Need help - Vitamin A options for Russian Tortoise

Buzz

New Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Wisconsin, USA
Hi,

I have had problems getting my Russian enough vitamin A for years. He is a very picky eater. He likes to eat spring mix, radicchio, romaine and carrots. I try to give him hibiscus (he loves the flowers but not the leaves), collards and other plants but he never eats them. If he finds a dandelion in the yard he will eat it, but not if I put one in his bowl. I try to mix Nature Zone Tortoise Bites into his food but he won't touch it anymore.

He has clear signs of vitamin A deficiency, puffy yes, overgrown beak. But other than carrots (which I've read not to give him too much of) he won't eat anything high in A.

Does anyone have any other ideas for supplements, or plants high in vitamin A safe to feed a Russian tortoise?
 

DLF

Member
Location (City and/or State)
SPRING VALLEY CA
Hi,

I have had problems getting my Russian enough vitamin A for years. He is a very picky eater. He likes to eat spring mix, radicchio, romaine and carrots. I try to give him hibiscus (he loves the flowers but not the leaves), collards and other plants but he never eats them. If he finds a dandelion in the yard he will eat it, but not if I put one in his bowl. I try to mix Nature Zone Tortoise Bites into his food but he won't touch it anymore.

He has clear signs of vitamin A deficiency, puffy yes, overgrown beak. But other than carrots (which I've read not to give him too much of) he won't eat anything high in A.

Does anyone have any other ideas for supplements, or plants high in vitamin A safe to feed a Russian tortoise?
 

crimson_lotus

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Massachusetts
are you sure it's really a vitamin a deficiency? An overgrown beak happens if they don't eat off a slate, use cuttlebone, or eat whole foods/tear things apart.

puffy eyes could be many things like your lighting or temps.

my turtle had a severe vitamin a deficiency and he had sores on him plus his nails and beak fell off when I first received him so I am just going off of personal experience
 

Yossarian

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Wales
Vitamin A deficiency always seem pretty unlikely to me, leafy greens, even leaf lettuces are high in vit A. 100gs of leafy greens has like 200% of a humans daily allowance for Vit A. Carrots are high in vit A, nearly everything a tort can eat is high in vit A, even the things they shouldnt eat.

Torts kept indoors have to have their beaks trimmed occasionally, even if fed on slate etc. . . outdoors maybe not, theres a lot more abbrasives to help them keep it naturally worn.

I have seen research that shows puffy eyes can be a symptom of Vitamin A deficiency, but as said, I honestly find it hard to believe that many torts are actually deficient. I would require the vet to do bloodwork before I would believe it. Puffy eyes can also be caused by a lot of other things, that IMO are much more likely, like incorrect temps, humidity, substrate, lighting, etc. . .

Overdosing your tort on vitamins can cause problems as well.

Lets see some clear pics of your tort pls.

There is a product called arkvits, it is a broad spectrum vitamin and calcium supplement you could use occasionally.

To get the tort to eat other things, start cutting its food smaller than it can self select for, and slowly increase the proportions of new items.
 

Toddrickfl1

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Ga
Hi,

I have had problems getting my Russian enough vitamin A for years. He is a very picky eater. He likes to eat spring mix, radicchio, romaine and carrots. I try to give him hibiscus (he loves the flowers but not the leaves), collards and other plants but he never eats them. If he finds a dandelion in the yard he will eat it, but not if I put one in his bowl. I try to mix Nature Zone Tortoise Bites into his food but he won't touch it anymore.

He has clear signs of vitamin A deficiency, puffy yes, overgrown beak. But other than carrots (which I've read not to give him too much of) he won't eat anything high in A.

Does anyone have any other ideas for supplements, or plants high in vitamin A safe to feed a Russian tortoise?
Vitamin A deficiency is usually found in water turtles because they don't eat enough leafy greens. If your tort is eating greens there's no reason it should have a vitamin a deficiency.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hi,

I have had problems getting my Russian enough vitamin A for years. He is a very picky eater. He likes to eat spring mix, radicchio, romaine and carrots. I try to give him hibiscus (he loves the flowers but not the leaves), collards and other plants but he never eats them. If he finds a dandelion in the yard he will eat it, but not if I put one in his bowl. I try to mix Nature Zone Tortoise Bites into his food but he won't touch it anymore.

He has clear signs of vitamin A deficiency, puffy yes, overgrown beak. But other than carrots (which I've read not to give him too much of) he won't eat anything high in A.

Does anyone have any other ideas for supplements, or plants high in vitamin A safe to feed a Russian tortoise?
You are misdiagnosing the problem. Vitamin A deficiency is very unlikely.

What are you using for UV? What mounting distance for the bulb?
Please go into your user profile and add a location so we know where in the world you are.
What size enclosure? Indoors, outdoors? Both?
What substrate? Any sand? Is it damp?

