Baby Tortoise- how much should I feed him?

Joined
Oct 5, 2020
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45
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Midlands, UK
I have bought a Horsefield Tortoise which the lady in the shop thought was about 6 months old, his shell is about 2.5 inches long, cutest little guy! Please can I get some advice on what to feed him as well as how much and how often. I've read so much info which contradicts itself, feeling very overwhelmed.

I have bought from the supermarket some watercress, lambs lettuce, green and red multileaf, courgette and carrot. So far I have only fed him a little courgette and the lambs lettuce which he wolfs down, is there anything here that I shouldn't be feeding him? I picked some dandelion flowers for him yesterday but he didn't touch them. Any extra suggestions on food would be really appreciated!

Also have put a cuttlefish bone in with him which he hasn't touched, maybe I should get calcium powder instead, best brand to get in UK?

Thanks in advance!
 

RosemaryDW

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Welcome!

The diet sheets sure can be confusing, many of them are really out of date. Plus it’s a lot to take in at once. Try not to worry, you don‘t have to get this all figured out in one week. Let him eat as much as he wants, all day long. Put in a small pile in the morning. If it’s gone by nightfall give him a little more the next; if there is leftover feed a little less.

He can have carrot occasionally, definitely not often, they’ve actually got a fair bit of sugar in them which is hard on their gut.

Courgette is a good food in moderation, so not every day, not more than a couple of days a week, I think, and not much at that.

He’ll get used to the dandelion flowers if you offer them regularly, just give him time.

Can you check for this brand, Florettes “original” crispy? It’s got some good lettuces in there but with more fiber than the lettuce you’re giving him now. Be warned that what you are feeding him now will taste like delicious candy compared to the crispy type—again because those lettuce have more sugars bred into them—but keep mixing in a little chopped very fine and he’ll eventually get a taste for for them. Eventually you can reduce the softer lettuces.

You’ll hear us mention some higher calcium foods that you won’t have in the U.K., don’t worry about it. If you can get kale or some kind of bok choy those are good to rotate in. Turnip tops are great, if they sell them attached to turnips (you have to eat the turnips yourself!).

He doesn’t have to eat all these things overnight, particularly as you don’t know what diet he’s been on; it’s not easy to change a tortoise’s mind once it’s made up. Don’t worry, he’ll be fine while you figure this out.

You may have to supplement with a pellet food such as NutraZu, because grocery store foods are a little low in fiber. Nothing wrong with a supplement, just something else to get him used to over time. No need to do it this minute.

There is a good U.K. based plant resource, the Tortoise Table: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/. It has a pretty good database to look up individual plants you might have growing near you but if you look in the header bar you’ll find some good, basic diet information that should work wear you are.

I’d just leave the cuttlebone in there, myself. If you want to use calcium powder use the tiniest amount a few days a week. You want to only sprinkle on a little fairy dust, so to speak. Too much will turn him off the food and it’s not good for him. I don’t use calcium powder so another U.K. owner will give better advice.

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Zoeclare

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Jan 28, 2020
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690
Location (City and/or State)
Uk
You’ll hear us mention some higher calcium foods that you won’t have in the U.K., don’t worry about it. If you can get kale or some kind of bok choy those are good to rotate in. Turnip tops are great, if they sell them attached to turnips (you have to eat the turnips yourself!).

This is so true, sometimes the names are different as well, took me a while to work out arugula(?) was rocket! 😀
I occasionally use the tiniest pinch of calcium powder but you have to sneak it in with their favourite foods as like @RosemaryDW says if they get a whiff of it they won't eat the food, cuttlebone is the easiest option as they can just chomp on it when they fancy. Its so easy to grow your own bits and bobs too, shelled warriors is good on amazon for buying seeds, even in winter you can use a windowsill or a mini greenhouse. Pansies and campanula do well in the UK and look pretty in pots or hanging baskets.
 
Joined
Oct 5, 2020
Messages
45
Location (City and/or State)
Midlands, UK
Hi both,

Thanks so much for your messages, they've really helped me and I will less anxious now. I have bought the Classic Crispy as above so will feed this to him from now on :) He's definitely getting used to his surroundings now, basks in the day and takes himself off to his hide and digs when he's had enough 😂 There's a field at the end of my lane which has plenty of Mallow and Plantain Ribwort so will mix that in too. I will definitely be looking into pansy and campanula for the window cill thankyou!
 
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