We lost our last one and now I’m crazy anxious about hurting our new one, any advice?


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Mar 21, 2020
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So I got Theo end of March and he passed a little over a week ago after having him less than 4 weeks. I was devastated. I had been really struggling and picked him up to help with my depression during the quarantine. Turns out he had a parasite from when we got him and I was told it was nothing I did.

my dad did a lot of research and found someone reputable. We picked up a tiny 4 inch 310 gram powerhouse we’ve called Hermes. He honestly is a lot different. He doesn’t drag himself he’s more up on his toes, he has likes and dislikes, he moves around a LOT more, seems more aware and he’s not always eating (which would’ve been a symptom of the parasite) plus he weighs so much (Theo was closer to 6 inches but only 269 grams). He gets checked out at the vet Wednesday but I’ve just been really anxious somethings going to happen. He got a huge tort table yesterday (5 feet by 3 feet, we’ll get something more like 6 or 7 feet once he grows and we’re in our permanent place) and does seem pretty content I’m just worried. He has a mix of dark greens (red leaf lettuce, small amount of kale, mustard greens, Bibb lettuce and arugula) and I have calcium powder and he gets soaked daily for now. What else can I do to ensure he’s healthy? His basking side is 95, other side is about 78-80, humidity is at about 40-50%. I’m just worried and I want to make sure I can do everything I can for him. Hermie is quite the little man and I’d love to have him for as long as possible

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Really really cute! When I have gotten my tortoise, I always just bring in a sample of poop to be tested. My newest one had many pinworms and so that is when I brought him in to get weighed and medicine. Go luck!


The Dog Trainer
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Jan 9, 2010
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Southern California
Sorry to hear about the first one. Sounds like this one is in much better health.

Be careful taking advice from the vet. Most of them know nothing about tortoise care, and often want to do things like "vitamin injections" which can actually do harm.

Your substrate looks too dry and loose. Make it a little bit damp and hand pack it down firmly to reduce the mess.

That water bowl isn't great for tortoises. Get a couple of inexpensive terra cotta plant saucers form the hardware store and sink them into the substrate for food and water.

Grocery store greens by themselves are not a good diet for your tortoise. You need to add stuff to them to make them more suitable, if can't can't find or grow weeds and leaves. Here is a list of good stuff:
Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

There are soooooooo many...
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed

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

More info on feeding:
So much contradictory info on this subject. Its simple. What do they eat in the wild. Weeds, leaves, flowers, and succulents. Feed them a huge variety of these things, and you'll have a healthy tortoise. All of these species are very adaptable when it comes to diet and there is a very large margin of error, and many ways to do it right. What if you don't have this sort of "natural" tortoise food available for part of each year because you are in the snow? You will have no choice but to buy grocery store food. What's wrong with grocery store food? It tends to lack fiber, some items are low in calcium or have a poor calcium to phosphorous ratio, and some items have deleterious compounds in them. All of these short comings can be improved with some simple supplementation and amendments. A pinch of calcium two times per week will help fix that problem. You can also leave cuttle bone in the enclosure, so your tortoise can self-regulate its own calcium intake. What about fiber? Soaked horse hay pellets, soaked ZooMed Grassland pellets, Mazuri tortoise chow, "Salad style", "Herbal Hay" both from @TylerStewart and his lovely wife Sarah at Tortoisesupply.com, or many of the dried plants and leaves available from Will @Kapidolo Farms. If you must use grocery store foods, favor endive and escarole as your main staples. Add in arugula, cilantro, kale, collard, mustard and turnip greens, squash leaves, spring mix, romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, water cress, carrot tops, celery tops, bok choy, and whatever other greens you can find. If you mix in some of the aforementioned amendments, these grocery store foods will offer plants of variety and fiber and be able to meet your tortoises nutritional needs just fine. I find it preferable to grab a few grapevine or mulberry leaves, or a handful of mallow and clover, or some broadleaf plantain leaves and some grass, but with the right additions, grocery store stuff is fine too. Grow your own stuff, or find it around you when possible. Tyler and Sarah also sell a fantastic Testudo seed mix that is great for ALL tortoise species and also super easy to grow in pots, trays, raised garden beds, or in outdoor tortoise enclosures. When that isn't possible, add a wide variety of good stuff to your grocery store greens to make them better.

I recommend you keep cuttle bone available all the time. Some never use it and some munch on it regularly. Some of mine will go months without touching it, and then suddenly eat the whole thing in a day or two. Sulcatas and leopards grow a lot. This requires a tremendous amount of calcium assimilation over time. A great diet is paramount, but it is still a good idea to give them some extra calcium regularly. I use a tiny pinch of RepCal or ZooMed plain old calcium carbonate twice a week. Much discussion has been given to whether or not they need D3 in their calcium supplement. Personally, I don't think it matters. Every tortoise should be getting adequate UV exposure one way or another, so they should be able to make their own D3. I also like to use a mineral supplement. "MinerAll" is my current brand of choice. It seems to help those tortoises that like to swallow pebbles and rocks. It is speculated that some tortoise eat rocks or substrate due to a mineral deficiency or imbalance. Whatever the reason, "MinerAll" seems to stop it or prevent it. Finally, I like to use a reptile vitamin supplement once a week, to round out any hidden deficiencies that may be in my diet over the course of a year.
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Yvonne G

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10 Year Member!
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Jan 23, 2008
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Clovis, CA
You said you'll be thinking about a bigger enclosure after he grows, but your tortoise is almost full grown now. He doesn't have much more growing to do.

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