New Tortoise Owner - Help!

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jtghale
Posts: 2
Joined: 19 Dec 2019, 12:06

New Tortoise Owner - Help!

Post by jtghale » 19 Dec 2019, 12:38

Hi everyone,

It's great to be a part of the forum, I've been doing a lot of Googling recently and this is definitely the friendliest and most helpful place to get tort info it seems!

I've purchased a new Hermann tortoise, and I'll be honest, I'm a little nervous. I'm picking him up on the 31st of December, and I've been busy getting his tortoise table ready and doing as much research as I possibly can to make sure he's as well looked after as can be, but I've found that getting a clear answer on things isn't always easy. It's reassuring, in a way, to see so many people experiencing the same thing - you look for an answer to a question, and the more you research, the deeper the rabbit hole of conflicting information goes...

Having looked everywhere I could, it seems this is the place to go for UK-based tort advice; everyone seems so helpful, I thought I'd put up a post with a few of my outstanding concerns and questions, to see if anyone could offer me a bit of guidance. So, a brief rundown:

Tort name: Percy Shelley

Location: Southeast UK

Habitat: Wooden tortoise table, 4 foot by 2 foot. Enclosed hide, tortoise soil substrate purchased from reptile shop, food dish, water dish. 100w arcadia UVA/UVB/Heat lamp, hanging as high as tort table panel allows.

Temperatures: Currently hitting about 33/34C directly under the heat lamp, at the very bottom of the enclosure (not factoring couple of inches of substrate, and tort shell height), so potentially a little higher where Percy will actually bask. around 20C in the cool side of his table.

Key questions - there are few different areas I'm not 100% about, so I'll categorise the questions and if anyone can offer any insight into anything I'd be hugely grateful!

FOOD:

This is my biggest concern. The chap in the reptile shop recommended romaine lettuce, as well as dandelion, and some other flowers, but that was pretty much it. Bit concerned that's all they've been feeding Percy, but if so then I'm looking forward to rescuing him and giving him a nice varied diet. I've been doing a LOT of reading, and looking through the tortoise table app/list for ideas, but living in the UK in winter, and having about as much knowledge of botany as an egg, I'm a little concerned.

Here's my diet plan so far, from what I've read to be ok:

- Buy a few different bags of mixed salad leaves from supermarkets, with romaine, red lettuce, lamb's lettuce, the florette bags etc. Buy some cress. Buy some of the Pre Alpin pellets. Start growing a 'tortoise weeds' seed kit ASAP.

- Every day, give him a variety of a few of these different greens, with some Pre Alpin, all dusted with reptivite calcium powder, and topped with whatever weeds I can identify. I'm really not very good at this though, and I'm quite worried I'll make him ill or feed him something toxic.

- Once weeds are grown, use these as fresh weeds/flowers/foliage to avoid me foraging.

QUESTIONS:

- Does this diet sound ok? I'm hoping that over time, by growing my own weeds and flowers for him to eat, this will become very easy, but until they've flourished I'm a bit worried about what to make up his diet from.

- Should I use reptivite every day? How much should I use?

HABITAT:

This is my other big area of concern. From what I can tell, I have the table set up fairly well. It seems to meet most of the criteria for a lovely little tort home, but I'm not sure about a few things, particularly humidity, night temperatures, and UV lighting.

QUESTIONS:

- Should I also provide a UVB strip light, as well as an 'all in one' mercury vapour bulb? Mr reptile shop said they would bask in the sun in the wild, or go and hide in the shade, so it's fine just to use a all-in-one, but I've also read people saying they need UVB when they're not basking...

- Is a 100watt bulb ok for a yearling? Not sure exactly how old Percy is, but it says he was captive bred in 2018, and I'll get the CITES Article 10 cert. when I pick him up so I should know more then. The bulb is probably hitting about 34/35 directly beneath it, maybe even a little hotter, and he's only teeny... I can't make it higher without using a clamp, which annoyingly means I can only hit a maximum of about 26/27C with it facing directly downwards. Rock and a hard place. Is this temp ok?

