Spike is squeaking

sulcataspike

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Jan 29, 2016
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8
My little buddy Spike is a sulcata almost 8 months old. He lives in a long 20 gallon tank bc he's so small and I let him walk around with supervision for about 2 hours a day, not all at once. His tank has an open wire mesh top and he has 4 bulbs: an All Living Things brand CHE 150 watts which is on all the time, an Exo Terra infrared basking spot 50 watts, an Exo Terra intense basking spot 75 watts, and a 13 watt Exo Terra desert reptile UVB 150. His substrate is zoomed forest floor. He eats greens and Flunker's tortoise diet , with occasional organic sugar snap peas or butternut squash which are his favorite for desert. he has a little pool all the time and a house which I made him.

I am worried because he just "sneezed" like 5 times. When he does this he makes squeaky noises and pulls himself into his shell and blows lots of air out of his nose. His nostrils look clear.

I love spikey and I don't want anything to happen to him. I take him to the odd pet vet but I don't want to take him if you guys think he's ok because it's far away and I can't drive and it's expensive and I'm a broke student.

Any help is appreciated
 

Tom

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I don't mean to be discouraging, but you are doing a lot of things wrong there. The point is not to be negative or hurtful, but to let you know what the problems are so you can fix them before its too late. This is all CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.

Here is the quick list just from your post:
1. A 20 is way too small. Even for a hatchling a 20 is too small. They need more room to move around.
2. Tortoises should never be let loose on the floor. This could be the cause of your problem. Its too cold down there. People who do this intend for it to be safe, and they watch carefully, but many tortoises die every year as a result of this practice. Leave the tortoise in its enclosure, and make the enclosure big enough and warm enough.
3. I can't tell which substrate you've got there but it looks like wood chips, there is not nearly enough, and it looks too dry. I recommend fine grade orchid bark for sulcata babies. You need a good 3-4" thick lyre of substrate.
4. Get rid of the infrared bulb and replace it with a CHE on a thermostat to maintain ambient temps day and night.
5. Never use "spot" bulbs. These concentrate to much carapace desiccating heat in one small area. Use a flood type bulb to spread the heat out over a greater area.
6. Get rid of the coil type bulb. Those frequently burn their eyes and should not even be sold.
7. Stop feeding the fruity pebbles. Here is what you should be feeding:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/
I wrote this thread specifically to help people just like you.
8. I'm not a fan of the ramped water bowls. Terra cotta saucers sunk into the substrate work best.
9. While you are at it, get another terra cotta saucer for the food. Your food bowl has sides that are too high.
10. You need a real humid hide. Get a black dishwashing tub from Walmart for $1.82. Flip it upside down and cut out a small door hole.
11. Tortoises need it dark at night, but still warm. Your 150 watt bulb should not be on all the time, but don't let your tortoise get cold at night either.
12. Those stick on dial type thermometers are notoriously inaccurate and unreliable. Get a remote probed digital one from Home Depot or Walmart.
13. The open top is letting all your warm humid air escape. Cover that top, but watch the temperatures carefully, so you don't over heat him. It sounds to me like you are running wayyyyy to much heat for such a small tank.
14. Are you soaking daily?
15. What are your four temps? Warm side, cool side, basking area, and overnight low?

Please give these a read. It will explain all this in more detail:
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/

I'm sorry you got bad advice from the pet store. You are not alone. I hope we can help make your tortoises life better.
 

sulcataspike

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Joined
Jan 29, 2016
Messages
8
1. What size tank should I get him. I've noticed that tanks bigger than this one get their volume by height, and as spike is only 2" tall it seems like a major waste of money to get him such a tall tank
2. If the floor is heated and vacuumed is it okay for him to be down there? He gets so bored in his tank and I know there's not much space to walk but even when he does have space to roam he gets bored. Are there toys of some variety that tortoises find stimulating?
3. He's on Forest Floor, we just finished off the bag and I will be getting him orchid bark once I can find it.
question: do I have to change out his enclosure as frequently if he doesn't excrete in it? He prefers to excrete on me, daily, often twice daily, so his substrate remains fairly spotless.
4. He has a CHE 150 watts which runs constantly and at night he still uses the infrared to keep the temperature up. During the day he has a UVB and another white light, must be the spot. Could I replace them with one of those 40-50$ Mercury solar heat/radiation bulbs
7. He loves his pebbles, I only give them to him occasionally and in small amounts, is that okay?
Also can I plant grass in orchid bark, if so can he just have grass in there with him to graze?
9. He has a little Terracotta food bowl now.
10. Now he has a ceramic hide that looks like a big tortoise shell. How do I keep any hide humid though?
13. Even with his CHE it's still cold. How can I make it a closed top and still have his lights? His lights sit on top of the wire lid, but with a closed one, how do they work?
14. I had to take his water dish away bc he was using it to try to escape and kept ending up on his back in the water

He's pyramiding now and I really want to get this figured out for my little guy
 

JoesMum

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1. What size tank should I get him. I've noticed that tanks bigger than this one get their volume by height, and as spike is only 2" tall it seems like a major waste of money to get him such a tall tank
@Tom gave you the links to read. They cover enclosure size. Yes bigger enclosures are taller, but that helms with humidity control.
2. If the floor is heated and vacuumed is it okay for him to be down there? He gets so bored in his tank and I know there's not much space to walk but even when he does have space to roam he gets bored. Are there toys of some variety that tortoises find stimulating?
No the floor is a dangerous place. Torts will try to eat brightly coloured things even if they're not foods. They're also surprisingly fast and it's too easy to lose them or, worse still, step on them. Give your tort a big enough enclosure. Its going to grow rapidly into a 100lb + bulldozer so you need to understand that it must have lots of space.

3. He's on Forest Floor, we just finished off the bag and I will be getting him orchid bark once I can find it.
question: do I have to change out his enclosure as frequently if he doesn't excrete in it? He prefers to excrete on me, daily, often twice daily, so his substrate remains fairly spotless.
No. Spot cleaning is fine.

4. He has a CHE 150 watts which runs constantly and at night he still uses the infrared to keep the temperature up. During the day he has a UVB and another white light, must be the spot. Could I replace them with one of those 40-50$ Mercury solar heat/radiation bulbs
Red bulbs are not recommended - they colour decor red which makes your tort think its edible.

Your tort needs complete darkness at night. A CHE alone should be enough .

Your basking lamp and UVB could be replaced with a single MVB.

It sounds like you have a compact coil type UVB which is not suitable for torts as it causes eye damage. Tube UVB is fine, but you must have a separate basking lamp with that.

You must get an accurate max/min thermometer so you know what temperatures you have day and night.

You also need a temperature gun thermometer to accurately measure specific enclosure temperatures- especially under the basking lamp.

7. He loves his pebbles, I only give them to him occasionally and in small amounts, is that okay?
Also can I plant grass in orchid bark, if so can he just have grass in there with him to graze?
Occasional supplement with a food pellet is OK, but I have no idea about the suitability of the brand you're talking about.

Plants are better grown in pots or seed trays sunk into the substrate. They can then be swapped out easily. Plants won't grow in substrate directly.

9. He has a little Terracotta food bowl now.
A teracotta plant saucer is best for water. Food should be placed on a flat slate or rock so he maintains his beak as he eats.

10. Now he has a ceramic hide that looks like a big tortoise shell. How do I keep any hide humid though?
Covered in the care guide. You need a hygrometer to measure humidity

13. Even with his CHE it's still cold. How can I make it a closed top and still have his lights? His lights sit on top of the wire lid, but with a closed one, how do they work?
People use a variety of tops with holes left for the lights. See the enclosures forum

14. I had to take his water dish away bc he was using it to try to escape and kept ending up on his back in the water

He's pyramiding now and I really want to get this figured out for my little guy
YOUR TORT MUST HAVE CONSTANT ACCESS TO WATER. Use a terracotta plant saucer not a reptile bowl.
 

sulcataspike

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Jan 29, 2016
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8
Thanks, he has a little ceramic water dish. Love the flat slate idea- today he was on his back in the food dish.

I get that the tank is little and boring, so he's trying to escape and that's how he keeps ending up on his back, but is there anything south of replacing his enclosure that I could do for the baby so he stays on his feet?
 

Big Charlie

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Thanks, he has a little ceramic water dish. Love the flat slate idea- today he was on his back in the food dish.

I get that the tank is little and boring, so he's trying to escape and that's how he keeps ending up on his back, but is there anything south of replacing his enclosure that I could do for the baby so he stays on his feet?
You can cover the bottom several inches all the way around so he can't see out through the glass.
 

surfergirl

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Dec 20, 2015
Messages
489
they make a pretty long Rubbermaid containers 54 gallon i think until you can get either a large bookshelf or homemade table built for him. I think you can get bookshelves pretty cheap and turn them where they make a box, then add a shower curtain to line the inside, probably around the same price as the Rubbermaid with every thing together but the bookshelves come in much larger sizes.

You can attach pvc pipe to the side of the box and then hang you lights from them and throw some plastic over it. I built this one for my Margie til he grows some. I have attached a picture- all I have invested is 40 dollars if that. light I run a 13 watt long tube fluorescent fixture 10.0 desert reptile bulb, with a 100 watt flood and a 100 watt CHE on a thermostat.
 

Sara G.

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Feb 7, 2016
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At this point, even once you rearrange his enclosure and add plants and things to keep it interesting, the enclosure will be way too tiny.
Once you add plants, you'll lose surface area for your baby to be able to walk around on.
You need a bigger enclosure, there is no compromise at this point.

A closed chamber is an excellent way to keep in your humidity for hatchlings. There's a number of different ways to do it, but using an open top enclosure will just have you lose all of your heat and humidity.

