Why does my Russian tortoise stay buried?

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Shakudo

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Actually she is doing okay. I had a guy feeling I had better let her get her dig on... I decided after every 3 to 4 days, if continuously dug under, I would dig her out. But she seems to have satisfied her need and after three days she came out by herself. Basked, ate, and wandered around. Then went back to sleep.
I prolonged the light cycle from 12 to 13 hours to counter the shortening days.
 

lynnedit

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Well, sadly nobody responded, so I decided to take action.
I removed her from the hide yesterday, and soaked her for 20 minutes then gave her lunch.
She ate fiercely and today was out and about and is eating normally.
Still have a 13 hour light cycle it might be beneficial.

Joey
Sorry no one responded. This is actually a fairly old thread; started in 2012 and a pinned post. So that might be why it wasn't seen.
In any case, looks like you may have solved the problem. Remember, tortoises will burrow during warm weather in the summer as well. In the wild they 'estivate' to get away from extreme heat and to prevent dehydration. Not the same as brumating (hibernating) in the winter, it is just 'waiting'. When it rains, the come out to feed and if temps go up, they burrow again. So perhaps there was some of that going on with your tortoise. :)
 

weevee52

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Glad she is doing ok,I got mine out and soaked him and he ate some then went back to bed. but nice to see he was fine.
:)
 

tryme

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What should basking temp be?

What should ambient temp be?

What should humidity be?
 

Shakudo

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Sorry no one responded. This is actually a fairly old thread; started in 2012 and a pinned post. So that might be why it wasn't seen.
In any case, looks like you may have solved the problem. Remember, tortoises will burrow during warm weather in the summer as well. In the wild they 'estivate' to get away from extreme heat and to prevent dehydration. Not the same as brumating (hibernating) in the winter, it is just 'waiting'. When it rains, the come out to feed and if temps go up, they burrow again. So perhaps there was some of that going on with your tortoise. :)

Yes perhaps, I thought of that as well.
I also thought she needed to satisfy her need to dig and me not disturbing her and I really hope she is setting into a good routine. I also decided on getting her a bigger enclosure, but that is a project for thc coming time.
Thank you for your kind respond.
 

Shakudo

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Glad she is doing ok,I got mine out and soaked him and he ate some then went back to bed. but nice to see he was fine.
:)


Yes mine did that as well, perhaps you could try the same thing as I did? Yes, I can relate to your relief I was so worried as well. I hope your tortoise will be fine, tag me if you have some news, I'm curious... Goodluck!
 

Shakudo

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What should basking temp be?

What should ambient temp be?

What should humidity be?
Hello,

Your answer is related to what species you have and other relating circumstances.
Perhaps is it a good idea to post those questions in the appropriate species sections or perhaps the general section, there you can get a lot of good responses.
 

weevee52

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Althou a great care sheet. sometimes you just need to know how individual torts and adopted parents are getting on thanks
 

ethereal1

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I totally agree and support Yvonne's thoughts (knowledge) on this, I used to use a single MVB lamp and was unsatisfied with its lighting abilities, so had moved it to the middle of the enclosure versus one end to have a gradient of temp and light on either side, but it still wasn't very bright, it was more like a really hot day at dusk for them. I started using a second MVB on one end to supplement the one in the center. Its much higher up than the other as it is more for light than anything, and it's made a huge difference for the tortoise. He's not kind of chained to his basking spot if you know what I mean, he uses much more of his space much more often than before :)

I also have it on a separate timer to kind of go with sunrise to midday to sunset brightness, he seems to take to it very well! There is extra heat and UVB though so the temps have to be measured, I take temps at substrate and shell heights in basking spots and along the gradient and I aim for 90 farenheit at shell height basking, no less than ~72 at the edges of the enclosure
 

Magiskebecky

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If you have a Russian tortoise then it is Really normal. The Russian tortoise is diffrent from other tortoises since its front feet are more scaly and thick and are very strong so the Russian tortoise is pretty much designed to dig or bury themselves. I read in a blog post THAT once his Russian tortoise almost dug under his outside fence :eek: home that this helps:tort:;)
 

sullygirl85

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GBtortoises Wrote:

