Dietary issues

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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eisbrecher
Posts: 9
Joined: 27 May 2017, 10:24

Dietary issues

Post by eisbrecher » 27 May 2017, 12:05

I am trying to vary his diet a little more (Torkoal - Horsefield)
Currently he has 1-2 days of no food per week as I have advised
When he does eat, his diet consists of:
50% Broadleaf/Ribwort Plantain
15% Young Dandelion
The rest is made up of varying amounts of Basil (his favourite) Fuschia flowers (in summer), Bindweed flowers (in summer) Forsythia flowers (in spring) Sowthistle (flowers as the leaves look super spiky and sharp) Bramble Flowers, Red Clover, Pineapple Weed, Pansy (wild and no pesticides) Rocket (very small amounts), Watercress (very small amounts) Use to feed Rosa Rugosa leaves/flowers (see below)

On occasion (when I am on holiday) bagged Salads containing Frisee and Lambs lettuce to mix with Dandelion (as easily identifiable) for family members to feed safely in addition to Brussels Sprouts leaves, though he does not like how rubbery the leaf is, takes him 2-4 minutes per bite! :lol:

Not terribly varied is it? I want him to enjoy a happy and healthy a life as possible! So I am trying to locate more of the safe to feed weeds to give more variety: Hawkbit, correctly identified Ground Elder, Cat's Ear, Pampas Grass flower (is it a flower? the feathery thing we used to chase each other with as kids)

I have a Rose Rugosa bush opposite (outside a restuarant) I was happily feeding him a small leaf or two every couple of days, and then I saw someone spray some kind of weedkiller around it, the bush is fine but all the weeds underneath rotted away. I assume the bush is now out of bounds? Haven't touched it since

I wash all of his food and powder everything with cuttlefish 'bone', this is a good source of calcium?

Any input into any of the above would be fantastic, I am always worrying about whether or not he is happy and healthy!

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Nina
Posts: 278
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Dietary issues

Post by Nina » 27 May 2017, 14:45

The thing with diets is variety, as I'm sure you know. It's estimated that in the wild a tortoise will eat around 200 different species of plants in a season, and we can't possibly replicate that in captivity, so we just have to do our best.

The variety that you are feeding is good, and to get an even wider range you could try using our filter mechanism to give yourself a list of edible plants. Just go into any plant category on our website (for example, Wildflowers or Garden and House) and you will see a row of coloured bars at the top with tick boxes in them. Untick (by clicking on the tick boxes) the red and amber-red boxes, leaving only the green and amber-green boxes (or even just the green) and thereafter all the plants you see will be edible -- and that will apply to all the other categories as long as you are in this session (if you log out and then back on again you will have to untick the boxes again). You could even print it out to keep it handy.

Re the Sowthistle -- you could try him with the leaves. I don't know how they do it, but in the wild tortoises eat opuntia cacti and manage not to cut themselves on the spines, so I imagine Sowthistle or Pampas Grass leaves would be easy. I'm lucky as I only have Smooth Sowthistles growing in my garden -- no prickles at all. And it's good for them if a leaf is a bit hard to chew (like your brussels), as it helps to keep their jaws strong.

When I go on holiday I find that I can bag up four or five days meals if I pick the weeds and put them in one of those little ziplock plastic bags, along with a wet piece of kitchen towel wadded up and store them in the fridge. Then my neighbour can come in each day and feed them. Five days is about as long as they last for me, but I think some people can store a week's worth. Any longer and it's the bagged salads (Floretti Crispy is one of the best and it's in most supermarkets).

Cuttlefish bone is fine to scrape on the food (and leave a piece in his enclosure too, so that he can nibble at will), but he should also be given a supplement three or four times a week of a pinch of a good Calcium and D3 supplement like Nutrobal on his food (wetting the food helps the powder stick to it better.

Nina

eisbrecher
Posts: 9
Joined: 27 May 2017, 10:24

Re: Dietary issues

Post by eisbrecher » 27 May 2017, 15:44

I have a list of all the plants listed as Green - Safe To Feed, however my plant identification skills are still somewhat lacking!

Is there a rough guide to how much Nutrobal to give? I don't want to give too much!

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Nina
Posts: 278
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Dietary issues

Post by Nina » 27 May 2017, 17:21

It's on the container, and it is so rough as to be irritating. I think it says 'one pinch per kilo of weight'. Well that is fine if you have a tortoise that weighs a kilo or more, but for small tortoises it's really stupid (like how big is a pinch in the first place -- surely it depends on how big your fingers are -- and if your tortoise weighs 200g, what fraction of a pinch is that). Fortunately, I've heard it is fairly difficult to overdose on Nutrobal, so it's not too much of a hassle.

Many tortoises don't like the taste, and you have to trick them into eating it (wet one side of a leaf, put the Nutrobal on it and then fold it or turn it upside down, or make a very thin cucumber sandwich with the Nutrobal in the middle. Anyway, see how you get on and if you have problems, let us know.

