Tortoise Yawning Randomly

HoneyBea23

Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2019
Messages
50
Location (City and/or State)
Ontario
Hi everyone!

I am wondering if I can get some feedback to put my mind at rest. My 1.5 year old indoor Hermann's tortoise has been yawning somewhat frequently over the past couple days, but mostly when they are underneath their basking light. I noticed it on Sunday and again today when both days were very grey and rainy... Do you think that indoor tortoises can sense outdoor weather changes like this? Also, the substrate can become a bit dusty under the basking light -- so I am wondering if this may also be a cause? They are otherwise very active and bright eyed with a large appetite and have cleared nostrils -- I even held them up to my face to see if I could feel their breath which I could! Do any of you have any advice to give me? It would make a massive difference hearing your inputs.

Ambient temperature: 25 degrees C
Basking temperature: 35 degrees C
Humidity: 40-55%
Substrate: coco coir
 

Jan A

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
731
Location (City and/or State)
Boulder, CO
Hi everyone!

I am wondering if I can get some feedback to put my mind at rest. My 1.5 year old indoor Hermann's tortoise has been yawning somewhat frequently over the past couple days, but mostly when they are underneath their basking light. I noticed it on Sunday and again today when both days were very grey and rainy... Do you think that indoor tortoises can sense outdoor weather changes like this? Also, the substrate can become a bit dusty under the basking light -- so I am wondering if this may also be a cause? They are otherwise very active and bright eyed with a large appetite and have cleared nostrils -- I even held them up to my face to see if I could feel their breath which I could! Do any of you have any advice to give me? It would make a massive difference hearing your inputs.

Ambient temperature: 25 degrees C
Basking temperature: 35 degrees C
Humidity: 40-55%
Substrate: coco coir
Do you have 1 or 2 torts? When you refer to "they", I assume 2 torts. But you started out describing just 1.
 

Sarah2020

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Mar 16, 2020
Messages
374
Location (City and/or State)
London, UK
Hi check ventilation is good and fresh air oxygen is able to circulate. Sometimes I open outside windows in the room just to refresh the room air. Depending on the breed it is good to dampen the substrate with a water sprayer. Dusty does not sound good.. Read the care sheets and review the set up just to be sure it is optimum. Dry environments can cause shell pyramids. Your aim as a keeper is smooth flat new shell growth.
 

HoneyBea23

Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2019
Messages
50
Location (City and/or State)
Ontario
Hi check ventilation is good and fresh air oxygen is able to circulate. Sometimes I open outside windows in the room just to refresh the room air. Depending on the breed it is good to dampen the substrate with a water sprayer. Dusty does not sound good.. Read the care sheets and review the set up just to be sure it is optimum. Dry environments can cause shell pyramids. Your aim as a keeper is smooth flat new shell growth.
Thank you for the reply! Improving air circulation in my office where his enclosure is might be a good idea. Canada has such harsh winters, and the springs take so long to warm up — but I will certainly try! The substrate stays damp throughout his entire enclosure aside from underneath his basking lamp where the coco coir becomes a bit dusty on top of his basking rocks. This is where I often see him yawn, so I may remove the basking rocks as they may be becoming too hot and causing the substrate to dry out easier!
 

Lyn W

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
20,053
Location (City and/or State)
UK
Check the temps under the basking light if you are worried about the rocks getting too hot because the tort on top will get even hotter.
I use a bowl or rock about the same size as my tort and check the temps on that then raise or lower the height of the lamp to adjust it. A digital temp gun is ideal for spot checking areas around the enclosure.
If you post some pics of his enclosure members can suggest any adjustments you could make.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
53,470
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Thank you for the reply! Improving air circulation in my office where his enclosure is might be a good idea. Canada has such harsh winters, and the springs take so long to warm up — but I will certainly try! The substrate stays damp throughout his entire enclosure aside from underneath his basking lamp where the coco coir becomes a bit dusty on top of his basking rocks. This is where I often see him yawn, so I may remove the basking rocks as they may be becoming too hot and causing the substrate to dry out easier!
Leave the basking rock. Removing it will just make the substrate under it dry out even faster. Spray that area more frequently with non-mineralized water (Distilled, RO, or collected rain.), and you can dump the water dish there daily when you clean rinse and refill it, as long as there is no poop in it. This will have the added benefit of increasing ambient humidity a bit too. :)

What is the over night low temp? A pic of the enclosure will give us more clues to help you with.
 

maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
4,425
Location (City and/or State)
Crazy Train
Leave the basking rock. Removing it will just make the substrate under it dry out even faster. Spray that area more frequently with non-mineralized water (Distilled, RO, or collected rain.), and you can dump the water dish there daily when you clean rinse and refill it, as long as there is no poop in it. This will have the added benefit of increasing ambient humidity a bit too. :)

What is the over night low temp? A pic of the enclosure will give us more clues to help you with.
@Tom...why distilled non-mineralized water (Distilled, RO, or collected rain.)? I realize you are the resident expert but why special water? In the wild they would drink from puddles, larger bodies of water, rain water or any other type of water. Mary Knobbins drinks her own urine at times. I personally drink tap water so why shouldn't my tortoises? why are you pushing specialized water???? That is just someplace else to spend unnecessary funds.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
53,470
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
@Tom...why distilled non-mineralized water (Distilled, RO, or collected rain.)? I realize you are the resident expert but why special water? In the wild they would drink from puddles, larger bodies of water, rain water or any other type of water. Mary Knobbins drinks her own urine at times. I personally drink tap water so why shouldn't my tortoises? why are you pushing specialized water???? That is just someplace else to spend unnecessary funds.
For spraying only. Not for drinking or soaking. If you spray an enclosure or a tortoise with tap water daily, you will get hard water stains. Using non-mineralized water for spraying the basking area with prevent any mineral build up and look nicer.

