Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Use this forum to discuss general questions about any aspects of tortoise care.
TortMum
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Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 28 Mar 2019, 22:45

Hi All, newby tortoise mum here

I recently purchased a young horsefield tortoise via shpock (I have a habit of adopting unwanted animals). A tortoise has been something I wanted to adopt since I was very young as my grandad had one for many years.

However.... through all the research I have been doing I am still unsure if the health and wellbeing of my tort is normal.
He was advertised as about 1 1/2 years old. He is 60mm long and 66g in weight and came with a converted bookshelf table with soil and brimmed with hay. I have since replaced his bulb to a combi bulb as his was just for heat and built him a table which contains tortoise terrain, beach chips, water bowl, hidey holes, a spider plant, cuttlefish fish and food bowl. I was told was told that hes fussy with food and have given him kale, cucumber, apple, pansys and dandelions but he will not eat and sleeps all day. The temperature is set at 32degrees.
He passed a solid poop after a bath and clean yesterday and there is no evidence of worms that I can visibly see.

Is there anything that I may need to change or do I need to give him more time to settle in?

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lin
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by lin » 29 Mar 2019, 00:00

Hiya Tortmum, welcome and thanks for contacting us.
How lucky for you to have rescued/bought this tortoise for both of you, well done.

Getting it right isnt to difficult but once you have it all ticking over a tortoise is easy to care for once the husbandry is working perfectly.

Can you send a photo of your housing you are using, the setup, and anything else you think we would like to see (the tortoise if you hadnt guessed that one - lol)
You have to be careful of hay being used within tortoise setups because of the heat and lights being a fire hazzard. Most people only use childrens playsand and ssteralised topsoil mixed 50/50 and lightly sprayed to keep the dust down and very slightly moist.

Give him a week or so on a flower and weed diet, nothing store bought, Plantain, Sow Thistle. Theres lots out there growing right now and before giving them just a quick rince under the tap so they are slightly wet.

Try bathing him daily in shallow warm water in a container that cannot be seen through (mine have never worrried about that) for 15 - 20 mins but remember to keep the water warm.

Have a look through the database and the website and if you can see anything you need to ask just give us a shout.

Here is the Horsfiels caresheet that one of the ladies wrote a while ago but still very much in date
https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf

The temp could do with dropping a couple of degrees but it depends on where you are testing the temp. It needs to be dont under the heat spot at the tortoises shell height and he also needs a cool end of around 20°C during the day. One of the digital thermomiters work better for accuracy rather than those that stick to the sides.

Hope this helps for now and keep us posted how he goes.

Lin
Oh, BTW horsfield has only one 'e' - lol. So many make this error - :lol: .

TortMum
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 29 Mar 2019, 07:54

Thank you for your reply :D

I have just tried to upload a photo via my phone but the file is too large. I shall have to ask my husband to help with that when he is home from work.

Horsfield - thank you for clearing that up. It was throwing me a little as I had seen both.

I will also get the hubby to raise the lamp base higher for me to lower it a few degrees. The lamp is currently over the beach chips as I had read that sometimes the soil can get a little hot?! I purchased a hand held digital thermometer as I read this was better.

I also forgot to mention that separating the chips from soil I have laid a little astro turf for added texture and to help remove some of the soil from his legs.
I have been moving him into different spots occasionally to encourage him to explore but he just hides again. Today is day 6.

What do you think about the weight/size of him? I weighed him 2 days ago and again this morning. He is still 66g
I was thinking of taking him to the vets to have a check up but just wanted to see if I was being over paranoid before doing so. Nothing worst than shelling out (s'cuse the pun :D ) to be told that he's tip top.

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lin
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by lin » 29 Mar 2019, 12:02

LOL - Shelling out!!! Dont give up your day job :lol: :lol: :lol:

I cant really comment on the size and weight because just like people and other pets the tortoise will all grow and gain weight at different levels. You need to weigh at regular intervals at regular times of the day, say once a week and log the weights. That was you can keep eye on the weight gains and as long as its steady things will be fine. As you have now got your first weight then in a week do it again and see if there is a little gain of only a gram or two then he is going in the right direction. If there are too many looses then you can build a picture of what is happening.
https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... measuring/
There is a downloadable log on here that you can use to record your weights.
Can I make a suggestion, a trick that I have found works with newly aquired tortoises. Put a leaf of something down in front of him, one that has been smeared with the juice if a slice of cucumber and walk away, leave the room, don't peek, dont look and dont go back to the room for an hour at least. Leave the room so quiet you can hear a pin drop.
A new tortoise will often come out of his shell (excuse the pun) when he thinks nobody is around but the slightest movement will cause him to go back in his shell - lol. Also you can try removing the area he goes back to for a while so he does not have the area to hide in. Once I see a photo I will be able to better see what we can try.

