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New Owner of a Greek Tortoise

Discussion in 'Tortoises' started by Yurusumaji, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. Yurusumaji

    Yurusumaji Elite Member

    When posting a question about your reptile please include the following:

    · How long have you owned the animal?
    About 24 hours.

    · What is the enclosure size?
    40 gallon terrarium

    · What type of substrate are you using (shavings, bark, paper towel, etc.)?
    Cage Carpet

    · What type of lighting are you using and at what distance(s) are they from the animal? (UVB and Basking)
    MVB over tank (heating pad for heat).

    · What are the temperatures within the enclosure and how are they being measured?
    Stays around 80-85F during day, 70-75F during night. Using a digital thermometer with probe to measure temp.

    · What is the humidity within the enclosure and how is it being measured?
    Not currently measuring humidity.

    · What are you feeding (or attempting to feed) the animal?
    Fresh food: Romaine Lettuce, Green Leaf Lettuce and Collard Greens. Strawberries for fruit (very little, diced). Timothy hay. Fresh food is dusted with calcium powder w/vit D3. Zoo Med Forest Tortoise Food (mush).

    · What exactly are you concerned about?
    I'm really just very very new to tortoises and haven't found a whole lot of substantial information on Greeks. Would like to know what I'm doing right, what needs to change, if there is anything at all I should be aware of. I am bound to be making mistakes, I'm sure. Want to make sure this guy lives until he's older than dirt.

    · Please provide images of the animal as well as the enclosure if possible.
    GusGus - a set on Flickr

    Additonal Info:
    Got him From PetSmart (I'm sorry). His tank is next to a window that gets a decent amount of sun. We had it open yesterday to let some natural sun in (overcast and rainy today, boo). He is very active for a bit, then sleeps all splayed out, he even sleeps with his head out laying sideways on the floor, then he's active again. He has been eating his fresh greens. In the photos you can see the two MVB bulbs. They seemed to be a bit much together, so the one on the left has been off since we got him. The bulbs are 125w.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2013
  2. Vers

    Vers Elite Member

    I don't keep tortoises however I can see a few issues here....

    The MVB should not be mounted on an angle like that--this will cut down on the bulbs burn life. In order to avoid premature failure ensure that the bulb is mounted pointing straight down within a reasonable working distance. You will need to check and double check temps and be sure that the bulb isn't too close--I'm guessing 15-18" without any screening from the animal's carapace would be OK in terms of heat, but UVB will probably be pretty weak at such distances with most common MV lamps. I would check out this link for info on proper diet as a lot of what you're currently feeding should be avoided. In addition, check out the rest of the tortoise trust site, specifically this page, to gain a better understanding of care requirements.

    I hope that helps!
  3. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    Welcome to tortoises!
    Now I haven't had a greek before but I have had lots of other tortoises. First thing I want to mention is check out the links vers suggested those are very informative. Next the tank is too small and really any aquariums will be inappropiate for torts as they are narrow. It would be best if you could build something atleast a 4x4 footprint but a 4x6 would be better. If you dont want to build something look at cattle water troughs. they dont look too bad, are rust resistant, fairly deep, come in lots of sizes, and lights can be clamped directly on the edge. Or screw the lights to the side, add a glass top and voila a functional modern coffee table!
    Then you will want dirt and plants in the cage. Tortoises are avid diggers and they should be allowed to continue this practice in captivity. So atleast 6in of substrate thought 12 is better.
    Here is a pic of my water trough enclosure. 026.jpg
    For plants I just planted a bunch of bird seed. It grows fairly easily, is cheap, and the tort can eat it. Alot of people just plant the seeds in trays so that they can easily switch the trays out to provide fresh greens once the tort has eaten the other tray.

    As far as diet. They shouldnt be given any kind of fruit at all. They dont need it and the sugar is bad for them. If you want to give some sort of "treat" look at red bell peppers. Torts love them and they are healthier. Also look at buying Mazuri pellets as they are more nutritionally rounded and cheaper than the zoo med brands. For a supplement they need minerals as well so I have been using Sticky tongue Farm's "Miner-all" indoor formula. It is fantastic. You have to order online though as I have yet to find a store that sells it but it is worth it and lasts awhile.

    Now last thing I have to say is PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get rid of your water bowl. Yes they are advertised as a tortoise bowl but so many tortoises try to climb in or out of them and end up flipping upside down in the bowl and drowning. Its much better to use a shallow wide type of saucer. Like the dishes plant pots sit on or a boot tray. I use boot trays that I found in the dollar isle at target.
  4. Yurusumaji

    Yurusumaji Elite Member

    Mmkay. I read three different Greek Tortoise care articles all from different sources that said a 40 gallon terrarium (which is what I have, not an aquarium) is adequate for them through adulthood as they apparently (also listed on each different site) top out at 8".

    I can stop the strawberry, that's fine. I can change the mush, also fine. The water in the big bowl is very shallow, but I can remove that. I did get him a much smaller water bowl (seen in the front right of the cage).

    I'm confused about the comments concerning the food. Are the greens fine? I got a list from a care sheet and went by that.

    I'm a little bit more confused than ever. I was reading the article about the food after being told I was feeding him all wrong, which is fine, but that site says I need information on my specific species of tortoise to know what to feed him. They don't have any information on Greeks, so I'm not sure how helpful this information really is for me. I went by information I got from care sheets that were about my specific species and now I'm being told the information was wrong. *pulls out hair* I had to get one that no one has proper information on, didn't I?

    Each of the articles I read mentioned different substrate. Seems I went with the wrong one there. So I can change that.

