Minerals for my princess

This forum covers all aspects of tortoise diet and nutrition, including mineral and vitamin supplementation and foods appropriate for different species.
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Minerals for my princess

Post by Tarajane77 » 19 Aug 2020, 23:23


Re; Jemima (Horsfield, 3yrs old).

SORRY a few questions of which I'd be grateful for some help with. Alot of Jemimas equipment was purchased in a rush as I rehomed her. So I understand now through research it's not the best of which my final question leads too.

1) Jemima is put outside in her pen when its warm. Its currently on very patchy grass with visible soil. I've spoken about being concerned if its rained and was reassured by Nina warm and DAMP is ok.
However we've had a SOAKING in the last 24 hours and wondered would she be ok out tomorrow if the ground is WET?? The pens moveable so it could go on the patio, obviously I'd check the slabs aren't hot as its given 23°..would this be preferable??

2) I've been looking to switch up my minerals for Jemima. I've been using up what her last owner sent with her. I've been giving her a calcium dust everyday and a mineral dust every 3rd day...I've just looked on your advice section and you mentioned a VITAMIN!! So could you please outline what I should be providing and how often, as i feel I've messed up!!

3) I'm looking to hibernate Jemima this winter. I appreciate I've only had her since May..but i just KNOW she's going to be a devil to keep awake. :evil: Could you let me know where I can get the best advice about this, I think it was mentioned you might be able to advise me??

4) Are tortoises clever or CRAFTY (I know the answer already). I mistakenly fed her a leaf through her willow wall the other morning, so the next morning she was sat with her beady eye glaring through the crack....waiting for another leaf. I didnt indulge her as it's my biggest fear her demanding to be hand fed :roll: ..but the CHEEK!!

4) WARNING (this is a brain leak)..My main quandry atm is would my money be better invested in a larger hand made table for her eg. multi levelled/ grander..she's currently in a vivexotic one what she came in. Or would a permanent heated/UVB concoction outdoors be better??

Here's my argument/s I know bigger the better is preferable for Horsfields but sometimes I feel her current one is wasted as she's like a shelled SLOTH. I've just redone her tables interior with more bark, stones, live plants of which she ate x2 in 2 days..it has enlivened her a little....but I dont think she'll ever fulfill her natural tortoise instincts, she'd rather dream about them.

I put her outside with that many things to do in her pen and she insists on walking her plantpot to her preferred end and plonking inside it for most of the day. Then like clockwork in the last 30 mins before I fetch her she sticks her head under one end of it to feign entrapment, of which is impossible as she's checked constantly!!

I've never seen any evidence of a dig or a scratch when outside...so would she even be happy permanantly outside?? Is it even possible seeing as I lie awake at night worrying over damp grass??

I know Jemima likes people, and she loves people to talk to her. She's not a painfully shy tortoise, I handle her gently everyday. So I worry if she was outside shed miss the human contact...

SORRY for the rambling but sometimes I feel like I have the female Victor Meldrew of tortoises. ...but I love her immensely and will keep trying my best. :D
Jody K

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Re: Minerals for my princess

Post by Nina » 20 Aug 2020, 17:54

Hi Jody,

I hope Jemima is enjoying the bits of sunshine that we're having in between thunderstorms.
Re your questions:
1). I think she should be OK outdoors as long as it is warm, even in some rain, but she will need somewhere to shelter if the rain is heavy. Wet grass is also no problem as long as it's warm. Mayby you could put a little shelter for her (a plastic storage box turned upside down with a door way cut into it, or something, onto a paving slab so that if she did go in there for shelter it would be dry. I wouldn't worry too much about her -- they are quite hardy creatures, but I wouldn't leave her out if it is wet and coolish. I think being solely on a patio would be a bit frustrating in case she does decide she wants to dig into the earth a bit, but as a temporary arrangement it should be fine.

