Rescue Russian

RosemaryDW

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I've been feeding Chili, my Russian, mostly grasses and weeds and hibiscus, with some tort-kibble mixed in with it so far... Would he also benefit from the occasional addition of squash or sweet potato?

Yes; I'm giving Addy a bit of sweet potato today, in fact.

I like to give her something orange once a month or so; there has to be something in them you can't get from leaves. Squash, sweet potato, a piece of red bell pepper, the top of a carrot. Some people feed them these foods more often than I do and I imagine it's fine. I don't give much do to the sugars.

Russians aren't grass eaters; if he eating that?
 

RosemaryDW

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I'm also wondering about what temps he can handle for outside days... I've been assuming he can handle cooler days (and/or earlier mornings) than my redfoot, down into the 60s on sunny or non-windy days.

Any input would be appreciated.

Jamie

With deep shade he'll be fine in the hundreds. It's VERY hot and cold in Afghanistan.

While I know they can go colder, when we start getting consistently into the low sixties or colder at night, it's time to hibernate.
 

jsheffield

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Yes; I'm giving Addy a bit of sweet potato today, in fact.

I like to give her something orange once a month or so; there has to be something in them you can't get from leaves. Squash, sweet potato, a piece of red bell pepper, the top of a carrot. Some people feed them these foods more often than I do and I imagine it's fine. I don't give much do to the sugars.

Russians aren't grass eaters; if he eating that?

I've seen him nibbling on grass in his outside enclosure, but his favorite thing is hibiscus flower.

J
 

RosemaryDW

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Mine would eat flowers all day too as well, if that’s what she what she could get at. :)

She gets a fair amount in spring and early summer because that’s when our plants are blooming. No need to supplement at our house!
 

jsheffield

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It was something I hadn't been talking about, here or in my home, but since bringing him to live with us Chili had consistently been hissing and drawing in his head defensively every single time I got within sight... I had assumed that it was either a Russian Tortoise thing, or a thing having to do with having lived the last decade or two in a 10g tupperware container and being systematically ignored, fed weird stuff, and generally treated poorly by his former jailer.

I put some clusters of maple leaves in the enclosure of all three of my torts yesterday, the second time I've done that, and last night when I moved through my office near dinnertime Chili was out among the leaves, doing some combination of light hiding and nibbling.

This morning, he was waiting for me when I came down to start writing with my second cup of coffee, and neither hissed nor hid at my approach, or even when I opened the top of his enclosure to check on his food/water/leaves.

I feel like this is progress... we had a short talk about him brumating this fall, once the warm and sunny days are gone, and he seemed agreeable.

Jamie
 
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jsheffield

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It's a nice warm day in Westmoreland, NH, so my two non-hatchling tortoise are enjoying the outside.

Chili is a bit more cold-hardy than my redfoot Darwin, so he's spent more days outside this summer, and will enjoy his outside enclosure further into the coming autumn. He had sweet potato, mushroom, mazuri, and a rose of sharon, but was also seen munching on maple leaves and weeds. Soon I'll start prepping Chili for brumation (the tortoise equivalent of hibernation), but for now he's enjoying a day in the sun.

A410A6C1-E60A-48F5-B0F8-B5D343CF3980.jpeg 123CECE3-4AA2-4E39-B475-1713187EECAE.jpeg
 

jsheffield

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My Redfoot and my Russian are enjoying an afternoon in the sun and warmth of a late summer day... you can see Chili in the enclosure on the right.

Their outside enclosure is divided, but connected... there's a third compartment for Aretha next year, when she's big enough.

The potted plants are hibiscus, rose of sharon, and bamboo, which I trim to feed them as available.

C7022BE4-252D-4062-AE49-83AA0D244B12.jpeg
 

RosemaryDW

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When my tortoise starts eating dead leaves, I know the time is getting near for brumation. Buying her a new fridge this weekend, in fact; she’s outgrown her first.
 

jsheffield

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When my tortoise starts eating dead leaves, I know the time is getting near for brumation. Buying her a new fridge this weekend, in fact; she’s outgrown her first.
I'd love to hear about your brumation routines and experiences.

I'm planning on helping Chili brumate this winter and am interested in all of the advice and help I can get.

Jamie
 

RosemaryDW

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Ha! Longest story ever.

We found her on the street and she brumated in the yard while we were trying to find her. She’s obviously been doing it a long time and I don’t plan to stop her. It’s damp here, though, and not cold so I’m not comfortable leaving her in our tiny yard (which flooded out several times during one heavy rain year). So she has a fridge. If I could be certain of cold, relatively dry conditions—with a little bit of a slope—I’d be okay letting her take care of herself.

