Rescued a Russian Tortoise....

Alith7

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My husband and I rescued a Russian tortoise a few months ago that showed up on a local buy/sell/trade site. The owner had purchased her for her son at least 6 months prior. The son had not been doing anything with her, and the lady was sick of taking care of her. I do think she really was trying to take care of her as best as she was able. But she really had no clue what she was doing. She was soaked at least twice a week, but we're pretty sure she was fed nothing but grocery store lettuce. Her house was a 20 gallon reptile tank with reptile felt, and a half log. Poor thing!
My husband has been researching and wanting a tortoise for over 10 years, we just never found the "right" one at the "right" time until now.

The first thing we did was take her to the vet to get checked out. She got her nails trimmed, and a good once over. Although the vet did comment that the growth lines between her scutes was an odd slight greenish color. The only thing he saw was that her eyes were a bit puffy and he thought she might have some conjunctivitis, so we had to give her some antibiotic drops for two weeks and that cleared up fine. As far as age, he seemed to think she was full grown, and according to the previous owners she was "at least 5 years".

We live in Wisconsin, so our winter food options are limited, but we immediately altered her diet. currently, she is getting a mix of Radicchio, Green Leaf, Read Leaf, Escarole and Endive. I buy the full heads and shred a few days worth at a time. We are almost into full summer, and have been adding dandelion greens and the occasional flower. as soon as the mulberry trees, rose bushes and hibiscus open their leaves, we'll be adding some of those. And some hibiscus flowers and rose petals when we have those. We do not fertilize or spray our plants or yard, so everything should be about as safe as it can get. I generally have a brown thumb, but I am going to try my hand at growing some of my own lettuces and other plants this summer.

After reading a number of sites having concern about calcium powders and sprays, we decided to go with the cuttle bone in the tank option.

We also recently finished her new tortoise table. It is about 3' x 6' with a mix of about 3" of expanded coconut fiber and cypress mulch. She has a heat bulb and UVB bulb during the day, and ceramic heat bulb at night. We do the night one because the previous owners used a red reptile bulb at night and she seemed to want the warm at night. She got weird when we tried to take it away, but she has started sleeping under the day bulb at night where it cools off.

We soak her about every other day. We fill the tub with shallow amount of luke warm water, and let her wander around in there until she starts scrabbling at the sides to get out. Usually about 15 minutes or so.

So that's the long of the history. I have some other weird behavior questions, but I'll ask them later. Right now, my main concern is this weird growth between her scutes. She has thick creamy white growth bands, which, from what I can find, seem to be from rapid growth. But there are these weird "dents" in them. I will post pictures as soon as I get home tonight. She eats anything and everything we put in front of her, but I have noticed that she'll eat about half of what we give her in the morning, and then come back to it around lunch and finish it off. I'm not sure if we are over feeding her, and haven't really had luck finding how much you should feed.

Her skin is also peeling constantly. it doesn't seem like it bothers her, the skin looks fine underneath and there is no bad smell, but I'm not sure if we should be worried about this or not.

If this is all just part of her getting over the malnutrition from before, I didn't want to bother the vet. he does seem to know his stuff, I guess he raises Red Foots. But he didn't seem to know a whole lot about the Russian specific differences. For example, he kept telling us to feed her lots of fruit. We did not. she has not had any. But other than the breed specific differences, he did seem to know a fair amount about general tortoise stuff.

The short of it:
  • How do we know if we are over feeding her?
  • Should we be concerned about the growth spots and peeling?
  • Is she maybe not quite full grown given the growth rings?
  • Does it seem like we are doing anything else wrong?
Thank you! and I should have pictures in about 2 hours.
 

Yelloweyed

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Do you have photos of the enclosure and of the tortoise? Carapace (top she'll) and plastron (bottom she'll or underside) pics would be great!
 

JoesMum

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Hello and welcome :)

You're doing very well.
Pictures of your tort and the enclosure and lighting speak a thousand words and will help us to help you.
The short of it:
  • How do we know if we are over feeding her?

  • As a guide, a mound of food roughly the size of her shell will be about right.
    [*]Should we be concerned about the growth spots and peeling?
    Probably nothing to worry about with either. Pictures will help.

    All creatures shed skin, even you. Snakes do it all in one go. Torts just look downright tatty from time to time.

    [*]Is she maybe not quite full grown given the growth rings?
    If there are growth rings she is still growing

    [*]Does it seem like we are doing anything else wrong?

    Thank you! and I should have pictures in about 2 hours.
    Your enclosure is small. 8' x 4' is the minimum.

    What type of UVB do you have? Compact coil type causes tort eye problems and must not be used. Tube UVB or an MVB are fine.

    Please read the following TFO Guides as they are the most up to date information on care. Sadly many old ideas are still in circulation with the internet, many pet stores and even some vets and breeders

    Beginner Mistakes
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/

    Russian Tort Care Sheet
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
 

Jodie

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All in all it sounds like you're doing a great job! Tortoises are grazers, and will eat all day. As long as you feed the right stuff, and there is an opportunity for exercise, you cannot over feed a tortoise.
I look forward to seeing pics, but everything sounds normal to me.
 

Alith7

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here's photos.
Explaination coming

image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg
 
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Alith7

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It was difficult to get the "dents" to photograph. I hope you can see them and the crease.
We're pretty certain she was severely malnourished so I think some of this is just growing that out. You can see by her back right leg where we think she had been dropped at some point.

