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Advice with Horsfield

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#1 Guest_jonathanhubbard_*

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 04:46 PM

Hi guys,

I've recently bought a Horsfield from our local pet store, and she seems to be happy, but I had a couple of queries and I'd like to ask the experts!

She eats very well, a variety of fresh food (toms, brocolli, rocket etc), and come the spring I'll be able to introduce more natural things like dandilions. I also have a calcium powder from the pet shop that I add to her food when I replace it (twice daily).

She's started to grow now, but one side of her shell seems to be growing faster than the other - is this a problem? The pet shop said it's nothing to worry about but I'd like to make sure. I've attached a couple of pics to show the difference.

Secondly, I get her out and bathe her three times a week. Research before I bought her suggested this would be a good thing, but I've been reading further, and now I'm not so sure!! what do you guys think?



#2 Guest_Jo_1984_*

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 06:39 PM

Hey John, im no expert but can offer a bit of advise...
Her shell is probably linked to her diet...Foods like brocilli contain oxalic acid which stop her from absorbing calcium, same with foods like kale and cabbage. Horsfields also do not cope well with 'wet' foods such as tomato's. Your tort needs a high fibre, low protien diet which can be best met by feeding weeds :-)
Due to the lack of frost lately theres still loads about especially dandilion, sow thistle, plantains etc and you can also feed plants such as pansys...
Take a look at this site which also has pictures to help you identify weeds...
Also feeding twice a day is too much, reduce this to once a day at most, and take away any uneaten food after an hour.
Keep on bathing her to keep her hydrated :-)
Jo x

#3 Guest_jonathanhubbard_*

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 08:39 PM

Thanks Jo! :-)

Glad I checked - foodwise, I basically copied the pet shop's advice, and what they were feeding her when I went in - I think I'll go in and tell them to stop feeding brocolli and tomatoes! They said to ensure there was always food available too...

That's a really good link - I think I'll go on a walk tomorrow and 'shop' for some new food!

I've got an appointment with the vet as a precaution, I'm just concerrned that vets don't have the best knowledge of tort's as they're quite rare still..... Call me paranoid but I want the best her!

Thanks again,


#4 Guest_Jo_1984_*

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 10:09 PM

No worries :-) Pet shops practically always give bad advice to new tortoise owners... Having food avaliable to tortoises all the time is lethal, especially with horsfields as they are only awake for about 3 months of the year in the wild.
Just remembered this russian tortoise site is well worth a read, and the tortoise trust also has loads of info on diet, housing etc which you might find useful:
By the way I don't suppose you were sold a vivarium with your tortoise too?
Your tortoise is a cutie by the way :-) How old is she?
Jo x

#5 Guest_veebee_*

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 10:33 PM

Just to add to Jo's good advice, feed only weeds sprinkled with limestone flour everyday, and 3 times a week the flour mixed with neutrobal 5 parts limestone flour : 2 parts neutrobal.

Also you need a good uv light, if its a strip light it should be at least 8 or 10 % eg reptisun 10, and remember strip uv lights only last 6/7 months and even tho working should be replaced as the uv diminishes over time. Another good source are the combined heat/uv lamps such as trex, these are much stronger and last upto 2years.

When spring/summer comes best source of uv is the sun, one hour in the sun is worth a day under a lamp!

It does sound like its a combinations of diet and lighting (before you obtained the tort), so you can change these and put a stop to the damage now.

Good luck, and keep us informed. Vivienne

#6 Guest_jonathanhubbard_*

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 11:25 AM

Hi guys,

thanks for the info!

Jo - not sure how old she is, the vet reckons about a year (she's 50 grams).

Yes I was sold a vivarium, which the vet said was a no-no, so I've bought a rabbit hutch which is supposed to be better... you actually get a variation of temperature now! I've changed the substrate to Loam soil and sand, and she seems to be loving it!

To be honest I can't believe the pet shop sell them like this, but I went back to them and complained. They spoke to the breeder while I was there and they said the viv was fine!