Lin

TortMum
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 03 Apr 2019, 22:28

[attachment=0]IMG-20190403-WA0013.jpg[/attachment]
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TortMum
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 03 Apr 2019, 22:29

[attachment=0]IMG-20190403-WA0014.jpg[/attachment]
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TortMum
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 03 Apr 2019, 22:54

Above is my little Tort and his home. I have since lowered the lining around the lamp as it was reflecting quite a lot and raised the lamp so it reads 30degrees and it's on 12hrs a day. I have also temporarily removed the hides to see if it encourages him to explore but still no luck, he will sleep wherever for days. I have been soaking him for 15-20mins each day where it will take him several mins to open his eyes and move around. He has a drink but does not see or poo (only had 1 poop).
I tried rubbing cucumber juice (and apple) which I know he's partial to but still no luck. I've tried leaving him. Moving him to bowl putting food in his path when I wake him up but its no different to his He was before.
A couple of point his previous owners said is that they got him just before Xmas from someone who just had him under a normal bulb and I found that the 2nd owners only had him under a heat bulb. Would this play a part in his behavour? :(
Ps. I realise there is no water bowl in the pic - It was being washed at the time

E x

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lin
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by lin » 04 Apr 2019, 00:20

Hi Tortmum.
Rather than trying to fathom out what is going on I would just take him to a reputable reptile vet that deals with tortoises and explain to them that you have tried everything that has been suggested, your temps and husbandry looks correct but he is trying to hide from the heat and not wanting to eat.
There is one thing with one so young and that could be the poops are so small, if he is pooping in the soil end of the table then maybe its just to small to find.
I wonder if he is in fact older than the 1.5 yrs you have been told. His shell looks to be fairly heavy for one so young.
We do have a list of vets you can look through and find one that is local to you.
https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... s-by-area/
Its great that you are taking care of him 'E' and he has found a great home with someone like you.
Rest assured that I doubt anything drastic could have started while in your care, its to short a time so if anything does materalise then it is due to previous care.
And lastly, can I just check that the light you are using is UVB or is that the heat. I only ask because it is a little dark at the soil end and was wondering if you could place a UVB striplight across the table at that end?
Do keep us posted if you can.

Lin

TortMum
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 04 Apr 2019, 09:08

I think your absolutely right Lin. It's time for a visit to the vet. I will keep this post updated for reference for others with the same issue.

The pic was taken at night with no room light on. I have to admit it didn't give a true view of the table.
Hes currently under a UVB/UVA lamp. I took a trip to pets at home and asked their advice on the bulb on our journey home which they said it wasnt correct.

It's interesting you say about the age being older. I was thinking already if the previous owners had him for 5ish months and then he had another owner before that (assuming he came from a shop or breeder) he would be older than suggested.

Thanks for your help Lin x

E x

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lin
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by lin » 04 Apr 2019, 11:24

Thank you E. Your doing just great and thanks for keeping us updated.

Lin

TortMum
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 06 Apr 2019, 14:18

So, I have an update on our poorly little soldier as promised.

We visited the Toll Barn Vets in North Walsham as they have experience with exotic animals.
It turns out our little tort has a respiratory infection (watery eyes and mouth). The vet is unsure of torts age due to previous poor husbandry. She thinks hes between 2 and 3 but could be anything between 6m and 3 years. He has a soft shell and we dont know if he has kidney failure. If he does then we are not sure if he'll survive.
For now he has been given a antibiotic injection and I'm due to give another on Tues to hopefully cure the infection.

As for his eating.... it looks like hes been fed so much rubbish and had lack of variety that he didn't realise that the food I was giving him was actually food. She managed to force feed him (and I've been shown how) and he started eating a dandelion instantly. Even eating a little on his own. I now need to retrain him to eat.

I am absolutely gutted and cross that someone can allow a tort to get in the state hes in. Fingers crossed and hopefully he will get better and I will give him the home and care he deserves.

