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All New To This, So I Have A Few Qs


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#1 Artea

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 07:19 AM

Hey all,

As mentioned in my welcome thread I have recently been given a 2 year old Hermann Tortoise which has been named Big Dave.

The wife picked him up from a specialist reptile shop but I have a few questions.

First of all Dave was sent home with snake life wood substrate. After some reading I have seen that this is in fact not good for them for a number of reason.

After I read this I emptied the vivarium and have now got fresh organic top soil for him.

I have been feeding him curly kale and grated carrot for the time being.
They gave us a powdered vitamin supplement too to sprinkle on his food. Which I have been, is this normal?

Also the wife got him cheaper than normal as he is "wonky". His tail hasn't/won't form meaning he can not mate (again, as long as this is not a issue this doesn't bother me or is this a serious issue).

Also one of his back legs is shorter than the other. He seems to be getting around OK but again is this something that is a big issue?

I have attached some photos below. Any help/advise will be great.

Thanks in advance.

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#2 babettebeau

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 12:54 PM

Hello

 

Here are 3 of my posts that were in previous threads, and that edited a bit for my reply to you. I mainly focused on facts and requirements so pardon me the blunt delivery of the information.

 

Post # 1

1) Indoor enclosure:

Glass vivarium is totally unsuitable because

- It provides no temperature gradient/spectrum for them to thermo-regulate. Basically it is stuffy in the whole vivarium, not good for tortoises.

- The tortoises will try to get through the glass constantly because they see through, this will get them drive crazy and very stressed.

 

You need an opened-top enclosure with no clear/transparent sides.

 

2) Substrate: 

Sand type is not suitable. 

You need plain top soil or coconut coir.

If top soil is used, you need to water it on the edge of the 4 walls of the enclosure, the aim it to have the soil damp underground and dry on top (like in a pot where a plant would be)

If coconut coir is used, you need to frequently make the coir damp but not soaked. Basically you poor water gradually and mix it all until you get the correct dampness.

 

3) Food:

Vegetables and fruits are not suitable. Kale, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, rocket, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, beetroot, squash, courgette etc are not suitable. Salads have very low nutrition content for Hermann tortoises. No such vegs/fruits are widely available in their natural habitat and they compromise their bone and shell health, gut health etc.

Please feed with mature weeds (dandelions and their flowers, plantains etc). Weeds are free outdoors, preferably picked in unspoilt, unpolluted areas. Try to give a different type of weeds each day or at least some variety during the week. Only feed very little clover occasionally because clover is too high in protein that is not good for young torts.

Wash the leaves with water and sprinkle like dust a very small pinch of your supplement.

Below is a list of weed names and also seeds to buy if you would like to grow. if you grow, only give fully grown weeds.

http://www.tlady.cla...t/herbiseed.htm

Here is a book for palatbale weeds and flowers for mediteranean torts

http://www.tlady.clara.net/id16.htm

 

if you have doubts about a weed, please ask this forum. Someone will be able to identify the weed and tell if the weed is safe.

 

4) Food quantity:

Resist the temptation to feed too much. In their natural habitat food is lush only in spring, in other seasons, food is sparse. Not good for tortoises to be overfed even if they eat all the food you give them, they are programmed to eat and eat non stop because they think next time there will be no food.

Looking at your pics, the food quantity is way too much. 

Hide the food so that they search for it, do not put it on a plate and don't serve it in front of them.

I would say for a two years old, it is about 2 leaves a day.

The way you see if you give too much or not enough food is with the growth line on the marginal scutes. A optmimal growth line should be as fine as a fine pencil line all the time.If the line gets thicker = too much food, if the line get imperceptible = not enough food.

 

5) Food supplement:

Nekton MSA is a good one. Choose the smaller tub of 40gr, and get a new one every two months because the product expires after two months. Again the dose is proportional to the weight of tortoises, not to the quantity of food given. For your torts, it would be a small pinch sprinkled like dust on the leaves.

 

6) Hydration:

Provide fresh water daily in shallow recipients for your tortoises

Soak your tortoises in  very shallow luck warm water daily a week for 15-20 minutes. Water should not go above the base of the carapace/shell. If they want to get out of the water sooner, change the water because it has gone too cold for them.

When soaked they will absorb water with their cloaca (tail) and probably drink some water, When being soaked in luck warm water, they might also poop, urinate and pass out a creamy white liquid called urates. The more liquid the urates is the better because it means they are well hydrated.