Russian tortoises need a lot of light to remain active. The main question about Russian tortoises on this site is "Why did my Russian tortoise bury itself". Part of the answer to this question is that Russian tortoises require long, light intensive days (along with correct temperatures) to remain active. In the wild their activity periods are brief but are during the time of year when the days are longest and the sun is brightest. This light duration and intensity, along with temperatures tell the tortoise it's time to be active. As long as the temperatures do not get to hot, the tortoise will remain active. If the temperatures get too hot while the light is intense with 14-16 hour days the tortoise will usually aestivate to escape the extreme temperatures and dryness. If it's hot but the light in not intense or the duration is shorter than normal it will also become inactive. The three elements of light duration, intensity and correct temperatures work together to dictate to the tortoise what to do and when. In more simple terms, most people make the mistake of keeping their Russian tortoises too hot and too dark. Just as an example-my adults while indoors are in a 3' x6' enclosure with about 8" of substrate. They have a 3' wide by 18" long hide area paritially buried in the substrate. Looks somewhat like an underground parking garage! Their enclosure has a 4' UV fluorescent tube lighting the remaining part of the enclosure. At the opposite end of the hide area they have a 90 watt spot light and a 150 watt MVB lamp. I will occasionally alternate the use of these lights once or twice a week, but most of the time both basking lights, as well as the UV tube are on 15 hours a day. Both basking lights are hung about 16-18" above some flat basking rocks that are set on the substrate. I have had most of the adults in this group for about 8-10 years. Every Russian tortoise is active every day in this enclosure. None have ever buried themselves in the substrate. Many people make the mistake of providing the heat without adequate light. A single MVB lamp is probably the worse situation of all. It provides very good localized heat, light and UV but nothing outside the range of it's beam which is typically only about 12-14" in diameter. That amount of coverage isn't even adequate for a 2' x 4' enclosure.




I know it looks like I wrote this, however it is a copy/paste from something GBTortoises wrote.


My son has a russian tortoise that he purchased with his father from petsmart (yes I know....not the best thing...learned this AFTER the fact) but anyhow, I have been feeding it cut up pieces of squash, some romaine, and also some of the grassland tortoise food. However it does eat most of the leaves and squash and doesn't really touch the other stuff. Anyhow, he remains buried like this too. I just got two full spectrum coil lights for his set up. I have two duel lamps for his forty gallon tank. One has a UVB lamp and a night lamp the other has a UVB and a basking light. I just set up both the UVB this way so maybe this will be enough light to get him to move around. I just built an outdoor grazing area for him as well. So everyday until the winter he will be able to go outside. Now I know that all tortoises are different, how often are these guys supposed to soak? Petsmart was of NO HELP whats so ever in the department of his personality as well as various other things. I soaked him once and I really believe he had so much fun because he had never had it done before. They more than likely just spritze the enclosures rather than soak. Anyhow, thanks an advance for you help and have a great evening!
 

johnsonnboswell

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My son has a russian tortoise that he purchased with his father from petsmart (yes I know....not the best thing...learned this AFTER the fact) but anyhow, I have been feeding it cut up pieces of squash, some romaine, and also some of the grassland tortoise food. However it does eat most of the leaves and squash and doesn't really touch the other stuff. Anyhow, he remains buried like this too. I just got two full spectrum coil lights for his set up. I have two duel lamps for his forty gallon tank. One has a UVB lamp and a night lamp the other has a UVB and a basking light. I just set up both the UVB this way so maybe this will be enough light to get him to move around. I just built an outdoor grazing area for him as well. So everyday until the winter he will be able to go outside. Now I know that all tortoises are different, how often are these guys supposed to soak? Petsmart was of NO HELP whats so ever in the department of his personality as well as various other things. I soaked him once and I really believe he had so much fun because he had never had it done before. They more than likely just spritze the enclosures rather than soak. Anyhow, thanks an advance for you help and have a great evening!
Petsmart was indeed no help. Read the care sheet. Read it with an open mind and the assumption that you know nothing. Don't be alarmed at having to change everything you're doing.

Coil bulbs are dangerous. They can cause blindness. The animal will stop eating or moving, stay in hiding. It's got to go immediately.

