Scared tortoise

Daisy_

New Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Dublin
Hi everyone,
I have a bit of a long story but I've recently joined the forum just looking for any advice at all
Back in June 2020 I bought two russian horsefield tortoises Luna and Trevor (they were only 8 months old when I got them and not sure the sex as they're too young that's just the names I picked). I was originally only going to get one but people kept saying one might get lonely so I got two, even though I had one enclosure, not the best decision now thinking of it. I thought everything was fine, when I first got them they had one or two sicknesses such as an eye infection straight after getting them from the pet shop I learned after. I thought they got along fine as neither were aggressive and it looked like what I thought was happy and cuddling together sometimes but Luna started to stop eating and withdraw a bit, I brought her to the vet so many times (it was very expensive but I just wanted Luna to be okay) and no answer and when I asked on a FB group someone told me to seperate them and that she is probably intimidated by Trevor and I did, I split the enclosure in half (as a temporary measure) and she began eating more and seemed more comfortable after a bit, I couldn't believe I didn't notice it. I got them seperate enclosures (this was in October when they would be 1 years old Trevor weighed in normal but Luna was only 45grams at that point) but then she stopped eating again, I brought her to the vet as no matter what I did she wasn't gaining weight and they said she got a parasite (worms) and then she got better.
But it is now April and she is not sick and she eats some days but some days she just doesn't no matter what I do (I put the Komodo tortoise diet fruit and flower over her food cause she eats more sometimes when I do that) or no matter what food I give her, I'm trying to get her to gain more weight, she is currently 76 grams and while this is more than she was in October, I'm afraid it's not enough for her age, she's about 1 and a half now and Trevor who is the same age as her is healthy and 180 grams (and looks and according to vet growing and rounding out nicely) . I just don't know what to do, before when I first got her she warmed up to me quickly but soon after I moved her enclosure she's become more scared, not very active, reserved from me and just generally afraid like sometimes she won't eat her food if she hears me in the bedroom (they're in my room in an enclosure only place I can put them in the house but they've got a good enclosure), I don't think she likes people around her much so I put curtains around her enclosure (they're bunk bed enclosures specially made and she's bottom bunk) she bops her head away at the slightest of noise and just sits there and nods at her food sometimes. Sometimes when I fuss move over her she'll eat less like trying to get her to eat or soaking her daily (as I soak them both seperately daily especially cause neither of them ever drink their water and to hydrate them). While Trevor in his enclosure will run to food the minute he sees it, he's active and moves around a lot and when I bring him in the garden (I live in Ireland can only do this when we've certain temperatures) he runs around eating dandelions while she will stay in the same place looking scared or won't move much. I don't know what to do, I'm currently trying to get her bigger so that she'll survive cause I'm really worried she won't at this rate, is there any advice or anything anyone has?
I'm afraid that after her being scared with Trevor and then moved it might have been too much change but it's been about 6 months since this and she's still scared (and hiding a lot of the time), no matter what I do, she just doesn't seem to act like a 'typical tortoise' or even like Trevor, I know she might have a different type of personality but she is always scared of everything when I am very careful with her now not introducing much change, giving her space and stuff, giving her foods that used to be her favourite but even those she doesn't eat anymore. I really don't know what to do and I'm just trying to make her less scared and help her gain weight cause she needs to, please if anyone has any advice at all, I would really appreciate it.
(Also I know she's too young and might not be a she I just refer to her as that as it's easier when talking about both of them like this)
Thank you
 

Lyn W

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
20,277
Location (City and/or State)
UK
HI Daisy and welcome,
I'm glad you've separated them, they will be much happier in their own space. Pet stores rarely know about tort care and are happy to sell 2 because they are profit driven - they also sell unsuitable and unsafe equipment for that reason. Torts are territorial and don't like or need friends and it is very stressful for them as you found out so well done for giving the their own enclosures
Torts take a little while to settle after changes.
Can you post a picture of the enclosures so we can see if there's anything affecting her behaviour?
Meanwhile here is the most up to date caresheet you'll find for them which will help you make sure your temps etc are good

www.thetortoistable.org.uk is also a good guide to tort safe foods.
 

Daisy_

New Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Dublin
HI Daisy and welcome,
I'm glad you've separated them, they will be much happier in their own space. Pet stores rarely know about tort care and are happy to sell 2 because they are profit driven - they also sell unsuitable and unsafe equipment for that reason. Torts are territorial and don't like or need friends and it is very stressful for them as you found out so well done for giving the their own enclosures
Torts take a little while to settle after changes.
Can you post a picture of the enclosures so we can see if there's anything affecting her behaviour?
Meanwhile here is the most up to date caresheet you'll find for them which will help you make sure your temps etc are good

