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Dietary Advice


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#41 Guest_Stella_*

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 05:01 PM

Chris, as long as you feed a varied diet then it all balances out. Sometimes the only thing you may find are, for example dandelions, mine absolutely adore them, but other days you may have an abundance of plantain, or sow thistle......I love to hear them crunch the stems!!! Or it may be pansies or evening primrose with a bit of hollyhock. This is why it is best to check out the Tortoisetable site, you may be surprised what garden flowers you are already growing. Just be careful about the fertiliser use. X x xhugs x x x

#42 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 11:34 PM

HI all,
 
I have been reading this topic with interest. I don't use dry foods and try to feed my tortoises fresh weeds whenever possible. At the moment, this means quite a lot of dandelions (as there are loads in the garden and they're easy to find where I walk the dogs). 
 
My torts are particularly keen on the flowers and stems so I was concerned to read that these could lead to problems with calcium absorption. (I use a D3 strip lamp and a calcium supplement on their food.) Should I reduce the amount of dandelions (particularly flowers) I'm giving them?
 
Chris

Hi Chris, we should aim for a varied diet, but in the wild they would gorge on dandelions when seasonal and they have an excellent calcium to phosphorous ratio. They do not lead to problems with calcium absorption, so dont worry about this. Obviously if a plant is fed solely for a long period of time, there will be problems providing all the required nutrients ;)

#43 Guest_Barney_*

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 11:48 PM

I reckon it's best not to feed the stems at least. But dandellions are in abundance around now and I'm not suggesting we should never feed them.

 

The calcium in the dandellions that are eaten probably doesn't get absorbed because of the oxalic acid in the plant. Since tortoises need quite a lot of calcium it's best if dandellions don't make up a huge proportion of the total diet over time. Quite a lot of other plants have oxalic acid in them as well but it is particularly high in the stems of dandellions.

 

What I do is avoid feeding dandellions entirely when there are lots of other food plants available.



#44 Beermat89

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 12:07 AM

Hi Barney.
Im not quiet sure where you get this info from as i dont do things out of a book but dandelions make up a fair amount of my torts diet in the summer as it grows in numbers in their enclosure and i can asure you i dont cut the stems and flowers off for them lol.my torts are healthy and have no ill effects from this.A varried diet and allowing torts to graze as they would in the wild is the best way.
Just my opinion :)

#45 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 12:20 AM

Mine too Matt. This is what would happen in nature. The stems are ever so slightly higher in protein, but this is plant protein, which is essential to muscle growth, so nothing to be concerned about and as plants are seasonal, the diet is easily regulated throughout the year.

#46 Guest_Barney_*

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 12:23 AM

Hi Sue  - yes the dandellion has a good ratio of calcium to phosphorous, but because of the oxalic acid that calcium is probably not absorbed. The calcium binds with the oxalic acid in the gut to form insoluble salts. 

 

This is a factor in human nutrition.

 

http://healthyonraw....in-oxalic-acid/

 

It is only the calcium in the dandellions which passes through without being absorbed. So other foodstuffs with available calcium are providing the tortoise with calcium even if it is in the gut at the same time as the dandellion.

 

This is a bit different to what I wrote before when I said they interfere with calcium absorption. What I really meant is that dandellions do not deliver much if any calcium because of the oxalic acid and the sap in the stems is very high in this chemical.

 

I said 'probably' in the top line because this hasn't been scientifically proven in reptiles as far as I could find out. This binding of calcium is the normal action of foods high in oxalic acid when they are digested.

 

Younger leaves probably don't have oxalic acid in them.



#47 Beermat89

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 12:30 AM

Agree Sue,plant protein is very different to animal protein which we know can be harmfull if eaten in large large amounts,im saying this as my little bunch like to eat an odd slug or 2 if they come across them lol.

