florescent T5 5.0 tube like the photograph for UVB. And a CHE on a thermostat to control heat.
Your temperatures of between 80 and 85 are PERFECT. However.
I'm assuming that your double dome has either a SPIRAL/COILED compact uvb or an MVB BULB or both.
None of these should be used.
With a correct and varied diet and a decent uvb source, supplemental calcium, etc is not that critical for this species.
I'd use a pinch of calcium powder without D3 every few feedings. And a pinch of repti vitamin about twice a month while young.
Then nothing after a year.
 

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Leisy Lou

New Member
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
HOUSTON
Well, I disagree with your breeder. But that's not unusual. Since we all have our preferred methods. But the fact that they didn't also warn you about that enclosure and those lights have made me want to chime in.
First off, Redfoot have the largest variety of foods that they can eat of any other species. And they can eat them as soon as they can shove them in their mouths.
Fruit can be fed in abundance. 70% fruit is my current summer diet. Mostly seasonal tropical fruits and berries.
Then green leafed plants. Mushrooms, edible flowers. Bell pepper, tomato (also technically a fruit) squash, zucchini, even animal protein and eggs. And hundreds of other things!
They are jungle floor vacuum cleaners.
My adults eat like hogs.
So have all of my babies. Although for hatchlings, I've chopped up the food. But I use the same diet for all.
Now for your enclosure: its wooden. And it's open topped...
The wood will rot if you close the top with plexiglass. But making a "closed chamber" is definitely what you need for a tropical Redfoot. They need humidity of over 75% 24/7 and you can spray that enclosure 10 times a day and never reach that.
Your lights are wrong. That double dome fixture is wrong.
You need a strip florescent T5 5.0 tube like the photograph for UVB. And a CHE on a thermostat to control heat.
Your temperatures of between 80 and 85 are PERFECT. However.
I'm assuming that your double dome has either a SPIRAL/COILED compact uvb or an MVB BULB or both.
None of these should be used.
Thanks for all of the info!

I have a humidity reader and it is saying it is keeping the area around 80% humidity, but I will look into the CHE reader you mentioned to make sure it is reading correctly. I do live in Houston, which may help a little bit.

Just for my knowledge, why is the spiral/coiled uvb and mvb bulbs bad for tortoises?

Thank you again for all of your help!!! :)
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
24,227
Location (City and/or State)
South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
Thanks for all of the info!

I have a humidity reader and it is saying it is keeping the area around 80% humidity, but I will look into the CHE reader you mentioned to make sure it is reading correctly. I do live in Houston, which may help a little bit.

Just for my knowledge, why is the spiral/coiled uvb and mvb bulbs bad for tortoises?

Thank you again for all of your help!!! :)
I suggest you do a forum search of the spiral uvb and MVB lights.
You'll be able to read first hand about the dangers.
You DO have the option of letting your little RF get actual sunlight outdoors for a couple of hours a week. Then you just need to keep him warm. And you can forget about a uvb light altogether.
Redfoot need a little less uvb than most species
 

Leisy Lou

New Member
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
HOUSTON
I suggest you do a forum search of the spiral uvb and MVB lights.
You'll be able to read first hand about the dangers.
You DO have the option of letting your little RF get actual sunlight outdoors for a couple of hours a week. Then you just need to keep him warm. And you can forget about a uvb light altogether
Awesome! While he is soaking I want to keep him outside so he can direct sunlight everyday, and then I can just provide uvb during the cold months and get the long bulb you mentioned.

I was going to let him run around my herb garden supervised, but he has an immediate problem with that , so I will find him another way to get a little more time outside :)

Thank you!!!
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
24,227
Location (City and/or State)
South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
Awesome! While he is soaking I want to keep him outside so he can direct sunlight everyday, and then I can just provide uvb during the cold months and get the long bulb you mentioned.

I was going to let him run around my herb garden supervised, but he has an immediate problem with that , so I will find him another way to get a little more time outside :)

Thank you!!!
Fantastic
Mine all live outdoors.
That should be your longterm goal
 

Leisy Lou

New Member
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
HOUSTON
I hope replying to this post will work, but I had a couple more questions.

I think Hermann is doing well with me after a month. He still hides in his enclosure, but he knows when lunch time is and pokes his head out to meet me when I come home.

Lately while there is could cover or light rain we go on supervised walks where he seems to love to run around and explore and try to eat things he shouldn't. Having him walk around seems to help him poop so it is almost daily right now and they are growing in size.

I have also started giving him a little watermelon, but that is only once or twice a week because he only wants to eat the fruit when I put it out, and I hide it behind squash and spring mix so he has to eat other stuff to find it.

I have made some updates to his enclosure based on comments from this post and the temps/humidity seems to stay around 74-86 F and 70-90%.

I think there may have been a misunderstanding about his age when I got him I was told he was a month old, but his egg sack fell off a week after I got him. I also noticed he still has his egg tooth. Is there a point I should be concerned if he still has it? I know it should be absorbed 6ish weeks after hatching, but couldn't find much more info than that.

Finally when I first got him he was about 28g, and now 4 weeks later he is 52g. Does that appear to be good growth for this little one?

Thank you guys for all of your help!!!
 

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