Shell issue

RobP67

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Aug 7, 2018
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Hello everyone, I hope all is well. My name is Rob and I am a beginner tortoise owner. my friend gave me a Russian tortoise for my bday back in August. He said he got it from underground reptiles. Decided to name him Putin since he’s Russian, I know a bad joke... Putin and I have had our ups and downs but overall he’s been a joy to take care of. I soak him twice a week and do my best to let him go outside my backyard and exercise. He doesn’t really care for me and is still shy when I’m around but knows when food is there haha. I have him in a 32in long, 15in tall aquarium as it was all I could afford and fit in my room. I have a basking/uvb light and use the reptile dirt(I forgot the name) from petco as substrate. I also usually feed him romaine lettuce and spring mix from the grocery store. Recently I went on a week vacation and when I got back I noticed Putin’s shell looked very dry. I asked my brothers to look after him but what can you expect from teenagers. Its not completely their fault but it’s an issue I would like to get more info on his condition and fix it ASAP. His edges of the shell look sharp and I’m not sure it looks right. Since I got back I’ve bought supplement for him and started humidifying the dirt. The temperature is around usually 80 degrees and humidity is between 50-60 degrees. Even got him a cuttlefish bone but he hasn’t touched it yet. I’m worried it might develop into shell Rot. Any advice?
 

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wellington

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I'm think he is getting too hot under the basking light. He needs everything changed for the better. The diet is not good, the size enclosure is not good and the combo disc your using for temps and humidity is not in a proper place and is not reliable.
He needs a minimum of a 4x8 foot enclosure. His diet needs all kinds of things added, kale, mustard and collard greens, endive, broad leaf weeds. He needs a low sided water dish and a better temp gauge, digital with probe or at least a temp gun. The basking bulb looks way too close and I think that affecting his shell.
Please read the caresheet in the Russian section and get things changed up asap.
 

RobP67

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@wellington Thank you for your input. I unfortunately won’t be able to upgrade his enclosure for now. I will stop using the lights as I think that is the main issue. I will probably let him out for longer periods of time to substitute not using the lights. I will also change the water bowl right now. Where could I buy the proper foods? Also is there anything I can do for his shell or will it heal over time? Thank you again for your input. Last thing I want to do is hurt the little dude.
 

wellington

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If you can get him out side for 3 days for about an hour each day you won't need indoor uvb. So it will be okay to get rid of the light. Use a regular 40 watt incandescent bulb for lighting the enclosure. All the greens I listed except the weeds can be bought at the grocery store. Some even carry dandelions which also can be fed. If limited on floor space you can make a second level. Also you can make him a safe outdoor enclosure for daily use and bring him inside for night time and for cold days.
 

RobP67

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Will do thanks! I’m a little skeptical about outdoor enclosures because we have a lot of animals like cats, possums that ate our outdoor pets a couple years ago. But I’ll think of some way to get a bigger enclosure. Also will the shell heal normal on its own or is there anything I can do?
 
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LaLaP

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A super easy and cheap or even free way to make a bigger enclosure is to use an old bookshelf. I got mine in the free section of Craigslist. Just remove shelves, lay it on its back, line it with plastic (shower curtain, heavy duty garbage bags...) and add the substrate. Easy. If you want to do more you can add a second story loft.
I highly recommend the temp gun that Wellington mentioned. That will help you get the temps right while you change the light situation. You wanna stop cooking his shell but a basking spot of 90-100 degrees is also very important for overall health and digestion. A temp gun at Lowe's is only $12.
I don't know if you can do anything to repair the shell damage but I sometimes rub a bit of coconut oil into my torts shell. It looks a ton better but I'm not sure if it's just for looks or if it's helping but it looks less dry and flaky. It can't hurt so maybe try it. Might protect from further damage too.
 

RobP67

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@LaLaP thanks I appreciate it. I’ll try the coconut oil. I feel like crap now knowing he’s been baking all this time and I didn’t know. As for the book shelf, that’s a great idea. I’ll definitely try that!
 
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