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Timothy hay, alfa hay...

Discussion in 'Tortoise Diet and Food' started by XxDarkEuphoriaxX, Sep 16, 2009.

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  1. XxDarkEuphoriaxX

    XxDarkEuphoriaxX New Member

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    Hi, the local pet store sells medium sized bags of "organic" dry timothy and alfa hay. Would this be a good food for a tortoise of the Gopherus species?

    Would it be willing to eat the dry hay? Soon it will be cold outside in my area and I need to figure out some winter foods it will eat...

    Also is "spring mix" a bad food if it was the bulk of the diet for a gopherus species over the winter? Is it too much leafy greens and not enough grass? I have some zoo med "grassland tortoise" diet and it doesnt want to eat that as far as I saw. Dandelions it always eats... are they good for it? Actually right now about all it eats is the grass and weeds in the yard in its pen... it eats lettuce but I don't feed it any.
    thx
  2. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer Staff Member

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    The only trouble with the hay you buy in the pet store is it is mostly stems and it is very dry and pokey. Look in your phone book for a feed dealer in your town. Then go and ask them if you can bag up some of the leavings that are on the ground under the hay stack. DON'T USE ALFALFA HAY!!! Alfalfa has too much protein for a grazing tortoise and it is hard on their kidneys.

    If you can't find a feed dealer, go to either carolinapetsupply.com or oxbow.com and buy their Salad Style Hay. It comes in a small package, and it is very fresh and soft. When you open the bag it smells like spring time in a field of grass. For a very tiny tortoise, you would cut it up smaller than it comes and just sprinkle it over the Spring Mix. For a larger tortoise, it is already the correct size. Just moisten the greens and sprinkle a bit over the food.

    Yvonne
  3. ChiKat

    ChiKat Active Member

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    I had a leftover bag of Timothy Hay from my guinea pig and I have been putting that in Nelson's enclosure. He loves to crawl on it and hide under it and occasionally nibble on it.
    Should I not use that anymore since it's so dry and sharp?
    Or is it okay to have in there to hide under since it's not part of his diet?

    ...just a paranoid new mother over here ;)
  4. maggie3fan

    maggie3fan Well-Known Member

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    I created a relationship with my local feed store and so they let me fill large bags of loose hay. I can't tell the difference in alfalfa or timothy, I try to get the locally grown grass hay because it's soft and smells so sweet. Last year I filled 3 big black bags and that's what Bob ate over the winter. It was free and I'll bet it was close to a bale.
  5. tortoisenerd

    tortoisenerd New Member

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    The dries sharp hay is ok for a tortoise to climb on, but getting a tort to eat it that needs to be eating it is another story. Katie, I think what you have is fine and I have the same for my Russian. I have never had a problem with it being too pokey. In fact, when only the soft stuff and little pieces at the bottom of the bag was left to put out when I changed it, my tort didn't use it! He likes the stuff that he can hide under and walk over better with the long sticks.

    Spring mix and dandelion greens are ok. You do have to watch that the dandelions are high in oxalic acid. You want a mix of greens that are low in oxalic acid (lettuces and turnip greens) with those that are higher (dandelion, mustard, radish, collard). Of course, you want as much grasses and graze sort of foods as you can. If you can get him to eat hay that is awesome. What other types of greens does your grocer sell? Look for those not already in the spring mix. You can also rotate spring mix brands. For a large tort, look for Costco or such that sell the tubs of spring mix. Can you grow anything indoors in winter? How cold does it get (does your lawn still grow and could you pick weeds and bring them to the tort)? What I would worry about with your tort is feeding it lettuces all winter and then having a tough time getting it back grazing. The lettuces are a little more desirable to them than grasses typically.

    Yes, timothy hay is good but not alfalfa. You can also see if the tort likes Mazuri tortoise food. You can order a 1 lb bag online, and if the tort likes it, get a 25 lb container ordered at a feed store. It's a good supplement. Some will feed it exclusively, but I think a mix of it and greens is good. It's the only thing I have seen that has natural ingredients besides the Grassland Tortoise food.

    I would start planning now and see if the tort will eat the hay in any way. How big of a tort? How are you housing it this winter? Sounds like a tricky task!
  6. XxDarkEuphoriaxX

    XxDarkEuphoriaxX New Member

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    its about 3 to 3.5" long right now. It stays in a 65 gallon aquarium at night with sand that I am going to switch to repti bark in the next few weeks... It gets down in the 20's in the winter where I live. Grass and weeds don't really grow....
  7. katesgoey

    katesgoey New Member

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    Kate replied: "You can also see if the tort likes Mazuri tortoise food. You can order a 1 lb bag online, and if the tort likes it, get a 25 lb container ordered at a feed store." Where online can you order Mazuri? Thanks.
  8. tortoisenerd

    tortoisenerd New Member

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    Sandy: If you go to Google Shopping you will find places that sell it, or else Ebay or some members of message boards. http://www.google.com/products?q=mazuri tortoise diet&hl=en&aq=f

    XxDarkEuphoriaxX: Why repti bark? Yes, agree sand is not ideal but I also think you could find something a little easier for a little tort to walk on than bark. Coconut fiber, organic potting soil, Cyprus mulch, or orchid bark could work. Also, some of the barks have toxic woods in them so you have to be careful to read the ingredients on the bag (sometimes it will specify it's a wood mix but not what types), and not buy it if either ingredients or not listed or there is a toxic wood. Do you think you could get a big Rubbermaid container instead of the aquarium? How is the temperature gradient working in there? In the winter, is that your plan? If it's freezing outside, you may still have luck growing inside. I have heard of people even using grow lights to grow trays of weeds and greens. Best wishes.
  9. katesgoey

    katesgoey New Member

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    Thanks Kate:)
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