Sex of my marginated tortoise and extra advice needed

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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MasterJack
Posts: 8
Joined: 22 Jul 2018, 20:39

Sex of my marginated tortoise and extra advice needed

Post by MasterJack » 22 Jul 2018, 22:25

Can someone please help me with this as I've taken her/him to two separate reptile shops and one said it was definitely a girl and the other said it was definitely a boy so now I'm unsure of what to do as even looking through many sites and forums it still isn't clear to me what he/she is. If you could give evidence as to why you think he/she is the gender that you think he/she is that would be great.

Also a couple things to take into account is he/she was born in Dec 2014 and today is the first weight measurement I've taken which is between 550-575g
I've not had he/she long and I'm trying to do as much research as I can to make sure it's life is a long and healthy one. The previous owner said it's a she due to the temperature it was incubated/hatched at? Not sure if true or not I'm just relaying what she said. I'll send photos of it inside the tortoise table and also bear in mind that's the table I was given with her/him and I've altered it as it had two separate rooms with one full of straw which I got told by a reptile shop owner that the straw can catch fungal spores etc so it was instantly removed been told she/he is happy enough with some substrate to bury itself into and that's it, also I'm in the progress of making my own tortoise table the size of the coffee table that it's currently situated on which I think would be big enough for her/him for a couple more years. I feed her/him a handful of mixed weeds twice a day with calcium sprinkled on every meal and the occasional multi vitamin sprinkled on too as instructed by one of the reptile shop owners. Bare in mind that I did not buy her/him from either reptile shop it was from a private seller. I'm unsure on how to measure her/him so I've added a photo with a measuring tape next to her/him to give you guys a rough estimate of size. She/he has never hibernated and I will probably wait until next year to do so as that gives me enough time to do enough research on wether it's a good enough idea to do so and also enough research on the procedure and everything to make sure that it's done to a high enough standard. Didn't know owning a tortoise would be so complicated but I am most definitely going to put 110% effort in to educate myself fully into being able to give her/him the best life I can possibly give as I've fallen in love with my (currently) little tortoise.
One other thing is an incident that happened a few weeks after getting her which was a small (about 2.5cm in length and about 1.5cm in width) bright pink thing which protruded from her "anus" on her tail and leaving a massive puddle of water behind. From what I've heard females also flash out there genetals on very rare occasions and what I've seen online is that the male penis is normally dark/black in colour which leads me to believe it's female. It easily slid out and about 20-30 seconds later after all the water had finished exiting her/his body it slid back in with no problems i watched it happen from start to finish as I was watching before it even started. From what I've found out they do this as either they don't know when the next rainfall is or that they've reached a source of water to which they can refill themselves back up with which btw she was on a patio slab in the garden at the time with no water source in site. Normally water source would've been available to her/him outdoors but I was showing her/him to family members at the time. Any advice or links to clear information to which I'm after would be of great help and please no guessing the gender I would only want answers to which your 100% certain of. Also don't hesitate to ask for any more information that you need to further your understanding of my situation.
Just remembered while taking photos that we have cuttlefish for her/him to shape her/his "beak" with and will be adding a slab of probably slate for her/him to ground down rs claws with. She/he is really friendly towards me and my partner and is happy running about or even staying still on her/his own accord for me to stroke her/his shell while she/he is on my chest.

P.s I did feel cruel in the way I had to handle her/him to take some of the photos but it's for her/his own good. :x

Thanks in advance,

Jack + Chloe(my partner)
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MasterJack
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Re: Sex of my marginated tortoise and extra advice needed

Post by MasterJack » 22 Jul 2018, 22:26

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MasterJack
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Re: Sex of my marginated tortoise and extra advice needed

Post by MasterJack » 22 Jul 2018, 22:27

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MasterJack
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Re: Sex of my marginated tortoise and extra advice needed

Post by MasterJack » 22 Jul 2018, 22:28

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Re: Sex of my marginated tortoise and extra advice needed

Post by MasterJack » 22 Jul 2018, 22:29

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Re: Sex of my marginated tortoise and extra advice needed

Post by MasterJack » 22 Jul 2018, 22:30

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Re: Sex of my marginated tortoise and extra advice needed

Post by MasterJack » 22 Jul 2018, 22:31

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Nina
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Re: Sex of my marginated tortoise and extra advice needed

Post by Nina » 22 Jul 2018, 23:00

Hi Jack and Chloe, and welcome to The Tortoise Table!