Re the IDs -- it is difficult -- especially if there are no flowers on the plant, but send us some photos and we'll do our best (there is an ID section on this forum). The best photos are of the whole plant, looking at it from the side, a close-up of some leaves, and photos of flowers, seed heads, etc. -- anything else that might distinguish it. What we don't want is a photo of one leaf, pulled off the plant and laid on a paper towel -- lol those are super difficult to ID, because some of the clues to an ID are the way the leaf attaches to or comes off the stem.

Nina

eisbrecher
Posts: 9
Joined: 27 May 2017, 10:24

Re: Dietary issues

Post by eisbrecher » 28 May 2017, 23:58

I saw something called Aces High, but I don't want to overdose on vitamins! Would Aces High used once a week and Nutrobal used twice a week and Calcidust used the rest of the time be sufficient?

Im not really sure what the best thing is for him, didn't get much time to read up on these things before he was thrust upon us (though we love him very much!)

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Nina
Posts: 278
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Dietary issues

Post by Nina » 29 May 2017, 09:26

I think I would stick to Nutrobal three or four times a week and give a pure calcium supplement on the days that you aren't giving Nutrobal.
The Calcidust is fine -- it is just 100% calcium carbonate powder and you can use that on days when you aren't using Nutrobal, or you can buy pure calcium carbonate powder (which is what I use) online that is a bit cheaper than Calcidust but is the same stuff -- here is a link to some:
http://tinyurl.com/y7k6o2kg

I don't think I would use Aces High as that is a high vitamin supplement used to treat vitamin deficiencies, and it is possible to overdose on Vitamin A. Here is what the manufacturer (VetArk) says about it on its website: "ACE-High is one of our key multivitamin products. It is a specialist product mainly used by veterinary surgeons to correct certain very unbalanced diets".

Is Torkoal able to get outside to get some natural UVB from the sun? That is important as the quality of UVB from the sun is higher than what we can give them indoors, plus they just love being able to roam around. If you don't have any outdoor facilities then a good UVB lamp indoors will do, but it is definitely preferable for them to be outdoors as much as possible.

Nina

eisbrecher
Posts: 9
Joined: 27 May 2017, 10:24

Re: Dietary issues

Post by eisbrecher » 29 May 2017, 16:01

He can't go outside too often, I live in a flat with just a back yard. I will start bringing him over to my local park under very close supervision for little excursions

I'll but some Nutrobal :)
Is Cuttlefish an adequate replacement for calcium carbonate powder or is the latter better?
Also I have no idea how much to use of either, I dust everything he eats with cuttlefish and he does not seem to mind it

Just went to ASDA and bought a Coriander plant and some Thyme, he likes the former, the Thyme is too strong smelling for him though.

EDIT - Looking at Nutrobal and it is loaded with vitamins A C E K B1 B2 B6 B12 folic, nicotinic & pantothenic acids, biotin choline niacin and minerals P Na Fe Co I Mn Zn Se C
This is all OK? I assume to use a fraction of a 'pinch' every 2 days and calcium the rest of the time?

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Nina
Posts: 278
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Dietary issues

Post by Nina » 29 May 2017, 18:28

Could he go out into your back yard? Is it walled so that he couldn't escape? I once had an outdoor area for my tortoise on a small paved area in back of my house. I just got some loose bricks and made some makeshift walls. Then I dumped a load of topsoil mixed with sand in it, put half a flower pot down as a little shelter and put some rocks in it of her to climb over and walk around, and it worked fine (but of course you might not be allowed to do that in your yard). If you go to a park, do make sure that they haven't sprayed the grass or anywhere Torkoal might walk with insecticide or weed killers, as tortoises are very sensitive to that, but otherwise it should be fine.

Cuttlefish is fine. Pure calcium carbonate powder might be a tiny bit better, but the nice thing about cuttlefish is that in addition to scrapng it onto his food, you can also just leave it in his enclosure and then he can eat it at will (they are very good at knowing when they need extra calcium). And chewing on the cuttlefish bone also helps to keep their beak trim. Some tortoises won't eat it until it has been sitting outside in the rain and elements for a month or two and is beginning to look green and horrible, and then for some reason they love it.

If the thyme plant is too strong smelling then you can just stick the pot in his enclosure for decoration -- (lol nothing is wasted then).
Yes, re the Nutrobal -- a fraction of a pinch every two days and then calcium the rest of the time sounds fine. You can give a healthy fraction of the pinch, as it is difficult to overdose on Nutrobal, so I wouldn't be worried. The thing is that tortoises need vitamin D3 to enable them to metabolise the calcium, so the Nutrobal, plus your D3 lamp, plus any natural sunshine you can give him should provide that.

Nina

eisbrecher
Posts: 9
Joined: 27 May 2017, 10:24

Re: Dietary issues

Post by eisbrecher » 29 May 2017, 20:48

I assume the vitamin content of Nutrabal is much lower than that of Aces High/Arkvits? I originally thought Nutrabal was just Calcium + D3 but it is loaded with vitamins too

Today is his day off food, though he did have a nibble of some coriander just to see if it liked it, he does!

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