For her first fridge we used the instructions you can find on the Tortoise Trust; they are straightforward. Last year my husband installed a thingamajig (sorry for lack of technical terms) to ensure the fridge turned on/turned off whenever the temperatures went outside our chosen range. I can get actual info on this if you want it.

We watch her wind down. When the light cycle gets shorter, she eats less and sleeps more. She also has a thing in the fall where she gets fairly intent on testing the perimeters of the yard. I think she’s looking for the best brumation territory—it’s the time of year when we first found her as an escapee. When her weight begins to drop and she starts to dig deeply into the yard, we begin keeping a close eye on her. She’s been different every year on her final date. If it’s an overcast fall she goes down pretty early. The earliest she ever went down was October 1 and the latest was late November. If you wanted to control the wind down yourself by bringing him inside and adjusting heat and light, you could; I don’t think I can beat nature on this and I don’t want an indoor enclosure if I don’t absolutely need one.

Because the time has fluctuated so much, I like to have the fridge temps running consistently by mid September (my husband has some work to do this weekend!).

We weighed her constantly the first year but have gotten less intense since.

This year the only change we’ll make beside the bigger fridge is to use a cardboard or wooden box. Yvonne has mentioned she finds plastic boxes hold condensation and we noticed that last year.

I try to keep her down between three and four months. My goal is to bring her up after the chance of heavy rain is past. Once I think we are at that point we start checking the weather forecast for a good stretch of sunny(ish) weather and a three-day weekend. If we time it right, she comes out of the fridge and into the night box right before or during the weekend, so I can see how she’s doing. Every tortoise is different but she typically comes out and eats within two days. Within a week and a couple of drinks of water she’s back to the prior year’s weight and off to the races.

There is a longer hibernation thread in here somewhere; this one, I think: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/looking-for-an-rt-hibernation-mentor.128790/#post-1201587. Multiple voices so probably useful in a different way.
 

method89

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Ha! Longest story ever.

We found her on the street and she brumated in the yard while we were trying to find her. She’s obviously been doing it a long time and I don’t plan to stop her. It’s damp here, though, and not cold so I’m not comfortable leaving her in our tiny yard (which flooded out several times during one heavy rain year). So she has a fridge. If I could be certain of cold, relatively dry conditions—with a little bit of a slope—I’d be okay letting her take care of herself.

For her first fridge we used the instructions you can find on the Tortoise Trust; they are straightforward. Last year my husband installed a thingamajig (sorry for lack of technical terms) to ensure the fridge turned on/turned off whenever the temperatures went outside our chosen range. I can get actual info on this if you want it.

We watch her wind down. When the light cycle gets shorter, she eats less and sleeps more. She also has a thing in the fall where she gets fairly intent on testing the perimeters of the yard. I think she’s looking for the best brumation territory—it’s the time of year when we first found her as an escapee. When her weight begins to drop and she starts to dig deeply into the yard, we begin keeping a close eye on her. She’s been different every year on her final date. If it’s an overcast fall she goes down pretty early. The earliest she ever went down was October 1 and the latest was late November. If you wanted to control the wind down yourself by bringing him inside and adjusting heat and light, you could; I don’t think I can beat nature on this and I don’t want an indoor enclosure if I don’t absolutely need one.

Because the time has fluctuated so much, I like to have the fridge temps running consistently by mid September (my husband has some work to do this weekend!).

We weighed her constantly the first year but have gotten less intense since.

This year the only change we’ll make beside the bigger fridge is to use a cardboard or wooden box. Yvonne has mentioned she finds plastic boxes hold condensation and we noticed that last year.

I try to keep her down between three and four months. My goal is to bring her up after the chance of heavy rain is past. Once I think we are at that point we start checking the weather forecast for a good stretch of sunny(ish) weather and a three-day weekend. If we time it right, she comes out of the fridge and into the night box right before or during the weekend, so I can see how she’s doing. Every tortoise is different but she typically comes out and eats within two days. Within a week and a couple of drinks of water she’s back to the prior year’s weight and off to the races.

There is a longer hibernation thread in here somewhere; this one, I think: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/looking-for-an-rt-hibernation-mentor.128790/#post-1201587. Multiple voices so probably useful in a different way.
Thank you for your well thought out and easy to understand explanation of how you brumate her. I'm a few years away from letting my tort hibernate but reading this post really made it easy to understand.
 

RosemaryDW

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Thank you for your well thought out and easy to understand explanation of how you brumate her. I'm a few years away from letting my tort hibernate but reading this post really made it easy to understand.

You’re welcome!
 
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