Well, by all you've said and from the photos, you definitely have a nice male tortoise there. He has been grown on too quickly before he reached you, and that is why his shell is a little bit deformed, and he weighs more than he should for his age, but it sounds to me like you are giving him excellent care and I think he will thrive in your household.

It is true that the sex of a tortoise is determined by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated, but this isn't foolproof, as only a degree or so of difference in the temperature can make all the difference. Males have long tails, which they tend to carry to the side. Your tortoise isn't carrying his tail to the side in the photos, but his tail is so long that I don't think there is any doubt. The other thing is that the cloaca -- the hole in the tail where the wee and poo -- and the penis if it is a male-- comes out tends to be in the shape of an asterisk in a female tortoise and a slit in a male tortoise, and your is definitely in the shape of a slit.

It's great that you are building him a larger table, as tortoises quite like a lot of space, and also that he will have access to the outdoors, as the UVB from the sun is a much higher quality than that we provide from our UVB lamps, and it is essential for him to produce good shell and bone. I think he's a handsome chap who is lucky to have found a home with you.

You probably already have a good care sheet for marginated tortoises, but in case you don't, here is a link to one:
https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf

Just one small thing. Calcidust is OK, but it doesn't contain Vitamin D3, which enables the tortoise to absorb and utilise the calcium in its diet (which it also gets from the sun). So I would give him Nutrobal 3 or 4 times a week on his food, and Calcidust on the days when you don't give Nutrobal. I'm not familiar with Nutrirep -- does it have Vitamin D3? If so then it's probably OK.

Nina

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lin
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Re: Sex of my marginated tortoise and extra advice needed

Post by lin » 22 Jul 2018, 23:44

Hi Chloe.
I agree with Nina in saying you have a male there, possibly a young male nut a male none the less. Congratulations.

Lin

MasterJack
Posts: 8
Joined: 22 Jul 2018, 20:39

Re: Sex of my marginated tortoise and extra advice needed

Post by MasterJack » 22 Jul 2018, 23:59

Hello Nina,

First of all I'd like to say thank you very much for the help as we've been stressing out trying to find out what's what since we've got him, it's going to get a bit of getting use to since we've been calling him a her since we've had him but we love him nonetheless. In regards to the shell deformity is it severe? Will it "even" out or something like that? Does it affect him in anyway? We haven't noticed anything but again before getting him we've never really looked into anything regarding tortoises/never knew about shell deformities etc.

Do you have any advice regarding hibernation as the reptile shop owner who stated it was a male said that if they go without hibernation then we could be looking at things like liver failure etc in 20 years or so. Would it be alright to leave it for this year so we can fully prepare for next year and every year thereafter for things to go as smoothly as possible (fingers crossed) or do you reckon it's vital for him to hibernate this year because in all honesty I don't think We'll have enough time to prepare everything this year for it to be as successful as possible and we're a little afraid of it too :cry:

In regards to the reptile shop owner who was adamant he was female I don't think we will be going back there lol. It's nice to have some clarity as it seems to me that there's a lot of controversy when it comes to tortoises with some people voicing there opinions with no actual proof or information to back any of it up.

As for the Calci dust and D3 it mentions D3 on the back but I don't think it includes it but with this multi vitamin stuff I think that has it in there I'll add two photos of the description if you could double check for me just in case lol. If so what should I do with these, mix them on the food? Have them rotating every meal?

Is there anything we could do about him being over the weight for his age? Feed him a little less? Will it just even out as he ages further? And regarding feeding him is 2 meals a day enough or too much? About a handful of weeds in each meal which we either grow ourselves or more commonly buy an already grown and picked bag of weeds in the reptile shop near us.

He does normally carry his tail to the side I just thought I'd pull it out a little (gently ofcourse) to make things clearer in the images. We do have a run for him outside about the same space as his current tortoise table just with full protection from potential predators.

Do you recommend any products or websites where I can buy something better than calcidust?

