New UK Member

Mikee1977

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Oct 18, 2021
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Hi All, brand new member from the UK here. Got our first tortoise yesterday (Horsefield/Russian) and so naturally have been doing nothing but googling tortoise related stuff ever since! Seemed to be lots of good info here so naturally decided to join up.

After getting him home yesterday he seemed to be happy enough. Had a good explore of his enclosure, immediately went and sat in his water bowl for a bit, had a bite to eat and explored some more. However, since about 18:00 last night he has buried himself down in his hide and hasn't moved. It is now 16:00 the next day and he still hasn't moved. My wife has lifted the hide briefly to check on him and he moved a little then but didn't feel like coming out.

As I understand it baby tortoises tend to sleep a lot anyway and particularly when put in a new enclosure but I was wondering at what point do we start to worry that he isn't coming out of his hide?! I don't want to add to his stress by messing with him if we don't have to but we're also getting a bit anxious about his total lack of activity.

For info, we have him in quite a large vivarium. Heated to about 85 at one end, about 75 the other. The hide is directly under the heatlamp but we don't have a basking spot for him yet (He tried to climb onto the hide early on, stopped a moment but then fell off climbing back down). We have a UV light for him that we turned off overnight but switched back on this morning.
 

Freddy90

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Hi All, brand new member from the UK here. Got our first tortoise yesterday (Horsefield/Russian) and so naturally have been doing nothing but googling tortoise related stuff ever since! Seemed to be lots of good info here so naturally decided to join up.

After getting him home yesterday he seemed to be happy enough. Had a good explore of his enclosure, immediately went and sat in his water bowl for a bit, had a bite to eat and explored some more. However, since about 18:00 last night he has buried himself down in his hide and hasn't moved. It is now 16:00 the next day and he still hasn't moved. My wife has lifted the hide briefly to check on him and he moved a little then but didn't feel like coming out.

As I understand it baby tortoises tend to sleep a lot anyway and particularly when put in a new enclosure but I was wondering at what point do we start to worry that he isn't coming out of his hide?! I don't want to add to his stress by messing with him if we don't have to but we're also getting a bit anxious about his total lack of activity.

For info, we have him in quite a large vivarium. Heated to about 85 at one end, about 75 the other. The hide is directly under the heatlamp but we don't have a basking spot for him yet (He tried to climb onto the hide early on, stopped a moment but then fell off climbing back down). We have a UV light for him that we turned off overnight but switched back on this morning.
Hello and welcome to the forum :) I'm not experienced enough to give u advice I only have a water turtle and never kept tortoises but I'm sure it would help others if u could post some pictures of ur enclosure and lights.

I'm sure u will soon get good help here :)
 

Karen(pebbles)

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192
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Hi and welcome to the forum, you've come to the best place for advice, but if you could post some pics of your set up it would be a great help
 

Humbug & Maz

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125
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Chesterfield UK
Hello and welcome from a fellow UK tortoise owner! As Karen and Freddy said, it will help the experts on here if you upload some pics of your set up. I am almost 2 months in to acquiring my little Hermann tort and he brings such joy. This forum has been invaluable to me 😊
 

Maro2Bear

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Welcome welcome welcome. There’s a lot of so so info out there in Google Land, so you did well finding this Forum. There’s a ton of great advice here on the Forum & on Russians in particular.

As long as your new Russian is well hydrated & you have good temperatures & lighting dialed in, let your new friend settle in. Right now it doesnt know that you are its keeper & food provider. Heck, it might think that you are a big bad predator ready to eat it! Give it some time to wander about on its own.

Lots of care advice here under Russians - ➡️ https://www.tortoiseforum.org/forums/russian-tortoises.81/

Good luck
 

Lyn W

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Hi and welcome,
This is the caresheet full of up to date information you need
and if you follow that your tort should thrive.
If you post some pics of your enclosure and lamps you'll get good feedback to make sure he'll be as safe as possible.
 

Mikee1977

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Oct 18, 2021
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Thanks for the replies all. Already been hoovering up all the info on here which has been great. I'll get up a photo of our setup shortly.

Good news is that we've seen more of the little guy though he still seems very wary of us. Any kind of movement outside his vivarium and he runs back his hide. I'm hoping he'll overcome this shyness over the next few days. Seems his active period is between 16:00 and 18:00 and we see little of him any other time. Though his food does go down overnight at some point so he's obviously snacking.

He's eating well but doesn't seem interested in his water so we gave him a bath last night. Can't say he particuarly enjoyed it but he spent a couple of minutes blowing bubbles from his rear end and then pooped for England! So I'm guessing he feels better!

We're already building a "to-do" list from info gleaned here:

1/ Replace substrate from the one the store gave us to a more "soil-like" one
2/ Sort the humidity in his viv'
3/ Replace the water bowls given to us by the store
4/ Take a look at his lighting (We have a UV bulb but not convinced it's suitable)
5/ Sort some sort of basking spot (made of slate maybe?)
 

