Caring for and Feeding a Russian Tortoise

Turtle or Tortoise?

First off, I want to explain a few differences between a turtle and a tortoise...

Turtles spend most of their time in water, whereas tortoises spend most of their time on land.

Turtles are more likely to adapt to an aquatic lifestyle when the weather gets cold, finding warm ground in the water by digging and making a nest area. Tortoises, on the other hand, will more than likely drown in deep waters and waters with a fast current.

Turtles' front feet are mostly fins, whereas tortoises have hard, scaly feed that are built to crawl across sharp rocks and sand. Tortoises often have front claws that help them dig burrows to nest in during hot weather.

Turtles have a flat shell, whereas tortoises have a rounded dome shell.

Caring for Russian Tortoises

Russian tortoises are native to the continent of Asia, more specifically in the Ukraine, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and parts of China.

Like with more land tortoises, they tend to live up to 100 years, so before you get a Russian tortoise, make sure that you're prepared for a life-long commitment. These guys aren't something that when you're tired of caring for the you can just throw out; these guys will more than likely live longer than you.

Russian tortoises tend to grow about an average size of 4" to 10" in length.

If you decide that you're in for the commitment of caring for a Russian tortoise, you'll want to find a reputable breeder. Before you bring home a pet tortoise, you really should do all the research that your can, so that you don't have any questions about care and diet after you've got the tortoise in your home. You want to make sure that you have the enclosure already set up and your veggies and supplements ready.

When you first get a your tortoise, you want to take it to a reputable herpetological veterinarian, so that you can make sure that the tortoise is healthy. Because most Russian tortoises are actually wild caught, you want to make sure that yours is healthy, as most wild caught specimens have parasites as well as other health illnesses, but this can be true of wild caught or captive bred.

Make sure that the vet weighs the tort and does the fecal exam.

A Russian Tortoise Enclosure

Once you get a clean bill of health from your veterinarian, you'll need to make sure that you have the ideal cage setup ready. You can either purchase a plastic storage bin or a glass aquarium; if you use a storage bin, you'll want to leave the lid off for proper ventilation. It's ideal that if you have good climate, that you set up a pen outside. Russian Tortoises prefer to be outside and like large outdoor pens (at least 4' x 3').

If you prefer to keep the tortoise inside, you'll want to make sure that the tank or tub is large. Tortoises like to explore. As for the ideal size aquarium, you'll want at minimum a 75 gallon tank, and for a storage tub, you'll want at least a 50 gallon container. For babies, you can go a little smaller, but as for adult sized enclosure, you don't want to go any lower than a 75 gallon glass tank or a 50 gallon plastic container.

It's best that you take dark paper or tape and block off the bottom 10" or so so that the tortoise can't see out of the tank or tub (if the tub is clear); but doing this you can reduce stress because the tortoise will try and try to go to the other side of the enclosure walls if he can see to the other side. You can purchase colored storage bins so that you don't have to worry about taping up the bottom.

You may even consider using a 100 gallon plus, reptarium for a play-pen style cage.

Substrate

There are many options for you to choose from, but the best substrate that you will want to use is a 50/50 sand and garden loam. Other options include bed-a-beast (which you can find in a compressed brick form).

You don't want the substrate to be too dry, but not overly moist either. The best way to achieve this is to pour a pan of water (about 48 ounces of water will do) into the enclosure once a week and mix up the substrate. It'll dry before the next week, but that'll be ok.

The ideal humidity is around 70%, so make sure to mist the substrate just a little to help create the ideal humidity.

You don't want to use newspaper, rabbit pellets, care fresh bedding, or alfalfa hay.

Temperature

During the day, you want to have the temperature on the hot side of the enclosure around 90-95F and the cool side around 70F.

The best and most accurate way to measure the temperature is by using a digital thermometer with a probe. Without this particular type of thermometer, you tortoise may not be getting the accurate temperatures, which can lead to health concerns.

The best way to achieve accurate temperatures is by using an under tank heater, but remember that best way to measure the temperatures is by using a digital thermometer with a probe.

Humidity

As mentioned above, the ideal humidity level needs to be right around 70%.

If your humidity is too high, substrate too wet, and temperatures too low, you can cause your tortoise to suffer scale rot. If you keep lower humidity levels, you'll want to soak your tortoise in warm water once or twice a week.

Lighting

You want to provide both UVB lighting and regular lighting. You can easily achieve this by purchasing the UV heat bulbs. T-Rex has the Active UV-Heat that works great.

The alternative to the T-Rex Active UV-Heat or even the Capture Sun bulbs is using a UVB tube, but because they do not put off any heat, you'll want to use a clamp light as well.

You want to keep the lighting on for about 12-14 hours each day. This can easily be achieved by a simple timer.

Flickr image by eshm
Flickr image by eshm

Foods to Avoid

  • All fruit (although sometimes recommended, it can lead to parasite blooms due to the sugar content)
  • All grains (to include bread, pasta, etc.)
  • All human food except what's been listed as "good"
  • Bok Choy
  • Commercial pellet diets
  • Dog and cat food
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Meat

Supplements

You want to make sure that you're not only providing a proper diet, but that you're providing proper supplements. You want to lightly dust the fresh vegetables with non-phosphorus calcium with D3, especially if you house your tortoise inside. Even if you house your tortoise outside, you should still supplement calcium daily.

The problem can arise if your tortoise gets too much calcium, as your tortoise can cause a secondary deficiency such as zinc, copper, and iodine. Too much calcium can also cause mal-absorption of fatty acids, as well as the formation of bladder stones.

You can prevent secondary health concerns by still supplementing your tortoise daily. What you can do is put a cuttlebone in the enclosure so that the tortoise can regulate his own calcium intake

Russian Tortoise Diet

You need to restrict your tortoise's diet, as captive tortoises get less exercise and they can easily overeat, which can cause rapid growth and a shortened lifespan.

It's best to feed your tortoise however much he will eat in a 20 minute period and remove anything uneaten.

You want to make sure that you provide fresh foods every day. You will want to provide a wide variety of foods as well.

Some of the greens and flowers that you will want to include in your tortoises diet include.

Greens/Veggies

  • Apples (the only fruit you should give your tortoise because of the high pectin content, but ONLY feed on occasion)
  • Cabbage (ONLY on occasion)
  • Chicory
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Radicchio
  • Red and green leaf lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Turnip greens

Plants and Flowers

  • Californian Poppy escholzia
  • Chia
  • Chrysanthemum flowers
  • Cornflowers Plagiobothrys ssp
  • Dandelion
  • Dayflower Commelina diffusa (flowers and leaves)
  • Forsythia (flowers and leaves)
  • Hen and Chicks
  • Henbit
  • Hibiscus (flowers and leaves)
  • Hosta
  • Ice Plants
  • Mallow (flowers and leaves)
  • Mulberry leaves
  • Plantain (not the banana fruit but the weed plantago major)
  • Prickly pear flowers (fruit and pads) (burn the spines off)
  • Rose (flowers and leaves)
  • Sedum

When it comes to getting plants from the garden store, make sure that you replantĀ  them for at least 1-3 months in a non-fertilized soil. You don't want your tortoise eating a fertilizer within the leaves or flowers.

