Hello everyone!

ALUSTRIAL<3

New Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2020
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Penn
New tortoise grandma here! My dad recently got my 9yo daughter a hingeback tortoise from a reptile show. My daughter's named him Tucker (because he likes to tuck into his shell occasionally). He's very laid back, likes his head and chin rubbed, and is content lounging on my chest and walking up to rub his head on your neck. I'm really worried he's not the healthiest at the moment. His eyes tend to water, he's not opening them much, and he's not really eating much at all, and has dark green runny poo. His skin has been looking dry, so I've been soaking him every other day this week instead of twice a week like they told my dad to do. I've been reading through the forums looking for advice, I'm wondering if his basking lamp/ uvb light might be bothering him on top of the dehydration? I'm worried about parasites, but I'd like to get him hydrated and eating before going to the vet and adding meds to an empty stomach. Would a 50/50 pedialyte bath be ok for more hydration?? What other foods could I try giving the poor little guy?? Any advice would be fabulous!!

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KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
4,493
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
Hi, and welcome to TFO!

What kind of UVB light are you using? Is it one that screws into a regular socket? Or is it like a fluorescent tube? If you are using a cfl type, with a curly bulb, please turn it off and throw it out. It is probably what is bothering his eyes. If you're using any kind of UVB that screws in, it's not a good light to use. What you need is a fluorescent tube type bulb and fixture. This is what I and many others use. There are different brands available. You want the 12% desert one in whatever length you choose.


His not wanting to eat much could be because he is still getting used to his new enclosure. It can take several weeks for a tort to get over being moved to a different place.

If you're feeding foods with a high water content, that could be the reason for the yucky poops. This would be cactus, aloe, cucumber, fruits, anything with lots of water in it. It could also be a sign of stress, again from being moved to a new place.

I would try giving him high fiber foods...mulberry leaves, grape leaves, softened Mazuri, softened ZooMed Grassland pellets, escarole, collard greens, dandelion, hibiscus, mustard greens. You could order some of the dried foods from @KapidoloFarms.com I will also post the looooonnnggg list of tort foods that we have.

Compiled by Tom:
Good foods for tortoises are "chicories," types of lettuce that are likely to be on the far side of the more common floppy green heads of lettuce most people buy. Anything labeled as simply "chicory" is good, as are radiccio, frisee, escarole, and endive; you might even find something labeled as dandelions. You may find a bag of "Spring" or "Spicy" mix that is good, just check the label to be sure it has some of the chicories I just mentioned. The leaves (just the leaves) of turnips and radishes are also good, as are carrot tops. Collards, mustard greens, bok choy, and other dark, leafy greens are okay as well. If you have any kind of Mexican/hispanic market near you, they will sell cactus, labeled "nopales." Cactus is a great food to rotate in the diet, as it is high in calcium.

You don't need to feed all of these at one time, just make sure your tortoise is getting access to different types of food. As you get more experienced, you can find the better types of food listed on the care sheets.

Here are a whole bunch of non-grocery store suggestions.

Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Geraniums
Gazanias
Nasturtium
Lavatera
Pansies
Petunias
Hostas
Honeysuckle
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

Weeds:

There are soooooooo many...
Dandelion
Mallow
Filaree
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Nettles
Trefoil
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Clovers
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed
Hawksbit
Hensbit
Hawksbeard

Other good stuff:


"Testudo Seed Mix" from http://www.tortoisesupply.com/SeedMixes

Pasture mixes or other seeds from http://www.groworganic.com/seeds.html

Homegrown alfalfa

Mazuri Tortoise Chow

ZooMed Grassland Tortoise Food

Ones that you can buy in every store:
Arugula
Lambs lettuce
Chicory
Kale
Mustard greens
Organic kohlrabi leafs
Organic carrot leafs
Organic radish leafs
Dandelions
Radiccio


Their main diet should be broad leaf weeds, succulents and grasses. Store bought foods are okay, but not the best. Collards and dandelions are a good food, but neither should be used every day. Check out the plant ID section for lots of ideas on weeds to feed. You can get spineless opuntia cactus pads from most Mexican grocery stores, or grow them yourself. You can also easily grow grape leaves, african hibiscus, regular hibiscus (if it will survive in your area), and mulberry leaves. You can try red apple, ice plant, and jade plant too. Also look into Gazania, pansies, nasturtiums, carnations, geraniums and many others. At the grocery store, favor endive and escarole, but also use cilantro, carrot tops, mustard and turnip greens, bok choy, radiccio, swiss chard, watercress, parsley, all the lettuces, etc. Lots of variety is best. There are also tortoise "weed" seed mixes that you can grow. I like the "Testudo Mix" from Tortoisesupply.com.
Buckwheat; cactus; vetch; Mohave aster; creosote bush; desert four o’clock; tacoma stans; bladderpod; globe mallow; goldenhead; burro weed; so many things!


Feeding:
So much contradictory info on this subject. Its simple. What do they eat in the wild. Grass, weeds, leaves, flowers, and succulents. Feed them a huge variety of these things, and you'll have a healthy tortoise. All of these species are very adaptable when it comes to diet and there is a very large margin of error, and many ways to do it right. What if you don't have this sort of "natural" tortoise food available for part of each year because you are in the snow? You will have no choice but to buy grocery store food. What's wrong with grocery store food? It tends to lack fiber, some items are low in calcium or have a poor calcium to phosphorous ratio, and some items have deleterious compounds in them. All of these short comings can be improved with some simple supplementation and amendments. A pinch of calcium two times per week will help fix that problem. You can also leave cuttle bone in the enclosure, so your tortoise can self-regulate its own calcium intake. What about fiber? Soaked horse hay pellets, soaked ZooMed Grassland pellets, Mazuri tortoise chow, "Salad style", "Herbal Hay" both from @TylerStewart and his lovely wife Sarah at Tortoisesupply.com, or many of the dried plants and leaves available from Will @Kapidolo Farms. If you must use grocery store foods, favor endive and escarole as your main staples. Add in arugula, cilantro, kale, collard, mustard and turnip greens, squash leaves, spring mix, romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, water cress, carrot tops, celery tops, bok choy, and whatever other greens you can find. If you mix in some of the aforementioned amendments, these grocery store foods will offer plenty of variety and fiber and be able to meet your tortoises nutritional needs just fine. I find it preferable to grab a few grapevine or mulberry leaves, or a handful of mallow and clover, or some broadleaf plantain leaves and some grass, but with the right additions, grocery store stuff is fine too. Grow your own stuff, or find it around you when possible. Tyler and Sarah also sell a fantastic Testudo seed mix that is great for ALL tortoise species and also super easy to grow in pots, trays, raised garden beds, or in outdoor tortoise enclosures. When that isn't possible, add a wide variety of good stuff to your grocery store greens to make them better.

Supplements:
I recommend you keep cuttle bone available all the time. Some never use it and some munch on it regularly. Some of mine will go months without touching it, and then suddenly eat the whole thing in a day or two. Sulcatas and leopards grow a lot. This requires a tremendous amount of calcium assimilation over time. A great diet is paramount, but it is still a good idea to give them some extra calcium regularly. I use a tiny pinch of RepCal or ZooMed plain old calcium carbonate twice a week. Much discussion has been given to whether or not they need D3 in their calcium supplement. Personally, I don't think it matters. Every tortoise should be getting adequate UV exposure one way or another, so they should be able to make their own D3. I also like to use a mineral supplement. "MinerAll" is my current brand of choice. It seems to help those tortoises that like to swallow pebbles and rocks. It is speculated that some tortoise eat rocks or substrate due to a mineral deficiency or imbalance. Whatever the reason, "MinerAll" seems to stop it or prevent it. Finally, I like to use a reptile vitamin supplement once a week, to round out any hidden deficiencies that may be in my diet over the course of a year.
 

ALUSTRIAL<3

New Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2020
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Penn
Thank you so much!!! I'll have to switch his uvb screw in bulb for the florescent. I'm finding he doesn't go near the basking and uvb very often, I thought it might have been a problem. I have aloe, agave, and succulents planted in his enclosure, he'll run over the smaller plants, and crawls in behind the aloe. Nothings been nibbled on. I do have the grasslands pellets, I just never soaked them, I'll have to get that started this morning. I was planning on getting some grass and dandelion to plant in his enclosure, I'd really like it to be like a natural habitat for him. I did read somewhere they like portobello mushrooms and was going to go get him some of those as well. Looks like I'll be going black Friday shopping after all!
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
4,493
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
Amazon is your friend. You couldn't pry me out of the house on Black Friday!

What are you using for basking? If it's a reptile spot bulb, you can get rid of that too. Much better is an ordinary incandescent flood bulb from the hardware store. Not an LED "replacement" bulb. It has to say incandescent on it, and flood, not spot. Try a 65 watt.
 

Blackdog1714

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2018
Messages
3,483
Location (City and/or State)
Richmond, VA
As far as a UVB if you get him outside in the sun a few times a week you may not need a UVB. Unless I am mistaken you'll are rolling into summer soon
 

ALUSTRIAL<3

New Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2020
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Penn
He's under a 100w reptile basking light, it's sooooo much brighter than the uvb. Amazon is my best friend, and my bank accounts worst enemy!!! I live in a really small town, I might run in tomorrow and get some food for him and run into the old hardware store for bulbs though. I can't imagine they'd be too busy.

I really wish we were going into summer. Here in mid western PA winter is coming. Today's high is only 50 and rainy. Some days I want to crawl into his enclosure and bask under the lamp!!
 

2turtletom

Active Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2018
Messages
248
Location (City and/or State)
Columbus, Ohio
If you have worked with tortoises, throw everything you know out! Home's hingebacks are totally different from any other tortoise except their close relatives.

They don't need very warm temperatures (I keep mine at about 75 degrees without any hotspot) and they don't readily eat greens, and really it's not even worth trying until you get them established.

Much of the advice given above, like the list of plants, etc., is great for most tortoises, but not for this species. They readily consume live protein- think earthworms, slugs, whole rodents, beefheart, etc. While some people think you can feed them fruit, avoid fruit while getting them established.

UVB light? Not critical for this species- I use no UVB light and have happy, reproducing, and growing tortoises.

Hot heat lamps? Not needed for this species. In nature, their average ambient temperatures in the forest were found in one study to be only 72 degrees! Why? They're essentially crepusclar to nocturnal in the wild, and despite them being from tropical Africa, most people keep them far too hot and dry, when they actually like fairly cool temperatures in the mid 70's. In nature, when it gets hot, they bury themselves underground.


Here are some articles and videos for you:

Most important article is this one, as it applies to where you are right now: https://hingeback.blogspot.com/2019/10/help-my-homes-hingeback-tortoise-is.html

Food: https://hingeback.blogspot.com/2020/02/food-for-homes-hingeback-tortoises.html

And a few videos among several of mine at my channel.



Good luck! These guys require constant attention and care, are not for the faint of heart, but can be established if you're working with them- expect to devote at least an hour a day soaking them, trying different food items, etc.
 

2turtletom

Active Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2018
Messages
248
Location (City and/or State)
Columbus, Ohio
Hi, and welcome to TFO!

What kind of UVB light are you using? Is it one that screws into a regular socket? Or is it like a fluorescent tube? If you are using a cfl type, with a curly bulb, please turn it off and throw it out. It is probably what is bothering his eyes. If you're using any kind of UVB that screws in, it's not a good light to use. What you need is a fluorescent tube type bulb and fixture. This is what I and many others use. There are different brands available. You want the 12% desert one in whatever length you choose.


His not wanting to eat much could be because he is still getting used to his new enclosure. It can take several weeks for a tort to get over being moved to a different place.

If you're feeding foods with a high water content, that could be the reason for the yucky poops. This would be cactus, aloe, cucumber, fruits, anything with lots of water in it. It could also be a sign of stress, again from being moved to a new place.

I would try giving him high fiber foods...mulberry leaves, grape leaves, softened Mazuri, softened ZooMed Grassland pellets, escarole, collard greens, dandelion, hibiscus, mustard greens. You could order some of the dried foods from @KapidoloFarms.com I will also post the looooonnnggg list of tort foods that we have.

Compiled by Tom:
Good foods for tortoises are "chicories," types of lettuce that are likely to be on the far side of the more common floppy green heads of lettuce most people buy. Anything labeled as simply "chicory" is good, as are radiccio, frisee, escarole, and endive; you might even find something labeled as dandelions. You may find a bag of "Spring" or "Spicy" mix that is good, just check the label to be sure it has some of the chicories I just mentioned. The leaves (just the leaves) of turnips and radishes are also good, as are carrot tops. Collards, mustard greens, bok choy, and other dark, leafy greens are okay as well. If you have any kind of Mexican/hispanic market near you, they will sell cactus, labeled "nopales." Cactus is a great food to rotate in the diet, as it is high in calcium.

You don't need to feed all of these at one time, just make sure your tortoise is getting access to different types of food. As you get more experienced, you can find the better types of food listed on the care sheets.

Here are a whole bunch of non-grocery store suggestions.

Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Geraniums
Gazanias
Nasturtium
Lavatera
Pansies
Petunias
Hostas
Honeysuckle
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

Weeds:

There are soooooooo many...
Dandelion
Mallow
Filaree
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Nettles
Trefoil
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Clovers
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed
Hawksbit
Hensbit
Hawksbeard

Other good stuff:


"Testudo Seed Mix" from http://www.tortoisesupply.com/SeedMixes

Pasture mixes or other seeds from http://www.groworganic.com/seeds.html

Homegrown alfalfa

Mazuri Tortoise Chow

ZooMed Grassland Tortoise Food

Ones that you can buy in every store:
Arugula
Lambs lettuce
Chicory
Kale
Mustard greens
Organic kohlrabi leafs
Organic carrot leafs
Organic radish leafs
Dandelions
Radiccio


Their main diet should be broad leaf weeds, succulents and grasses. Store bought foods are okay, but not the best. Collards and dandelions are a good food, but neither should be used every day. Check out the plant ID section for lots of ideas on weeds to feed. You can get spineless opuntia cactus pads from most Mexican grocery stores, or grow them yourself. You can also easily grow grape leaves, african hibiscus, regular hibiscus (if it will survive in your area), and mulberry leaves. You can try red apple, ice plant, and jade plant too. Also look into Gazania, pansies, nasturtiums, carnations, geraniums and many others. At the grocery store, favor endive and escarole, but also use cilantro, carrot tops, mustard and turnip greens, bok choy, radiccio, swiss chard, watercress, parsley, all the lettuces, etc. Lots of variety is best. There are also tortoise "weed" seed mixes that you can grow. I like the "Testudo Mix" from Tortoisesupply.com.
Buckwheat; cactus; vetch; Mohave aster; creosote bush; desert four o’clock; tacoma stans; bladderpod; globe mallow; goldenhead; burro weed; so many things!


