Russian Tortoise Feeding Frequency?

SienaSunshine

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New Jersey
My Russian Tortoise, Sunshine, was malnourished when I got her (I found her abandoned on hiking trails). As such I've been trying to feed her a lot to get her weight up. Now that she seems to be a healthier weight, I was wondering how frequently and how much I should be feeding her? I've read that you can give them as much as they would eat in an hour every other day OR give them as much as they would eat in 20 mins every day. That doesn't really help me to know HOW much because she eat periodically throughout the day and constantly looks like she's looking for new food.

I give her about a handful of kale or collard greens mixed with moist tortoise bites and calcium powder. She occasionally gets a flower food topper too. Is this too much? Should I be feeding this every day or every other day?

I live in the northeastern US so I can really only work with store bought foods for the moment. Are there other greens I should be getting? I know endives are good but they get slimey too quickly in my opinion.
 

Happytort27

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They should be fed as much of the right foods as they want every day. They are grazing animals, so they should have access to food all day. Feed them generally as much to fill their shell. I usually put a big pile of food on the plate in the morning. If I see that their plate is empty at any point of the day, I make sure to add more food and feed them a bigger pile in the future. If there’s just a little food left over at the end of the day, then I know that I’ve fed enough. They will regulate their own food intake, stopping when they're full.

You can get dandelion greens, mustard greens, cilantro, turnip and radish tops, bok choy, wheatgrass, and collard greens from most grocery stores. As a staple, you can buy chicory, endive, and escarole. Although these items are great to feed, your tortoise needs a wider variety than this. Maybe try to order some seed mixes online or walk around your neighborhood and find some weeds that you can feed. Your tortoise needs to be fed more than just kale and collard greens.

Here are some more suggestions complied by Tom:
Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Geraniums
Gazanias
Lavatera
Pansies
Petunias
Hostas
Honeysuckle
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

Weeds:
There are soooooooo many...
Dandelion
Mallow
Filaree
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Nettles
Trefoil
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Clovers
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed
Hawksbit
Hensbit
Hawksbeard

Other good stuff:
"Testudo Seed Mix" from http://www.tortoisesupply.com/SeedMixes
Pasture mixes or other seeds from http://www.groworganic.com/seeds.html
Homegrown alfalfa
Mazuri Tortoise Chow
ZooMed Grassland Tortoise Food

There is a lot of old, out-dated, incorrect info on the internet regarding tortoise care. Here is the most updated and correct care infomation for your tortoise:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-best-way-to-raise-any-temperate-species-of-tortoise.183131/

Feel free to ask more questions!
 

SienaSunshine

New Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
15
Location (City and/or State)
New Jersey
They should be fed as much of the right foods as they want every day. They are grazing animals, so they should have access to food all day. Feed them generally as much to fill their shell. I usually put a big pile of food on the plate in the morning. If I see that their plate is empty at any point of the day, I make sure to add more food and feed them a bigger pile in the future. If there’s just a little food left over at the end of the day, then I know that I’ve fed enough. They will regulate their own food intake, stopping when they're full.

You can get dandelion greens, mustard greens, cilantro, turnip and radish tops, bok choy, wheatgrass, and collard greens from most grocery stores. As a staple, you can buy chicory, endive, and escarole. Although these items are great to feed, your tortoise needs a wider variety than this. Maybe try to order some seed mixes online or walk around your neighborhood and find some weeds that you can feed. Your tortoise needs to be fed more than just kale and collard greens.

Here are some more suggestions complied by Tom:
Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Geraniums
Gazanias
Lavatera
Pansies
Petunias
Hostas
Honeysuckle
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

Weeds:
There are soooooooo many...
Dandelion
Mallow
Filaree
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Nettles
Trefoil
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Clovers
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed
Hawksbit
Hensbit
Hawksbeard

Other good stuff:
"Testudo Seed Mix" from http://www.tortoisesupply.com/SeedMixes
Pasture mixes or other seeds from http://www.groworganic.com/seeds.html
Homegrown alfalfa
Mazuri Tortoise Chow
ZooMed Grassland Tortoise Food

There is a lot of old, out-dated, incorrect info on the internet regarding tortoise care. Here is the most updated and correct care infomation for your tortoise:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-best-way-to-raise-any-temperate-species-of-tortoise.183131/

Feel free to ask more questions!

