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#1 Guest_Caroline McI_*

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 11:06 AM

Hi everyone, I can't believe my luck finding this site. I would really appreciate some advice thanks.

I have two Hermanns tortoises - Cookie who is six and a half (had her 5 yrs), Lottie who is three and a half(had her 3 months). I got them both from the same breeder who is always available for advice and guidance. I can phone him anytime and have done so over the years. I did recently lose a bit of faith in him which is why I am asking for another opinion.

Sorry but this might be a bit long:

Cookie was my first tortoise and I love her very much, but I do think looking back I have made some mistakes. She is housed in a box 6ft long by 4 feet wide, she has a wee tunnel to sit under and lots of stones to climb over and to make it less boring, and always had a reflector bulb for heat. She has a great appetite and goes to the toilet no problem. Her shell however is lumpy and I have been told this is a result of too much good feeding.

It wasn't until Lottie's behaviour changed that I began to look at what I was doing wrong with them. Lottie was bright and was a "cheeky" natured wee thing which I loved about her. After a month of being with me she went right off her food then stopped eating completely. The breeder said he hadn't experienced this before and was at a bit if a loss regarding what to tell me apart from keep doing all that I had been doing - put food out, bathe her, encourage her, keep her warm etc.....

This went on for about three weeks and I was losing sleep over worrying. I decided to contact a pet shop who specialises in reptiles (my breeder always advised against speaking to pet shops or vets as they give wrong advise that can harm tortoises). Anyway, the guy I spoke to seemed very good, full of good advice and eventually came to the conclusion Lottie was lacking in calcium and I had caught it in time.

Now this is where I got annoyed - he asked me if I had the correct lighting and I said I had the reflector bulb, he immediately told me I should have a flourescent light and should have had this with Cookie too, he wondered why Cookie had lasted so long without it.

I don't know if it was a misunderstanding with the breeder - he might have thought I had a flourescent light but he never questioned it. He said he doesn't use them!

So I bought the light and Lottie does eat much better now, but she will only eat dandelion leaves and turn hers nose up at other things.
I have barely heard of the plants that appear on these large lists of things to feed them and have been feeding them on broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce, kale, cauliflower, dandelion leaves and they eat clover when out in the sun.

I was advised that when a tortoise has suffered at all it can take a long while to get back to health again, trouble is - Lottie wants to sleep all the time, she isn't as lively as she was when I first got her. Is this ok or should she be running around more?

Thanks for your patience.

#2 Guest_mrstmum_*

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 11:53 AM

Hi, as a new member myself and only had 1 reply to my questions, I thought I would reply to you to make you feel welcome.

You sound as though you know enough, after all Cookie has done well.

I feed my Hermanns tortoise, Mrs T on lettace, (not Iceburg), cabbage and any other greens I happen to have, Dandelions and clover. Occasionally I give her a tiny bit of apple which she loves. I never feed her tomatoes or cucumber which I understood were bad for her. She also has a cuttlefish which she attacks when she feels the need.

She has thrived and grown quite a bit since I got her. If I think she is sulking I talk to her. I do think they get bored and like our company. I know that when mine is in the vivarium, tut tut, she watches form me and comes straight to me when I open the glass front.

Try a treat such as watercress or rocket.

Let me know how you get on. :7

#3 Guest_Caroline McI_*

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 12:19 PM

Hi mrstmum,

Cookie loves apples, sastumas and grapes, I have cut right down on the amount as I've learned over the years it's better as a small treat. I also use cuttlefish and she takes it when she wants. Trouble is, there is so much conflicting advise - tomatoes are good/tomatoes are not good etc..... I have got so confused and I thought I had done a good job over the past 5 yrs :(

I'm laughing about the sulking, Cookie can be moody, I love to kiss her and sing to her while tickling her head. Sometimes she loves it and falls asleep then other times she pulls away from me and lifts her front leg as if to tell me to get lost!

#4 Guest_jadums_*

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 11:53 AM

Hi there and welcome to the forum

As well as the reflector light you also need a uv light. some people have this in the tube form, some in compact d3 and others as a heat light and uv light combined. Whichever way you decided your little torts must have uv and heat.

Is it liek a tortoise table they are in or a viv?

