Horsefield Tortoise concern

Joined
May 25, 2021
Messages
59
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London
Hiii,
I'm new here. It's lovely to meet you all. I just wanted to ask a few questions on here about my tortoise but first let me give you some background info.
I got Toto from a family friend who said he's about a year old at the time (sep 2019). He was in a table top enclosure but only had a insted heat lamp and a heat mat. He didn't go outside much but he was high up inside to get sunlight through the windows. When i got him i bought him a baking bulb with uva and uvb and it was attached to a on/off thermostat. She had it set to turn off at 28°C. He was fine for the months i had him although due to being a new owner i should have weighed him to monitor his growth (he's my first reptile). His she'll had a tiny bit of pyrymading (one one scute-the first middle one closest to his head) but the rest of his shell was fine.
This year, however, i noticed his scutes getting a slightly darker colour underneath and im not sure whether its new growth or if he is developing MBD because these darker patches are a bit soft. I do have to apply some pressure too. His plastron is fine but is also a little soft. Currently, he is around 3.5 inches.
Due to my negligence, i didnt realise i had to change the bulb to make sure hes getting enough uba/b so i think after a while he just want getting enough. It still have it heart though. So this month, I have moved him to a viv because i have younger siblings and i don't want them to get hurt if the accidentally touch the heat lamp (just for a while because he's still small and where i live its too small to get a larger enclosure. Hopefully we will move soon so i will 100% get him a bigger one. I still also have his table top enclosure which I'll take outside when the weather warms up a bit. I live in south east England so the weather is a bit glum and i don't have a secure garden to leave him outside)
He has an arcadia 12% UVB light strip (with 30% uva) and he has a heat lamp on one end of the viv. I use tortoise terrain (soil like) and i spray is every so often. He has good ventilation too and i like to put him in his tortoise table (with a lot of substrate) to sleep at night as the temperature remains fairly constant. He's very active, likes to climb on top of his hide (he was also like this when i got him) and bathes in his water bowl. I also soak him. So i don't know if I'm just worrying for nothing or if i should take him to a vet. He does have a cuttle fish bone in his viv now, but i still do solenoid some powder on his food since he's not to keen on the bone). I did this when he was in his table top too. He's never been before and i don't know any around me..
He walks fine and he's even begun to shed again, I'm just concerned over his shell. Since his husbandry has changed, should i leave him for a while to see improvemnts before i take him. His shell isnt too domed either but it's not flat (looks normal to me).
I'm still young so i am trying. Any help is greatly appreciated.
 

Mrs.Jennifer

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Welcome to the forum! I am by no means an expert, but attached is a very thorough care sheet that was written by one. It’s a lot of info to take in at first, but read it over a couple of times and come back with questions. Everybody here loves helping tort owners improve their husbandry for the sake of healthy tortoises.
 

Lyn W

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Hi and welcome,
Can you post a pic of his enclosure so that you can get feedback to make sure he has everything he needs?

The caresheet linked above will hep you with temps, substrate, diet and much more. So read that carefully but please ask as many questions as you like for further advice.

www.thetorotisetable.org.uk is a good guide to tort safe food and there are plenty of weeds about now but
make sure you pick them from places away from fumes and anywhere pesticides or fertilisers have been used.

When I was in a WHAT store earlier I saw that they are selling dog paddling pools for £10.99. They are rigid plastic and a good size. With some substrate in the bottom they would make an ideal secure enclosure for small torts to get some short spells of supervised outside time when it's warm enough. You would need to make sure it's partially covered to provide some shade and has water in it but I thought it could be useful for people with limited space.
 
Joined
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Hi all, thank you for the warm welcome. I was super nervous before joining i literally cried😂. Also, apologies for the spelling mistakes in my post. I have attatched what his enclosure looks like now, just a side note, i did use some things around the house to cover a bit of the glass so that it is not at his eye level. I heard that can stress them out..but dont worry there is a bit of depth before the glass starts and it's not broken (please excuse my foot) i also change his water every morning. I also attached a photo of his shell. If you're wondering where his food is, he ate earlier and i got rid of the rest. I forgot to mention above but his eyes are nice and clear and there is no discharge from his nose either.
He likes to eat kale, carrots, dandelions and i do give him some pellets to (the ones you wet) 20210525_135025.jpg 20210525_135006.jpg
 

Lyn W

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Thanks for the pics.
The substrate you have looks very dry and sandy. Torts will also eat the white bits so they are dangerous for your tort - you should change that asap - coco coir and orchid bark are very popular and will hold the moisture that will give your tort the humidity he needs. (see the caresheet for information about that). Torts like to dig too so make it deep enough to let him do that if he wants.