You'll also want to provide a very shallow bowl of water. Make sure that the bowl is filled with fresh water daily.

Make sure that you wash the greens and veggies thoroughly, and you want to make sure that there aren't any pesticides or sprays on the veggies before you give the greens to your tortoise.

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Comments 176 comments

Crystal 3 years ago

My tortus has been in her water dish a LOT since we've moved her to a bigger cage. And not really eating I'm worried about her is this normal.


talhashah 4 years ago

hi i wanted to ask is it ok if my tortoise doesnot have black spots on its shell


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 4 years ago from Northern California

Great Hub and photos! Very comprehensive. I love our Russian Tortoise and he is definitely our longest-living pet :)


maxravi profile image

maxravi 5 years ago from India

I got so many new information about russian tortoise. Thanks for this hub.I appreciate your care about animals.


guest 5 years ago

ok my tort is fine bleeding stopped a few seconds after the trimming. is an hour or so a good amount of time outside?obviously longer is better.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

No need to trim your tortoise's claws. Outside time that the tort should be receiving anyway, should be sufficient from keeping them from an excessive length.

For now, ensure that the bleeding has stopped, and keep it clean.


guest  5 years ago

i was trimming my tortoises nails and i accidentaly hit the quick is my pet going to be ok if i leave her alone to heal? or should i put some antibiotic on the tips of the nails i cut?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

You want to make sure that the metal piece is not on the cuttlebone. You DO NOT want your tortosie trying to or attempting to eat it.


guest 5 years ago

how important is it to remove the back of a cuttle bone b4 putting it in the enclosure?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

You don't want to put the tortoise in a glass tank. You want a plastic tote and/or an outdoor enclosure. In or to safely put a tortoise in an aquarium, you'll want to put something on the glass so that the tort cannot see through to the other side. You also would need at least a 90 gallon tank or larger to accommodate proper size.

You never put an enclosure in direct sunlight as it can easily creat the magnifier effect. IE place a magnifying glass over something in the sun and watch it burn.


beckyf 5 years ago

i just adopted a russian tortoise from a friend. can i keep the glass tank in front of a window and should i put the dark paper on the tank?


melbel profile image

melbel 5 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

Awww the tortoise in the first picture (flikr) is really cute. It's smiling. :)


markb629 5 years ago

Man oh man I know I'm a,lil late to the HUGE drawn out lighting discussion above....some people just make you wonder about over doing something as simple but yet dangerous as uvb....and in the past couple years there has been some extensive research done on all uv bulbs from contact fluorescents and tubes to mercury vapor bulbs in relation to certain sickness that was affecting many keepers animals that required uvb from eye problems to appetite to lethargy and most were found to have been producing dangerous amounts of uvb both beneficial and harmful spectrums and even the different light fixture shapes and sizes caused different high concentration points from different distances but now all have been reformulated and I know at least the zoo med products are supposed to come with a lighting guide for distance and application....just as with us humans too much of a good or healthy thing can most definitely turn bad or worse


lessthansign3 profile image

lessthansign3 5 years ago from Minneapolis

These guys are so cute! They're on my list of someday pets, for sure. Watching them eat is the best part, hehe.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Calcium sand is the worst sand for any reptile. It entices them to eat it, and it impacts their intestines as it is NOT digestable. Many tests have been performed using both water and stomach-like acid, and it takes WAY too long to dissolve in order for it to be safe. Plus, sand alone is not a suitable substrate. It's ideal if you remove the calcium sand, not matter how much money you spent on it, and replace it with non-fertilized topsoil without any additives. Or purchase coconut coir blocks (hydrate with water), and mix the substrate with fine grain playsand at a 50/50 ratio.

Please make sure that you're housing the tortoise with at minimum 4 inches of substrate to dig and burrow in. And, make sure the enclosure is a bare minimum of a 50 gallon tote.

You want to stick with weeds, grasses, and greens. Limit dark greens like spinach, as it's an oxalate which will bind to calcium in the body and cause kidney problems. Avoid fruits and other vegetables. This species is strictly a weeds and grasses type tortoise. You don't want to feed other veggies like beans, corn, and carrots. Some breeders will say carrots on occasion, but you do not want to make it a part of the staple diet.

Also, make sure to use the spring mix as your base diet, adding other greens as variation.


Dionne 6 years ago

Recently I adopted an abandoned russian tortoise (I work for an Animal Control facility). He had been left in an evicted house for at least 3 weeks prior to anyon calling us, so he was very underweight. His rear legs were so thin, he wasn't able to walk on them. I've had him, Borris, for about a month now and he's literally running. I've been using calicum sand and timothy hay in his enclosuer, feeding him the fresh grocery greens (changing it up as much as I can, I found that the Asian Market has a huge selection). A co-worker who said she used to "raise" russians said that she used to also feed thawed mixed veggies (corn, greenbeans, peas and carrot mix). Is this ok or potentially harmful?


Morgan F profile image

Morgan F 6 years ago from USA

Great post Whitney! We have a Russian Tortoise named Charlie he's seven. (Well ACTUALLY it's a she lol but we didn't find out for about six months so the name stuck. needless to say she's a little confused)


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I wouldn't offer tomatoes.


Julia Dizon 6 years ago

Cool, know i know what to get for my Russian Tortoise, Spongy! I just have one question about it's diet- Are Russian Tortoises aloud tomatoes?


Tom 6 years ago

Can you get RT's in australia?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I would say at least an hour or two.


Dawn 6 years ago

Our son has "Rhino" indoors with a UVB on him 12-14 hours a day depending on the day. I also have him take him outside for real sun at least once a day. How long should he have him outside? He tries to take Rhino out for only about 15 minutes because my son gets bored and he says he is too hot (85 degrees).


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Typically, petsmart doesn't have the best knowledge of care. Stick with fresh produce- spring mix and various weeds and flowers.Check out the page on safe plants for tortoises to get a good idea as to what to feed in regards to plants and weeds.

Petsmart only sells 4"+ tortoises, which are near full grown in regards to Russians. They also sell captive caught, which they claim they don't, but they do. Your Russian is more than likely at least 4-5 years old (if not older) and nearly full grown. In most cases, the only way to really get a baby is to buy from a breeder, and there aren't many who offer babies. Babies will fit in the palm of your hand and not exceed the size of your hand.

You want to put the tortoise in a 50 gallon tote. The 20 gallon aquarium will severely stress out the tortoise because 1)it can see out of the walls and will want to get to the other side and 2) it's WAY to small even for a baby.

These guys need large enclosures for a lot of exercise.

You can easily set up an enclosure outside and build a lid to it, which is ideal to prevent predators from getting the tortoise.


Bre 6 years ago

i just got a russian tortoise today at petsmart and im wondering if its a good idea to process or mash up the food i feed her.. the guy at petsmart said that's what she's used to and so far she hasn't wanted to eat anything so im wondering if its because its not mashed.. also i live in the mountains and i can't let her live outside or something will happen to her so i have her in a 20 gallon tank right now cause she's still a baby.. if i let her out for a long time at least once a day is that ok for her to live in?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

These are the most effective at providing UV similar to that of natural sun. You can use the tubes, but they msut be replaced at least every 5-6 months, as the UV runs out quickly. Plus, they only provide a minimal amount of UV rays in comparison to mercury bulbs. The best is probably the TRex Active UV Heat; the Zoomed Powersun is ok, but the TRex brand bulb provides the closest to "real" UV between the two brands. The tubes are cheaper but they're no good.


steve 6 years ago

What would be an acceptable alternative to the mercury vapor bulb for UV and heat???


steve 6 years ago

ok i figured as much but was not sure. thank you .


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Cuttle bone is perfectly fine. In all reality, that's all that a Turtle bone is- a cuttle bone in a different wrapper by a different manufacture.


steve 6 years ago

thank you that is good to here.. is there any real difference betwean the Turtle Bone and a standard cuttle bone? i can get both at my local pet shop but the cuttle bone is cheaper. I will invest in the turtle bone if it has things the cuttle bone does not.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

TNT is great. You don't need to put calcium on the food. Just supply the tortoise with a cuttlebone, and it'll munch as needed.


steve 6 years ago

I give my tort the Total Nutrition for Tortoises and i have a cuttle bone in the enclosure i have calcium with d3 but she does not eat the food with that white powder on it should i be giving her both or does the TNT have all the calcium she will need?? I supplement every other feeding like you said.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

steve, those temps are fine,

jenlou, it's hard to estimate age once the tortoise is full grown. some people on the tortoiseforum website can give you an idea based on the appearance of the shell, but it's just an estimate. Where did you get the tortoise? If a petstore, it's probably fully grown adult around 5-10 years old.


jenlou2000 6 years ago

we just got our new baby (well i dont know her age) we read your web page over and over before we got her..you have been so helpful..thank you so much..we love her my 6 year old daughter named her jessica ruby lol..but we call her jess..how would i be able to find out her age???


steve 6 years ago

it is at 93.5 on the hot side and around 70 on the cool end.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

You want the temperature closer to 90 on the hot side.


steve 6 years ago

well i found a way to kill the bugs and not harm my compannion. all is well now i have the temps perfect and the humidity on one side of the tank around 70 percent and 73 to 77f degrees on that side but she likes to stay in the basking end of the tank. should i lower or raise that side of the tanks temp?


geogre gligli 6 years ago

In Russia it name is Middle-Asian Turtle ;)


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

It could be nothing. I'd just keep an eye on them. I've heard of the little white bugs. I can't think of what they're called right now, but they're fine.


steve 6 years ago

like i said they are almost microscopic they are just barely visible only one side of the tank is kept around 70 percent humidity like you recommended. they have a cylindrical body 4 to 8 legs(best guess) they move fast and thrive when the humidity is high i threw out the moss i had and used a habitat clenser then i let the tank dry out i soak my RT twice a wk like you said to do. i have not seen the bugs since the substrate dried out.I have really excellent vision.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

They're probably just pillbugs, which isn't anything to worry about. You don't want the humidity too high.

If they're microscopic, you wouldn't be able to see them with your naked eye.


steve 6 years ago

i cleaned the enclosure out and replaced the bedding i didn't see them for a while but i just put some moss in the encloure now i have seen two of them so far i sprayed the moss and the spot where i found the the little white things it seems that what ever these bugs are they only come out when the humidity is high. they look like little white microscopic worms but they are smaller than any thing i have seen b4 any recommendations as to what kind of habitat cleaner would be strong enough to kill these things and not hurt my tortoise??


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

Wow! I had no idea how much preparation and care it took to keep a turtle. That makes you think twice about it and it takes a huge commitment and the eating habits are not easy. Thanks for the description and the easy to follow guidelines.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I'm not sure, as white things isn't the best description. Clean out and disinfect the water bowl. I've seen white worm like larvae in dirty water bowls and water crystals that haven't been properly cared for (left with insects who poo on them without throwing out the dirty crystals regularly, just adding to).


steve 6 years ago

alright i have a question what are these little white things i keep finding in my tortoise's water bowl are very very tiny and i don't see them anywhere else in the enclosure


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

They can travel a good ways. I've heard of them traveling miles. It sounds crazy because they are a smaller tortoise species, but it is possible.


Christine 6 years ago

I plan on it. We know all of our neighbors and live in a pretty tight knit neighborhood and I haven't heard anything.

Thanks for your help...


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

it's recommended to bring the tortoise inside during the winter.using an alternative source of uv when inside. I understood you; I was just giving my research and experienced opinion as to bringing in the reptile during weather extremes and caring for tortoise inside. You would need an alternate source of uv, and it's highly recommended to have an inside enclosure for winter and storms.

it's also a good idea to try to find the original owner, if the tortoise is indeed a russian tortoise.


Christine 6 years ago

Thanks for responding. Let me clarify, he will live in an outdoor enclosure. We are building it this weekend. The tub is only temporary while we do the research and wait for a day off to build the enclosure outside. In Arizona we can get to temps of 114 or so where we live in the summer. Is that going to be ok for him outside? We are going to give him plenty of space to dig a burrow and have a few different natural habitats.

The second question is in the winter is it necessary to put a heater outside or will he just go into natural hibernation when the temp drops? We have very mild temps in the winter. I would say the lowest it gets where we are is high 30's.

The only time I would bring him in is temporarily in the case of a torrential downpour. We have a season of those and they drop a lot of rain but usually don't last very long.

I hope this helps you answer my question better.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I highly doubt you had a wild Russian tortoise wander into your yard, unless you live in their native country. It probably is someone's pet that got out of an outdoor enclosure. They are very smart and can escape if not housed properly while outside. I'd post an ad online and/or in the paper in case someone is looking for their pet.

While inside, yes they do need a source of UV, unless you plan on leaving the tort outside during weather extremes- storms, heat, cold, etc. There's no need to put outside for just an hour or for any time during extreme weather; just leave in the tub inside with an alternate UV source. It's necessary.


