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New Tortoise - beginner questions

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#1 Guest_ianb_*

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Posted 24 December 2005 - 10:55 PM

Sorry for a bunch of questions that are probably answered all over the place, but my wife bought me a tortoise as a surprise present (I always wanted one - he will be properly looked after!) and I need to make sure we don't do anything wrong until I can research all of this properly. So, I'd appreciate any help if anyone has the time:

My wife was told it was (and it does appear to be) a Hermanns. She was told it is around 5 years old, and she paid 225 for it. No idea of the sex. I guess he is around 12cm long. He was bought from a large local Garden Centre, but has not come with any form of certificate, and is not microchipped. Apparently the guy said some people get them chipped but you don't need to. She has also bought a heat mat and an infra-red 50w heat Glo lamp, and a Terriglow 5 Terrarium UV tube. I've set all of this up in a 3ft aquarium, and put in fresh veg and tortoise pellets, with water in a cat bowl.

-Should the heat pad, UV and IR lights be on all the time ? Or should the lights go off at night?
-If he (I'll call him he) is allowed to run around the house (we have laminate floors) does he need to be returned to the aquarium at all? The heating in our house is on all the time - it is 22 degrees all the time
-How much water should he drink? I haven't seen him drink at all today, but he has eaten quite a bit. He has also crapped around as much as a small dog!
-Will the cats continue to ignore him? They don't seem that interested. But I'm slightly worried, as we find decapitated mice in the house a few times a week.

-I'm worried about the no certificate thing. I can't find a single site that says I don't need one. But why would the largest Garden Centre around here, and a UK chain I believe, be selling illegal tortoises?

I've kept tropical fish for years, and I know that the initial response from any experienced keeper is going to be Do Your Research First ... but given that it's too late, I'd be very grateful for advice.

Thanks for your time.


#2 Guest_p1glet_*

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Posted 24 December 2005 - 11:38 PM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 24-12-05 AT 11:48 PM (GMT)]Ian if your tortoise is a hermans it must have a certificate (article 10) its illegal to sell this species with out one you must get back in touch with the place you obtained the animal from and ask where it is they should have this for them to legally sell hermans tortoises,
as for accomadation an aquirium is totally unsuitable you need a table enclosure this is basically an open topped box the lighting you have is ok but don't use a heat pad they cause harm i.e burn the animal if it rests on it and can courses digestive problems , diet should consist of weeds no friut, cabbage they again cause digestive and growh problems ,heres some good sites to go on help you with everythng you need check the links for weed seeds on the tlady site. http://www.thetortoisehouse.com/
http://www.tlady.clara.net/id16.htm http://www.tlhttp://...lowcoach.org.uk
Water bowl needs to be shallow and large enough for the tortoise to sit in hermans may not drink much they obtain alot of there fluid from there diet but regular soaking in warm shallow water every 3rd day or so is advisable to keep the tortoise hydrated.
As for cats well if they ignore it i doubt they will do any harm but to be on the safe side don't leave them unattended till your sure its safe, yes allow your tortoise freedom daily be careful on laminated flooring your tortoise may loose its footing and damage it legs well hope this helps for now i'm sure you will get many more responses to this thread merry christmas

#3 Guest_p1glet_*

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Posted 24 December 2005 - 11:51 PM

Heres apicture of a tortoise table i use for my hatchlings i have a trex all in one uvb, uva spotlamp suspended above it if your wondering where the heat and uvb are

#4 Guest_ianb_*

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Posted 25 December 2005 - 12:06 AM

Thank you very much for a prompt reply. It would seem then that the advice my wife was given was all wrong?

The tortoise does seem to like the heat pad - it takes maybe 1ft of the 3 ft aquarium and he has the other 2ft unheated to roam over, but he doesn't seem to leave the heated bit.

So, should I turn the heat pad off altogether then? And should I leave either or both of the IR/UV lamps on all the time, or put them on a timer so they go off at night?

I just want to be very clear on the license thing. The sales guy reckons he has all the certificates to SELL these tortoises. But should I have got a copy or some other documentation?


#5 Guest_egyptiandan64_*

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Posted 25 December 2005 - 12:21 AM

Hi Ian
Yes you should turn off the heat pad altogether. You need to turn the lights out at night, so yes having them on a timer is a great idea. A 12 hours on, 12 hours off light cycle would be just fine.


#6 Guest_ianb_*

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Posted 25 December 2005 - 12:30 AM

Sorry sorry sorry, but just to be sure?
Turn off BOTH lights at night? So, the heat pad is off, and there will be no IR and no UV?

He will be in the dark, and the only heat will be the ambient temperature of the room, which is around 22 degrees C ?

Then, during the day, both lights (IR/UV) should be on again?

