Newly rescued Horsefield in the UK (diarrhea, poor appetite)

Ubercat

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Hi everyone,

We're excited to be here! I managed to rescue an approximately 2.5 year old Horsefield tortoise last week. I'm completely new to tortoises, but I've been researching like mad, so I will hopefully do a better job than his previous owners. I have a couple of questions.

Firstly, he's got diarrhoea, and his urates often look more like water, and often doesn't wait for his bath before going. I've been bathing him every morning, hoping to keep him hydrated and encourage regular movements. What else can I do? How worried should I be?

Secondly, he's not eating well. I have researched what's good and what's not to feed him, so I'm certain I'm not inadvertently poisoning him. I didn't want to feed him the same stuff as the previous owners as I noticed that he had diarrhoea when I went to collect him. The only things that he will really eat are different varieties of (safe) yellow flowers, and then only when fed by hand. What else can I do? Or will he settle down in time?

Thirdly, his hind legs seem quite weak. Will they get stronger the more UVB and calcium he gets?

Lastly, he still doesn't have a name, so looking for insipration, I'm trying to work out which of the three species he might be. Unfortunately, due to poor husbandry (I assume), his shell formation isn't marvellous. So, while I've tried to identify him using the comparisons of round/elongated shell seen from above, and slightly domed/flat shell seen from the side, I am still in the dark! I believe Horsefieldii Horsefiedii are the most commonly imported to the UK, so that might have a bearing. Is it possible he's a cross between subspecies? Does anyone have any other tips that might help me, like markings, etc?

Thanks so much for all your wonderful replies in advance!
 

Yvonne G

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Hi, and welcome!

Many years ago one of our more experienced members posted a thread on how to I.D. the different subspecies. I have to confess that I still don't understand it, after re-reading it many, many times. Maybe you'll have better luck:

 

Ray--Opo

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Post pictures, top, bottom, make sure we can see the tail, side view, and straight on. People here love a good "ID this tort".
Welcome and thanks for rescuing the little guy. I am sure you will provide a great home.
 

JoesMum

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Hi everyone,

We're excited to be here! I managed to rescue an approximately 2.5 year old Horsefield tortoise last week. I'm completely new to tortoises, but I've been researching like mad, so I will hopefully do a better job than his previous owners. I have a couple of questions.

Firstly, he's got diarrhoea, and his urates often look more like water, and often doesn't wait for his bath before going. I've been bathing him every morning, hoping to keep him hydrated and encourage regular movements. What else can I do? How worried should I be?
Liquid urate is good. That means the tort is well hydrated. Liquid poop isn’t.That is caused by insufficient fibre in the diet. What are you feeding it?

Secondly, he's not eating well. I have researched what's good and what's not to feed him, so I'm certain I'm not inadvertently poisoning him. I didn't want to feed him the same stuff as the previous owners as I noticed that he had diarrhoea when I went to collect him. The only things that he will really eat are different varieties of (safe) yellow flowers, and then only when fed by hand. What else can I do? Or will he settle down in time?
Hand feeding is a problem. Tortoises get to see you as the food, they’re not very intelligent, and they need to recognise that grazing is somthing they do themselves.

Diet MUST be a variety of weedy and leafy greens to provide the nutrients and fibre necessary.

Thirdly, his hind legs seem quite weak. Will they get stronger the more UVB and calcium he gets?
Video your tortoise walking with your phone, upload it to YouTube and post the link here so we can see if there’s anything to be worried about.

A very tiny pinch of calcium sprinkled on food three times a week is plenty. You can overdo it and if there is too much the tortoise will refuse to eat.

Lastly, he still doesn't have a name, so looking for insipration, I'm trying to work out which of the three species he might be. Unfortunately, due to poor husbandry (I assume), his shell formation isn't marvellous. So, while I've tried to identify him using the comparisons of round/elongated shell seen from above, and slightly domed/flat shell seen from the side, I am still in the dark! I believe Horsefieldii Horsefiedii are the most commonly imported to the UK, so that might have a bearing. Is it possible he's a cross between subspecies? Does anyone have any other tips that might help me, like markings, etc?

Thanks so much for all your wonderful replies in advance!
Greeks were the most commonly imoorted species, but that was stopped years ago. Ours, Joe a Testudo graeca graeca, was imported in 1970.

Younger torts will all be bred in this country as imports have been banned under CITES legislation for many years.

Please post photos of your setup, enclosure and lighting, so we can look it over and advise of any changes we would recommend.

I recommend you read the TFO care guides and compare them with your setup.

They're written by species experts working hard to correct the outdated information widely available on the internet and from pet stores and, sadly, from some breeders and vets too.

Beginner Mistakes

Baby Russian Tortoise Care
 

Ubercat

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Here are some of the photos you guys suggested... but I don't seem to be able to upload all at once. More to follow... thanks :)

IMG_4064.jpeg IMG_4063.jpeg IMG_4066.jpeg
 

Ubercat

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As an update, I took him to a reptile specialist vet yesterday, and am collecting stool samples to be tested in case he has parasites. I've also got some 'reptoboost' from the vet to put in his bath (daily) to help hydrate him. His poo does seem a bit firmer today - so hopefully the diet change has helped already.

I'm feeding him a variety of wild flowers (my partner is an ecologist, fortunately, and is making sure I don't mis-identify any), as well as lambs lettuce and romaine lettuce, and other similar things whenever I manage to trick him into eating them!

It's interesting you say that calcium dust could put him off his food, JoesMum... I wonder if that is a factor, because I have been putting in on daily, and it doesn't look very appetising :D

Thanks again, everyone :) :) :)
 

JoesMum

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As an update, I took him to a reptile specialist vet yesterday, and am collecting stool samples to be tested in case he has parasites. I've also got some 'reptoboost' from the vet to put in his bath (daily) to help hydrate him. His poo does seem a bit firmer today - so hopefully the diet change has helped already.

I'm feeding him a variety of wild flowers (my partner is an ecologist, fortunately, and is making sure I don't mis-identify any), as well as lambs lettuce and romaine lettuce, and other similar things whenever I manage to trick him into eating them!

It's interesting you say that calcium dust could put him off his food, JoesMum... I wonder if that is a factor, because I have been putting in on daily, and it doesn't look very appetising :D

Thanks again, everyone :) :) :)
Take it easy with the reptoboost. It contains sugars and your tortoise can’t process dietary sugars. It should only be used where rehydration is needed, such as in the period immediately after hibernation or where a tortoise is sick, and not on a long term basis.
 

Ubercat

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I've uploaded photos, in case any of you feel like trying to identify the mystery tortoise :)

I have tried to upload a video of him walking so we could look at his legs, but the file is too large/the wrong extension... any ideas?
 

JoesMum

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Definitely a Russian (Horsfield)

Photos of the enclosure and lighting will help is to check that over for you if you want :)
 

Ubercat

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Definitely a Russian (Horsfield)

Photos of the enclosure and lighting will help is to check that over for you if you want :)
Can you tell which subspecies??

I will send photos of the enclosure at the weekend, as I'm working to a deadline right now (would much rather be with my tortoise, though) X
 

JoesMum

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Can you tell which subspecies??

I will send photos of the enclosure at the weekend, as I'm working to a deadline right now (would much rather be with my tortoise, though) X
I have no idea. Phtos of the underside (plastron) Including the tail and the head would be required for that. @Tom may then be able to help
 

Ubercat

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I’ve got a massive enclosure to fill with substrate, and I need to do it cheaply. I’ve heard that a mixture of organic topsoil, playpit sand, and coconut coir might be good. What do you guys think?
 

Ray--Opo

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I've uploaded photos, in case any of you feel like trying to identify the mystery tortoise :)

I have tried to upload a video of him walking so we could look at his legs, but the file is too large/the wrong extension... any ideas?
If you upload video to YouTube then go to your library on YouTube and copy the video and then paste it in a post here.
 

Ubercat

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If you have an enclosure to fill with substrate then may I ask what the tort is kept in at moment?
At the moment he’s in the enclosure (made from an upturned wardrobe) with paper at the bottom, large rocks, and hay. So, yes, if you’ve some advice on what I can fill it with cheaply, I’d really appreciate it :)
 

Mystic_Queen

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At the moment he’s in the enclosure (made from an upturned wardrobe) with paper at the bottom, large rocks, and hay. So, yes, if you’ve some advice on what I can fill it with cheaply, I’d really appreciate it :)

this is whAt a friend of mine keeps her horse field tort on
 

JoesMum

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Tom’s care sheet that he wrote for this forum tells you everyt you need to know



As for substrate, Coco Coir is very cheap. You buy it in ‘bricks‘ which you soak on water and they break down to make a compost. The substrate needs to be kept damp to raise humidity. Like these on Amazon
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FW653X2/?tag=
 
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