The feeding headaches

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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Laura0310
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Joined: 24 Jan 2022, 22:13

The feeding headaches

Post by Laura0310 » 21 Apr 2022, 16:34

So Puc has been with us since late January. In that time I have moved him onto a wild foraged diet, picked fresh every day, but have been advised that he will eat grass when a bit older (He is a Leopard). He did weight 41g and when I bought him he was 36g. However this week the scales said he had lost 3g which I think is a lot. The trouble I find with the wild diet is he is really picky. He will even turn his nose up at dandelion leaves and white dead nettle which I had been told were good foods and sure fired winners. He completely ignores flowers :cry: He soaks himself in his water dish and drinks every morning so hydration seems to be fine. His poos are like dark putty blobs now which is an improvement since his arrival. His urine is clear as he delights having a wee on me, although I have never seen him pass the milky white urates. He has his calcium 4 times a week and another vitamin/mineral mix 3 times a week. The only thing he eats with complete relish is Romaine Lettuce which this afternoon I have given in and fed him some of. He is still in there now, munching away while I am sobbing as I know it lacks nutrition. Are there any ideas on sure fired, nutritionally beneficial foods that I could try as his weight loss has knocked my confidence a bit?

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Nina
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Re: The feeding headaches

Post by Nina » 21 Apr 2022, 17:37

Hi Laura,
Lovely to hear from you again. I think the last time we corresponded he was called Torty Tort :) , but I quite like the name Puc. Aren't they little devils --- they can cause us so much anxiety!

I wouldn't worry too much about the weight drop. They can actually lose a couple of grammes just having a poo, so if you weighed him before a poo last time and just after a poo this time, that might account for a small loss. But he should be gaining weight and he is obviously a picky eater, so we do have some tips for encouraging him to eat a more varied diet. I can't remember if I gave you a link to our article on this before, but in case I didn't, here it is: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... mGFGtPMI2E

You do want to get him on to grass as early as possible because it is much harder to get them to eat grass when they get older. I've just spoken with Lin, who has kept Leopards, and she has a couple of good suggestions. First of all, do you have a lawn or grassed area outside? It is better for him to graze on growing grass, rather than eating what you cut for him, so that he learns to pull at it (and Lin says that if you do cut grass to give him, then serve it quickly because grass starts to ferment soon after being cut).

Lin suggests that if you have a grassed area then put him on it and put some cut up some romaine lettuce into small pieces -- push the small pieces down into the grass a bit so that he has to put his head down into the grass to get them, and he will probably get some grass at the same time. You can also cut very thin slivers of cucumber (most tortoises love cucumber) and push them into the grass too -- and also rub some cucumber juice onto the grass (or other food that you offer him) so that he can smell it.

If you don't have a grassed area outdoors then try wetting a piece of romaine and cutting up your desired food into teeny tiny pieces (head of a pin size), and sprinkle that on the romaine and it will stick because it's wet, so when he goes for the romaine he will get the other food, and then you very gradually reduce the amount of romaine and increase the amount of other food.

Other plants to try. If he doesn't like dandelion flowers, see if you can find some sowthistle flowers (and leaves too). Forget-me-nots are coming into flower now, and they like those, and there is chickweed around too.

The thing is to trick him into eating a better diet, and it can be a bit of an extended process, but you will get there in the end.

Hope this helps, and please let us know how you get on.

Nina

Laura0310
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Joined: 24 Jan 2022, 22:13

Re: The feeding headaches

Post by Laura0310 » 22 Apr 2022, 08:38

Morning Nina and thank you.

So being outside currently is a no go due to our dogs but we will be looking into an enclosure when the weather heats up a bit. But today I have attached my 'chef de cuisine' effort which is a mixture of Romaine, Dandelion, Plantain and white Dead Nettle. I am quite lucky as I have managed to source about 18 wild plants that he can have but will see how I go with this. Just as well I have knife skills in the kitchen :D he also has his calcium mixed in there so he will not be able to escape anything if he wants to eat! I also have very healthy patches of Cranesbill and Sow Thistle with Creeping Jenny in the garden so will see how we go for the next few days :) pic attached of this morning's breakfast
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Puc food.jpg
this morning's effort.

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Nina
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Re: The feeding headaches

Post by Nina » 22 Apr 2022, 09:27

Hi Laura,

Absolutely excellent! Fingers crossed that he goes for it.

If he doesn't go for it, then I would keep the pieces of romaine large, so they are the main things he sees, but then sprinkle a few of the tiny pieces of the other plants onto a wet romaine leaf, so that he thinks he is getting only romaine, but accidentally gets the other stuff. Good idea to mix the calcium up in it -- that is what I do too. And then when he is eating your lovely haute cuisine mixture, you can start slowly adding grass.

If you can get him a secure area outdoors, that would be great -- plus the UVB from the sun is of a far higher quality than anything we can provide indoors. Even if you could give him a half hour or so outdoors while the dogs are elsewhere (indoors? being walked?) that would be great. When they are that small, they can still go out if it's not really cold, but when his shell starts to feel cooler to the touch, you can bring him back in for a warm up.