Christine 6 years ago

Is it necessary to use any alternate sources of UV light/heat if my RT is going to have an outside enclosure? We actually had someone drop him off in our rocks in the front yard this morning.....either that or he was wild and just wandered up. I've been researching like crazy today in order to make the best decisions. My husband is going to build an enclosure this weekend and in the meantime he is in a tub. We live in Arizona and I think the temps will be fine outside 8 months out of the year. The other 4 months it will be either below the suggested temps or over 100 degrees....so my question is won't he just go into natural hibernation in the cooler months and in the hotter months should I bring him in the house to a tub and give him an hour or so of outside exposure during the day? I don't want to cook him in the summer but I would rather not have the complication of lights and what not if it isn't necessary. Thanks!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Check out the link for edible plants and flowers. It'll definitely help out.

http://hubpages.com/animals/Edible-Plants-for-Tort...

Be careful buying plants and immediately offering them to your tortoise. Gardens and nurseries use fertilizer in the plants, and you don't want the tort consuming a plant that has fertilizer in the veins (literally). Replant any store bought plants in a non-fertilized soil for several months before offering as a food.

It's much easier to buy seeds and grow your own.


Monica 6 years ago

I have had my RT since November and love him! What a great pet! He did have a fungus on his shell and I have to scrub him with medicine twice a day and take a bath in medicine every other day to get rid of it. He looks much better! Before I looked at the list of edible flowers (again), I was at the store and bought edible flowers in the herbs dept. that I thought he could eat, now I am not sure. I know he can eat the dandelions but the other two flowers I am not sure of. One is I am pretty sure a purple pansy and the other is a burgundy color not sure what it is. I thought it would be ok because people seem to be feeding the RT's things that are not natural to their environment such as fruit that they themselves eat. What do you think? I bought it as a treat. I normally feed him different types of lettuce such as spring mix.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

The commercial pellets aren't needed if you can provide a varied diet of leafy greens, grasses, and weeds. Many tortoises won't even eat them.


Jana and Lucas 6 years ago

We just brought home our Russian Tortoise yesterday, March 9. His name is Boris. We've set him up temporarily in a large cage with Tim grass, water, veggie pellets and just now some fresh greens. He is chowing down on the greens. I just love him! BTW, this site is very helpful and informative - thanks!


Julie 6 years ago

Wow, is this Steve guy like 12? Why does he own a tortoise?! That was one crazy comment thread I just got sucked into reading. I've had a Russian Tortoise for about 5 years now that is perfectly healthy, and sometimes it doesn't come out for weeks, especially during winter months. That guy needs to chill. He's going to bug his pet to death!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I would add more weeds if you could. The hibiscus is a good thing to add. It sounds like you've got everything researched. Make sure that when outside there's some sort of lid to prevent birds and predators from trying to get your tort. Also watch closely for digging and escapes; it's generally best that you have chicken wire or hardware cloth 6-10 inches in the ground along the edges of the outdoor enclosure.


Raquel 6 years ago

I've had my russian tortoise for like 3 years now but after reading this I had my dad make him an outdoor enclosure. He has a pretty big indoor cage and an even bigger outdoor one. The only thing that I think I've been doing wrong is variety with his diet. I normally feed him spring mix lettuce and like once a week get weeds from outside and like once a month give him hibiscus flowers. Is that enough variety?


arshumum 6 years ago

not easy to kept them and look after those animals, you need special care for them


rdelp profile image

rdelp 6 years ago

I didn't realize the complexity of having a tortoise.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

You'll want to make sure that she's eating other greens than just raddachio. It's not a healthy diet, if that's the only thing she's really eating. I'd try to reduce the raddachio until she starts eating other greens.


steve 6 years ago

ok will do. She really likes the radicchio when should i ghange the food for her i always put some red leaf lettuce and turnip greens with the radicchio but she only eats the raddichio.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Just try to set it up similar to the old, and leave her alone for a week or so like before to let her adjust.


steve 6 years ago

Well its been over a month since i brought my little buddy home and she is doing great she has been eating regularly and she really semms to like Raddiccio. i got a sweet deal on a 165 gallon aquarium so i got it i already wraped a material around it so she cant see out and i have not moved her into the new tank yet. any suggestions on how i can reduce the stress from moveing her from my old enclosure to the new one?


lewgard profile image

lewgard 6 years ago from Southern Michigan

I found this Hub while searching for info on the behalf of my nephew. He's interested in getting a tortoise and wants to learn as much as possible before making the move. Thanks for the top notch information.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Sounds like a fungus or algea. What is the humidity? How is the russian tortoise housed? What size enclosure? Substrate? Temperatures? Humidity? What are you feeding the tortoise?


Clarissa 6 years ago

We are a little concerned about our russian tortoise named "Iggy", although he's eating fine and active, his shell seems slightly green as does the top of his head. Any advice?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

steve, it is good to have her checked out

john, some say that they will breed better if hibernated.


John 6 years ago

Well done Whitney full of useful info. and spot on my qwestion is do the russions need to brumate or hibernate before breeding?


steve 6 years ago

Ok i found a vet nearby that has a reptile specialist that comes in on certain days when i get the money together i will have her checked out just cause it is not a bad idea to get her checked up and that will help settle my tension.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

steve, just relax. you can't expect her to just start running around the enclosure. If you're that worried, consider a reptile vet to examine her and rule out parasites or any illnesses.


steve 6 years ago

Well jasper has been hideing out in her burrow since tuesday. she has not come out for water or food i can tell cause the water in her bowl is still clean and clear. I am trying to relax and let her get used to the place. but if she does not come on tuesday or wednesday should i be worried?


steve 6 years ago

Oh .. ok the day temps are about 92 -95 degrees in the basking spot the other end is around 70 degrees i haven't been able to probe the burrow cause she has been in there so much.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I'm more referencing day time temperatures. Nighttime temperatures are important as well, though.


steve 6 years ago

ok i will keep an eye on the temps we keep the house at about 63 at night and it usually does not drop below 65 in her tank at night.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

That is good. Just keep an eye on the temperatures, as the outdoor temps are lowering. I've had to add an extra heat emitting bulb (no light) in order to keep mine up. So check them regularly. When the temperatures are low in the enclosure, you'll find they'll hide a little more.


steve 6 years ago

ok patience is the key then. i will wait for a while and see what she does over the next few weeks she ate a few leaves today so i am not to worried any more.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I'd say just leave her be. My guys go through spurts. Lately all they've wanted to do is hide. When I added water to their substrate last night, they went crazy exploring. Today, I'm sure they'll be hiding. Worrying can sometimes be good, but sometimes it can be excessive. Just try to relax.


steve 6 years ago

Ok got it i will put some food in there for her today b4 i go to work and see what happens. Yes i do worry but it is my nature. Thank you for all your help i dont know what would have happened if i did not find this site and talk to you about all my questions. thanx again i will keep you posted and any other questions i have i will ask you first. Thank you again for all your help.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

She may have come out at some time when you're not watching the enclosure. They don't necessarily need to bask, as long as temps are ok. It's normal. Just leave her alone. She'll come out when she's ready to. Check the temps and make sure everything is ok. I wouldn't worry too much, I know you like to stress about everything.


