What is her species?

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Lucre
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Joined: 14 Oct 2019, 22:12

What is her species?

Post by Lucre » 14 Oct 2019, 22:47

Hi I’m new to the tortoise world. I have this little tortoise and I would like to know a bit more about her. I believe she’s a girl because she has flat belly and a super short tail.
What is her species?
What does she eat? What does she need to have if I do not have the proper environment for a couple of days?

Thank you.
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That how small she is

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Nina
Posts: 841
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: What is her species?

Post by Nina » 15 Oct 2019, 13:54

Hi Lucre and welcome to The Tortoise Table,

What a sweet little tortoise -- where did you get her? I'm afraid I'm not the best at species ID, but she is definitely one of the Mediterranean species, and probably either a Hermanns or one of the Testudo Graeca species. Can you send a photo of the back of her, showing the rear legs extended? If she has a little spur (like a small hard wart) on each of her legs, up near where they go into the shell, then that will help with ID (and also if she doesn't have spurs then that will rule out some species. Also, could you send me a photo of her underside, clearly showing the tail? That will help too, as will a close-up in profile of her head.

She will definitely need warmth and water as well as food. It is very important that she has a place to bask under a light that gives off heat, of a temperature of about 30C (measured at the height of her shell), and then a cooler area of about 20C. Indoors she shouldn't need light or heat at night, unless the temperature drops below about 12Cor 13C. Tortoises are ectothermic, which means that their body heat is produced by the temperature outside their bodies, so they need to wander from cool areas to warm areas, back and forth throughout the day, in order to regulate their body temperature. If temperatures are consistently too low she could become quite ill.

She is completely vegetarian, and the best food for her are weeds and flowers, but they must be plants that are not toxic to her, so you can use our database on the website to see if any particular plant is good or bad to feed her. https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/ Lettuce, however, is not great to feed her, although it can be given in small quantities if nothing else is available. Dandelions, plantain, campanula, pansies sowthistle -- there are loads of plants that will be good for her.

It is really important that she is well hydrated, so in addition to having a water bowl for her, you should bathe her every day or every other day for around 15 minutes in a container that she can't see out of, in warm water (the temperature in which you would bathe a baby), and the water should come up to just where her top shell meets her bottom shell -- so that she can keep her head out of the water easily when she isn't drinking. She will want to have a substrate of something that she can dig into, so a mixture of topsoil and playsand is good.

She will also need a good calcium supplement, as tortoises need lots of calcium to support all that bone and shell. Are you in the UK? If so then you can buy Nutrobal at most pet shops, and you sprinkle that on her food. If you live in another country, let me know and we might be able to recommend a product in your area.

Until we know her exact species, I will give you a link to a care sheet for the Spur-Thigh tortoise, as almost all of that will apply no matter which of the Mediterranean species she is: https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf Have a read of it and come back with any questions you have.

I've referred to the tortoise as 'her', but actually it is almost impossible to sex a tortoise until they are 5 or 6 years old. The flat plastron and small tail will be common to all very young tortoises, so I hope that you have given her a name that can be adapted if 'she' turns out to be a 'he'!

Nina

Lucre
Posts: 8
Joined: 14 Oct 2019, 22:12

Re: What is her species?

Post by Lucre » 20 Oct 2019, 18:09

I found out that he or she is a Hermann tortoise (or they told me so).
I live in italy and I have to take her/him to the vet because I need to declare it as my pet.
As long as it is a captive bred I should not have any problems with it (it is not caught in the wild of course).
I can’t wait to see what it will look like when it grows!
I have a couple of questions.
First. I bought it a beautiful glass enclosure (60x40x30 cm: its was born in September so it’s really small) but the only heat lamp the pet shop had was a 75W ceramic lamp. I measured the temperature on the basking spot at it was about 31-32°C (~88F), while the cooler zone is 24-25°C (~76F). Are those good temperatures or not? Do I have to buy a lower wattage heating lamp? I don’t want to cook it, poor little guy!!
Second question. My tortoise is really sleepy. Since they gave it to me I only had the chance to see him roaming in its enclosure three or four times. The rest of the day it sleeps under the log I placed in the enclosure as its home.
Is it normal for a month old tortoise?
Thanks,
Lucre
Last edited by Lucre on 20 Oct 2019, 18:31, edited 1 time in total.

Lucre
Posts: 8
Joined: 14 Oct 2019, 22:12

Re: What is her species?

Post by Lucre » 20 Oct 2019, 18:25

Here are some of the photos
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Lucre
Posts: 8
Joined: 14 Oct 2019, 22:12

Re: What is her species?

Post by Lucre » 20 Oct 2019, 18:30

And the face
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Nina
Posts: 841
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: What is her species?

