Any tips on improving my horsefield’s quality of life?

sarinaw

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Aug 5, 2020
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Dronfield
Hi there!

We have had our 1 year old horsefield named Walter for around 6 months now and we love him to pieces. I’m constantly worried about him being happy and just wondered if anyone could offer any tips on how we can look after him the best we possibly can. I’m attaching a photo of him and his enclosure.
I’ve read lots of contrasting advice on whether they should have a humid environment or not, at the minute we have him on ProRep Tortoise life substrate.
We feed him daily with lambs lettuce, dandelion leaves and spring greens. He is quite a fussy eater and we often try and introduce new foods to his diet like various flowers and shredded carrot, but he is rarely interested.
In summer we took him out into the garden everyday but now with the cold weather we have made a smaller enclosure so we can bring him downstairs with us for a change of environment. We also let him roam around on the carpet in the living room often so he has as much walking space as he wants.
He climbs on his enclosure wall a lot and I read that horsefields tend to do this but I sometimes worry it is because he isn’t happy - is this normal?
When we first got him he weighed in at 52grams and he is now 72grams, is this a reasonable growth rate?
I’m sorry this is such a mix of questions, but we are first time owners and I want to make sure he is okay and happy!

Any advice would be hugely appreciated
 

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Maro2Bear

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Greetings... I’ll just throw out a few obvious things that I see. The overall enclosure is probably too small, the substrate that you have (although popular in the UK) is too dry & isn’t good & has perlite mixed in. The problem is that this perlite encourages tortoises to eat/pick at the substrate (leads to impaction in your tort’s intestines). Heating/lighting. I see the bright basking light, just wondering how you are providing heat?

Lastly, it’s probably not good to move your tort from one enclosure to another. Makes them antsy...probably one of the reasons it’s scratching to get out.

Soo, yes, id say there are a few changes that you can make to help improve things.
 

sarinaw

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Aug 5, 2020
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Dronfield
Greetings... I’ll just throw out a few obvious things that I see. The overall enclosure is probably too small, the substrate that you have (although popular in the UK) is too dry & isn’t good & has perlite mixed in. The problem is that this perlite encourages tortoises to eat/pick at the substrate (leads to impaction in your tort’s intestines). Heating/lighting. I see the bright basking light, just wondering how you are providing heat?

Lastly, it’s probably not good to move your tort from one enclosure to another. Makes them antsy...probably one of the reasons it’s scratching to get out.

Soo, yes, id say there are a few changes that you can make to help improve things.
Hello,

I’ve never seen him eating his substrate however we will look into other options for this - would you recommend adding a section that is more humid, i’ve seen advice before suggesting the addition of a covered area that has moist soil in that provides lots of humidity to offer a slightly different environment. The light is a UVB light and provides heat as well, we have a thermometer in there measuring the temperature 24/7 making sure it is always around 30 degrees C. He also has a heating mat in the shaded area of his house to keep that warm. I think the photo makes the enclosure look smaller, I’ve had previous advice on here saying it’s an okay size while he is still young and then we will buy a bigger one once he is bigger himself. Thank you for all your help!! :)
 

Tom

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Hi there!

We have had our 1 year old horsefield named Walter for around 6 months now and we love him to pieces. I’m constantly worried about him being happy and just wondered if anyone could offer any tips on how we can look after him the best we possibly can. I’m attaching a photo of him and his enclosure.
I’ve read lots of contrasting advice on whether they should have a humid environment or not, at the minute we have him on ProRep Tortoise life substrate.
We feed him daily with lambs lettuce, dandelion leaves and spring greens. He is quite a fussy eater and we often try and introduce new foods to his diet like various flowers and shredded carrot, but he is rarely interested.
In summer we took him out into the garden everyday but now with the cold weather we have made a smaller enclosure so we can bring him downstairs with us for a change of environment. We also let him roam around on the carpet in the living room often so he has as much walking space as he wants.
He climbs on his enclosure wall a lot and I read that horsefields tend to do this but I sometimes worry it is because he isn’t happy - is this normal?
When we first got him he weighed in at 52grams and he is now 72grams, is this a reasonable growth rate?
I’m sorry this is such a mix of questions, but we are first time owners and I want to make sure he is okay and happy!

Any advice would be hugely appreciated
OK. You asked for this, so don't get mad and leave. Brace yourself. This is going to be a rough ride.

