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Some answers....

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Posted by Nicodemus on May 13, 2003 at 20:25:19:

In Reply to: Still some russian tortoise questioned unanwsered. posted by sacred_dragons on May 13, 2003 at 17:25:53:

First of all, I'd say don't bother with the 55 gallon tub. Its ok for a temporary setup, but its not very expensive to build one of your own or find someone to build one for you.
I built a 3 foot x 4 foot box out of 1x10 boards and a large piece of plywood. If you dont have tools, some hardware stores rent them out. It really wasn't very hard. Took me about 2 hours and cost me about 30 dollars.
Heck, you could always buy a cheap shelf unit, leave out the shelves, and lay it down flat.

Second, russians are fabulous, but please be careful when buying. My russian died not too long ago after a long and very expensive (over 1500 dollars) struggle. I still miss my 'son' an cry for him from time to time.
He was wild caught, as are the majority of russians that I've seen as of late.
You need to find a captive bred tortoise. Yes, you'll have to wait longer before you get your newfriend, and they are more expensive, but cheaper in the long run (vet bills can be VERY expensive). I don't want you to have to go through what I did.

Third, most heat lamps come with clamps so you can clip it to the side of the pen.
Do not just leave the pen in the sun...its harder to regulate the heat and can sometimes get too hot.
You'll also want a regular time that the lamp turns on. You can buy a special timer at hardware stores that you can set to specific times so the light turns on and off when you want it

Lastly, I have a couple of personal thoughts for you:

Go all out. Get EVERYTHING you need right away. Don't buy one thing at a time...or if you do, wait until you have everything before getting your tortoise.
A LARGE pen, two lamps (one for a heat bulb, one for a UVB bulb), small pool for water (something he can FIT in...not just a small dish), big flat rock for putting food on (so he doesnt eat sand), a hide spot (such as a giant reptile cave or some sort of wooden box), etc. Even the number and location of a good reptile vet.

No matter what you do, having a tortoise will be expensive.
UVB bulbs can cost as much as 50 dollars, a pen will be around 30-40 dollars, a cave might cost up to 30, regular vet visits, substrate, food, vitamins and calcium, etc etc. And of course the price of your tortoise.
They don't seem like much at first, but they DO add up. Make sure you are prepared to spend money.
After all my vet visits and expenses, I spent about 1800-2000 dollars. With a perfectly healthy tortoise, you could be paying around 300-500 dollars.

I don't mean to scare case was the worst case I think. You just need to be ready to do everything you have to do to make sure he is happy and healthy. Like any pet, they are responsibilities.

I can however say that they are possibly the cutest animals I've ever seen and worth all the extra work and money involved.

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