Sleep & Inactivity

sbwalker5

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Messages
79
Location (City and/or State)
Sheffield, UK
Hi, this is just a slight concern of mine. All in all my Marginated, Douglas seems to be well and healthy. He's now about 14 months old, and I've had him for around 8 months. I'll show you my husbandry before I get onto it...

He's kept indoors at the minute in a table top enclosure, which I've posted before. This is an older picture, but other than changing decor around occasionally, is pretty much the same now.

IMG_5121.jpg


I use an infrared thermometer to check temps - around 95 under the MVB, and 70 in the cooler side and his covered area (right of the image). I change the water daily, and put fresh food down (a rotating mix of lambs lettuce, cress, rocket, pak choi and a dandelion once per week). I've recently grown some ProRep tortoise seed mix, so that is just about getting introduced into his diet. I now soak 3-4 times a week in warm water (this was daily until recently).

At the weekend, if it's warm, I put him into his temporary outdoor enclosure for a few hours, for some natural UV. On a 70 degree sunny day here in the UK I measured 105 degrees in the full sunshine!

IMG_6328.jpg


For the past few weeks now, I often come home from work around 4pm, and find Douglas asleep in his covered side of the enclosure. There are signs that he has been up and about, and eaten a little. However his MVB light is on a timer, and doesn't come on until 9am, so he can't have been up for more than 6-7 hours.
Is this normal behaviour at his age? He was like this when we first got him, at about 6 months old, but gradually was up for more time as he got older?

Also, yesterday, after spending a few hours outside on Sunday, I came home to find he was still asleep, with no signs that he had been up. So from going to 'bed' around 4pm Sunday, the earliest he will wake when his light comes on this morning is 9am (so around 41 hours just sleeping?)

The other concern is that he hasn't gained much weight in the last 5-6 weeks. He gained a goood 3-5g per week for the first 6 months or so that we had him, put he's been around 105-110 (fluctuating slightly) in the last 4/5 weeks? Is this normal?

Thanks for anyone that offers advice!
 

tglazie

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Jul 21, 2010
Messages
631
Location (City and/or State)
San Antonio, TX
Has his food intake been the same, or has it decreased. Also, do you keep him in a room with a window, because he could be responding to the shortened day length of the outdoors. Also, when you put him outside, does he automatically run and hide, or does he wander about exploring the environment. When he explores, does he do so frantically, or does he do so casually, strolling through, sniffing and tasting things? This outdoor environment, is it well planted with edible weeds? Is it covered by turf grass? Is it plain dirt? Is the area flat, or topographically varied. Also, more pictures of the tortoise close up would be helpful. And if you can build a larger indoor area (if that is where he spends the majority of his time), that would be ideal. All of my younger animals live in four by six or four by eight outdoor runs, and when they get larger, I move them to six by twenty foot runs. I live in South Texas, so my tortoises maintain all of their activity in the mornings (when I drop them mulberry leaves, spring mix, hibiscus, flowering maple and althea flowers, various sliced optunia, home grown collard greens and dandelion). In their enclosures, I've planted a wide variety of mallows, geraniums, thistles, clovers, and several grape vines that crawl up the eastern fence that three of the enclosures hold in common. The tortoises are always picking at whatever vines trail across the ground. I never prune the grape vines, given that my interest isn't in grapes, but the leaves. Plus the torts do a fabulous job of pruning the vines themselves. If you can, outdoors is always the way to go, at least for part of the year. If predators are a concern, predator proof housing is always doable. It just depends on how handy you are with power tools.

As for the fluctuations in weight, this is not necessarily cause for alarm. Tortoises vary in weight gain and appetite, especially marginated tortoises. I don't know why this is. Margies, in my experience, aren't the little pigs that Greeks, Hermanns, and Russians tend to be. My oldest Greek Graecus will just sit and eat, nonstop if I let him, whereas Gino, my oldest marginated, three times the weight of Graecus, will stop at five mulberry leaves or a handful of spring mix. He's also a much more conservative grazer than Graecus is. Graecus' enclosure is a moonscape. I allow him a half hour access to a natural grazing area in the morning, after which I move him back before I drive to the office. If I allowed him complete access to the grazing garden, he would decimate the area within a few weeks. But Gino's enclosure is lushly planted, and he never lets the vegetation grow out of control, but at the same time, rarely kills any of the plants. So long as your little fellow isn't losing weight, is still eating, and remains well hydrated (I'm a big proponent of regular warm water soaks), he should be fine.

But like I said, try for a larger enclosure. He's going to be getting bigger anyway, somewhere around 30 cm if he is, in fact, a he. Might as well prepare for the future now, rather than down the line.

T.G.
 

sbwalker5

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Messages
79
Location (City and/or State)
Sheffield, UK
His food intake has decreased yes. As mentioned, I put the same amount of food each day, but more recently I come home to find it's barely been touched.

The room he's in does have a window, but he's tucked away in his sleeping area by 4pm, whilst it's still light (sunset is around 8pm at the minute).

