Anonymous:

I have a couple of concerns and I hope you can help me out. I have a sulcata tortoise a little more than a year old. It’s beak chipped on one side. I was wondering if I have to file the rest down? Is it a sign of poor nutrition if it’s beak is breaking? I am getting worried. I try my best to keep it healthy but sometimes I feel like I’m doing something wrong.

Hey There!

So Its really hard to say without seeing your torte’s beak.  The first thing I’d say is don’t trim your tortoise’s beak yourself! Unless you’ve been trained by someone definitely don’t try it. While a cracked beak doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong, it can be a sign of serious health problems. 

The severity of the crack and how its impacting your tort is how you’d decide if it needs attention.  If its a bit of unevenness that’s not causing trouble eating, and not part of an overgrown beak, then (as long as you’re feeding an appropriate diet and providing the proper amount of UVB / temperatures gradient) it should work itself out.  Healthy torts with the right diet and environment usually maintain their beaks and nails through eating and climbing and other day to day trouble making. It won’t look like your shell got a manicure though, so keep that in mind.

That said, If he/she is having trouble eating, If the beak is overgrown, that’s much more worrisome.  Its a sure sign that he/she isn’t getting the right diet/ lighting/ etc and could potentially have a vitamin deficiency or be developing a type of metabolic bone disease  These are serious issues and require vet attention for sure. 

So I guess my advice is to keep a really close eye on your shell friend. If you notice other issues (The overgrown beak, lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, abnormal shell growth etc) definitely find a herp vet in your area and make an appointment. It’ll ease your fears, identify any underlying issues, and any trimming that might need to be done will be done by a professional (who might be able to show you how to do it yourself should you need to). 

Heres a good care sheet for Sulcata tortoises. Check here too and make sure you’re diet and set up are all good. At only a year old he/she still has quite a bite of growing to do and its important to get that growth going in the right direction. 

The Sulcata & Leopard Tortoise: Sulcata Care Sheet

Thanks for the ask and keep us updated on your shell. If you’d like to send a picture I can share it here and see if anyone has any thoughts. 

Zoya approving the final proofs of our holiday cards. We’re still signing em. She’d like you to know that I, humom, am the slow and steady one in this family. 

Zoya approving the final proofs of our holiday cards. We’re still signing em. She’d like you to know that I, humom, am the slow and steady one in this family. 

jeweledturtle:

An AMAZING turtle enclosure by ALDABRAMAN on http://www.tortoiseboard.com/

jeweledturtle:

An AMAZING turtle enclosure by ALDABRAMAN on http://www.tortoiseboard.com/

jeweledturtle:

An AMAZING turtle enclosure by ALDABRAMAN on http://www.tortoiseboard.com/

jeweledturtle:

An AMAZING turtle enclosure by ALDABRAMAN on http://www.tortoiseboard.com/

jeweledturtle:

An AMAZING turtle enclosure by ALDABRAMAN on http://www.tortoiseboard.com/

jeweledturtle:

An AMAZING turtle enclosure by ALDABRAMAN on http://www.tortoiseboard.com/

jeweledturtle:

An AMAZING turtle enclosure by ALDABRAMAN on http://www.tortoiseboard.com/

Tis the season! For sufficiently sized storage bins, usable for tortoise housing!

(Photo Via Turtle Rescue of Long Island

This time of year, many stores start selling larger bins for ‘christmas tree storage’. I guess these are designed specifically for artificial Christmas trees and usually hard to find after jan and before November. Well, these bins also happen to be big enough to serve as a decent indoor enclosure for smaller shells. its length works well to allow for a temperature gradient with cool sides at 70 and a basking spot at 95. Its deep enough (and water proof) so enough substrate can be inside. 

These are  52×19” x12” high .  

Just a heads up for anyone in a tight spot looking for a quick and easy, but appropriately sized, enclosure! 

*Pugs may or may not be included with your purchase 😉

Zoya anxiously awaited her feast of prickly pear cactus fruit, radicchio, and greens (that humom attempted to arrange in the shape of a hand turkey). As soon as it arrived she ditched the place setting, hugged her feast and nomed like a boss. Then, in true American Thanksgiving style, she finished the day napping in sweats with football on in the background 😉

Zoya anxiously awaited her feast of prickly pear cactus fruit, radicchio, and greens (that humom attempted to arrange in the shape of a hand turkey). As soon as it arrived she ditched the place setting, hugged her feast and nomed like a boss. Then, in true American Thanksgiving style, she finished the day napping in sweats with football on in the background 😉

Zoya anxiously awaited her feast of prickly pear cactus fruit, radicchio, and greens (that humom attempted to arrange in the shape of a hand turkey). As soon as it arrived she ditched the place setting, hugged her feast and nomed like a boss. Then, in true American Thanksgiving style, she finished the day napping in sweats with football on in the background 😉

