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#67593 Hi All

Posted by babettebeau on 30 May 2017 - 12:00 PM


Please can you send pics of your 2 tortoises? Do you know which specie they are? How do you know they are two males at this age? Do you have pics of their full extended tails showing the orifice?


If they are Mediterranean like Hermann, Gracea, please read below.


Below are some advises. Pardon my abrupt content, I tried to keep it to the basics and essentials for the suitable husbandry of Mediterranean tortoises in captivity (from what I have learnt).


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.


Please post of pic of vivarium to see how it is. May be you can remove the glass panels.

Alternatively you can buy a good size rabbit cage instead or make a tortoise table with a drawer or a shelf cabinet.


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.

Please feed with mature weeds (dandelions and their flowers, plantains etc). Weeds are free outdoors. 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 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.



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:

For your tortoises: 2-3 good size weed leaves each day would be sufficient for both of them. Resist the temptation to feed too much. Not good for tortoises to be overfed even if they eat all the food you give them, they are programmed to eat and eat. Other can comments on food quantity as mine are only 20 months old and i give them 2 leaves max each day.

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.


5) Food supplement:

When you finish your supplement, buy some Nekton MSA. 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 3-4 times 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 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

Do you know how long the lamps have been in use for (how old are they?)

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.


10) Do you have an outdoor space for their future outdoor enclosure? This is a subject we can talk about later though. The more important is to get the basics right first.


That's all i can think of for now, i hope this helps. And i hope this is not too overwhelming for you. Being a tortoise keeper is quite a commitment and dedication.


#68339 Back From Hibernation

Posted by pompeypoole on 27 March 2018 - 05:42 PM

Good to have all the babies back from hibernation.
This is a 3 year 9 month old youngster. Weighing in at 106 grams.

Attached Files

#66816 Hank Is A Bit Off?

Posted by Graham on 12 September 2016 - 04:31 PM

Hi, Jen. I shouldn't be too worried if I were you; with the season changing, torts are now beginning to slow down. Indeed, Harry is going this way too, spending more time in his house and becoming much less active. I've noticed it's always the same at this time each year.
I'm sure other members will be experiencing the same.

#66669 Confused Newbie Whose Inherited....

Posted by JenB on 28 July 2016 - 06:23 PM

Hi, I'm a Newby too. Everyone on here has been fantastic.
I took Hank on a few months ago he is 6 years old and was in a vivarium with a head pad too. I bought some wooden drawers off ebay for £15 and put him in there with some soil, rocks and plants. He loves his broken plant pot as a hide (he has never had a hide). The difference in him immediately was amazing, he just seems so much happier.

I've been working on an outdoor area, I'm nearly there. I know how you feel, I've panicked all the way through this adventure but everyone here has helped me. It's not been that difficult getting the electrics sorted outside either.The thought of it all is bigger than it is to put it together. We bought a frost heater off ebay too they are pretty cheap.
Just look around for things, most things you might already have or friends and neighbours might be getting rid of. xxx

#66490 Bigger Enclosure

Posted by Graham on 18 June 2016 - 05:12 PM

I took the shed down in the garden whilst Harry was hibernating earlier in the year, and planted it up. This has given him a bit more room, and a lot more choice of weeds and flowers to feed on.



So far, it's growing well:





Busy foraging for nibbles:





His enclosure is now all the better:





He still leaves it in the afternoon for a stroll along the garden path, and a bask in the sun:





And onto the patio, where he gets up to his usual mischief; this time head-first into a bucket to see what's in there:





I'll post some more pics when the flowers bloom, hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

#66134 Rather Pleased

Posted by Graham on 24 April 2016 - 06:33 PM

I know this is as far off topic as it could be, but I'm a little bit on the pleased side, and wanted to tell.

I took up Taekwon-Do at the grand old age of fifty to keep fit and active, and now, three and a half years down the line, several black eyes and bruised bones later, I gained my Black Belt today!




Not bad for an old fella  :yay:


#65816 Harry's Awake

Posted by Graham on 05 March 2016 - 04:14 PM

Hi, all,

I took Harry up from hibernation today, his eighteen weeks were up.

After a warm shower and bask under his lamp, I put him out in the enclosure for an hour.








"Where's the shed gone?", he thinks.




Half-hour under his cloche to catch the sun's rays and warmth.



A new corner to burrow down in.




I brought him in at 4pm as the sun was setting, and now he's retired to his bed-box for an early night.


Another successful hibernation, and it's great to have him back. :thumbup:  :excited:

#65343 My Hermann's Tortoise Self Build Enclosure

Posted by gizmosmum on 10 December 2015 - 07:06 AM

Thanks for protecting our forum from agrevation we like it the way it is. Friendly, constructive and helpful.:-)

#65330 My Hermann's Tortoise Self Build Enclosure

Posted by Beermat89 on 08 December 2015 - 10:19 PM

Hi Shelly
The keepers that you are talking too are very experienced and have studied them in their natural habbitats so being rude on here is making your self look silly!yes you may have worked in a Zoo doesnt mean your an expert on keeping tortoises,If you dont like having people giving you tips or advice them please dont post on here!

#64239 48 Today!