Post by Nina » 20 Oct 2019, 21:34

Hi Lucre,

Many thanks for the photos -- what a sweet looking little tortoise! I've sent you a link to a care sheet for Spur-thighs in a previous email, but here is a link to a good care sheet for Hermanns. Do read it and come back if you have any questions. https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf

I am now going to give you some bad news. If the glass enclosure that you bought is a fairly enclosed box with a top on it, and some vets for ventilation, then it is not a good environment for your tortoise. I am so sorry, but these glass enclosures (vivariums) are suitable for keeping snakes and lizards, but not tortoises, and they can be very bad environments for them. This could be the reason why your tortoise is sleeping alot and doesn't seem to have energy. I should say that baby tortoises do sleep a lot, but I think that might not be the problem here.

Tortoises are ectothermic, which means that their body temperature is dicatated by the temperature of their environment, and they need to constantly wander from warm to cool areas to regulate their temperature. You want a temperature of around 30C (not much higher) directly under the lamp, at the height of the tortoise's shell, and around 20C at the cooler end of the enclosure. The problem with these lovely glass enclosures (if they have a top on them) is that you cannot get the variation of temperature from cool to warm --it all tends to be within a narrower range. So your little tortoise might just be too warm and is trying to get away from the heat. Also, glass is not great for tortoises because they don't understand the concept of glass and can get frustrated trying to walk through it.

Light is a major factor in a tortoise's wellbeing. You mentioned that you had a 75W ceramic heater. These ceramic heates don't give out light, so I am wondering what other source of light you have. You want as bright a light as possible, because you are trying to create the environment of a bright sunny summer's day. Can you substitute an ordinary household or reptile bulb for that ceramic heater?

The other important question to ask is what are you using to provide UVB for the tortoise? UVB light is absolutely essential for a tortoise, in order to enable him to absorb and utilise the calcium in his diet. The best source of UVB is the sun (and you should have plenty of that in Italy), but of course it is probably too cool for your tortoise to be outdoors now, so you need an artifical soure of UVB. You can either have a combined heat/light and UVB mercury vapour lamp, or you can have an ordinary bulb for light and heat and a UVB fluorescent tube to provide the UVB.

Are you bathing your tortoise every day or two (in nice warm water that comes just up to where his top shell meets his bottom shell, in a container he can't see out of, for about 15 - 20 minutes). It is very important that he is well hydrated, and many tortoises do not drink from the water bowl in their enclosures, so these baths are important, and if he is dehydrated that could also cause him to sleep more.

If you do have one of those enclosed glass boxes then it is important that you either alter it (which can be done, and we can explain if you want to try, but it is not the best solution) or return it because it is not suitable for tortoises. I can send you links to articles by experts telling why this is so, if you want to show these to the shop where you bought it. The best enclosures for tortoises are what we call 'tortoise tables' and they are just open topped boxes, just deep enough so that the tortoise cannot climb out, and as big as your space will allow, as tortoises do get bored in small spaces. If you can send me some photos of your set-up, we might be able to suggest small changes to make it better suited for your tortoise. In the meantime here is a link to our article on making a tortoise table (or you can just use a large dresser drawer or a bookshelf lying on its back with the shelves taken out):
https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... azEPmZ7m9s

I am sorry to have gone on for so long! Please read the care sheet for Hermanns tortoises and come back with any questions you have. When you are typing a response here, there is a box below the box you are writing in that says 'notify me when a reply is posted'. If you tick that box then you will receive an email when replies to your post come in.

Nina

Lucre
Posts: 8
Joined: 14 Oct 2019, 22:12

Re: What is her species?

Post by Lucre » 20 Oct 2019, 22:09

Here it is. The tortoise environment is this one. They sold me the enclosure telling me it is super comfortable for tortoises to live in!! What an awful excuse to sell me the glass cage.

As you can see there are two main ventilation lines and a little hole (for the cable of hating mats that I do not have).

As for the UVB light I have the 5% minilamp for reptiles. I read on the web this lamp emits UVA waves too.

I am not sure I can give the glass tank back to the pet shop as they do not have the tortoises enclosures. I bet they will try to make me buy a bigger one...

Anyway I do bathe my tortoise. I last bathed it yesterday for 10 min. I also wash the green leaves before putting them in the food cup -so that the tortoise can “drink” from that too.

I have the option for notification on so I won’t miss your response.

Thank you for your time.
Lucre
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Lucre
Posts: 8
Joined: 14 Oct 2019, 22:12

Re: What is her species?

Post by Lucre » 20 Oct 2019, 22:41

As long as I have a pretty big garden my plans were to let it stay in the vivarium just for this winter. In spring I think I will build a fairly big area in the garden with the tortoise pen and all.
I had to keep it warm just for this cold months, but as long as I live in Italy (Mediterranean area where Hermanns are a native species) I think it will be fine with our climate for the next years. Here is pretty sunny almost every day in the summer season.

Is it ok for me to keep the vivarium for this winter only?

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Nina
Posts: 841
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: What is her species?

