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Hello, I'm New And Looking For Reassurance Please!


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#1 Rachel1988

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 11:11 AM

Hello everyone!

Just thought I would introduce myself, feel like I know a good few of you already as have been reading through the forum topics for months before becoming a member in preparation for my two new additions.

I have two beautiful female (or so I think!) hermann's. Flash and Lizzie! They are just coming up to 4 months old, bought from a reputable breeder who works for the tortoise club and tortoise welfare.

I was actually only intending on getting one (Flash) but ended up with two. Lizzie was born with some defects, she's a bit wonky bless her! Her shell isn't domed as Flash's is. I was a little apprehensive about getting her as if the defects with her shell were to lead to health problems I would be devastated but I must say that the month I have had them so far she appears happy and healthy! In fact she is far more active than Flash so far and has a lovely little character! As well as Lizzie's shell, I have noticed that she has 5 claws on each foot and Flash has 4, is this a defect or normal? On one of Lizzie's front feet 3 of her claws are very close together, they have always been that way and appear to have just grown like this. Could this cause an issue and require veterinary treatment do you think?

They have an indoor table, combination bulb, approx. 33 degrees hot end and 23 degrees cool end, substrate of soil and playsand, log hide, wooden bedroom area, water dish, cactus'/succulents in their enclosure, fed from a slate tile. How does this sound? When I moisten the substate I give it a mix about and create little mounds and dips which they love exploring! I bath them daily, again they love! A little unsure if after their bath I am supposed to dry them!? I have tried to but they wriggle around and are so dinky it can be tricky! Feeding them a combination of plants and weeds (few lettuce leaves whilst I am waiting for my weeds to come through on the windowsil) such as dandelion, sowthistle, plantain, pansy, rose, campanula, the odd pad from their echeveria etc sprinkled with limestone flour and nutrobal, they have some cuttlefish and lump chalk plus some tortoise block scattered in the table too but have no interest in any of it!

Have the supplies in preparation for their outdoor enclosure too. Breeze blocks to be set underground, brick walls, and wooden hinged frame with chicken wire to be constructed for a lid. Thinking of getting either one of the wooden pet shelters (the sort on amazon that can be used with guinea pigs etc also) or constructing a wooden shelter with a partition down the middle and felt half the roof and the other half made from a polycarbonate offcut, again what do you think? Was going to have a paved area, soiled area, grass area, weed area and mix of plants and large stones plus a log roll bridge and some plant pots for hides, and obviously a water dish in their somewhere too.

A few slight concerns about my beauties. Without being crude, the frequency they go to the toilet! Unless I am missing it (which I doubt because I spend ages watching them!) They certainly don't pass faeces everyday, I'd say approximately two to three times a week they seem to go, although they look like healthy stools, dark and firm. And whilst I really don't feel they are dehydrated (bathed for approx 20mins a day, access to a water dish at all times too which is definitely being used because I see them get in it/its full of their substrate from being in it previously!) I don't seem them urinate that often and they certainly don't pass urates very often. Lizzie definitely does but unsure if Flash has yet! And when they do pass urates it is in miniscule quantities, when I bought them, the table they were in had some urates in from the other tortoises and seemed to have been much much larger quantity, the quantity I expect to see anyway from my research. I wonder if the absence of urates is an issue. Am I doing something wrong? Whilst they have this access to water and bathing I haven't seen them pop their head under to actually drink!

Sorry for the overload of information, I'm sure it is a little tedious for all the pros out there reading me babbling on!! There is lots more I am sure I wanted to mention but can't think at the moment!! Apart from, how do I add photos?! Completely at a loss with that one!

Anyway apart from concerns mentioned above, they do appear to be very happy little ladies and are in a very loving home! I have desperately wanted a pet tortoise since I was a little girl and now after 20 or so years, it's finally happened! My children have already promised me they will inherit them when I'm gone! They love them dearly just as I do. I just want to take care of them properly, so any hints or tips would be greatly appreciated and I really look forward to hearing back from some of you soon!

Rachel

#2 Rachel1988

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 11:33 AM

Attached File  20151016_191625.jpg   30.02KB   0 downloads

Think I have worked out how to upload! Hopefully this works. Not the best picture. Biggest one is Flash and little one is Lizzie!

#3 Rachel1988

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 11:34 AM

Oh and just to add, their table has been rearranged since then too! This was the first day of having them. Lamp is now down one end more, thermomenters etc in place too.

#4 wizzasmum

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 01:32 PM

Hi and welcome to the world of tortoises. I too very occasionally have the odd one that has a genetic defect and I generally give these away as an extra, but always warn the new keeper that they might not make it. It happens in the wild too, but not making it keeps the species more pure if that makes sense. Just be prepared for the eventuality and then it's not quite so upsetting if it does happen. You seem to have things sussed, the only thing I would not use is sand as it can be irritating to eyes, I also don't use covered areas unless filled with moist substrate as it can detract from normal burying behaviours. 5 claws do occasionally occur, but it might be a genetic fault, it's no big deal. No, you don't dry them after a bath as this wouldn't happen in nature, in fact if you keep the substrate moist, they will not need to bathe, other than occasionally. I'd avoid using rabbit type enclosures as if they can see out, they will stress, trying to escape. Tortoises don't need to pass faeces every day and it takes the gut a long time to fill and to empty. They don't empty their bladders when full, but hang onto urine until they find fresh water, this is why they pee in the bath. They also eat each other's poop, so you might not find it with this recycling going on. Absence of urates can mean two things, either dehydrated, in which case it would bevpowdery or gritty when it did come, or well hydrated, when it would not be noticeable. If yours are bathed frequently then it's more likely well hydrated. You don't need thermometers as once you have their lamp reaching the correct temps, the torts will do the rest themselves. Did your breeder not give you care sheets with the certs? Most do ;) good luck

#5 Rachel1988

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 02:08 PM

Hello! Thanks for your reply! Yes, little Lizzie was given to me, buy one get one free because of being a bit special! Fingers crossed she will be just as well as Flash. The ratio for the substrate is probably 2 parts soil to 1 part sand. The breeder recommended this. She did also mention using coco coir. But she used this in addition to soil and sand. Would you suggest I do that or substitute the sand for coir completely? Yes she did give me lots of care sheets and I have books and downloaded goodness knows how much from the tortoise trust website etc but just a few specifics I couldn't seem to find answers too. Plus I just wanted reassurance from an experienced keeper!

The enclosure I was talking about for outside they wouldn't be able to see out of. Its pretty much just a wooden square hutch with solid sides, felted roof and a ramp up to entrance. But wasn't sure if something with a polycarbonate roof forthem to have shelter and warm up in would be better.

Now you mention not having shelters in the table that makes sense. As they don't burrown down often, probably only a handful of times since I have had them, although saying that they don't use the log hide or bedroom area anyway!! But it is kept nice and moist. They had a bath earlier, Flash passed some urates, not masses, they were mostly soft and creamy like I have read they should be, but did have a small amount of grit. When I say small probably only 1 or 2 particles felt like grit. Anything I can do to rectify that? As like I said they have access to water, moist substrate, regular baths. Thank goodness I don't have to dry them! That was proving difficult!

Would you recommend getting them to the vets just for a check up? General health check up is the side of things I have no idea about. I have read about worming and claws filed/beaks trimmed etc. As they are only babies their beaks and claws seem fine to me and no sign of worms but presume it is advisable for them to get routinely checked? We have a good vets near us which is recommended by the tortoise club thankfully.

Thanks again for getting back to me and all the advice!

#6 wizzasmum

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 07:59 PM

If they start to bury themselves overnight, that will help them produce more liquid urates. No, I don't recommend a vet check, that would be stressful and give a high risk of cross contamination. If they've not been outdoors or with other tortoises worming won't be needed yet. Health checks aren't needed with torts, as if kept correctly there is not much to go wrong. Again, claws and beaks should never need trimming. Decent hard substrate, rocks and slate will stop this happening. Also scatter good around rather than feeding from a dish as this helps provide exercise.

#7 Rachel1988

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 08:05 PM

Okay, thanks for that! You've been a great help and put my mind at rest. Many thanks!

#8 wizzasmum

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Posted 29 October 2015 - 02:07 PM

No, problem, it's why we are all here ;)




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