Feeding:
So much contradictory info on this subject. Its simple. What do they eat in the wild. Grass, weeds, leaves, flowers, and succulents. Feed them a huge variety of these things, and you'll have a healthy tortoise. All of these species are very adaptable when it comes to diet and there is a very large margin of error, and many ways to do it right. What if you don't have this sort of "natural" tortoise food available for part of each year because you are in the snow? You will have no choice but to buy grocery store food. What's wrong with grocery store food? It tends to lack fiber, some items are low in calcium or have a poor calcium to phosphorous ratio, and some items have deleterious compounds in them. All of these short comings can be improved with some simple supplementation and amendments. A pinch of calcium two times per week will help fix that problem. You can also leave cuttle bone in the enclosure, so your tortoise can self-regulate its own calcium intake. What about fiber? Soaked horse hay pellets, soaked ZooMed Grassland pellets, Mazuri tortoise chow, "Salad style", "Herbal Hay" both from @TylerStewart and his lovely wife Sarah at Tortoisesupply.com, or many of the dried plants and leaves available from Will @Kapidolo Farms. If you must use grocery store foods, favor endive and escarole as your main staples. Add in arugula, cilantro, kale, collard, mustard and turnip greens, squash leaves, spring mix, romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, water cress, carrot tops, celery tops, bok choy, and whatever other greens you can find. If you mix in some of the aforementioned amendments, these grocery store foods will offer plenty of variety and fiber and be able to meet your tortoises nutritional needs just fine. I find it preferable to grab a few grapevine or mulberry leaves, or a handful of mallow and clover, or some broadleaf plantain leaves and some grass, but with the right additions, grocery store stuff is fine too. Grow your own stuff, or find it around you when possible. Tyler and Sarah also sell a fantastic Testudo seed mix that is great for ALL tortoise species and also super easy to grow in pots, trays, raised garden beds, or in outdoor tortoise enclosures. When that isn't possible, add a wide variety of good stuff to your grocery store greens to make them better.

Supplements:
I recommend you keep cuttle bone available all the time. Some never use it and some munch on it regularly. Some of mine will go months without touching it, and then suddenly eat the whole thing in a day or two. Sulcatas and leopards grow a lot. This requires a tremendous amount of calcium assimilation over time. A great diet is paramount, but it is still a good idea to give them some extra calcium regularly. I use a tiny pinch of RepCal or ZooMed plain old calcium carbonate twice a week. Much discussion has been given to whether or not they need D3 in their calcium supplement. Personally, I don't think it matters. Every tortoise should be getting adequate UV exposure one way or another, so they should be able to make their own D3. I also like to use a mineral supplement. "MinerAll" is my current brand of choice. It seems to help those tortoises that like to swallow pebbles and rocks. It is speculated that some tortoise eat rocks or substrate due to a mineral deficiency or imbalance. Whatever the reason, "MinerAll" seems to stop it or prevent it. Finally, I like to use a reptile vitamin supplement once a week, to round out any hidden deficiencies that may be in my diet over the course of a year.
So much of this is great for most tortoises, but does not apply at all to Kinixys homeana.
 

ALUSTRIAL<3

New Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2020
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Penn
If you have worked with tortoises, throw everything you know out! Home's hingebacks are totally different from any other tortoise except their close relatives.

They don't need very warm temperatures (I keep mine at about 75 degrees without any hotspot) and they don't readily eat greens, and really it's not even worth trying until you get them established.

Much of the advice given above, like the list of plants, etc., is great for most tortoises, but not for this species. They readily consume live protein- think earthworms, slugs, whole rodents, beefheart, etc. While some people think you can feed them fruit, avoid fruit while getting them established.

UVB light? Not critical for this species- I use no UVB light and have happy, reproducing, and growing tortoises.

Hot heat lamps? Not needed for this species. In nature, their average ambient temperatures in the forest were found in one study to be only 72 degrees! Why? They're essentially crepusclar to nocturnal in the wild, and despite them being from tropical Africa, most people keep them far too hot and dry, when they actually like fairly cool temperatures in the mid 70's. In nature, when it gets hot, they bury themselves underground.


Here are some articles and videos for you:

Most important article is this one, as it applies to where you are right now: https://hingeback.blogspot.com/2019/10/help-my-homes-hingeback-tortoise-is.html

Food: https://hingeback.blogspot.com/2020/02/food-for-homes-hingeback-tortoises.html

And a few videos among several of mine at my channel.



Good luck! These guys require constant attention and care, are not for the faint of heart, but can be established if you're working with them- expect to devote at least an hour a day soaking them, trying different food items, etc.

I came across the first article you shared earlier today. I really hope rodents aren't his favorite!! I'd never be able to stomach that. I'll be getting some worms, snails and mushrooms tomorrow and seeing if he eats anything. He's been more active after his now nightly soaks, so I'll try the food after he's had his bath.
 
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