Page 1 of 1

New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 03 Feb 2020, 22:58
by Kimberley

My name is Kimberley and I'm from the Netherlands. Since friday I've rescued a horsfield tortoise hatched in 2015.

About me:
I'm 41 years old and since I was nine I've always had duo's or trio's of guinea pigs until I was 35, I still love them and they've always had huge enclosures and fed as natural as possible.
After that I've had 2 Syrian hamsters(not together) which I also loved. Their enclosure was 140 cm by 70 cm, open top and I did hamsterscaping. Unfortunately they don't live very long but they're also great animals.

I also have a naughty haflinger pony, he lives a 5 minute walk away and will be 24 in July and I have a 10 year old chihuahua who's absolutely great.
All my animals are and were rescues.

I've always loved tortoises, but because of the guinea pigs and hamsters I decided it wasn't time. I did do research on them and decided that a horsfield or Hermans would be best in my situation. I did look at baby's but I wanted a tortoise that already excisted and needed a home.

A bit sooner than expected my horsfield came on my path. Friends of a colleague had a him for a year and wanted to rehome him.
About him:
He was was hatched in 2015,bought in 2016 by people, kept in a 40 by 40 cm terrarium without water and uv, he did have light and given Romain and other lettuce types. Horrible!

In 2018 the colleagues friends got him because they felt sorry. He lived in a closed terrarium of 30 by 60 cm with a combination warmth+uv bulb. He was given cuttlefish, veggies, some flowers and weeds, necton msa once a week, reptivit once a week. He went outside in the garden in the summer. He also visited a reptile vet when they got him because of his previous horrible existence. Even though the terrarium was also horrible and small, the whole situation was better. They wanted to rehome him to someone who would give him more attention, better home and care than they could.

So Michelle, they thought he was a girl, came to live with me. I know he is 99% a boy, his tail is long and bends to the right. I looked at many pics of horsfield males/females and am certain it's a boy. I actually wanted to wait a few months and prepare better, but there he was.

Current situation:
He is 9/10 cm and weighs 346 gram.
Never hibernated.
I picked him up friday and he now lives in my 70 by 140 cm hamstertable, it is 40 cm high, the walls are 15 cm black, 25 cm plexiglass, open top. It's not suitable because he can see himself in the black plexi part and see through the clear plexiglass. I'm going to make him a new table this week: wood and 80 cm by 210 cm.
He's on 10 cm thick coco peat, i think it's messy I have to say.
He has a dome/house made of coco core cloth, 2 big bendy bridges, slate, a bath, catgrass plant, stones, cuttlefish. In his bigger home I will put more stuff.
Exo terra solar glo 80 watt lamp, this is combined heat and uva/uvb.
Exo terra light dome lamp reflector, 18 cm for better uvb. It hangs straight and is on the left side.
An extra desk bendy lamp for more light.
My appartment is well insulated and has central heating with thermostat everywhere, its 20c during the day and 18 at night, very stable. Under the lamp it's 30c.

I don't have a garden, but I do have a very big balcony/terrace with sun from 10.30 till 8 pm in the summer. So I will make him an outdoor enclosure of 160cm by 3 meters.

I've ordered 2 types of testudo grass/flower/weeds seed mixes, calendula and dandelion seeds, but that takes time to grow.
Alpin cobs, but he doesn't like it.
I know weeds etc are better, but now I don't have any yet. Veggies: Romain lettuce, frisee lettuce, cucumber, courgette, raddishleaves, kale, carrot.
He is a very picky eater.

Michelle, i will change his name, is very sweet, active, he basks, walks around, takes multiple baths, poops (looks good) and wants to go to bed around 19.30. I've given him a bath every day since I have him.

I want him to eat more things but he doesn't like it (yet). I would also want him to eat the alpin cobs, but he doesn't like it.
What more can I do? Tomorrow I'll try the cobs with some cucumber, hope it will work.

What more can I do?

Thanx :)

Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 04 Feb 2020, 00:22
by lin
Hi Kimberley.
It’s not often we encounter someone like yourself who does so much homework and over such a long tome. Well done to you.
Your little menagerie sounds wonderful and your pets, including the little pony must be so happy to be with you.

Regarding your little Horsfield (even down to spelling that correct - lol, so many use two β€˜e’s). As long as a tortoise is healthy he will eat what he is offered if he is hungry.. you can allow him to go a few days without food and then offer him some nice fresh, crisp leaf of a tasty weed and he will eat it in may takes another few days but he will. IMO cold turkey is the best way to go but others have different opinions.
Have a read of the new diet article below and there is also a Horsfield caresheet if you would care to take a look. ... ji3wi-nyfA
https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf
Hope this is useful and if I have forgotten anything please do get back to us.


Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 04 Feb 2020, 07:59
by Nina
Hi Kimberley and welcome to The Tortoise Table from me too! What a lovely informative post from you, and I think this little tortoise (MIchelle/maybe MIchael?) is very lucky to have found a home with you! And Lin is absolutely right about how refreshing it is to find someone who has done such extensive homework -- it will certainly prevent problems from happening later on.

Regarding Michelle getting frustrated at being able to see through the Plexiglass -- yes this is often a problem as tortoises don't have a concept of glass and so if they can see through something they will try and get through it. You can avoid this by taping a piece of card or fixing a board that is the same height as the tortoise to the inside of the enclosure, thus blocking off his view of the outside. It's easy to do so maybe have a go and see if that helps.

Regarding the diet, the advice in the article on introducing a new diet that Lin gave the link to usually works well. I personally would try that first rather than withhold food. Just cut up the food he likes into very small pieces. Then cut up a small amount of the new food also into teeny tiny pieces. Mix it together and wet it so that the pieces stick together and then when Michelle goes for the favourite stuff he will get some of the new food as well. Then you very gradually increase the amount of new food until it forms a majority. Re the Pre Alpin cobs. They are a really excellent food (the only commercial food we would recommend). My tortoises also hated it at first, but I added small amounts to the favourite food, as described above, and now they happily eat the rehydrated cobs all on their own. Try putting just a few fibres from the cobs in with the cucumber(do make sure they are fully rehydrated in warm water first) and see if he will take it that way, and then you can gradually increase the amounts.

It would be lovely to see a photo of Michelle -- and if you send us a photo of his underside, clearly showing the tail, we can probably confirm whether you've got a Michelle or a Michael -- or even a Merlin!

Don't forget that when you are writing a post, there is a box underneath the box you're writing in where you can tick an option to be informed when there has been a reply to your post, so you'll see any messages sooner.


Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 04 Feb 2020, 08:46
by Kimberley
Hi Lin,

Thank you so much for the reply.

I'm trying a bit of alpin with cucumber right now, so far no luck. He did want a small piece of cucumber out of my hand though. So maybe he'll try later. I have to say I do find it hard not to feed him ha ha, but I think I should do it. He is very picky. He's very sweet though and definitely healthy.

I use coco coir or coco peat whatever you want to call it. I like it and I don't! Its so messy. Today he came out of his dome and was covered in it and it was in his eyes. I had to rinse him off. Eventhough I water it every day and mix it and pat it, it's very fluffy and the top dries quickly. I would want to make it a bit more firm. I was wondering if I could mix it with 20% of zoomed excavator clay substrate. When you use it on it's own it will harden and dry after time. But I thought if I mix 20/80 it will give the coco coir a bit more fimness and less sticky and fluffy.


Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 04 Feb 2020, 08:55
by Kimberley
Hi Nina,

I didn't see yours because I was already typing the other whilst you send yours.

Thank you so much for your reply! Merlin is cute too ha ha. I have to figure out how to attach a foto, I'm using my phone. I know obviously how to send pics, but not on a forum like this. Maybe I can email them to you?


Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 04 Feb 2020, 09:45
by Kimberley


Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 04 Feb 2020, 09:47
by Kimberley

Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 04 Feb 2020, 11:10
by Kimberley
Ok he flashed his manhood today :D he's a boy!

Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 04 Feb 2020, 12:26
by Nina
Oh my, he is a handsome devil, isn't he! Thanks so much for the photos. And he was considerate enough to flash for you -- well done Michelle!

Re the substrate. Don't forget that in the wild they get substrate on them all the time. We think that the best substrate is a mixture of sterilised topsoil, that you can buy in bags at garden centres or DIY shops (not sure what you have in The Netherlands, but there must be plenty of places) and children's play sand (can also be bought at the same places). Most people mix them 50/50, although my tortoises seem to prefer a slightly higher percentage of topsoil (about 60/40). Sometimes I add some coir to that, but that is for my convenience as it's a lot lighter to carry up the stairs to where the tortoise table is. Because it's a 7' x 2' table (sorry I don't know the metric dimensions and I need to go out now so don't have time to convert), and I try and have the substrate at least 3" deep and preferably about 5" or 6" deep, it takes a lot of substrate so a bit of coir lessens the load.

Have attached a photo of Doris and Dolly in their table (they have a ramp leading up to a second level, which is great as it gives them more exercise). Horsfields, as I'm sure you know, are a burrowing species and love nothing more than digging in and completely burying themselves, so the deeper the substrate the better. I do spray my substrate as well, but it should only be the tiniest bit damp (not at all wet). Horsfields can tolerate warm and damp substrate but not cold and damp, so I tend to leave some areas dry so that they can choose.

Re the Pre Alpin etc. Cucumber is great to deliver all sorts of things (if you ever need to give him medicine, a piece of cucumber is great for getting it into him). What I do with medicine is slice a piece of cucumber very thinly, put the medicine on it (or in your case it could the Pre Alpin), and then either fold it in half or put another thin slice on top, so it's a sandwich with the new stuff hidden inside and give it that way. They do love hand feeding, but be careful as if you do it too much then he might refuse to eat on his own.

Doris and Dolly send their regards to Michelle/Merlin!

[attachment=0]m_IMG_9496.jpg[/attachment][attachment=1]IMG_9954 (Copy).JPG[/attachment][attachment=2]IMG_9953 (Copy).JPG[/attachment]

Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 04 Feb 2020, 12:38
by Kimberley
Ah that is so nice. My table will be ready this week. It will be 6 ft 10 inches by 2 ft 7.5 inches. Just Imagine he's never had so much space in his life, poor thing. He looks pretty good considering the horrible care he has had.

Maybe I'm a little overprotecting with the substrate on him ha ha. But I just want him to be ok. I will use more rocks etc to make things nice and that will help to keep things clean. I have to say he isn't much of a digger. He likes to walk and climb up to now.

Oh and I just can't find stetilised topsoil tbh. Every gardencentre I've looked they have many soils, also organic but they all have some fertiliser in them, even the organic ones have organic fertiliser.

Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 05 Feb 2020, 09:05
by Nina
That is a nuisance that you can't find topsoil. Here all the various soils that you get for growing things do have varying degrees of fertiliser in them, but then they are called 'compost' (potting compost, etc.). The stuff with no added fertiliser (all soils will inevitably have some natural fertiliser in them because of the organic matter in them) is called topsoil, but that tiny bit of natural fertiliser isn't a problem.

Your table is going to be wonderful -- do send photos when it's set up. And your plans for the enclosure on the balcony also sound great -- the UVB in natural sunlight is of a far higher quality than anything we can provide artificially. If it gets that much sun each day then do be careful that the floor of the balcony doesn't get too hot if it is a very hot day (concrete and tiles can absorb heat and get very hot -- but if he has a shady place within it that should be fine). And do post photos of that too, as it could give others some inspiration on how to provide an outdoor environment for a tortoise if you don't have a garden.


Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 05 Feb 2020, 17:54
by Teddy28
What a lovely story and what a lucky little tortoise

Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 06 Feb 2020, 08:01
by Kimberley
Thank so much, I have to say that this is a very positive and informative forum. I've seen different!

I have a sunscreen on my balcony that I can put down in many different ways. So there will be shade always!

My table is ready. He loves it and is exploring everywhere. I made sure the sides are clear so he can walk there as well.

Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 06 Feb 2020, 08:03
by Kimberley
The table is lined with vinyl and attached with a very strong aquariumtape.

Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 06 Feb 2020, 10:36
by Nina
Oh wow, Kimberley, that looks brilliant! Lots of interest for him -- different textures to walk on, 'furniture' to walk round and over, etc. etc. What a nice table you've made for him! I think little Michelle/Merlin will have a great life with you. And I'm looking forward to see the lovely enclosure that you build on your balcony for the summer.

What part of The Netherlands are you in? I've been to Amsterdam quite a few times, and the last time (in late April/early May 2018) we spent a whole day at Keukenhof Gardens and the flower displays were spectacular. Also, when my son was about 8 (he's 45 now) he and I went to The Netherlands and travelled around staying in youth hostels each night, and for a couple of days we rented bicycles and cycled through the bulb fields, which were beautiful.


Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 06 Feb 2020, 16:42
by Kimberley
Oh he's so happy with his new home. In the other one he was frustrated, he had seen his own reflection and was convinced there were other tortoises and did not like it. Even though I put cardboard against the walls, he knew they were behind the cardboardπŸ˜‰ now he's so much more relaxed and exploring and climbing. I put 2 extra logs in, he loves it!

I've decided his name will be Tim, tiny tim, little TimmyπŸ˜€

I live in Wassenaar, it's a small village near the coast, lot's of nature here, woods, dunes, farms. It's the province Zuid Holland, an hour away from amsterdam. Also alot of flowerfields, tulips. That sounds like so much fun with your son! I have never visited the keukenhof ha ha, probably because I live here and am surrounded by flowers here with all the fields😁

Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 06 Feb 2020, 17:09
by Nina
Tim is a great name -- I think it suits him. Isn't it wonderful how the personality of an animal can change if he is happy, relaxed and stimulated by his environment -- he obviously is very happy with you.

Ha, ha -- I know what you mean about not seeing the sights in the place where you live. I live in Oxford, in the UK, and we have huge numbers of tourists who come here to see the town and especially the ancient colleges, but I have friends who have lived in Oxford for most of their lives and have never been in any of the colleges.

Re my son and me biking through the bulb fields, I do remember being so surprised that at many of the fields there were huge piles of hyacinth flowers by the roadside at the edge of the fields, and I thought why are they throwing all those flowers away, and then someone told me that of course they are growing the plants for the bulbs to sell, and the flowers are just an unwanted byproduct (well, that's my memory of it, but it was so long ago that I could have got it twisted in my mind).


Re: New owner rescue horsfield

Posted: 06 Feb 2020, 18:00
by Kimberley
Yes he's a real tiny Tim, but a little bulldozer too😊 everything is going to be fine from now on, I just can't imagine how he suffered for 3 years in 12 by 12 inch enclosure, glas, no water because he didn't need it.... and a heatlamp without uv, nowhere to go and hide, how horrible!

You are totally right, the fields are for the bulbs and not for sale, the flowers for sale grow in greenhouses only, not outside. Here you see massive tulipfields and the next day everything is gone, they harvested the bulbs and got rid of the flowers.