charlotte-bowyer:

It’s been almost seven years since I got this dork. He was so happy when we took him from a woodchip filled vivarium to a proper table with soil substrate, and he has enriched our lives so much. I got him a dandelion flower for his birthday. Can’t believe he’s turning ten already! They grow up so fast. ;’) 

Happy birthday Fitzy!!!

Happy Birthday, Fitzy!!!

I’m so happy you found a forever home with humans willing ti give you the care you need to grow happy and healthy! It’s incredible what a difference proper husbandry makes.  Heres to another 10 years!

Friends! Have you seen the adorable pancake tortoises  @courtnashe  has shared with us? Well, she has created an incredibly well-researched care sheet for those looking to care for Pancake tortoises!

Pancake Tortoise Care Sheet  http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/pancake-care-sheet.159222/

Finding a quality care sheet based on well-researched information and experience is vital to raising a happy and healthy tort. Check this care sheet out and share it with anyone caring for or looking to care for pancake tortoises!

In related news: 

We are starting a master list of quality care sheets! There’s an incredible amount of bad information out there on how to care for turtles and torts and sadly that information seems to be what’s most accessible and most frequently put in the hands of first-time owners.  So, let’s band together and create a place where you can find quality care sheets on as many species of turtles and tortoises as possible!  

If you know of a quality, thorough, and well-researched care sheet for a particular species of turtle or tortoise send them along! We’re trying to verify the quality of information of everything we put on the list so all input is helpful. If you’re interested in helping out with this project, please message as well!

thlpp:

Not snakes, but: this is what I spent my day doing: Building an enclosure for the Russian tortoise I’m adopting from a rescue.

Here’s the current state of the enclosure.

It’s set up on the back porch of our house.

It’s almost done – I’ll just shovel some more substrate in there, and throw in some straw, bark chips, etc.

To make sure no roaming animals (like raccoons) can harm the tortoise, every night I will be putting it inside the cage, where it will have some room to move about and bask in the morning until I let it out to the large corral when I get up. The cage has a heat mat on a thermostat to make sure that the tortie is warm on chilly nights.

Over time, I want to get some plants growing in there too, like plantago and dandelion. See if they have a chance to grow with a tortoise roaming the corral.

Regardless, I will be growing plantago, dandies, and chicory, as well as prickly pear in my back yard to feed the tort, so it can demolish the plants in its enclosure all it wants!

HOLY AMAZING!!! you’ve built a kingdom any tortoise would be proud to dominate!

theexoticvet:

This is one of the best aquatic turtle enclosures I have ever seen. While it seems over the top, everything present is necessary for happy, healthy turtles. At least 100 gallons of water, filter, heater, basking lamp, UV light, haul out area, and dry land. If all aquatic turtles were kept this way I’d never see any because they would rarely get sick.

Source Unknown.

This is fantastic!

calling all tortoise experts

tortoise-adventures:

tort-time:

fallcap:

is a tortoise table like this a good idea for a ~2-yr-old russian tortoise, or is it too small? my poor guy is living in a tank right now and im trying to find a better alternative

I’m in a studio apartment right now so an outdoor pen isn’t an option, and there’s not really room for a 50-gal tub. 

Hmm.. I can’t be sure looking at it there.. it looks a bit small. What kind of tortoise? More space will surely be necessary in a year or two if it isn’t now. Try levels? Zoya and I live in a studio and twell she’s lucky she’s so cute cause she gets a good 3rd of the place to herself hah.

ETA: I’m the worst (and super tired sorry!) you said russian tortoise. That might be ok for a very temporary situation but your little one will surely climb out of that when you’re not looking. Don’t underestimate shell skills hah

That is super tiny and really isn’t suited to any size torty. A tip for a hatchling is to look at xl indoor rabbit cages as they’re usually sold 2nd hand very cheaply. You really don’t need the hide most tortoise tables have built in. With the right bedding (top soil all the way!) your tortoise should dig down at night anyway and you can provide hides if you want without it taking up a ton of room. Honestly 4x2ft is really the minimum i’d recommend for any healthy hatchling. They need lots of exercise to be able to even digest their food and keep healthy. An hour outside their table really isn’t a substitute. This rabbit cage is the same price, bigger and would be suitable for a good couple of years. Another alternative is a C&C style cage, provided you can block off the see-through pannel bottoms with plastic after you fill it with soil. They’re also great for adding lofts!

For an adult russian torty an indoor enclosure size should really be 6ft x 2ft at a minimum. If you don’t have the square footage for that then go up! A safe, boxed in gentle ramp they can’t climb out of/over means you can have an enclosure that’s huge for relatively little actual floor space. If you don’t want the C&C style one, you’d either need to build it yourself or work with a local handyman. 

Pro-tip sterilized top soil makes great natural bedding for all of the above plus its super cheap and you can grow them plants in it. Remember though: If the enclosure is wooden you need to protect and waterproof the wood by lining it with plastic, an old shower curtain from the pound/dollar store is a great robust cheap choice 🙂 

Awesome info, presented in a far more coherent manner than this human is currently capable of!

