hi, sorry to bug you! I have a russian tortoise I got when I was little and I’ve had him for 11 years now. I realize his care probably isn’t ideal after looking at your blog and I was wondering what I could do to improve his quality of life! he lives in a 20 gallon long tank with cypress mulch and eats mostly spinach and baby spring mix. he’s pretty lively for the most part and the vet says he seems pretty healthy would you @ ready-2-rumble if you reply?
First, ALL of the applause to you, @ready-2-rumble , for wanting to do the best for your tort. Some torts manage to be unexplainably resilient but good husbandry will ensure your shell friend is healthy for a long time to come.
You’re right that your setup isn’t the best for your shell friend. The first things you’ll wanna take care of :
– No tanks: Tanks don’t allow for proper air flow so you can’t get a good temperature gradient ( which is important) in the enclosure. They aren’t large enough and Torts can’t comprehend glass. It keeps them nervous and often they’ll bang their heads on the glass trying to escape which can end very badly. A tortoise table is a must. This can be created out of all sorts of things… book shelves, super large bins that they sell around Christmas, wood, etc. 20 gallons isn’t really big enough for roaming or for the temperature gradient.
–Mulch is too harsh for Russian torts. It doesn’t hold any moisture, they can’t dig down like the would in nature, and can scratch them up. A good substrate is coconut coir. ITs cheap and you can get it online in bricks. You add water and it makes a nice slightly moist dirt that’s also digestible (if they end up getting some in their bellies).
–Spinach should only be fed in moderation as part of a varied diet. It contains oxalic acid which is not good for Russian tortoises. It does have some good vitamins but too much oxalic acid can be harmful so not too much and definitely not alone. You had the right idea with dark leafy greens. I also go for spring mix. For store bought salad it’s got the best variation of greens for your tort. That said, you’ve got to mix it up to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients they need. Radicchio is a favorite as are dandelion greens (the kind you get at the store … if only they sold real dandies we’d be set) and Chicory. Cactus fruit is a great treat too and cactus pads are a favorite (if you can find them). I’m attaching a site with great info that lists diet options both store bought and plants. You want to get some sorta supplement for calcium. I use TNT which is a supplement made from dried greens and weeds. (you can get that here along with lots of other supplies too). There are other calcium supplements out there as well.
-Make sure you have a powerful UVB lamp and your temperatures are 90-95 under the basking spot with a gradient down to 70 on the cool sides.
-I’m guessing you do this but be sure to Soak your tortoise once a week or more to make sure they’re hydrated.
Check out this site. It’s been a life saver for me. The author is a herpetologist and has worked with Russian torts for a long time.
Good luck!! I hope this helps! let me know if you have any questions or anything.
~NFN and Zoya