Newbie Concerns

Tortnewbie92

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
Newcastle
We've recently bought a little buddy, don't know gender but the prev. owner has a setup already so we've used that I've stumbled across this site (I didn't wanna get attached but, now I have) and what I can see is that the setup they've had is so wrong it's almost right again.

Didn't have access to a UVB (sorted that)assuming that it's constantly been in a dry open wooden box so humidity isn't a thing the tort isn't very active constantly wants to dig rarely eats I've not seen it take a drink on its own doing I'm concerned for the chaps health..

12 weeks as far as I'm aware few questions I have and tips are greatly appreciated 🤗

1. how deep should it's substrate be?
2. Any concerns with 'neglected/poorly educated' past owners which may effect now?
3. And what people have used as a makeshift home?
 

Jan A

Well-Known Member
Location (City and/or State)
Boulder, CO
We've recently bought a little buddy, don't know gender but the prev. owner has a setup already so we've used that I've stumbled across this site (I didn't wanna get attached but, now I have) and what I can see is that the setup they've had is so wrong it's almost right again.

Didn't have access to a UVB (sorted that)assuming that it's constantly been in a dry open wooden box so humidity isn't a thing the tort isn't very active constantly wants to dig rarely eats I've not seen it take a drink on its own doing I'm concerned for the chaps health..

12 weeks as far as I'm aware few questions I have and tips are greatly appreciated 🤗

1. how deep should it's substrate be?
2. Any concerns with 'neglected/poorly educated' past owners which may effect now?
3. And what people have used as a makeshift home?
Welcome. Yes, the forum can be addicting. To help get things going, it would be useful to post some photos of your enclosure. How old is the tort & what kind of tort is he? What temps is he being kept in?

If this is a young tort, you are going to need to hurry it up. Presumably the tort is severely dehydrated, as it's not eating much & you haven't seen it drink water It needs once or twice a day soakings of at least 30 minutes in warm water so that it can rehydrate. The water level should be where the top shell meets the bottom shell with the tort able to keep his head out of the water. He should have a shallow water dish in his enclosure as well.

What was his previous owner/or you feeding the tort? When did he last pass urine or poop?

As far as substrate, you should be using orchid bark, coco coir or Cyprus mulch at least 4 inches deep.

This is generalized advice, not knowing much except that this tort has been living in poor conditions. It is very important to get this tort's living conditions improved rapidly, & that includes getting its ambient temps up above 80 degrees F since torts don't generate their own warmth & they cannot digest food if temps are not much warmer than that & if they don"t have room to walk.

Depending on the size of your tort, big plastic bins with lids are often used as a starting point for its habitat, like the kind used for storing sweaters, shoes, Christmas gifts, etc.

Hopefully, @Lyn W or some other UK experts will be answering soon.

Meanwhile, more info is needed from you about your tort. Photos, please!!
 

Lyn W

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
UK
Hi and welcome,
I'm far from being an 'expert' but I can help with some things.
Sounds like your tort has had a lucky escape and will get the best care possible now and this is the best website around for up to date advice. There is a lot of old and incorrect information being circulated online and on places like FB, so avoid those and stick to this forum and you can't go far wrong.

Can you post pics of the tort so that members can identify what species he is? My guess is that he is either a Hermanns, Horsefield (Russian) or Greek which seem to be the most commonly available in the UK. If which case this caresheet will help you.

https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-best-way-to-raise-any-temperate-species-of-tortoise.183131/

However, he could also be a redfoot or leopard or some other species which have completely different needs so a photo would be the first step to make sure you get the best advice for your tort and we can tell you if he has been affected by a bad start by looking at his shell, beak eyes and claws etc.

Some torts, like Russians, love to dig so need the substrate deep enough for that

Any idea how old he is?

As for enclosure the minimum size recommended for young adults of the smaller species is 4 x 8 feet, if he is younger and still small you may get away with smaller for now, but torts are wandering creatures so the bigger the better. If he is one of the bigger species like my leopard then even bigger space. is needed.

If he is still a baby then most people favour large vivs to help control humidity and temps, but there are other options. Have a look at the enclosures thread for some ideas.

Costco have some lovely white upvc raised beds which would be great, but not cheap.
Some people use bookcases laid flat with the shelves removed and lined with plastic e.g. shower curtain, but the sides would need to be high enough to allow for the substrate.

Diet will be covered on the caresheet and
www.thetortoisetable.org.uk
is a good guide to tort safe plants for food and enclosures.
While weeds are still in short supply for us ,then I can easily point you on the direction of some of the better shop bought foods if you need help.
 

