Horsfield tips

Post your pictures and any questions here of European tortoises e.g. Ibera Spur Thigh, Ibera Graeca, Marginated, Hermanns, Kleinmanni and we include the Horsfield tortoise. Also, do add pictures of Mediterranean tortoises you have seen in the wild.
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Joined: 25 May 2021, 19:03

Horsfield tips

Post by Vincent » 25 May 2021, 20:22

Hi all
I'm new to the forum and I'm a first time tortoise owner. I have just got a new member to my family a 9 month old horsfield, unsexed but for some reason I can't help saying him. We have not decided on a name yet as we have been trying to think of a unisex name but the way he ate today Munch is a front runner, (maybe) if it was up to my 9year old son it would be Torty or Godzilla lol. He seems to have settled in well roaming his tortoise table digging eating well and basking under the lamp before roaming some more. And when I say tortoise table I actually bought 1 shaped as a tortoise (sorry if this seems over the top) I just wanted to ask for some tips I have done so much research but there is alot of conflicting information.
I have bought multiple things recommended from the pet shop one being live moss but I'm unsure if I should use it Also do I need to spray his substrate as it's dried quite easy. I feel its not clear on how much to feed him I don't want to under or over feed , I know i'm a complete novice but I am fully committed to do the very best for my new tortoise and I'm so very happy that I made the decision to get him. So any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Kind Regards

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Re: Horsfield tips

Post by lin » 25 May 2021, 20:58

Hi Vinny, and welcome.
I will send you a caresheet for the Horsfield tortoise for you to read up on and fond more questions.
https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf
Nina will be along shortly to answer your questions in detail.
I like both Godzilla and Munch so keep us posted on the chosen name.


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Re: Horsfield tips

Post by Nina » 26 May 2021, 18:52

Hi Vinny, and congratulations on your new Horsfield! They are a great species with lots of personality, as I'm sure you're finding out.

Your question about how much to feed is a good one, and especially important for Horsfields, as they are a particularly greedy species and are prone to grow too quickly, developing lumpy shells (called pyramiding), which can lead to metabolic bone disease.

It sometimes helps to know the reason why they are greedy, and your son might be interested too. In the wild Horsfied tortoises (they are named after Dr Thomas Horsfield, a 19th century naturalist and explorer who discovered them), live in areas that have long hot summers and long cold winters -- countries like Russian Steppes, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, India, Iran and some parts of China. They hibernate for a very long time during the winter and aestivate (which is a bit like hibernating, only in the heat) during much of summer. It's estimated that they are only awake for about three months of the year. So they are sort of programmed to 'eat for England' if you know what I mean. In captivity, of course, they are awake for most of the year, but their appetites are programmed nd they can easily overeat. For that reason we need to monitor their weight gain and make sure they don't grow too quickly.

We usually say to aim for a weight gain of between 1g - 3g per month. This is only an average and some months he will gain more and some less, but it's what to aim for. If he is consistently gaining a lot more weight than that then you should reduce the amount of food you give him. Generally enough leaves, flowers, etc. to make a little blanket or jacket to cover his shell, once a day, is a rough guide, but monitoring weight is the best way.

Would you like a complimentary copy of one of our Observation Records Booklets so that you and your son can easily keep records of his growth? Just send your full name and address to me at nina@thetortoisetable.org.uk and I'll pop one in the post to you.

Regarding substrate -- yes, it is a good idea to spray it lightly every day or two to keep it from getting dusty (I'm assuming you have a soil-based substrate). Or you can pour some water on it every three or four days and mix it in well, but the end result should be only the teeny tiniest bit damp -- not at all wet.

The moss can be used to make a humid hide for him. To do this you just fasten it to the top of the inside of any hide that he sleeps in, and it provides a bit of humidity which can be useful (but it's not essential).

The main thing to get right with tortoises is the temperature, and it's really important that this is measured correctly. You want to aim for a temperature of 30C directly under his heat source and at the height of his shell, and 20C at the cool end. You can easily buy a fridge/freezer thermometer with a display unit that sits outside the table and then a probe at the end of a long cord that can hang down into the right spot under the lamp for measuring -- something like this: https://tinyurl.com/pex6xv3f but you can get them in lots of places. Do get one that has a max/min facility because it enables you to see how hot or how cool it got since you last re-set the function. When it is warmer in the room then you might have to raise the heat source to get the right temperature and when it's cooler you might have to lower it. A thermometer mounted on a nearby wall will not give you an accurate reading of the temperature under the light.

Will he have an outdoor enclosure? The UVB from the sun is far better than any we can provide artificially indoors, so if you can make a secure outdoor enclosure he will love it. Do be aware that Horsfields are a burrowing tortoise, so can dig down and under walls and out, but it's not difficult to make a secure enclosure and we can give you some ideas if you want them.

So sorry to go on at such length, and I hope I haven't bored you!

It would be lovely to see a photo of little Munch (I quite like that name!) and his tortoise-shaped set-up (we never get tired of looking at photos of tortoises!).


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