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Calling the Tortise experts :)

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I am still looking


My choices are Russian ( which is actually a bunch of breeds if i read correctly)DO I need to hybernate??? Other than a turtle table what is the best way to keep one??

Greek ( which I think falls under Russian
or

RED foot

Or

Sculata( locally breed and hatched) ... I need to find something that REALLY says how fast they grow ... Gal at store where they are breed and hatched claims that the biggest one they have is 17 yrs old and only about 50 lbs...

I need advice.... I dont mind evoleing my life to be suitable but I WANT TO know what I am in for ... Yes I know LIFETIME AND maybe beyond commitment ... I am willing to give up a room or a large chunk of one and space in the backyard

I will be consulting the rescue in early june as it is Petfest and gives me an excuse
post #2 of 27
Russians do go by another name, Horsfield tortoise.
They're the smallest commonly kept and come from an arid environment. In the wild they do hibernate, and if possible it's best to allow this behavior in captivity.
The first year after getting the tortoise it's suggested that you do not allow them to hibernate, this is to make sure they're healthy. Sick or underweight torts can die. To prevent hibernation you keep them inside for the winter, provide at least 12 hours of light, and keep the temperature range up as required per species.

Greek tortoise (testudo graeca) are also called Mediterranean Spur Thighed tortoise or just Mediterranean tortoise.
Horsfield and Greek tortoise are both from the family testudinidae - european tortoises, which also includes marginated and hermann's (hermann's hibernate). There are also a lot of subspecies within testudo graeca, as well as two subspecies within Testudo hermanni, western hermann's and eastern hermann's(larger of the two).

Red foot's are a South American tortoise. They do not hibernate and would need to be wintered inside. Adult size is around 14 inches.

Sulcata or African spurred tortoise reach 18 inches, largest recorded - 30 inches. They are a desert species and do not hibernate, again that means wintering them inside. Weight for an adult is actually closer to 70-100lbs, again largest record is huge - 240lbs .



All of these tortoises do best if provided with an escape proof and predator proof pen. This means burying the fencing or wire mesh under it at a dept of 2 feet or more. Availability to natural, edible grasses helps as well since tortoises do graze, and grass provides the high fiber needed. Natural sunlight is also much better then artificial reptile UVB bulbs.
Hatchlings grow fast compared to their overall lifespan, but growth rate is dependent on diet. More protein = faster, but not exactly healthy growth. Plan pens for adult size or be willing to add to the pen in a couple of years.

I suggest you stick with an european tortoise, preferablly a species that hibernates if you do not want to provide a large indoor enclosure for it every winter. Up to 6x6 foot is a lot of space.
Reptile bulbs are also very expensive, the mercury vapor which are best for providing uvb and heat that tortoises need to bask in cost around $60 per bulb, but do have a higher uvb output and longer life than florescent tubes.
All reptiles need UVB or vitamin D3 to process calcium. For diurnal species it's best to let them process as much of the D3 needed from uvb. Without this they get metabolic bone disease, misshapen shells and soft bones. You'll also need to supplement with calcium, calcium w/D3, and a multivitamin, on a schedule. Hatchlings of course need a lot of calcium for growth.
So in the long run, relying on nature to provide sunlight is best.

Pens need to be large, minimum of at least 6x6' for adults but bigger is better if you can build it and make it safe. Sulcatas and red foots, of course need larger pens. Definitely have a lid over the pen if you're getting a baby, even a cat can take off with a baby tortoise in it's mouth.

Diets are different for most, but general - no meat (this includes canned dog and cat food) and no bananas (binds calcium), generally no or little fruit as this processes to sugar too easily and can upset their digestive tract.

I think I covered most of the basics? Too much time on my hands to read and study this stuff.
I will admit I do not own a tortoise (but certainly plan to in the future), most of the information is from reading up on box turtle care that is most commonly found on tortoise sites, some care and requirements are similar as well. Since I'm usually looking on the tortoise sites already I figure "might as well read this too", I'm a bit of a human sponge for info and facts.
post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thank you and now for a little more

ANY one will spend likely six months in my house ,kinda why I thought twice before listening to the gal try to convince me of a Sulcata... the room her I could give is 12*12 if empty so 6*6 is a given ...... I live two hours south of the Canadian border ... aka it can get cold here ... ALL veggie diet not hard I am already growing some of the greens

So you think the Europeans would be a good choice?? kewl cept those are the big chain stores avail ones... OH the russian wont be avail till late summer... I NEED to see the rescue gal

Okay so a UVB light is different than a Red chicken lamp???
post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
Okay so a UVB light is different than a Red chicken lamp???
Red bulbs are just for heat, since most reptiles cannot see red light (unless it's a very bright red bulb) people use these at night to add additional heat.