Zoya anxiously awaited her feast of prickly pear cactus fruit, radicchio, and greens (that humom attempted to arrange in the shape of a hand turkey). As soon as it arrived she ditched the place setting, hugged her feast and nomed like a boss. Then, in true American Thanksgiving style, she finished the day napping in sweats with football on in the background 😉

Zoya anxiously awaited her feast of prickly pear cactus fruit, radicchio, and greens (that humom attempted to arrange in the shape of a hand turkey). As soon as it arrived she ditched the place setting, hugged her feast and nomed like a boss. Then, in true American Thanksgiving style, she finished the day napping in sweats with football on in the background 😉

Finally responding to soundingthefalsealarm and petitetortue in regards to Zoya’s enclosure. Sincerest apologies for the slow response.

I’m guessing this will sound far more complicated than it is but the bold steps are the short answer and a little more description is after that (trust me I could go on forever. send me any questions you have and stay tuned for part 2 with more details about the upper level)

1. I connected the wire shelves together using the little circle things it comes with, along with some zip ties here and there for added security.
     Note: you need to make sure the connector thingies are all facing the same way or it won’t stay and it’ll come apart ( i.e. all the flat circle parts facing down or the X you use to connect facing down. One going the wrong direction will just float there and fall apart).

2. Line the whole thing with shower curtain liners or tarps ( you’ll need two at least to get it to fold in the right places and fit odd shapes )

3. Attach these to the enclosure frame. I used binder clips and duct tape, making sure you don’t have duct tape (especially sticky side) accessible to the inside of the terrarium.

4. Line the inside and the sides of the outside with linoleum tiles. You can get all kinds but I know they’ve got a cheap box full at Family Dollar. Try and get things as close together as possible. Those trouble making shells can very easily rip that down if they see any edges up. You don’t want the glue accessible to them. I used some binder clips I had around the top to secure the curtain liner and the tiles on the sides because they don’t always stay the way you want them to. Get crafty (I used the clips because I’d moved and didn’t have other supplies and really wanted Z to get into an enclosure asap.

5. After that I just lined the outside with black textured contact paper for more security and to match my couch hah.

6. Let it sit for a bit, make sure it feels secure, nothing sticky, poking out, etc.  I added a 2 bags of play sand and about 8 bricks of coconut coir substrate inside. Placed the water bowl, a log hide (Z out grew that and now I have a faux log hide thats XL and made of ceramic). Added some plants (that no matter how many times you try and replace them they’ll die within 1/2 days) and an added hide on one of the cooler ends as well.

7. Set up your UVB/UVA lamps so that you have a basking spot of 95 with cooler end(s) of about 70. I use a lamp stand for uvb/uva bulbs, power sun uvb/uva bulb , added daylight bulb to get the temperature gradient right (especially in winter).  The best way to test this is a temp gun. you can get them at a hardware store and reasonably priced. Its in my top 5 most necessary tortoise owner supplies.

8. Next I added the upper level, Zoya’s castle,  which is a rebuild of a previous version. I built it out of two wooden picture frames and a combo of pieces of wood I found all in the as in bin at Michaels nailed/ glued together to make a box.  The castle top was found at micheals in the wood section as well.  Once the box was made I attached it to 4 legs (in my case they were wooden banister parts I had laying around and cut to size, you can find wood table legs at any hardware store for cheap, just wood sticks that you secure.) nail em in with and you’ve got the castle. The ramp is actually a plastic drain pipe runoff I saw at home depot (and didn’t know what it was) but sparked this whole idea. I like the one I have because its got dents to look like rocks, but actually helps zoya have some  grip when climbing in and out. I’ll go into more but she loves the heck out of that thing. Just make sure you don’t make it to easy to climb up and then over the edge of the terrarium. Spidey torts will love that.

9. In the winter I add a warm mist humidifier to the room to maintain humidity (and it helps me not get nose bleeds!) and a ceramic heat emitter. I have this on a zoo med thermostat that maintains the temperature of the basking spot reasonably well, not letting the temp get overly hot and getting it warmer if needed. It has a set up for a night time temperature drop so the ceramic heater can help keep the enclosure ‘night time cold’ but not winter in Massachusetts at night cold.

Lessons from this enclosure:

So I’ve used this method twice (moved 3 times but used something else when in the UK) and it’s been affordable and customizable (important in a strangely shaped studio) and maintained temps and humidity ..,.until recently. The larger the enclosure has become, the harder it’s been to maintain humidity levels (especially in the winter). This isn’t unusual but something that definitely needs to be addressed. The warm mist humidifier near the terrarium, and taking cleaning the substrate by pouring boiling water onto it and mixing it all together then letting it cool, before putting her back in, works pretty well.