Also at this time of yr with the weathe rbeing as nice as it is now your torts will benefit a great deal from the suns natural uv.

Your torts shouldnt be having tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower im afraid. Ths will have contributed to the lumpy shell.

You want to stick to edible weeds andplants. there is a list on this forum under caresheets i think. If you are usure of the differen plants and weeds try googlin gthem to get some images. You can also buy weed seed which you can plant for your torts :(

also when you give your torts their food sprinkle nutrabol on it. This will help them with the vitamins and calcium they need :(

#5 Guest_Caroline McI_*

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 12:25 PM

Hi Jadums,

I should have said I have a strip light that is on for over 10 hours a day (it's a Reptiglo)and two different reflector bulbs so thay have a hot spot each. I also have Nutrobal to sprinkle but the wee one (Lottie) is a fussy wee thing and I have to trick her into eating anything that has it on.

It's a home made table (I suppose), it's a long box that has no roof, I took one end off so they can come and go as they please, the other end is where they sleep (with a roof and is in the dark) they like it in there.

I'm all worried about this food now, Cookie loves all of those things, but I do vary it, I try not to give too much of something, although I'm really questioning myself now. It could be the difference in human terms between a well fed/well housed/well off child and a child who is barely getting by.

#6 Guest_Ozric_*

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 11:54 AM

Hi Caroline you will get further information from others but here is a start:

Tortoises need UV light. This can come from the sun preferably or special lights either strip UV or a combined heat / UV lamp. If your tort is not getting outside in the natural light they will need UV from an artificial source. Heat on its own is not sufficient but tortoises do need to be warm enough.

Tortoises use UV to turn calcium in the diet into shell for growth and maintainence. Its best to add supplements to the diet to help, most of us add Neutrobal which has vit D in it amongst other stuff.

Lumpy shell is usually over feeding. Aim for a weight gain of 2-4 grams per month max. Any more than this might cause lumpy shell. Sounds easy but the weight goes up and down all the time depending on how much waste products are 'on board'.

Brocoli, cabbage, spinach and kale contain things that inhibit the absorbtion of calcium - not what we want. If you feed these at all it must only be as a small part of the diet. Tomatoes are fruit and we are advised to avoid feeding fruit.

Dandellions have got a lot of calcium in them and are a good tortoise food. Clover is also good and many other weeds. The plants on the lists grow all over and you can grow them easily in the garden. If you need to use shop food go for fresh watercress, endive, rocket, lambs lettuce. Hope this helps a bit. If you can, get your torts out into some natural light when its warm enough. How warm is that? I have asked this question a hundred times! Not less than 10C for sure, they like it heading towards 20C but are expertc at trapping heat form sunlight so if its sunny but only 14C they can work with it.

Good luck!

#7 Guest_Caroline McI_*

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 12:31 PM

Hi Ozric (am I getting the hang of posting these?)

I go out every other day and pick fresh dandelion leaves but haven't heard of half the weeds on these lists, but I do give lambs lettuce and rocket too (they like that).

My breeder says that when all these weeds etc are advertised on the net it's only a ploy to get people to buy things and what I am feeding is fine. Recently I've been really worried.

Cookie is a star, lovely wee thing and never given me any cause for worry but as I'm no expert I wouldn't know if she was surviving as opposed to thriving.

As I live in Scotland, no need to tell you about our weather, but when it is sunny they get out for at least an hour, sometimes twice or three times a day - then they like to sleep after I bring them inside.

* Is there a way to post one reply rather than replying to each individual post? *

#8 Guest_Caroline McI_*

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 12:45 PM

Just been reading some of the things other people say and I feel as if my wee ones haven't had such a great life, our weather is rotten and I live in a flat so they only get outside when it's nice.

I'd never forgive myself if they suffer because of me. I've been told to stop reading things on the internet and that they are fine but I really want to do well for them,, they are relying on me afterall.

#9 Guest_mrstmum_*

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 01:26 PM

All we all want is to do what's best for our animals because we love them. I think you are getting yourself in a state over this. Each of us is different and I expect our tortoises are the same. Some moodier than others. Mines out in her pen at the moment, but instead of enjoying the sun, she has gone into her enclosure. Sometimes it seems that there's no pleasing them.

