Some advice needed

Daniel Freel

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Hello all, my name is Dan I'm new to this forum and to owning my 2 new sulcata hatchlings. I am experienced in owning other reptiles such as ball pythons, eastern box turtles. So im not a complete newb to reptiles but definitely new to tortoises. I can't figure out how to post pics but here's how i have my temporary indoor enclosure set up. Last week I recieved 2 sulcata hatchlings from Kamp Kenan(healthy tortoises and very professional guy), they are about a month old. I currently have them housed in a 40 gallon breeder tank. I have a 160 watt mercury vapor bulb to produce heat and proper uv during the day at about 18 inches above the enclosure, temps have been around 100° in basking spot. I also have a 150 watt ceramic heat emitter next to the mvb set to 100°F during the day and 90°F during the night. The che is connected to a zoo med hygrotherm humidity and temperature controller (thermostat). I have about 85% of the enclosure top sealed with plexiglass glass to help with humidity levels(not under the che or the mvb). I have been researching the repti-fogger to help with humidity but not sure if I'm sold on that yet or would rather prefer to make my own out of a cool mist humidifier. I do a misting with a spray bottle 2-3 times a day once I see the humidity drops under 60% on my hygrometer. Any opinions on repti fogger VS a cool mist humidifier? Either way I go it will be connected thru my hygrotherm thermostat. I am using organic soil as my base substrate with repti-bark on top. They also have 2 under tank heaters, the larger rated for a 55 gallon tank is located on the cooler side under the tank where their half log hide is located(stays in upper 70s in their hide). The smaller one rated for a 10 gallon tank is located on the side of the tank on the hot side of the tank right by the top 3 inches of their substrate. I am using 2 terra cotta dishes for food and water. I purchased sulcata seed mix from sulcatafood.com (great company from my experience) and am currently trying to grow that for them. Meanwhile I have been feeding them a mixture of mazuri grassland tortoise food, fresh dandelions, kale, and prickly pear cactus, and spring mix. Their food has been dusted with phosphorus-free calcium with vitamin D3 about 3 times a week. They have been soaked everyday in warm water for about 15-30 mins a day. I do have a bigger 75 gallon tank I will be moving them in to soon enough as their next step up in enclosure size before I build a big custom enclosure. I just want to build a custom canopy to enclose the lights in to and to help keep humidity levels up before they get moved in to it. Any opinions or advice for me? I want to provide these guys with the best possible life I can so any criticism whether negative or positive is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance
 

Tom

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Hello and welcome. Sounds like you've got most of the info correct. I don't know how Kenan starts his babies, but some of the care info he has been sharing is old and outdated.

My first and most important constructive criticism is to separate them. They should not be housed in pairs. Groups of babies or juveniles are usually fine, but not pairs.

Next thing is that the 40 is too small. They need room to move. Even the 75 is borderline. Just build the 4x8 closed chamber and that will last until they are too big to live inside anymore. Maybe a year or two.

When you move them to a new home, I would skip the soil. Jus use the fine grade orchid bark.

Here is how I like to house and care for them:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/
 

wellington

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Hello and Welcome. Tom knows his stuff, follow the links he posted. My concern is the temps. High humidity 80% is a good level, but not with low temps of 70. The whole enclosure should be no lower then 80, humidity 80% basking spot 95-100. Use a warm must humidifier not a cool mist.
 

Daniel Freel

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Tom- Why are pairs no good? I will be making them a 5 X 10 closed enclosure once our downstairs renovation is completed on our house. The 75 gallon will only be housing them for a few months at most. Why should I skip the organic soil? Won't that help to maintain humidity?

Wellington- I have read Tom's threads, that's where I found a lot of my information out. He seems extremely knowledgeable. Their hide is in upper 70's average between 78°-79°F is that still too cool? And everything I have read says cool mist humidifier, why is a warm mist better in your opinion?
 

Tom

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Tom- Why are pairs no good? I will be making them a 5 X 10 closed enclosure once our downstairs renovation is completed on our house. The 75 gallon will only be housing them for a few months at most. Why should I skip the organic soil? Won't that help to maintain humidity?

Basically, one is the dominant and one is the submissive. The submissive is not able to leave the territory of the dominant and its stresses them both out. Its too personal. This is happening even when there is not overt hostility like pushing and biting. Do they follow each other around? Sleep together in the same spot? Cuddle? Does one sit on top of the food pile while eating? All signs of tortoise aggression.

