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New to keeping a Hermann Tortoise - Advice please??

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#1 Guest_Jemma_*

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 03:11 PM


I was wondering if anyone with tortoise experience could give me some advice on our new baby Hermann Tortoise please?

We bought a year old Hermann Tortoise for our two sons 1 week ago tomorrow, they have called him Woody and we are all really enjoying him. As we are new to keeping a tortoise I just wanted to check if his behaviour and the way we have been told to look after him is correct. I have read so many things on the internet on how to keep a tortoise but alot of the articles are conflicting.

The pet shop we bought him from told us that we need to keep him in a Vivarium as he is so young, we keep the temperature at the cool end at around 25 degrees. He has a shallow water bowl and a little house to hide in which he loves. The UV light is kept on for 14hrs per day and the spotlight the same unless the cool end becomes to warm then we switch the spot light off. We were told to feed him a crunchy salad mix which he seems to enjoy and we bath him most days. We keep the vivarium doors open all day for ventilation.

He is worrying me a little as he seems to constantly sleep maybe for 14 hrs at a time. We have to wake him up and then after his bath he will eat for around 1hr, has a little nose around his viv and then goes back to sleep. The longest he has stayed awake in 6 days is about 5 hrs. He only makes an appearence once a day unless we wake him up. Is this normal tortoise behaviour?

I would be very greatful for any advice on how to make our tortoise happy and not so sleepy. The kids love holding him and feeding him butt hey don't get much of an opportunity to show him attention as his always burying himself.

Many thanks,

#2 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 03:37 PM

Firstly vivariums are not good for tortoises, as they dont have enough air circulation.
Petshops recommend them because they want to make a profit, and generally they are ill informed on how to keep tortoises.
Tortoises do far better on an open topped enclosure, with either a combined heat/uv lamp or a UV tube and a spotlight.
Temperatures should be 32c under the light, and around 25c at the colder end.

Did you recieve an artical 10 certificate with your tortoise?
Which is a yellow form.

Heat and light in my house for hatchlings (from this July) are from 7-30ish in the morning until around five oclock when they are all in bed. So really heat and light needs to be on during their active periods which do vary.

Diet should be weeds and flowers, although romaine/cos lettuce can be fed. But the lettuce contains no good nuitrients just water, so should only be fed as part of a diet. Try www.tortoises.net for a great list of plants suitable for tortoises, with pictures.

Bathing your tortoise every day is vital when they are young, as they can become dehydrated very quickly. Bathing is more important than food.

It can take a few weeks for your tortoise to really settle into a new home and routine.

Getting temps and diet right will help get your tortoise more active. if he/she is too hot or too cold he/she will sleep, its their way of dealing with the conditions.
As long as he has a dry nose, clear bright eyes and eats, there should not be a problem.

If you look on the paperwork (if you got the cert) it should tell you the origins of your tortoise.
This will tell you if your tortoise is an imported one or not.
Imported tortoises can come in very healthy, and some come with worm loads which will stop them eating. But can be easily delt with.
A lot to take in, but all part of looking after tortoises, and it does get easier:0)

#3 Guest_Jemma_*

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 07:53 AM

Hi Sandy,

Thank-you ever so much for your very useful reply.

I feel upset with the pet shop for giving us the wrong advice. We are now looking into building a tortoise table for him, luckily my husband is good at DIY. I am thankful that he came with the Article 10 paperwork he is Uk Captive Bred. I wish we had done our research before buying, it's our own fault really that we got misled.

We are now bathing Woody everyday, and have seen an improvement his now coming out to feed a couple of times a day and is staying out longer than he was, maybe his settling in now. His eyes and nose are dry and he looks healthy in himself.

Thank-you again for your advice and I hope your right about it getting easier!

#4 Guest_newtortkeeper_*

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 11:45 AM

Hi Jemma,

First dont panick so much over the viv, its amazing how many preachers on here condemn the use of one, if you remove the doors and the back grill you'll have equal the vent of any tort table. In fact many people flip the viv so it becomes a tort table or reuse old rabbit hutches and adapt them into tort tables!

Several yrs ago there was no tort tables and everyone was using viv's, but now the tables are popular and inexpensive so vivs are pushed as being a no no,
as long as you have a temp gradient and theres ventilation you wont have any probs.

As for the sleeping- foods such as lettuce (which they love) knock them out for hours so i would hold back on that, dandelions can have similar but not such a prolonged effect, clover leaves are really good for activity, rocket too.

The best thing is always remember that your tort has instincts , in the wild it will move if too hot, or bury itself to cool, will drink when thirsty, eat when hungry and sleep when the heat and light of the day has gone, if you replicate as near as possible to what would be its natural enviroment it will tell you the rest. Just get you temps and light right and mix the diet, then note how different foods and conditions altered the activity of your tort.
good luck


#5 Guest_terrypin_*

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 12:09 PM

hi i dont think i preach .but my reasons for using a table are the open aspect which means for one i can use a combi lamp which has a greater uv output than any tube so more beneficial to your tortoise

if you try to use a combi lamp in a viv the heat build up will invaraibly be to great and you will lose your temperature gardient very quickly.

lettuce contains mostly water so how that knocks them out i cant imagine.if you feed clover in any great quantity to hatchlings the high protien content can have a detrimental effect on the shape.


#6 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

Guest_Freddy McGavin_*
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Posted 17 August 2010 - 12:32 PM

Hi There,
Keeping torts. is a learning process and the keepers here on the forum are only trying to be helpful and give others the benefit of their experience. Sandy has 30 years experience and is a highly respected keeper so I for one would bow to her superior knowledge. It is difficult with varying temperatures and conditions here in the UK to give our torts a completely natural life so we have to do the best we can and sometimes this involves making compromises. Also tort keeping has moved on from the time when torts. where kept in inadequate vivs and to be honest this is a progressive step and should be welcomed. Thankfully we know a lot more about keeping torts now then we did in the past and this can only be a good thing as it benefits the torts and keepers alike. To refer to people giving good advice here on the forum as preachers is a little condescending and insulting after all we are all trying to do our best for our torts. Lets keep the forum for discussing the proper welfare of these beautiful creatures and not for snide remarks or personal attacks.
Best Regards

#7 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 01:30 PM

I have used both vivs and open topped enclosures.
So from a PREACHER, I am talking from experience which is probably more than you can say.
When my first hatchling hatched, I used a viv, and thankfullly I used the correct diet, as my tortoise grew far too fast and was large for her size.
As did the next two hatchlings. Then I was advised to use an open topped enclosure. Which I did, since then I have bred many a hatchling and 99% have gone on to be really smooth.
And I take offence from those who preach differently without much experience or putting their name to their messages.
I only ever talk from experience, not what I have read etc. Otherwise I say so.
And if you look at most of the people on this forum they are talking from the same book, when it comes to med tortoises. Open topped enclosures, not vivs.

#8 Guest_Ilkeston_*

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 02:57 PM

Hi there,

Welcome to the forum! We have been keeping Hermanns tortoises for a year now and you would be amazed at how much you learn in that space of time. I am now a bit of an expert at spotting edible weeds whilst out now! Of course when we started out I knew loads of weeds... Both dandelions AND clover! :rolleyes: seriously though, the people (not preachers! Thankyouverymuch!) on here are fantastic! We started out wrong too, viv, Slovenia torts etc though we had done some research on diet etc. It has been extremely enjoyable having our two torts, Flower and Baby and we have had lots of fun with them, compared to what I knew last year to what I know now I feel like I should be advising Sandy! (Not really Sandy... Yiu're safe!) :happy: You honestly will pick up a lot and quickly too. The people here are really helpful and never make you feel stupid or patronised! I have asked many questions on here (especially in the beginning!) and everyone has given me great advice, explaining things clearly, as I say, without making you feel stupid and there is always genuine concern and interested if you have tort problems. You are about to have many years of fun. We have had Flower since 16-07-2009 and Baby since 23-12-2009 and I can genuinely say the 'novelty' hasn't worn off yet! :D Best of luck! Oh and just in case Woody is anything like Flower... Be careful! Flower bites my hubby's toes (no-one else's!) if he doesn't move them out the way quick enough! It's amazing how quickly Flower 'trained' Mark to lift his feet so Flower didn't have to walk around! :laugh: they do make me laugh!! Good luck!

Take care!

#9 Guest_Dawn_*

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 06:27 PM

Hi Jemma, welcome to the forum from me & mine :wub:

You have been offered some very good, experienced and valuable advice on here from two of our very best and experienced keepers...as Freddie mentioned, both Sandy & terry have been keeping torts for years and have no doubt made mistakes along the way (they wouldn't be human if they didn't), but their disadvantage is surely our advantage as they can advise us about these mistakes and ensure that we don't make the same ones and together we can all learn from this...

....or of course you can take advice from someone (who by their own admission) is a new tortoise owner......

As ever the choice is yours, thats the brilliant thing about this forum......freedom of choice ;)

Can't wait to see some pics of the new addition to your family :wub:

#10 Guest_Jemma_*

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 08:51 PM

Hi Everyone,

Firstly I would like to thank you all for your advice and commments you surely have welcomed me to this forum!

Secondly I would like to share with you our last couple of weeks....

After careful thought we decided maybe Woody was lonely as he was kept in a viv with about five other torts, so we decided to purchase Buzz (our 4 year old as you may have guessed loves Toy Story) Since purchasing Buzz little Woody has completely changed in character. He is now climbing over the rockery up the bark logs and eating as if we are going to run out of food!

Buzz has settled in fine and follows woody around. They sleep side by side and baist together aswell. I am so relieved woody is now happy and buzz has settled in well. We still have them
In the viv but we keep an eye on the temps and the doors are always open . We have spent nearly 500 on our torts but the kids, myself and hubby enjoy watching them so much they were definitely worth the expense. I havey
Fingers crossed that they will live long enough for us to one day hand down to our grand children.

Thanks again for all of your comments they have really helped a new, cluless tortoise owner!

Jemma x

#11 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 08:58 PM

Hi Jemma,

Welcome to the forum and many congratulations on the arrival of Woody. :wub:

You have only had him for a short time and he will need time to settle in. One of my torts takes ages to adjust to change and is very quiet when put somewhere different. Hope Woody soon gets used to his new home and keepers! :D

Paula x

#12 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 09:01 PM

Ooooh you got in there first! :laugh:

Congratulations too on the arrival of BUZZ!!

Great news that you now have a happy torthouse. :D

Paula x

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