New owner confusion

Karen the T

New Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
Messages
1
Location (City and/or State)
Mesa
Hello All,
Two weeks ago I adopted a Sonoran Desert tortoise. Rumble is a male, ~20-30 years old that I got through the AZ Game & Fish Dept. Although we landscaped our yard to only have tortoise friendly plants ( in addition to lots of spurge in the grass!), Rumble has not been foraging. He loves the hibiscus flowers but will not get them himself. I suspect he was in the AZ Game & Fish dept. for a while since he seems to not know how to feed himself. Consequently, I had begun offering what I read was acceptable food to him-red/curly/green lettuce, apples (not many), prickly pear fruits, and corn on the cob (until I read that that was not good). Other foods I have tried include figs, parsley, mushrooms, various other flowers & kale, none of which he ate. He won't eat any of the other flowers available in the yard (yellow bells, bells of fire, fairy dusters, deer grass or the hibiscus (unless I pick it for him). He will eat spurge only if I sneak it onto his lettuce. It's like having a 2 year old sometimes!
Now I read that lettuce is not good but it is really the only thing he eats. I just ordered Zoo Med Grassland food in desperation as well as dandelion seeds, but what I'd really like is for Rumble to eat the numerous plants that I have available. What would you all recommend I do? Hibernation season will be on us in ~ a month and I'd like him to be nutritionally fortified before then. Should I offer the official tortoise food or stop and hope he figures out how to forage? I read so many conflicting opinions on what foods are good and what foods are not that I'm really confused now. Thanks for your input!
 

AgataP

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Euphorbias contain a TOXIN that is known to be carcinogenic. The milky sap can cause inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth. The chemical resinferatoxin has an irritating effect which is stronger than capsaicin, the substance that makes chillies hot. So never feed to tortoises and wear protective clothing when handling this plant.

Examples of some common weed Euphorbias are:

Sun Spurge (Euphorbia helioscopia)
Petty Spurge (Euphorbia peplus)
Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula)
Dwarf Spurge (Euphorbia exigua)

Usually spurge has a yellowish-green flower but it can be found in other colours. E15E515F-3CD8-41AD-881B-D39AEA4C12AB.png
 

Zoeclare

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Jan 28, 2020
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690
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Uk
Pretty sure desert tortoises do eat spurge. They eat it in the wild so have evolved to be able to eat it. @Yvonne G will know for sure!
 

Yossarian

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Tortoise Club
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764
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Looks like Desert Torts can eat spurge.

Yvonne commented years ago.

Also listed here:

Seems to be common guidance for desert torts.
 

Yossarian

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Tortoise Club
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Messages
764
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Wales
Hello All,
Two weeks ago I adopted a Sonoran Desert tortoise. Rumble is a male, ~20-30 years old that I got through the AZ Game & Fish Dept. Although we landscaped our yard to only have tortoise friendly plants ( in addition to lots of spurge in the grass!), Rumble has not been foraging. He loves the hibiscus flowers but will not get them himself. I suspect he was in the AZ Game & Fish dept. for a while since he seems to not know how to feed himself. Consequently, I had begun offering what I read was acceptable food to him-red/curly/green lettuce, apples (not many), prickly pear fruits, and corn on the cob (until I read that that was not good). Other foods I have tried include figs, parsley, mushrooms, various other flowers & kale, none of which he ate. He won't eat any of the other flowers available in the yard (yellow bells, bells of fire, fairy dusters, deer grass or the hibiscus (unless I pick it for him). He will eat spurge only if I sneak it onto his lettuce. It's like having a 2 year old sometimes!
Now I read that lettuce is not good but it is really the only thing he eats. I just ordered Zoo Med Grassland food in desperation as well as dandelion seeds, but what I'd really like is for Rumble to eat the numerous plants that I have available. What would you all recommend I do? Hibernation season will be on us in ~ a month and I'd like him to be nutritionally fortified before then. Should I offer the official tortoise food or stop and hope he figures out how to forage? I read so many conflicting opinions on what foods are good and what foods are not that I'm really confused now. Thanks for your input!

Two points, it takes Torts time to adapt to change. 2 weeks is nothing really, the Tort will just now be getting comfortable with its new territory. Tortoises like junk food as much as anyone else. If you continue to make fruits and lettuce available then the tort is unlikly to feel much pressure to forage.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Jan 9, 2010
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54,102
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hello All,
Two weeks ago I adopted a Sonoran Desert tortoise. Rumble is a male, ~20-30 years old that I got through the AZ Game & Fish Dept. Although we landscaped our yard to only have tortoise friendly plants ( in addition to lots of spurge in the grass!), Rumble has not been foraging. He loves the hibiscus flowers but will not get them himself. I suspect he was in the AZ Game & Fish dept. for a while since he seems to not know how to feed himself. Consequently, I had begun offering what I read was acceptable food to him-red/curly/green lettuce, apples (not many), prickly pear fruits, and corn on the cob (until I read that that was not good). Other foods I have tried include figs, parsley, mushrooms, various other flowers & kale, none of which he ate. He won't eat any of the other flowers available in the yard (yellow bells, bells of fire, fairy dusters, deer grass or the hibiscus (unless I pick it for him). He will eat spurge only if I sneak it onto his lettuce. It's like having a 2 year old sometimes!
Now I read that lettuce is not good but it is really the only thing he eats. I just ordered Zoo Med Grassland food in desperation as well as dandelion seeds, but what I'd really like is for Rumble to eat the numerous plants that I have available. What would you all recommend I do? Hibernation season will be on us in ~ a month and I'd like him to be nutritionally fortified before then. Should I offer the official tortoise food or stop and hope he figures out how to forage? I read so many conflicting opinions on what foods are good and what foods are not that I'm really confused now. Thanks for your input!
Good notes from ALL the previous posters.

I've read mixed things on the spurge. I know it is not deadly toxic, but I've chosen to not use it as a tortoise food.

Great insight from Yosarian about new tortoises needing time to acclimate.

Now comes the fun stuff: Almost all of the care info given for DTs is wrong. Following it will often result I the death of the tortoises. This is especially true of DT babies, but also true of the adults. You need to be soaking this tortoise two or three times a week to ensure good hydration. After a few weeks this can be reduced to once or twice a week. Dogs and dehydration are the primary killers of this species in captivity. Malnutrition and incorrect hibernation practices being the next two most prominent killers. "But, but but..." people ask, "This is a desert species. Who soaks them in the wild?" I answer: "Your back yard is not the wild. The temperature extremes, dryness, and foods they are exposed to in your yard is something they would not be exposed to in the wild since they dig deep burrows and stay in them most of the time. Further, huge numbers of the babies, and many adults do NOT survive in the wild." We don't want them to survive. We want them to thrive.

You should not hibernate this tortoise in its first year with you. Something is wrong, the tortoise isn't eating right, you've been feeding it the wrong foods, and you have not had it long enough to get it healthy and hydrated enough for a long winter's nap. You will need to keep it up this year. This means the construction of a large indoor enclosure they is kept heated and lit well, and/or a heated and lit night box outside, or use of a combination of the two.

Your questions are welcome, but here is the most current and correct care info for this species. Everything about how to house and care for them is in here:
 
TortoiseSupply.com

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