Anonymous:

I took my Russian to the vet yesterday and among other things that the weird vet said, she suggested feeding our tortoise spinach pasta and egg yolk. I have never seen either of those things suggested for a tortoise to eat…what do you think about that?

Well I’m not a Vet but I think my eyes popped out of my head reading this! There may be some differences on the best weeds, greens, etc to feed your tortoise, but I have never ever encountered a single reputable source that would suggest spinach pasta or egg yolk! Spinach itself is not a great food for your Russian tortoise. Its high in calcium, so tolerable in small amounts, but contains a high amount of Oxalic Acid. That messes with kidneys of the tort and in high amounts can cause kidney stones. Its not terrible, it has a lot of calcium, but it shouldn’t be fed in large amounts. This is where the whole “feed a varied diet” comes in. 

Pasta and Egg yolk?! I don’t even know what to say about that. Neither of those are things a tortoise would eat in nature… or in any situation! Russian tortoises are herbivores.. they require very little protein that they should get from the greens they eat (like hibiscus leaves etc). No animal protein should be consumed, they’re vegetarians! Egg whites are animal protein and not natural or recommend from what I read. They include other stuff that messes with your tortoise’s ability to metabolize nutrients. 

Its awesome that you are trying to take good care of your tort and getting check ups! I would guess your vet doesn’t specialize in Exotics and specifically not tortoises. You may want to consider finding a new vet that does. Its important to have that number on hand.  So glad you asked and clearly you know enough about torts to look out for the not so great information. #HighFive 

Heres a link to a database of exotics vets in the US. http://www.reptileveterinarians.com/ 

There’s also a great message board that you could check out, lots of tortoise owners that might know someone in your area. tortoiseforum.org

Here are some great sites with information on Diet.  

Russiantortoise.net has a great care sheet and is specific to Russian tortoises.

The Tortoise Table  has a plant book that is great for identifying plants, and identify how regularly you should add something to your torts diet. 

Those are my thoughts. Again, I’m not a vet so keep that in mind. I hope it helps and that you and your shell friend are doing well! 

the-reptile-report:

Homemade Calcium Blocks

TortoiseForum.org – Have a tortoise or other calcium-needing critter that doesn’t like the traditional cuttlebone or powdered offerings?  Try this homemade option, shown here with awesome pictures and clear, detailed instructions.

Great recipe and another must read post for tortoise owners! I believe I saw this first here on Tortaddiction – Homemade Calcium Blocks Step by step. Note the part about the need for UVB for calcium to be metabolized! 

I can’t recommend tortaddiction highly enough! Lots of informative posts for those willing to take a read. Lots of pictures to illustrate her points .. and obviously.. shelled cuties abound 🙂 

Anonymous:

Please talk some sense in to me: I did something stupid and looked up the systems of tortoise diseases. It was stupid because it mentioned them being lethargic is a sign of something wrong. And my dear tort’s been a little lazy lately (except when there’s food). I’m pretty sure it’s because of the time of year, but I’m tired and easily paranoid, so now I’m going to be worrying about him. -__- In other words, is it normal for a tortoise to have long periods of not really wanting to do anything?

Hey there Anon! 

Well, I am here to talk sense into you! in a helpful and not helpful way?

It is normal for tortoises to have less active periods, especially during winter time. I’m not sure where you live, but if the weather is cold or cloudy, our torts sometimes decide to sleep in. Sometimes they just want to nom and soak up some UVB rays. Thats normal. 

The number of times I’ve become overly concerned that Zoya hasn’t caused any real trouble in a week or so is.. ridiculous. I would be the most obnoxious parent ever with the worrying and checking. Seriously, I feel where you’re coming from. 

That said, its true that long periods of lethargy are often the first real signs that something is amiss.  So… how long are we talking? Is it a big change from his previous behavior?

Heres the thing, there are some things that definitely scream “OMG VET NOW!”, others are much less cut and dry. Annoying right? 

You have to think about everything in context.You know your pet best and you can identify behavior changes.  Always check to make sure your temps are right, diet is right, substrate etc. One of these things being off can cause lots of problems now and over time.

Hydration is a big one. Is he getting enough soaks? Check the urates (that white stuff in the pee). If its creamy looking that’s normal, if its rocky then he’s not hydrated enough and definitely keep an eye on him and give some extra soaks. Eyes sunken in is a big sign of dehydration. 

After that you have to think about things like weather, time of year (they’ve got some amazing body clocks in them), and how long the changes are happening. A week or two of just basking and eating instead of trying to climb his log is normal in context (though it does work well to make us humans nervous). If it goes on for longer, with no contextual reasons, if you notice any other strange behavior, then I’d say, better safe than sorry. Vet time. 

I really hope this is helpful! I totally know that freak out moment and still have them. Our shells will drive us crazy when they are causing trouble and when they’re not. hah. 

Gotta love them tho! 

Send us an update! And pictures!