Natural Diet & Habitat

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sunshine_hugs

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Hey Everyone,

So, I'm fairly new here. I think I've only posted once...and it was a while ago.

My family and I recently acquired 3 red footed hatchlings. We got two of them at 3 days old, and other we got the day after it hatched. We already had two...they are approx 6 - 7 months old. So, we now have a total of 5 red foots (Hiccup, Pickles, Chomper, Peek-a-boo, and Gruffalo...Gruffalo hatched with a dent in the side of his shell).

**Back story** We live on a Caribbean island where redfoots are native. Several friends have seen them while hiking. The hatchlings we've acquired are captive bred (although somewhere along the line, their parents/grandparents would have been wild caught). The couple we got them from, started off with 2 rescues (from people with dogs that kept attacking the torts), and ended up with more rescues (mostly people leaving the island)...and now they keep having babies (the couple currently have approx 40 redfoots).
They regularly give away the babies, but are very careful about the homes they go to...they visited our house to see our enclosure first.

Okay, now onto my question. I guess what I'm wanting to do is raise them as "naturally" as possible, but making sure I meet all of their needs.

In the wild, if they can't find the food they need, they'll move on until they find it. With me, they can't go anywhere, so I have to provide everything I can for them.

I have an outdoor pen for them. 9ft x 11ft. Not the biggest space (I would love to give them my whole yard), but it seems big enough for now, and I feel like I can keep them safe in there.

I have let half of the space grow wild with weeds, grass, flowers that grow here. The other half I've used for my herb garden (which the tortoises don't seem to bother with). I have two covered areas, each with a couple of hides under them...and I have a hide in the middle of the pen, but you can't see it in pics, as it's completely covered with vegetation.

Now, here you can't go out and buy special tortoise diet stuff anyway, so we just use what we get. Rainy season is starting, and we have an abundance of fruit (in our yard alone, we have 3 mango trees with a bazillion mangoes...wax apple tree....french cashew....cherry tree... 3 papaya trees...and several banana trees).
At the moment, they get fallen fruit everyday (usually not bananas). I have a hibiscus plant in a pot, and they get all the flowers as well as some leaves from that.

I have found them eating millipedes, but we don't really have "worms" around. I see snails in their pen, but haven't actually seen them eating snails. Should I offer more protein than the insects that crawl into their pen?

I can buy cuttle bone here, and I make sure to always have some available for them.

I never used to worry about temps with the older 2 (I did when we first got them, and I took them in at night)...but now with the 3 hatchlings, I'm a total worry wart.

I keep reading things about night temps being close to 80...at night here, it drops to about 75 (which feels cold to me).

Should I bring the babies in at night? I currently "put them to bed" in one of the covered areas that is totally protected from wind & rain...I also have a hardware cloth door I put on that area to protect from predators at night.

The hatchlings seem to hid a lot, so I feel like I'm doing something wrong. The older 2 have a routine where they come out to eat and bask in the sun for a bit (not long)...and they're much more social with us.

Anyway, I don't even really know what I'm getting at. I guess I want to raise them as naturally as possible, but make sure they're getting everything they need from me....and I would love any suggestions on how to do that.

Thanks so much....and anyone who read this long-winded post, you are a saint! :D

I can't seem to figure out how to attach pics here. If anyone could help with that, I would be happy to share some pictures I have.
 

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terryo

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Hi and welcome. What you are doing is probably the best anyone can do for these guys. You actually live where they come from, and have native plants for them to eat, and a wonderful climate too. You are very lucky. What a wonderful place to live, especially for those tortoises.
 

sunshine_hugs

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terryo said:
Hi and welcome. What you are doing is probably the best anyone can do for these guys. You actually live where they come from, and have native plants for them to eat, and a wonderful climate too. You are very lucky. What a wonderful place to live, especially for those tortoises.

Thank you! Maybe I'm just extra worried because the babies are so young, and still new to us, and I want to make sure we do everything right (especially temps & food...I worry I'm not offering enough protein).

And I guess I figured out how to add pictures...the picture in the original post is their pen from my balcony. I'm adding a few more (not great pics).

- Sunshine
 

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Madkins007

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It sounds great for them! I wish I was lucky enough to live somewhere where they had it so good!
 

sunshine_hugs

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Thanks Mark. I sure enjoy having them around. I look forward to watching them grow. :)
 
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