 

7) Lamps: Heat + UV

Heat/UV combo lamp are Megaray the brand

Also you need to add a uv strip on the length of the enclosure. Personally i like the Arcadia brand T5 D3 10%

Do you have a laser thermometer to measure temps under the heat lamp?

 

8) Clean up daily the poo droppings.

Clean up daily uneaten food, soiled substrate.

Clean water dishes daily.

 

9) Do not let your torts walking around your house/flat. They must stay in their suitable enclosure.

Torts are creatures of habits, do not changes the set up in the enclosure to bring variety or stimulation, it will actually stress them.

 

10) Do you have an outdoor space for their future outdoor enclosure?

 

Post # 2

  • If you are looking for the best combo UV/heat lamp on the market for tortoises, the brand is Megaray, the bulb you would need is 100W. 
  • Also tortoises are stimulated by light to be active, and you might need to add extra light like a UV trip.
  • Very good book on keeping Hermann torts naturalistically: https://www.amazon.c.../dp/B01K3LDM78.
  • You will need an electronic scale to watch growth in mass/weight. Also when your babies grows, only a small fine line (line a like of pencil) will appear on the marginal scutes, this is what we call the growth line, and it should not be thicker than a fine pencil line. Tortoises are programmed to eat so resist to give too much food and resist to hand feed otherwide it won't use its front leggs to tear leaves apart and will only see your fingers as food and won't see the leaves.
  • Also it is good to scatter  and hide food so they use their sense of smell and search for food, it makes their time more interesting and use their instinct.
  • Also please make sure the ambiant temp aduring the night are much lower than during the day. They don't need heat during the nigh, in nature it is much cooler at night and much more damp.

 

Post # 3

Please use plain top soil. It is the cheapest and the best. 

No sand because some sand types cause eye irritation.

Please DO NOT use compost. They do not live on compost in nature.

Changing soil, it depends of the size of the indoor enclosure. In the daily routine you will need to scoop up any soil soiled by droppings, urine (if you see that) and urates.

People say changing the soil every couple of months is swhat is recommended. 

 

By the way on the hydration, i will be on the safe side with your young baby and soak it daily every morning in luke warm water (temp no higher that 30-32 degrees), i am saying that because babies are very prone to dehydration. I find that a terracotta dish keeps the heat longer for the soak. If your baby wants to go out of its soak it is becasue the water has gone too cold or it is too hot. Then you can change the water and continue the soak. Please don't soak your baby in the sink or bath tub. 

 

For example I soak my babies daily 20-30 minutes when they have woken up and warmed up for a little while under the heat lamp. The dish they soak is placed in the enclosure so there is no change in surroundings. When you soak your baby tort,  it has to be under supervision (you have to watch it in case it falls asleep in the water, the head falls in water and to avoid drawning - Hermman tortoises are not amphibians and they cannot swimm).

Typically when they have their soak, they will however lower their head in water to drink, their nostrils will also be in the water, this is nornal and you notice their eyes are opened (not asleep) and their throat moving as the water is sawllowed. So don't panic and let it drink.

 

Also tortoises do not like to be handled and to be lifted from the ground, this is a big source of stress for them, they are ground animals and they freak out when lifted from the ground, so handling must be to the minimum and only if necessary (when soaking, weighing etc).

When handling, you will have to be sure you approach your hands very slowly so they see your hands, and not be surprised otherwise that will stress them as well. Also when handling you have to think of the size of your tortoise, so if you move it fast and lift is very fast high, imagine we put you in a supersonic high speed plane and you go from 0km to 300km from floor zero to floor 100 in 3 seconds, this is a lot for a tortoise. So handling is slow and low. Typically when they freak out when being lifted they urinate because too scared. Frequent handling will lead to stressed tortoises, and symptoms will be from hiding away to diseases.

 

The way I handle my babies is this way: approach hands slowly, make sure they see my both hands, then put one hand flat on ground, then slide the tort on the palm of hand, slowly cover the tortoise with the other hand, so it does not see, and then lift it very low and move it very slow and transfer it in the soaking dish or on the scale. etc... 

 

Basically tortoises are not domesticated animals, they are still wild and have stong natural instincts, they are not pets, we cannot play with them, they have no affection for us like dogs or cats, they cannot be petted. The less they see us, they less we interact with them, they less we handle them, the better they live in captivity.

Also they don't hear sounds like we do, they hear vibrations. So if you call them by their names they basically won't hear your voice. Also they have no voice and no facial expressions.

 

Having a tortoise is a hobby rather than having a pet if that makes sense and an interest in learning about tortoises and reptiles in general. Also because they are an endangered specie, this is also a way to contibute to the preservation of the specie. 