#48 Guest_Barney_*

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 12:32 AM

I think we're agreed that variety is important  :)



#49 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 12:36 AM

Hi Sue  - yes the dandellion has a good ratio of calcium to phosphorous, but because of the oxalic acid that calcium is probably not absorbed. The calcium binds with the oxalic acid in the gut to form insoluble salts. 
 
This is a factor in human nutrition.
 
http://healthyonraw....in-oxalic-acid/
 
It is only the calcium in the dandellions which passes through without being absorbed. So other foodstuffs with available calcium are providing the tortoise with calcium even if it is in the gut at the same time as
 
This is a bit different to what I wrote before when I said they interfere with calcium absorption. What I really meant is that dandellions do not deliver much if any calcium because of the oxalic acid and the sap in the stems is very high in this chemical.
 
I said 'probably' in the top line because this hasn't been scientifically proven in reptiles as far as I could find out. This binding of calcium is the normal action of foods high in oxalic acid when they are digested.
 
Younger leaves probably don't have oxalic acid in them.


Tortoises are extremely clever creatures and will often choose young tender leaves as opposed to older ones ;) is this good for them, because it means less oxalic acid, or bad for them because it means less fibre? All I know is that I have given them the choice for over thirty years, they have produced many healthy babies and never a kidney or bladder stone in sight. My garden doesn't have a buttercup in sight because they cleared them all, young plants that is. I don't feed them according to human requirements as the digestive tract of a tortoise is so different, so assimilates foods in different ways. I shall continue to feed them the way they have been fed as results are just so flipping good.
Please don't take it the wrong way, but do you have any qualifications in chelonian nutrition? I don't, but do take guidance from those who do. Annie Lancaster is a good source of advice on this score as endorsed by the Tortoise Trust amongst others.
Good grief is that the time, must get to the nest for some Zzzzz's ;)

#50 Guest_Stella_*

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 06:52 AM

HI all,
 
I have been reading this topic with interest. I don't use dry foods and try to feed my tortoises fresh weeds whenever possible. At the moment, this means quite a lot of dandelions (as there are loads in the garden and they're easy to find where I walk the dogs). 
 
My torts are particularly keen on the flowers and stems so I was concerned to read that these could lead to problems with calcium absorption. (I use a D3 strip lamp and a calcium supplement on their food.) Should I reduce the amount of dandelions (particularly flowers) I'm giving them?
 
Chris


Hi Chris, I have been out this morning and there is quite a lot of garlic mustard around (Jack by the hedge). The recommendations are feed sparingly ss is ok to give a try. To be honest mine are not that keen, particularly the babes. However the older torts eat it once the other stuff has gone. Plantain is starting to come through now though it is so low you will need a nail brush when you get home!!! X x xx hugs x x xx

#51 crotchetybear

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 08:40 AM

Thanks guys,

 

The discussion is very interesting but I'm reassured and think I'll continue to feed as I have been doing. I downloaded the tortoise table guide when I first got the two little ones last year and have been feeding a variety of both weeds and garden plants (grown at home from seed so no fertiliser), supplemented by salad only when there's nothing else available. As has been said, dandelions are seasonal just now and the torts love them - I don't feed solely dandelions so I'm confident what I'm doing is OK. (Interestingly, my older tortoise - wild-caught and imported 40 years ago - only eats the leaves, and only eats them early in the spring. He completely ignores them the rest of the year.)

 

I know what you mean about the nailbrush Stella. I pick plantain from a local nature reserve where I walk the dogs and it was growing quite well until a couple of weeks ago when the council came along with machinery and cut/scraped all the weeds away in the name of "management". They already put rare breed cattle there to keep growth down so I'm not entirely sure why they need to do both. Anyway, the plantains are starting to recover now so are back on the menu.

 

Many thanks for all the advice  :)

Chris



#52 Guest_Stella_*

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 12:05 PM

Doesn't your heart sink when you turn the corner to get weeds you know will be there only to find the grass cutters have been out!!! X x xhugs x x x

#53 Guest_Barney_*

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 12:12 PM

Hi all

 

plantains are an especially good tortoise food because of the phosphorous - calcium ratio  and absence of oxalic acid.