2. Which vitamin did we mention in our advice section? The only vitamin that you really need to think about is vitamin D3, which enables them to absorb and utilise the calcium in their diet. Their skin produces this vitamin after being exposed to the UVB in natural sunlight or our UVB lamps indoors, but it's always good for them to have some as a supplement too, and what most people use is Nutrobal, which is a Calcium and D3 supplement. As far as other vitamins are concerned, she will probably be getting what she needs from her diet. The only other main thing to watch out for is the calcium/phosphorous balance. Too much phosphorous in a diet can prevent the tortoise from absorbing calcium, so you want to aim for foods that have a high calcium/low phosphorous content. Here's an article on all that which might explain things better than I am doing: https://studbooks.eu/articles/all-about ... tortoises/ And don't forget that too much of some vitamins (e.g. vitamin A) can be as dangerous as too little.

3. Hibernation. Preparation for hibernation as important as the hibernation itself, as you must withhold food from her for a period of time to ensure that she doesn't go into hibernation with any food in her stomach (food in the gut is OK, but not in the stomach). So depending on her age and weight, you will withhold food for between 2 - 4 weeks. The best place to hibernate a tortoise is a fridge, as the average temperature of a fridge is 5C, which is the ideal hibernation temperature (but it must be a fridge without an ice compartment, and you need to monitor the temperature to ensure that it stays within the range of 3C - 9C). You can also box hibernate, the main problem with box hibernation being that if we have a warm spell you run the risk of the tortoise waking up, and once she properly wakes up you can't put her back into hibernation. Have a look at the links to Preparation, Fridge, and Box hibernation at the bottom of the page on this link and come back with any questions. https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... ite/78.asp

4. Yes, tortoises are extremely clever and crafty, and they are amazing escape artists too! I also find that they have great memories. In a previous house my tortoise, who never went down to the bottom of the garden before wandered down there one day and discovered an old pile of earth and old prunings, and she loved to dig into it. She did this for a day or two and then I made sure that she stayed within her enclosure at the top of the garden. That summer ended and the next summer finally appeared and on the first day out, she made a beeline straight to the bottom of the garden and that pile of old vegatation that she had liked the previous summer. They also come running to you when they see you (this is the crafty part), but that's because they know that you are the great food provider and they are trying to butter you up.

5. Ahh indoors or out is a big quandry! I have a 7' x 2' table indoors for my two with a second level on it, and they are always running up and down the ramp because I often feed them up there, and they know that there might be food. Your vivexotic table is fine for a hatchling, but for a larger tortoise it could get boring. Could you cut off one end of it and bolt on another piece to make a bigger table? And it's easy to make a ramp up to a second level. Have attached a couple of photos of mine. I find that indoors they get bored very quickly (another sign of intelligence) if they can see from one end of the table to the other without interruption, so rocks and things that make them walk round or walk over obstacles are always good. Ha, ha love the image of her walking her plant pot over to another area!

Ideally a heated enclosure and shelter outdoors is better, and some people use a greenhouse that is set on bricks or breezeblocks with one brick left out to make a doorway, or they have those little plastic strips hanging down so the tortoise can come and go. Or you could have some sort of sturdy wendy house arrangement that she could go into at night and when it is cooler or rainy. Do be sure though that predators can't get at her at night (rats, foxes, etc.). To be able to come and go at will is very nice indeed. You do need to be sure that once she is out of her shelter that she can't escape (will also attach a photo of a tortoise climbing a chain link fence in an attempt to make the great escape). In the wild (and in hotter countries) they tend to be active first thing in the morning and then again in the early evening, and they often hide away for the middle of the day.

Oh dear, I have rambled on for far too long! Hope that has given you some information and maybe some ideas.

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Posts: 42
Joined: 26 Jun 2020, 20:26

Re: Minerals for my princess

Post by Tarajane77 » 20 Aug 2020, 21:57

Thankyou Nina for all your advice. I'm so sorry I ask you so many questions at once, but one question often links to another.

I appreciate the pictures and links and will take time to study them.

I'm off to source a slab tomorrow to put under Jemimas "mobile" plant pot home. Such a good idea, I'm a bit perplexed why I didnt think of it!

If I do opt for an outdoor enclosure for most of the time...would I be preventing her from leaving it if the weather was below t-shirt temperature? Is it for only set periods of the years I'd house her outside? Sorry Nina the outside bit confuses me...as in surely I cant have her roaming willy nilly in and out when it's cold.

Jody K

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