No tortoise just walks up and eats new foods without a lengthy introduction. With any new food cut up tiny pieces and mix in with old favorites. Start with hardly any of the new stuff, and gradually add in more and more as the tortoise begins to eat it. It takes time and patience.
 

Buzz

New Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Wisconsin, USA
I was thinking vitamin A because that is what my vet said a couple years back. She suggested feeding him Bites, which he ate for a month or two then stopped. She is an experienced exotics vet (they even have two russians in the office). But there are so many opinions even among experts I don't know who to believe. I'm trying a different vet tomorrow.

I live in Wisconsin, so he is indoors most of the year. Enclosure is about 14" deep by 60" wide. I use a 100w Powersun UVB that (going off memory) is 14 to 20" away. I read that the top of the shell should be between 90 and 100 degrees F so I use a laser thermometer to adjust it accordingly. Substrate is forest floor and Repti-Bark. It is rather dry. I try to bath him once a week.
 

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Hi,

I have had problems getting my Russian enough vitamin A for years. He is a very picky eater. He likes to eat spring mix, radicchio, romaine and carrots. I try to give him hibiscus (he loves the flowers but not the leaves), collards and other plants but he never eats them. If he finds a dandelion in the yard he will eat it, but not if I put one in his bowl. I try to mix Nature Zone Tortoise Bites into his food but he won't touch it anymore.

He has clear signs of vitamin A deficiency, puffy yes, overgrown beak. But other than carrots (which I've read not to give him too much of) he won't eat anything high in A.

Does anyone have any other ideas for supplements, or plants high in vitamin A safe to feed a Russian tortoise?
As others have said, it is highly unlikely that your tortoise is deficient in Vitamin A. If you are concerned about vitamin intake, I strongly suggest getting some Herptivite Vitamins and sprinkling some of the powder lightly on all the foods you are offering every day for the rest of your tortoise keeping days. I did that exact routine with all my tortoises for many, many years and had no problems.

Please note that I also used Ultrafine Rep-Cal (with Vit. D3) on all foods offered daily as well.

I kept both of the above-mentioned powders in flour shakers and that made it easy to sprinkle them onto the foods as I prepared them. I prepared a large amount of food at once in a big tub and sprinkled both of these powders onto the foods in the tub and then thoroughly mixed them into the food with my hands so all foods were covered well with the supplements. Then I fed all my tortoises from that tub. If any food was left over after feeding the tortoises, I saved it in a large Zip-Loc bag in the refrigerator for use later that day or the next day.

When keeping a large number of tortoises, I used to prepare a very large salad mixture as described above and store it in 2.5 gallon Zip-Loc bags in my refrigerator for use over the next few days. This saved me time in my daily tortoise keeping routine.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I was thinking vitamin A because that is what my vet said a couple years back. She suggested feeding him Bites, which he ate for a month or two then stopped. She is an experienced exotics vet (they even have two russians in the office). But there are so many opinions even among experts I don't know who to believe. I'm trying a different vet tomorrow.

I live in Wisconsin, so he is indoors most of the year. Enclosure is about 14" deep by 60" wide. I use a 100w Powersun UVB that (going off memory) is 14 to 20" away. I read that the top of the shell should be between 90 and 100 degrees F so I use a laser thermometer to adjust it accordingly. Substrate is forest floor and Repti-Bark. It is rather dry. I try to bath him once a week.
Vets don't know tortoise care. There is no semester on tortoise care in vet school. That they told you it was vitamin A deficiency proves this.

Get rid of the powersun. They are overly desiccating, delicate, expensive and unreliable.
There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. Light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html Here in our climate, you shouldn't need indoor UV.
 

Buzz

New Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Wisconsin, USA
Here are some pics. Eyes may be a little squinted because I just woke him up.
 

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Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Here are some pics. Eyes may be a little squinted because I just woke him up.
He looks too dry. Is the substrate being kept damp? I'd add a humid hide.

Is that strawberry in the food dish? Sugary fruits aren't good for them.

You can clip a little of that beak at a time with some toenail clippers. If the tortoise retracts its head, point him up so his/her face is pointing toward the sky. This will usually make them stick their head out again.

Overgrown beaks are usually associated with small indoor enclosures, lack of outside time, wrong foods, and wrong lighting. You've got all four. Not trying to be mean. Just trying to tell you what is wrong so you can fix it.
 

Buzz

New Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Wisconsin, USA
he doesn't get straw berries normally. I'm trying to encourage him to eat. He usually eats the diet I posted above every day but he hasn't been lately.

I can change some of the things in his environment but I can't get him outside much in Wisconsin.

I used to have soil in his box but it always gets full of springtail bugs.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
I wouldn't use vitamins or calcium daily. Calcium for sure can be dangerous if given too much, same as given too little. Sprinkle both calcium and vitamins 3 times a week just a pinch.
However, if you can get him to eat the bigger variety of foods, supplements shouldn't be needed.
 
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