Just try to vary their diet and get out in the sun with them when you can. :7

#10 Guest_tortgal_*

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 01:30 PM

Brilliant post from Ozric.

Caroline weeds advertised on the net are certainly no ploy to get you to spend your money. Most of these weeds are pickable, especially in an area like Scotland - so they shouldnt cost you anything at all

Again, cabbage, brocolli, carrots fruit etc etc. is out of the question. Really not good for your torts stomach or shell.

A UV light is a must - particularly if your tort is not getting outside for long periods of time. As Ozric said - the UV works as an artificial sun.

anymore q's let us know

#11 Guest_Jo_1984_*

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 01:49 PM

Hi Caroline,
When I first started picking weeds, I printed out the tlady edible weed list. It has pictures of the plants, so you know what you are looking for... Heres the link.... http://www.tlady.cla...t.htm#plantlist
You will be a weed expert in no time ;)
Jo x

#12 Guest_Caroline McI_*

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 02:16 PM

Brilliant, thanks for the advice, I will certainly take the time to look for the weeds, I was just worried that I end up picking something that would harm them.

Am I right in thinking tortoises wouldn't eat something that they don't like the smell of?

When Lottie had stopped eating I emailed four different sites and not one got back to me! There is so much information - do this do that and sometimes they say conflicting things.

It's not as if they make much noise, so I keep looking at them to see if they are ok, but like mrstmum said, I end up in a state worryign that I'm harming them instead of helping them.

They are SO cute.

#13 Guest_Caroline McI_*

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 02:18 PM

Apologies if I'm asking the same thing that's been asked a hundred times by other people.

#14 Guest_jadums_*

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 05:18 PM

mine usally dont touch weeds/plants they r not allowed to eat but i couldnt trust them not to just in case so dont let them around non-edible weeds ;)

#15 Guest_sallybutt_*

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 07:38 AM

I've just joined this group too and have had a hermann for 5 years that I bought from a scottish breeder - might have been the same one??
I too was given similar care instructions but had a friend in the states who keeps lots of torts and she pointed me in the direction of the tortoise trust and tlady for better care info.
Interestingly my tort had irregularities with his defra certificate, so I contacted them and a few weeks later was contacted by tayside police..........

sally in Glasgow

#16 Guest_Caroline McI_*

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 08:38 AM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 26-05-07 AT 08:39 AM (GMT)]Hi Sally, I've been told such conflicting things I've been worrying quite a bit recently. I got my two from someone in Perth, he's been a breeder for many years. Why were you contacted by the police?

#17 Guest_sallybutt_*

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 09:31 AM


I got my tort from perthshire. Police contacted me as the breeder was strongly suspected of selling illegally imported torts as his own scottish-bred. Apparently some of his torts had parasites that meant they had to be foreign. Mine was lucky not to be ill. A lot died. DOn't think they got enough evidence to do anything and I think he is still selling hermanns (adverts in the Glasgow HErald). I used to be really cross about him. He sells himself as a leading expert and president of something or other...........
I was told to keep him in a melon box with a heat pad and a 40 watt spot light for heat. I don't remember the food advice. Certainly he said tomato and other fruit, which aren't great.
5 years on my tort is pretty smooth and starting at 49g is now 299g, which I think is quite slow, but then that is good.

HOpe this is useful.


#18 Guest_Caroline McI_*

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 09:49 AM

Sally, I think it's the same guy. If it is I am furious! He is still selling them, and he told me he was president of the Herpetological Society. I have certificates so how would I know if mine are imported?

#19 Guest_busybee_*

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 10:00 AM

Hi Caroline, I just thought I would say hi as I am a new member as well and all I can say is that these forums are great for advice. I have been reading them for months now before I got my new little hermann a week ago. I was so nervous when I got him/her as there were so many do's and dont's but one week on and I totally adore him/her and I'm getting the hang of picking the right weeds!!

Fran :-)

#20 Guest_Caroline McI_*

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 10:04 AM

Hi Fran, nice to see you. I'm pacing up and down the floor at the minute after what Sally has said, I'm really concerned in case it could be the same breeder I got mine from. The older one has always been ok apart from her lumpy shell (probably my fault) but the wee one stopped eating a while ago and I was so worried.

I'd hate to think she is at risk and I am not qualified enough to catch it in time.

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