- Night temps in his hide are currently hitting about 18C, is this ok? It might drop lower, I need to get a min/max thermometer, but we throttle the heating in the house during the winter and it never gets freezing. Was going to put some hay in his hide too for warmth...

- Is a cuttlefish bone PLUS reptivite too much calcium? Don't want to come downstairs one morning and find that Percy has turned into a statue!

HEALTH:

Having already paid for Percy, I realised that 'CP 2018' doesn't actually guarantee he was bred in the UK, although I *think* he was... I'm going to sort out pet insurance soon, and have located a specialist reptile vet within driving distance, but I've never owned an animal myself before so I wanted to double check...

QUESTIONS:

- Should I take Percy for a 'checkup' at the vet as soon as I get him, or is this overkill? Is this likely to decimate my bank balance, all to be told 'yep he's a tortoise'?


Phew, that was a long post. I'm really sorry if I should have broken this down into smaller posts on different threads, but I thought an 'all in one' approach might be simpler. Really looking forward to hearing any responses, and sharing Percy's journey with you all as I learn how to be a good tort dad.

Many thanks all, and to those who celebrate it, Merry Christmas!

James

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1048
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: New Tortoise Owner - Help!

Post by Nina » 19 Dec 2019, 14:10

Hi James and welcome to The Tortoise Table! I have to say that your email is one of the most encouraging we have had from a new tortoise owner, and I think you are on the road to being a great keeper and giving this little tortoise a great home!

Your questions. The diet you propose for winter sounds fine. Pre Alpin with fresh leaves mixed in sounds perfect.

Temperature. 33C -34C is a bit too warm. However, as long as he can wander away from it to a cooler place it should be OK. If you could raise the lamp a bit higher to get the temp down to 30c that would be better (and remember that you are measuring it below the lamp at the height of the tortoise's shell, not on the substrate). If there is a radiator on in the room you could try turning that off as a lower room temperature can often result in s lower temp in the table, even under the light. 20 C on the cool side is fine and at night the temp
can go down to 14 or 15 (in the wild they would naturally have a drop in temps).

I love the name Percy Shelley -- can't wait until he pens his first poem!

You can give calcium supplements every day if you like. When you think about it they are mostly bone and shell so they do need a lot of calcium. Follow the instructions on the container. Nutrobal is generally reckoned to be the best calcium and D3 supplement, but some torts don't like the taste. Unfortunately I am in Uganda on holiday and on my iPad, and I'm worried that if I try to give you a link to the section on supplements on the website I'll lose all that I've written here. But go to the diet or care section of the website and you'll find an evaluation of all the main supplements.

Lighting. The all in one bulb should be fine. Most people either have the all-in-one or a tube plus an ordinary bulb, and you don't need both.

You could put hay in the sleeping area, but if the tortoise had a wee on it there is a danger that it could get mouldy, so I don't think I would.

As I'm not good with links on my iPad I'll ask Lin to send you a link to a good care sheet for Hermanns, but in the meantime it's congratulations from me on doing your research before Percy's arrival and please come back with more questions -- and have a lovely Christmas!