UVB bulbs offer the uvb spectrum of light. UVA and UVB being the ones that are damaging to human skin in higher amounts, causing sunburns.
Florescent tubes have a life span of about 6 months until the uvb produced may be too weak to be useful, mercury vapor have a longer life span. Both are pricey overall.

I have live near Canada before too, the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. I remember there were some days in the summer that had temps in the 90s. As long at the night time temps stay in 60s, I'd prefer 70s, they can stay outside at night too.
In spring and fall, or during bouts of cooler weather in the summer you can put it out on warm days and bring it in on chilly nights.
post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
AHHH thank you ....

What is your opnion on the open air terriarium??? for a youngster ?? the one I saw said horizonally = to 65 gallon aquarium..

I have a fence but back to a forest like area with coons and deer wont chance leaving my little tikes outside without me or a VERY secure enclosure
post #6 of 27
Aquariums are not a very good idea, they're expensive, heavy, usually tall instead of wide, and they're clear. You cannot put a tortoise in a clear enclosure, they don't understand and think they can go through it.
Determined -yes, smart enough to understand glass -no.

Very large rubbermaid tubs work for indoors, you may have to check a home improvement store for larger ones. Hard plastic kiddie pools, not as tall unless you get the next size up or larger from the smallest size, but would provide plenty of airflow.
Or, if you can build it. A turtle table. These are generally made out of wood, properly sealed, with cut outs in the bottom to accommodate food and water bowls, and containers for soil substrate to allow the animal to burrow in.
post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thank you ... Petsmart guy said rubbermaid... so I will be looking at that and the kiddie pools ..:0... Know Do I need a daytime and a nightime light ???... Turtle table will come later
post #8 of 27
Have you seen this website? It has a lot of great information including an edible plant list w/pictures and lighting requirements

http://www.russiantortoise.org/
post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thank you great site...
post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
Thank you great site...
Now the great debate question ... to buy from a pet store or not ???

one pet store is breeding or trying the sculata s ... russian s and another smaller one

the other pet stores actually seem to know how to care for... the first one thinks incubation time for a sculata is 13 months??.. But these are BIG box store s??? OPNIONS PLEASE
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
Now the great debate question ... to buy from a pet store or not ???

one pet store is breeding or trying the sculata s ... russian s and another smaller one

the other pet stores actually seem to know how to care for... the first one thinks incubation time for a sculata is 13 months??.. But these are BIG box store s??? OPNIONS PLEASE

I bought our turtle three years ago from a pet store (small one) and thought that I know what I was getting into. I researched a ton and had all of the proper lighting, feeding and housing requirements burned into my brain. I bought a big rubbermaid tub,furnished it completely for a box turtle and took the family to the pet store to find our turtle.
My son picked out a Malayan Box turtle...he had cool racing stripes
We brought him home and placed him into his tub. He crawled into the corner, dug himself in and pretty much stayed there for several months. I would place him in his water dish once a day and make sure that he ate a little but he seemed really unhappy. Finally I was completely fed up! I was miserable thinking that after all that I had researched this poor turtle was miserable in his home.
I got back onto the computer and started researching my turtle...it turns out that I had bought the only kind of AQUATIC box turtle in the world! Just my luck
We've completely changed his living situation and within hours saw a huge difference in him. He watched us all of the time, started begging to be fed, swam laps and sunbathed just like he was meant to do.

He's a very happy spoiled boy now but because of my experience with pet stores I will never buy another animal from one. I would look for a breeder in your area and see if they'll let you visit their animals. They can also be a great resource to teach you how to care for your new pet.

Here's a turtle like the one that we have
http://www.turtlepuddle.org/cuora/pixpage.html
post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kittiesx2 View Post
I bought our turtle three years ago from a pet store (small one) and thought that I know what I was getting into. I researched a ton and had all of the proper lighting, feeding and housing requirements burned into my brain. I bought a big rubbermaid tub,furnished it completely for a box turtle and took the family to the pet store to find our turtle.
My son picked out a Malayan Box turtle...he had cool racing stripes
We brought him home and placed him into his tub. He crawled into the corner, dug himself in and pretty much stayed there for several months. I would place him in his water dish once a day and make sure that he ate a little but he seemed really unhappy. Finally I was completely fed up! I was miserable thinking that after all that I had researched this poor turtle was miserable in his home.
I got back onto the computer and started researching my turtle...it turns out that I had bought the only kind of AQUATIC box turtle in the world! Just my luck
We've completely changed his living situation and within hours saw a huge difference in him. He watched us all of the time, started begging to be fed, swam laps and sunbathed just like he was meant to do.

He's a very happy spoiled boy now but because of my experience with pet stores I will never buy another animal from one. I would look for a breeder in your area and see if they'll let you visit their animals. They can also be a great resource to teach you how to care for your new pet.

Here's a turtle like the one that we have
http://www.turtlepuddle.org/cuora/pixpage.html

Thank you for the story... Yeah one breeding turtles told me a 20 gallon aqurium would house a sculata for like 5 plus yrs..lol....

I am trying to find a breeder but no luck ... but pet fest is next month and REPTILE rescue will be there
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by kittiesx2 View Post
He's a very happy spoiled boy now but because of my experience with pet stores I will never buy another animal from one. I would look for a breeder in your area and see if they'll let you visit their animals. They can also be a great resource to teach you how to care for your new pet.
Honestly that was your mistake, you must be very careful to understand the species or even subspecies you will be caring for. Never trust what a store says, their goal is to make the sale and that is it.

My problem with pet stores is that I've seen to many sick or dying animals in them. They pay a small amount for these animals from questionable sources, not just wild caught reptiles, but BYB/mill cats and dogs. Since they pay so little, if they can make at least one or two sales it makes up for any losses they have from animals dying on them.

Petco and Petsmart are bad overall, there's a few that maybe be ok but that's only if there's a dedicated employing spending THEIR own money to provide for the animals. As bad as they are, I have seen small petstores that were worse. ... snakes on display with mucus bubbling out their noses, starving lizards, dead lizards...
I honestly believe that people should not buy anything from any store that has a sick animal in it, but most people are going in just pick up their cat some food, they don't look at the animals sold there. (slightly O/T rant sorry )

Sharky, if you decide to go the route of buying from a petstore make sure they have documentation that you are buying captive bred, if they can't prove it assume that the animal is wild caught. Make them prove that the animal does eat, find out how long it's been sitting in their store, and any records of vet treatment.

And no, 20 gal would never work That's too small to begin with, never mind once the hatching starts growing.
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
Honestly that was your mistake, you must be very careful to understand the species or even subspecies you will be caring for. Never trust what a store says, their goal is to make the sale and that is it.
I agree completely I'm just glad that we figured out how to fix his living situation.
post #15 of 27
Came across this on another forum.
Rough recommendation of enclosure size for different torts

Russian, Greek, and Hermans tortoises : 200 square inches per inch of tort.
Red Foot Tortoise: 350 square inches per inch of tort.
Sulcata: 900 square inches per inch of tort.
Yellow Foot Tortoise: 500 square inches per inch of tort.
Star Tortoise: 300 square inches per inch of tort.
Radiated Tortoise: 400 square inches per inch of tort.
Pancake Tortoise: 175 square inches per inch of tort.
Marginated Tortoise: 350 square inches per inch of tort.
Leopared Tortoise: 450 square inches per inch of tort.
Elongated Tortoise: 325 square inches per inch of tort.

from - http://www.happyturtlespub.org/smf/index.php

I think that's rather straight forward.
post #16 of 27
Thread Starter 
wow that was informative

I decided to get ft measurements..

russian 1.38 sq ft per inch... ave of 10 inches = 13.8 sq ft needed

Leopard 3.125 * 24 ave inches yeilds 75 sq ft

Sculatta ( 18-30 inches ) ...6.25* 20= 125 sq ft ( or a room that is 12*10 ish)

red ft 2.43*14=34 sq ft
post #17 of 27
Eh.. the bashing of pet stores does not make me very happy ... not all pet stores are like that the one I work in is small owned by a man in the industry for over 20 years. The good stores will not stear you wrong and can provide good ideas and help with finding info.
Yes sometimes our animals get sick we get them vet appointments and treatment. When able we buy from local breaders who raise healthy small numbers. as for the puppymill crap that is the exact reason our store choses not to sell puppies dogs cats or kittens.

