Overeating in enclosure?

Use this forum to discuss general questions about any aspects of tortoise care.
Post Reply
Posts: 27
Joined: 15 Feb 2019, 08:17

Overeating in enclosure?

Post by SilverWings » 20 Apr 2019, 15:59

Me again, more questions!

Bella's outdoor pen is a repurposed whelping box (like this but 4ft x 4ft)

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dog-Whelping ... Swb2lcreQe

I'd love to build her a permanent pen but unfortunately it's not my garden, its my landlords (we live on the same property). I'm allowed access to it but I can't do such things as building pens, ripping parts up to put new grass down etc. The whelping box can be dismantled at short notice when necessary and it's heavy enough that at her size I'm not concerned about her lifting it up to escape. Burrowing may become a separate issue later but so far she's not much of a digger, even in her table.

The lawn consists of grass, clover, dandelions and daisies probably in equal quantities. I have two concerns.

First is the daisies. I know these are bad, but so far I've not seen her go for them, in fact she seems to be actively avoiding them. I'm guessing she must know on some level that they are not tasty, do I need to worry about them being there? I saw on the listing that they probably won't cause harm if nibbled on a little?

The second concern is, should I be worried about her overeating out there? She's a clover seeking missile at the moment, and am I right in thinking it's quite high in protein? She does have other stuff available, I've grown some mixed weeds in trays and there's one in there to graze on, so she does eat other things too. She's been out there all day yesterday and all day today, she's not eating non stop, rather nibbling, trundling and napping. Should I restrict her outside time or will she moderate her own food intake?

As you can probably tell I'm quite a worrier :oops:


User avatar
Posts: 1064
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Overeating in enclosure?

Post by Nina » 20 Apr 2019, 17:07

I'm not quite clear on how the whelping box is used. Is that her pen and you put some substrate in it? If so then can't she just climb on the side that is lower than the other sides? Or are you turning it upside down and it becomes a shelter, with the lower side becoming a sort of doorway (you mentioned you didn't think she could lift it up to escape so I thought she must be underneath it to lift it up).

I wouldn't worry too much about the daisies. Tortoises don't always know what is bad for them (so you do have to keep really toxic stuff out of their way), but some plants, as you say, probably just don't taste nice and that could be why she is avoiding the daisies, so I think she will be fine.

Ahh, worrying about overeating -- welcome to the club. I just remembered -- you rescued Bella from a fish tank, didn't you? She is probably eating to make up for lost time, but you do have to be careful as if she grows too quickly -- especially as she didn't have a good start in life -- she could end up with a shell deformity. I have Horsfields and they are the greediest tortoise around, so I do have to restrict their food, but outside it's really hard as it's like an all day buffet. What I do is put them in the garden in the morning for about half an hour and they eat to their heart's content, and then I put them in their enclosure, which is about 15' x 3' and has almost nothing to eat in it. It is mainly earth and lots of ornamental grasses, which they sometimes do nibble on a bit, but not much (have attached a photo of part of it). Then during the day I toss in a few treats every now and then (campanula, dandelion flower, plantain), but I try not to give them too much. In the wild they come from areas where for a lot of the year it is hot and dry and food is scarce, so the forage for bits and pieces and grow slowly.

Are you keeping a record of her weight? Try to aim for slow growth (an average of 1g - 4g per month). Having said that, my two have put on about 20g in about three weeks of first being outside, so I'm cutting down now on what they get so that their average growth smooths out.
It's always a struggle, this overeating thing (lol, I've been struggling with it myself and Easter weekend isn't proving to be very good for my waistline!).

[attachment=0]IMG_7026 (Copy).JPG[/attachment]
IMG_7026 (Copy).JPG

Posts: 27
Joined: 15 Feb 2019, 08:17

Re: Overeating in enclosure?

Post by SilverWings » 20 Apr 2019, 19:44

Ah I didn't make the enclosure very clear did I, it doesn't have a base so it's basically just a wooden sided pen on the lawn. The lower side actually has a removable plank there, so all sides are the same height with all the planks in place. It's probably just over a foot high I reckon, she definitely won't get over! Plus I made up a mesh top to keep the local cats out, so if she does turn in to spider tort, she'll not get out anyway.

I have been weighing her monthly, and she is putting on FAAAAR more than 2-3g a month!!! I'm trying soo hard not to overfeed her, she's only getting a small amount a day (e.g. 2 lambs leaf rosettes, or a similar amount of whatever I pull from the garden) and the days I put her out she doesn't get any extra.

16.1.19-70mm 82g (.239)
17.2.19-75mm 99g (.234)
25.3.19-80mm 114g (.222)
20.4.19-85mm 132g (.214)

These are her weights and sizes, the lengths are within about 1mm because even though she pulls her head in, she likes to push her front legs forward and make it very hard to get her against any kind of surface for measuring -_-
I used this site (https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... te/171.asp) to work out the jackson ratio, and although she's growing fast that seems to be going down? I guess that's good? She now falls in the range of a good weight, not fat! I can also see new shell growth when I compare her t my first pics of her, and I might be imaging it but it does look flatter and less pyramid-y to what she already had :o

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests