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#1 Peachyandpear

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 12:29 PM

Hi Im new here. I took ownership of two 18 month old torts last weekend. Both from the same reptile centre. Both looked healthy and well, no pyramiding and relatively active from what i could see. They were from a reputable breeder to the reptile centre and the centre appeared knowledgeable and gave us good advice which i have since checked out. We have created a wonderful enclosure with a closed in sleep area, lots of dig-able soil/sand/stones/rocks/logs to hid etc. It seems like a palace compared with the tank and lamp they had previously! One of the torts seems more active and awake than the other and has started eating, not fresh leaves but only wants the vegetable pellets it had at the centre and from the breeder. The other tort spends almost all the time completely buried so much so i can barely find him and not eating either. Ive given them both lukewarm baths a few times to try and encourage drinking and keeping hydrated. It's been hot this week, but any suggestions on whats up with the quiet one? Just settling in? Bit concerned he's not eating or drinking. I have two youngish children who are so keen to see them moving around. Have minimised handling as much as possible but find i have to 'wake' the buried one up, just to get him to come out into daylight. Is this wrong? Am i too keen and should i let him be for a few days more?? Reptile Shop says stop worrying and some are sociable and others not. Thank you!!

#2 wizzasmum

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 12:48 PM

Did the centre tell you who the breeder was? They should always do this if they advertise them as uk bred, as if there is a problem, the breeder can often help. To be honest there are very few genuine breeders who sell to commercial outlets due to the incorrect care advise they usually give. You don't need an enclosed sleep area, this is just wasted space as tortoises prefer to dig under the substrate which also encourages good shell growth. If the centre kept them in tanks, this is another sign their origin might not be as stated, your cert should give you an idea. Please don't offer pellets food, a good centre will not sell you this. Long term they can cause kidney damage and even add to dehydration issues. So long as your tortoises are healthy they will accept decent food eventually. Keep hydrated by bathing to prevent dehydration. It could be that they are just settling in, but it could also be a problem with previous husbandry. Just to give you an idea, an 18 month old would weigh less than 50 grams. Tortoises are not generally a good pet for children, as they dontreally need human interaction, so too much attention would certainly see them hiding away initially. Do you have pictures of them?

#3 Peachyandpear

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 05:44 PM

Hi Wizzasmum. Thanks so much. I live in Guernsey, Channel Islands and so there are only 2 or 3 'breeders' on the island and who supply to the only two commercial outlets we have that sell tortoises. Im not sure what you mean by a cert? Should we have be given some sort of certificate? I understood there were regulations to tortoise importing and breeding but assumed the reptile centre would be up to speed with this. The housing for the 'bed area' is covered and they seem to like going in there to bury. It also has been getting nice and warm during the day and in the sun (35 deg). I wondered if they were cold as previously been indoor tank reared and now outside. May just be a shock to the system. I have used a mix of substrate mainly topsoil with a little play sand and also some hay which they seem to like. (Picture attached) I mentioned one of the breeders to the shop and he had said he would never deal with her as they had previously had issues from babies with soft shells and not healthy. So he is clearly conscious of what to look for and their health. I will ask the reptile shop about who the breeder is and maybe try and contact them. Im slightly disappointed that the breeder would feed them pellets and when i got them from the reptile shop they had a mix of pellets and fresh. I have mixed a few pellets with fresh leaves and flowers in the hope to initially keep some familiar food but concerned there's a lot of change already in their environment. Should i simply leave them alone now and see what happens. Im worried the less active one will just stay buried and not come out unless we encourage it. (Less active one is the darker shelled tort in the pic) We've tried hard to get their environment right and be as researched as we can as know they can require quite somewhat special attention. Thanks in advance. Really want to be responsible keepers and would be upset to think we are doing the wrong thing! I feel more worried about them than I did when I had my kids! Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

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#4 wizzasmum

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 06:18 PM

In the channel isles you don't need certificates, assumed you were in the uk. I don't know the centre you are dealing with obviously, but wouldn't trust the one I know of in Jersey. I'm afraid Reptile centres only want your money and the fact they are keeping them the way they are only goes to show they don't have the animals best interests at heart. Tortoises will naturally go into hide areas if that is their only option, but digging down as they would in the wild is much better for them. 35 degrees is actually a bit hot for them, so they will hide away, their optimum core temp is 30 degrees. Did the shop give you a care sheet from the breeder? This should have mentioned, feeding, habitat, depth of soil, behaviour etc. I'd not use playsand as it's not like the sand in their natural area and cause eye problems. Hay too is quite dangerous and can cause respiratory problems. I know of no genuine breeders who would use pellets, but again the problem you have there is that as certs are not needed, they could have come from anywhere and I do know that on Jersey there are imported tortoises being sold. The tortoises in the pics look to have been grown very fast, which they would on pellets. I'm just guessing they are much heavier than 50 grams. I would dig the little one up each day, keep giving warm baths before feeding and remove the co feed area, so they can see correct light levels each morning. A healthy tortoise won't starve itself, so keep the temps to 30-32 degrees in the basking area and lower everywhere else. So long as they are taking water on board, they will be fine. If there are signs of illness in the little one then get him to a specialist Reptile vet, but otherwise give him a few weeks to settle.

#5 Peachyandpear

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:57 PM

Thanks Sue that's brilliant help. I will do all you suggest. I will remove the hay and replace the soil sand mix with soil only. Totally understand the growth on pellets concept. They are heavier (80g)! Although the reptile place wasn't sure exactly how old and said almost 2 years , thinks they were born august 2015. So very frustrating. Do you mean remove the covered sleep area? Hopefully by doing this they will wake up naturally with the daylight and come out. The enclosure has a wired lid cage to which we added a section of Perspex to create a cloche environment so they have both basking warm and normal no cover. I will measure the temp under there to check in sunlight its warm enough. It has been warm this week though so im guessing on a normal spring summer day it may not reach 30 if the sun isn't out. Would this matter and would i need to consider a heat lamp? Presume the night time temp is less an issue as it rarely goes below 12 c at night. Ok so daily baths and keep offering the fresh food and keep handling to a minimum. Sorry for all the questions! I hope we haven't made a mistake. I would hate to lose the little things from rubbish husbandry before us.

#6 wizzasmum

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 08:52 PM

Thanks Sue that's brilliant help. I will do all you suggest. I will remove the hay and replace the soil sand mix with soil only. Totally understand the growth on pellets concept. They are heavier (80g)! Although the reptile place wasn't sure exactly how old and said almost 2 years , thinks they were born august 2015. So very frustrating. Do you mean remove the covered sleep area? Hopefully by doing this they will wake up naturally with the daylight and come out. The enclosure has a wired lid cage to which we added a section of Perspex to create a cloche environment so they have both basking warm and normal no cover. I will measure the temp under there to check in sunlight its warm enough. It has been warm this week though so im guessing on a normal spring summer day it may not reach 30 if the sun isn't out. Would this matter and would i need to consider a heat lamp? Presume the night time temp is less an issue as it rarely goes below 12 c at night. Ok so daily baths and keep offering the fresh food and keep handling to a minimum. Sorry for all the questions! I hope we haven't made a mistake. I would hate to lose the little things from rubbish husbandry before us.


Yes sorry, covered area (iPad had a blip). The total temp doesn't need to be 30, just the basking spot. Under normal sunny day conditions they can reach a core temperature of 30 just by basking. This is the difference between natural sunlight and artificial lamps. It's called thermoregulation. When I pick my torts up in the garden they are often quite warm, even though other objects around are not. The shell is 'designed' to take in heat this way. Cloudy days will still produce uvb, but not enough heat, which is where the lamps come in and why the tortoises need to make their own choice. It's impossible to grow young tortoises in the uk without added heat, otherwise we would have a wild population of tortoises. 12 degrees and even lower over night is fine. Ground level in the Med is still quite cold overnight, so this is part of their natural habitat. Hope this makes sense.

#7 Peachyandpear

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 09:28 PM

Thanks Sue , i think it makes sense - so you would recommend a lamp for those cooler days with the age they are now? ie,2 yr.

#8 wizzasmum

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 10:11 PM

Thanks Sue , i think it makes sense - so you would recommend a lamp for those cooler days with the age they are now? ie,2 yr.


Definitely, from hatching to old age. In the uk there's not enough natural warmth to keep tortoises outdoor without heated coldframes or greenhouses. The tortoises would eat at lower temps, but would not digest properly if they couldn't reach a core temp of 30C



#9 Peachyandpear

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 07:12 AM

Right, got it. Husband has some work to do this weekend then! Yikes. Thanks for all your advice! I might be back!

#10 wizzasmum

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 10:08 AM

I'm a bit concerned that the outlet isn't giving this information with the tortoises to be honest. Maybe it would be possible for you to pass some links on to them :)




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