No night light needed. In cold weather if the house temp drops below 60, use a ceramic heat emitter. No red bulbs.

A good mercury vapor bulb is all in one, UVB, UVA, heat. Worth every cent. Sunlight outdoors is best, but this is good for inside.

Romaine is like crack to tortoises. It's fine as part of a widely varied diet, but not a staple. RTs typically don't eat grassland pellets, it's not really formulated for them. Mazuri is a better choice, or better yet broad leaved weeds and plants. Squash is too sweet. RTs can't digest fruit sugars. Some people offer squash or pumpkin as a rare treat. I did once and will never again. They like it, but can't handle it.

The tank is small. He'd do better in something 4 times that size.

What are you using for substrate? It should hold moisture. Use a plant saucer for a water dish, large enough for him to fit in. Some people soak weekly. More for babies or dehydrated animals. Soaking can cause food to pass too quickly through the gut. We don't interfere with a tortoise's self determined soaking. You might soak twice a week for now.
 

breaker1nine

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Not looking to hijack this thread (especially as a brand new member) but I'm seeing something similar with my Russian Tortoise. He seems to be more interested in burying himself and hiding than eating. Bought him at Petsmart -yeah, I know -my daughter has been wanting a Russian tortoise for a while; and my mom, looking to spoil her 10-year-old granddaughter, took her to the pet shop and came home with our newest family member, without doing much research being done prior.

Details:
He's a 9 month old Russian tortoise.
Bought him on Tue Sep 1 2015. We noticed that he hadn't really eaten (mom and daughter bought the crappy food Petsmart told them to buy but we also offer kale) so we took him back to the shop on Sep 12. They took him back to observe him for his low appetite. They told us that he ate a bit (we noticed they offered him strawberries and blueberries and.. not sure what else- which from what I read is a no-no but I didn't want to chastise the Pet People) but not enough for them to be comfortable so they took him to the vet on Sep 16. The vet gave him a clean bill of health -aside from some constipation (?). We took him back home on Friday Sep 18. We were advised by the vet to soak him daily for at least 20 mins daily. We've been diligent with the daily soaking.
From what we've seen he's still only had one significant meal. He devoured about half a leaf/stalk of kale this past Sunday Sep 20 and promptly fell asleep on the site (it went from really awesome, to really cute, really quickly). Since then, he's been digging and burying himself in the coir. During the day, he's walking around to bask in the lamp for a bit. Takes a quick dip maybe once or twice a day in this dish on his own (he basically walks in and out). But he doesn't eat. We offered some collards, in addition to kale today, hoping some variety would be appealing but .. nothing. He'll walk right over it and goes into hiding.

Here's the set-up.
We live in Brooklyn, NY - it's Sep 22 (for what that's worth this time of the year for their seasonality). It's 76 degrees inside the apartment right now (yes, an apartment, we don't have the luxury of a backyard setup :)).
His home is a this Hefty bin that's 16" x 35" and 6" deep.
He has a half log to hide under on one end of his lair.
The substrate is 100% coco coir. It's moist, not wet. We moisten it when it starts to turn light brown on top... especially under the light.
We have this Reptispa MVB bulb at the end of his crib, opposite the half log, inside this Zoo Med dome. The bulb itself is about 14" from the surface of the coir. I don't have an infrared thermometer (I have one on the way) so I don't know exactly how warm it is under the lamp but he basks under it comfortably, based on metrics I've seen online, it should be about 95 degrees. We have the lamp on a timer 12hours on/ 12hours off. I imagine we have a decent temperature gradient from under the bulb, to the log where he actually likes to hide and dig (he buries himself in the dirt under his log).

We notice that he drinks when he's having his soak. He pooped a very small amount today (about a long filmsy marble's worth) today for the first time. No pee, from what I can tell. I don't think he's pooped much in the three weeks we've had him. Though, it's hard to tell.

From what I've read, lighting is important to keeping them active but I think the lighting is sufficient in his cozy home. I'm a little concerned that he's not eating enough and that he's hiding too much.
 