I have seen many a private breeder bread large unhealthey animals only so they could sell em on the internet. You see it goes all ways.
Saying all petstores are crap is just an excuse to not find a reputalbe dealer in the first place.

I commend the O.P on doing your homework.. I'm sure you will make a fine parent for whatever type you choose to go with.

Ps.. You can never go wrong with treat feeding Dandelions.(provided there not fertalized or have weedkiller on em or opther chemicals) our stores sulcata loves em.
post #18 of 27
Xulili, if your pet store is great then it is honestly a very rare store. That is something to be proud of.

Not everyone who has them is there to provide what is best for the animals, their goal is to run a business and make sales. I'm basing this on what I have personally seen and the complaints of several - even hundreds of people seeing horrible care and situations in pet stores.

Even one of the best pet stores I've been in has had a few questionable occurrences; dead leopard gecko left to rot in it's cage, lizards that weren't being provided proper humidity to shed, territorial animals being kept together, dangerous substrates, and one very sick chameleon being kept on display in a high traffic part of the store. This was one of the better stores... the rest go downhill from there.

I do agree, there are reptile, bird, and rodent mills.

In the end, the sad fact is not all pet stores ARE like the one you work at, so the general statement that it's best to avoid them isn't wrong. And if you are a truly educated employ that knows the finer details of care for every single animal in your store, which products are safe for what animal, which are required, etc, you're nothing short of amazing! Intelligent and caring employs are a rare thing.
post #19 of 27
Thread Starter 
I cant wait to talk to the rescue lady.. I may call her prior to petfest ... My basic s for either would cost me about 40$ for the housing ...

I use organic fertilizer is that bad for feeding dadalions ???.. I can have them not spray an area or grow them in my veggie beds that will one day be replanted
post #20 of 27
I can't say if the organic ferilizer will hurt him but best not to take chances.
post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 
Well then I will have to grow them myself
post #22 of 27
Thread Starter 
Well Petco got some russians in ... they say they LIKELY are captive breed( no one could remember or find the papers)... this petco takes excellent care of the animals but these just didnt look right.. ones shell kinda sloped at the end
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
Thanks for this website, it's great!
post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
Well Petco got some russians in ... they say they LIKELY are captive breed( no one could remember or find the papers)... this petco takes excellent care of the animals but these just didnt look right.. ones shell kinda sloped at the end
Glad you decided against it, if they can't tell you or provide documents then it could be a bad deal. The shell deformity is usually caused by diet, sometimes in a normal situation there will be one piggy turtle or tortoise that will eat a bit more and grow faster and have some shell deformity from it. Another possiblity is that the breeder they got the tortoises from purposely fed them up to that size for a quicker sale.

Petco kind of bothers me anyways. Did you happen to look at any of their other reptiles? Seems standard for these stores to cram multiple baby leopard geckos into a tiny enclosure, ON SAND (deadly for them), and with only a couple hides if they're lucky.

I've also seen RESs with no source of heat and water at room temp, high 60s to mid 70s for that store.
post #25 of 27
Thread Starter 
Well Sunday is petfest and I will talk to reptile rescue .... I cant wait ... a friend is going with me
post #26 of 27
Thread Starter 
Reptile rescue is out of business in my area...

So for now I am not getting a tortise since the petstore s either are caring but may have wild breed or are not very good caretakers

today I went to one and a baby 1.5 incher scualatta was housed with baby geckos/// ... this is the only source with KNOWN captive breed
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
today I went to one and a baby 1.5 incher scualatta was housed with baby geckos/// ...

Thats... wow, I didn't think anyone could make a mistake like that...

Maybe this site could help? http://www.tortoise.org/cttclink.html
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