If you want to prevent further pyramiding, change the substrate now to what Tom suggested, and get yourself--or make--a closed chamber.
I actually bought a deck box (one of those outdoor containers that you store cushions in) and transformed it into an enclosure for my tort. It would work well for your tort too.
But there are plenty of ideas in the enclosure thread, especially under closed chamber ideas
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
53,326
Location (City and/or State)
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1. What size tank should I get him. I've noticed that tanks bigger than this one get their volume by height, and as spike is only 2" tall it seems like a major waste of money to get him such a tall tank
2. If the floor is heated and vacuumed is it okay for him to be down there? He gets so bored in his tank and I know there's not much space to walk but even when he does have space to roam he gets bored. Are there toys of some variety that tortoises find stimulating?
3. He's on Forest Floor, we just finished off the bag and I will be getting him orchid bark once I can find it.
question: do I have to change out his enclosure as frequently if he doesn't excrete in it? He prefers to excrete on me, daily, often twice daily, so his substrate remains fairly spotless.
4. He has a CHE 150 watts which runs constantly and at night he still uses the infrared to keep the temperature up. During the day he has a UVB and another white light, must be the spot. Could I replace them with one of those 40-50$ Mercury solar heat/radiation bulbs
7. He loves his pebbles, I only give them to him occasionally and in small amounts, is that okay?
Also can I plant grass in orchid bark, if so can he just have grass in there with him to graze?
9. He has a little Terracotta food bowl now.
10. Now he has a ceramic hide that looks like a big tortoise shell. How do I keep any hide humid though?
13. Even with his CHE it's still cold. How can I make it a closed top and still have his lights? His lights sit on top of the wire lid, but with a closed one, how do they work?
14. I had to take his water dish away bc he was using it to try to escape and kept ending up on his back in the water

He's pyramiding now and I really want to get this figured out for my little guy

1. The bigger the better. The smart thing to do would be to build a 4x8" closed chamber. This will last him for the next year or two until he's too big to live inside anymore. If you go buy a 100 gallon tank right now, you'll just have to buy or build something bigger 6-8 months from now anyway.
2. No. The floor is not safe. Lots of people end up with sick, dead, injured or impacted tortoises from putting them on the floor. Every single one of them was careful, watched closely, and thought it would be fine. Don't learn this lesson the hard way at your tortoises expense. It would be awful if something bad happened. It would be even more awful if you were warned, did it anyway, and then something bad happened.
3. Cypress mulch (aka Forest Floor) is fine, but I like orchid bark better. If you spot clean daily and your tortoise does his pooping in the daily soaks, then you don't need to change the substrate. The only time I change mine is if I'm putting a different tortoise in there and need to start with a clean, disinfected enclosure.
4. Your CHE should not "run all night". 150 watts is a lot of heat in that tiny little tank. I only use 120 watts (2-60s) in my 4x8' closed chambers in my cold garage. Your CHE should be controlled by a thermostat so that the tank never gets too hot or too cold. What is the temperature under the CHE when its running all night? Here are two good thermostats:
http://www.lllreptile.com/products/13883-zilla-1000-watt-temperature-controller
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000NZZG3S/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
You should not be using infrared bulbs day or night, and that cfl type UV bulb is a potential eye burner and not an effective UV source.
7. Once in a while is fine is fine until you finish out that food, but then switch to something better, like Mazuri. Grass will sprout in damp orchid bark, but he will trample or eat it quickly. Grass will not grow very well indoors with tortoise lighting. Some people grow grass and greens in trays and rotate the trays in and out of the enclosure as they are grazed down. Each tray can regrow while the tortoise eats from a fresh tray. Sink the tray into the substrate.
10. A humid hide must be closed in on all sides except for a door hole just big enough for the tortoise. Your ceramic shell is too open.
13. What is too cold? What is the temperature in the tank at night? he problem here is the open top. You have got to close it in or your warmth and humidity just floats up and out. You need a larger enclosure that is all closed in. One your heating and lighting is inside the enclosure you will need only a fraction of the electricity to maintain the correct temperatures. This will also solve your humidity and pyramiding issues.
14. This is not happening because of the water bowl. Its happening because the tortoise has no room to roam. Even in an empty 20 gallon tank, there is not enough room for him to roam. Once you add in the water and food bowl, the hide, and anything else, there is no room to walk at all.

The pyramiding is happening because it is too dry in there. The excessive amount of electrically generated heat is drying everything out and the open top allows all the heat and humidity to escape, forcing you to use more. Its a vicious cycle. You have got to get a new and better enclosure or the pyramiding will get progressively worse. Every day that goes by, the damage will increase and it cannot be undone. I typed up all that info for you almost 3 months ago. You don't have to figure anything out. I spelled it all out for you. I had to figure it out the hard way over the last two and a half decades. You just have to read what is written and do it.
 
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