‘Baby’ marginated indoor or outdoor!

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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AngieB
Posts: 2
Joined: 28 May 2019, 13:40

‘Baby’ marginated indoor or outdoor!

Post by AngieB » 28 May 2019, 14:02

Hi I have a ‘baby’ marginated tortoise - called Waffles, a name which can stay regardless of the tortoise’s sex. I am sure he’s a bit though - he has a definite slit! He is 2 or 3 years old, bought from a breeder locally and he’s fully micro-chipped. We bought 3 at the time, two for my school and 1 for me. 2 of them hatched in 2017 and one in 2016! I think he’s a 2017 hatchling!

Anyway, I’m worrying about when he should be outside 24/7, he’s only little and it’s not very sunny or consistently warm in North Wales. He has an outdoor enclosure planted with tortoise friendly plants, but I only take him out on warm days. Some websites and forums seem to suggest that taking them in and out confuses them, but equally that young tortoises warm up and cool down quicker than adult ones.

I have no outdoor heat source other than the sun!

He’s a fussy eater and I’m trying hard to wean him of pellets, I tend to give in after a few days as I worry that he needs to eat! I’ve read that tortoises need to be warm to digest their food, which I understand, but that’s not very likely outside! So I’m presenting him with food inside, which he doesn’t eat! Today he has nasturtium leaves, sticky weed, plantain leaf and dandelions. I haven’t given him much of any but I want to temp him with a variety!

So what do I do, mix outside an inside as I am at the moment, or leave him outside to brave the weather - or do outside in the day and inside at night! The maximum temp today is 15 degrees..... i’d really appreciate some help!

AngieB
Posts: 2
Joined: 28 May 2019, 13:40

Re: ‘Baby’ marginated indoor or outdoor!

Post by AngieB » 28 May 2019, 14:11

Waffles in his outdoor enclosure yesterday, not eating the plants!
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Nina
Posts: 851
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: ‘Baby’ marginated indoor or outdoor!

Post by Nina » 28 May 2019, 17:15

Hi Angie, and welcome to The Tortoise Table. Isn't Waffles a handsome tortoise -- and it looks like you have built him a lovely enclosure there. You ask some really good questions, and I'm not surprised you are confused by conflicting advice, as there is an awful lot of it out there. Here are my views on the points you raise.

1. Outside 24/7. It is very true that small tortoises cool down more quickly than larger ones. They are like little storage heaters and absorb heat really well, but the mass of a small tortoise means that inevitably it will lose heat faster than a larger tortoise. I have Horsfields and also don't have any outdoor heating, and I bring mine in to warm up periodically if it is cool outdoors. I just feel their shells, and when they go cooler I bring them in under the lamps for a while and then put them out again. I don't think they mind the transfer back and forth too much, although obviously it isn't ideal.

And 24/7 means he would be out all night, and in addition to the problems of cold nights, there is also the danger of predators (foxes, rats, etc.), so if he had a secure house that you could put him in each night, and a source of heat so that he could warm up in the morning, that would be fine, but without that extra source of heat then he won't warm up sufficiently on cold days. There are tortoises that live outdoors 24/7 but they tend to be older and have more reserves of fat than a young tortoise, and in North Wales that would be a bit more difficult than somewhere, say, on the South coast.

It's true that tortoises do need to be warm to properly digest their food -- I think their body temperture needs to be around 26C for efficient digestion, so that is another reason to make sure that for at least part of the day he is warm. Also, most tortoises are fine if it is warm and wet but they don't do well if it is cold and wet and run the danger of developing a respiratory condition, so if he is out all day he needs somewhere dry to go to if it rains and is cold.

I think there are probably lots of reasons why there are no tortoises native to the UK, but our climate might be one of them!

2. Diet. Tortoises can be really fussy eaters, and they love junk food and it can be hard to wean them off it. Here is a link to our article on introducing a healthier diet: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... O1dco97m9s . Have a read and see what you think. Basically I would wet the pellets until they are really soft and then smear them on some good leaves. When he goes for the pellets he will get some leaf. Then gradually reduce the amount of pellets that you spread on the leaves until there is none. Fingers crossed that works for you.

I hope that helps and please do contact us if you have any more questions or problems. And give Waffles a little tickle under the chin from me, as he is really lovely.

Nina

I153_Chaika
Posts: 5
Joined: 25 Jun 2019, 17:20

Re: ‘Baby’ marginated indoor or outdoor!

Post by I153_Chaika » 27 Jun 2019, 17:06

Speaking of temperatures and keeping tortoises outdoors, are there maximal temperatures I should look for, and if yes, what could I come up with to help my tortoise cooling himself? Could digging a small underground "room" for him to escape the sunrays help, but will it be interesting to him and won't it just start housing rabbits, rats or other parasitic animals?
The thing is that I was planning to buy a house in Larnaca https://tranio.com/cyprus/larnaca/detached/ there, and wouldn't like to cook my tortoise alive under the merciless sun there :(

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Nina
Posts: 851
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: ‘Baby’ marginated indoor or outdoor!

Post by Nina » 27 Jun 2019, 18:26

Hi Chaika,

Many species of tortoise do live in very hot countries, and they tend to come out to feed in the morning and early evening, and hide out during the hottest part of the day. So digging him a little hideout, or providing some shelter in a shady spot would be a good idea. You could make an upside down 'U' shape with heavy stones with a place to shelter inside that would protect him from the worst of the heat. Also providing a good source of water helps too.
Do you live in the UK at the moment? If so then you should double check on what papers, etc. you would need if you want to take your tortoise to Cyprus.

Nina

I153_Chaika
Posts: 5
Joined: 25 Jun 2019, 17:20

Re: ‘Baby’ marginated indoor or outdoor!

Post by I153_Chaika » 29 Jun 2019, 21:11

Thanks for the explanation! I'll make him his own house as well then! When it comes to the water source, could I use a little pond to provide it, or could it be dangerous to my tortoise? If it is, then I'll make him a small "indoor pool" in the shelter, which I'll empty, clean and refill regularily.

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Nina
Posts: 851
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: ‘Baby’ marginated indoor or outdoor!

Post by Nina » 29 Jun 2019, 21:49

For the water source, if by 'pond' you mean something that is deep, where the tortoise couldn't stand in the middle of it with his head out of water, then you definitely don't want a pond. Tortoises cannot swim, and he would drown. What many people use outside is one of those plastic or ceramic large shallow dishes that you stand plant pots on. Anything of that type that can be sunk in the ground a little bit so that the rim of the dish isn't too high for the tortoise to put his head in and take a drink, and also to climb in and sit in the water if he wants to -- but the water should only come up to where his top shell meets his bottom shell, so that he can easily keep his head and neck out of the water. Does that make sense (not sure if I have described it well)?

Nina

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