Hatchling Health?

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Hatchling Health?

Post by Spike&Violet » 26 Mar 2021, 17:34

Updated to add photos

Hi everyone,
My first post and first Tortoise.
We have a Hermann’s approx 9-10 months old.
We have had her 3 weeks and she has gained 10g which has alarmed me. Looking for some advice from you as experts!

looks healthy and bright. She’s fairly active. Nostrils clear and shell looks healthy.
She passes stools every other day, sometimes moss green and a little soft; sometimes black and fairly solid.
I’ve never seen her pass urine - do they do this in their bath?
Only other observation since I’ve had her is that her claws seem to have grown so much.
So I’m thinking...do I need to cut back on her food? Or is it possible she was malnourished and is just catching up??

Weighed 60g when we got her, 66g a week later
70g 10 days later.
Claws grown significantly
She feeds daily on one of the following: Curley kale, watercress, kos lettuce, lambs lettuce.(we are growing weeds too)
Lives in an open top wooden chest approx 4.5feet long and 1 foot deep
Fresh water always available
Basks at 92F hot end; her cool end is 75 F.
She has a zoo med BB-55E Tortoise block which I have never seen her use.
She has a bath every day for 5-10 mins but then wants to climb out. 85 F.
Thanks in advance!
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Re: Hatchling Health?

Post by Nina » 26 Mar 2021, 23:21

Hi Spike and Violet and welcome to the Tortoise Table! And many congratulations on your little Hermann's (what's her name by the way?).
They are a super little species and I can tell you've already fallen in love with her!

You probably already have a care sheet, but if you don't then here's a link to one: https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf and here's a link to a really super site on Hermann's (Chris is probably the world's expert on Hermann's): https://www.hermannihaven.com/ and here is his really comprehensive care sheet https://www.hermannihaven.com/t-hermanni-care-sheet

She sounds happy and healthy. The reason she is having green, soft stools is probably because you are feeding her a lot of what we call 'wet food' (lettuce-type plants). There is nothing wrong with these, if fed in moderation and in combination with weeds and rougher leaves, but on their own they tend to go through the digestive system quickly and aren't quite as nourishing. At this time of year, though, it can be difficult to find weeds. Depending on where you live, there should be dandelions, some sowthistle, plantain and some other good weeds outside -- but in some areas they are less plentiful.

She is gaining weight a little quickly, so monitoring her food intake is probably needed, but don't worry too much. What you want to aim for is a slow, steady growth of -- on average -- between 1g - 3g per month. That's only an average, and some months she will gain more and some less, but it's something to aim for. So cutting down on the amount you feed her is probably desirable. Don't forget that in the wild they live in areas that aren't terribly lush and are often dry and lacking in plants, and gaining weight too quickly can lead to rapid shell growth and possible deformities. It is difficult though, I know, to cut down on portions when they look up at you with those sweet little eyes and plead for more!

Regarding her nails -- at this age I doubt that they could be too long. Tortoises need their nails for digging burrows in the ground and for grabbing onto food and holding it while they pull at it with their beaks. If you want to send a photo we can have a look, but I think they are probably fine.

I think her temperatures are a teeny bit too warm, but not by much, and it does depend a lot on how you are measuring them. You need to measure the temperature under the heat source, directly below the lamp and at the height of the tortoise's shell. A thermometer mounted on a nearby wall will give you an artificially low reading. Directly under that lamp you are aiming for a temperature of about 30C (86F) and at the cool end about 20C (68F). I notice that Chris Leone on the Hermanni Haven site recommends 90F - 95F, which is a bit warmer than we tend to make it here in the UK, so there is some difference of opinion there, but I think that little ones can dehydrate quickly under lamps and wouldn't let it go much above 90F.

As for the temperature of her bath water, I go by the traditional advice that it should be nicely warm -- the temperature in which you would bathe a baby -- but I'm not exactly sure if that is around 85C (I'll measure mine tomorrow in my tortoises' baths!).

They do often wee in the bath, and if she isn't passing urates with the wee, then it is possible that you aren't noticing it, or that she is weeing and it is drying up quickly. If she does pass urates with her wee (white material) then it should be either watery or soft, like toothpaste, and if it is hard or gritty/sandy then it indicates that she could be dehydrated. That is great that you are giving her baths every day, and you can also wet the food you give her, as that can be another way to get some water into her.

That is great that you have her in an ope- topped chest, and 4.5 feet long is a good size for this little one. What sort of substrate are you using?

Re the ZooMed tortoise block -- I find that tortoises, especially young ones, rarely use these. She would be more likely to nibble on a cuttlefish bone (they are softer), and you can also scrape some of it onto her food. Some tortoises won't eat cuttlefish until they have been sitting outside in the rain and elements and are beginning to look horrible, and then they devour them. I would also recommend a good phosphorous-free, calcium and vitamin D3 supplement like Nutrobal (in the USA it's something like Rep-Cal), as they need extra calcium to support all that bone and shell, and the vitamin D3 will enable her to absorb and utilise the calcium in her diet.