Also I've changed the light to a t-rex UVB light - expensive but worth it. I've still got the strip light in there - do I need it? Can you give too much UVB, or is the more the better? :)

#7 Guest_hobbernob_*

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 05:10 PM

Hi, Were you given a certificate when you brought her? They must ALWAYS give you one of these when you buy a tort,it will tell you when they hatched, species, breeder etc. If you were not given one you must go back to the pet shop and get it!

Just thought I would check as you said you were not sure how old she was!

#8 Guest_jonathanhubbard_*

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 05:46 PM

Hi there,

apparantly Horsefields that are bred in the UK don't need a certificate :( It's a shame as it would be nice to know her actual birthday so I could get her a present :+

I guess I'll do it from a year before when I bought her..

#9 Guest_hobbernob_*

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 05:51 PM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 15-01-07 AT 06:48 PM (GMT)]Just ignore me! I thought you did but hubby just said that he doesnt think you do either, thats why I love this site, constantly learning new stuff!
sorry about talking nonsense!

#10 Guest_lepinsky_*

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 08:38 PM

Hi there,

apparantly Horsefields that are bred in the UK don't need a certificate :( It's a shame as it would be nice to know her actual birthday so I could get her a present :+

I guess I'll do it from a year before when I bought her..

Horsfields don't need a certificate whether they are UK-bred or imported. If you bought your tortoise from a petshop, it is almost certain that it has been imported, and you should take a fresh sample of poo to the vet to have it tested for worms, as imported torts are almost always carrying a heavy worm infestation.


#11 Guest_Milly_*

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 11:05 PM

Can I just add that Nutrabol should be fed sprinkled daily on the diet for young and growing tortoises they need the vit/min content to grow correctly nutrabol is high in concetrated calcium also .
Gravid females also need these supplements daily.

I would suggest rather than dose the diet with calcium powder(carbonate) leave it in a dish that the tortoise(s) can help them selves from .

This way you know at least that the main dose of vit/mins(nutrabol)has been consumed.


#12 Guest_arnhib_*

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 11:27 PM

Hello Jan
You've had a few different ideas in this link.
First of all let us clarify that tortoises need calcium daily whether it be in calcium carbonate or lime stone flour, (which is bought from a horse supply shop, not a garden centre)
Nutrabol should only be given 2/3 times a week as you can overdose with this,
The easiest solution is to buy a cheap sugar shaker and put 7 teapoons of calcium and 2 teaspoons of Nutrabol mix them up and sprinkle daily
The tortoise looks like it is slightly deformed on one side, she also looks overweight,
Russians sleep in the wild a lot more than other torts, and are really only active in their native country 3/4 months a year, in high summer they burrow down to escape from the heat too. so to forfeit this much sleep they are on a mission to stock up on food stuff to keep their bodies going, it's built in them to do this, but in the UK it's not so hot and they don't sleep so much during the summer, but their natural instinct to eat as if there is no tomorrow is still there, so they need to be watched closely
The photo's are extreme but this is what can happen if left to eat all in their path and these torts were also kept in a vivarium
The photo's are from the Tortoise Trust dietry disasters

#13 Guest_jonathanhubbard_*

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 12:52 PM

Wow. That's really bad. I took Tola to the vet and yes, she did have worms! They gave me some powder to put in with the food which I have done, then I need to wait 3 weeks to take her back for more tests.

I've changed a lot too now:

o Rabbit hutch instead of a vivarium
o T-Rex UV lamp instead of the one the pet shop included with the viv
o Digital Thermometer for more accurate temp readings
o Digital scales so I can measure the growth rate
o Weeds with the occational 'treat' as food, instead of previous diet (salad only as per pet shop's instructions).
o Neutrobal and calcium as per the advice on this site (thanks guys!!).

She seems much happier now, and is growing slowly - I'll be making sure photos above don't happen to my tort!

#14 Guest_lepinsky_*

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 08:20 PM

That's exceellent, Jonathan! You're going to give your tortoise a really happy life.


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