Tortnewbie92

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
Newcastle
What was his previous owner/or you feeding the tort? When did he last pass urine or poop?
I do believe it was Kale; we've switch up a few things; and will be picking weeds and such for him when they do grow back so our back garden will be a prime location for that and he did poop yesterday is his 30 minute soak but the urine has been a while since I last noticed anyway; but it was gritty so really that's what started all this off; I thought it was strange that it was a clump and here we are with multiple issues with his current tort home which I've discovered

Any idea how old he is? I do believe he or she is about 12 weeks old and is a Horsefield from the person we've bought him from and of course does match pictures of said species (but will provide pictures when I can) and we're working on a enclosure now of course isn't mine and would be a gift for a family member and with me being me and I've seen it's conditions from the owner before I've got attached and trying to fix everything for the poor thing and ensure the knowledge I'm getting is the correct because the first site we came across does state that dry is the best thing for them and coming across this site states completely the opposite and with being concerned with little buddies health.

I've Joined up and hoping my knowledge would be the best knowledge to pass on to the actual new owner so ensure the safety of the little tort I'd hate to think I'd be making the poor thing suffer within my care and Improve it's conditions from the prev. owner.
 
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Lyn W

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
UK
Gritty urates are a sign he is dehydrated so plenty of warm shallow soaks will help there.
I also soak his leaves to get extra hydration in.
If you use a shallow terracotta plant saucer and sink it level with the substrate to make it easy and safe for him to get in and out he will probably soak himself as well.
Kale is OK occasionally but he needs variety.
Iceberg and little gem lettuce aren't great as there is little nutritional value in them or too many sugars so some lettuces are better than others.
I use the Aldi mixed leaf salad bags (radiccio ,green and red multileaf ,pale green bag 57p) as a base then add things like lambs lettuce, dark romaine leaves, pak choi leaves, some spring green and kale (but my torts not keen on those) carrot leaves are ok. Whatever I can get as recommended by the torotise table.
Morrisons also do a good mixed salad with escarole and frisee, Florette Classic Crispy salad is the best and Sainsbury's is good but they're expensive . Lidl's mixed leaf in an orange bag is OK too.
I pick out the white and stalky bits which could be a choking hazard for a little one.
You can use soaked pellets as occasional supplements but they're also not something my tort will eat.

I can't wait for the weeds to come back! It's great when you find a chemical and fume free source for free food. You can always tell a tort owner because they are growing weeds while others are pulling them up!
 

Tortnewbie92

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
Newcastle
He doesn't seem that active either; pretty much has been in the same spot all day too which is very strange shielding from the heat we've supplied him so I'm keeping an eye on him ensuring he's okay, assuming that this may be because he's been messed around a lot and may be shielding for safety reasons, is this correct?
 

Lyn W

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
UK
He doesn't seem that active either; pretty much has been in the same spot all day too which is very strange shielding from the heat we've supplied him so I'm keeping an eye on him ensuring he's okay, assuming that this may be because he's been messed around a lot and may be shielding for safety reasons, is this correct?
Torts don't like change so it could be that, but it's difficult to tell without seeing a pic of his enclosure and how it is set up, and knowing what lamps etc you are using. It's usually something we've not got right affecting their behaviour.
Curly or cfl types lamps have been known to damage tort eyes.
It could be that he is too hot or too cold - have you tested his temps at his level? The caresheet will tell you what they should be.
Do you supply night heat? Babies may need that in our climate and at 12 weeks he must be tiny.
Most if us use a CHE on a thermostat for that as torts need darkness to sleep.
Does he have a hide ?
If you can post some pics of him and his home asap - even if it's just your temporary set up - you will get all the help you need to make sure he's safe and healthy.
 

Tortnewbie92

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
Newcastle
Excuse the slight mess, in the middle of changing over his stuff, but this is it at the moment, well what we've got to work with anyway 70cm x 40cm the bulb an 80w MVB hitting about 35c below the bulb but his spot is about 31 (screwed in so I need something to adjust it up a little and the bucket being a temp humid hide and water and food available whenever decoration leaves are unreachable

PXL_20210225_085729381.jpg
 

Lyn W

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
UK
Thanks, I bet that is an improvement on his last home, but he will need a bigger enclosure soon - it's fine for a temp home though.
MVBs are convenient but not recommended now as they have been found to dry and damage the shell.
T5 HO tubes are the most widely recommended now, with a separate basking bulb and a che/thermostat for night heat. Hanging bulbs is a good way to be able to adjust the heat by raising or lowering. A digital temp gun is great for spot checking temps in different areas at tort level.
A tile or flat stone for him to bask on would be good when you have the correct temps. I use a bowl or stone about the same size as my tort to adjust temps in the basking area.
I can't tell from the pic, but if that is ivy hanging in the corner check the Tortoise Table for safety.
Food should be available at all times because they are grazing animals and will return to it later. I was told to think of the shell as an upturned dish and to feed that amount to start, but if they finish it all feed more. So let the tort be your guide - you can't overfeed the right stuff - they will stop eating when they've had enough.
 
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