Carrots are not a good regular food for torts because of the sugar in them - torts systems can't deal with sugars which is why fruit should never be fed. They are also a choking hazard. Kale is OK but he needs variety so try to find a variety of leafy greens - the tortoise table link will help you with that. Dandelions, ribwort and broadleaf plantains, clover, lambs lettuce are some of my torts favourites. Pellets are Ok occasionally.

Torts are grazers so they need to have food available at all times so that they can return to it throughout the day. He also needs a bigger water dish - a terracotta plant saucer sunk level with the substrate will be easier for him to safely access and exit when he wants to self soak.

I can see the uvb tube in there and a CHE - do you use that for his basking spot or is there a basking bulb too? You need a thermometer and hygrometer in there to keep an eye on the temps and humidity at his level. Too cold can cause a respiratory infection and too hot can make him over heat.

When your friend kept him near a window for uvb he wouldn't have been getting any at all so he has gone a long time without it, the tube is much better to for him as needs it to help him absorb minerals and calcium. If you can get him outside for some real sun - even for 15 - 20 mins a time - it will do him a world of good (but with shade and water avialable).
Read the caresheet and come back to check anything you need help with.
 
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Hi there, thank you for your feedback. I've always used this substrate but he bever eats the white stones, but you are right it does get dry quickly so i spray it regularly.
I don't give him carrots regularly. I gave him a bit today and that was the first time in ages. I know they are sugary so i dont give him too much. And i 100% agree, I'm looking to get him a new water bowl. This is the one he came with but i do soak him regularly, every other day, and when he pees no urates come out which i heard that means he is well hydrated (researched earlier, as he used to pee them out). I use the CHE as his basking spot since he gets his light from another tube.
I know he went without uv for a while (im not sure if she took him outside much) as i was suprised that when she gave him to me, he only had that CHE. Don't worry the CHE is attached to a digital thermometer and the probe is in the enclosure so i can monitor the temperature..although he can be a bit naughty and sit on the probe. His light and heat are on for roughly between 10-12 hours.
Since he is housed indoors the temperature doesn't drop too low and there are more vents at the top of the viv, if any one was concerned.
I will try to vary his diet more and perhaps buy my own plants to keep as a food source.
I definetly will get him outside... It's just english weather is..not so great..that's why i kept his tortoise table so that i can bring that outside to know he is safe and it has a shaded section.
He has more substrate in his hides so he can dig but i put him in the tortoise table to sleep as there is more substrate in there.
I will look into the substrate you recommend-i use pets at home to get my current substrate.
Honestly thank you for your help, I've just been so worried about him lately and i just want to look after him right.
Was his shell looking okay...?
 

grumpytort

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You can get coco coir and orchid bark at pets at home :) i’d worry that the current substate may get in and irritate his eyes due to being so dry!! it’s all learning at this stage but it sounds like you’re doing great and care about him a lot!! he’s a cute guy xx
Hi there, thank you for your feedback. I've always used this substrate but he bever eats the white stones, but you are right it does get dry quickly so i spray it regularly.
I don't give him carrots regularly. I gave him a bit today and that was the first time in ages. I know they are sugary so i dont give him too much. And i 100% agree, I'm looking to get him a new water bowl. This is the one he came with but i do soak him regularly, every other day, and when he pees no urates come out which i heard that means he is well hydrated (researched earlier, as he used to pee them out). I use the CHE as his basking spot since he gets his light from another tube.
I know he went without uv for a while (im not sure if she took him outside much) as i was suprised that when she gave him to me, he only had that CHE. Don't worry the CHE is attached to a digital thermometer and the probe is in the enclosure so i can monitor the temperature..although he can be a bit naughty and sit on the probe. His light and heat are on for roughly between 10-12 hours.
Since he is housed indoors the temperature doesn't drop too low and there are more vents at the top of the viv, if any one was concerned.
I will try to vary his diet more and perhaps buy my own plants to keep as a food source.
I definetly will get him outside... It's just english weather is..not so great..that's why i kept his tortoise table so that i can bring that outside to know he is safe and it has a shaded section.
He has more substrate in his hides so he can dig but i put him in the tortoise table to sleep as there is more substrate in there.
I will look into the substrate you recommend-i use pets at home to get my current substrate.
Honestly thank you for your help, I've just been so worried about him lately and i just want to look after him right.
Was his shell looking okay...?
 
