Horsfield check-in

Milliac

New Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2021
Messages
2
Location (City and/or State)
London
Hi everyone.

We have a 10-month (plus) Horsfield named Haldi. He (or she) likes to sleep a lot and although I’ve read this is normal for younger torts, I’d like to check-in with the experts out there, and to get some reassurance that we are doing the right things for him. I’ve read the manuals and read all the posts I see on here about Horsfield/Russians/Meds.

We bought Haldi from a local pet shop, and his certificate shows he hatched in captivity and was registered on 4/9/20. Although not sure what age he was when he was registered.

We live in London where the weather is varied so Haldi mostly lives inside, but on dry/warmer days we put him in his outside enclosure (nb cover not photographed but it has one and he is secure when out).

Haldi wakes around 7-8am. We pop him under his heat lamp, where he stays for about half an hour. If we don’t move him to his lamp, he wouldn’t make it to the heat lamp for a couple more hours. We leave his food and fresh water out but he will rarely eat then and never drinks from his bowl. Once he’s warmed up he then mooches off back to bed in his hide up amongst the botanical bedding. We fish him out of there 4+ times a week for a soak (10mins to 30mins depending on how keen he is to get out of the sink). We put a floppy plant in the sink with him so he’s got something to hide under if he wants. He drinks this water and we refresh it when he does his business in it. Once done we pop him back under his heat lamp where he stays for a short time then makes his way back to bed. He will usually stay in his hide for the rest of the day until the children get him out at around 4pm to say hello (and check he’s still alive). He’ll mooch about his enclosure for up to half an hour then back to bed again.
In his outdoor enclosure he will spend 10-15 mins in the open before burying himself.

Haldi weighed 50g when we got him at start of March, he now weighs 89g and has definitely grown.

In the last month we’ve noticed he doesn’t eat by himself, and will only take food if hand-fed (in his enclosure, we don’t hold him for this). He’s also stopped going to bed in his downstairs more humid area, preferring his dryer upstairs hide.

The substrate in both enclosures is coir, and additionally in his indoor enclosure he has orchid bark (pet sterile brand), and botanical mix.

He has daily dandelion leaves, pellets (although he won’t eat the dark green ones!), and likes a thin slice of cucumber. A few times a month he might nibble a small amount of nigella, spider plant, campanula, nemisa, nettle. He won’t eat a lot of other things we’ve tried including other ‘safe plants’ and kale, carrot, pepper.

So really I’d like to know
- does he sound healthy?
- is it ok that he doesn’t stay active for long?
- should we be worrying that he’s not eating more?

Many thanks in advance.
 

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Mike2389

New Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
London
Good morning and welcome to tortoise parenthood!

We got our Horsfield/Russian (Dorothy) just over a year ago from a pet shop, she was about 8months old when we got her. There was alot of worry in our first year of tortoise parenthood, there is alot of good advice on this forum, (and from more expertise than myself) but happy to share some thoughts:

Initially Dorothy hid alot in her first few months and buried herself alot too, it's very common for a baby tortoise to hide alot from an instinctive sense, especially as they get used to their surroundings.

  1. Have you done a stool check for worms since you got him? Dorothy became quite inactive and it turned out she had worms, once that cleared up she was alot more active and had a huge appetite.

  2. What are the temperatures in under the basking lamp and cool end of your indoor home for Haldi?

  3. Do you keep things humid for Haldi?

  4. I'd recommend the tortoise table app for food options, we've found alot of things for Dorothy, she loves flowers

  5. I was suggested on here to only feed pellets as a final option in the depths of winter (happy to be told otherwise) and not to feed vegetables to a Horsfield

  6. How deep is your substrate? Could Haldi dig down if they wanted to?

  7. Digging is normal for a horsfield, it helps regulate temperature and also protect them.

  8. How often do you sprinkle calcium on the food, I've been recommended 4ish times a week
 
Last edited:

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,407
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hi everyone.

We have a 10-month (plus) Horsfield named Haldi. He (or she) likes to sleep a lot and although I’ve read this is normal for younger torts, I’d like to check-in with the experts out there, and to get some reassurance that we are doing the right things for him. I’ve read the manuals and read all the posts I see on here about Horsfield/Russians/Meds.

We bought Haldi from a local pet shop, and his certificate shows he hatched in captivity and was registered on 4/9/20. Although not sure what age he was when he was registered.

We live in London where the weather is varied so Haldi mostly lives inside, but on dry/warmer days we put him in his outside enclosure (nb cover not photographed but it has one and he is secure when out).

Haldi wakes around 7-8am. We pop him under his heat lamp, where he stays for about half an hour. If we don’t move him to his lamp, he wouldn’t make it to the heat lamp for a couple more hours. We leave his food and fresh water out but he will rarely eat then and never drinks from his bowl. Once he’s warmed up he then mooches off back to bed in his hide up amongst the botanical bedding. We fish him out of there 4+ times a week for a soak (10mins to 30mins depending on how keen he is to get out of the sink). We put a floppy plant in the sink with him so he’s got something to hide under if he wants. He drinks this water and we refresh it when he does his business in it. Once done we pop him back under his heat lamp where he stays for a short time then makes his way back to bed. He will usually stay in his hide for the rest of the day until the children get him out at around 4pm to say hello (and check he’s still alive). He’ll mooch about his enclosure for up to half an hour then back to bed again.
In his outdoor enclosure he will spend 10-15 mins in the open before burying himself.

Haldi weighed 50g when we got him at start of March, he now weighs 89g and has definitely grown.

In the last month we’ve noticed he doesn’t eat by himself, and will only take food if hand-fed (in his enclosure, we don’t hold him for this). He’s also stopped going to bed in his downstairs more humid area, preferring his dryer upstairs hide.

The substrate in both enclosures is coir, and additionally in his indoor enclosure he has orchid bark (pet sterile brand), and botanical mix.

He has daily dandelion leaves, pellets (although he won’t eat the dark green ones!), and likes a thin slice of cucumber. A few times a month he might nibble a small amount of nigella, spider plant, campanula, nemisa, nettle. He won’t eat a lot of other things we’ve tried including other ‘safe plants’ and kale, carrot, pepper.

So really I’d like to know
- does he sound healthy?
- is it ok that he doesn’t stay active for long?
- should we be worrying that he’s not eating more?

Many thanks in advance.
We need to know what types of bulbs you are using and what the temps are. Warm side, cool side, basking area, and overnight low?

He is pyramiding a little bit, which means things are too dry. You need more humidity, and possibly different bulbs too.

The diet should be primarily broadleaf weeds, leaves, and flowers. If the torotise isn't used to these food items, it will take time and effort to get him eating better foods. The pellets are a good supplemental food and those can be mixed in as needed.
 

Milliac

New Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2021
Messages
2
Location (City and/or State)
London
Mike and Tom, thank you so much for your messages.

1) No we've not checked for worms - thank you we'll look into how to do this.

2) Temperature reading today: Basking spot centre-beam ground temp 45c with air temp 36c at top of shell height. Cool end, 21c, dropping to about 18-21c at night in summer (depending how hot it was in the day in our south facing living room) and dropping down to 15c on cold nights in winter.

3) One end of his table is humid, current reading shows 63% humidity. The coir is moistened every few days depending on how warm it has been. He is point-blank refusing to enter this area at the moment (but used to sleep there previously when humidity was around 52%). Perhaps it's too humid now?

4) Thanks for this app advice - I'd been using the plant database on the website but didn't see there was an app too. Fabulous. :)

5) Thanks Tom - great to have this confirmed about the pellets.

6) The substrate ranges from 4cm deep under the basking area to 7cm. I can make it deeper with additional coir.

7) He only ever buries his front, bottom always sticking out. He also likes to sleep under a plant either with no burying at all or very minimal front coverage if he does.

8) Calcium twice a week. We've noticed he appears less interested in the food when the calcium powder is on it. We tried a different brand in case it was a scent thing, but he reacts the same to both. We only every put a light dusting on. He also has a cuttlefish bone and a calcium block, but we've never seen him show any interest in these. Should we find another way to get more calcium in his diet (not sure what) or is this enough, or increase the calcium powder and he'll just have to get used to it?

- Basking bulb is an Exo-terra Infared Basking Spot 100w, colour temp 1500K. It is connected to a dimmable thermostat set to maximum from 7am to 5pm, when he tucks up for the night, then the bulb is turned off. In the cold weather we left the bulb at 20c overnight just in case it got too cold.

- UV bulb is an Exo-terra Reptile UVB 150 Desert Terrarium Bulb, 25W, 75cm, set at the height advised on their website.

- We think he had this slight pyramiding when we bought him - I've attached dates pics from when we got him in March, and today, plus a close up of his shell markings from today. The white markings on his shell appear to be swirls and patterns under the shell (Keratin?) rather than dry flakey bits. He just came out of some loose coir when I took the close-up today which is why he looks a bit mucky. Happy to take advice on this.

Many thanks again. Sorry for all the detail.
 

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