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Is my tortoise having enough water

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#1 Guest_tommy_*

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 08:53 PM

My tortoise is 4 mths old, it is a spur thighed. Since i have had him which is about 2 mths i have never seen him drink! I put fresh water and food there every day but he never drinks water, the only water he gets is when i bath him twice a week.
He lives in a vivarium with a heat mat, uv light lots of space. He had recently been only coming out for a short while, eating and then going back to his favourite spot, on the heat mat. I cant understand him being cold because his vivarium it about 90 degrees.
Any advice would be gratefully appreciated.:(

#2 Guest_milou1_*

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 09:55 PM


We also have a spur-thigh who will be 6 this year. We've had him since July and have rarely, if ever, seen him drink. It is a constant worry for me so I bath him two to three times a week. Maybe it's a spur-thigh thing? I know cucumber isn't that good as a food stuff but it is supposed to be good to hydrate. I give him some twice a week or so but feed him mainly dandies etc.

There's some really good info on this forum. Read all the previous postings on here about viv's and heat mats tho. They're a bit of a no-no. There's plenty of postings to read about good housing and care.

Please read as much as you can on here, there's some really, really good advice.


#3 Guest_tommy_*

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 08:56 AM

Thanks Milou for your advice, i am starting to think now the heat mat is a no no! He just seems like he is trying to escape the heat but in the wrong place. He has a tunnel in his home which is shady but he does not seem to go in the shade just heads for the corner all the time which is where the heat mat is, this makes me think he is cold but i am starting to think differently. I think i will ditch the heat mat.

I will keep soaking him to make sure he is getting enough water, i would love him to drink though!!

Thanks again

#4 Guest_TPG_*

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 10:40 PM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 31-03-07 AT 11:09 PM (GMT)]Hi,

I would dispense with the heat mat and the viv. The heat source should come from above, as it would naturally to encourage basking either with a spot lamp & UV tube (placed together) or an active bulb. With regards to the vivarium, these create an environment that is too humid for a spur-thigh which may lead to respiratory problems and does not allow your tortoise to escape the heat. They require a basking area of around 90deg and cooler areas of 60-70 deg. I'm sure this is the problem, your tortoise is constantly too hot, is unable to escape the heat and unless you change his/her environment it will undoubtedly be extremely detremental to his/her health and is almost certainly affecting your tortoise's quality of life. Many pet shops/dealers sell vivariums as they are a good source of revenue, they honestly are not suitable for your species of tortoise.

May I ask what you feed your tortoise?
Also how heavy he/she is?
What form of UV lighting/heat lamp have you?

I understand you are probably keeping your tortoise as recommended by the seller, but this is not how they should be kept.

Please see the below link for ideas on tortoise tables:-


Please ask any questions, there are many people willing to assist. This is unfortunately how most garden centre/pet shop tortoises start out and people think they are doing best for their tortoise by following the sellers advice.


#5 Guest_tommy_*

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 08:53 AM

Hi there,

Thanks for your help. I think he may be getting to hot. I feed him on different types of lettuce but stay clear of iceberg as i was told to. He has basil, parsley, coriander, toms, apple, cuc, swede, carrots,spinach to name a few.. He is 42 grams, when i had him he was 20 grams so he seems to have a steady weight gain. In the vivarium there is a heat mat which is always on, then he has a uv light across the back wall and a normal light bulb on the ceilin pointing down wards which these are both on all day and i turn them off at night.
What do you suggest i keep him in then? i bought this whole package from a pet shop costing 150, i thought i did the right thing and gave him lots of warmth but i do definately agree with you, i think he is to hot.

#6 Guest_milou1_*

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 01:14 PM

Hi Tommy,

It's a shame you spent so much on your viv. There's a posting on here about converting vivs to be more suitable or maybe you could sell yours and start again. We keep our tort in a bookcase laid flat on it's back with a uv flood lamp over it. Although the lamp seemed expensive (about 70 in total) the bookcase was only 20.