steve 6 years ago

ok she ate last wed and has been in and out of the water dish she relieved herself of both liquid and solid waste after she ate on wednesday all before she went into her hide saturday morning she has been there ever since going on 50 hours now. she has not come out to bask, forage, or drink. should i leave her for a week and then pull her out if she does not come out on her own then try to feed her?


steve 6 years ago

Ok up to a week but the thing is she has not come out of her hide for over 50 hours now not for basking drinking or to search for food. should i turn her around inside her burrow so she knows that the light is on and see what she does? otherwise i will leave her alone for another two or three days then pull her from the burrow and offer her food. Thats if she doesn't come out on her own, on wed of this week it will have been a week since she ate i assume she should be hungry by then.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

It's normal for reptiles to hide for up to a week sometimes longer. As long as your temperatures are good and she is eating and drinking, just let her get adjusted and she'll come around. They're not going to be the most active to begin with though, so don't expect her to run around all day or anything. Mine are most active when outside bc there's more to explore. When inside the most active I've seen them is hunting for food on their feeding day before I've had a chance to feed them in the morning.


steve 6 years ago

Ok she has been hideing out for about 48 hours now i will put some food in her cage today or tomorrow. When should i become concerned?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

She'll stay in there as long as she likes. She will come out to eat and whatnot, but she's adjusting, expect it. Leave hear alone.

Carrots aren't great. They break down to sugars. It's not really a good idea to offer them.


steve 6 years ago

ok now as for when she is burried in her burrows how long do they usually stay in there burrows for when they can not see the light? she ate a few pieces of carrot on wedensday but she wont eat the greens i put in there for her today should i not feed her for a few days and let her get hungery then try to feed her?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

If you couldn't drain it, then you should be fine for more than 2 or 3 days. Just give it a week and then see if you need to add the water.


steve 6 years ago

Ok got it the substrate is still damp from when i put the bed a beast in it was soaked i couldn't strain the water out but i will add some water in a day or two because it is still quite moist. thanx for all your help you have saved me tons of money and answered every question i have and im sure i will be asking more in time. thanks again you have been a huge help.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Sounds good. Just keep the substrate a little moist but not soaked and you should be good to go. You want the substrate to hold shape if you ball it in your hand. I'd suggest just pouring a pan of water in the enclosure once a week and mixing it up. It'll dry before your next water but that's ok.


steve 6 years ago

Ok i got it. I will just have the habba hut and water and food bowl then. i have plenty of space for her to roam around she loves that she can burrow now the bedding at the store was barely an inch deep. she loves her new home. i named her Jasper.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

It's a pet store reptile... :-/ Ok... No decorations. Just hides, water bowl, and food bowl. They don't really play with anything.

Remember it's best to have the length of the enclosure about 10 times the length of the tort. The width of the enclosure should be 5 times the width of the tort.


steve 6 years ago

What kind of decorations should i put in my little buddies home should i just have the necessities or should there be alot of stuff for my tort to walk around and play with.


steve 6 years ago

ok got it i lined my enclosure i have about 5 inches worth of bedding i took your advice i cut an old flower pot in half to make a temperary hideing place and the rest of my supplies will be here tomorrow. i am bringing my little buddy home tonight im sure she will be happy with the enclosure i made it has at least 3 times the space of her current enclosure. i am not going to feed her for a day or two because she gets so much food at my work.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Volume. It should equal about the same, though. Close to anyway since both are dry materials. Dry versus liquid would cause a greater weight difference than volume. Here you're measuring dry versus dry.


steve 6 years ago

ok i got 2 bags of fertilizer free topsoil and and play sand. you say to use a 50/50 mix by weight or volume?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Yea they like to burrow, so one block in a 50 gallon tub won't cover the entire floor and will barely cover it with the sand blended in. You may have gotten about a quarter of an inch in some spots though. Like I said I use about 3-4 and sand, but I'd still like more. I need to add a little more playsand.

You can purchase organic topsoil and use that. Just make sure NO FERTILIZERS. It's much cheaper to purchase one 40 pound bag of natural topsoil versus say 5 blocks of bed a beast. I use the bed a beast bc I bought a case of it since I use it with gecko lay boxes and frog enclosures. I'll definitely be using the organic topsoil when I start running low on bed a beast blocks.


steve 6 years ago

thanx that saves me big time. good thing you told me about using 3 or 4 blocks i bought a three pack so i will get another bick or two just to make sure i got a deep enough beding for this little critter.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

If you bought reptile sand you'd be spending an arm and a leg. Playsand can be purchased at a home department store like lowes for about $5 for 50 pounds or so. You'll want more than one block of bed a beast. I use about 3-4 blocks and the sand, which only gives about 3 inches of substrate give or take.

Here's a listing of edible plants:

http://hubpages.com/animals/Edible-Plants-for-Tort...


steve 6 years ago

Ok sounds like a plan but back on the subject of substrates you said a 50/50 mix of bed a beast and sand i have the bed a beast coconut fiber but what kind of sand do you use there are so many different kinds of sands for reptiles.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Recommended foods are pretty much all listed above. The only thing I can do is offer a lengthy list of edible plants that you can plant and grow.


steve 6 years ago

Ok so your list should be varied enough then? where else can i find lists of recommended foods for russian tortoises? I want to keep my torts diet varied with as many different things as possible.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

You'll find that this is a pretty comprehensive list of common greens, but If you're looking for a list of plants and greenery that you can plant outside, I can find a larger list. You'll find though, that these plants/flowers are the most common and easist to find.


steve 6 years ago

Ok but what if i can only find your list and maybe a few other things will that be varied enough? or are there other sites that have a larger list of things for these critters to eat?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

No offense, but I'd be surprised if you don't over think things other than just reptile care. Yes, if you have a varied diet, you won't need commercial foods.


steve 6 years ago

ok then as long as i have a good variety of fresh veggies i wont need the Mazuri or any of the commercial diets awesome thanks for clearing that up. Sorry i have a tendency to over think things when it comes to reptiles. i always think things are more complicated than they really are when it comes to reptiles.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

There's no reason to offer the Mazuri or any commercial diet. You really are over thinking this.


steve 6 years ago

I know how what i have read and what you have told me about commercial diets but what do you think about using a little of the Mazuri tortoise diet in moderation with fresh greens as the primary food?


steve 6 years ago

Ok i gotcha ya i will buy the spring mix and start finding the other plants at my local nursery, i will make sure to replant those plants in fresh non fertilizing soil for three months b4 i feed my tortoise. i will also buy the grazeing tortoise mix and start growing those ASAP.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Steve, like I said the grocery store will sell the greens. The rest are greenery plants that you can purchase at a nursery; you don't want to offer them as food until you can replant them in non-fertilized soil for about 3 months. It's easiest to purchase a bag of spring mix from the grocery store as a staple and add to that. That salad mix includes a few different types of greens that are all good for torts.

