Newbie advice please!

Gembolina

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May 20, 2016
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Good Evening all,


First apologies as I am completely new to the tortoise world :)

I have bought my first Hermanns tortoise, Shelby, he/she is 9 months old and just lovely. Firstly, the day I picked up (Thursday) he had a wee in the container that he came home in, it looked like quite a lot for such a small thing and the creamy substance was present as well as liquid... I have bathed him each evening and he has not had another wee since bath time Thursday evening. Could this be a problem? How long can they go without having one??

Secondly, the place I bought him from advised not to put water in with him as they said he would wee in it then drink it and make himself poorly (hence the daily bathing!), they also said he would store enough water from the foods I give him to stop him becoming dehydrated... everything I have read since then believes me to think that he should have some water available in his tabletop... The other thing they weren't keen on was me NOT buying a viv for him with him being so small..

I'm also worried about the temp, I'm aiming for 32c under the lamp which we are pretty much staying at most of the time but.. he seems to be burying just outside of the main circle of heat at night time, I wonder if this is usual?

I'm so confused and worried I've done/ am doing the wrong thing/s, any advice would be greatly appreciated,

Gemma
 

JoesMum

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Hello

Ignore everything your prt store told you. From what you said they know nothing. Starting with your tort must have constant access to water.

The white stuff is urate and perfectly normal. It should be jelly like not gritty. It doesn't always pass when your tort urinates.

Please post pictures of your enclosure and lighting and we will help you correct what the pet store told you.

I'll be right back with some reading for you :)
 

JoesMum

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JoesMum

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At night lights go off - complete darkness - and temperature drops. What temperature is it in your home at night?
 

Gembolina

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Thank you, I'll read those tonight! I've been switching the UV lamp off at around 8pm till about 6.30am in the morning.. The house stays at around 16-18c at night, I'm going to sort his water out right now, have attached 2 pics, hopefully they will help.
 

JoesMum

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So the other things that need changing that are obvious are:

1. Rabbit Pellets are not good substrate. Your tort needs a warm humid environment - see the guides. Orchid bark or coco coir are preferred on here as they hold moisture.

2. Those pet store reptile bowls are not suitable for tortoises. They're a tipping hazard. A terracotta plant saucer is ideal for water. That flat rock is perfect for food (not a bowl) as it will abrade the beak while your tort eats and help to prevent it overgrowing.

3. What type of bulb do you have in the lamp?

4. Those stick on thermometers are not accurate enough to be effective. Get a temperature gun thermometer - inexpensive from Amazon. There are 4 important temperatures that you must know: warm side, cool side, directly under the basking lamp and overnight minimum.
 

Gembolina

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Thank you, the substrate came with the setup, was planning on a soil/playsand mixture once it's ready for changing, I'll ditch the bowl and use the slate for his food. The bulbs are Red night spot lamp - 100w and UVB 100. I'll look in to the thermometer now, thank you!
 

Sara G.

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Okay, so a couple things.
1. Your substrate is not right. Get coco coir, organic top soul, fine grade orchid bark, any of those will work. What you have now is dry, and not normal for torts to be on.
2. It looks like you've got a red light bulb. These aren't very good for torts as they see colors more vividly then we think. Get a CHE (ceramic heat bulb) instead for night heat or more ambient temps.
3. I'm not sure what basking bulb you've got. If it's a coil UVB bulb then you should get rid of that too because they can harm your torts eyes. You can use an MVB bulb (provides both heat & UVB) or a tube bulb for UVB.
4. Make sure you listen to the previous advice and put in a terra cotta plant saucer as your water dish. This is mandatory. Tortoises (and all animals) must have access to fresh, clean water daily.
5. Your enclosure looks rather small for your tort. Even though your tort is small, it will be active and needs enough space to roam around in. Shoot for 4'x8' as your minimum. Can you create an outdoor enclosure?
6. YOUR TORT IS SO CUTE! (Sorry, had to be said :D)
7. Add some plants to the enclosure. Torts appreciate somewhere to hide, plants will work well for that, plus torts are able to much on some of them. Spider plants are great, cheap plants to use. And they're edible for torts. Just make sure you buy from a chemical/pesticide free nursery.
Or grow your own from a cutting from a friends or something.

I know that was a lot of info. I'm sorry, sometimes it can be brain overload. I've been there. But it'll help you all on the end, and your tort too! Your tort is super cute by the way. If I haven't said it already.
 

JoesMum

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Scrap the red night spot. Your tort needs complete darkness. It's not nocturnal. If temperature at night drops below about 17C use a ceramic heat emitter, which emits no light, on a thermostat. Your nighttime temp of 16-18 is about right. You only need a CHE if it gets colder than that.

Sand and sand mix are not recommended for torts as the sand sticks to food and gets eaten and then impacts in the gut
 

Gembolina

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Thanks for the advice, I'm taking one bit at a time! Water is in, phase 1 complete :)
Coco coir - do you buy in bricks??
 

Gembolina

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Could you mix topsoil and coco? Also whichever way I go would you recommend a light mist of water over it every day to keep the humidity up?

It's a minefield, I was well aware of before we brought him home, I just want him to be in the best environment possible from day dot..
 
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