Read these for more explanation:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/pairs.34837/
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread...together-a-lesson-learned-the-hard-way.94114/

I don't like soil because you can't know what its made of. Its composted yard waste. Is it grass clippings with a weed n feed in it? Is it oleander and azaleas? Is it rose bushes sprayed with fungicide and insecticide? No way to know. Its also messy and just unnecessary. Orchid bark alone does the same thing for humidity.

The best way to maintain humidity is not to use a humidifier, but to stop your heat and humidity from escaping in the first place. I use the analogy of a leaky boat. Rather than bailing ever faster with ever larger buckets, simply plug the leak. Like these:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/closed-chambers.32333/
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/2015-growth-experiment.119874/

310 watts of heat going into a 40 gallon tank is a lot. In my 4x8' (479 gallons) closed chambers I only use a couple of 65 watt bulbs during the day and a couple of 100 watt CHEs set on a thermostat for night.

Your questions are good ones. Please keep them coming. Make me explain anything that sounds contradictory to what you've heard elsewhere.
 

Daniel Freel

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Tom- I will keep a close eye on them for any signs of bullying as they grow. As of right now they seem to be fine together. They both have their own spots they prefer to sleep in, and they both eat at will without interference. I read your articles and now I know what to watch out for in the future. Great point about the soil....never thought of it that way. Yes 310 watts of heating is a lot but it's not always running. My 160 watt mvb is running from 7am through 7pm with my 150 watt che connected to my hygrotherm (which only kicks on if the temp goes below 100°F day and 90°F night. So while the mvb is on the che doesn't kick on. (They are very close to each other in comparison to where the sensor for the hygrotherm is located). I appreciate all the info and opinions.
 

Big Charlie

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Tom- I will keep a close eye on them for any signs of bullying as they grow. As of right now they seem to be fine together. They both have their own spots they prefer to sleep in, and they both eat at will without interference. I read your articles and now I know what to watch out for in the future. Great point about the soil....never thought of it that way. Yes 310 watts of heating is a lot but it's not always running. My 160 watt mvb is running from 7am through 7pm with my 150 watt che connected to my hygrotherm (which only kicks on if the temp goes below 100°F day and 90°F night. So while the mvb is on the che doesn't kick on. (They are very close to each other in comparison to where the sensor for the hygrotherm is located). I appreciate all the info and opinions.
Please heed Tom's advice and separate them. The signs of bullying are very subtle and not always easy to spot. It is very stressful to them. If you wait too long, your weaker tortoise might not survive.
 

Daniel Freel

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I am heeding his advice and will be keeping a close eye on them. If I see any signs of aggression I will either separate them or add a 3rd.
 

Tom

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I am heeding his advice and will be keeping a close eye on them. If I see any signs of aggression I will either separate them or add a 3rd.

I did not advise you to keep an eye on them. I advised you to separate them.

I realize that I'm treading that fine line between helping and being too pushy here, but I don't think you are understanding. You will not likely see any outward hostility. Babies seldom attack each other. It is the mere presence of the dominant, and the inability to escape that causes the stress and damage. They should not be living as a pair, regardless of what is observed behaviorally.
 

Daniel Freel

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If and when an issue arises I will take action until then they are living together. As of right now they are living in perfect harmony. I have also been told my 3 male dogs (an intact American Bulldog, an intact American Bulldog X CaneCorso X Bullmastiff, and a German Shepherd X Rhodesian Ridgeback) wouldn't be able to live in the same household together by numerous people including my veterinarian ..they are best buds with no issues for 3 yrs now. Just because it's "not recommended" doesn't mean it can't happen with success.
 

Tom

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If and when an issue arises I will take action until then they are living together. As of right now they are living in perfect harmony. I have also been told my 3 male dogs (an intact American Bulldog, an intact American Bulldog X CaneCorso X Bullmastiff, and a German Shepherd X Rhodesian Ridgeback) wouldn't be able to live in the same household together by numerous people including my veterinarian ..they are best buds with no issues for 3 yrs now. Just because it's "not recommended" doesn't mean it can't happen with success.

I'm a dog trainer. I had a pack of three mals and a dutch, all un-nuetered that ran together. Dogs are not the same as tortoises. They are social animals and with the right pack leader (you), there is no reason that they should not get along.

Its not "if and when an issue arises". There is an issue now and damage is being done. They are not living in harmony, because pairs of tortoises are not harmonious.

I realize this is not what you want to hear, and making another enclosure is not what you want to do, but what you've got going there is not good for them.
 
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