There is not one element of your set up that I wouldn't change. All of it is wrong. You received and followed all of the usual wrong tortoise advice. This is NOT your fault. You've done a fantastic job of following the info and advice that was given to you. The problem is that the advice that was given and the products you were sold is all wrong. I'm sorry. This happens to soooooo many people. I say these things not to be hurtful, but so that you can fix all the problems before something really bad happens.

1. That substrate is deadly and a terrible idea. Limestone bits in a sandy substrate? So the tortoise eats sand when it has calcium cravings? Who in the world thought that was a good idea??? Get rid of it ASAP and tell the pet shop this, and every thing else you learn here.
2. Those bowls are dangerous for tortoises. Both of them are too tall inside and the sides are too steep. Get a terra cotta plant saucer and sink it into the substrate instead. One for food and one for water, and buy a couple extras to have on hand.
3. The MVB bulbs are no good for tortoises. They cause pyramiding by desiccating the carapace. Correct advice in the care sheet that follows. You've got to realize that the pet shop is literally one of the worst places to get pet advice. Its this way all over the world. They sell you the wrong stuff and tell you the wrong stuff.
4. You need a wider domed light fixture and it needs to be hung form overhead. The clamps are not reliable and will always fail, which could literally burn your whole house down.
5. It needs to be dark at night. Use something that doesn't emit light for night heat, but not a heat mat.
6. 30C is a fine daytime ambient, but you still need a basking area that is around 37C, and it should cool down to around 21C at night.
7. Heat mats should never be used with tortoises. It goes against their instincts and they frequently get burned.
8. Russians don't need high humidity, but growing babies should have moderate humidity (50-70%), damp substrate they can burrow into, and a proper humid hide. The big open chamber on your table is not a humid hide.
9. The foods you are offering are not great, and you need much more variety. It will take time to introduce new foods. More on that in the care sheet.

All of the above and more is explained here in this thread. Please come back and ask more questions. We are happy to explain any of this further and realize that you are probably a bit shocked right now. Remember that our sole goal is to help you and your tortoise.
 

sarinaw

New Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2020
Messages
17
Location (City and/or State)
Dronfield
OK. You asked for this, so don't get mad and leave. Brace yourself. This is going to be a rough ride.

There is not one element of your set up that I wouldn't change. All of it is wrong. You received and followed all of the usual wrong tortoise advice. This is NOT your fault. You've done a fantastic job of following the info and advice that was given to you. The problem is that the advice that was given and the products you were sold is all wrong. I'm sorry. This happens to soooooo many people. I say these things not to be hurtful, but so that you can fix all the problems before something really bad happens.

1. That substrate is deadly and a terrible idea. Limestone bits in a sandy substrate? So the tortoise eats sand when it has calcium cravings? Who in the world thought that was a good idea??? Get rid of it ASAP and tell the pet shop this, and every thing else you learn here.
2. Those bowls are dangerous for tortoises. Both of them are too tall inside and the sides are too steep. Get a terra cotta plant saucer and sink it into the substrate instead. One for food and one for water, and buy a couple extras to have on hand.
3. The MVB bulbs are no good for tortoises. They cause pyramiding by desiccating the carapace. Correct advice in the care sheet that follows. You've got to realize that the pet shop is literally one of the worst places to get pet advice. Its this way all over the world. They sell you the wrong stuff and tell you the wrong stuff.
4. You need a wider domed light fixture and it needs to be hung form overhead. The clamps are not reliable and will always fail, which could literally burn your whole house down.
5. It needs to be dark at night. Use something that doesn't emit light for night heat, but not a heat mat.
6. 30C is a fine daytime ambient, but you still need a basking area that is around 37C, and it should cool down to around 21C at night.
7. Heat mats should never be used with tortoises. It goes against their instincts and they frequently get burned.
8. Russians don't need high humidity, but growing babies should have moderate humidity (50-70%), damp substrate they can burrow into, and a proper humid hide. The big open chamber on your table is not a humid hide.
9. The foods you are offering are not great, and you need much more variety. It will take time to introduce new foods. More on that in the care sheet.

All of the above and more is explained here in this thread. Please come back and ask more questions. We are happy to explain any of this further and realize that you are probably a bit shocked right now. Remember that our sole goal is to help you and your tortoise.
wow thank you so much! We followed the advice given to us and it’s dismaying to know that that wasn’t correct, we’ll start fixing these issues ASAP! Thank you for taking the time to reply, I’m going to have a thorough read through of the link you gave :)
 

sarinaw

New Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2020
Messages
17
Location (City and/or State)
Dronfield
OK. You asked for this, so don't get mad and leave. Brace yourself. This is going to be a rough ride.

There is not one element of your set up that I wouldn't change. All of it is wrong. You received and followed all of the usual wrong tortoise advice. This is NOT your fault. You've done a fantastic job of following the info and advice that was given to you. The problem is that the advice that was given and the products you were sold is all wrong. I'm sorry. This happens to soooooo many people. I say these things not to be hurtful, but so that you can fix all the problems before something really bad happens.

1. That substrate is deadly and a terrible idea. Limestone bits in a sandy substrate? So the tortoise eats sand when it has calcium cravings? Who in the world thought that was a good idea??? Get rid of it ASAP and tell the pet shop this, and every thing else you learn here.
2. Those bowls are dangerous for tortoises. Both of them are too tall inside and the sides are too steep. Get a terra cotta plant saucer and sink it into the substrate instead. One for food and one for water, and buy a couple extras to have on hand.
3. The MVB bulbs are no good for tortoises. They cause pyramiding by desiccating the carapace. Correct advice in the care sheet that follows. You've got to realize that the pet shop is literally one of the worst places to get pet advice. Its this way all over the world. They sell you the wrong stuff and tell you the wrong stuff.
4. You need a wider domed light fixture and it needs to be hung form overhead. The clamps are not reliable and will always fail, which could literally burn your whole house down.
5. It needs to be dark at night. Use something that doesn't emit light for night heat, but not a heat mat.
6. 30C is a fine daytime ambient, but you still need a basking area that is around 37C, and it should cool down to around 21C at night.
7. Heat mats should never be used with tortoises. It goes against their instincts and they frequently get burned.
8. Russians don't need high humidity, but growing babies should have moderate humidity (50-70%), damp substrate they can burrow into, and a proper humid hide. The big open chamber on your table is not a humid hide.
9. The foods you are offering are not great, and you need much more variety. It will take time to introduce new foods. More on that in the care sheet.

All of the above and more is explained here in this thread. Please come back and ask more questions. We are happy to explain any of this further and realize that you are probably a bit shocked right now. Remember that our sole goal is to help you and your tortoise.
Hi again,
just had a read through of the thread you linked and wondered if you could give more detail on the orchid bark substrate you mentioned. where would I be able to purchase that in the UK, and what should it look like? Also could you (if possible) link any heating/lighting bulbs in the UK you would recommend? If it isn’t too much trouble:)
 

Lyn W

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Location (City and/or State)
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Hi again,
just had a read through of the thread you linked and wondered if you could give more detail on the orchid bark substrate you mentioned. where would I be able to purchase that in the UK, and what should it look like? Also could you (if possible) link any heating/lighting bulbs in the UK you would recommend? If it isn’t too much trouble:)
Pets at Home sells bags of orchid bark in store or online. The last tine I bought some it was 2 bags for £14. It looks like small chunks of wood and was in black and orange bags.
1610577650807.png
For additional and/or night heat, a CHE run through a thermostat might be your best option. The thermostat stops the temps from getting too hot or cold and the che gives heat without light (torts need darkness to sleep). I use a wide dome for the che. I bought both of mine from The Range but there are several uk online reptile sites to compare prices.
 
Last edited:

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
52,040
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hi again,
just had a read through of the thread you linked and wondered if you could give more detail on the orchid bark substrate you mentioned. where would I be able to purchase that in the UK, and what should it look like? Also could you (if possible) link any heating/lighting bulbs in the UK you would recommend? If it isn’t too much trouble:)
Looks like Lyn has got you covered.

I think they sell ZooMed products in the UK? If yes, the orchid bark is called "Repti-bark". If not, the stuff Lyn showed looks like it will work fine.

I really want you to feel welcome to ask questions. I'm sure there are lots of contradictions that don't make sense right now. We are here to talk tortoises, so we are happy to explain the differences.
 

sarinaw

New Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2020
Messages
17
Location (City and/or State)
Dronfield
Looks like Lyn has got you covered.

I think they sell ZooMed products in the UK? If yes, the orchid bark is called "Repti-bark". If not, the stuff Lyn showed looks like it will work fine.

I really want you to feel welcome to ask questions. I'm sure there are lots of contradictions that don't make sense right now. We are here to talk tortoises, so we are happy to explain the differences.
thank you all again, this is so helpful. I can get hold of the zoomed reptibark but I’m just wondering if it needs any water or something adding to it as the picture of it make it look quite dry. Also, if I made a humid hide would I need to spray water in there frequentply too??
 

sarinaw

New Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2020
Messages
17
Location (City and/or State)
Dronfield
thank you all again, this is so helpful. I can get hold of the zoomed reptibark but I’m just wondering if it needs any water or something adding to it as the picture of it make it look quite dry. Also, if I made a humid hide would I need to spray water in there frequentply too??
Also the zoomed repti-bark says it is fir bark, is this still okay?
 

sarinaw

New Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2020
Messages
17
Location (City and/or State)
Dronfield
Pets at Home sells bags of orchid bark in store or online. The last tine I bought some it was 2 bags for £14. It looks like small chunks of wood and was in black and orange bags.
View attachment 315248
For additional and/or night heat, a CHE run through a thermostat might be your best option. The thermostat stops the temps from getting too hot or cold and the che gives heat without light (torts need darkness to sleep). I use a wide dome for the che. I bought both of mine from The Range but there are several uk online reptile sites to compare prices.
Thank you! What lights would you recommend using in the daytime?
 

Lyn W

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Thank you! What lights would you recommend using in the daytime?
Check to see what the careshhet says but I think you'll need a source of UVB for the colder months. Tubes are recommended but I'm not sure which would be best for you - I have a leopard and his needs are different.
I've used an Arcadia MVB D3 bulb but these are found to dry the shells and cause pyramiding so I'm changing to tubes. They are also quite fragile and very expensive at about £40 -50 a time so tubes will probably be more economical.
In the summer (if weather permits) some time in the sun would be great.
You'll probably also need a basking bulb. You can buy these in the Range or Pets at Home, but spot bulbs are also thought to damage the shell.
There is a thread ongoing about this somewhere I'll try to find it and post the link.
Make sure the bulb holders are ceramic.
 
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sarinaw

New Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2020
Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
Dronfield
Looks like Lyn has got you covered.

I think they sell ZooMed products in the UK? If yes, the orchid bark is called "Repti-bark". If not, the stuff Lyn showed looks like it will work fine.

I really want you to feel welcome to ask questions. I'm sure there are lots of contradictions that don't make sense right now. We are here to talk tortoises, so we are happy to explain the differences.
thank you for all the help you’ve given so far. I’ve been spending the day looking into viable options for the lighting equipment suggested. i already feel relatively comfortable in the substrate needed now except still wonder whether it needs the addition of anything to make it more moist as the pictures make the orchid bark look quite dry.
in terms of the lighting, I was just wondering if you could give your opinion on these options I have found. I have found an incandescent flooding bulb, a ceramic heater and ceramic holder, as well as a few options for a UV tube light as where i am from we have long periods of cold weather where it would be inappropriate to take Walter outside, so after reading your advice I think he needs the artificial kind during the winter.
please let me know what you think if it isn’t too much trouble
 

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Suey

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Hi I’m in uk and for my Russians I use Cyprus mulch called ( forest floor ) which I get online from swell reptiles. They do quick deliveries and have a helpful, friendly costumer service. Think they do two sized bags.
 

Chefdenoel10

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Hi there!

We have had our 1 year old horsefield named Walter for around 6 months now and we love him to pieces. I’m constantly worried about him being happy and just wondered if anyone could offer any tips on how we can look after him the best we possibly can. I’m attaching a photo of him and his enclosure.
I’ve read lots of contrasting advice on whether they should have a humid environment or not, at the minute we have him on ProRep Tortoise life substrate.
We feed him daily with lambs lettuce, dandelion leaves and spring greens. He is quite a fussy eater and we often try and introduce new foods to his diet like various flowers and shredded carrot, but he is rarely interested.
In summer we took him out into the garden everyday but now with the cold weather we have made a smaller enclosure so we can bring him downstairs with us for a change of environment. We also let him roam around on the carpet in the living room often so he has as much walking space as he wants.
He climbs on his enclosure wall a lot and I read that horsefields tend to do this but I sometimes worry it is because he isn’t happy - is this normal?
When we first got him he weighed in at 52grams and he is now 72grams, is this a reasonable growth rate?
I’m sorry this is such a mix of questions, but we are first time owners and I want to make sure he is okay and happy!

Any advice would be hugely appreciated
picture # 4....
I want to bite him on his cheek he is SOOOOOOOOO CUTE!!!!!! 🤗😃🤪❤😂
 

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