Post by Nina » 20 Oct 2019, 22:51

I was just about to post the message below when I saw you posted your latest message. Yes, I think it will be fine to keep him in the vivarium for the winter, if you can make some of the modifications I list below), and it will be great for him to be in the natural sunshine outside in the summer -- you are so lucky to live in Italy and not in rainy, cold Great Britain! Do make sure that any outside enclosure you build for him is escape proof (they are very good climbers) and protection from predators (rats, large birds, etc.). Here is the message I had typed for you when your latest one came in.

Hi Lucre and thanks for the photos. I think maybe we can make a few adjustments to make this a better environment. I can't quite tell from the photo, but is the top of this enclosure also glass? If not, and it is open at the top, then that is good, and if it is glass covered and you can remove the glass from the top then that good too.

Also, I can't quite see the ventilation lnes, but it looks like the box has sliding doors in the front. If you can slide one of the doors as open as possible, it looks like there is still glass on the bottom part of the front so that the tortoise could not climb out. That would be good. If sliding one door open means that the tortoises can climb out then maybe you can get a board and fix it to the bottom of the front just high enough so that the tortoise can't climb out but the rest of the front is open. You can also tape cardboard or paper all around the bottom of the outside of the glass enclosure so that your tortoise cannot see through the glass.

Re the heat mat -- never put one on the floor of a tortoise enclosusre, as they can get severe burns from even a low wattage one (but they can be put on the side of the enclosure if it gets really cold -- but that shouldn't happen indoors and I don't think you will ever need one. I do think you should substitute that ceramic bulb for another one -- and ordinary household bulb of 75 watts would give off more light and t he same amount of heat. In the UK it is hard to buy anything but low energy bulbs now, which don't give off heat, but if you can find a bulb that gives off light and heat that would be better, as he will like the higher light levels.

It is really good that you are bathing him and wetting his leaves that you are feeding him, as that will keep him hydrated.

You need to put that UVB light inside a holder (like a shade) to protect your eyes, because although it will not hurt your eyes if you look at it through glass (because UVB cannot travel through glass) it will damage your eyes if you look directly at it with no glass in the way. Most shops sell holders to protect your eyes from UVB bulbs.

Yes, you are right -- I think the shop will try to sell you a bigger enclosure (they are often greedy, and I know that they are expensive). If you make the modifications to the enclosure now, to get better ventilation and you can manage to get a temperature variation from around 20C at one end to about 30C under the light, that should be fine, and you can think about making your own tortoise table at some point -- have a look at that article I gave a link to, and I can send you lots more examples of what a tortoise table should look like.

I think you are going to be a good tortoise keeper, so just read those articles and keep asking questions and I think it will all be fine.

Nina

Lucre
Posts: 8
Joined: 14 Oct 2019, 22:12

Re: What is her species?

Post by Lucre » 20 Oct 2019, 23:03

I can take both sliding doors away from the enclosure. I can understand it will require a bigger and more comfortable place to be. I will build one myself. And for the outdoor cage do not worry: I know there are some nasty crows and mice -I live next to a corn field and we had problems with mice couples of times. They are small though, I should buy a close wire mesh.

For now I just take the doors away and we’ll see how it goes.

Thanks
Lucre

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Nina
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Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: What is her species?

Post by Nina » 21 Oct 2019, 07:08

That sounds good, Lucre. Taking the doors off will help a lot. After you do that, measure the temperature under the lamp and then at the far end, and see what the difference is. If it is still over 30C then maybe you can raise the heat bulb up a bit to try and lower the temperature. Also try to get more light into the enclosure if you can.

It sounds like you are well prepared to build the outdoor enclosure and I know your little tortoise will enjoy it when the weather is warm enough. What is his name?

Here is a link to our article on outdoor enclosures: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... a1K3WZ7m9s

Best wishes,
Nina

Lucre
Posts: 8
Joined: 14 Oct 2019, 22:12

Re: What is her species?

Post by Lucre » 21 Oct 2019, 08:48

It depends. My brother, if it’s a male, wants to call him Jeff. If it turns out to be female, she will then be called Astra (Latin version of Star). For now we just call it “The Tortoise”. Kinda sad but whatever.

This morning I took the sliding doors away. When I will be back home I’ll measure the temperature and I will write to you.

Today I will also bathe it.

Can I let it out in the room so that it can stretch it’s legs or should I not do that?

Thank you.

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Nina
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Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: What is her species?

Post by Nina » 21 Oct 2019, 08:56

With the doors off you will probably find the temperature has dropped a bit. Yes, you can let it out on the floor, but it's not a great idea as there could be cold drafts, but more importantly they tend to eat bits of dust and fluff on the floor, which is not great. As long as it is well warmed up beforehand and you monitor her carefully, it is probably OK for a short time, but usually tortoises feel vulnerable in an open space and she will probably head for the first hiding place. You could try it and see, but I wouldn't recommend a lot of time on the floor.

Nina

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