 

Additional comments by seeing your pictures:

I am sorry that the shop gave you the wrong substrate, wrong enclosure and plastic plants.

Plactic plants should be avoided, as your tort might nibble on it

A good idea when you have your opened top enclosure is to create different levels of heights, etc.

Deep soil will give your baby the opportunity to dig in and sleep uderground as they naturally do to keep hydrated and thermoregulate. No hide/liitle house for the night.

Always think of how Hermann tortoises would live in nature and this is give you the answers which are pretty evident

A good website to refer to as well is: http://www.tortsmad.com/

I am afraid to say that your new baby shows pyramiding signs. However with proper husbandry you will be able to stop that and give a better life to your tort than it had before.

 

I hope this helps

 

Sabina



#3 wizzasmum

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 10:48 PM

I agree with what Sabina has said and really the reptile shop should not have sold you a tortoise with a deformity. Sadly there are no rules governing whether a pet shop can call themselves reptile specialists or not. As they have sold you totally unsuitable equipment, you are perfectly within your rights to ask for a refund. Do you have pictures of your tortoises tail area? Im not sure how they know it will be unable to mate or even what sex it is, as you can not determine sex at this age. If the tail is missing and the tortoise is male it will require a penile amputation later in life as the tail is necessary to aid retraction of his penis. If you can show pics of him from underneath it will help to see what the problem is :) Did they give you papers with him?

#4 Artea

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 09:05 AM

Yeah I have a certificate for him.



I will look at getting photos of his tail area later today as his is currently enjoying the heat lamp.

As soon as I read that the substrate was wrong was when I searched the Web for people to ask and found this place. Highly annoyed with the place that sold him to the wife.

#5 Artea

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 09:53 AM

Attached are photos of Daves behind...

Attached Files



#6 pompeypoole

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 09:30 PM

Is it possible that it has suffered some kind of trauma. The area seems to be black. Can't make it out. Prheaps try taking a photo of the plastron (it's belly). It's claws look long, typical of wrong substrate in the past. Does he carry his own weight when he walks.

#7 Artea

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 05:07 PM

OK, I will get a photo of his under carriage tomorrow. We have now gotten him an open top table (still in viv until lamp and bulb are ordered and arrive/bought. I went to speak to a couple of pet stores regarding the lamp etc. One said that the viv was perfect for them etc as it kept a constant heat etc. So I left there.

Another guy said that I should have the lamp as well as a uv strip light. Would this be the case? All tables iv seen just have the lamp. Regarding the bulb for a lamp what should I be looking at also how high should it be from the substrate

Regarding his shorter leg. He gets about pretty quickly but does depend on the stronger 3 legs as you can imagine.

#8 wizzasmum

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 10:43 PM

I’m guessing this is a tortoise that’s been badly treated and returned to the pet shop. When they have no tail, the area is black like this. Let’s hope it turns out to be female, but if so you must keep it well away from any males as it would find it hard to pass eggs too.You can have one lamp if it’s a combined heat/uvb, but if it’s just heat then you do need an additional uvb strip lamp. Your tortoise is extremely deformed and by rights they should be giving you a full refund. I hope they didn’t charge too much.

#9 mildredsmam

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 02:25 AM

Aww the poor little thing, if it has been treated bad and returned then at least now looks as though it has the perfect home with someone trying to do the best they can for him/her  :)

Regarding heat/uv if you let us know what your using in your set up at the minute we can advise better, if the pet shop has sold you the coil uv bulbs as they do this would need changing as there no good for tortoises. x  :)



#10 Artea

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 04:00 PM

Hey all, looking at bulbs etc for Dave. Is this any good, seems awfully cheap/small compared to what I have seen about.

If this is no good could you please put up some Recommendations

Decdeal Reptile Lamp Tortoise Heat Basking Lamp with 360° Rotatable Clip for Lizard Turtle Aquarium 25W https://www.amazon.c...i_hgqiCb6ZD56MK

Also the wife has been looking at night bulbs for him. Are these needed?

#11 mildredsmam

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 03:53 AM

Hey all, looking at bulbs etc for Dave. Is this any good, seems awfully cheap/small compared to what I have seen about.

If this is no good could you please put up some Recommendations

Decdeal Reptile Lamp Tortoise Heat Basking Lamp with 360° Rotatable Clip for Lizard Turtle Aquarium 25W https://www.amazon.c...i_hgqiCb6ZD56MK

Also the wife has been looking at night bulbs for him. Are these needed?

Hi, you won't need any heat over night just nice deep soil substrate that Dave can dig into if he want's too.