I think you've done a great job, and let us know how you get on.

Nina

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lin
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Re: The feeding headaches

Post by lin » 22 Apr 2022, 14:49

Hi Laura
You really are going above and beyond Puc’s needs serving a brunch as mouthwatering as that. He would be mad to turn his nose up 😂

Just a couple of add on’s to what Nina has said. Leopards, as with all tortoises, will only release excess urates and Leopards, like most, if not all the biggies, have a huge thick shell they have to carry around (it’s built so withstand gnawing from big cats in the wild) and to do that they also need strong bones to take the weight. Their calcium needs are a lot more than we think and so they hold on to what they have and only release any extra.

Re the feeding. Sorry, but your far to soft 😆. Pick one small sow thistle leaf and smear the juice of cucumber on one side, place it in front of Puc and leave the room. Don’t look back. If he doesn’t eat it he isn’t hungry so, this is the hard part (the last thing you need is a picky Leopard) do not offer anything else until tomorrow and offer exactly the same…just one small sow thistle leaf (these can be substituted for plantain if you like but only a single choice) with the cucumber juice (this is assuming he likes cucumber). Do this for 3 days and once he realises your not there to fuss and give in he will eat. Once that leaf has gone offer another. Baby steps and gradually adding just one extra leaf. This is so you can keep tabs on if he is eating it.
Honestly Laura, a fussy leopard is the worse thing ever, you don’t want to go there 😆 🐢.
Just try tomorrow if he don’t eat todays, and let us know.
The vits and minerals can be added in a few days once his ‘spoiled brat’ stage has passed.

Lin

Laura0310
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Joined: 24 Jan 2022, 22:13

Re: The feeding headaches

Post by Laura0310 » 25 Apr 2022, 10:14

Morning Lin and thank you for your help with this. And sorry for not picking up your reply sooner as you know I have been busy cheffing! I have attached a picture of this morning's feed, that is chopped sow thistle, dandelion leaf and shining geranium with a sprinkle of calcium dust, sprayed with fresh water and then unceremoniously dumped and mixed with romaine :lol: I honestly stand there now every day, chopping finely the little bleeders food but on the other hand he is eating with relish this new regime so yes I am completely soft. I would say he almost cleared his plate yesterday.

Good news is that after dipping down to 38g last week he has clawed a gram back to 39g.

So sadly I picked up your message too late to prevent me looking like Cinderella in the kitchen preparing dinner! I will try and be more strict I promise but I hate the thought of him losing weight last week given he had made a steady gain since end of January.

Think being a new owner and wanting to do my best has taken over my life, Next thing he will be coming to bed with me :lol:
Attachments
Puc food 2.jpg
Puc offering today

Laura0310
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Joined: 24 Jan 2022, 22:13

Re: The feeding headaches

Post by Laura0310 » 09 May 2022, 16:42

Hello all

so having gotten to my wits end trying to get him to eat more grass and him having loose poos again, it was sunny enough to put him out for half an hour. To my huge annoyance/joy ?? he ate the grass himself and the weeds he wanted :oops: as below - give me strength lol
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Puc garden May 22.jpg

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Nina
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Re: The feeding headaches

Post by Nina » 09 May 2022, 17:23

Lol, that is great! :D He's just a stubborn little so-and-so and is making a statement that he wants to choose his grass himself and not have his own personal michelin starred chef present him with it on a silver platter.

If he's nice and warm from being indoors, you can put him out for quite a long time when the weather is decent (it doesn't have to be particularly hot and sunny). Just keep an eye on him and when he starts slowing down a bit and his shell is beginning to feel a bit cool, he can come in for another warm up. Or one of those plastic or glass sun tunnels are useful, as he can go and get a bit warmer inside them. Something like this https://tinyurl.com/3jj4msuu but any old cloche will do (just make sure that he can get out of there easily, as they can get too hot). You could do something like set it on top of a row of bricks and leave one brick out so that he could come and go.

Just a thought, but it's nice to know for sure who's boss in your household :lol:

Nina

Laura0310
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Joined: 24 Jan 2022, 22:13

Re: The feeding headaches

Post by Laura0310 » 17 May 2022, 09:43

Well given that he hasn't gained weight for a few weeks now, I decided to make a big change since the weather is warming and sunshine much brighter. Old Guinea pig cage with bottom cut out. One side is the jungle for eating and exploring, the other side for digging and hiding. He also has a hide and water in there. Will try anything to get him to grow a little as he has been basically static since end of January and I am wanting to him to have a s much time outdoors this year as possible to be a proper tort :roll:
Attachments
Puc garden 2.jpg
Puc garden 1.jpg

Daniel
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Joined: 15 Oct 2020, 21:06

Re: The feeding headaches

Post by Daniel » 18 May 2022, 07:32

Good morning Laura. The outside cage looks great and glad your tortoise is getting some natural sunshine. As to your feeding problems, have you tried a product called Testudo Pre Alpin baby food? And mixing this in dry, with some fresh grass finely chopped up and mixed in?