Posted by Graham on 22 June 2015 - 04:41 PM

Hi, all,
I've had Harry three years now, can't believe where the time's gone. He hatched on June 21st 1967, and was bought by the breeder's neighbour for five shillings (25p). She had him for forty-two years before she passed away in 2009. As you can see by his smooth shell and general good health, he was well looked after. Harry then went to a patient of mine who fosters and re homes tortoises in the same situation as Harry.
Around that time I'd decided I'd like a tortoise, and realising it was a big undertaking, spent a good two years thoroughly researching the subject, and preparing the garden for his residence. In 2012 the garden was looking good with flowers and weeds, and I felt confident that I'd learnt enough to care for him properly. I also joined this forum to ask the plethora of questions I knew I'd have along the way.
Harry joined the family that same year and settled in really well right from the start. The lady I got him from was very well-meaning, but old-fashioned in tortoise husbandry, and as a result, he was rather underweight. Thankfully, he took to his new proper diet very quickly, and gained 200g in the first five weeks. Now he stays at a steady 1550g which is perfect for his size.
Yes, he is a little spoilt, but not mollycoddled; I like him to live as close to as he would in the wild as possible.
His future is pretty secure; he's likely to outlive us, so we'll have him until the time comes. Our son loves him, and has also learnt to look after him properly. He's also stated that he fully intends to inherit him (along with the house, no doubt!) when we're six feet under, so it seems Harry doesn't have to worry about where he's going to end up.
Quite a fortunate little tortoise methinks!

#63980 Outdoor Enclosure Advice

Posted by viperzbite on 26 May 2015 - 08:10 PM

Hi Ben,
It maybe best to wait until you are able to provide the best outside enclosure for a tortoise. :)
I do agree with Sue that pet shop advice and a good breeders advice will be different, a breeder wont just sell a hatchling for a sale they make sure the hatchling is going to the best place, I know myself I have turned people down if I feel there not the right home for one of my hatchlings, I think your best to take your advice from keepers and breeders who are not here for any other reason than to help. :)

ok thanks. Then I may wait on getting a tortoise til I can buy my own place. Probs a few years away but in mean time will look at something else. Always want what is best for my pets and if I can't provide that in rift now then not much point getting something I can't provide best home for.

Thanks for the info. Exactly why I came hear

#63866 They've Arrived...

Posted by finndor on 02 May 2015 - 11:00 AM

This morning my little guys arrived. They are just adorable!


They have had a warm, and are now eating and having a good explore, they are very interesting to watch, finding myself just sitting and looking.


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#68688 New Here Have A Few Questions

Posted by emmajones79 on Yesterday, 12:08 PM

 Maybe better waiting for someone who you know is a good breeder and is recommended  :) even though you might have to wait some time. x

Sorry late reply! I thought I had replied haha! Yeah Ive decided to wait until there are more babies around, Im not in a rush to get one I know I want one but I wanna make sure its the right thing and I have as much info for a healthy, happy tortoise! Xxx

#68657 New Here Have A Few Questions

Posted by babettebeau on 25 November 2018 - 06:50 PM

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. 


When you are about to buy stuff for the indoor enclosure please email us before you buy and we'll tell you if this is ok to buy. 


Do you have a garden for an outdoor enclosure?


I hope this is some good insight for you.



#68651 New Here Have A Few Questions

Posted by wizzasmum on 24 November 2018 - 12:48 PM

Hi Emma. Welcome to the group. When youre overfaced with info from all directions, try to imagine what they would have in nature, so no artificial substrate, food etc. I use topsoil and coir for substrate. Get the biggest open top enclosure you can, with no hide/bedroom end and use a good depth of substrate to allow the little one to bury down at night time. You need both heat and uvb, either in a combined lamp or separately. A log or plant pot for him to dig under are useful too, plus a shallow dish big enough for him to sit in to have a drink. Use slate or an upturned tile to feed from, which helps beak trimming. You need a good calcium balancer such as Nekton MSA or nutrobal for his food, to be used very sparingly daily. Id recommend this little book for diet advise www.tortoises.net and only use Florette Crispy salad as a supplement when there are not many weeds around. Are you getting your little one from a breeder and not pet shop? If so the breeder should give you good care sheets including feeding advice too. Pet shop advise isnt usually good as their priorities are to make a sale, whereas a good breeder will be more interested in getting a good home.

#68618 Harry's Gone In

Posted by Graham on 31 October 2018 - 07:48 PM

Well, Harry went in the fridge this evening, marking the end to another tort year. It was a great one, too, what with the glorious weather we had.

Wishing everyone's tortoise a successful hibernation; and that we can all rejoice next Spring on their re-emergence.


All the best, everyone       :thumbup:  :hugs:

#68427 Help With First Outdoor Enclosure

Posted by Popple on 27 April 2018 - 04:30 PM

Thanks Sabina I have taken your advice and just ordered one with a lift up lid so I can fit an automatic opener as I cant constantly monitor throughout the day because of work.

Thanks for your help and advice (Im sure I will have some more questions if you dont mind) 😊

#68417 Help With First Outdoor Enclosure

Posted by Popple on 22 April 2018 - 08:14 PM

Thanks you you have been really helpful, I cant wait to set up the enclosure now I will try and post some pictures once its done.


#68401 Living Outdoors Permantly - Eek!

Posted by Pickle1983 on 19 April 2018 - 06:58 PM

Hi both, wow! Thank you so much for your comments. Thats such a great help, Im really looking forward to getting Queenie outside full time. She absolutely loves it in the sun!
Ill take all comments on board, Im going to start on the outdoor enclosure this weekend, so if I have any other questions Ill let you know.

Thanks again,

#68253 Hello, I Am From Germany....

Posted by babettebeau on 18 February 2018 - 12:15 PM

Generally speaking in the UK the people who are successful in keeping their tortoises outdoors when they are not in hibernation are the ones who have adult tortoises and have a shed (garden house) with radiator and heat lamps, and with good insulation. Some shed have glass for light (greenhouses). In the UK young tortoises can't stay outdoors as long as the adults ones. The bigger in mass weight and size they are, the longer they keep heat so more sustainable for adults to manage a life outdoors.