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Eating stones!

Discussion in 'Marginated tortoises' started by julie morgan, Jul 23, 2019.

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  1. julie morgan

    julie morgan New Member

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    Hi I wondered if anyone could advise. I have 2 marginated tortoises ( fluffy and sprout) 1 year old? have had them since hatching and they are doing really well, active and growing. They have been living inside and have an outside enclosure to go in the the weather is warm enough. (Somerset uk) I have just redone their outside enclosure as was getting a bit overgrown for 2 small torties and put grit and pea gravel down in areas but as soon as I put them in fluffy immediately starts looking for stones to eat. Sprout doesn't show any interest in doing this. I'm worried that he will give himself a blockage ( or is this normal tortie behaviour?!) reluctant now to put him in but don't want him to miss out on this lovely hot weather we are having xxxx really don't want to have to redo the whole enclosure again if I can help it!!!!
    Thanks in advance. ( can send pics if needed xxx)
  2. julie morgan

    julie morgan New Member

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    This is their current inside and outside enclosure and the 2 torties ( looking very grumpy as have just got up [emoji38])

    IMG_4945.jpg IMG_4947.jpg IMG_4946.jpg
  3. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    You've got a few problems there:

    • Tortoises should never be kept in pairs. Your two need their own enclosures before irreparable damage is done.
    • Tortoises should never be kept with any sort of gravel substrate.
    • The rock eating is most commonly seen in tortoises that are fed mostly grocery store greens. Does that sound like yours? Grocery store greens by themselves are not good nutrition for tortoises. They lack fiber and tend to have low calcium or low calcium to phosphorous ratios. Your tortoises should be eating primarily broad leaf weeds of the right types with some leaves and flowers mixed in. If you must use grocery store greens, they will need to be amended to add fiber and calcium. Fiber can be added by mixing in some soaked ZooMed Grassland tortoise food, soaked blended grass hay, or freshly sprouted grass. Your species isn't a grass eating species, but grass can still be used to add fiber to their diet. Correct the diet, and the rock eating will go away in time. Over here we have a product called "MinerAll" made by a company called "Sticky Tongue Farms". Using this as a supplement helps restore mineral imbalances more quickly and will stop the rock eating sooner. Not sure if you can find it over there or not, but it will help. There are lots of feeding ideas on the list in this thread. It was written for sulcatas, so just skip the text and scroll down to the food list: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/
    • Your tortoises are pyramiding. This comes from growth in conditions that are too dry. The open top, dry substrate and MVB you are using are all contributing to this problem. A closed chamber, damp substrate and different lighting will help to improve the situation.
    Hope this helps. Questions and conversation are welcome.
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  4. Ben02

    Ben02 Well-Known Member Today is my birthday!

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    Sticky tongue farms supplements are good for rock eaters. @Tom suggested them to me a while ago and it’s really helped my rock eater.
  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Was it difficult to find in the UK? Where did you find it?
  6. Ben02

    Ben02 Well-Known Member Today is my birthday!

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    I had to pay a bit more money but it was worth it. There are a couple sellers on eBay UK
  7. julie morgan

    julie morgan New Member

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    Thanks Tom and Ben I will certainly look up sticky tongue and introduce that. I was aware that it could cause problems them being a pair but we have space to separate them if it became an issue. So far they are both active have steady growth rate and tend to ignore each other so am I missing signs they could be stressed?
    You said about pyramiding Tom which worries me a bit. Both their shells seem smooth so what should I be looking out for?
    They have been exclusively weed feed from day one on a variety of weeds identified from the tortoise table, they tend to get a good variety and fresh grass from the outside enclosure ( planted at the end you can't see in the photo)
    They get a dusting of nutrabal twice a week and daily baths.
    An open enclosure is a problem keeping it humid ( I had believed they were the better option!!! So much mixed advise out there!) I mist regularly and there is a covered hide which they sleep in that tends to keep more humid.
    I was also told the MVB was the best lighting but!!!!!!! Be great to put things right now to set them up well for the next 90 odd years xxxxx
    Thanks guys xxxxx IMG_4950.jpg IMG_4953.jpg IMG_4951.jpg
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  8. julie morgan

    julie morgan New Member

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    Some better photos of fluffy (top) sprout (bottom)
  9. Ben02

    Ben02 Well-Known Member Today is my birthday!

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    Don’t worry too much about the pyramiding, Tom will hopefully give you some tips in the humidity department. (I got confused with humidity when I first started). The pyramiding is barely noticeable and it doesn’t mean the tortoise is sick or unhealthy. It’s simply cosmetic, humidity is the key to stopping it becoming more profound. Cute little torts there as well:)
  10. julie morgan

    julie morgan New Member

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    Thanks Ben, this is a great forum xxxx
  11. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    In years past, I used to recommend MVBs. Now I know better. The light they emit is extremely desiccating to growing tortoise shells. Your second set of pictures look much better than the initial ones as far as pyramiding is concerned.

    The dial type hygrometers are not reliable or accurate. Get a digital one from the hardware store. Those are usually much closer.
  12. julie morgan

    julie morgan New Member

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    Thanks Tom, what do you recommend now light and heat wise? I've got a 100w Uvb strip light and basking bulb but swapped it for the MVB! [emoji38] would going back to the original be better? Xxxxx
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