Why is dirt and stones appetizing?

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Dagashi

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When I let my star torts out.... They look for dirt, sand or small rocks to eat.

I usually make sure none of this is available.. However sometimes they manage to get some dirt in anyway. I know a minimal amount may be good for digestion, ps. They poop daily. But today one just swallowed a small piece of stone!! It's huge to him as I tried to take it out of his mouth but he refused and swallowed it whole!!!! argh.

I'm a bit worried. It's quite big for a little guy. And I just can't understand why both of them want dirt so much.

Their substrate is orchid bark and there is no dirt in the enclosure.

Just in the garden where they roam.

Any help?? Thanks a bunch!
 

dmmj

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Some people think they are missing something from their diets, others thik they are curious, some think they may just like the taste. Personally i think they are just curious and maybe it tastes good to them. As for swallowing my thoughts are if they can swallow then they should have no problems passing it.
 

JoesMum

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Some animals eat dirt to neutralise toxins they have eaten. I saw a tv program about the Amazon where macaws and other birds were doing it.

It's possible they are doing it for digestive reasons too.
 

ChessieW

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Dagashi said:
When I let my star torts out.... They look for dirt, sand or small rocks to eat.

I usually make sure none of this is available.. However sometimes they manage to get some dirt in anyway. I know a minimal amount may be good for digestion, ps. They poop daily. But today one just swallowed a small piece of stone!! It's huge to him as I tried to take it out of his mouth but he refused and swallowed it whole!!!! argh.

I'm a bit worried. It's quite big for a little guy. And I just can't understand why both of them want dirt so much.

Their substrate is orchid bark and there is no dirt in the enclosure.

Just in the garden where they roam.

Any help?? Thanks a bunch!

My horsefield does that aswell!!
 

wellington

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I think it is all the above. My leopard loves to eat dirt. I wouldn't worry to much, just keep an extra eye on him for the next couple days or so. If possible, take a sweep of the yard and try to remove any of the stones you see. One probably won't do anything. I would be more worried about him eating to many and now not passing.
 

Morty the Torty

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My sulcata always wants to eat stones and shells, he passed a small stone just the other day. I can usually stop him but once in awhile he's just too fast for me!
 

GBtortoises

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Tortoises will often consume soil and stones for additional minerals. There are documented field studies of Russian tortoises consuming soil not long out of winter brumation. Other Testudo species in wild are from areas whose soil has a high limestone (calcium) content and they are reported to often consume soil and small stones.
It's doubtful that tortoises find soil, stones or even other items "appetizing". That is more of a human characteristic. Kind of like why we prefer ice cream over spinach. the spinach is better for us nutrionally, but it's much less appetizing than ice cream! They consume what they do out of necessity.
 

blackbird

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I've been wondering about this, whenever I take Bogey out she tries to nibble on rocks and dirt- I usually try to keep her from doing so because I'm worried she'll choke- she grabbed a large chunk of rock one day that was bigger than her mouth and she gave me a bit of attitude when I took it away from her xD
 

lynnedit

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I have one female that likes to eat small rocks at times. They all eat the same diet, same access to cuttlebone (in fact, she eats that too :rolleyes: ), but none of the others like rocks.
I gave up trying to figure her out and so far, she is fit as a fiddle.
 

Dagashi

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Good to hear I'm not the only one fretting over the dirt and small stones issue.

Actually, he stuck his head into the ground and looked for dirt.. if it's dirt and just a tiny bite, I'm not too worried. but the literally couldn't swallow the rock! I couldn't pull it away from him as it was in his mouth already and he just stared at me while swallowing it whole!! he looked pretty contented after that.. and peed on me. -_-

Am on a poop watch and hoping to find the stone soon! But since almost everyone has had experiences as such. I hope his body poops it out.. he's only about 2 1/2 inches big so he's still pretty tiny to do anything!
 

IRTehDuckie

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Dagashi said:
Actually, he stuck his head into the ground and looked for dirt.. if it's dirt and just a tiny bite, I'm not too worried. but the literally couldn't swallow the rock! I couldn't pull it away from him as it was in his mouth already and he just stared at me while swallowing it whole!! he looked pretty contented after that.. and peed on me. -_-
ROFL @ he peed on you, mine likes to do the same :p
 

DanaLachney

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IRTehDuckie said:
ROFL @ he peed on you, mine likes to do the same :p

Well MoonPie has never peed on my but Ducky our black gerbil loves to pee on me...
 

Dagashi

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IRTehDuckie said:
Dagashi said:
Actually, he stuck his head into the ground and looked for dirt.. if it's dirt and just a tiny bite, I'm not too worried. but the literally couldn't swallow the rock! I couldn't pull it away from him as it was in his mouth already and he just stared at me while swallowing it whole!! he looked pretty contented after that.. and peed on me. -_-
ROFL @ he peed on you, mine likes to do the same :p

the things torts do!! even tho he's a tiny thing.. he has a lot of pee in him!
 

Weda737

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strange, I use dirt as a substrate for my sulcata, he never has any interest in it, he will pick up a small rock here and there when I'm outside but hasn't managed to eat any yet, nor does he seem terribly interested in doing so. I think there is some relevance to the fact that these are things they would find in nature but we keep them from it. If he has it in his home he won't be so inclined to gob it down outside, just don't put anything in there big enough for them to swallow. I catch mine biting on his big slate rocks from time to time and he goes to town on his cuttlebone. My biggest problem is dog poop. He finds it deep in the grass, old and overgrown but still he finds it. And anything he's not supposed to eat, little pieces of paper outside, fuzz balls from destroyed dog toys, anything he should not eat he makes a bee line for it.
 

Dagashi

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oh yeaaaa poop!! they love poop.. the only poop available in my yard is lizard poop and they go nuts searching for it. This baffles me completely.

But we have small pebbles in the enclosure, in their watering bowl (it's pretty large and deep) so weuse the pebbles so that they don't drop headfisrt and drown in the water. If! the water level becomes too low.. they'll have a go at eating the pebbles there too.. @[email protected]

we've seen them try to do it so we maintain water level at all times.

there are pretty big rocks in the enclosure where they used to bite and trim their beaks at and cuttle bones. we also feed them calcium every week. Perhaps it's curiosity?
 

lynnedit

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Seems like well nourished torts sometimes eat rocks, etc., too. I read somewhere (racking my brain) that eating rocks might aid in digestion, add minerals, etc.
My torts also go after the small yellow stripes on my shoes.
Amusingly, a hibiscus planted in my outside enclosure still had the hard plastic tag with a pic of the bloom color on it, and one tort was trying very hard to bite the flower, unsuccessfully. It is now removed.
I imagine in the wild, poop of any kind had some nutrition in it, a 'back up' during the dry season. MMM-mmm.
 

Dagashi

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Just a quick update on poop watch...

I only now realise that their poop is larger than the stone he swallowed and didn't think of squashing the poop to look for the stone. Silly me. I'm not sure if they've pooped it all out but I HOPE he has!!! just wondering anyone know how long it takes a tort to digest its foods??
 

lynnedit

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I think the rate of digestion varies with the diet. Some foods like cactus speed it up.
But if your tort looks and acts fine, you probably don't have to worry (given that there is not much you can do about it!).
Sounds like your tort is pooping regularly, which is a good sign...
 
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