Rain water is free, and some people already have RO systems installed in their houses. Distilled water would cost pennies a day for use in this application.
 

HoneyBea23

Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2019
Messages
50
Location (City and/or State)
Ontario
Check the temps under the basking light if you are worried about the rocks getting too hot because the tort on top will get even hotter.
I use a bowl or rock about the same size as my tort and check the temps on that then raise or lower the height of the lamp to adjust it. A digital temp gun is ideal for spot checking areas around the enclosure.
If you post some pics of his enclosure members can suggest any adjustments you could make.
Leave the basking rock. Removing it will just make the substrate under it dry out even faster. Spray that area more frequently with non-mineralized water (Distilled, RO, or collected rain.), and you can dump the water dish there daily when you clean rinse and refill it, as long as there is no poop in it. This will have the added benefit of increasing ambient humidity a bit too. :)

What is the over night low temp? A pic of the enclosure will give us more clues to help you with.
 

HoneyBea23

Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2019
Messages
50
Location (City and/or State)
Ontario
@Tom and @Lyn W thank you for the feedback! Do you both think that the sudden occasional yawning could be caused by the substrate then? The evening temperatures are 20-22 Degrees C as there is a ceramic heat emitter on one side of the enclosure for evening heating. I have attached an image of the enclosure after I set it up a couple weeks ago, and have since put in a couple more potted turtle vine on the left side of the enclosure -- and I also dampen the substrate more than shown in the photo as it was my first time working with this amount of space!
 

Attachments

  • Screen Shot 2021-03-31 at 11.08.35 PM.png
    Screen Shot 2021-03-31 at 11.08.35 PM.png
    11.3 MB · Views: 44

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
1,641
@Tom and @Lyn W thank you for the feedback! Do you both think that the sudden occasional yawning could be caused by the substrate then? The evening temperatures are 20-22 Degrees C as there is a ceramic heat emitter on one side of the enclosure for evening heating. I have attached an image of the enclosure after I set it up a couple weeks ago, and have since put in a couple more potted turtle vine on the left side of the enclosure -- and I also dampen the substrate more than shown in the photo as it was my first time working with this amount of space!
Just a dumb question here. It appears the enclosure has a hardware cloth (screen) top which has been removed for the photo op. It also appears that the plants are too tall to allow the top to be put over the enclosure without crushing the plants. What is the situation when everything is in normal use?

Also, you will most likely get a number of responses here telling you that an open air (or screened) top is not recommended and that you should put on a more air tight top to increase humidity in the enclosure.
 

HoneyBea23

Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2019
Messages
50
Location (City and/or State)
Ontario
Just a dumb question here. It appears the enclosure has a hardware cloth (screen) top which has been removed for the photo op. It also appears that the plants are too tall to allow the top to be put over the enclosure without crushing the plants. What is the situation when everything is in normal use?

Also, you will most likely get a number of responses here telling you that an open air (or screened) top is not recommended and that you should put on a more air tight top to increase humidity in the enclosure.
Hi there! Right — since the photo was first taken, I removed the poly mesh screened lid to make room for the plants and lighting fixtures. I have certainly read that closed chamber settings are better for humidity, but haven’t been able to figure out a situation that works for the lighting fixture on the side. Although it is more work for me, I am still able to maintain properly humidity levels in the enclosure on both ends which is good!
 

Armadillogroomer

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
203
Location (City and/or State)
NC
I know that with turtles, it is normal for them to yawn while sunbathing to help keep their heads/brains cool. Sometimes a few spurts within 20 minutes or so, and then they relax, other days they hardly yawn at all. I've seen my red foot yawn a few times in succession once or twice, and it seems very similar to the way the pond turtles do it.
 

Lyn W

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
20,053
Location (City and/or State)
UK
I don't think the substrate would make him yawn but maybe others with a more scientific background would know more about that.
My tort does it when he is basking or soaking and relaxed and I've never really wondered why, I just thought it was normal.
Your enclosure is a lovely size. Some people use a layer of orchid bark over the coir to help retain humidity in it and make it less messy, and maybe you could find a portable greenhouse to place over the top which would help. I'll see if I can find some pics for ideas.
If the plants are shop bought have you repotted them and allowed time for any chemicals used on them to grow out?
 
Last edited:

HoneyBea23

Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2019
Messages
50
Location (City and/or State)
Ontario
I don't think the substrate would make him yawn but maybe others with a more scientific background would know more about that.
My tort does it when he is basking or soaking and relaxed and I've never really wondered why, I just thought it was normal.
Your enclosure is a lovely size. Some people use a layer of orchid bark over the coir to help retain humidity in it and make it less messy, and maybe you could find a portable greenhouse to place over the top which would help. I'll see if I can find some pics for ideas.
If the plants are shop bought have you repotted them and allowed time for any chemicals used on them to grow out?
That is an excellent suggestion to maintain the substrate humidity. Thank you so much for the advice and the enclosure compliment! :)
 

nootnootbu

Active Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2021
Messages
106
Location (City and/or State)
USA
For spraying only. Not for drinking or soaking. If you spray an enclosure or a tortoise with tap water daily, you will get hard water stains. Using non-mineralized water for spraying the basking area with prevent any mineral build up and look nicer.

Rain water is free, and some people already have RO systems installed in their houses. Distilled water would cost pennies a day for use in this application.
I use filtered tap water for all of my tort needs, filtered with a Pur filter, including soaking, drinking, and misting. I hope this is suitable. It's also the water I personally drink. So far, everyone seems to be doing well with it :)
 
Top