Help please.

This forum contains news items which might be of interest to tortoise keepers, and announcements about the website and forum matters, as well as providing a place where you can post announcements about upcoming events that are relevant to tortoise keepers.
Post Reply
Mrslums
Posts: 9
Joined: 11 Feb 2021, 20:56

Help please.

Post by Mrslums » 11 Feb 2021, 21:10

I wonder if anyone can help. We have recently taken in a tortoise due to sad circumstances. We have not had one before but we are dedicated to look after him correctly. Can anyone reccomend some things for his enclosure. Many thanks x

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1458
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Help please.

Post by Nina » 11 Feb 2021, 22:08

Hi Mrslums and welcome to The Tortoise Table.

How lovely to have welcomed a tortoise into your family! We can provide lots of advice on care, enclosures, etc., but it does help if we know the species of the tortoise (and if we do then we can send you a care sheet for that species).

Regarding his enclosure -- what sort of enclosure do you have (is it an open tortoise table or an enclosed vivarium), and what sort of substrate are you using? Tortoises do like to bury themselves, so a good deep substrate made of sterilised topsoil mixed with some children's play sand is the preferred substrate, but there are other possibilities. Tortoises also get bored if they can see from one end of their enclosure to the other end without interruption, so it's good to break up the sight lines with rocks, pieces of bark, stones, etc. so that the tortoise has things to walk over and around, and has different textures to walk on. You can plant tortoise-friendly plants in the enclosure (but they do tend to eat them or tear them up). A plant in a pot that is sunk into the substrate a bit, can make the plant less liable to destruction by the tortoise.

A water bowl is essential, and some flat stones around the water bowl will help to keep the tortoise from tracking the substrate into the bowl. Those bendy log things called, I think, Fiddlesticks (you buy them at pet shops for guinea pigs to hide under) make good sleeping areas and tortoises also love to climb up to the top of them and slide down the other side. I've attached a photo of one of my tortoises climbing up one of those fiddlesticks, next to the water bowl that has stones around it, to show you what I mean.

Depending on how high the sides of the enclosure are, it's always a good idea to try and make a second level in the table, with a ramp leading up to it (I can send you photos). If you feed your tortoise on the upper level then they get lots of exercise going up and down the ramp to check if there are any treats left for them on the upper level.

Sorry to have gone on so long, but I hope that helps a bit. If you could send in a photo of your set-up we could possibly suggest some tweaks that would make it more interesting for your tortoise.

Nina
[attachment=0]IMG_9953 (Copy).JPG[/attachment]
Attachments
IMG_9953 (Copy).JPG

Mrslums
Posts: 9
Joined: 11 Feb 2021, 20:56

Re: Help please.

Post by Mrslums » 11 Feb 2021, 22:15

Thankyou so much for your reply. Your a star 🌟

Bert is a spur thighed tortoise hes approx 4 years old. I will attache photos. He has a e. Closure and a hooded bed area. With a heat mat and a uv bulb hanging over.

Unsure what the bottom is called. We have never owned a tortoise but we are smitten and really want to provide a great home x

Mrslums
Posts: 9
Joined: 11 Feb 2021, 20:56

Re: Help please.

Post by Mrslums » 11 Feb 2021, 22:17

Think the pics should be attached. Sorry I'm learning xx
Attachments
IMG-20210210-WA0086.jpg
IMG_20210211_211929.jpg

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1458
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Help please.

Post by Nina » 12 Feb 2021, 09:04

What a lovely little chap he is (or it might be 'she', as it's difficult to sex tortoises before they are about five or six years old). If you want to send us a photo of his underside, clearly showing his tail, we could have a good guess.

Thanks for the photo of your table -- and well done for having a tortoise table and not a vivarium (which can cause major problems)! One of the things that is really important for tortoises is temperature. They are ectothermic (depending on outside source of heat to produce their body heat), and need to move from warm to cool spots during the day to regulate their body temperature. You want to aim for a temperature of around 30C directly below your lamp and about 20C at the cool end. And this needs to be measured directly under the lamp at the height of the tortoises shell, as a thermometer on a nearby wall won't give an accurate reading (I can suggest an inexpensive good type of thermometer if you are interested). You shouldn't need any heat at night unless the temperature drops below about 13C. Also, just to check, how old is your mercury vapour lamp (they are only effective for between 1year - 2 years and then you need to change them -- can explain why if you want).

