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#1 Guest_buckells_*

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 06:08 PM

Hello all. I am a new member so forgive me if this sounds stupid or has been asked before. I have two Hermanns, 1M and 1F. Both are aged around 18 months old and I have had them for about 10 months. They were originally the kids but like most pets I ended up looking after them I have noticed that they both seem to have accelerated in their growth quite rapidly. Regretably I didn't weigh/measure them but I notice that their plastron lenghts are now 96mm (male) and 109mm (Female). He weighs 325gms and she weighs 464gms. I notice that the vertebral scutes on the female are particularly raised and that on both of them there are visible growth rings that almost look like record tracks. Is all of this normal as I am concerned that they are growing too fast? They are not fed anything special. Kale, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, some pellets and a sprinkling of vitamins and the odd fruit. Incidentaly he is constantly trying to mount her and bites her legs. Again is this normal. At what age should they be doing this?

#2 Guest_jadums_*

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 10:34 PM

Hi there

no question too stupid so don't worry :)

firstly, being so young you cannot tell 100% if they are male and female however, one does seem to def. be a male because of behaviour. this does not necessari;y mean the other is female tho. If this behaviour is constant im afraid you'll have to separate them as it is not fair on the other tort.

The rapid growth you talk about is a very common problem in captive bred torts. you will never get rid of this bumpiness now but you can help it getting worse. to do this im afraid you're going to have to ditch the current diet and switch to a more tort friendly diet - weeds and other plants. there is a list on the caresheets above and there are always lists on the forum. Another site is the t-lady. she sells weeds and plants seeds especially for torts.

the problem with all the food you said about it is far too high in protein which is what cause the bumpiness. what vitamin powder are you spinkling on? nutrabol is a very good powder which can be sprinkled on food daily. saying this i only feed my torts ebery 2-3 days to help prevent the bumps. they seem to both be a bit overweight so cutting down on food is not going to harm them :)

where are they housed? does it have a uv bulb?

we have all made mistakes with our torts, me included. mine lived on fruit and veg for 4yrs before i realised.

let us know if you have anymore questions :(

#3 Guest_shellie_*

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 10:39 PM

Hi and welcome to the forum.

You'll find this forum and another shelledwarriors.co.uk a fantastic source of information. I know I have being a new tort owner myself.

It does look and sound like that your torts have put on too much weight and too fast (If you look at the Jackson ratio - the link is above). It should be about 1-3 grams per month.

The food you're giving is not really suitable. Don't give pellet food at all.:) Unfortunately the kale, cabbage, broccoli etc. contain substances which are not suitable for torts. Neither is fruit which includes tomatoes. The best foods are certain weeds and plants e.g. dandelion, clover, hostas, hebe etc. There is a list of edible weeds above in the caresheets and also a list on shelledwarriors.co.uk. It is really important to identify them correctly as some plants and weeds are poisonous to torts.

If you're sprinkling vitamins that's good but what are you using? One of the most popular is Nutrubal which contains calcium and various vitamins and minerals. According to the Tortoise Trust this should be lightly sprinkled on the food of hatchlings and juveniles on a daily basis. This can be supplemented with limestone flour (perhaps in a dish) and cuttlefish in the tort table. The cuttlefish also helps trim their beaks.

My torts are only 6 months old so I've not had the problem with mounting or biting but I'm sure someone else will come along soon to advise you.

Hope that helps. You'll soon find this forum and the other one I mentioned a fabulous reference. The Tortoise Trust website is fantastic with lots of caresheets to help guid you.

Just ask if you need to know more and welcome again!:)

Judith

#4 Guest_buckells_*

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 09:34 AM

Thank you ever so much for the quick responses. I am 100% certain of the sex. The male, Speedy has a classic larger thick tail almost permanently pointed to the side and he does all the mounting. We have also seen his extended penis when he's at it and he whistles like a bird. The female, Mooch, has a smaller tail. She's also much bigger than he is and she responds to his passions by raising up her backend. I thought they were too young for breeding as the books all suggest they should be about 4 years old. As for the food we have been feeding what the pet shop recommended! I shall change their diet asap. We dust their food with Nutrabal powder and they do have cuttlefish to scratch on. They were both together in a 3x2 plastic cage affair we purchased with them. This last weekend I built them a 6x2 plywood table top jobbie with a central divider to keep them apart. I put in two 35w UV strip lights, two of those red 75w lights and two 100w heat lights. Each area has a hot and cool end as well. The substrate is a mix of beech chip and that strange peaty block stuff that you soak in water to make it expand, Forest floor I think it's called. This weekend I shall go and get some 'play' sand and mix it in. When we got them about 10 months ago they were tiny, both about 30mm across the plastron. They have both tripled in size in that time. That said apart from the fact that he pesters her they both seem very happy and healthy. They were seperated this weekend and both seemed very depressed about it. Mooch retired to bed and went off her food and Speedy just flopped about. Last night I put them together for a bit and they both perked up, although he again chased her about. I tried to attach some pictures but get a SCRIPT ERROR message.

Thanks all.

Rob

#5 Guest_jadums_*

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 10:38 AM

Hi Rob

I have learnt that the script error comes when the pics are too big. can you reduce them in size?

maybe have times together and apart to give them both a rest :(

4yrs is really too young as well. they live similar times if not older than humans and i wouldnt want a 4yr old child trying to have a baby :(

saying that they are better age at at least 10yrs old older if possible :)

would be great to see some pics :)

#6 Guest_shellie_*

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 01:43 PM

Your table sounds like its coming along great.

