Page 1 of 1

Weight loss worry

Posted: 20 Jun 2019, 21:15
by KirstyGT
We have a Hermann tortoise - approx 1 year. We have had George for about 5 weeks.
So we are concerned that he has lost weight. Weighing him weekly he has gone from 90g, 93g, 94g, 94g, 85g. So we are worried and wondering if he is ok.
He lives in Plymouth, Devon. We keep him on a tortoise table, filled with topsoil. He has a combination heat and UV lamp. I have attached some pics. We have made a little outside pen for him and when the sun is shining we pop him out there for an hour or so to have a wander around.
He wakes at about 6.30-7am and goes to bed about 5-6pm. We have the heat lamp on from 7am-5pm. We bathe him everyday in warm water which he seems to like.
We are feeding him Plaintain, dandelion, clover, with a bit of rocket and kale at times. We are still identifying other weeds near us that are suitable. He also has a cuttlefish bone in with him, he seems to like that and we often see him having a nibble. I've brought some calcium powder to sprinkle on once a week too.
He is lively for long periods throughout the day, he walks around, tries to climb, sips his water, nibbles a bit of food ( not lots) eyes seem clear and bright. Should we be worried about the weight loss?
He was in a vivarium at the shop and I wonder should I be worried about the weight loss or is it likely that now he is roaming in the pen (and sometimes front front room when too cold) he is burning more energy than before?
Any advice greatly appreciated - we want to make sure we are doing everything right!
Many thanks

Re: Weight loss worry

Posted: 20 Jun 2019, 23:17
by Nina
Hi Kirsty,

Don't worry -- I think he will be fine. I've seen the photos of your table on the other thread (see my comments) and that looks really good (and thank goodness you didn't buy a vivarium to put him in!).

From your description he sounds like a really happy, active tortoise and it is possible that there is an easy explanation for the weight loss. I'm assuming that you are using the same scales each time (as that can make a difference), but it is amazing how much difference it can make to a tortoise's weight if you weigh him before or after a meal, or before or after a poo -- it can differ by three or four grammes. Try to weigh him under the same conditions each time (just before or after a meal or his bath), and I also wouldn't weigh him weekly (fortnightly or monthly should be sufficient).

Slow growth is what you are aiming for with tortoises, as rapid growth can result in shell deformities. So you are looking for him to gain an average of between 1g - 3g per month. That is just an average, and some months he will gain more and some less (mine have just gained an indecent amount in the last month so I am now monitoring the amount of food I give them more strictly).

Your husbandry sounds spot on, and it is really excellent that he is awake from 6.30 or 7a.m. to 5 p.m. (many tortoises take themselves off to bed at about 3 p.m or 4 p.m), so it sounds to me like he is full of beans and really healthy. And it is great that he has an outdoor pen too -- the UVB from the sun (if the sun ever decided to come out) is far superior to that which we provide artificially indoors.

I think this little tortoise is very lucky to have found a home with you and your family, so well done for giving him a good home!


Re: Weight loss worry

Posted: 23 Jun 2019, 16:52
by KirstyGT
Thanks for the reply Nina.
He does seem like he is doing ok, watching him the past few days he seems alright I think. I'll weigh him again Thursday, then leave it fortnightly - save worrying!.
Can I ask you about worming? I was just reading about this. We've not had him wormed. I've seen no evidence of worms but do you think we should do this anyway? I see there's a couple of home remedies, do you know if they are any good or do you think its best to just send samples to a vet to determine if he has worms that need treating?

Re: Weight loss worry

Posted: 23 Jun 2019, 19:11
by Nina
Hi Kirsty,
I'm glad that he's doing well, and that you're feeling less stressed about him (lol, don't get complacent though because there are always new things to get stressed about with tortoises :)

I wouldn't think about worming unless you have reason to think he might have worms. If you think he might have them you can give a sample to a vet or send a sample off to be tested. Many vets now think that a light load of worms is actually beneficial to a tortoise, but a heavy load needs to be treated. You wouldn't see worms unless it is a very heavy infestation, but there will be microscopic eggs in a tortoise's poo that can be analysed. There is a company that offers TTT members a 15% discount, and we have a blurb about it on our Facebook page -- here is the link to that: ... 5694604423

Unfortunately there are two codes listed there to get the discount and I don't know which one is right, so maybe contact them to see which is best. But really, if there are no problems with him I wouldn't bother (although for your peace of mind you could have a sample tested.