Will keep this threat updated

E x

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lin
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by lin » 06 Apr 2019, 14:56

Thank you so much for updating us E.
Did the vet say anything about getting calcium into him. It might be a good idea to sprinkle some on his dandelion daily but not to much because we wouldnt want him turning his nose up at that. It so good to hear he is on the way up with his eating and that is only down to your perceverence so a pat on the back for that.
Nothing is more gutting than people not caring enough to find out a pets needs and that is why people like you step in. xx

I dont know if the vet mentioned about keeping him warm 24/7 while he is on antibiotics because it will help with the health and also the antibiotics work better without the temp fluctuating to much. Do you have a ceramic heat emmiter to use during the night times.

Hope the next update is about him being 100% better.

Lin
(keeping fingers crossed)

TortMum
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 06 Apr 2019, 15:04

Hey Lin,

Yes, She did mention about the calcium but I was sprinkling that anyway. She didn't mention about ueat helping the anti biotics but to keep and eye on the temp at night time and to not let it drop below 18 degrees. She didn't recommend a heat mat as they're harder to regulate but a night lamp with out the light?! Either way. The temo in our house never drops below 20 but I will be putting a thermometer in to check this.

Hes currently eating his green in his table. So all is going well xx

E x

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lin
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by lin » 06 Apr 2019, 15:36

Ah, thats good then. I would have suggested no lower than 20°C but follow your vets instructions.

Oh wow. Eating on his own is awsome for him :o . I can see this little one making a complete turn-a-round sooner rather than later :D . x

Lin

TortillaTheTortoise
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortillaTheTortoise » 10 Apr 2019, 06:22

Any updates? How's the tortoise doing?

TortMum
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 12 Apr 2019, 17:49

Hiya,

We are 6 days post vets. He is doing extremely well, eating a variety of different foods all by himself (not force feeding) - primrose, dandelion, cucumber, grapes so far. Today we have introduced strawberry and a variety of safe herbs.

The vet said she'd be happy if he put on 3-4g a week but so far we've gone from 66g to 74g. He was obviously very hungry.

He doesnt seem to be drinking from his bowl or finding his food independently yet so we are having to bring his food to him and give daily baths to keep hydrated.

We have noticed that his strength has improved and he is pushing himself upwards when walking rather than slowly dragging himself along. Being a newby tortortoise owner we hadn't noticed how much the lack of energy was affecting his walking. He still likes to hide, A LOT and ALL DAY so we have to keep waking him up to encourage him to explore.

I shall post pictures later this evening xxxx

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lin
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by lin » 12 Apr 2019, 20:44

Hi E.
Its so good that he is eating now, I am sure he will recover and start eating a better diet soon. Is he being fussy with his weeds and flowers?. I must stipulate E, that things like Primrose and fruits are not good and will only upset his stomach and the only way to get him eating the good weeds he should be eating is to make those changes now while his apetite is strong.
Weeds and flowers are starting to grow like wildfire now and it will be 100% better than fruit and veg... its so easy to find them around your or your friends/familys garden .

Keep waking him up the way you are and as I mentioned before tortoises are habitual and he will start to get the hang of it.

Before you feed him try waking him, bathing him and then putting in just one leaf and leaving him to hunt around for five mins. You never know, he might be hungry enough to look - lol

Are you sure the vet didn't say 3 - 4 gm a month? A week seems far to much and that could well start the uneven shell scenario. I would definatley cut that down a bit if it were me.

Seeing his strength improve in this short time is magic. I bet your smiling from ear to ear. Thats great to hear E.

I cant wait to see the photos, dont forget them.

Lin
Oh, you can type any of the plants you mention into the search bar of the database and it will open that page giving you the info about it.

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Nina
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by Nina » 12 Apr 2019, 22:30

Hi E -- and congratulations on doing so well with him! He's really lucky to have found a home with you, and I'm sure he will go from strength to strength now.

I do agree with Lin, though, about his diet. Most Mediterranean species of tortoise (including Horsfields) cannot manage fruit in their diet, because their gut flora can't cope well with the natural sugars that are in fruit and they can get upset stomachs. So really he wants leaves and flowers of plants that are good for him (not all plants are good though, so you need to check). You can make sure any plant is edible by typing its name into the search box that is at the top of any page on the website. For example, if you go to the website at www.thetortoisetable.org.uk and look up Primrose you get this: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/pla ... LD_-qR7m9s
and if you type in Grape you get this https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/pla ... LEAtaR7m9s . Neither of those are good to feed, and Horsfields aren't a fruit-eating species. Here is the entry for Campanula, though, which is good to feed and is a really common garden plant and stays green all winter https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/pla ... LEBKqR7m9s . There is a traffic light system of coding that will tell you instantly how edible a plant is (green, amber-green, amber-red and red), and there are loads of good plants to feed -- you just need to find out which they are.