Thanks again for the help and advice as trying to find the answers through countless forums and pages is very stressful.
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Nina
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Re: Sex of my marginated tortoise and extra advice needed

Post by Nina » 23 Jul 2018, 08:45

Hi Jack and Chloe,

One of the reasons we started our website and our forum and Facebook page was because we were shocked at how much misinformation there was out there about proper care for tortoises -- so I'm really glad that we have been of some help to you.

What is your tortoise's name? My Doris used to be called Boris before it became obvious that 'he' was a 'she', and that was confirmed by the fact that she now lays eggs regularly every year. I wouldn't be too hard on the reptile shop owner who stated the tortoise was female -- especially if that assessment wasn't recently, as it can be very difficult to sex a tortoise before they are about 5 or 6 years of age. Many of them look like females when they are very young until suddenly their tail seems to grow longer and they become obviously male.

The shell deformity isn't great -- it's just not perfect. A tortoise's shell ideally should be smooth and without any bumps in the individual scutes. Being fed the wrong diet, or too much of the right diet can result in too rapid growth, called 'pyramiding' (because individual scutes stand up in the shape of little pyramids), and this weakens the structure of the shell underneath and can result in something called metabolic bone disease. I think your tortoise looks fine,and the shell isn't too deformed to cause concern. When my Doris came to me she was very bumpy, but I have monitored her diet over the years, so her subsequent growth has been smooth and the 'bumps' are much less noticeable. So I wouldn't worry. One thing you could do to put your mind at rest is to get him checked over by a good tortoise vet. If you don't already have one, we have a list of tortoise vets in the UK, by area on our website, and if you can't find one there, let us know and we'll try and find one near you: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... 1WBvbgnaM8 And do take a relatively fresh sample of poo with you so that it can be tested for parasites (tortoises often have worms, and a light load of worms is no problem at all and doesn't need treating, but a heavy load should be treated and this is done easily).

Yes, hibernation is best for tortoises, but if you haven't had him for long I wouldn't recommend hibernating him this year, as it is always good to get to know your tortoise first, so that you can spot anything that might indicate he is unwell (change in habits, lethargy, etc), as it is important that a tortoise is healthy when he goes into hibernation. When the time comes we can send you good information on how to hibernate a tortoise, and especially how to prepare him for hibernation, so just let us know. You will want to start looking at preparation for hibernation in the autumn, with a view to hibernatiing him for about 10+ weeks over the winter. LOL, but you can breathe a sigh of relief for this year and just keep him awake and enjoy him!

I've checked out the Nutrirep and it seems fine. Don't mix it with the Calci Dust -- just give them on alternate days, and follow the instructions on the bottle (it's usually only a light dusting, and if you wet the food first then the powder will stick to it better). It's good that you also have the cuttlefish bone as that means that the tortoise can nibble at it when it wants to.

His weight isn't a worry now -- just monitor weight growth and try to ensure that he puts on about 1g - 4g per month on average. That is only an average, and some months he will put on a lot more and some months less (mine have put on an embarrassingly large amount of weight this summer, so I'm restricting their intake a bit). And the 1g - 4g is really only a rough guideline -- what you want to aim for is slow growth. In the wild they live in areas where food is often scarce and there is competition from other animals, but with us they are presented with lovely large meals each day. I would have thought that two meals a day of just a handful each time is fine, but if you think he is growing too fast then just cut down a bit. The key to diet is high fibre/low protein content and as much variety as possible. Have you looked at the Plant Database on our website? You can use the filter system (if it isn't clear how to do this this let me know and I'll send you instructions) to produce lists of edible plants that you can find in the house, garden and in the wild. We also produce two plant booklets (containing descriptions of a selection of edible plants and instructions on how to grow them, and an 'Observation Records' booklet that enables you to keep all your records in one place. You can have a look at them on the website. Also are you giving him baths two or three times a week? A bath in something like an old washing up bowl, 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) will keep him well hydrated, and that is important.

Believe me, I know how stressful it can be trying to get things right, but as far as I can see, you are going to be an excellent tortoise keeper and don't worry because things will get more relaxed as time goes on (lol, that is until hibernation time comes round . . . . ).

Nina

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