As for the bulb this is only a heat bulb and doesn't give out any uv so an additional bulb would be needed for uv and you can buy these bulbs for a lot less than this these are priced higher due to been called reptile lights when all they are is halogen bulbs, or you could look in supermarkets for household spot bulbs they just need to have the E27 fitting these will cost a couple of pounds, if your wanting a bulb that does both heat and uv then these are the bulbs that I use  http://www.megaray.c...141b057aee1ddf4 I've used these bulbs for a lot of years now and find them really good, the only thing is Jo who will post these is away until 3rd Jan hope that helps. x  :)



#12 mildredsmam

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 05:03 AM

Hi, also just to add it's good to have these supplements for Dave as well, calcium powder comes in the form of limestone flour also you can buy Nekton MSA which is a vitamin supplement  https://l.facebook.c..._9GIo-DCQFriRK-  :)



#13 Artea

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 09:18 AM

Thanks for the reply.

We were given Nutri Cal supplement to put on his food daily.

Regarding the lamp etc I posted. The bulb that comes with it is a halogen sized bulb that provides uva and uvb (boshi brand apparently as I contacted them about it).

If that's all correct will this be sufficient? Also if it will be, what height should I have the bulb from the substrate?

#14 Artea

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 09:19 AM

Also the bulbs you have listed, how long do they last before needing replaced? Or any bulb for that matter.

#15 mildredsmam

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 05:20 AM

Thanks for the reply.

We were given Nutri Cal supplement to put on his food daily.

Regarding the lamp etc I posted. The bulb that comes with it is a halogen sized bulb that provides uva and uvb (boshi brand apparently as I contacted them about it).

If that's all correct will this be sufficient? Also if it will be, what height should I have the bulb from the substrate?

Hi, I've just relooked yes it does say uva/uvb but sadly people do sell bulbs saying that they are both heat and uv and there not or they have the smallest bit uv so still no good for tortoises, tortoises need at least 10% uv or even better 12% for them to be healthy while there is no natural sun, the bulbs that I posted will need replacing after a year they do last longer If your tortoise is outside all summer and the bulb hasn't been used as much, for the height different bulbs will need different heights but it will state on the box the distance needed also you need a basking spot of 32 so might have to adjust the lamp a little to get this, hope that helps. x  :)



#16 mildredsmam

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 05:22 AM

If you are needing a bulb sooner than the 3rd of Jan then the only other bulbs i recommend are the Arcadia D3 basking bulbs you can find these on Swell Reptiles  :)



#17 babettebeau

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 09:19 PM

I use these ones. After using them for 2 years I find that they are very good products to provide what is required for the physiological needs of tortoises while living indoors until spring/summer arrive, and when they get back in until prep for hibernation.

 

Heat / UV lamp: Megaray 100W Mercury Vapour Bulb + dome

http://www.megaray.c...-kit-p-561.html

 

UV strip: name is "Arcadia D3 Plus 12% UVB High Output T5". Arcadia is a German brand. UV trip is to provide adequate levels of UVs and more light which means more activity for tortoises.

https://www.reptiles...gQaAvgeEALw_wcB

 

The plugging system for the UV strip is

https://www.reptiles...-t5-controller/

 

 

For supplement as mentioned in my post above, i use Nekton MSA. Better to buy a 40gr tub as it expires after a couple of months.

 

Sabina



#18 mildredsmam

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 03:06 AM

The only other advice i would add to this for anyone who has just got a tortoise or are thinking of getting a tortoise is you can't cut corners with tortoise keeping it's a must that you buy the correct equipment for them to keep them healthy, there is always cheaper products on the market but cost shouldn't come into it, it should be about what's best for the tortoise, at the end of the day you don't want a deformed unhealthy tortoise.  :)



#19 babettebeau

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 02:20 PM

I agree with Karen because of the following:

- Keeping a tortoise is a long term commitment, much longer than a dog or a cat

- A tortoise has no voice and no facial expression so can suffer in silence if it has bone disease for example

- An animal will always survive because of its survival instinct until it is unable to carry on living, and keeping an animal is for it to thrive and not survive. And we need to do research, educate ourselves so we understand the commitment, requirements, costs in order to gauge whether we will be able provide the optimum conditions for them in captivity

- Although captive Hermann tortoise babies can be found easily, we have to keep in mind that they are classified as an endangered specie, this is therefore an important and ethical responsibility for us

PS: my comments are my personal views and not targetted at anyone.

Very happy and positive new year 2019 to everyone

Sabina






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