Is that right?


#7 Guest_egyptiandan64_*

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Posted 25 December 2005 - 02:31 AM

You've got it :-)

#8 Guest_Simon_*

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Posted 25 December 2005 - 10:57 AM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 25-12-05 AT 10:57 AM (GMT)]Throw the heat pad out it can cause more problems. The heat light and UV are the only things you will need and turn them off at night or else you will confuse the tortoise.

#9 Guest_p1glet_*

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Posted 25 December 2005 - 11:15 AM

The ambient room temp at night is fine for your tort they don't require constant heat 24/7 so 12hours of light and ir basking facility is fine then turn them off for the night , you don't need the heat pad especially as he's been hogging it i would deffinately remove it this is how harm to your tort is caused, but don't throw it away it will come in handy to use under a seed tray if you buy some herbi side weed mix seeds to help it germinate quicker.
As for the licencing you do need a certifcate to prove your tortoise is captive bred if the pet store owner says he has all the licencing to sell tortoises then he should have a copy for you if he says its not needed you must be firm and insist he gives you one other wise you can get in touch with defra animal licencing department you can find out all about this on the slow coach thread i posted you last night

#10 Guest_omare_*

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Posted 25 December 2005 - 05:17 PM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 25-12-05 AT 05:18 PM (GMT)]Hi Ian, welcome to the forum, hope your little guy is doing ok. All the advice you've been given already is great. You have to remember that when you keep a tortoise especially this time of year and it's not hibernating you have to mimic how it would be if it was summer time so there really is no need for any heat or light at night time, would you sleep with the lights on, lol. Your house will be plenty warm enough at night, tortoises don't need to be warm all the time, this can be confusing for them and they may stop eating. Get your tortoise into a routine if you can, so you feed it at a regular time and then it will get use to you. Please don't use a heat mat they can be real dangerous, 60 watt bulb and a really good high spec UV light is all you need, shallow dish of water for drinking and give your tortoise regular warm baths to keep him hydrated. If you can buy some T Ladys seed mix and grow that for him then thats great, combined with some vitamins, you can order the seed mix from the Herbiseed company at this link
Interact with your tortoise, he will love it, ours are always out and about, we have combined heat and UV lights all over the house, yeah they sometimes mess on the floors but in all they are mostly house trained and it can be done with lots of patience. We don't hibernate ours but that personal choice, we love having them around. :)

#11 Guest_ianb_*

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 05:04 PM

yeah they sometimes mess on the floors but in all they are mostly house trained and it can be done with lots of patience.

Could I ask please, how do you house train a tortoise?

Also, having watched him for 48 hours, is it normal for him to try and crawl under spaces that he has no chance of getting under? I let him run around the living room, and he tries to get under the settee or the TV stand. There is maybe a 1" clearance, so he has no hope. But he will just run and run at the gap legs going like mad, but making no progress. We have been leaving him thinking that he would get bored and give up... but he doesn't ?

Thanks to everyone by the way for the advice so far. Heat pad is gone, and his new run is underway.

#12 Guest_omare_*

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 05:19 PM

Yep it's normal for them to try any way they can to get under a gap, It's so cute to watch them. One of ours likes to try and turn the hoover over, it has a small gap under it and he squeezes his self under it and the hoover goes flying lol, very funny to watch and he does it everytime. We have house trained ours by always waiting until they do it in their enclosure then allowing them out and not before, they seem to know that as soon as they see us they go do their toilet and are then let out to walk around the house, don't ask me how they know but they are very intelligent animals and know that if they don't go then they don't come out. It's easier the younger they are, they learn fast, the older ones learn slower but are getting the hang of it lol, oh and have you tried tickling it's back, they love it, we have one that enjoys tickles on everything, particularly the hoover attachment, lol:)

#13 Guest_ianb_*

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 04:53 PM

Please don't use a heat mat they can be real dangerous, 60 watt bulb and a really good high spec UV light is all you need,

My new expensive IR bulb just popped after 3 weeks, so I'm waiting for a ZooMed combo UV/IR to arrive from the aqua place. IN the meantime I have put in a normal reflector as a few people have suggested, but this is VERY very bright. I can't look at it. Are tortoise eyes okay with bright white lights ?

#14 Guest_amy_smith33_*

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 09:00 AM

Hi Ian

When thinking of heat and tortoises, think how they would be in the wild. This gives you a good idea on what temperatures would be needed. Most tortoises wherever they are do have quite a drop in temperature at night compared to day time.
Feeding the same, what sort of plants would they get in the wild.
Always a lot to learn when first getting a tortoise, with such varied information. You have to look at quite a lot to get the correct ideas. And use your common sense with all.