Thank you for this info! I'm still a new tortoise mom and I just want to give her the best life possible. I'll definitely get some tortoise chow. I know that she should have a varied diet and that it's very important, but how do I feed her those flowers and leaves and weeds in the middle of winter? Like I said, I'm in NJ and it's freezing right now...
 

Maro2Bear

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Thank you for this info! I'm still a new tortoise mom and I just want to give her the best life possible. I'll definitely get some tortoise chow. I know that she should have a varied diet and that it's very important, but how do I feed her those flowers and leaves and weeds in the middle of winter? Like I said, I'm in NJ and it's freezing right now...

There are still lots of greens out there. Store bought “greens” arent always the best, but you develp a good eye for the good things vs the bad (plain bib lettuce) things. Check & visit any “international markets” that you might have near you. We have one here that sells dandelion, cactus pads, cactus flowers, etc year ‘round. We’ve had snow here in Maryland, but there are still dandelions & plantains there (some grass too).

You definitely want to feed every day. A nice big handful. If ur tort eats it all up, then make the pile larger. Variety helps!

Good luck.

ps - are you sure your tort is a Russian? Russians aren’t normally found wandering about on hiking trails.

Happy torting & post some pix of your tort when you can. Welcome to the Forum.
 

SienaSunshine

New Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
15
Location (City and/or State)
New Jersey
There are still lots of greens out there. Store bought “greens” arent always the best, but you develp a good eye for the good things vs the bad (plain bib lettuce) things. Check & visit any “international markets” that you might have near you. We have one here that sells dandelion, cactus pads, cactus flowers, etc year ‘round. We’ve had snow here in Maryland, but there are still dandelions & plantains there (some grass too).

You definitely want to feed every day. A nice big handful. If ur tort eats it all up, then make the pile larger. Variety helps!

Good luck.

ps - are you sure your tort is a Russian? Russians aren’t normally found wandering about on hiking trails.

Happy torting & post some pix of your tort when you can. Welcome to the Forum.

This is so helpful! Thank you so much!

And yes she is a Russian. She was found right next to the start of a trail at the nature center I work for. We get a lot of people who just abandon their pets. Her shell and weight also suggested that she wasn't taken care of even when she was with someone. I took her home, took her to the vet, and eventually just fell too much in love to give her to anyone else <3
 

Maro2Bear

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Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
Great! Its always a bit more difficult in Winter. If you look back a few posts you will see that Jamie replied in Post #3 as well. He is up in New Hampshire, colder than both of our locations. Pick his brain as well.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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All good diet info from previous posters on this thread.

If you are reading the previous incorrect feeding info from other sources, this makes me think the other info from those sources is the old wrong info too. Here is the current and correct care info for your species. If you want to give this tortoise the best life possible, this is how:
 

RosemaryDW

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Welcome!

Don’t feel at all bad for feeding grocery foods in winter, just keep it as varied as you can, giving some of the good things mentioned above. To round things out I am known to buy just a couple okra from the grocery store; it might feel odd but the cashiers don’t care and it’s a great food to feed on occasion. The occasional bite of any winter squash or sweet potato, skin included, is great, as is a bit of zucchini. A bite of cucumber on occasion. My Russian also gets a small mushroom a few times a year. Basically you can pull out a tiny bit of something you’re cooking for your humans!

i don’t know the ethnicity breakdown of your area of New Jersey but a Latino market of any kind should sell the cactus pads mentioned sbove, possibly large orange squash flowers as well. Indian or Persian markets may sell methi/fenugreek, although I wouldn’t visit just to buy that. (I love shopping different grocery stores so it’s not a big deal for me.)

if you are having trouble with the more typical chicories you might try frisee, it lasts a long time if stored correctly (loose plastic bag with a paper towel included). Radiccio can be pricy but also lasts a good while.

If your Russian has the right size enclosure and temps she can walk and eat allllll day, more than some other species. My Russian was also found wandering and per our vet she had “room to grow.” She proved him right and ate like a pig her first few years. My Russian may eat more than some as she is an outside tortoise when not brumating and has lots of opportunities to graze but I had to get past the idea of feeding her a only shell-sized bowl pretty quickly. She’s slowed down now that she is a good size but still eats more than that amount in spring. I’d start with a larger amount amd not worry if you need to feed even more.

If you poke around our articles you may find you are overdoing the calcium powder. Unless she’s breeding, she probably only needs a few pinches a week; a pinch so small it’s like fairy dust. When she’s healthy and a good size, eating a varied diet, she may need even less.
 
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