Can anyone help?

Use this forum to discuss general questions about any aspects of tortoise care.
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TaniaLeigh
Posts: 3
Joined: 14 May 2022, 13:33

Can anyone help?

Post by TaniaLeigh » 14 May 2022, 13:43

Hi I have had my horse field tortoise for about a year now, he doesn't seem to put on any weight, his heaviest has been 49g then he seems to lose it again, his husbandry is all fine, temperature is great, he has had a worm count too. He's healthy, eats everyday, does the toilet regularly, he's active in every other aspect. Just not sure what else I can try?

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Nina
Posts: 1707
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Can anyone help?

Post by Nina » 14 May 2022, 18:20

Hi Tania, and welcome to The Tortoise Table,

Gosh, you seem to have the opposite problem of most people. Horsfield tortoises tend to be very greedy eaters and they can put on weight too quickly and develop deformed shells, so it's unusual that he isn't putting on any weight at all. He should be putting on between 1g - 3g per month, but slower growth is fine (although no growth is not so good).

Can you describe what sort of set-up you have for him, and what the temperature range is (hot end under the lamp and cool end)? And please measure the temperature at the hot end directly below the heat source and at the height of his shell (not with a thermometer mounted on a nearby wall). That shouldn't make a huge difference to his weight gain if he already has a healthy appetite and is actually eating, but it's always good to check. If you want to send a photo of his set-up that would be great.

What are you feeding him and how much each day? If you can just give a rough idea, that would be great. Also, what scales are you using? Most scales (like the digital kitchen scales that most people use) aren't so accurate at very low weights, but you should have seen an overall gain over a year. Do you weigh him under roughly the same conditions each time (for example, just before or just after a meal or a poo -- tortoises can lose a gram or two just having a poo, but he still should be gaining a bit each month when you average everything out.

That was good that you had a worm count done, as that eliminates that possiblilty, and I'm not really sure at this point what could be causing it, but if he is energetic and eating every day, it would indicate that he isn't ill.

Here is a link to a care sheet for Horsfields, in case you don't have one already: https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf and just for information, this species of tortoise is named after Dr Thomas Horsfield, a 19th century American naturalist and explorer, who discovered the species, and that's why there is no 'e' in the middle of the name (so it's Horsfield, not Horsefield or Horse Field) -- lol, just a bit of useless information but thought you might be interested.

Sorry for the long post, and I'm sure that we can get to the bottom of this. It sounds like you have given him a good hime, but just a bit more information about his diet and quantity, as well as the set-up will help.

Nina

TaniaLeigh
Posts: 3
Joined: 14 May 2022, 13:33

Re: Can anyone help?

Post by TaniaLeigh » 14 May 2022, 19:09

He eats dandelion, courgette, romaine lettuce, cress, campanula, Pak choi, plantain, he won't touch fruit! But likes his flowers. Drinks plenty water too

His enclosure is 31° - 33° at the hottest and about 25°-27° at the coldest!

I have reptile scales that I bought from Amazon! Tried other scales aswell but none of them were that great,

Yeah I've weighed him after he eats and poos as I know he can lose when he's done the toilet! Just very strange as he's not gaining weight but is so healthy and active. He likes being outside when it's hot aswell
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Nina
Posts: 1707
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Can anyone help?

Post by Nina » 14 May 2022, 23:21

Hi Tania,

Many thanks for the photo! Well, it looks to me like you've got a nice set-up and are doing everything right. If you can get the cooler end down to about 20C and the hot end around 30C then that is ideal, but you're not far off (I wouldn't let it get more than 32C or 33C under the hot lamp as he could dehydrate there), but none of this explains his failure to put on weight.

Hi diet sounds OK (I would go easy on the courgette), and it is good that he won't touch any fruit, because the digestive systems of species like Horsfields do not cope well with the natural sugars in fruit (and tomatoes count as a fruit too). So stick to weeds and flowers. You can always check out any plant to see how edible it is on our database here (just type the name in the search box), and then click on See More. If you can't find a plant there, then contact us and we're happy to research it for you. https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk And it is great that he is drinking lots of water too.

How much would you say that he eats in a day? If you were to take all the leaves, flowers, etc. that he eats on average in a day, and lay them on a table, making a square or something, what size would it be? Lol, I don't think I'm expressing this well, and it is difficult, I know. The general guideline is enough leaves, etc. each day that if stitched together would make a little blanket to just cover his shell. Obviously quantity is important, because the more he eats the more likely he is to put on weight.

Do you keep a record of his length (also called the SCL -- straight carapace length), and has he increased in size since you had him? There is a particular way to measure the length of a tortoise (just scroll down this page to the section on measuring: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... oApx1TMKNI If he has increased in length but not in weight then it is a little concerning, but in general he does seem to be a healthy and very happy tortoise, and I can't think of what else you could do. As I said in my first post, the worst thing is if he grew too quickly, and we all aim for slow growth in tortoises, but there should be some growth. I will ask my colleague, Lin, to have a look at this thread and see if she has any ideas.

Nina

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lin
Posts: 921
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: Can anyone help?

Post by lin » 14 May 2022, 23:32

Hi from me too Tania. Reggie is such a cutie.
Can I ask for a photo of the thermostat you use to measure the temperature of the hot and cool end of the enclosure. I have a feeling it could be a little hot for him and would it be possible to see a view of the whole enclosure. It’s much easier to spot tweaks if we can see the whole picture.
Do you use one of those digital thermometers with a probe, there are more accurate than most.

Lin

TaniaLeigh
Posts: 3
Joined: 14 May 2022, 13:33

Re: Can anyone help?

Post by TaniaLeigh » 15 May 2022, 07:31

It's usually plants, weeds, lettuce and Pak choi he eats! The courgette is only given as a small treat and he doesn't get lots of that either! Well yesterday for example he ate, 2 dandelions, 1 lettuce leaf, 2 plantain leafs. Plus he usually has plants and flowers in his enclosure but his new ones aren't here yet, No he doesn't seem to have grown weight or length!

Hi Lin I've turned the heat down so it's now sitting at 30.4° I just use the digital thermostat, it's a little black round one. It's not got a make on it.

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lin
Posts: 921
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: Can anyone help?

Post by lin » 15 May 2022, 11:34

Hi Tania
That’s good you have turned the heat down a little. Let’s hope it makes a difference.
If you can send in a photo of the whole table then I can look and see if there is any minor adjustments could be made to make it comfortable for her to eat.
Being so small he seems to be eating enough but I can’t pinpoint a reason just yet.
I think I know what thermometer you use, do you place it on the floor, under the light of the enclosure or is it attached to the walls? And does she bask directly under the heat or just off to the side.
So sorry for all the questions.
Lin

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