Winter feeding

This forum covers all aspects of tortoise diet and nutrition, including mineral and vitamin supplementation and foods appropriate for different species.
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Shelley
Posts: 6
Joined: 23 May 2017, 15:09

Winter feeding

Post by Shelley » 04 Nov 2017, 22:41

Good evening everyone,
My 3-year old Med spur-thighed is a little fussy with her food and I'm dreading the winter coming as we've now run out of her staple food, dandelions, and are wondering what to feed her over the winter. I had a dreadful time last winter from preventing her from hibernating as it took me a while to get her temps right and she showed no interest in food. What can I feed her over the winter when my garden is closing down?! Thanks in advance!

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lin
Posts: 181
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: Winter feeding

Post by lin » 04 Nov 2017, 23:00

Hi Shelley.
Depending on where you are you may be able to keep dandies growing for a while longer. In the South of the UK with a light fleece placed around most weeds we can keep them growing. It would have been good if you started to just add teeny bits of other good weeds and flowers (plantain, pansy, violet and sow thistle are a few) in with the dandelions all tore up together and washed to help them all stick. It might have taken all summer but you would have been less stressed than you are now - lol.
These tortoises are little buggers and tough love in my opinion, is the only way. Offer food and leave it, leave the room and if she wont eat remove it until tomorrow and so on untim one day she will eat it.
It is only humans being weak as it is our natural makeup to not want anything to go hungry so we have to fill them up but providing she is fit and healthy going hungry will not harm her.
I am sure we have shown you our article on incorporating a better diet, but here it is just incase we haven't -- http://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tort ... -new-diet/
I assume you are not hibernating her again this year so up the light level so its nice and bright, imitating the summer sun and the same with the ambient temps.
Here is our article on overwintering her. http://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tort ... -tortoise/
Do you think this would work?

Lin

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Nina
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Winter feeding

Post by Nina » 04 Nov 2017, 23:01

Hi Shelley,

It can be difficult in winter, especially when a tortoise wants to hibernate (is there a reason why you don't hibernate her)? We do have an article on overwintering a tortoise (this is often necessary if your tortoise is not well enough to hibernate or of course if it is a non-hibernating species):
http://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tort ... f5DyYhpGM8
but it doesn't go much into diet.

There are actually quite a few plants that grow outdoors through the winter that you can feed. Plantain (both narrow-leaf and round leaf) can usually be found, low growing Campanula in the garden, winter flowering Pansies, some dandelions in sheltered areas, Evening Primrose leaves, and more. If you go into our database on the website and then into any of the categories (for example Wildflowers or Garden and House), you will see a row of coloured boxes at the top with ticks in them. If you untick (by clicking on them) the red and amber-red boxes, leaving only the green and amber-green boxes ticked (or just the green boxes), then you will be left with a list of all the plants that are safe to feed, and you can see if you have any of these in your garden or in the house.

From the supermarket there are several things you can buy. One is a salad mixture called Floretti Crispy -- this has leaves that are all safe to feed (but you don't want to feed this exclusively as it is still salad leaves and not quite as nourishing as other leaves. You can feed a bit of Kale too. Normally we wouldn't advise feeding Brassicas (members of the cabbage family), but Kale is the best of them.

There is a dried food that we can recommend (it is the only one we would recommend), that is called Pre Alpin Testudo and you can buy it from the Torts R Us selling page on Facebook or the Shelled Warriors online shop and some other places online. It is really excellent, and is made exclusively from dried flowers leaves and grasses from alpine meadows, but some tortoises don't take to it at first so you can mix it together with fresh food.

Hope that helps a bit,

Nina

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Nina
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Winter feeding

Post by Nina » 04 Nov 2017, 23:09

Oops, I see that Lin posted her answer one minute before mine! At least we didn't contradict each other -- ha ha.

Nina

Shelley
Posts: 6
Joined: 23 May 2017, 15:09

Re: Winter feeding

Post by Shelley » 05 Nov 2017, 22:07

Thanks so much guys for your replies. It's so helpful to get some knowledgeable advice on here so I don't feel quite so alone in making sure I look after her! I was advised by my vet not to hibernate her until she is much older so that she is able to sustain herself throughout hibernation. I am sure he said something about thinking about hibernating her at 5 to 6 years, but it all depends on her weight so I will hold off worrying about that for a few more years yet!

I'm so grateful for the suggestions of other weeds to look out for but also the recommendation of tortoise pellets for the days that I just can't find anything. I've also seen packets of mixed seeds to grow tortoise-safe plants so might buy some of these and give them a go. The overwintering leaflet is helpful and I will definitely scour the plant database again for some further ideas. The problem in the winter is identifying the right plants and weeds when there are no flowers to help differentiate them!

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lin
Posts: 181
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: Winter feeding

Post by lin » 05 Nov 2017, 22:15

Well thats why we are here, to help ID weeds so if you have any just post and we will do our best for your tortoise to have a good diet during the winter too.
You will be surprised what you will find growing tucked begind a shed or under a hedge during the colder months.
Dont worry and enjoy.
Oh, one to think about --In the wild there is nobody that goes round telling the little ones they cant hibernate until they are over 3 or 5....They sometimes hatch and hibernate straight away if the time to emerge is to cold for them ;)

Lin

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