Sorry to have gone on at such length. I looks to me like you are providing this little tortoise with an excellent home, and we'd love to see photos of her.


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Re: Hatchling Health?

Post by lin » 27 Mar 2021, 00:01

Hiya, I am going to take at Violet but please accept my apologies if you are the Spike part of the duo.
First of all congratulation on getting your first tortoise (can I ask where you got it from, maybe a breeder or pet shop or perhaps rehomed? And a very warm welcome to the the tortoise table.

I can say that most tortoises will pass water and urates when in a nice warm bath, they do this because when they release urine they will need to replenish so as not to dehydrate.
The poops are fine and the reason for the green coloration is because there isn’t enough fiber. Fiber and low protein = slow growth while store bought wets is really not good for them. It’s only on the database for the times when weeds are under snow and cannot be found or extreme weather. If offered to much there is a great possibility that it will upset the gut flora and cause upset stomach that would take a long while to put right and if your in the UK there are plenty around. Let us know if you have difficulty in finding or identifying them. Send in a photo and time and we will identify and let you know if it’s a feed or.not.

The weight gain is a fair amount for one so young but it does happen. Here’s the reason I asked if he was purchased from a pet shop...if so there is a very good chance there are worms present and if that is the case here they are easily treated but they will make a tortoise hungry. So I think we need to rule this out by taking a poop sample along to a vet. For the testing any vet will do but for any treatments that are carried out on tortoises should only be done by an exotic vet that specialises in tortoise. We do have a list for you to find one local to you.

Tortoises do have rather long nails because they all dig and need longer nails to do this, especially the front ones.

Basking temp is a bit warm for one so small. It could easily overheat and the same can be said if it’s to chilly. It should be nearer to 87*F to give a bit if leeway for fluctuations. The cooler end can go down to 68*F as that will give a better gradient so that tortoise can find a temp that suits itself.

If you would like to send us a photo of your setup we could have a look to see if there are any tweaks that could be made to make it easier for you and your tortoise - we would love to see a photo of him too.

And if you would like to send us your address to lin@thetortoisetable.org.uk I will send you one of our observation booklets so that you can record the weights and measures of your baby.

So sorry this is so long, I hope I didn’t bore you.


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Re: Hatchling Health?

Post by Spike&Violet » 27 Mar 2021, 13:20

Thank you Lin and Nina for your kind and informative responses.
I was following the 99-95F basking guidelines so thank you for the steer. I have now reduced.
Also ordered the basic small cuttlefish
Yes I forgot to mention we are giving Nutrabol 3 times per week.
Her substrate is currently an expensive ‘Tortoise’ marketed bag, a mix of sand and soil. But I am planning to make my own, we have the plays and but sterilised soil seems to be scarce!
She is a rescue Tortoise from someone who’s circumstances changes. I will get the stools checked.
Photos to follow- it’s saying t he files are too large?? ...
We would like to make it more interesting for her with stones etc....I’m just a little nervous if she falls on something and hurts her shell but I know I’m probably wrapping her in cotton wool and need to calm down!
The names....Spike is my 6 year old Son, Violet is the Tortoise

We are also in the process of making her outdoor environment so any tips you have there beyond the care sheets, would be great. Main fear is rodents. Plan is to keep her inside the house at night all year.
Thanks so much everyone x

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Re: Hatchling Health?

Post by lin » 27 Mar 2021, 17:45

Have you noticed any change in the behaviour of Violet, since lowering the temps?
Tortoise life, I assume you have, it’s a good product but as you have found quite expensive. Topsoil is usually available but it gets pretty scarce during gardening season. Have you tried wicks, b&q, even Wilko sells it in smaller bags. You can use normal loam but it’s a good idea to put it in the oven (it’s a bit smelly doing this) to kill off any bug or snail eggs.

I have seen so many upset tortoise owners and terribly scarred and traumatised (if they are lucky) tortoises, the not so lucky end up loosing their life and it’s not a pretty sight. The only advice there is about rats and other predators is a fully enclosed half inch x half inch or less 16gauge wire or steel wire, enclosure that is rat proof. A rat is not a stupid rodent and once they are apparent there are more than we think. The same as foxes they will wait for humans to make the first mistake, and both rats and foxes are also on the lookout during the day.
BuiIdling the enclosure on patios or hard standing will be safer and if it’s a nice size then can be made into a nice interesting enclosure with bridges, pebbles, pots and somewhere to climb and dig.
The world is your oyster once your enclosure and tortoise are safe.

If you want to send your photos to me I will adjust and post them.


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Re: Hatchling Health?

Post by Spike&Violet » 30 Mar 2021, 22:08

Thank you Lin. I will send through some outdoor enclosure photos once it is all in place

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