Humbug & Maz

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Follow the care sheets on here as these guys really know their stuff. If ONLY reptile stores could be educated as I believed the awful substrate I was given would be ok but now my tort has pure orchid bark he is way happier and no sand getting on the food which could cause impaction. Those water dishes they sell are also a death trap! Using a slate to put his food on will help keep his nails and beak trimmed and can easily be cleaned. Spot clean the substrate every day and you hardly need to change it and I find my little one is happy to bask just on the substrate under the lamp, although he likes to sit on a low rock in the corner slightly away from the main heat bulb sometimes. I can't tell you how much this forum has helped me and (apart from needing a bigger enclosure, as the one I was sold is only suitable for a baby - something else the reptile shops don't tell you!) I feel I am now getting things right and have a very happy little tortoise 😊 If you post those pics the experts on here will be able to help. Hope your new Russian settles in well :<3:
 

Lyn W

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Are you leaving his light on at night? Torts need darkness to sleep.
The substrates recommended in the care sheet I linked are the ones to get and Russians love to dig so make it deep enough for him to do that.
They don't like change so I'm sure that once he's used to his new home he'll be less nervous.
Plants are good to have to make them feel more secure but any shop/garden centre bought need to be re potted in chemical free soil and washed then left for at least a year so that any pesticides and fertilisers absorbed by it can grow out. If you know of anyone with spider plants that haven't had chemicals used on them then see if you can get any of the babies that sprout on them.
www.thetortoisetable.org.uk is a good guide to tort safe plants for food and enclosures
 

Lyn W

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I was wondering the same as Lyn if you are leaving lights on as you say your tort is eating at night? You are in the UK too and this place do tortoise friendly plants https://www.tortoisehut.co.uk/
They have a good selection but quite pricey.
Do they guarantee that no chemicals have been used in growing of them?
 

Humbug & Maz

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They have a good selection but quite pricey.
Do they guarantee that no chemicals have been used in growing of them?
When I asked they said yes they are completely tortoise friendly and would like to think they are trustworthy. The spider plants I got have been really good (my tort never touches them anyway but likes to bury near them). They ARE a little pricey but I guess you pay for the fact they are ok for our torts. I did have a question about that top soil/choir mix they offer though and wasn't sure about that on another thread I put up, decided to stick with orchid bark
 

Lyn W

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When I asked they said yes they are completely tortoise friendly and would like to think they are trustworthy. The spider plants I got have been really good (my tort never touches them anyway but likes to bury near them). They ARE a little pricey but I guess you pay for the fact they are ok for our torts. I did have a question about that top soil/choir mix they offer though and wasn't sure about that on another thread I put up, decided to stick with orchid bark

It would depend on who their suppliers are I suppose as to whether they are chemical free.
I would be happier either waiting the year or grow my own from seeds so that I know for sure they are safe.
There are some great trustworthy sellers of tort food in the US on the forum, but I'm a bit suspicious of UK suppliers.🕵️‍♀️
 

Humbug & Maz

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It would depend on who their suppliers are I suppose as to whether they are chemical free.
I would be happier either waiting the year or grow my own from seeds so that I know for sure they are safe.
There are some great trustworthy sellers of tort food in the US on the forum, but I'm a bit suspicious of UK suppliers.🕵️‍♀️
I do know what you mean, Lyn. Have you heard of this place? https://bioactiveherps.co.uk/
 

Mikee1977

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I was wondering the same as Lyn if you are leaving lights on as you say your tort is eating at night? You are in the UK too and this place do tortoise friendly plants https://www.tortoisehut.co.uk/

We leave the heatlamp on all the time but we turn off the UV light. I didn't want to be turning off the heat lamp as we live in quite a cold, draughty house and didn't want the temps getting too low overnight.
 

Lyn W

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We leave the heatlamp on all the time but we turn off the UV light. I didn't want to be turning off the heat lamp as we live in quite a cold, draughty house and didn't want the temps getting too low overnight.
If the heat lamp is the basking light and gives light, it would better for the tort if you used a Ceramic Heat Emitter run through a thermostat at night. The CHE just gives heat and the thermostat is important because keeps the temps even and stops it getting too hot or cold. Torts have the same day/night rhythm as us and need darkness to sleep. I bought my CHE and thermostat from The Range for about £60 but they last for years.
They are also good for extra heat when needed in the day too.
If you post pics of his enclosure so we can help you make sure your tort is as safe and happy as possible.
 

Mikee1977

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This is the current setup.

The heatlamp is on a thermostat with the sensor about half way down the enclosure. It is set to about 27C/80F. This gives a readout of 25C/77F at the cold end and around 32C/90F at the hot end.

He spends 22 hours a day under the warm hide, buried in the substrate. He does venture up the cold end in his active 2 hours though but favours the warm end obviously. When we first put him in he climbed up on top of the warm hide but hasn't ventured up there since.

The main issue (other than correcting the issues around being misold/misinformed by the store) seem to be how timid he is. But then we only got him back Sunday evening so I guess it's still very early days.
 

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Mikee1977

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Oct 18, 2021
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We have just been looking at CHE's and obviously we would want to run it off a thermostat but we already have the heatlamp running off a thermostat. I was wondering if just buying a CHE "bulb" and swapping them out at bedtime would be feasible? Or do we need to 2 separate setups for the 2 heat sources?

The current heatlamp and thermostat seem to do a good job of maintaining a good temperature gradient in the enclosure but I am conscious what I have been told above about having a light on him 24/7. Albeit a dim one.
 
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