New Tortoise - Help

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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Deriiick
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Joined: 15 Oct 2020, 13:30

New Tortoise - Help

Post by Deriiick » 15 Oct 2020, 13:55

Hi, I’m new to this group and new to the world of looking after a Horsfield Tortoise. I’ve read so many things about food and I’ve confused myself! What is best to feed our tortoise, and how many times a day does Derick (yes Derick my little boy named him) need feeding! I’m a complete novice but we’re in love already! Any response and help will be extremely appreciated.
Thanks Louise 🙏

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Nina
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Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: New Tortoise - Help

Post by Nina » 15 Oct 2020, 14:42

Hi Louise and welcome to The Tortoise Table -- and congratulations on welcoming this little Horsfield into your family. Horsfields are a great species, with lots of personality, but the way they live in the wild provides good clues to how and what to feed them.

In their natural habitats Horsfields tend to inhabit areas that have long, cold winters and long hot summers (they come from the 'stans' -- Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzebekistan, and also Iran, parts of India and the Russian Steppes (hence their common name of Russian tortoise) . They hibernate for a long time during long winters and in the very hot summers they aestivate (which is a bit like hibernation but in the heat). Studies have shown that in the wild they are often only awake for three months of the year, and during that time food is sometimes scarce and they only eat for about 20 or 30 hours. Consequently they are sort of programmed to eat as much as possible in a short period of time. Of course with us, in captivity, they are presented with lovely meals every day and they can easily overeat and grow too quickly, which results in deformed shells and other problems.

It's difficult to say exactly how much or how often they should be fed -- some people feed all they can eat in 20 minutes, once a day; some feed enough leaves and flowers etc. to make a little blanket that would cover their shells, etc., but the best way is to keep a record of growth and aim for an average weight gain of between 1g - 3g per month (some months they will gain more and some less, but that is what to aim for. So if Derick (great name by the way) is gaining too much then you need to cut down on the amount.

Here is a link to a care sheet for Horsfields. Have a read and do come back with any questions: https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf

The main thing to get right in the beginning is the set-up, which should be an open tortoise table (and not a glass and wood vivarium -- if you have been sold a vivarium please let us know), and also the temperature (aim for 30C directly under the heat source and at the height of Derick's shell, and 20C at the cool end of the table), and a good source of UVB, which is very important.

Sorry to have gone on at such length! If you'd like to send a photo of your set-up (with the handsome Derick in it), that would be great. In the meantime, my Doris and Dolly (also Horsfields) send their regards to Derick.
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Best wishes,
Nina
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Deriiick
Posts: 6
Joined: 15 Oct 2020, 13:30

Re: New Tortoise - Help

Post by Deriiick » 15 Oct 2020, 16:21

Hi

Thanks for the info, that’s great and really helpful. I’m going to download the sheet you sent too! This is our set up but Deriiick is asleep in the enclosed bit. Your tortoises are beautiful!
Thanks Louise.
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Nina
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Re: New Tortoise - Help

Post by Nina » 15 Oct 2020, 17:07

Thanks, Louise! I'm so glad youve got a table, and it looks like a nice set-up you've made for him.

As time goes on you could try to put some other little 'furniture' in the table -- things that he can walk over, under or around, just to keep his interest up. Tortoises can get bored if they can see from one end of the table to the other without interruption, so it's good to break up the sight lines a bit. They do seem to like those bendy log thingys that you can buy for guinea pigs (might be called 'fiddlesticks'). They like hiding in them but also like climbing up them and then sliding down the other side (it's very funny to watch). Have attached a photo of my Dolly climbing up one -- but your table looks absolutely fine and I'm sure that Deriick is really happy there!

