The story of Pops

LaLaP

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I've mentioned the Russian tortoise that I took in a few months ago but I just want to tell his whole story because I think he is so amazing!

A few months back a friend forwarded me a craigslist ad for a Russian tortoise. She thought my Russian, Diego might want a friend. I quickly explained that tortoises don't make friends and said no thanks but I read the ad and it broke my heart to see that "Shelly" wasn't being cared for very well and this care would be passed on with her. So I bought her with the intent of rehoming her after some rehabilitation and with better care instructions. Here are the facts about "Shelly"..

The tortoise was bought from a pet store 13 years ago and was a child's pet, was kept in a tiny aquarium and 2 cats decided to take up residence under the heat lamp in the open top aquarium. The poor tortoise was terrified of the playful cats and stayed hidden. When the cats weren't there the tortoise neurotically clawed at the glass. The aquarium was so full of chunky coco coir that walking wasn't an option just swimming through. No water and no soaks were provided for 13 years! Diet was lettuce, green beans and steamed broccoli. The last year the owners switched uvb lights to the coil type and the torts eyes were puffy and not opening fully. Shelly's beak was terribly overgrown and splitting.

So the first thing I notice when I got "her" home is that she is a he. So I started calling him Popeye (Pops). I built a 7x3 enclosure with loft for him and started soaking him daily and switched to a tube uvb light. At first he was terrified of me and of the water. I hated seeing him panicking in the soak but I kept it up. Soon he began relaxing and enjoying soaks. I never handled him besides taking him to his bath, with the exception of trimming his beak. At first he clawed at a corner of his enclosure and never explored. He never pooped! He was a very picky eater of course but I fed him weeds and lettuce chopped up and slowly increased weeds and decreased lettuce. He started spending a lot of time gazing into his water dish, curious but afraid. Then he started self soaking! And drinking water often. He started coming toward me when I approached and he began exploring his enclosure. Then he pooped! I'd had him 3 weeks when he first pooped just a couple hard pellets. Slowly the poops increased in size and frequency. One day I layed my hand palm up in his enclosure and after some sniffing and thinking he climbed in. Now this is our habit... I lay my hand down and sometimes he climbs in and sometimes he doesn't but he gets to decide. I've had him for a few months now and he is so active and seemingly content. He eats anything and everything. He self soaks daily even on the days I soak him. He drinks a lot of water and he poops several times a day. I think he is still emptying his bowels of years of impacted feces due to dehydration. His poops have an unusual smell and consistency lately and I think it is old stuff sloughing off the walls of his colon (sorry to be graphic). It makes me so happy to think about how much better he must feel in his body and mind.

Rescuing this amazing little guy has been SO rewarding!

I'm struggling with something though.. I am supposed to start looking for a new home for him but I've grown to love him so much. I don't have a separate outdoor space for him like I have for my other tort and he really deserves that. Also I keep seeing more of these Russians on Craigslist in similar situations and I'd like to "rescue" and rehome them one by one but that means not keeping them and learning to let them go.

Thanks for reading :)
 

Cheryl Hills

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I wish someone had the heart and means to adopt this poor guy. It's been listed on arrowheadreptilerescue.org since September. Saddens me that folks let them get in this condition.
View attachment 259528
Wow, I checked this out. I don’t do red foots yet. But, she sure does need a home. I would not have even recognized what species if I had not looked.
 

Tim Carlisle

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Wow, I checked this out. I don’t do red foots yet. But, she sure does need a home. I would not have even recognized what species if I had not looked.
They get a lot of rescues throughout the year; mostly from folks who had no clue what they were in for when they adopted in the first place. That's why I get upset when I see ads for "Christmas puppies" every year. Our shelters are already filled to the brim, and that's exactly where many of these animals wind up.
 

Cheryl Hills

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They get a lot of rescues throughout the year; mostly from folks who had no clue what they were in for when they adopted in the first place. That's why I get upset when I see ads for "Christmas puppies" every year. Our shelters are already filled to the brim, and that's exactly where many of these animals wind up.
Yep, you are right
 

RosemaryDW

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That's great what you have done @LaLaP but gosh, I'd hate to give him up myself. Hard call for sure.
 

LaLaP

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@LaLaP If you've ever taken any pictures of Pops (I'm assuming you have), which ones are your favorites?
Well I'm having the darndest time uploading a file right now but I'll try again later. Thank you for asking! I have some really funny ones.. he's a real ham these days!
 

LaLaP

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Whenever he climbs into my hand I'll either just stroll around the house slowly, holding him (he seems to like just looking around) or I'll sit on the couch with him. In that first photo we were on the couch and he climbed up onto my shoulder and fell asleep. It's such a victory considering how nervous and shy he was just a few months ago!
 

LaLaP

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IMG_4914.PNG IMG_4938.JPG Oh and while I was looking through photos I found the 2 that were in the Craigslist ad. You can see his puffy eyes, long beak and the cat situation he was living with.
 
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@LaLaP Also, just a question: In the story, you mentioned the old owners switching the UV bulb to a coil, and when you picked him up, you changed the bulb into tube. What difference does it make? The weather in my place is still great so I'm still using natural sunlight for Olive but i'll have to implement the bulb when the harsh summer comes by, and my bulb is coiled. Should I get the tube? (The box says the bulb works up to 40 cm and my indoor enclosure allows that, but I'm still kinda perplexed.)
 

LaLaP

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@LaLaP Also, just a question: In the story, you mentioned the old owners switching the UV bulb to a coil, and when you picked him up, you changed the bulb into tube. What difference does it make? The weather in my place is still great so I'm still using natural sunlight for Olive but i'll have to implement the bulb when the harsh summer comes by, and my bulb is coiled. Should I get the tube? (The box says the bulb works up to 40 cm and my indoor enclosure allows that, but I'm still kinda perplexed.)
The coil bulbs have been known to cause eye problems and I think that's why Pops had such puffy, half closed eyes when I got him. I'd get rid of that coil bulb if I were you. I've read a bunch of stories about them causing eye damage. It's such a shame that products that are marketed for reptiles (and even list tortoises) aren't safe for them. Pops' eyes are open and bright and shiny now. A lot of the inflammation has gone down. Not sure if it will continue to get better or not. Sometimes I suspect that his sight isn't as good as my other tortoise and wonder if there is permanent damage.
 
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The coil bulbs have been known to cause eye problems and I think that's why Pops had such puffy, half closed eyes when I got him. I'd get rid of that coil bulb if I were you. I've read a bunch of stories about them causing eye damage. It's such a shame that products that are marketed for reptiles (and even list tortoises) aren't safe for them. Pops' eyes are open and bright and shiny now. A lot of the inflammation has gone down. Not sure if it will continue to get better or not. Sometimes I suspect that his sight isn't as good as my other tortoise and wonder if there is permanent damage.
Huh, I see. Do you have any recommendations for a good UV bulb?
 

LaLaP

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Huh, I see. Do you have any recommendations for a good UV bulb?
Yes! Arcadia is a good brand. Supposedly they put out uvb longer than others. There are choices of lengths and diameter (T8 or T5) and also HO (high output) or standard. All are acceptable but will change how close to your tortoise you hang the light. If you search the lighting section you can get detailed information on the differences and heights.
 
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