Winter Diet & Substrate

mikels

New Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2019
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
Hi there,

I'm new to the forum. I've kept hero's for 20+ years. I'm serious about getting pancakes, so I've been doing some reading here and elsewhere. I've come to understand the importance of ample humidity, temp gradients, climbing structures, escape proofing, UVB, and water / dietary needs. I read through thread titles that appeared useful in this subforum back to about 2013.

So far I haven't see a good consensus on two important aspects:

1) How does one avoid reliance upon grocery store produce and commercial tortoise food in winter? Many folks talk about grasses and weeds as the staple diet. Here in the mid-atlantic, these plants die back in the fall, so at best, I could harvest dead field grasses or purchase hay. Is either acceptable / preferred? What are some good wintertime options?

2) Which weeds are safe? I see dandelion mentioned often, but few others that are common. Which are known to be unsafe for consumption by pancakes?

3) There are many iterations of substrate mix in use. If a someone were to desire a close representstion of the soil composition tortoise's natural habitat, what would that entail?

I was considering fir (orchid) bark, peat, and gravel mixed, with some rocks above. A source mentions avoiding mold growth, another mentions bioactive substrate with inverts. If the inverts are happy and the soilless mix is moist, then I'd expect some mold growth? Has anyone got firsthand experience with pancakes happy on (and burrowing in) a bioactive mix where naturally occurring mold is present? My guess is that this would be some the tortoises would be exposed to in their native habitat and so not a concern.

I'd like to avoid peat, but I'm not sure what a good replacement would be, unless people are truly using and happy with plant-based compost.

Lastly, is anyone trying to replicate seasonal changes in temp & moisture levels?

That is a lot to tackle in one thread, but any advice or links would be greatly appreciated.

Mike
 

mikels

New Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2019
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
I've kept hero's for 20+ years.
By that meant 'herps', but the autocorrect intervened. My first interest was box turtles actually. But I've kept and produced several gecko species, and poison dart frogs most recently.

The information age has really changed things. It used to be frustrating sifting through broad topic reptile books and reptiles magazines for tips on husbandry, and coming up with very little.
 

mikels

New Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2019
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
Perhaps some of the questions I asked have no straightforward answers? Or maybe this subforum is lower profile? At any rate, I did find some answers about which weeds are considered to be O.K.

See the screenshots below:

Screenshot_20190720-143741.png Screenshot_20190720-143726.png Screenshot_20190720-143706.png

I didn't copy any links, but hopefully the images are legible. Interestingly, it turns out I have a plantain farm. They don't look their best, but plantains and clover can be found here in winter, along with dead / struggling grasses.
 

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