The pictures of her enclosure you can see her butt in the air in the far corner digging a safe spot after the indignity of being photographed. Lol

The lights are heat bulb in the front corner, UVB bulb in the middle, and the ceramic heat lamp in the back corner.

The small terracota dish is what I use in the evening if I bring her a treat since she usually pees in her big food dish and I have to wash it every day. Tonight's treat was a few young dandelion greens and some baby mulberry and hibiscus leaves.

Right now. Main concern is those dents in the growth ring.
 

Jodie

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Your tortoise looks fine. Still growing and adorable. The shell is fine. I see nothing to worry about. Your enclosure is great. The UVB light is no good though. Get a mercury vapor bulb. It is basking and uvb in one. Great job!
 

Alith7

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Thanks! I'll find the correct bulb and replace them.
Still growing. So she could be pretty young yet? Maybe the previous owner was right at about 5 years.

We were on vacation for a week at the beginning of the months for my sister watched her. But unfortunately we had to take her to my sister's place so she had to spend a week in her old small tank. I guess she drove my sister nuts with some midnight cage rearranging. Unfortunately it was our only option. It did make for a cute photo though. Not sure what the motivation was. Probably just antsy I the little cage.

image.jpeg
 
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Oxalis

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She is very cute and looks great to me! :) Kudos on doing some great research -- it saves us helpers on the forum a bit of time! My male Russian is about the same size and our vet said he could be as old as 20 or 25! I have never formally asked the forum members what they thought his age is, but he does have similar growth characteristics on his shell. These were likely due to poor nutrition (and I'm sure a lack of proper lighting), but the new growth since he's come into my life is nice and smooth! Your tortoise looks like she's doing great; let us know how she adjusts to her new home. :)
 

Alith7

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Thank you! We love her more every day!
When we first put her in her in her new house she pretty much stayed on the far side under the lights. She didn't even go in her log. Now, we've caught her tromping around all over when we're home during the day on the weekends. It's quite amusing actually, because it seems like she doesn't want us to know. She likes to climb over the shorter log and slide down the other side. We've looked in on her a couple times and as soon as she sees us she freezes like "crap. Maybe they won't see me if I don't move". It's super cute!

So far she's had some mulberry leaves, rose leaves, and super baby hibiscus leaves and gobbled them all up! Now if only we could get her to stop pooping and peeing on her food. Lol
 

Yvonne G

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You can try moistening those lines on the side where you feel there's an issue. I use either olive oil or cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil, dabbed or painted on with a Q-tip and allow it to soak in for 30 minutes or so. Then I polish it off thoroughly with an absorbent cloth. It's a very nice-looking tortoise.

The only thing I see with your habitat is the light situation. The lights seem to be sitting on a screen??? The small openings in a screen filter out the beneficial UVB rays. I don't like any of the new compact fluorescent bulbs, preferring rather the Mercury Vapor Bulb (MVB). It provides heat plus light and UVB. You wouldn't need that basking bulb or the compact fluorescent bulb. I would have the MVB at one end and the CHE (ceramic heat emitter) at the other end. I would also have the night hiding place at the end with the CHE.
 

Alith7

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the the MVB bulb, what brand and wattage do you prefer? My husband is going to rebuild the panel holding the lights so there is no screen.

We have two half logs in for her. a bigger one and a smaller one. However, since we moved her into the new table from her little tank, she uses them as a jungle gym instead of a hide. she's been preferring to dig herself a pit, and sometimes cover herself completely with the cypress chips for sleep time. depending on her mood, she sometimes digs a pit in each corner and rotates throughout the day. while probably frustrating for her, we fill in her pits every other day or so to give the exercise and "fun" of digging new ones.
 

Vladsfriend

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the the MVB bulb, what brand and wattage do you prefer? My husband is going to rebuild the panel holding the lights so there is no screen.

We have two half logs in for her. a bigger one and a smaller one. However, since we moved her into the new table from her little tank, she uses them as a jungle gym instead of a hide. she's been preferring to dig herself a pit, and sometimes cover herself completely with the cypress chips for sleep time. depending on her mood, she sometimes digs a pit in each corner and rotates throughout the day. while probably frustrating for her, we fill in her pits every other day or so to give the exercise and "fun" of digging new ones.
Just noticed that you were left without an answer there. The most commonly recommended bulb is the Zoomed Powersun UV Mercury Vapor Lamp 100 watts. It's the one i use with my Russian and have had no issues.
Hope that helps!
 

Kasia

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Your tortie looks really great:) I love people who love their pets enough to make an effort to give them proper healthy life. Does she have any outdoor time? Hugs and kisses for you and your shell:)
 

Nicole M

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The enclosure is beautiful! Mind if I ask what you made it from and how you sealed it? I'm in the midst of designing mine, and I'm looking everywhere for inspiration!
 

Oxalis

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The pictures of her enclosure you can see her butt in the air in the far corner digging a safe spot after the indignity of being photographed. Lol

The small terracota dish is what I use in the evening if I bring her a treat since she usually pees in her big food dish and I have to wash it every day. Tonight's treat was a few young dandelion greens and some baby mulberry and hibiscus leaves.
Some torts really seem to despise the camera; so true! My Russian poops right in his food dish, and then looks at me like nothing's wrong. :confused: Happens all the time! You picked some good treats too. I can't wait for my mulberry to grow bigger and my hibiscus plants to bloom.
 
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