New Tortoise Shopping List + A Few (Unique) Questions

daminals

New Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
2
I've been doing some research and I've decided that a Tortoise is really the pet for me, specifically the Russian tortoise. Their small size and hardyness will work for my intended living situations for the years to come. Currently I rent a room in Northern Michigan and my only option is an indoor habitat. We have rather warm/hot summers with temperatures potentially over 100* outdoors and very cold winters where we often see temperatures far below zero. The house I live in has adequate heat for the winter and AC for the summer that is moderately effective. The largest environmental factor from my house would be humidity as that fluctuates frequently during the summer as the AC tries to keep up, and my winters are often rather dry.

I'm afraid my shopping list may be incomplete and I dont want to be missing something critical my tortoise would need. Here's my shopping list:

- Large enclosure (rubbermaid tub(s), depending on availability I may piece several together)
- UVB light source (on 12-14 hours/day)
- Heat source to create basking spot (on 12-14 hours/day)
- Thermometer(s)
- Substrate (Coconut coir)
- Packaged food for winter to supplement organic grocery store greens (Mazuri)
- In-tank water dish? (I'm unclear on this if it's necessary or recommended in place of or in addition to soaking?)
- Hides for the tank (rocks)


And a few specific questions:
-Regarding UVB Light and windows: I know modern windows have UV filters on them, but my current residence was built in 1902 and appears to have original windows in many places, including my room. I plan to use this natural sunlight to supplement a UVB bulb as it seems natural light is healthier for the tortoise?

- Compact fluorescent / coil lamps I understand are bad and can cause eye issues for the tortoise - is this because of the intensity of the light in such a small space/close distance? I live/work/breathe technical theatre and I have access to theatrical "gel," the stuff commonly used to achieve different colors on stage. Could I use a diffusion gel over a cfl to eliminate the visual risk to my tortoise, provided the gel allowed the UVB wavelengths through? Diffusion gel is often a white fibrous cloth-like sheet made to be near 1000+ Watt lamps and the very high temperatures they produce, and would likely have the UV penetration information available where a standard cloth fabric wouldn't (also, gel is heat proof and fabric may not be). Also, is there a difference between the standard consumer cfl and the pet store cfl, assuming the consumer model isn't specifically shielded against UVB?

- Using painted rocks as hides: my family has a lot of painted rocks, painted with acrylic paint similar to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ATJSD8S/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20 these, provided I put several coats of a sealer over it? If there's no way for the tortoise to chip the paint from the rocks, are they safe? Will colors on rocks bother the tortoise?

- Can I take my tortoise "camping?" Before you outright say no, hear me out. It's not traditional camping... we have all the comforts of home other than internet/ac, including running water. I would spend 5-9 days in this situation, depending on work schedules. I understand if I'm going to be away for two nights I would ask a friend to feed my tortoise, but when I'm away for a week I'd rather take him with me. I would set up two enclosures, a large one outside (like two kiddie pools/something similar) with a screen top for daytime use when we're all outside frequently, and a smaller one inside the camper for nighttime use. For the indoor one, I would take substrate / a hide from his established habitat so it should be familiar. In this situation I wouldn't need a UV light, only potentially a heat lamp depending on the outdoor temperature (I know damp + cold is bad). Another question here is water quality - we've had the water at our property tested and it's safe for human consumption, we just don't drink it because it very high in iron and sometimes contains sulfur. Would this be safe for soaking, or would you recommend bottled water?

Thanks a bunch guys, I just want to have a happy little tortoise friend!
 

lismar79

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
Messages
2,995
Location (City and/or State)
Ohio USA
A water dish in the enclosure is a must. A small terra cotta plant saucer works the best and are cheap in any garden center. I have two in each for food and water. I would also suggest a timer for your lights. You can purchase a power strip with a timer at lowes for around $10. Handy to have. I would not use painted rocks, they might encourage him or her to bite them. The general rule with water is if it is safe for you it is safe for your tort. Camping- if it were me - one or two days I would leave him home. Travel is stressful and they are comfortable in the familiar. A week, I may take him.... with a russian, please know and research, they are master diggers and climbers. The pic in my avatar is my russian climbing a foot tall fence. She did it in less than a min! Make sure your kiddy pool has a lid if you do use it. Large birds could carry them away as well. For food subs you may want to grow some indoor weeds in tubs to add verity to their diet. There is a testudo seed mix from tortoise supply.com that grows super fast and is great for russians. Good luck, your tort will be luck to have you.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
89,022
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Hi, and welcome to the Forum!

Make the enclosure as big as you possible can. Russians are small, but they are hard-wired to wander great distances in search of food. Being in a small habitat is very stressful on a russian tortoise.

747117wei24kafiu.gif
 

RainsOn

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
263
Location (City and/or State)
NE OK
Have you acquired your new friend yet?
I have had Digger for 2 weeks and feel like a new mom.
I did my research, too, to see which species suited me.
The Russian is a great choice and seems to be a favorite around here.:tort:
 

daminals

New Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
2
I have not yet purchased my tortoise, I'm planning on buying one from LLL reptiles this week and having him delivered on the 11th. I'll have the habitat set up by then, and a few days mostly off work with the weekend/etc.

Today I'm buying tubs and substrate, if it's available at my local pet store/Walmart/tractor supply (I'm doing coco coir).

I can't wait to have it all set up!
 

RainsOn

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
263
Location (City and/or State)
NE OK
The same kind of planning was done here. My Russian is in an aquarium in my office. Sure warms it up in here.
You might want to consider organic soil.
Something I learned the hard way: NO SAND !
I saw videos of tortoises on U-tube with sand for substrate and Digger got some in his eye - not good.
People on U-Tube need to find this forum.
You will have to post a pic when you get your new friend.
 
Top