When I put him outside this weekend, he explored a little, quite casually, ate quite a bit, then after a couple of hours he was trying to climb out. His temporary outdoor space is very small (pictured), with just some coco coir substrate, water, food and a couple of hiding places - but my thinking is it's still beneficial to provide actual sunlight for a while. It's still temporary, as for next summer I am planning and building a permanent outdoor space 6 x 2 metres, so he will be outdoors permanently. He's currently about 3 inches.

He has days where he seems fine, for instance this past Saturday, he was up and about between about 9am - 5pm, ate normally and everything. It's just often when I return from work on a weekday, it looks like he's barely eaten, and might not have been up.

I'm a bit of a novice at this, but he looks as though he's healthy - here are a couple of pics from this weekend..
Photo07-09-2014145349.jpg

Photo07-09-2014143451.jpg

(i just put him on the grass for 10 seconds for a couple of pictures!)
 

sbwalker5

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Messages
79
Location (City and/or State)
Sheffield, UK

tglazie

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Jul 21, 2010
Messages
631
Location (City and/or State)
San Antonio, TX
I think the MVB is part of the problem, but from what you've told me, his not being outdoors is the biggest part of the problem. I don't know what it is, but tortoises outdoors just do better. Natural sunlight, a variety of microclimates, and space to roam all positively benefit tortoises in ways that, though not completely understood, are certainly undeniable. When tortoises are less than four months old, granted, I try to keep them indoors seventy to ninety percent of the time. But once they pass that newborn stage, I start putting them out in the morning. Basically, my system works like this. In the morning, I bathe all babies individually for twenty to thirty minutes. I use this time to see to the adult tortoises in my colony. Once that thirty minutes is up, I remove the babies from their individual bathing containers and place them in front of some food in their screen topped outdoor enclosures. They usually eat immediately. I then go to the office. When I return home by early evening, on the days when it isn't too hot, they are usually grazing or exploring. I wait until they decide to go to their shelters for the evening, at which point I carry them back inside. I bathe them once more for around thirty minutes, at which point I sanitize my hands and wrists and do some household chores (dishes, laundry, vacuuming, home stuff). Even these little babies are creatures of habit, and when they're ready to leave the bath, they usually start trying to escape the tub.

Once I've removed and dried them, I place them in their night quarters. My night quarters consist of two plastic shoe boxes, one small, one large. I have a fifty gallon aquarium with two screen lids. Over these screen lids, I place two paint rulers (light weight, flat wooden sticks that act as support for the smaller shoe box), and atop these rulers, I place the smaller shoe box, which is filled to two inches with peat and sphagnum moss. I place the tortoises inside this shoe box, and then I place the other shoe box over the top of it like a greenhouse. This traps the evaporating moisture from the aquarium (which is warmed with a water heater), maintains a stable temperature, and ensures a humidity in the sixty to seventy percent. Then I do this the next morning. Ultimately, I think the key to this is the outdoor environment, which is partially shaded and lushly planted.

But, let me just say that your tortoise looks fine. Like I said, margies aren't as consistent as other Testudo when it comes to feeding. I would say soaking helps, but even then, there will be fluctuations. The enclosure you have planned for next summer sounds promising. Do build toward that. And since you are in the UK, try to implement cold frames and other construction measures that can maximize your guy's time outside. It really does make all the difference.

T.G.
 
Joined
Jul 1, 2014
Messages
31
Location (City and/or State)
Czech Republic
SB, I have a marginated about the same age, and living in similar situations. I could have written an identical post. I haven't been weighing him, but he seems to have gotten much bigger since I got him a couple months ago, and his behavior is really unpredictable. Sometimes he's out most of the day, often he's sleeping. Sometimes he eats really well; sometimes it seems like he's barely eaten for a day or two. He hides or buries himself, and sleeps a lot. When I put him outside, he vanishes into the substrate immediately. I''m new to tortoises, so I don't know if it's unusual but people on here have been encouraging and reassuring that this is kind of what they do. (You've owned yours longer than I have, so you probably have a much better idea what's going on.)
 

tglazie

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Jul 21, 2010
Messages
631
Location (City and/or State)
San Antonio, TX
Yeah, but margies are the best. They look awesome, their behavior is interesting and often eccentric, they get big (but not too big), and they're fairly adaptable. They are definitely the coolest tortoises I've ever kept, and I've kept almost everything aside from high end radiateds, aldabras, galaps, and stars.

T.G.
 
Joined
Jul 1, 2014
Messages
31
Location (City and/or State)
Czech Republic
That's high praise indeed. I believe it, though. The whole family absolutely loves the tortoise--and we enjoy his idiosyncrasies. It's like having a very quiet infant.
 

sbwalker5

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Messages
79
Location (City and/or State)
Sheffield, UK
That's great, thanks everyone..

I replaced the MVB today, and moved him to the basking spot from his sleeping area. He stayed there for a while, and even went to eat for a bit! So hopefully this will help somewhat?!

You've reassured me that he should be fine, it's nice to know marginateds are quite eccentric as a species! So interesting!

I'm really excited to begin his enclosure for next year. I'm planning a predator-proof large enclosure, with cold frame and heated shed for night time!
 

sbwalker5

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Messages
79
Location (City and/or State)
Sheffield, UK
Just an update.. After replacing the MVB yesterday, I returned from work today to find him in his basking spot, and most of his food eaten!

ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1410453880.910727.jpg
 
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top