www.thetortoistable.org.uk is also a good guide to tort safe foods
Hi Lyn,
Thank you and thank you for getting back to me, I'm glad I have too, yeah I've found that a few times in the pet shops where I've researched a good bit into them and when I go to a pet shop asking them or looking for something a lot of time I get advice that probably (I know from research) isn't the best advice. Also a problem I've had is not many of the pet shops stock tortoise equipment and those that do it is very limited (as they are not a common pet in Ireland) so I've gotten some equipment online after research. This is a problem I've had as well for their diet, there isn't many weeds or flowers particularly in the city where I'm from that are included in a tortoise diet such as sow thistle,romaine, etc I think it's due to our bad and unpredictable weather. I mainly feed them doc leaves, dandelions (not every day) and a salad mix from the shop they enjoy (it has escarole, frisee, lollo rosso and radiacchio, this mix is the best one I've found that could be used for them). Thank you, I'm glad I have cause I wouldn't want Luna to be in an environment where she was scared of Trevor. Is it normal for it to take this long for Luna to adjust to the change?, I'll attach photos now, this is their current enclosure, they both have kind of bunk bed enclosures for space, I only got these in October (had to get them specially made and shipped from England cause only ones I could get in Ireland was the clear glass ones and I know they don't do well with those) and in the next few weeks I'm gonna look at possibly revamping or getting a new enclosure especially for Trevor cause he's growing fast and I want him to have a bit more space, I'm hesitant to change Luna's though cause I don't wanna further distress her. I've seen photos of different enclosures with fake soft lawn type of sections, more rocks and plants in the enclosure and a top soil substrate which I want to change their enclosure too (I'm in my final year in university with 2 weeks left so planning to after this) and thought this might be good for them.
The first photo is the bunk beds, second and third photo is Luna's enclosure (the temps are only 29 celsius as her lights had just went on as it was morning, generally I have their temps between 33 to 37 Celsius and the last photo is Trevors enclosure, also they didn't have water yet cause had to change it as I was just awake and it was morning)
Thank you for all your help!
 

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Daisy_

New Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Dublin
What kind of UVB light are you using?
Do you use a screw in bulb? Or a mercury vapor bulb?
Or a fluorescent tube type bulb?
Hi Karensocal,
Their UVB lights are an Exoterra strip light UVB 150, their UV bulb is an Exoterra basking light 100 watts (Exoterra and maybe one other are the only brands that sells reptile equipment here), I also have a ceramic heat light for them it's an arcadia 50 watt bulb
Thanks!
 

Lyn W

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
20,277
Location (City and/or State)
UK
Hi
The enclosures are too small for your torts but hopefully that will be something that can be changed in the near future. Meanwhile can you remove the panel between the covered hides and the rest of it ? That will give extra space to wander and you have the wooden tunnels and the pots as alternative hides.

The substrate you have looks like coco coir but it's too dry so needs to be sprayed, or pour some water in and mix it in by hand (moist not wet) A layer of fine orchid bark on top will help the humidity and be less messy. It is difficult to control heat and humidity in an open table so maybe try to get mini portable greenhouses which will fit over the tables.

There are plenty of ideas in the Enclosures threads and if you use a 2nd hand bookshelf on it's back with the shelves removed and lined plus a few other adaptations that can be a good cheap way to start.
Top soil isn't usually recommended and fake lawn is no good for tort tables or for any animal. It will smell and go moldy and will harbour bacteria which can make your tort sick. Russians need a moist substrate deep enough for them to dig in - see the caresheet for further details. and options.

The caresheet will also advise you about diet and www.thetortoisetable.org.uk and is a good guide to tort safe foods. When you find weeds make sure they are from a chemical and car fume free place.

The dock leaves are a definite 'Do Not Feed' on the tortoise table - see the page below.
https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk...xactwords&searchtxt=dock&x=4&y=5#.YIh60LVKhnI
so stop feeding that asap.

The che should be run through a thermostat so that it keeps the temps even.

The caresheet will help you with most things but ask as many questions as you like.
 

Daisy_

New Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Dublin
Hi Lyn,
Thank you for all the information, I will definitely use all of the advice given, for the moment I will see if the structure would be secure on the bunk beds to remove the panel for now, I will definitely in the near future be looking at giving them a bigger enclosure, the current substrate I use is the Trixie naturhumus one, this is the best one I’ve found that I’ve liked so far, I previously used coco coir but personally didn’t like it and I don’t think they did either cause they wouldn’t burrow much in it and this one they burrow and move around on it more and I’ve seen it recommended a few weeks times on other sites, perfect I will definitely look more into their diet, I thought I seen that dock leaves were alright, I definitely won’t give it to them anymore, I do try to give them a good environment and do research into them just a lot of it I’m learning new things with them as I go
I was just wondering if you had any advice on how to help Luna become less scared and help her eat more
Or any advice on essentially how to fatten her up (in a good way), I’ll definitely implement all the suggestions you said to her environment just need her to grow more (as Trevor has grown) and to survive cause she’s getting older and there’s a big difference in their weight
Also any suggestions on when changing her enclosure to a bigger enclosure on how to help her with the change cause I don’t want her to become even more scared and just fully stop eating
Thanks so much for all your advice, I really appreciate it!
 
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