 

I appreciate what Sue and Beermat89 are saying about 'natural grazing' and I agree with a lot of that. But what grows in our gardens is not natural grazing from the point of view of a tortoise. The different climate and soil types as well as human activities means there is a very different range of plants.

 

I agree with Sue that human and reptile digestive systems are not the same but there is not a lot known about tortoise digestion. So it's normally accepted to take some notice of what has been found from mammal studies. An example is that we are advised not to feed Ragwort. It is definitely toxic to farm animals and so we are told not to feed it to tortoises. There isn't any evidence of human poisoning from ragwort.

 

The issues about plants containing oxalic and phytic acids and how these might affect tortoises are not new but maybe they haven't been discussed on My Hermann Tortoise Forum before.  



#54 Guest_Stella_*

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 04:36 PM

I think Barney, that sometimes stronger personalities tend to dominate when advice is asked for, and with this being the case, often others points of view can be overshadowed. I think this happens particularly when people are unsure of all the technicalities.

For example, I know quite a bit about looking after my tortoises, I have kept them for a long time with no problems and have bred babes. However, I would be unsure in a discussion (though I have a good idea) 'why' I need to do certain things, particularly if then I had to explain my reasons and have to offer qualifications for having my thoughts. The example I will make is with the dandelions....... I once read it was advisable not to over feed stalks. I understand why, and made the decision not to do it. The same with buttercups.....advised not to to do it. I do know that some say buttercups are safe.....and to be honest now if there are traces in the weeds I supply I do not worry, whereas before I would pick all signs out. For this specific reason I do suggest checking out the Tortoisetable plant base web site. It helped me a lot and I still refer to it. But then that is the choice I made to stop myself being confused with what other people said I could/nt feed.

I would hope that, like myself, people would read a variety of forums in order to get a lot of opinions before settling on a course of tortoise keeping that suits themselves. I can understand why people come onto forums like this and say they are confused about advice they have been given. But then loving tortoises I suspect we can all agree....... Ignore any advice given by pet shops, do research before you get your tort, buy from a breeder and ask questions in a variety of places so you get the advice that suits your circumstances. X x xx Hugs x x x

Ps......plantain collecting at this time of year is really no good for a girls nails......

#55 JerryMaffz

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 05:16 PM

I think Barney, that sometimes stronger personalities tend to dominate when advice is asked for, and with this being the case, often others points of view can be overshadowed. I think this happens particularly when people are unsure of all the technicalities.

For example, I know quite a bit about looking after my tortoises, I have kept them for a long time with no problems and have bred babes. However, I would be unsure in a discussion (though I have a good idea) 'why' I need to do certain things, particularly if then I had to explain my reasons and have to offer qualifications for having my thoughts. The example I will make is with the dandelions....... I once read it was advisable not to over feed stalks. I understand why, and made the decision not to do it. The same with buttercups.....advised not to to do it. I do know that some say buttercups are safe.....and to be honest now if there are traces in the weeds I supply I do not worry, whereas before I would pick all signs out. For this specific reason I do suggest checking out the Tortoisetable plant base web site. It helped me a lot and I still refer to it. But then that is the choice I made to stop myself being confused with what other people said I could/nt feed.

I would hope that, like myself, people would read a variety of forums in order to get a lot of opinions before settling on a course of tortoise keeping that suits themselves. I can understand why people come onto forums like this and say they are confused about advice they have been given. But then loving tortoises I suspect we can all agree....... Ignore any advice given by pet shops, do research before you get your tort, buy from a breeder and ask questions in a variety of places so you get the advice that suits your circumstances. X x xx Hugs x x x

Ps......plantain collecting at this time of year is really no good for a girls nails......

 

Excellent post, Stella.






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