Rescued a tortoise, please help

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: 01 Oct 2021, 19:20

Rescued a tortoise, please help

Post by Christina » 01 Oct 2021, 20:04

Hello there, my name is Christina and my tortoise is Koopa.
We are new here.


When I over heard a coworker mention that she found a tortoise in her daughters room it peaked my interest. Her 16 year old daughter had bought a tortoise online and had been keeping it in her room for a week without her knowledge. (No lights, no tortoise table, no water, just lived in her bed or on the floor)- I believe she fed him carrots? She didn’t have any information on the tortoise. She had taken the tortoise from her daughter and put it in a tiny container with half an inch of water and stored it in the garage for a few days. Obviously the second I heard this I lost my mind and told her I would take it and care for it.

It took him along time to eat, drink, be comfortable. I wasn’t sure if he would survive.

Koopa then started to show signs of improvement.

So I designed a custom tortoise table for him. Did tons and tons of research, and continue to research.

I think I’m doing a good job and he appears to be doing so much better however when I got him his beak was overextended by a lot and his nails are far to long. I have read up and have only found information on minor trimming. I would assume that trimming would be the same regardless however I am a bit nervous to trim that much in one go. Should I do it in steps? My question is can I use the same thing for major trimming as minor trimming? Should I do breaks in between?

Also I believe he is a Mediterranean tortoise but what do you think? Are their clear distinguishing characteristics? Sorry for all the questions.. there just seems to be so much information out there including tons on of conflicting information. A bit lost here.

Thank you so much for any help.

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Joined: 01 Oct 2021, 19:20

Re: Rescued a tortoise, please help

Post by Christina » 01 Oct 2021, 20:10

Other photos of Koopa (forgot to add the rest) sorry

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Re: Rescued a tortoise, please help

Post by Nina » 02 Oct 2021, 14:15

Hi Christina and welcome to The Tortoise Table! First of all, many apologies for this late response -- we are supposed to be notified of any new postings on the forum, but nothing has come in for two days and I just realised the system isn't working and so am now checking every thread here for new posts.

What a superhero -- superheroine -- you are! It is absolutely amazing that this little tortoise has survived at all, and he (or she) is so lucky to have found a home with you! We will help you all we can, so ask any questions you want.

First of all, you have a Horsfield tortoise there. They are a super species with great personalities, and great survival instincts (they live in very harsh climates in the wild), so that might have stood koopa in good stead in the daughter's bedroom and in the water in the garage! Here is a care sheet for Horsfields (although they don't really come from the Mediterranean, they are classified as Mediterranean tortoises, along with some other species).
https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf

Secondly -- you've made a brilliant table! You've even put a border around the bottom of the front so that he can't see out, which is great (tortoises don't understand the concept of glass, and if they can see out they will try and get out and that's frustrating).

Are the second lot of photos taken in the table? If so then congratulations are again due, as you've used a soil based substrate (perfect) and it looks great! What sort of heating and lighting provisions are in there, and what are you using to provide UVB?

Regarding the beak and nails. I've never had to trim mine, but I think most people use a dremel for the beak, and proper animal claw/nail clippers for the nails. When cutting nails you need to be sure you don't cut into the quick and cause a bleed. Unless the claws are so long that they are actually interfering with walking, then you probably don't need to trim them, and Horsfields are a burrowing species, so he will need good claws for digging.

I wonder if it would be good to have him checked over by a qualified reptile vet (and they could do the trimming too)? We have a list of recommended vets by county here, and if you can't find one near you, let us know and we'll have a look for you. Dont use an ordinary vet -- they must be qualified to treat 'exotics'. ... VhadX3TWNI

I just can't thank you enough for rescuing this tortoise and making him a good home! Would you like a complimentary copy of our Tortoise Observation Records Booklet for Koopa? If so then just send an email with your name and address to and I'll pop one in the post to you.

And ask all the questions you like -- it's the best way to learn.


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Joined: 06 May 2017, 10:57

Re: Rescued a tortoise, please help

Post by Teddy28 » 08 Oct 2021, 08:19

That's a lovely story, what a very lucky little tortoise x

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Joined: 21 Mar 2021, 13:43

Re: Rescued a tortoise, please help

Post by CritterMama » 16 Oct 2021, 13:57

Hello Christina!

Thank you for taking Koopa under your proverbial wing! He's one lucky tort for sure. I'll just share a few things I learned along my journey into the world of tortoises (have a baby Western Hermann's named Scoot). Nina mentioned that Koopa is a Horsfield tortoise. I looked at all the Mediterranean species when I was trying to figure out which to get. Turns out Russians (Horsfields) and the Hermann's tortoises all belong to the same Family (Testudinidae); but they belong to 2 different genera (the next level down from Family). Horsfields are in the genus Agrionemys, making their official name "Agrionemys horsfieldii" - not all that useful to know, but you can really impress your friends!

Others may chime in on this, but it looks as if Koopa has some pyramiding of his shell. This is due to a history of inadequate hydration. I suggest soaking him in a shallow (up to the seam between his carapace and plastron) dish of lukewarm water every day for 20-30 minutes.

Do look at the wonderful Plant Database that The Tortoise Table maintains. It is invaluable and will teach you sooo much about plants these guys can eat (and, maybe more importantly, shouldn't eat!) Also, check out Garden State Tortoises' website. Chris and Casey Leone have done a great job educating folks about all different kinds of tortoises.

Good luck! Enjoy your new friend.

Here are some links I found helpful:
Wikipedia page on Russian Tortoises:
TTT Plant Database:
Garden State Tortoise:
Critter Mama

One Husband, one Bearded Dragon, one Panther Chameleon, one Labrador Retriever, and now a baby Hermann's Tortoise!

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