We were also given bad advice by the petshop and used the forest substrate which you add water to aswell. It's so hard but gradually everything will come together. I know what it feels like - You just feel you've been doing you're best off what you were recommended and then feel bad that what you were doing it wrong was actually wrong and not the best for your tort. :-)

From recommendations I use 50/50 play sand and sterilised topsoil mix which I bought cheaply from B&Q; I also have some of the area covered in hemp - can be bought from shelledwarriors.co.uk

Hope it all helps
Judith
:)

#7 Guest_shellie_*

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 01:45 PM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 21-02-07 AT 01:46 PM (GMT)]I've always thought that you just need a uv strip light and a heat lamp for basking for each tort; not the red lights.

Judith

#8 Guest_jadums_*

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 01:48 PM

Hi judith

You're right. torts dont need heat at night and so the red light should only really be used with an ill tort who needs to keep warm at night. no pint having it on during the day cos the normal heat lamp should give off enough heat plus torts need it for day light :)

it is really hard and unfortuanltey we've all made mistakes as you say but at least we are doing good for our torts now :)

#9 Guest_shellie_*

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 01:54 PM

Jade,

Thats exactly what I think - at least we'e realised what we've been doing wrong and are doing something about it. We all just want little happy torts:7

Judith
:-)

#10 Guest_buckells_*

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 09:27 AM

Crikey are you saying I don't need those red lights on at all unless they are sick? They cost a fortune as well.

#11 Guest_shellie_*

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 12:29 PM

No you don't need the red lights. Just a uv light that covers most of the substrate and a basking lamp at one end.

Judith
:-)

#12 Guest_buckells_*

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 03:26 PM

Thank you so much for that. I have turned the red lights off. Today I added some play sand which both of them are eating like there's no tomorrow. Is that normal and will it harm them? I have also added some small pot plants, ferns, which I got from a garden centre to make it more natural as I saw from some of the photo's on this web site, they looked quite good. I didn't realise you could do that. Their newly built tabletop has become a bit of a tort paradise compared to what they were used to before. I shall try and add some photos to show you. I am very concerned about what to feed them since natural weeds I recognise like dandelion are non-existant right now, and I wouldn't recognise anything else if it was in my own salad. Where can I source the right food now if I can't get it at a supermarket? I have purchased some 'wild flower' seeds espacially designed for Tort diets but until they get here and grow what can I do?:-)

#13 Guest_shellie_*

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 03:31 PM

I've had exactly the same problem waiting for weeds to grow' Luckily I've found the odd dandelion and sows thistle. What I've done if I've found a weed is take a photo and post it for someone to identify if its ok to eat.

I don't know if torts can eat ferns. Have you mixed the sand with topsoil as I don't know if it's good for them to be eating so much. You could use hemp aswell which is very soft.

Someone else will know more to help you. Looking forward to seeing the photos

Judith
:)

#14 Guest_buckells_*

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 04:58 PM

Here I hope are some pictures. You can see the pyramid effect on Lady Mooch's back.

#15 Guest_jadums_*

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 09:52 PM

Hi

the table looks like its coming on fantastic. getting weeds at the moment is a nightmare. i am lucky we live near some cliffs and a river. i findf giant plantain by the rier and giant dandelions on the cliff so im quite lucky. however, they are still having to have eat romaine lettuce sometimesa during the week as i run out of weeds. spring is on the way tho :D

just an added thing about the substrate i would ditch the wood chippings if you can. sometimes torts eat these accidently and they dont pass too well :P plus it can go mouldy.

the kale etc. i spoke about isnt all too much protein but contains something called oxylate. this prevents the torts absorbing the clacium from the food which they need.

I spent a small fortune buying heat lamps too untill a friend told me i just need the spotlight bulbs from the supermarket. what is the temps at each end of the tort table now? should be about 30 at one end and 20 at the other.

#16 Guest_shellie_*

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 11:33 PM

Looks great.

I agree about the wood chippings - swap for sterilized topsoil/playsand 50/50 mix for some and hemp for the remaining.

Judith
:-)

#17 Guest_Flash Herman_*

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 01:15 AM

Hi there,

I too am new to torty keeping and have learned loads from this website.
You can buy a salad mix from supermarkets called Florette crispy. It has all good leaves in it for tortoises. I mix this in with what weeds I can find at the moment and it is good when weeds are scarce. My torty loves the purple leaves in it particularly.

Watch the sand eating as they can get impacted and that is a serious vet visit. You will know this if they don't poo for ages in a week or so. If you mix it with the soil it should be OK. My torty did the same thing when we first tried it and I was worried, but after a few nibbles he realised it wasn't good to eat. I think sometimes they just have to try things for themselves and learn from it (like kids really!)

Your table looks amazing! You have really gone to town and it looks like a penthouse suite for them! I currently have a viv I converted but will be building something bigger soon. We planted aloe vera in ours which they like to eat, but we kept it in the pot so that he can't just scoff the lot at once as it is supposed to be a treat.

You can also plant pansies and kalanchoe which are pretty and will grow indoors and these are good foods too. Also ice plant and money plant. Hope this is helpful.

#18 Guest_buckells_*

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 09:44 AM

Thanks for all of your comments and help. You are a nice bunch of folks and I have learnt more this week from this web site than I have in the last year while the kids 'looked after' their torts. My only regret is that I didn't take over a bit earlier, but you live and learn. I found another very interesting web site called http://www.pettortoise.co.uk which is well worth a visit. I shall be back from time to time. Again thanks for all your help.:*

Rob

http://www.thekoreanwar.co.uk




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