    *facepalm* What did I get myself into? Thanks for the tips. :)
  5. skelly98

    skelly98 Elite Member

    LOOOOL listen to thala, although it can live in a 40 gallon, it would LOVE a tortie table.... :p

    What i mean is, although you could live in a closet, you would love a house with other people and the ability to go outside..... So i'd give the tortie the same... :p
  6. Yurusumaji

    Yurusumaji Elite Member


    What kind of substrate should I use? I went with cage carpet because of concerns involving impactions from the tortoise accidentally (or not) eating the substrate. So what kinds of substrate are safe for tortoises?

    ETA: I totally understand that bigger is better, which is true for any caged animal. My reading stayed consistent in saying 20gal terrarium was an adequate minimum (closet). 40gal terrarium was noted as being a recommended good size for life (small house, maybe a condo). So that is what I went with. I don't have a problem giving him a bigger home someday when we have more space. For now he's taking up 1/6 of our bedroom. XD
  7. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    *pats on back* Shhhh! It's ok! we'll just take this *picks up hair and a glue stick* and put it right back up here! *glues hair back in place* and it will be alright! You'll see! ;)

    The 4x2 is the absolute smallest size recommended and would be fine if you were to give him lots of outside exercise. My problem with a 4x2 (40gal) enclosure is that once you have the substrate and plants, and water and food bowls, it doesn't leave a lot of extra room for him to walk around.
    Tortoises are funny they either hide/burrow, bask, or pace back and forth in their enclosure. So if your willing to give him exercise time and still able to set up the 40g with the minimum decor then go ahead and do so it is adequate and will work.

    As far as your diet the lettuce is ok. The hay...Does he eat it? most greeks wont but if yours does that's fine, it is a good item to feed though orchard grass hay is more nutritional. The collards are excellent, very high in calcium! Kale is also good to feed as are turnip greens. Dandelions (yes that pesky weed) is even better to feed as are hibiscus flowers and leaves. Hollyhock is also good.
    The forest mush isn't bad for them and a lot of people use it its just Mazuri is cheaper and slightly better. I got a 25lb of mazuri for $34, now you wont need that much but you can freeze what you don't use immediately which will make it last longer or sell it on craigslist.

    Your smaller water bowl is fine but the ideal water bowl will have low sides so he can climb in and out easily without flipping over,, be large enough that he can fit his whole body in, and have just enough water to come up to the bottom of his shell. You could even use a small pie pan if you have one you don't use.

    Now if you want good caresheets and articles to read start here: The Russian Tortoise Care Sheet (yes its for russian tortoises but they have identical care requirments)

    These are just random articles that have really good information (mainly about diets of Mediterranean tortoises): Testudo graeca graeca Tortoise Trust Web - Dietary fibre a critical component of tortoise diets Winter Feeding Tortoise Trust Web - Feeding Mediterranean Tortoises
  8. Yurusumaji

    Yurusumaji Elite Member

    That smaller bowl meets your water dish requirements. ^_^ It's one of those really short, really wide hermit crab dishes. It's the big one that comes in the 2-packs they sell at all the chain pet stores. He loves to walk all over it like it isn't even there, so he doesn't have any issues getting in and out (or around?) it, it's really shallow but also wide enough for his whole little body to fit in it. He might need a bigger one at some point, but it sounds like that little one is good for him right now, so that is good. I've already changed the water in it twice today because he keeps walking in it. LOL!

    I'll give him another 24 hours with the timothy hay and see if he'll eat it. He went pretty nuts over the lettuce when I put it in, which made me happy. Should I be growing these flowers to feed? Is there somewhere appropriate I can purchase them?

    He will have lots of outside time during the summer months. We have a small yard for him to "run" about in. I can see that I may need a bigger enclosure by next winter. We're in the mountains, so the winters here are cold and brutal. Would exercise around the house work? I have a really big kitchen and we do intend to let him out regularly to run about the house. Can he be out on carpet or will he try to eat it? I figured cage carpet would work for him because he was referred to as "the climber" when we got him. He tends to prefer being on top of his decorations/dishes/etc rather than beneath them.

    Hubbs suggested doing a half-and-half. Half cage carpet and half substrate. Is that doable? Would that work or would it be inadequate?
  9. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    I think it would be alot of work to do half and half. I buy my plants from lowes and homedepot, repot them in fertilizer free dirt and let them grow for a month or two before feeding off them. By then all the chemicals should work themselves out of the plant and its soil. look for "hardy" hubiscus. you can also just plant the bird seed. It will give a large variety of plants to eat from.

    For the substrate you can use coco coir, eco earth, unfertilized soil, or sphagnum peat moss (this is my favorite, i buy it from walmart garden section). If he has a tendency to clomb things thats probably because he is bored and wanting to explore. Having substrate will give him something else to do. And you can half bury his hide to form a burrow.
  10. Yurusumaji

    Yurusumaji Elite Member

    Yeah, it could be that he is bored. They had him on substrate at the store and he was a climber there, too. Granted, he was in that tiny square tank with another tortoise. So I don't really know what's going through his head. He's pretty active and tends to go up instead of down. I think he's an aspiring escape artist. :D

    I actually do like the idea of substrate so he can burrow under the log. The first one was too small, but he'd still stuff himself underneath it and sleep with it resting on top of shell because he was a bit too big for it. We just picked up a bigger one for him, but the substrate might help for when he's sleeping.
  11. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    And it will help keep him hydrated and his shell smooth. All torts/turtles are escape artists.

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