Would you like a copy of our Observation Records Booklet to keep all his records in one place? Just send me an email with your address and I'll pop one in the post to you -- nina@thetortoisetable.org.uk

Nina
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Deriiick
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Re: New Tortoise - Help

Post by Deriiick » 15 Oct 2020, 17:34

That would be so kind thank you, it’s saj2@blueyonder.co.uk

Now you’ve suggested but other thing in i get some stuff ordered. Thanks for all you help. Here Max and Deriiick! X
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Nina
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Re: New Tortoise - Help

Post by Nina » 15 Oct 2020, 20:47

Hi Louise,

Sorry, I probably wasn't clear, but the Observation Records Booklet is a physical (rather than electronic) thing, so I need your home address. I don't want you to post your address online here, so if you could email me at nina@thetortoisetable.org.uk and give me your full address, I'll pop one in the post to you.

What a wonderful photo of Max and Deriick! What a great team they make! One thing I am confused about is the number of 'i's in Derick's name -- sometimes it is Derick, sometimes Deriick, and in your latest post it is Deriiick :D Is this some sort of fluid, post-modern very hip flexible spelling? :lol:

Nina

Deriiick
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Joined: 15 Oct 2020, 13:30

Re: New Tortoise - Help

Post by Deriiick » 16 Oct 2020, 11:28

Hi

Ha ha my son calls deriiick and emphasises the i’s! We are totally in love with him, I have never ever been attached to an animal!! I’ve just found him on his back, but he seems ok. I will send you an email.

You’re so kind, I can thank you enough x

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Nina
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Re: New Tortoise - Help

Post by Nina » 16 Oct 2020, 12:07

Ha, ha -- we've all gone through this: 'How could i possibly become attached to a reptile?' It's because they actually have great personalities (as you are finding out), and they are quite addictive. They also have amazing memories and can be very stubborn too.

Cheers,
Nina
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Deriiick
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Re: New Tortoise - Help

Post by Deriiick » 16 Oct 2020, 20:47

Hi

We’re going to get another tomorrow, so he’s not lonely, is that a good idea ?? X

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Nina
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Re: New Tortoise - Help

Post by Nina » 16 Oct 2020, 21:29

Hi,
It's a nice idea, but there are real potential problems. I am assuming that you are planning to get another Horsfield (you can't keep two different species together), but there can be big problems, depending on the sex of the tortoises, and it is too early to determine the sex of Deriiick, as he is way too small (they need to be about 5 or 6 before it is apparent).

You can't really keep one male and one female together. To put it as politely as possible, male tortoises are absolutely relentless in their pursuit of females, and they will harrass the female by ramming her shell and biting her, until she is really stressed out. So if you want to keep tortoises of different sexes you need at least two females for every male (so that one of the females can have a bit of a break from the harrassment while the other is being pursued). Occasionally two males can be kept together, but possibly not. And more often two females can be kept together. When I first introduced Dolly to Doris, Doris bullied Dolly terribly, by biting her really badly and ramming her shell, and I kept separating them. The breeder who gave Dolly to me told me that as long as no blood was drawn I should just leave the room and let them get on with it and within a couple of weeks they would sort out who was dominant -- and sure enough they did, and the two live really happily together now. But if you have a male and a female, or two tortoises of the same sex who don't get on, then you will have to house them separately, which can be a hassle. In the wild, tortoises lead relatively solitary lives, coming together only to mate, so it isn't essential that they have a companion. You could take your chances, and it is possible that two tortoises can live happily, but if they turn out to be male and female then when the male reaches sexual maturity there will almost certainly be problems.

Nina

Deriiick
Posts: 6
Joined: 15 Oct 2020, 13:30

Re: New Tortoise - Help

Post by Deriiick » 16 Oct 2020, 21:40

Wow! Thanks for the advice, I was worried Deriiick was lonely! I will stick to him on his own for now with new toys! X

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Nina
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Re: New Tortoise - Help

Post by Nina » 16 Oct 2020, 22:39

Some people put a small ball in with a tortoise, and I've seen videos of them pushing the ball around (although male tortoises are notorious for mating with rubber balls -- and old trainers (don't ask . . . .). I once put a little mirror in the table with my Doris, and she used to sit for hours just gazing at the 'other tortoise who was looking back at her', but I felt sort of sad that it was just her reflection and not a new friend!

Nina

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