The next thing I’d say about this method is that it makes changing out the substrate completely really difficult. This isn’t simply because there’s a lot, it’s also due to the lack of sturdy support underneath the enclosure to grip and help dump out.  This has become a big issue lately as well. Cheap shower liners are no match for little trouble makers like Zoya that work hard to dig or climb every nook and crany in their enclosure. Any little tear that exists becomes a giant disaster when you try and lift pounds of substrate with it. At this point I wish I had a more mobile (wooden pretty much) enclosure but I think this one is doing ok for her.

Don’t get me wrong,  I am pleased with the way these wire shelves have worked so far, allowed me to make a large enough enclosure for a really low price, adjust it (with effort) as Zoya grows, and that fits my apartment well when not much else does (including MY bed).

Sorry to be so wordy again but figured my ‘lessons learned’ could help someone else improve upon this DIY.  If you’ve made it this far you get a gold star at tortoises, turtles, Zoya, and a shot of something for not unfollowing 🙂 

(Image: Zoya Pants  Article Via Indianacolleges.com )

Some important facts for beginner turtle, tortoise, and terrapin fans.

Well, we’ve all heard the tale about the hare and tortoise. But did you know these 7 interesting facts about turtles?

1. Are tortoises and turtles the same thing? And we’re not talking ninja turtles here.

All tortoises are turtles; however, all turtles are not tortoises. Tortoises are the turtles that live on the land.

2. It was over 200 million years ago that the earliest turtles had evolved.

3. There are around 320 species of turtles all around the world and almost half of them fall into the endangered range.

4. When in Britain, remember that the term turtle is used for salt water species, while the term terrapin is used for the fresh water species.

5. Don’t be afraid of a turtle biting your head off- they have no teeth.

6. The official reptile of Illinois state is the painted turtle. This decision was made through an internet poll, and other options which people had voted for were the Eastern Box Turtle and the Common Garter Snake.

7. Although yawning is said to be contagious in both humans and animals, research suggests that in tortoises yawning is not contagious.

koopa-the-great:

Hello, My Russian Tortoise is about 1 year old. This is her first winter and she is barely eating and sleeping for the majority of the day. Should I be worried?

Hi! 

Don’t worry.  Slowing down in the winter is normal. They hibernate naturally this time of year so they’ll respond to the weather even when indoors. That includes eating less and sleeping more. You’ll definitely want to make sure the temperatures in the enclosure are the same despite winter (95 basking spot with 70 cooler areas) and check to see how cold it gets at night (they need the nighttime temperature drop, but you don’t want it to get too low). Also, a good idea to make sure your UVB bulbs are still good. 

One other thing to consider is the humidity change that comes with winter. Here in Massachusetts, the cold temperatures and having the heat on makes the air is really dry. That increases the risk of dehydration issues. In that situation you’ll want to add an extra soak to your routine. You can tell if they’re not as hydrated as they should be by looking at their urates (the white stuff in their pee). If you see a lot of extra dry grainy urates, that means an extra soak is in order.  Because it gets SO dry here (winter skin makes my hands look so old and gross…unrelated but true) I have a warm mist humidifier running next to the terrarium. It helps maintain decent humidity levels. 

So don’t worry, just generally keep an eye on your little shell 🙂 First winters are ROUGH for us humans. We’re still getting to know our torties’ normal behaviors and what changes mean, only to deal with a whole new set of behaviors that come with winter and are a little scary.   I panicked the whole time with Zoya, even knowing that some slow down is pretty normal. To be honest, I still get a little crazy. I hope this is reassuring/helpful!

sleepypixie:

hey! I have a russian tortoise and I am going to have a small bird soon, I was wondering if you know if it is safe to keep them in the same room? I’m having trouble finding out via google search.

Hey! Congrats on your growing animal family 🙂

I’m assuming they’ll have separate enclosures? If that’s the case I don’t see too much opportunity for trouble to be made when they’re both in their individual secure spaces. 

The problems come in when the bird is out of its enclosure and able to fly around, roam free. You’ve got a heat lamp that can burn, be knocked over and hurt your tortoise, and even start a fire. That’s the *biggest* issue I can forsee.  Well that and your bird trying to get a ride out of the tortoise taxi and earning a side eye 🙂 I’d bet you won’t get more than an annoyed side eye from your Russian. The new bird isn’t a nom and isn’t something recognizable as nom related, so clearly tortie has better things to think about 😉  

I did some searching before responding to you as I’m not a bird expert (or any expert really), and I did read a bit about the potential for a bird to pick up bacteria (that are are carried by tortoises but not an issue for them) and falling ill. Nothing that gave any cited info just a couple people mentioning it. Definitely something to think about before letting them interact at all. 

So, now comes the time where I’ve babbled far beyond my limited knowledge and ask kindly if anyone else has any thoughts??

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