Horsfield tortoise care

Post your pictures and any questions here of European tortoises e.g. Ibera Spur Thigh, Ibera Graeca, Marginated, Hermanns, Kleinmanni and we include the Horsfield tortoise. Also, do add pictures of Mediterranean tortoises you have seen in the wild.
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Mrs
Posts: 2
Joined: 03 Feb 2019, 16:10

Horsfield tortoise care

Post by Mrs » 03 Feb 2019, 16:45

I got a baby Horsfield tortoise 4 weeks ago, and would appreciate any wisdom/tips, particularly regarding diet. My concerns are:
What are the best foods to give that are also easily obtained in January?
I've been varying the types of food as much as possible but over the last couple of days he has barely eaten, even the food types he's previously enjoyed. What could be the reason for this?
I don't know what is typical behaviour for a baby Horsfield - how much time should be spent sleeping, basking etc? How active is normal? He explored his environment a lot in the first few days but now moves between the same areas.
Any other tips?
Thanks :)

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Nina
Posts: 810
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Horsfield tortoise care

Post by Nina » 03 Feb 2019, 19:16

Hi Mrs (sorry, I don't know your name), and welcome to The Tortoise Table -- and congratulations on getting your little Horsfield. I keep Horsfields, and they are a great species with lots of personality.

Do you know how old your tortoise is? If he really is a baby then they do sleep a lot, but he should be eating as well. Temperature and conditions in his enclosure have a huge effect on how well he will eat. Can you give me some idea of his set-up? Is it an open tortoise table, or an enclosed vivarium (glass and wood box). What is the temperature directly below his heat source? You want a temperature of around 30C directly below the heat source at the height of the tortoise's shell (and measuring the temperature by a thermometer mounted on a nearby wall will not give you an accurate reading). At the cool end of his enclosure it should be about 20C, so that he can wander in and out of warm and cool areas. In most houses you shouldn't need any heat at all at night, but it has been cold, so if the temperature drops below about 14C at night you will need supplemental heating. If the temperature is wrong -- too hot or too cold -- in the daytime he can be lethargic.

Regarding diet, what have you been offering him? The best things for tortoises are weeds and flowers (which of course are in short supply this time of year), but you can often find dandelions and plantain in the garden, and the low growing campanulas and winter pansies are still around. You can feed him some Kale from the supermarket, and in a pinch there is a salad mix that is sold in supermarkets called Floretti Crispy that you can feed. Lettuce in general isn't great, but the leaves in Floretti Crispy are better than most.

You might well already have one, but if you don't, here is a link to a good care sheet for Horsfields that contains some dietary information.
https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf

And if you go into the Plant Database on our website, https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/ and then into any of the categories (for example Garden and House) you will see a list of plants that are coded for edibliity (traffic lights 'green' and amber-green' can be fed but the amber-red and red lights should not be fed).

I can give you more detail, but think I've probably said enough for now. Let's see how you are keeping him and it probably will only need a slight tweak to get him up and running.

Nina

Mrs
Posts: 2
Joined: 03 Feb 2019, 16:10

Re: Horsfield tortoise care

Post by Mrs » 04 Feb 2019, 00:56

He's around 5 months old now. He's in an open tortoise table, and the temp below his lamp is around 35C. It was lower to start with (mid 20s) so I replaced the lamp with a more powerful one. I spend all my time worrying that he is too hot or too cold! He sits under the lamp in the morning, then digs into the substrate nearby - is this to cool himself? I did give him some dandelions earlier in the week, but we've had a lot of frost and snow, so he's mostly been having a variety of salad leaves (all deemed safe in moderation), frequently changed to avoid having too much of any one thing. He did eat some rose petals one week, but didn't touch them the next time I tried. Kale, he didn't eat at all.

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Nina
Posts: 810
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Horsfield tortoise care

Post by Nina » 04 Feb 2019, 10:47

It sounds to me like you have a good set-up (so that is a great relief, as many people are badly advised when they first get a tortoise). 35C is a little too hot, but because he can wander away from it then he does have the freedom to regulate his temperature, which is important. Can you possibly raise the lamp a bit higher above the table? That would result in lowering the temperature a bit, which would be better. Is this a combined heat and UVB lamp, or do you have a separate source for UVB (like a UVB fluorescent tube)?

It sounds like you are giving him the best selection of food that you can at this time of year. Re the food he doesn't like (kale, rose petals, etc.), sometimes if you try rubbing a bit of cucumber on the food that will entice them to eat. Most tortoises love cucumber (do peel it though), and although it doesn't have a lot of nourishment in it, it does contain a lot of water, which helps to keep them hydrated. Also, given that it is so hot under his lamp, it is important that he is well hydrated, so do bathe him daily for 15 to 20 minutes, in a container that he can't see out of, in warm water that comes just up to his chin (or where the top shell meets the bottom shell). He might or might not drink, but it will help to keep him hydrated, plus they usually wee and poo in the bath, which means less spot cleaning in his table.

This link might or might not help. It is to our article on introducing a healthier diet. You are already offering him a healthy diet (and I hope you are also sprinkling a good calcium source on his food -- like Nutrobal - as that is very important for a young tortoise), but he just isn't eating, so some -- but not all -- of the principles in the article will apply to you. It might be of some use: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... FgWx83gq9s

Is it possible to send us a photo of his set-up? As I said at the beginning, it does sound very good to me, but sometimes with a photo you notice small things that can make a difference.

Just one other question -- did you buy him from a breeder or from a pet shop? Sometimes tortoises from pet shops can have a worm infestation. This isn't serious and can be easily got rid of, but it can result in lack of appetite.

Cheers,
Nina

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