W Shaw

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Mine sleeps in a burrow every night. He puts himself to bed about 8 PM. He has a hide, but the first day I had him, I could see that he wanted to dig and didn't have enough substrate. So I doubled (or more?) the depth of his substrate and he hasn't used his hide since then. He basks and does his thing until about 8, then takes half an hour to dig himself in. In the morning, when I turn his day lights on again, he wakes up and just rises straight up to clear some of the substrate off his back, leaving him in a shallow nest, where he stays for a little while, yawning and watching me make his breakfast. When he sees that breakfast is ready, he leaves the nest and comes to meet me at the side of his enclosure so I can hand feed him. Sometimes, if he's still sleepy or warming up, I give him "breakfast in bed" by hand feeding him bits of his breakfast while he's still in his nest. He never burrows during the day, so I know he's not looking to hibernate. He just likes to sleep in a burrow. Occasionally he'll start digging in the wrong direction and end up trying to burrow into a corner. If he keeps it up, I go over and scoop a handful of substrate on top of him to tuck him in. He loves that and settles into it right away.
 

RainsOn

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Not looking to hijack this thread (especially as a brand new member) but I'm seeing something similar with my Russian Tortoise. He seems to be more interested in burying himself and hiding than eating. Bought him at Petsmart -yeah, I know -my daughter has been wanting a Russian tortoise for a while; and my mom, looking to spoil her 10-year-old granddaughter, took her to the pet shop and came home with our newest family member, without doing much research being done prior.

Details:
He's a 9 month old Russian tortoise.
Bought him on Tue Sep 1 2015. We noticed that he hadn't really eaten (mom and daughter bought the crappy food Petsmart told them to buy but we also offer kale) so we took him back to the shop on Sep 12. They took him back to observe him for his low appetite. They told us that he ate a bit (we noticed they offered him strawberries and blueberries and.. not sure what else- which from what I read is a no-no but I didn't want to chastise the Pet People) but not enough for them to be comfortable so they took him to the vet on Sep 16. The vet gave him a clean bill of health -aside from some constipation (?). We took him back home on Friday Sep 18. We were advised by the vet to soak him daily for at least 20 mins daily. We've been diligent with the daily soaking.
From what we've seen he's still only had one significant meal. He devoured about half a leaf/stalk of kale this past Sunday Sep 20 and promptly fell asleep on the site (it went from really awesome, to really cute, really quickly). Since then, he's been digging and burying himself in the coir. During the day, he's walking around to bask in the lamp for a bit. Takes a quick dip maybe once or twice a day in this dish on his own (he basically walks in and out). But he doesn't eat. We offered some collards, in addition to kale today, hoping some variety would be appealing but .. nothing. He'll walk right over it and goes into hiding.

Here's the set-up.
We live in Brooklyn, NY - it's Sep 22 (for what that's worth this time of the year for their seasonality). It's 76 degrees inside the apartment right now (yes, an apartment, we don't have the luxury of a backyard setup :)).
His home is a this Hefty bin that's 16" x 35" and 6" deep.
He has a half log to hide under on one end of his lair.
The substrate is 100% coco coir. It's moist, not wet. We moisten it when it starts to turn light brown on top... especially under the light.
We have this Reptispa MVB bulb at the end of his crib, opposite the half log, inside this Zoo Med dome. The bulb itself is about 14" from the surface of the coir. I don't have an infrared thermometer (I have one on the way) so I don't know exactly how warm it is under the lamp but he basks under it comfortably, based on metrics I've seen online, it should be about 95 degrees. We have the lamp on a timer 12hours on/ 12hours off. I imagine we have a decent temperature gradient from under the bulb, to the log where he actually likes to hide and dig (he buries himself in the dirt under his log).

We notice that he drinks when he's having his soak. He pooped a very small amount today (about a long filmsy marble's worth) today for the first time. No pee, from what I can tell. I don't think he's pooped much in the three weeks we've had him. Though, it's hard to tell.

From what I've read, lighting is important to keeping them active but I think the lighting is sufficient in his cozy home. I'm a little concerned that he's not eating enough and that he's hiding too much.

I hope I am doing this right - I am fairly new to caring for a Russian tortoise, love this site but don't visit very often.
 
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