#15 Guest_p1glet_*

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 05:33 PM

Tortoises have a natural instinct to wedge them selves under things in the wild they naturally seek out places to rest that they feel secure in or under, i.e disused burrows of other animals, under thorny thickets,and rock piles , they do this as added protection from predators this way it would be more difficult for a predator to dislodge them while they rest or sleep,your tortoises is basically trying to find a secure resting place

#16 Guest_omare_*

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 05:35 PM

Put it this way, my husband loves animals but if they pooed on his lovely carpet he would not be impressed, so our tortoises know not to, seriously though they do get use to a routine and act on it, if you feed them at a certain time then you kinda know when they are gonna toilet and they don't disappoint lol.

#17 Guest_arnhib_*

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 08:26 PM

I'm only answering this part Ian the others have given you good advice

My wife was told it was (and it does appear to be) a Hermanns. She was told it is around 5 years old, and she paid 225 for it. No idea of the sex. I guess he is around 12cm long. He was bought from a large local Garden Centre, but has not come with any form of certificate, and is not microchipped. Apparently the guy said some people get them chipped but you don't need to.

Without a photo I cannot identify it, only to say a Hermann has a horny end to it's tail, look at the care sheets on this site, it may not be a Hermann tortoise, if a spur thigh (Ibera) this has to little spurs on each side of the tail on the back legs.
You measure the flat part of the shell underneath called the plastron. sit the tort on a tape measure that is on a peice of paper, push the tort head first to a flat surface such as the wall and mark the end of the shell, tail end, measure this and that is the length.
If that is what you are measuring and the tortoise is 12cm and it is also a Hermann, the garden centre has broken the law not once but twice, any Hermann or Ibera tortoise, that is over 10cm long plastron length has to be sold with a micro chip inserted into it's body and has to have a certificate Article 10 whatever age, that must be given to the new owners when sold, the tortoise should not even be in the shop without the paper work, so the garden center is breaking the law.
The licence is yellow and should state parents licence numbers their chip numbers where and when it was born and it has it's own number at the top of the licence
Hope this helps you

#18 Guest_ianb_*

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 02:19 PM

Thanks again to everyone, and for the PMs and emails.

We were sold the following 'pellets' and here is a summary of whats written on them. I've looked at the Tlady sites, and various other links on feeding and none seem to recommend this sort of stuff. But our garden doesn't have weeds, so it's going to take me a while to grow some. Is it okay to use some? I know from my experience with tropical fish food that the instructions tell you to use ten times more than you actually need...

- T-Rex Dry Tortoise Formula. Completely balanced vitamin enriched. Feed as much as he will eat in 12 hours. It's 13% protein 10% fibre, made with corn, wheat, oats, soy, and a bunch of vitamins. 14 for 24 ounces.

- Tetrafauna Tortoise. Complete food for all tortoises. Also feed as much as he will eat in 12 hours. 9% protein / 22% fibre. Made with "derivitves of vegetables and fish"

#19 Guest_p1glet_*

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 03:14 PM

To be honest its not recommened to use these prepared pellet diets i my self have never used them so can't really comment but i do no from the ingredience of the second pellet you describe "don't use it" protien level is to high plus it has fish derivitves no animal protien should be fed to hermans at all.
Why not use until your seeds germinate prepared mixed salad such as florettes mixed salad from any supermarket and add some finely chopped hay to bulk up the fibre and of course a calcium supplement this will be much healthier than the pellet diet

#20 Guest_lepinsky_*

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 06:29 PM

I was sold the T-Rex pellets when I bought my tortoise but soon learned on this forum that it shouldn't be used because it's too high in protein (and that can cause pyramiding of the shell).

Somerfield's and Tesco carry the Floretti Crispy salad mix (it's the Crispy version that you want - it has curly endive, radicchio, and lamb's lettuce in it ). Also, it's amazing how many dandelions you can find, even at this time of year if you walk around with your eyes on the ground (and dandelions are one of the best foods they can have). If you have winter flowering pansies in your garden, the flowers are a favourite of many torts. You can also give him a tiny bit of carrot every now and then for a treat.

And you should be sprinkling lime flour on all the greens to give the extra calcium they need (and/or you can buy a cuttlefish bone - the things budgies eat -- from a pet shop and grate it with your finger nail over their greens). Sometimes it's better if you leave the cuttlefish bone outside in the rain for several weeks first so that the fishy smell goes away. I leave several pieces in the enclosure and my tort regularly nibbles at it. I think the best vitamin supplement is Nutrobal, and I mix it in a salt shaker at a ration of 7 parts lime flour to 3 parts Nutrobal, and sprinkle it on his food every day.

Congratulations on your new tort, and what a nice wife you have!

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