Hermann Tortoise Table advice

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Oliman
Posts: 4
Joined: 15 Oct 2020, 18:23

Hermann Tortoise Table advice

Post by Oliman » 15 Oct 2020, 18:36

Hi Guys and girls,

New tortoise owner here, we have recently bought a hermanns tortoise from a reptile shop. The paperwork puts him/her at about 1 year old. They had them with woodchip substrate and recommended this. However after researching what other people do we decided to put the tortoise in topsoil (wickes sterilsed soil) as didnt want him eating the woodchip which he sometimes did accidentally with his food.

He seems to be ok and was having a good old explore, but has eaten very little today since the change. Also we had to bath him as his right eye was closed. After which it is now opened. Just wanted to know how much do you water the soil to keep it relatively damp? Colder end of table is around 22 degrees and hotter end upto 32 degrees, obviously soil under this does dry quick
Should we just see how it goes for a few days to see how he does? Any tips on how we can make it better for the little guy?

Just worried about the little guy not eating that much today.

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Nina
Posts: 1460
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Hermann Tortoise Table advice

Post by Nina » 15 Oct 2020, 21:45

Hi Oliman, and welcome to The Tortoise Table! And many congratulations on welcoming your Hermann's tortoise into your home.

You were absolutely right to use a soil-based, rather than a wood chip substrate. Wicke's sterilised topsoil is fine, but it's probably best to mix it with children's playsand (bags of that can be bought at garden centres, Homebase, and probably Wicke's too). I would make the mixture at least 30% or 40% playsand and 60% or 70% topsoil. In the wild tortoises do live in a sandy soil environment and it also helps with drainage so that the substrate doesn't become muddy. You don't want the substrate to be very damp -- only the teeny tiniest bit damp. What you want is if you take a handful of substrate and close your hand it will just about start to hold together in a clump. The other thing is that while tortoises can take warmth and damp they don't do well with cold and damp, so in the winter be careful to keep the substrate on the dry side.

Your temperatures sound fine, but just to check -- where is your thermometer when you are measuring them? It needs to be directly below the heat source and at the height of the tortoise's shell. A thermometer mounted on a nearyby wall will give an inaccurately low reading.

Regarding eating, he is probably just taking a while to settle in, and that might account for him not eating much today. And do keep watch on that eye that was closed -- it was probably just a particle of something that got in his eye, but you want to make sure that it is fine now and that it isn't an eye infection.

It sounds to me like you are doing really well with him (but I know it's scary and stressful trying to get everything right). If you want to send us a photo of your set-up, we could suggest small tweaks that might improve it, but I'll bet that won't be necessary. In the meantime here's a link to a care sheet for Hermann's. Have a read and please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or problems. https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf


Nina

Oliman
Posts: 4
Joined: 15 Oct 2020, 18:23

Re: Hermann Tortoise Table advice

Post by Oliman » 16 Oct 2020, 09:24

Hi Nina,

Thank you for your reply and help.

With regards to his substrate we will get some playsand to mix in at about 30% ratio, will do that either today/tomorrow. I did read that sand can irritate their eyes, but I guess you don't have this problem? I will also try and ensure to keep the substrate on the dry side and only slightly damp, may of made it too damp yesterday in hindsight.

The thermometer I use is an infrared one that I do spot checks with. I generally measure it around the tortoise shell height on one of the walls of his tortoise table.

Thinking about it, it probably is really stressful for the little guy, as he was only ever used to woodchip and now in topsoil big change. Also with his eye I will keep a look out to ensure that it remains open/ doesn't look infected. Only happened when we changed to topsoil so fingers crossed just a slight irritation.

Thank you for the link, I will post some pictures of the tortoise setup for further advice.

Thank you so much again Nina for coming back to my message and your advice.

Oli
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Nina
Posts: 1460
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Hermann Tortoise Table advice

Post by Nina » 16 Oct 2020, 10:04

Hi Oli,

Yes, a lot of people say that sand can irritate their eyes, but if you look at the substrate they live on in the wild it is very, very sandy. I've attached three photos of tortoises in the wild, and I think you can see the type of soil they are on. He probably did get a little bit of dust in his eyes, but spraying the substrate lightly will prevent this. Tortoises do like to dig into their substrate -- sometimes to bury themselves completely -- and a soil-based substrate is better for this. Also, the wood chips have a potential to go mouldy if they get wet from wee or water spills.

I think your set-up looks absolutely fine. Regarding the temperature, you do want to test the air temperature rather than the substrate or a wall, but your thermometer sounds OK. I prefer the digital fridge/freezer thermometers that have a display unit that can sit outside the table and the a probe on the end of a long cord that hangs down into the table right next to the circle of light. Something like this, but you can get them in lots of places. One advantage is that many of them have a Max/Min facility so that you can see the warmest and coolest it got since you last reset the facility (and it's amazing how the temperature in the table varies, depending on the ambient temperature in the room. https://www.nisbets.co.uk/hygiplas-digi ... meter/f343

I think your set-up looks really good. As time goes on you can experiment with moving the 'furniture' around and putting in different textures for him to walk on (pebbles, etc.), as tortoises can get bored indoors, especially if they can see from one end of the table to the other without interruption, but I think what you have set up there looks excellent, and he should settle in nicely.

Nina
[attachment=2]m_Torts in natural habitat.jpg[/attachment][attachment=1]m_Torts in their natural habitat.jpg[/attachment][attachment=0]m_Tortoises in their natural habitats.jpg[/attachment]
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Oliman
Posts: 4
Joined: 15 Oct 2020, 18:23

Re: Hermann Tortoise Table advice

Post by Oliman » 16 Oct 2020, 11:28

Thank you again for the response and advice Nina.

Yes looking at those pictures and researching more it does seem like a good idea to put a proportion of sand within his substrate, we will probably do this within a week as he was stressed yesterday and just want him to relax for a few days.

We will purchase one of those thermometers that you suggested and test the air temperature around his enclosure to ensure that he is getting the correct temp. Thank you for the link.

We have ordered a piece of slate to put his meals on and for him to walk over. Also we will be adding some more stones/pebbles to his enclosure for different textures for him and for him to explore. Thanks again for your view on our setup it does really help :D

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Nina
Posts: 1460
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Hermann Tortoise Table advice

Post by Nina » 16 Oct 2020, 12:11

Glad to be of help, Oli, and I think you're building him an excellent home. Will he have an outdoor enclosure for the warmer weather? Tortoises really do thrive outdoors, and the UVB from the sun is a far higher quality than any that we provide artificially indoors (well, you've got a long time to think about it and plan it). What's his name, by the way?

Nina

Oliman
Posts: 4
Joined: 15 Oct 2020, 18:23

Re: Hermann Tortoise Table advice

Post by Oliman » 16 Oct 2020, 16:02

We haven't fully decided about outdoors yet, we was thinking maybe in the spring time but may do daytime outdoors night time inside. All things to research about. His name is Squirtle and here he/she is below :)

Thanks again Nina
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Nina
Posts: 1460
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Hermann Tortoise Table advice

Post by Nina » 28 Nov 2020, 10:05

Oh dear, we are supposed to be notified each time a post comes into a thread, but this morning I've discovered quite a few from the middle to end of October where we had no notification and so didn't respond. So sorry! Squirtle is a great name, and I hope he is doing really well in the lovely set-up you've made for him.

Nina

Oliman wrote:
> We haven't fully decided about outdoors yet, we was thinking maybe in the
> spring time but may do daytime outdoors night time inside. All things to
> research about. His name is Squirtle and here he/she is below :)
>
> Thanks again Nina

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