Joined
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Messages
59
Location (City and/or State)
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You can get coco coir and orchid bark at pets at home :) i’d worry that the current substate may get in and irritate his eyes due to being so dry!! it’s all learning at this stage but it sounds like you’re doing great and care about him a lot!! he’s a cute guy xx
Thank you Xx. He's really cheeky too. I actually ordered some orchid bark already and it should come by Tuesday. I get what you mean about his eyes being irritated, i was always worried about that especially when he steps on the substrate after bathing and then wipes his face. I do make sure to spray and mix the substrate to keep the humidity up and to not make it super dry. But, i will be changing it due to everyone's advice. I've had him for a little over a year and a half so i should have joined this forum a long time ago so i could make the changes sooner.. But i guess now is better than never. Xx
 

Lyn W

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The CHE would be much safer if run through a thermostat as they can get too hot then your tort can overheat and die. One of our members just lost a young tort because of that. Thermometers can fail if batteries run low - or probes are covered, and with the best will in the world you can't be there all the time to switch the che on and off when required - accidents happen. I got mine in the Range about £35 but well worth it for peace of mind.

Any plants you buy from shops or garden centres will have been treated with chemicals (pesticides, fertilisers etc) so it is advised that any bought for enclosures or food are repotted in chemical free soils after washing roots and leaves, then left for at least a year before using. So growing from seeds may take longer but will be safer. In the winter I have to use shop bought greens but there are lots of good weeds about now. I collect fluffy dandelion heads and plantain seeds and scatter them in my garden and in pots.

His old table may help him get uvb outdoors but not give him the space he needs to move about. Being able to roam in a safe enclosure is important for bone health and digestion, but at his age he should be supervised and kept safe from predators -, dogs, cats, birds etc. while outside.

Most of tort health problems are because of things we do or don't do for them so better late than never to correct mistakes.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
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The CHE would be much safer if run through a thermostat as they can get too hot then your tort can overheat and die. One of our members just lost a young tort because of that. Thermometers can fail if batteries run low - or probes are covered, and with the best will in the world you can't be there all the time to switch the che on and off when required - accidents happen. I got mine in the Range about £35 but well worth it for peace of mind.

Any plants you buy from shops or garden centres will have been treated with chemicals (pesticides, fertilisers etc) so it is advised that any bought for enclosures or food are repotted in chemical free soils after washing roots and leaves, then left for at least a year before using. So growing from seeds may take longer but will be safer. In the winter I have to use shop bought greens but there are lots of good weeds about now. I collect fluffy dandelion heads and plantain seeds and scatter them in my garden and in pots.

His old table may help him get uvb outdoors but not give him the space he needs to move about. Being able to roam in a safe enclosure is important for bone health and digestion, but at his age he should be supervised and kept safe from predators -, dogs, cats, birds etc. while outside.

Most of tort health problems are because of things we do or don't do for them so better late than never to correct mistakes.
I 100% agree with you. Because i am home pretty much all the time i can check up on him throughout the day, however there are times when he does like to sit on the probe. I tried placing it on the walls of the enclosure but it didn't pick up the temperature change as much. So there are times when i do go out and I'm just worried about him constantly (probably not good for my health 😅). My thermometer is run through a plug so i don't have to worry about batteries and turns the CHE off by itself once the price has detected that the set temperature has been reached. One out falls to a set temp, then the lamp turns back on. However, i will look into a thermostat. Any recommendations?

I have up the idea of buying plants. Instead i use the weeds from my garden which i know are safe, along with a little bit of store bought greens and occasionally some pellets. I have some dandelions, chickweed and buttercups that i will add too.

Since he is still quite small, his old enclose will be big enough for him to roam right now. When he gets bigger I'll invest in a paddling pool so he can move around more. I'll always have to supervise him anyway as my garden can pretty much be accessed buy anyone as our gate is broken.. And i don't want him to be stolen. Plus other people's cats jump into our garden too. Hopefully if we move soon to a place with a private garden, i can build him a large and safe outdoor enclosure. Xx
 
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The CHE would be much safer if run through a thermostat as they can get too hot then your tort can overheat and die. One of our members just lost a young tort because of that. Thermometers can fail if batteries run low - or probes are covered, and with the best will in the world you can't be there all the time to switch the che on and off when required - accidents happen. I got mine in the Range about £35 but well worth it for peace of mind.
Sorry, i meant to say that i have a thermostat not a thermometer xx
 

Jan A

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Thank you Xx. He's really cheeky too. I actually ordered some orchid bark already and it should come by Tuesday. I get what you mean about his eyes being irritated, i was always worried about that especially when he steps on the substrate after bathing and then wipes his face. I do make sure to spray and mix the substrate to keep the humidity up and to not make it super dry. But, i will be changing it due to everyone's advice. I've had him for a little over a year and a half so i should have joined this forum a long time ago so i could make the changes sooner.. But i guess now is better than never. Xx
Welcome to the forum. Lots of learning & experience here. Best of all, all are welcome, & we also have turtle experience. We just want to better torts' lives.
 
