Page 1 of 1

New horsfield’s

Posted: 28 Jun 2020, 08:47
by Adellecase
Hi! :)
I got myself 2 new horsfields called Flo and Wilma, they are sisters. I only picked them up yesterday and it is my first time keeping tortoises! I believe they are about 11 months old. I am just a little concerned that one of them (Wilma) goes straight to a corner and that is where she stays. I bathed them this morning and it seemed to motivate Flo but not Wilma. She almost seems sad. I am aware they sleep a lot but just want to double check everything is ok. There basking area temperature is at 29° and their cool area is at 20°. At night the basking area was 20°. Their basking lamp is UVA and UVB. Yesterday Wilma was burrowing in the corner of the cool area, I moved her under the lamp a couple of times but she seems to find her way back to the corner of the cool area. Today she is in a corner under the direction of the lamp so that seems better. A couple of times Flo walks over to Wilma almost to see what she’s doing then Flo will go back and lay down. I am just after a little advice to make sure everything I’m doing is ok. Thank you.

Re: New horsfield’s

Posted: 28 Jun 2020, 10:26
by Nina
Hi, and welcome to The Tortoise Table (sorry, I don't know your name). And many congratulations on getting your new Horsfields -- they are a great species with lots of personality). And I love the names Flo and Wilma -- I have two Horsfields called Doris and Dolly.

If you only got them yesterday it's entirely possible that Wilma is just settling in, as some tortoises take much longer to feel at home and confident, so I would give it a little while and see what happens.

You've set up a really nice looking tortoise table (and thank goodness you weren't sold a vivarium, as there are great problems with those). The only things I would suggest are:
1. That isn't an ideal substrate that you have, as it is not as good for them to burrow into and it is also a fire hazard. We know of at least one case where a lamp blew and the hot pieces of glass that fell onto that substrate (it was hemp/aspen/aubiose) started a fire. I used to use that when I first got my tortoises, as it was all the rage then, but there were reports of some sharp ends of the hemp scratching a tortoise's eye, or causing internal problems if it was digested.

The best substrate to use is one that most closely approximates their natural substrate in the wild, which is a sandy soil. So we now recommend a mixture of ordinary sterilised topsoil and children's play sand, and you can buy bags of these at places like Homebase or garden centres. You mix it either 50/50, or perhaps a slightly higher percentage of topsoil to play sand. And then you give it a light spray every day or two so that it is the tiniest bit damp and that will keep it from getting dusty. And make it nice and deep so that they can completely bury themselves if they want to.

2. The only other thing I can see is that you won't be getting an adequate temperature from that thermometer mounted on the wall, and it's possible that it is much hotter under the lamp than you think (which could be why Wilma is moving to a corner). You need to measure the temperature directly under the lamp, at the height of the tortoise's shell, so you might have to take that thermometer off the wall and hold it there for several minutes. The best type is one of those digital fridge/freezer thermometers that have a digital display unit and then a probe on the end of a long cord that you can hang down so that it is as close to the circle of light as possible. Something like this (but you can get them in lots of places and it's good to have one with a max/min function so that you can see how hot or cold it got since you last looked). ... B071WKGTJL

Sorry for the long message, but basically you've got a really good set-up there, and a couple of tweaks will make it perfect.


Re: New horsfield’s

Posted: 28 Jun 2020, 14:18
by Adellecase
Thank you for your reply, my names Adelle. Your reply is really useful so thank you. I will definitely look at changing the substrate for them, I did wonder that when I’ve been researching them so will get that changed.
That is also good to know about the thermometer so will also look at getting a new one.
I think it probably is just that they’re settling in. I was a bit concerned as they hadn’t eaten since being with me but Wilma ventured over to the food today so that’s good. I have probably been a little too keen around them making sure they’re ok constantly so I think I’ll take a step back and watch them from a distance to let them settle in! :lol:
Thank you again for your help!

Re: New horsfield’s

Posted: 28 Jun 2020, 17:58
by Nina
Hi Adelle,

I think you're going to be a great tortoise keeper. What you plan to do re keeping a distance is spot on, as tortoises can be shy to start with. Yours will soon get used to you (especially if you hand feed them every now and then -- but don't make a habit of it because some torts love being hand fed so much that they won't eat by themselves any more). It's difficult to keep away, I know, as they are so cute and interesting to watch, but if you just keep a distance at feeding time (you can spy from behind a corner), there's probably a better chance of her eating.

I meant to ask before, will Flo and Wilma have any access to the outdoors? Tortoises love being outside and the UVB from the sun is far better than anything we can provide with a bulb inside, so if you can provide a nice little space outside for them that's a bonus.

Finally, you get my star of the week for spelling Horsfield correctly! Everyone over the last year or so seems to be spelling it incorrectly with an 'e' in the middle (Horsefield), so it's great to see it spelled properly (the species is named after Thomas Horsfield, a 19th century explorer and naturalist who discovered it).

Let us know how you get on and if feeding improves.


Re: New horsfield’s

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 09:58
by Adellecase
Hi Nina,

The trick of giving them a bit of space definitely worked! I’ve been watching them through the door and they explore more than when I’m sat with them. They have been great to watch in the past 24 hours as they have become more confident. I am still waiting for Flo to eat a little more but she could well be eating when I’m not looking.

They will have an outdoor area set up but not at the moment. The lady we bought them off told us to not put them outside unless it’s a really hot day as they are still young, is this correct?

That’s good I’ve spelt horsfield right as I have noticed other people spelling it with an ‘e’ so I did question it. :lol:

Also we are changing their bedding today. We have the topsoil and play sand all ready to change over. I was wondering if we need to dry the sand out before putting it in the enclosure?

Thanks again for all your help it’s been really useful!

Re: New horsfield’s

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 11:12
by Nina
So glad that they are becoming more confident and active, and I'm sure that Flo will eat more once she has settled in.

Regarding outdoors. The sort of loose rule is that if you can wear a short-sleeved t-shirt they can go out. Little ones do cool down more quickly than bigger tortoises, so I just use the guide of feeling their shells. If the shells feel warm then it's fine to leave them out, but if they shells begin to feel cool you can bring them in for half an hour, let them warm up under the lights and then put them out again.

Regarding the sand. Is it soaking wet? if not, then when you mix it with the topsoil it should make a mixture that isn't too wet, but with Horsfields you do need to make sure it isn't cold and wet. They can take warm and wet fine, but not cold and wet, so if you think the result of the mixture is too wet and it's going to be cold at night then maybe dry it out a bit more. Or you can take some of the mixture and dry it out and put it in one section of the table, and that way they will have a choice. The end result of your mixture should be the teeny tiniest bit damp (so that the substrate begins to clump together if you put some in your hand and make a fist), but definitely not wet. The lamp should dry it out pretty quickly too, once it's in the table

Shame about the cooler weather we are having now, but the warm weather will return and when it does I'm sure your little ones will appreciate some time outdoors.