As far as feeding, there's also some good tips on this sight but it seems that the best food for torts is what they'ed eat naturally. Weeds! Lay off the toms as it's a fruit (no fruit in diet unless it's a very rare treat) Spinach and any cruciferous veg is not good either and it contains oxalic acid which inhibits calcium uptake. I could right for ages about what and what not to feed, but really all the info is available on this site.

Check out the links too. The tortoise trust site is superb and Tladys is great for dietary info.

Sort out what your tort needs and then you can really start enjoying him/her rather than having to worry that you're doing things wrong.


#7 Guest_lepinsky_*

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 08:32 AM

Hi Tommy,

Congratulations on getting your little tortoise, and well done for trying to find out the best conditions in which to raise him!
I'm afraid you've been given the wrong advice by the person who sold you your equipment (and this is all too common, as most petshops and internet dealers know nothing about how to raise tortoises).

What follows is something I've cut and pasted from a previous posting, so apologies if it doesn't all apply to you.

The reasons that pet shops sell vivariums, heat pads, and tortoise food pellets (amongst other things) is complete ignorance on the care needed for the animals they sell, and also that the sale of these items brings profit to the shop, and profit is what it's all about. Tortoises need to thermo-regulate (move from hot to cool areas throughout the day to adjust their body temperature), and in a vivarium you cannot get the range of temperatures). They should have a temp of around 90F at the hot end and 70F at the cool end, and no heat at all at night. Heat mats are bad because torts can get burned if they sit on them for too long, and also they are designed to get their heat from above, not below.
Tortoises need a high fibre, low protein diet. The best diet for tortoises is a varied diet of weeds. Dandelions can still be found, and they are one of the best foods for tortoises. But no one food is enough on its own - he should have a varied diet. Tortoises also like plantain, sowthistle, clover, pansies, lavatera,and many other plants. You can find good plant lists and good instructions for keeping tortoises on these sites:
and also check out the care sheets at the top of the page on this site. Never give your tortoise fruit (and tomato counts as a fruit, as their digestive systems aren't designed to take this. In the winter it can be difficult to find weeds, and for a short-term method you can feed a salad mix called Florette Crispy that is sold in supermarkets. But you can also grow your own weeds by buying seeds especially formuated for tortoises from:
Your tortoise will need a nice airy tortoise table (it doesn't have to be expensive - you can get an old set of bookshelves - as mentioned above, turn it on its back, and take the shelves out - or one of those very large guinea pig cages with a plastic tray on the bottom and a wire framework over the top).
The best substrate to keep you tortoise on is either a 50/50 combination of topsoil (you can buy sterilized topsoil at garden centres) and playsand, and others use hemp (brand name aubiose) which is available from horsefeed suppliers.
Indoor enclosures can be very drying, and tortoises can easily get dehydrated, so it is good that you are giving him warm baths three or four times a week (for 15 or 20 minutes each time) - do keep that up. The added benefit of this is that most tortoises will wee and poo in their bath, so there is less to clean in their enclosure.
Tortoises also need a lot of calcium, so you should dust his food (if you wet it first the dust will stick better) with calcium carbonate, available as something called limestone flour, at every meal. And for or five times a week you should also add a pinch of a good vitamin supplement like Nutrobal (available from pet shops).
And of course the best environment for your tortoise is outside, so if you can get him outdoors as much as possible he will benefit from the natural sunlight and the extra space and I think you will see a big change in him.
Let us know how you get on!


#8 Guest_tommy_*

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 12:59 PM


Thanks very much for all your advice! I have managed to transform my vivarium into a tortoise friendly home by taking the top off it and replacing the lighting only at one end as before it was lighting everywhere!

I have downloaded the list of edible weeds, me and my 2 children have been enjoying the sunshine and been weed hunting today!

Didnt even realise that they ate weeds, feel a bit in the dark, should have done a lot more research before getting my little friend, but hopefully i am on the right track now, thanks to this website and all the help i have had.


#9 Guest_lepinsky_*

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 08:29 PM

That's great, Kelly. It sounds like you're on the right track now and your little tortoise is going to have a very happy home. Sounds like he's lucky to have found you!


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