Where is your heat mat placed? If it is on the roof of his sleeping area that is fine, but if it is on the floor of his table, even under the substrate, it is dangerous because even with a low watt heat mat the temperatures can build up when tortoises sit on them and there are cases of tortoises getting shell burns. Also, tortoises do like to get their heat from above, rather than below.

I think I would change that substrate. Wood chips aren't a natural surface for them to walk on and they present two problems: if they are wet for a long time (say, from wee or from water spilling out of the bowl) then mould can grow; and if a bulb should blow (which rarely happens, but it is known) then if hot pieces of glass fall down on the wood chips they can catch fire. I would move to a soil-based compost, which is more natural and also easier to clean (you can easily use an old spoon to take out clumps of damp soil after a wee). There is a commercial substrate called Tortoise Life, which is OK, although expensive, but most of us use ordinary sterilised topsoil mixed with children's play sand (dont' use builder's sand), and you can buy both of these cheaply in bags from garden centres or Homebase, etc. We then mix them either 50/50 or more topsoil to sand -- say 60/40 or 70/30. Then you spray the substrate lightly every other day, to keep it from getting dusty, or pour some water on it and mix it up well every three or four days so that it is just the teeny tiniest bit damp -- not at all wet.

He does have a bit of pyramiding (when the individual scutes are raised up like little pyramids, rather than having a smooth shell). This is very common and caused by several factors but the main one is diet. You have only just got him, so this was caused at his previous home, but you can prevent further pyramiding (which can lead to metabolic bone disease), by feeding the right food (high fibre/low protein), and not over feeding (which can cause too rapid growth and shell deformities. The thing you want is slow growth, so aim for an average growth of no more than 1g - 4g per month. This is an average and some months his weight will increase more and some months less, but this is what to aim for. If he is putting on more weight than that then you need to cut down on how much you are feeding him.

LOL, I think this post is getting too long, so I'll end here by attaching a link to a care sheet for Spur Thighs and saying that I think you are going to be a really good tortoise keeper, and it's great that you are undertaking your research at the beginning of your journey with him -- it will provide him with a happy and healthy life.
https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf

Nina






Mrslums wrote:
> Thankyou so much for your reply. Your a star 🌟
>
> Bert is a spur thighed tortoise hes approx 4 years old. I will attache
> photos. He has a e. Closure and a hooded bed area. With a heat mat and a uv
> bulb hanging over.
>
> Unsure what the bottom is called. We have never owned a tortoise but we are
> smitten and really want to provide a great home x

Mrslums
Posts: 9
Joined: 11 Feb 2021, 20:56

Re: Help please.

Post by Mrslums » 12 Feb 2021, 13:44

Thanks nina for all your help. Your so kind. I have been an purchased some New bulbs and uv bulbs etc. The heat mat is underneath but been advised off a reptile man to not use that anymore and have purchased a red bulb to provide heat. I have also got a hiding ramp some plants and uv light. And some bedding which i forgot the name of? But think it began with A.

I think burt is a boy cause i saw what I think was a winkie 🤔 but I'll send a picture of his underneath when we have finished the dreaded home schooling 😭😭

I really appreciate you taking the time to reply so. Many thanks for that. Look forward to your reply. X

Mrslums
Posts: 9
Joined: 11 Feb 2021, 20:56

Re: Help please.

Post by Mrslums » 12 Feb 2021, 13:47

Ps what do you recommend for the best diet for my little man x

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1458
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Help please.

Post by Nina » 12 Feb 2021, 15:11

Sounds like you've been busy -- am really looking forward to seing Burt's newly redecorated home

! What sort of UVB lamp did you buy -- a mercury vapour ones that is light bulb shaped or a fluorescent tube one? Glad you've taken the heat mat out. A red bulb really isn't necessary, unless it gets super cold (like down to 12C or 13C at night, and it usually doesn't get that cold in modern houses, but it won't do any harm.

