Bcrawford

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Hi everyone,

I’m the proud owner of a new Horsefield Tortoise named Dash. He is only 5 months old and I only got him this October. I’ve read conflicting advice about when to have lamps and and whether or not to hibernate.

He lives indoors as we have no suitable outdoor environment and we only just got him during what normally would be hibernation for him. I’ve also read that you shouldn’t hibernate in the first year of ownership. Questions;
1. Do tortoises kept indoors need hibernating?
2. Should I not hibernate this year because it’s my first year?

Secondly heat lamps. I’ve got a dual heat and UV lamp. We keep it on whenever we’re in the house (including night time) and turn it off during the day when noones in. The room he’s in is fairly dark all the time. Question:
1. Am I better turning the lamps off at night and leaving them on during the day so that the environment is more similar to natural? Or is the way we’ve done it okay?

Finally, he’s a bit slow at the moment, I’ve read of aestivation which might be explained by the lamps being on a fairly long time. He sleeps most of the time, we get him out to bath him in the evenings at about 6pm then feed him but he often goes back into his little cave and sleeps, then he comes back out a little later on 10/11pm then back to sleep, as far as we know, until 6pm the next day.

Any help, tips, advice welcome! Thanks in advance
 

Minority2

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1. Indoor tortoises are not require to hibernate/brumate.

2. New and inexperienced owners are generally recommended against allowing their tortoises to brumate within the first year because factors such as brumation preparation, indoor brumation housing/storage, and the overall health of the tortoise prior to going into hibernation must be met before attempting to do so. Incorrect preparations methods, fluctuating temperatures, and health concerns can cause a tortoise not be able to survive or recover after their brumation periods.

3. Can you please provide picture(s) of your enclosure and lighting fixture/bulbs? Are you using two bulbs or a single mercury vapor bulb for heat and UV(B)?

4. Lighting fixtures should always be placed on timers. They should be set to run automatically on 12-14 hour daily cycles. Tortoises are natural day creatures. Keeping the lights on during the night where surrounding temperatures outside the enclosure are generally lower may confuse and keep them from being active. What you're currently doing does not benefit the tortoise in any way.

5. What are the 4 temperature zones in your enclosure? Basking spot, warm side, cool side, and overnight cool side low?

Purchase a reliable infrared temperature gun and digital food/weather branded thermometer and hygrometer reader with probe if you do not have them. Cheap pet branded analog temperature reading gauges are very inaccurate and should not be used at all.

6. How many times is the tortoise soaked per week? What is the humidity level of your enclosure?

Read these links, follow the guidelines, and change whatever needs changing:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
 

Bcrawford

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Oct 21, 2018
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12
Location (City and/or State)
Manchester
1. Indoor tortoises are not require to hibernate/brumate.

2. New and inexperienced owners are generally recommended against allowing their tortoises to brumate within the first year because factors such as brumation preparation, indoor brumation housing/storage, and the overall health of the tortoise prior to going into hibernation must be met before attempting to do so. Incorrect preparations methods, fluctuating temperatures, and health concerns can cause a tortoise not be able to survive or recover after their brumation periods.

3. Can you please provide picture(s) of your enclosure and lighting fixture/bulbs? Are you using two bulbs or a single mercury vapor bulb for heat and UV(B)?

4. Lighting fixtures should always be placed on timers. They should be set to run automatically on 12-14 hour daily cycles. Tortoises are natural day creatures. Keeping the lights on during the night where surrounding temperatures outside the enclosure are generally lower may confuse and keep them from being active. What you're currently doing does not benefit the tortoise in any way.

5. What are the 4 temperature zones in your enclosure? Basking spot, warm side, cool side, and overnight cool side low?

Purchase a reliable infrared temperature gun and digital food/weather branded thermometer and hygrometer reader with probe if you do not have them. Cheap pet branded analog temperature reading gauges are very inaccurate and should not be used at all.

6. How many times is the tortoise soaked per week? What is the humidity level of your enclosure?

Read these links, follow the guidelines, and change whatever needs changing:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/

Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it. We use a dual bulb, heat and UV. We've only has him a week so we’ve soaked him everyday this week as per the instructions given when we got him. These are the best two pictures I’ve got at the moment. Tomorrow’s job is purchasing a more accurate temperature gauge. We only have one at the moment moment which is placed near where he spends most of his time, which is about 30degrees.

Like I said we’ve only had him a week and it’s our first one so all advice is appreciated :)
 

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Minority2

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Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it. We use a dual bulb, heat and UV. We've only has him a week so we’ve soaked him everyday this week as per the instructions given when we got him. These are the best two pictures I’ve got at the moment. Tomorrow’s job is purchasing a more accurate temperature gauge. We only have one at the moment moment which is placed near where he spends most of his time, which is about 30degrees.

Like I said we’ve only had him a week and it’s our first one so all advice is appreciated :)

I'm asking specific information because certain bulbs and advice given by others can actually be unsafe for young tortoises. Reptiles such as tortoises require specialize care and dietary requirements. This is one of the reasons why many people in this forum recommend having everything setup and ready to go before purchasing or getting a tortoise. Incorrect temperature levels, substrate matter, and other factors can directly affect a young tortoise's health.

1. Are you saying you're using a single bulb that provides heat and UV(B) such as a mercury vapor bulb?

UV(B) rays that come from bulbs and natural sunlight are required for all tortoises. All bulbs provide UV(A) rays but not UV(B) rays. Please take a picture and a link to the product if possible.

2. Continue to provide daily 20-30 minute soaks in warm water for at least the first 1-3 years.

3. Humidity is very important to a tortoise's shell growth. Young Russian tortoises will benefit from relatively high humidity levels. Keep humidity level in the enclosure at about 70-80% at a times. Pour water and mix the substrate to get the humidity level in your enclosure to rise.

4. The basking spot, directly under the basking bulb should be around 35-38C. The information is already included in one of the links provided above.

5. The enclosure you're currently using in my opinion is quite small for a hatchling tortoise. There isn't enough exercising area in those commercially built tortoises tables because a large portion of the enclosure is converted into a dark hide area.

This is what I usually recommend recommend for new hatchling owners. I am not sure if UK has any online retailers that have this product in stock. You can also find a cheap tall bookcase and convert that into an affordable indoor enclosure for hatchlings. Examples below:
https://www.walmart.com/ip/IRIS-Holiday-Tree-Storage-Tote-with-Compartment-Lid-Red/48037027
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSH8NXV/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
 

Bcrawford

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Manchester
I was provided with the entire set up by the seller who breeds tortoises. Yes the bulb provides heat and UVB. As you say the temp gauge we have probably isn't accurate and it isn't placed exactly under the lamp but on the side of the enclosure. The hide on the left doesn't have to be kept in the dark, it can quite easily be removed and kept open and lit up.

It is something I will certainly look into doing.
 

Minority2

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I was provided with the entire set up by the seller who breeds tortoises. Yes the bulb provides heat and UVB. As you say the temp gauge we have probably isn't accurate and it isn't placed exactly under the lamp but on the side of the enclosure. The hide on the left doesn't have to be kept in the dark, it can quite easily be removed and kept open and lit up.

It is something I will certainly look into doing.

The hide area is still sectioned off which means lighting and or heating would require additional fixtures. In my opinion the space is too large to use for a single tortoise and is too small of a space for any other applications.

Mercury vapor bulbs provides a very intense amount of heat and light. I don't typically recommend using these because some hatchling tortoises have been known to avoid them. They also dry a tortoise's shell faster than a regular incandescent flood bulb would. If you wish to keep using this bulb be sure to monitor the temperature under the basking fixture regularly and to keep up with daily soakings.

Do you have a water dish in your enclosure?

I also recommend putting a large feeding tile under your feeding dish. You have a lot of substrate being tracked into your feeding dish. Ingesting a small amount of coco coir is safe for tortoises but a large amount can create blockages and may become fatal.
 

Bcrawford

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Ah okay I see what you're saying..

Yes we have a shallow water dish and provide fresh water.

The substrate normally isn't in the dish as on this picture, just unfortunate on this. We were told to ensure the substrate is right up to the dish to ensure he can get into the dish easily :)
 

Minority2

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Ah okay I see what you're saying..

Yes we have a shallow water dish and provide fresh water.

The substrate normally isn't in the dish as on this picture, just unfortunate on this. We were told to ensure the substrate is right up to the dish to ensure he can get into the dish easily :)

That's not exactly correct. A water dish, ideally a heavy shallow plant saucer that is wide enough to fit your tortoise, should be submerged into the substrate to allow easy access. A feeding dish, however, should be away from the substrate and cleaned daily to avoid substrate getting into the food. The flat rock, slate, or ceramic feeding tile, and feeding dish will allow your tortoise to naturally file down their own beak and claws.

The best feeding and water dishes are heavy, shallow plant saucers. Other jagged looking pet branded water dishes sold on the market are too light. They've also be reported to cause drownings and fatalities when flipped over.
 

Bcrawford

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Like I said, everything I’ve got I got from the breeder. Thanks for all the advice, will definitely look at this
 

Minority2

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Like I said, everything I’ve got I got from the breeder. Thanks for all the advice, will definitely look at this

And I am just informing you that certain advice even from a breeder as suggested above, may not be good nor suitable for your tortoise. While the breeder may not have had problems with their conditions, it be may be a completely different matter for others.
 

Bcrawford

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And I am just informing you that certain advice even from a breeder as suggested above, may not be good nor suitable for your tortoise. While the breeder may not have had problems with their conditions, it be may be a completely different matter for others.
I am sincerely grateful for the advice but I don’t appreciate the judgeyness of your replies. I read somewhere when signing up that this was a judge-free zone?
 
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RosemaryDW

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I read somewhere when signing up that this was a judge-free zone?

Welcome! We’re glad you’re here!

We try but it can be difficult sometimes to hold back if we see something that can interfere with a tortoise’s health, particularly babies. Unfortunately it is true that sometimes even breeders are a little (or a lot) out of date on optimal setups. This is particularly true with enclosure size and lighting/heat setup. I can see you’ve put a great deal of effort into caring for your little one, let’s see if we can’t just fine tune it a bit. :)

Hibernating is a personal preference, you’re baby doesn’t need to hibernate if correctly housed indoors.

I think you will be best served by reading the caresheet for baby, not adult, Russians: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/b...or-other-herbivorous-tortoise-species.107734/.

Tortoise babies are just like all other babies in that they sleep a lot! Your baby could be just fine and a little slow now that the days are getting shorter (unless there is no natural light in that room they can still get a sense of seasons). Or the lighting and heat could be off.

I only have an outdoor tortoise so can’t help much on setup. I do know the lighting schedule is not correct. Take a look at the caresheet and please come back with any questions you have after that. We’ve made every mistake in the book as first-time owners, so please don’t feel you’re being judged. We are just anxious to help. :)

Oh, and I totally encourage the purchase of a heat gun if you don’t have one; they are inexpensive and give you a really good knowledge of your temps. Plus they’re fun! https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01AT9TM3M/ref=sspa_dk_hqp_detail_aax_0?psc=1
 
Last edited:

Bcrawford

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Manchester
Welcome! We’re glad you’re here!

We try but it can be difficult sometimes to hold back if we see something that can interfere with a tortoise’s health, particularly babies. Unfortunately it is true that sometimes even breeders are a little (or a lot) out of date on optimal setups. This is particularly true with enclosure size and lighting/heat setup. I can see you’ve put a great deal of effort into caring for your little one, let’s see if we can’t just fine tune it a bit. :)

Hibernating is a personal preference, you’re baby doesn’t need to hibernate if correctly housed indoors.

I think you will be best served by reading the caresheet for baby, not adult, Russians: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/b...or-other-herbivorous-tortoise-species.107734/.

Tortoise babies are just like all other babies in that they sleep a lot! Your baby could be just fine and a little slow now that the days are getting shorter (unless there is no natural light in that room they can still get a sense of seasons). Or the lighting and heat could be off.

I only have an outdoor tortoise so can’t help much on setup. I do know the lighting schedule is not correct. Take a look at the caresheet and please come back with any questions you have after that.

Oh, and I totally encourage the purchase of a heat gun if you don’t have one; they are inexpensive and give you a really good knowledge of your temps. Plus they’re fun! https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01AT9TM3M/ref=sspa_dk_hqp_detail_aax_0?psc=1

We can all get a little protective but there’s a way to go about it

I appreciate your advice here also. I’ve read a bunch of different care and help sheets all with conflicting advice ‍♀️ I’ve changed the lighting schedule now so hopefully in the coming weeks that’ll help, and I didn’t really anticipate that tortoise babies would sleep as much as they do! I’ll definitely buy one of the temperature guns. I think I’m just worrying a little bit because I want to look after the lil guy as best I can
 

RosemaryDW

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I’ve read a bunch of different care and help sheets all with conflicting advice. I think I’m just worrying a little bit because I want to look after the lil guy as best I can

There are two kinds of new owners: those who think they know everything and those who think they know nothing, at least after reading all the different advice! :) This forum has the most up-to-date info I’ve found but there is still a lot to sort through.
 

Bcrawford

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There are two kinds of new owners: those who think they know everything and those who think they know nothing, at least after reading all the different advice! :) This forum has the most up-to-date info I’ve found but there is still a lot to sort through.
Thank you so much, the help sheet you put in the last comment really helped. Lots of useful information glad I signed up so soon after getting him so I can get it right for him!
 

Minority2

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I am sincerely grateful for the advice but I don’t appreciate the judgeyness of your replies. I read somewhere when signing up that this was a judge-free zone?

I'm only been answering your questions and statements word for word. My writing style has always been direct and straight to the point.

Which part do you consider is judging you if you don't mind me asking?
 

Yvonne G

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The "judgyness" might have been in reference to what you said about the breeder.

Just because someone has been lucky enough to have tortoises that bred, laid eggs and the eggs hatched, doesn't mean that person knows didly squat about tortoises. Yes, that was judgy!
 

Minority2

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The tortoise captive-bred trading market is majorly composed of for-profit and outdated care breeders. Breeders that do utilize and follow the latest up to date care that has been recently field/research tested is in the minority. New owners may not usually be able to tell the difference regardless of how much research is done prior to purchasing the tortoise.

Tortoises are a long term investment. The level of care and advice given by the breeder can have lasting consequences on the tortoise.
 

Bcrawford

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Can completely understand your concerns. As previously mentioned, I’ve done lots of research prior to purchasing and found lots of conflicting advice hence posting on here. I was after some friendly, judge free advice as a first time owner. Thanks all for the help, I will adjust living conditions accordingly
 

Cathie G

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Hi everyone,

I’m the proud owner of a new Horsefield Tortoise named Dash. He is only 5 months old and I only got him this October. I’ve read conflicting advice about when to have lamps and and whether or not to hibernate.

He lives indoors as we have no suitable outdoor environment and we only just got him during what normally would be hibernation for him. I’ve also read that you shouldn’t hibernate in the first year of ownership. Questions;
1. Do tortoises kept indoors need hibernating?
2. Should I not hibernate this year because it’s my first year?

Secondly heat lamps. I’ve got a dual heat and UV lamp. We keep it on whenever we’re in the house (including night time) and turn it off during the day when noones in. The room he’s in is fairly dark all the time. Question:
1. Am I better turning the lamps off at night and leaving them on during the day so that the environment is more similar to natural? Or is the way we’ve done it okay?

Finally, he’s a bit slow at the moment, I’ve read of aestivation which might be explained by the lamps being on a fairly long time. He sleeps most of the time, we get him out to bath him in the evenings at about 6pm then feed him but he often goes back into his little cave and sleeps, then he comes back out a little later on 10/11pm then back to sleep, as far as we know, until 6pm the next day.

Any help, tips, advice welcome! Thanks in advance
Hello. Hopefully you are just having some fun with your new pet. Tortoises are awake in the mornings and hungry. They are aware throughout the day but might just be hiding out. They will also come out around 5pm and want to eat again...but you've got one that might try to slow down because it's A lot of changes. A Russian is a lot like us humans. That's why I love them as a perfect perfect pet. You do have time to get it right for your animal. 40 to 60% humidity and bath soak. Daylight and darkness like us. My body temperature is 98.6 but if I stand in that hot of a temperature I need to cool off for a bit. I hope this helps cause they are a wonderful pet.
 
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