If he is very underweight for his age then gaining weight a little more quickly for a short time at the beginning is probably OK, but please be careful as any rapid weight gain over a period of time will result in a deformed shell, which can then develop into metabolic bone disease. Horsfields are particularly greedy eaters and often develop bumpy shells, so Lin is right when she says that the thing to aim for is slow and steady growth. You probably already have one, but in case you don't, here is a good care sheet for Horsfields:
https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf

You are really doing great though, and please don't hesitate to ask any questions you have -- I think we all had loads of questions when we got our first tortoises, and that's the best way to learn.

Nina

TortMum
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 13 Apr 2019, 14:23

Afternoon,

Thank for your replies Lin and Nina.

I'm not sure why I said Primrose *facepalm* because it's actually pansy I am giving him :? As for the fruit, he lived mainly off apples etc at his previous owners. I am hoping that a small amount of juicy fruits between weeds and plants with encourage him to make the change to a more healthy living. He will eat his dandelions and pansy but others he walks away. The vet said I need to train him to eat again as he doesnt know what is food and what isn't. She showed me how to open his mouth and advised to pop food in 2/3 times a day but I've been struggling. A mixture of his old diet and new seems to be the only way to get him to eat the new foods.

I'm sure the vet said per week with his weight but I may be mistaken. I have printed a record sheet and am keeping an eye on this increase.

E x

TortMum
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 13 Apr 2019, 14:26

Afternoon,

Thank for your replies Lin and Nina.

I'm not sure why I said Primrose *facepalm* because it's actually pansy I am giving him :? As for the fruit, he lived mainly off apples etc at his previous owners. I am hoping that a small amount of juicy fruits between weeds and plants with encourage him to make the change to a more healthy living. He will eat his dandelions and pansy but others he walks away. The vet said I need to train him to eat again as he doesnt know what is food and what isn't. She showed me how to open his mouth and advised to pop food in 2/3 times a day but I've been struggling. A mixture of his old diet and new seems to be the only way to get him to eat the new foods.

I'm sure the vet said per week with his weight but I may be mistaken. I have printed a record sheet and am keeping an eye on this increase.

Oh! And he had a nice BIG poo today - never thought I'd be so excited lol

E x

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Nina
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by Nina » 13 Apr 2019, 14:44

Hi E,

That is great, and Pansies are perfect for him. I think we have the perfect article for you -- it's on how to move your tortoise from a poor diet to a good one. https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... LHmSqR7m9s Have a read and see what you think. The basic principle is to start with feeding mainly what they love but which is not good for them (the situation you are in now), and cut it up into teeny tiny pieces (really tiny). Then add a little of the good food also cut up into teeny tiny pieces. Wet the whole thing so that the different pieces stick together a bit. This means that when he goes for the naughty food he will inadvertently get some of the good stuff that is stuck to it. Gradually decrease the amount of bad food and increase the amount of good food (you can do this slowly or more quickly depending on how he takes to it), until in the end there is only the good stuff left. By eating bits of the good stuff he will gradually get a taste for it. Tortoises love fruit, but it is really not good for them (it's like feeding a little baby loads and loads of chocolate), so you need to be patient, but you will win in the end.

In addition to the two plant booklet that we publish, we have an Observation Records Booklet that you can keep records in. https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/pla ... LHnUqR7m9s If you send me your address -- nina@thetortoisetable.org.uk I'll pop a complimentary copy in the post to you.

Cheers,
Nina

TortMum
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 13 Apr 2019, 20:14

Evening,

Nina that's really kind of you. I shall email you shortly.

As promised I some photos taken today are below

E xxxx

TortMum
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 13 Apr 2019, 20:18

Eating his greens
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TortMum
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 13 Apr 2019, 20:20

Bath time
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TortMum
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Re: Adopted Tortoise - General Advice

Post by TortMum » 13 Apr 2019, 20:22

That little tongue :lol:
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