When you say 'bedding' do you mean the substrate that fills the table, or something specific for the area he sleeps in? Is it Aspen that you bought? Aspen won't do him great harm, but if it is Aubiose that you bought then this isn't recommended because sharp ends of pieces have been known to scratch their eyes or cause irritation in the throat and intesting if swallowed. It doesn't happen often but it has occurred. Really the best thing is a soil and sand mixture, because this is what they live on in the wild, it doesn't present a fire hazard, and it is easy for you to clean too.

Will look forward to seeing photos of Burt's underside -- and it does sound like he might be a boy!

Nina

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1458
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Help please.

Post by Nina » 12 Feb 2021, 15:24

Good question about diet, as tortoises are often fed inappropriate food. Mediterranean tortoises like Burt need a high fibre/low protein diet, and no fruit at all (their digestive systems don't cope well with the natural sugars in fruit). Salad leaves can be fed if nothing else is available, but they are what is called a 'wet' food and they go through the tortoise's digestive system too quickly.

You can grow tortoise-friendly plants from seeds that are sold in various places -- Shelled Warriors is one. amd here is their page for seeds:
https://www.shelledwarriorsshop.co.uk/s ... s-54-c.asp I would recommend starting with a small packet like this
https://www.shelledwarriorsshop.co.uk/s ... 2989-p.asp
or this https://www.shelledwarriorsshop.co.uk/l ... 3373-p.asp (which has loads of varieties in it), or this (which has 10 varieties, but more seeds) https://www.shelledwarriorsshop.co.uk/1 ... 3326-p.asp
One thing you can do is to grow the seeds in a succession of small trays (think the size of plastic tray that you would buy a couple of chicken
breasts in), sowing a new tray every couple of weeks. When the plants are big enough you can put the tray into his enclosure and let him nibble to his
heart's content and by the time he has finished that tray another one will be ready.

There is also one commercial, dried food that we could recommend, and that is Pre Alpin Testudo, which is for sale in various places, including Shelled Warriors. It is excellent with no additives -- just dried meadow grasses and wild flowers (although some tortoises need a bit of persuading to get
used to it). It comes either loose or in large pellets called cobs that you soak in warm water and they expand enormously (so one cob is probably more
than you would need for a meal), and you can mix it with fresh food too. Here is a link to that page, and I would buy the smallest quantity of either
the Fibre or the Herbs mix, as they last a long time. https://www.shelledwarriorsshop.co.uk/a ... -261-c.asp They aren't cheap (but I see they have small packets for £3.99), but they are excellent and are the only commercial food recommended
by The Tortoise Trust. I would start out with a small amount mixed with fresh food and see how he likes it.

If you have any questions about whether a plant is good to feed, just type the name into the search box that is on every page of our website
https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/ and you can also use the filter tool to produce lists of edible plants for yourself (instructions are in the How
to Use the Database section). After you type the name in you will get the short entry and then you need to click on that to see the full information about it.

Sorry (again!) for such a long email, but I hope it helps a bit.

Best,
Nina
P.S. And sorry for the odd line spacing -- don't know what happened to that!

Mrslums
Posts: 9
Joined: 11 Feb 2021, 20:56

Re: Help please.

Post by Mrslums » 12 Feb 2021, 18:01

Hello. Its a tube light. Hes loving his new pad so far. I'll defo look into the soil etc Thankyou.

Yes it's aspden. 💜

Ill attach pics of his pad and belly now xx

Mrslums
Posts: 9
Joined: 11 Feb 2021, 20:56

Re: Help please.

Post by Mrslums » 12 Feb 2021, 18:04

Here's his tummy xx
Attachments
IMG_20210212_175527.jpg

Mrslums
Posts: 9
Joined: 11 Feb 2021, 20:56

Re: Help please.

Post by Mrslums » 12 Feb 2021, 18:06

Here is his pad x
Attachments
16131531613546341467543405786457.jpg

Mrslums
Posts: 9
Joined: 11 Feb 2021, 20:56

Re: Help please.

Post by Mrslums » 12 Feb 2021, 18:30

His tum x
Attachments
IMG_20210212_175509.jpg

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest