Weight

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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KellyP
Posts: 20
Joined: 18 Sep 2018, 13:41

Weight

Post by KellyP » 25 Sep 2018, 16:45

Hi All

A bit of advice - we have some young tortoises (4-5 months old-ish) that we got 2 weeks ago. We weighed them when we first got them and one has put on 10g in two weeks (from 143g - 153g) and the other has stayed the same weight (136g). The heaviest one does appear to eat more than the other and the lighter one sleeps alot. Should I:

(a) Be worried that one hasn't gained any weight and
(b) That the other has gained 10g - is that too much in 2 weeks?

Thanks in advance

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Nina
Posts: 787
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Weight

Post by Nina » 25 Sep 2018, 17:13

Hi Kelly, and congratulations on your tortoises! Can I ask what species they are? It's just that it is almost impossible for them to weigh 130g - 140g at 4 to 5 months of age, as most of the most commonly kept species will weigh between 15g - 25g at birth and so could not weigh as much as yours at 4-5 months.

However, that isn't so relevant to your question, so I'll try and give you an idea of what we aim for in weight gain. As I'm sure you know, the best thing is for your tortoise to gain weight very slowly, and we usually say to aim at an average weight gain of between 1g - 4g per month. BUT that is only an average, and some months your tortoise will gain more and some months less, so I wouldn't be too worried at the moment.
10g is a lot for a young tortoise to gain in a month, but as long as you monitor the amount of food you give him, it shouldn't be a problem as long as it isn't 10g every month over a long period of time (I am blushing as I write this because one of my tortoises, who has been outside a lot this year, has gained way more than she should have this summer, so I'm going to be more strict with her now!)

Regarding your other tortoise, young tortoises do sleep a lot, and as long as yours is eating and pooing I wouldn't be too worried about him either.

The other thing to remember is that, especially with smaller tortoises, if you weigh them just before or after a poo it can make a big difference -- so again, I wouldn't be alarmed.

Also, If one is greedier than the other, you could try feeding them in separate areas of the enclosure so that they're not competing for the same pile of food.

It's really good to keep records of weight gain and behaviour, any system you devise for record keeping will work, but you could have a look at our record keeping booklet (it's only £2 ), as that might be useful (lol, that wan't an advert, only a suggestion). https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/pla ... 6pfIfZReM8

Nina

KellyP
Posts: 20
Joined: 18 Sep 2018, 13:41

Re: Weight

Post by KellyP » 25 Sep 2018, 17:50

Mant thanks for quick response - will check my scales as they might be playing up or I hve got age of tortoises completely wrong.

Will take a look at all of your advice. What sort of amount of food should they be having and all at once or a few times a day?

KellyP
Posts: 20
Joined: 18 Sep 2018, 13:41

Re: Weight

Post by KellyP » 25 Sep 2018, 17:50

sorry meant to say they are horsefields

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Nina
Posts: 787
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Weight

Post by Nina » 25 Sep 2018, 19:19

Hi Kelly,

Horsfields are a great species with big personalities (but then I'm a bit biased as I have Horsfields). They are a particularly interesting species where diet is concerned. In the wild, Horsfields live in countries where the winters are long and cold and the summers are very hot, and they hibernate in the winter and aestivate (which is a bit like hibernation but in the heat) in the summer. It has been estimated that in the wild they are only awake for three months of the year and that they are eating for a total of about 20 hours during those three months. So they are sort of programmed 'eat for England' in the short time that is available to them.

Of course in captivity we present them with lovely meals each day and they can easily overeat and grow too quickly, which can give rise to serious shell deformities. Monitoring their weight gain is the best way to control their growth, and it is difficult to say how much and how often, but some of the guidelines that are used are:
-- as much as they can eat in 20 minutes, once a day, or
-- two very small meals a day,or
-- enough flowers/leaves etc. that would make a little blanket to cover their shell once a day, or
-- having one day a week with no food, or
-- having one or two days a week with slightly less food
There are lots of guidelines but in the end it's all up to how much they are gaining. Of course when they are outside in the summer they are getting more exercise and they do tend to eat more.

It's hard to be more precise than that -- I would say just keep good records and try not to panic if they seem to be gaining too much over a short period of time, as it will probably average out in the long run if you control portions. Also, what you feed them can make a difference too. Weeds, flowers, etc. (you can see which ones are good on the plant database on our website) are better than any commercial food, as most of them (not all, but most) are too high in protein, and tortoises need a high fibre and low protein diet to form good muscle, bone and shell. It's also important to give them extra calcium and have a good UVB light so that they can grow strong shells.

You probably already have a good caresheet for Horsfields, but if not here is one:
https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf

I hope I haven't gone on for too long - sorry if I have. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions you might have (I always had loads of questions when I first got mine). It would be lovely to see a photo of them too (we never get tired of looking at photos of tortoises)!

Nina

KellyP
Posts: 20
Joined: 18 Sep 2018, 13:41

Re: Weight

Post by KellyP » 25 Sep 2018, 19:25

Wow thank you for this- is really helpful. Turns out they are actually 8 months old - not sure where i got 4-5 months from.

Will digest (no pun intended) all that you have said.

Thanks

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