daz, if you can offer outside time, that's better than artificial lighting.


daz 6 years ago

can sum1 help me. My uv light needs replacing, but i cant get to the pet shop till saturday! Will my 2yr old hermann be ok till then? I can give him an hour outside each day as its not to cold here in portugal. Please let me know. Thanks


steve 6 years ago

Ok i got it. i will start growing the seeds as soon as i get them, but as for the mean time until they are grown what store should i go too to aquire some of the things on your list?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Yes you have to grow the seeds, that's why I said you could GROW them inside. It's the grazing tortoise mix that I was areferring to. The other seeds and mixes are good as well. That on just has the most variety. They grow well inside, although of coulrse do better outside, but you could grow a container of the seeds and snip an inch or so for extra variety


steve 6 years ago

All i can find on that site is the seed mix for tortoises do we grow the seeds or just feed them to them.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

No, I don't use commercial diets. There's not reason to offer commercial diets if your diet of fresh foods is varied enough and you properly supplement. Get the temps as clse to 95, if the hottest side right now is 92, you should be alright.

Names will be your decision.

Veggies can be purchased at the grocery store. Live plants the nursery, just don't give them anything that has been grown in fertilizer, which is anything at a nursery or home department store. You'll have to wash the roots and replant in non-fertilized dirt for about 3 months before offereing.

You can consider the grass mix on carolina pet supply as a good source of grases and weeds that you could grow indoors and snip off a few inches for each meal. It's the russian mix.


steve 6 years ago

What do you think a good name for a female tortoise would be?? i cant waith to bring my little buddy home but i want to make sure i have everything i need though. Where is a good place to buy fresh veggies for my tort???


steve 6 years ago

The bulb is lower than 3 ft. i will try my best to keep my torts diet varied as for the commercial pellet diets do you use them at all? what if i gave my tort a little bit of the pellet diet once a month just to keep things varied along with the fresh veggies. i did return the two reptisun bulbs my ballast could not operate them anyway. With that money i will gather the rest of the supplies i need and within 2 weeks i will bring my tort home. The coolest it gets in the tank at night right now is 65 degrees F .is that cool enough? The basking spot gets to about 92 degrees is that warm enough?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Make sure that your t-rex bulb is less than 3 feet from the tort, as over 3 feet there's no UV reaching the tort. They added that in as well in another post. Good tortoise diets are fresh foods, NEVER commercial, if that's what you're looking for. Stick with a varied diet of green greens and weeds.

Why not just return the bulbs and get your money back?


steve 6 years ago

Ok i got you i will just use one uv tube and a spot light until the two uv bulbs are useless in a yr and i simply wont buy any more of those. Your expertiec is much appreciated. can you tell of some good places to get the tort its food and maybe a few more sites that might give me a more examples of what to feed a tort. Just to keep a varied diet.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

looks like we were typing at the same time. You'll see the usefulness of the reptisuns above. There not. Your decision to use them, but the guy I quoted has been breeding and raising russians for a long time, one of the more knowledgeable in the species.


steve 6 years ago

I have an adjustable light stand so i can move it closer if needed. at about 18 to 20 inches from the surface the bulbs UV should reach the tort and the tape isn't going to hold anthing up it will just block one bulb from emitting light i have some old tubes that were cheap that i will tape up. im trying to get as close to sun light as possible without danger if i really absoulutley dont need them i can always return them.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I got the response. The trex bulb supplies all the uv your tort needs. The reptisuns produce very little uv that it's not worth it.

the quote was, "the one t-rex is really enough uv source, unless he likes to support his local power company. The output of th 10.0 is actually quite low so not likely to cause any harm having the extra bulb but why have the extra expense when it's not necessary."


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I suggested you not buy them before you bought them. Buying them was your own choice, and in my opinion waste of money (which I also voiced before you bought them). I still think it's too much. Ih ave inquired to more experienced keepers. I'll let you know what they say.

By the way, UV tubes like ReptiSuns need to be much closer than 4 feet to do any good. You're wasting your money and energy using them 4 feet above where the tort will even be. They have to be within 12 inches. The tort isn't getting any of the UV. You wasted the money buying them if you're planning on putting them 4 feet away, much less because you don't need them (IMO). With the bulbs 4 feet away, the tort is only going to get the UV from the active bulb, not the reptisuns.


steve 6 years ago

im talking about having one of the two sockets on my fluorecent fixture working with the one Rpti sun suspeneded about four feet from the surface and the spot light about the same distance should not overdo it but be plenty of UV. Plus i already bought the bulbs.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

two repti suns and the active sun T-Rex bulb is WAY too much. Why are you taping anything? Tape and heat from a bulb isn't going go over well; the tape will dry out real quick-like and the bulb will fall. Even one bulb and the active sun is too much. I'm not sure why you're wanting so much.

You are right that nothing compares to the sun, but when it comes to artificial, there's no reason to have 2 or three sources of UV bulbs/tubes. You just don't need it. Plus in some cases, UV can actually fry out the eyes of torts, especially younger ones; Russians aren't quite that bad, but they don't need 3 or even 2 sources of artificial UV.


steve 6 years ago

But if you think that the two Repti sun 10.0 are to much then i guess i will take one of my other bulbs and tape it so that there will only be the one Repti sun 10.0 bulb and i will save the other Repti sun bulb for when my one is dead in six months i have a replacement on hand i value the expertiec of someone who knows what to use.


steve 6 years ago

Ok i feel you on the overdoseing part in regards to the supplements i will just leave the plain cuttle bone for it to nibble on and stick to your schedule for vitamins. as for varietys on food i have gone to about three or four different sites for listings of food includeing this site. As for the lighting i haven't herd of any thing that can compare to the suns overall power in a bulb or even small combinations of lights cant compare to the sun as long as i can adjust the hight of the bulb from the surface of the enclosure i should be fine with 12hrs of light and 12 hours of dark my tort should be good on the UVA and UVB absorption and as recomened i will have a large habba hut for a hide on one side of its enclosure and deep substrate for it to dig into.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Just remember that there's no one way that is the only right way. This is what I've seen as most recommended as a Russian diet. You don't need to mist the cuttlebone; just leave it in there as is. There's no need to add D3 to it. You're really trying to overdose the tort on D3.

Diet alone isn't going to give the tort perfect health. It's just one factor towards a healthy tortoise.

Having too much UV and D3 isn't going to help your tortoise. Please keep that in mind. You can do too much.


steve 6 years ago

Ok i think i got it now on the whole feeding and supplementaion. But what if i take my standard cuttle bone mist it with water and dust it with calcium D3 powder and left it in my tortoises cage for him to nibble on. that way along with the TNT with probiotics and a varied diet my tortoise should be in perfect health right?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

the overall size of the 50 is just more efficient. There's no need for teo 50s. You could just consider an outdoor enclosure for summer and spring. It's even better.