Nina

jtghale wrote:
> Hi everyone,
>
> It's great to be a part of the forum, I've been doing a lot of Googling
> recently and this is definitely the friendliest and most helpful place to
> get tort info it seems!
>
> I've purchased a new Hermann tortoise, and I'll be honest, I'm a little
> nervous. I'm picking him up on the 31st of December, and I've been busy
> getting his tortoise table ready and doing as much research as I possibly
> can to make sure he's as well looked after as can be, but I've found that
> getting a clear answer on things isn't always easy. It's reassuring, in a
> way, to see so many people experiencing the same thing - you look for an
> answer to a question, and the more you research, the deeper the rabbit hole
> of conflicting information goes...
>
> Having looked everywhere I could, it seems this is the place to go for
> UK-based tort advice; everyone seems so helpful, I thought I'd put up a
> post with a few of my outstanding concerns and questions, to see if anyone
> could offer me a bit of guidance. So, a brief rundown:
>
> Tort name: Percy Shelley
>
> Location: Southeast UK
>
> Habitat: Wooden tortoise table, 4 foot by 2 foot. Enclosed hide, tortoise
> soil substrate purchased from reptile shop, food dish, water dish. 100w
> arcadia UVA/UVB/Heat lamp, hanging as high as tort table panel allows.
>
> Temperatures: Currently hitting about 33/34C directly under the heat lamp,
> at the very bottom of the enclosure (not factoring couple of inches of
> substrate, and tort shell height), so potentially a little higher where
> Percy will actually bask. around 20C in the cool side of his table.
>
> Key questions - there are few different areas I'm not 100% about, so I'll
> categorise the questions and if anyone can offer any insight into anything
> I'd be hugely grateful!
>
> FOOD:
>
> This is my biggest concern. The chap in the reptile shop recommended
> romaine lettuce, as well as dandelion, and some other flowers, but that was
> pretty much it. Bit concerned that's all they've been feeding Percy, but if
> so then I'm looking forward to rescuing him and giving him a nice varied
> diet. I've been doing a LOT of reading, and looking through the tortoise
> table app/list for ideas, but living in the UK in winter, and having about
> as much knowledge of botany as an egg, I'm a little concerned.
>
> Here's my diet plan so far, from what I've read to be ok:
>
> - Buy a few different bags of mixed salad leaves from supermarkets, with
> romaine, red lettuce, lamb's lettuce, the florette bags etc. Buy some
> cress. Buy some of the Pre Alpin pellets. Start growing a 'tortoise weeds'
> seed kit ASAP.
>
> - Every day, give him a variety of a few of these different greens, with
> some Pre Alpin, all dusted with reptivite calcium powder, and topped with
> whatever weeds I can identify. I'm really not very good at this though, and
> I'm quite worried I'll make him ill or feed him something toxic.
>
> - Once weeds are grown, use these as fresh weeds/flowers/foliage to avoid
> me foraging.
>
> QUESTIONS:
>
> - Does this diet sound ok? I'm hoping that over time, by growing my own
> weeds and flowers for him to eat, this will become very easy, but until
> they've flourished I'm a bit worried about what to make up his diet from.
>
> - Should I use reptivite every day? How much should I use?
>
> HABITAT:
>
> This is my other big area of concern. From what I can tell, I have the
> table set up fairly well. It seems to meet most of the criteria for a
> lovely little tort home, but I'm not sure about a few things, particularly
> humidity, night temperatures, and UV lighting.
>
> QUESTIONS:
>
> - Should I also provide a UVB strip light, as well as an 'all in one'
> mercury vapour bulb? Mr reptile shop said they would bask in the sun in the
> wild, or go and hide in the shade, so it's fine just to use a all-in-one,
> but I've also read people saying they need UVB when they're not basking...
>
> - Is a 100watt bulb ok for a yearling? Not sure exactly how old Percy is,
> but it says he was captive bred in 2018, and I'll get the CITES Article 10
> cert. when I pick him up so I should know more then. The bulb is probably
> hitting about 34/35 directly beneath it, maybe even a little hotter, and
> he's only teeny... I can't make it higher without using a clamp, which
> annoyingly means I can only hit a maximum of about 26/27C with it facing
> directly downwards. Rock and a hard place. Is this temp ok?
>
> - Night temps in his hide are currently hitting about 18C, is this ok? It
> might drop lower, I need to get a min/max thermometer, but we throttle the
> heating in the house during the winter and it never gets freezing. Was
> going to put some hay in his hide too for warmth...
>
> - Is a cuttlefish bone PLUS reptivite too much calcium? Don't want to come
> downstairs one morning and find that Percy has turned into a statue!
>
> HEALTH:
>
> Having already paid for Percy, I realised that 'CP 2018' doesn't actually
> guarantee he was bred in the UK, although I *think* he was... I'm going to
> sort out pet insurance soon, and have located a specialist reptile vet
> within driving distance, but I've never owned an animal myself before so I
> wanted to double check...
>
> QUESTIONS:
>
> - Should I take Percy for a 'checkup' at the vet as soon as I get him, or
> is this overkill? Is this likely to decimate my bank balance, all to be
> told 'yep he's a tortoise'?
>
>
> Phew, that was a long post. I'm really sorry if I should have broken this
> down into smaller posts on different threads, but I thought an 'all in one'
> approach might be simpler. Really looking forward to hearing any responses,
> and sharing Percy's journey with you all as I learn how to be a good tort
> dad.
>
> Many thanks all, and to those who celebrate it, Merry Christmas!
>
> James