Also have you tried growing a mixed grass seed mix, as your tortoise might not like the grass that your trying to feed. Also grass is quite high in protein compared to weeds, so the tortoises food intake would be as much food compared to feeding just flowers and weeds.

Have you also try just reducing the amount of food that you put in front of her say a teaspoon or two full a day? As I have found that less is more to most aminals, as the tortoise starts to eat more each day you can increase the amount.

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Nina
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Re: The feeding headaches

Post by Nina » 18 May 2022, 09:24

Hi Laura,

The outdoor cage looks super, and I hope he's enjoying the new enclosure and exploring the different areas you've created for him.

Daniel has given some really good advice, and I can second his recommendation of Pre Alpin Testudo. They produce several varieties, and I haven't used the 'baby' one, but all of their products are composed of dried alpine grasses and other plants and theirs are the only commercial products that we recommend for tortoises (and it's the only one that The Tortoise Trust recommends too). Some of their products come as loose dried material and some as large pellets called cobs. You soak them in warm water and they expand enormously, so one cob provides quite a lot of food. I know that Shelled Warriors used to sell it on their shop site, but I just looked and it isn't there any more (it's a German company, so is this another casualty of Brexit?) :( However, If you Google Pre Alpin Testudo Baby, various sites come up. Is there a site that you would recommend, Daniel?

Shelled Warriors do sell a mixed grass seed mixture (second row here) https://www.shelledwarriorsshop.co.uk/g ... s-51-c.asp and I would get the 10g or 50g bag to start with, so it isn't a big outlay. I don't know how the price and contents compare with other grass seed mixtures though, so again maybe Daniel can recommend a good one for you.

Let us know how you get on -- and good luck -- you are great at persevering and I'm sure that success will come!

Nina

Daniel
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Joined: 15 Oct 2020, 21:06

Re: The feeding headaches

Post by Daniel » 18 May 2022, 09:55

Here is a couple, but I don't know what the postal costs are.

https://www.efeed.co.uk/products/Smallh ... studo-Baby

https://buzzardreptile.co.uk/product/pr ... food-100g/

Also I noticed that your feeding from a reptile dish in one of the pictures, have you tried a flat slate to feed from? In my experience with tortoises they don't seem to like feeding from dishes to much. A slate table mat is a good choice, they are available from Poundland very cheap, all you have to do is cut the foam feet off with a knife.

As for seed mixes, just try one with as many species of different grasses you can find. I am sure Shelledwarriors fibre/lawn mix will be fine. Also succulents such as livingstones daisy's and Opuntia cactus would make good foods for once a week feed.

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Nina
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Re: The feeding headaches

Post by Nina » 18 May 2022, 12:34

I agree that a slate is better than a dish, but if you are using a thin piece slate (like a table mat or a roofing tile) then don't put it directly under the lamp as they can get very hot. You can also use a flat piece of sandstone or limestone. The extra advantage of feeding on a slate or a stone is that it also helps to keep the tortoise's beak in trim, as he rubs against the slate when going for the food.

Nina

Laura0310
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Joined: 24 Jan 2022, 22:13

Re: The feeding headaches

Post by Laura0310 » 18 May 2022, 16:44

Hi Nina and Daniel,

I am only using the dish for water outside which is buried in the substrate so that he can get in and out and not for feeding purposes. Puc comes in at night where he has a slate, water bowl, feed plate and additional hides, a heat lamp for hot end at about 30 and cool end at about 20-22 with ceramic bulb on Pulstat. Puc has avoided his slate like the plague indoors and any weeds I pick for him when he is outside are fed off the floor which he has been eating.

This cage means that I can move him around to different places as the hole in the bottom will give variety and hopefully letting him make his own choices will help.

The substrate is one that helps avoid impaction and is sprayed to keep dust down. There is no lamp outside and he only goes out in full sun with lots of shade available and additional hiding places such as a plant pot.

Currently he is out there for a max 2 hours and then comes in for a warm up if necessary. You will see from my pics attached throughout I have tried a variety of methods for feeding from chopping grass finely onto leaves, to leaving one big leave in there all day without him touching it, but I will take a look at the recommendation regarding Pre Alpin Testudo. Puc will not eat grass that I pick for him but will pick it himself and a few weeds also.

Daniel
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Joined: 15 Oct 2020, 21:06

Re: The feeding headaches

Post by Daniel » 18 May 2022, 18:15

Puc sounds like a real little character. I hope you can find away to feed him, as this will give you a big headache, especially in the winter months.

Laura0310
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Joined: 24 Jan 2022, 22:13

Re: The feeding headaches

Post by Laura0310 » 28 Jun 2022, 09:03

So after weeks of trial and error, Puc has been eating steadily. Today he has chosen ribbed plantain, fresh picked from the park this morning, as breakfast, as per picture attached. He also gets a daily mix of cinque foil, sow thistle, pre alpin baby, calcium and vitamins all with a good spray of water to increase the smell and help keep it crispy.

He has been eating steadily every day as this mix of bought and fresh seems to suit him although no significant weight gain as yet, just steady ay 38-39g. Next step a worm count to be safe as recommended by the Leopard group. All in all not bad so far with new feeds.
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Puc plantain.jpg

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