TNT is seen as the best. Press the register button for carolina pet supply. Like you would for any site when making an order. Or just put the items in you cart and upon checkout make an account, again pretty much like every site you can order from.

supplements only twice a week.you'll feed about 4 times a week on average. Fresh food every other day. Supplements every other feeding.


Steve 6 years ago

how do i become a member with the caroline pet web site so i can order the TNT ?????


steve 6 years ago

if i am supposed to feed my tort every other day and supply vitamins every other feeding then do i still put a few fresh veggies in his cage everyday or no?


steve 6 years ago

What do you think of the tortoise dust by T-Rex compared to the TNT with probiotics?


steve 6 years ago

i checked on the single 50 gallon it is a little longer then the system i made but i think it is way to narrow thats why i thought up combineing tubs and it is actually bigger eventually i will by two 50 gallon tubs and combine those for my tort but at the size he is now this will be perfect. as for sealing them i used a hot glue gun and made sure that there was no glue exposed in the tubs im sure it will be safe .i washed it out a few times just to be safe. How do i upload photos on here i will show you. What vitamin mineral supplument do you use for your torts?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Yes, Trex bulbs are easier to find online. Carolinapetsupply carries them as well; LLL is a great source for reptile supplies. I've used them many times.

They are expensive but they are the best. You don't need the tubes if you purchased the trex active heat bulb. You're really wasting money. Did you notice how much you'll spend over the tortoises lifetime on the UV tubes when you don't need them if you have a proper uv emiting heat bulb? The uv from the trex active heat bulb is sufficient to supply all the UV that the tort needs. It's up to you, but you're wasting the money on the tubes.

I've been thinking about the 2 30 gallon tubs, and you may want to consider a real 50 gallon tub, as they're bigger and probably safer than having the two sealed together.


steve 6 years ago

yeah it might cost a bit but i found this site called LLL reptile&supplies that has some huge discounts on bulbs and everything you need, for example a T- Rex active heat cost around 70 or 80 bucks on this site there on sale for 37.99 check it out i already ordered the two tubes and the flukers sunspot plus a digital humidity / temp gauge with probes for about 105 bucks all together. i am going all out with this i might not be able to get my tort outside that often but i will get it the UV it needs to thrive one way or another.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I've not used the flukers. I've only heard about T-Rex Active UVHeat and Zoomed PowerSun, both of which are great options. Fluker's has the heat emitting bulb and the mercury vapor that you could consider; with the heat emitting coil bulb, you're not getting the UV, to which you'd need the extra uv source, and I haven't heard good things about the mercury vapor bulbs. The T-Rex bulb is really the best, but it's hard to find them, or at least none of the pet stores I have locally (all the big chains and a few mom and pop ones) carry it.

You don't need the additional UV bulbs because the Powersun and UV-Heat both emit heat and UV. Those tubes can be expensive to replace every 4-6 months when they run out of UV; they'll still light but no UV after 6 months. When the bulbs last longer and emit the heat and UV you need, there's really no need to spend the extra money on the tube and replacing it pretty regularly. Imagine for 40+ years having to buy a new UV tube every 4 months, that's 3 a year, 120 for 40 years, times however much you pay for it, equals a lot of un-necessary spending. IMO.


steve 6 years ago

What bulb do you recommend for a basking light the flukers 160 or the power sun 100 watt? i am also putting in two fluorecent Repti sun 10.0 bulbs. i think this way i should be able to provide optimum UV levels.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

The one I use is maybe 10" tall and 8" wide but laid on its side. so the height is the depth. I'm not really sure how big it is. A plant came in it; I cleaned them out good to make sure the fertilizer and whatnot was washed out before using them.

Mix them in a plate. The supplements should be every other feeding or so.


steve 6 years ago

OK if i feed my tort every other day should i give him the vitamins every time i feed or less often?


steve 6 years ago

how big of a square pot? ok every other day i will feed my tort as for variety i have your list along with a few others but should i mix all my veggies into one big salad or just rotate between certain things as a base and other stuff on top?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

TNT should be added about every other feeding or so. There's no reason to add calcium to the food, as you can overdose them with calcium. That's why the cuttlebone is the best means to offer calcium. They can get the calcium when needed. When feeding Russians that are indoor only or mainly indoor, it's best to just feed every other day because you can overfeed them. They are grazers and when outside graze and can be fed daily because they're getting more exercise. Inside every other day is preferred.

As for a hide, the half log would work. Just make sure that it is pesticide and herbicide free. You want an all natural piece of wood. I use a square flower pot. It's the perfect size for my guys to be able to walk in turn around and walk back out. I worried about getting something that they could walk in but couldn't turn back around and had to reverse out- butt first. That was just my preference.


steve 6 years ago

Not yet im a patient and careful person when it comes to my pets. So far i have joined two 30 gallon tubs into a single large enclosure i already have a light stand, ballst and two incandescent fixtures that should handle the wattage i am going for. So i should add the TNT with probiotics along with calcium then if mt tort doesn't use the cuddle bone. What do you recommend for a hideing place my work has a small half log.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

There's no need for it unless the temps in your house get below recommended night temps.

I'd recommend TNT with probioticcs by carolinapetsupply as one of the best supplements. As for calcium all you need to do is put in a cuttlebone in the enclosure so that the tort can gnaw on it when he wants.

You can add a small layer of timothy hay in one corner. Just also make sure you have a hide. I have a corner of timothy hay, but I've really found it makes more of a mess than them borrowing in it. My guys like to move around and rearrange their tubs though.

Out of curiosity, how are you housing your tortoise? Enclosure and size?


steve 6 years ago

ok i got a line on bulbs now should i use a ceramic heat emitter at night so it does not get to cool? should i put a small pile of timothy hay on one side of the tub for extra burrowing space and vitamins, i am getting the other vitamins and minerals in a pre made form.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Petsmart, Petco, and probably other pet stores. The wattage will depend on what size enclosure and what the temperature is. I use a 100 watt for a 50 gallon tote. There's really no need for two bulbs. You're still creating a hot and cold side by putting the powersun on one side of the enclosure. Most of the heat will be there and it will cool towards the other end.


steve 6 years ago

ok so black lights are a no. where can i find a powersun fluorecent bulb? and what kind of heat and light bulb should i get would a 100 watt gro incandesent gro bulb work for a basking light and a 70 watt on the other side to keep the micro climates in range.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

No. There's no reason to use a black light. I've actually never even seen a black light that produces UV. The powersun bulbs by zoomed are a great choice to use. Most UV is produced during the day, not the night. A light/heat emitting bulb that also produced UV is optimum.


steve 6 years ago

I am wondering if i can use a black light in my russian tortoieses encloser. one blacklight bulb should produce both UVA and UVB light correct?


Anibella  6 years ago

i have a russian land tortoise :D i'm planning to feed her the things listed thanks :D


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Heather? What exactlly is it? What is the full name?


Cat 7 years ago

We have a Russian Tortoise living in an enclosure in the garden during the summer. Its just starting to look a little bare and we want to plant in some fresh plants for grazing, shade etc. Heather isn't mentioned anywhere so do I take it that's a no no for tortoises?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Hopefully, that's not iceburg lettuce. You need to offer other leafy greens. Pull out the lettuce and only offer other things, they'll get hungry enough to eat. It may sound mean, but you need to get them eating a WIDE variety of food. Also try purchasing the TNT supplement from carolina pets, as it's the best supplement for torts.


Nigel 7 years ago

I have two RTs. They seems to be very healthy but they only eat lettuce. They will not touch anything else at all. I have tried most all of your list, no interest. Any thoughts?


swiftfan 7 years ago

thank u soooo much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I'm glad I can help.


swiftfan 7 years ago

omg im so exited i just switched to bed a beast /sand and im sooo happy to hear more good things about it most of the stuff ive heard before so im glad to hear it again


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Yes they can live in a wide temperature gradient, but slightly warmer is better for their health.


lilypond 7 years ago

Yes, the sand & bed-a-beast are a great combo, and UTH heaters could certainly be problematic beneath tubs! Since Russians in their native environs tend to experience broad temp fluctuations day to night, as long as owners keep the tub inside the home and use proper bulbs such as the T-Rex Active mentioned above--for the proper length of time daily--they should not have a problem. Even in my drafty 250-yr-old house during winter Pez has done well because of the proper heat light. [Well, along w/ the substrate, varied diet, ample sunlight, water source and "sunning rock" morphed from a terra cotta flowerpot bottom. And, we 'dialogue'...I talk; he blinks. I like to imagine it adds to his quality of life.]


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I have either the aquarium or the tub. Many prefer the aquariums. There is risk when putting many reptiles in an aquarium as they can nose butt the glass. Temperature and humidity generally is not a problem with a glass tank when comparing to a tub. The problem with tubs is that you can't use UTH heaters, as they pose higher risk of fire hazard with plastic tubs than with glass tanks. As for substrate, I have listed what I have researched as the best, which is 50/50 sand and garden loam or bed-a-beast.

Not all tortoises are the same, so research for a one species will vary from the care for another.

It's good that you were able to bring the tortoise to better health.


lilypond 7 years ago

Great posting both for content and comment follow-up; reminded me to check on my own little guy's substrate moisture content. My one sole strong disagreement is w/ the suggestion to use glass aquariums. Check every blog/site/hub run by an experienced person and you will see the same: NEVER USE them due to humidity/temp/visibility issues! (This last b/c torts don't get the glass concept & will always try to go thru it) Aquariums are a great way to compromose your tort's health or at the least make it miserable. My tort was a "rescue" & the 1st thing I learned about why he was in such bad shape was...you guessed it. Out he came; I put him into a large plastic bin w/ substrate instead & he has thrived.


Dan Meandro 7 years ago

o my god this helped so much i love this article thank you so much


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

It is possible. Try adding the hay to the diet, and see if that changes anything. if it doesn't, you'll want to see a vet.


Chris 7 years ago

No, there hasn't been a change in diet, or temp. etc. I'm wondering if I need to add some other type of fiber to his diet. I have heard it recommended to feed them a timothy/alfalfa hay. Could it be the carrots and romaine are not enough fiber?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I wouldn't think that it would be because he was eating too much. Has there been a change in the diet anywhere within the past few days? How about the temperature or any other housing arrangments?


Chris 7 years ago

I have a Rusian tortoise and lately he has very very runny stools. I don't feed him fruit very often-maybe once a month so I know it is not from that. He does get romaine or a similar lettuce everyday and carrots. Could he be eating to much causing a problem with his stools? I also give him timothy hay and a pelleted food. Have you ever had problems like this?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I am not 100% but you could probably trim them slightly. But, generally, I don't see why you would need to.


ashley 7 years ago

I don't know if you should cut turtles nails or not so can you answer that for me.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

ezinecomedaily- They should just eat the fish and plant matter in the lake. They really don't need excess feeding. Turtles don't really need bread. Aquatic turtles eat fish, but if you wanted to purchase an aquatic turtle pellet you could try it, but they probably won't eat it, as they're wild and not captive.


stutin profile image

stutin 8 years ago

Hey Great Hub! I use to have Tortoise as a Pet, it died. I love Tortoise....anyway excellent Hub


ezincomedaily profile image

ezincomedaily 8 years ago

We have a family of turtles living in the lake near our home, what is safe to feed them. We usually throw some bread in the water for them. Is there something better that we can give them. I'm not sure what kind of turtles they are, but the Momma turtle is quite large, and their necks are fairly long. Thank you for the great hub.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

Louie, yea some tortoises and turtles are illegal to have as pets in the US. I know that with many species, you have to have a permit, of course depending on the state. In my state the laws and regulations on animals are crazy and usually pretty strict.

tater2tot, that sounds good. Remember that the more you know about your tortoise, the better he will be. I would suggest taking this guide as a good starting point. But you should definitely continue your research.


Tater2tot profile image

Tater2tot 8 years ago from ~~~

oh okay I gotcha. I see what you mean about the sugar, okay. I will go to the store today and pick up other things on your list.


Louie Jerome profile image

Louie Jerome 8 years ago from UK

Very interesting. I used to have a tortoise many years ago but I don't know what kind. I'm not sure its still legal to buy and sell them in UK. I think the petshops were banned from doing it.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

Thank you ForTheLove.

Tater2Tot, apples were the first thing that I listed because the list is in ABC order. You should only feed apples occassionaly. You should always research before you get a new pet. It ensures the health of the pet. You want to make sure that you're feeding a variety of greens other than apples and try to knock out the apples. Although a few pieces every now and then can be ok, like other fruits, the sugar level can build up.

Eileen, it can be hard to distinguish turtles and tortoises sometimes. There are other more anatomical differences, but the ones I listed are more simple differences that are more noticeable.


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Great article, I sure didn't know the difference between them. Anyone wanting to have these for pets, should now know how to care and feed them. Thanks for sharing this.


Tater2tot profile image

Tater2tot 8 years ago from ~~~

Oh thank you! This helped a lot. I got Turk a big glass aquarium like you said and I have been getting him fresh water everyday because he likes to get under it and it gets dirt and soil in his water. I am glad apples were the first thing on your list because that is what I have been giving him.

I guess I should have read about them before I went and bought one. But I didn't know!

Thanks again. I will probably have to come back and make sure I am doing everything right. I plan to take care of him till he is 100. Very good information that I am thankful to know.


ForTheLove profile image

ForTheLove 8 years ago from Godforsaken, Iowa

Excellent hub! You give a very clear guide here and provide great sources to get the needed supplies, too. Thanks for adding value to Hubpages :)

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