jtghale
Posts: 2
Joined: 19 Dec 2019, 12:06

Re: New Tortoise Owner - Help!

Post by jtghale » 19 Dec 2019, 16:41

Thanks Nina,

That's made me feel so much better - I'm really excited to get Percy, and fingers crossed he'll be composing masterworks in no time (although it might turn out to be gothic literature if Percy eventually turns out to be a Mary!)

I'll do some tests tonight with the lamp, and see if I can't get it a bit closer to 30C - I guess we'll also see how he responds to it once he's moved in and settled down, if he seems hesitant to bask I'll look into getting a slightly less powerful basking bulb, and setting up a UV tube. Whatever he prefers!

Brilliant, I've ordered some Pre Alpin Original for him, and I'll get those seeds on the go too.

Great to know re. hay, I might give this a miss then - if that temperature range seems suitable then I'm sure he won't need the extra warmth, that's brilliant.

I'll be sure to fire over any other questions I have, but for now you've been so helpful - thank you ever so much. I'll be sure to keep you updated on the Life and Assorted Works of Percy T. Shelley...

Have a lovely Christmas too,

All the best,

James

User avatar
lin
Posts: 638
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: New Tortoise Owner - Help!

Post by lin » 19 Dec 2019, 19:08

Hi James and welcome. It sound like you will be the perfect tortoise owner when Percy Shelly arrives. It’s a brilliant name.

Here is the caresheet for Hermanns tortoises - https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf
that you will find useful And I have to agree that the temps are a little high and could cause the little one to not want to eat.

Newbies being welcomed to tortoise town are advised in most cases to go back to the wild and it will give you the answer to most of the questions going through your head.
And a very merry Christmas to you James.

Lin

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1048
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: New Tortoise Owner - Help!

Post by Nina » 19 Dec 2019, 19:10

Ha, ha, if Percy turns out to be Mary then you won't get poetry, you'll get Frankenstein, and you can spend the next year negotiating the film rights!

Cheers,
Nina

User avatar
lin
Posts: 638
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: New Tortoise Owner - Help!

Post by lin » 19 Dec 2019, 21:41

:roll:
That was funny though Nina.
:lol: :lol: :lol:
Lin

Teddy28
Posts: 126
Joined: 06 May 2017, 10:57

Re: New Tortoise Owner - Help!

Post by Teddy28 » 20 Dec 2019, 18:12

Hello James, Nina andLin

Just jumping in here to say 'hello' after a few months absence.

James I love your posts, it's nerve wracking being a new tortoise owner, as I was in 2017. Bulbs, food, substrate = sleepless nights but before long you'll be able to bore the pants off anyone who'll listen about all things tortoise!
As you already know, you can't get better advice than on TTT.

So exciting to be getting your new little chap/chapess in a few weeks time, can't wait to hear how you get on.
Best wishes

User avatar
lin
Posts: 638
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: New Tortoise Owner - Help!

Post by lin » 20 Dec 2019, 19:13

Ahh, how nice. Thank you Teddy28.
Lin

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