Joined
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Welcome to the forum. Lots of learning & experience here. Best of all, all are welcome, & we also have turtle experience. We just want to better torts' lives.
Thank you for the warm welcome. I couldn't agree with you more xx😁
 

Lyn W

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I 100% agree with you. Because i am home pretty much all the time i can check up on him throughout the day, however there are times when he does like to sit on the probe. I tried placing it on the walls of the enclosure but it didn't pick up the temperature change as much. So there are times when i do go out and I'm just worried about him constantly (probably not good for my health 😅). My thermometer is run through a plug so i don't have to worry about batteries and turns the CHE off by itself once the price has detected that the set temperature has been reached. One out falls to a set temp, then the lamp turns back on. However, i will look into a thermostat. Any recommendations?

I have up the idea of buying plants. Instead i use the weeds from my garden which i know are safe, along with a little bit of store bought greens and occasionally some pellets. I have some dandelions, chickweed and buttercups that i will add too.

Since he is still quite small, his old enclose will be big enough for him to roam right now. When he gets bigger I'll invest in a paddling pool so he can move around more. I'll always have to supervise him anyway as my garden can pretty much be accessed buy anyone as our gate is broken.. And i don't want him to be stolen. Plus other people's cats jump into our garden too. Hopefully if we move soon to a place with a private garden, i can build him a large and safe outdoor enclosure. Xx
Chickweed is OK in moderation but The Tort Table says this about buttercups -
Some people think TTT is over cautious, but I'm a better safe than sorry sort of person so if there is a risk it could be harmful I won't feed. Even after 7 years I'm still not confident with some plants.
Lambs lettuce is good to grow and clover is very easy and spreads
 
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Thank you for the recommendations. I'll be sure to look into it. I think I'll go with what i one is 100% safe 😊. I also took your advice and let my tort go outside (supervised). It was a really warm and sunny day and i agree.. It did him good. He had so much energy when i had him back inside and caused a lot of mischief. I'll be sure to try and take him out everyday (when the weather allows it of course). Xx
 

zolasmum

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Thank you for the recommendations. I'll be sure to look into it. I think I'll go with what i one is 100% safe 😊. I also took your advice and let my tort go outside (supervised). It was a really warm and sunny day and i agree.. It did him good. He had so much energy when i had him back inside and caused a lot of mischief. I'll be sure to try and take him out everyday (when the weather allows it of course). Xx
Welcome from Devon. I prepare the food for our Hermanns tortoise in the morning, and put some out at intervals throughout the day, whenever I see it is mostly gone - that way it stays fresher, and I can keep an eye on what he eats better.
Did you know Pets at home has a vet department - at least the one near us does.I have talked to the vet there and she seemed fairly ok - you might like to check at your nearest one. They might not be expensive as other places,too.I do sympathise with you being nervous about joining in here - I was so nervous that it took me literally years after joining before I finally made my first post - I just read lots of the the things other members wrote !
But everyone is very kind, and also many are real experts, which is great.
Angie
 
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Welcome from Devon. I prepare the food for our Hermanns tortoise in the morning, and put some out at intervals throughout the day, whenever I see it is mostly gone - that way it stays fresher, and I can keep an eye on what he eats better.
Did you know Pets at home has a vet department - at least the one near us does.I have talked to the vet there and she seemed fairly ok - you might like to check at your nearest one. They might not be expensive as other places,too.I do sympathise with you being nervous about joining in here - I was so nervous that it took me literally years after joining before I finally made my first post - I just read lots of the the things other members wrote !
But everyone is very kind, and also many are real experts, which is great.
Angie
Hello there, I'm from London.
I think putting food out in intervals is a really good idea. I notice that when i give my tort food from the morning, it doesn't stay fresh all day so I'll definetly try your idea so thank you. I do have a pets at home near me which has a vet. I took my hamster there once and they were quite helpful. I don't know how they are with reptiles though. I think i was worried for nothing as many people on here have told me the darker patches I'm seeing on my tortoises shell are actually growth markings as Russians do have quite dark shells. I think i was worried because I've had him since he was a year old and his shell was quite yellow, so to see it getting dark i was very confused and worried he was developing MBD. I was so stressed honestly 😅.
You're right, I was worried that people were going to yell at me i was looking after my tortoise all wrong and that he was getting sick. I'm a bit of a sensitive soul. But i have learnt a lot and i am making changes to better the life of my tort. So all is well. Lots of people have helped me out and i really enjoy being here. Xx
 
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