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Young Aldabras eating hay?

Discussion in 'Aldabra tortoises' started by Holycow, Jun 23, 2013.

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  1. Holycow

    Holycow Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Ahoy,
    My Juv. Aldabra (5"-6") arrived almost two weeks ago and I've been glued to it's enclosure during daytime hours observing it's activities and preferences.

    Today is the first day I've seen it really get up and browse around for food the way my other tortoises do, except it's in fast forward. It reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Homer is in the Land of Chocolates, the tortoise quickly walks in a random direction taking a bite of whatever plant happens to be closest to it and then turns, takes a few more steps looks around takes another random bite...
    It would stay in one place briefly if it found something it really liked... so far its hibiscus flowers, dandelion and bits of optuna cactus I scatter.
    Yesterday I accidentally dropped a small amount of Alfalfa hay into the corner of the enclosure while walking past with a bunch (for another animal). Today I noticed him just staying in this one area eating something and searching carefully for more. Turns out it was this old dry hay. I've never seen a small tort show any interest in it before (I hadn't even considered offering it until he would be much larger).
    So can you experienced folks give me your opinion on this (any reason not to give him more?) I don't want him to gorge on one food item especially at the expense of a more nutrient rich variety. But then on the other hand... it's grass right... in the wild they would have an unlimited supply. He has an unlimited supply of about 6 different types in my yard as well. What do you folks think?
    I'll post some pics of the enclosure and the animal later today.
    thanks.
    Jeff
  2. lkwagner

    lkwagner Member 5 Year Member

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    Keep offering it, it's good for them. Maybe even try soaking it before giving it to him
  3. Holycow

    Holycow Active Member 5 Year Member

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    That is an interesting idea. I'm going to go try that right now.
  4. lkwagner

    lkwagner Member 5 Year Member

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    To get my sulcatas to eat hay I soak it and I soak mazuri and then I put the hay, mazuri and cactus in a food processor and all 3 of mine just love it! But you're lucky, yours eats it all by itself!
  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Alfalfa is not a grass. Its a legume. High in protein. Feed in moderation. I grow it myself instead of using the hay. If yours likes alfalfa, you might also try bermuda grass hay and orchard grass hay. You can sprinkle some on top of other foods that he likes. Make sure your tortoise is well hydrated when feeding dry hay. He should be drinking regularly, and if you are not SURE that he is, you should soak him a few times a week.
  6. Holycow

    Holycow Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Hello,
    I'm aware alfalfa is a legume and immediately after hitting the post button I started thinking about how many people would correct that but decided it wasn't worth the hassle. I'd rather use the available daylight to watch the tortoise.
    Currently I'm using a portable 4x4 box with screen and shade top to confine his activity when I am not able to supervise or away at work. This box is within the larger enclosure. I move the box every 2 days to ensure a fresh supply of plants. Plus I toss in a few tidbits of optuna and hibiscus flowers/leaves.
    When I am here I take the animal out of the box and it has full access to all the native grasses and weeds it wants growing naturally in the full enclosure, plus the grass growing from bird seed on the right and the sulcata seed mix from sulcatafood.com growing on the left. Elephant bush is also growing back there in a few spots plus the long established hibiscus and the spineless optuna cactus patch. Bermuda grass is growing in there as well so I'm not so interesting in it's dried out format.
    I don't think Hydration should be problem, he gets soaked daily and has been drinking each morning when I put him back in the enclosure (keeping him indoors in a humid container at night & avoid predators at this size). Also have an automated sprinkler with mist system that comes on twice a day to cool things down and give the whole area a nice spritzing. Even without the yard watering robot, normal humidity here usually is 50-100% in the summer (it rains a lot).
    I soaked a little hay and put it in front of the tort, he seemed just as happy to eat it as the dry.
    I was very surprised it showed interest in the hay at all- which then leads me to a more general question- should I be concerned that the animal will only want to eat its favorite food- alfa hay, or optuna or whatever, and never be forced to browse for a larger variety. Like a human boy only wanting to eat ice cream and not his broccoli.
    -Jeff
  7. Holycow

    Holycow Active Member 5 Year Member

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    First of a few quick snapshots
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    Second pic
    [hr]
    Third Snapshot

    Attached Files:

  8. ALDABRAMAN

    ALDABRAMAN KEEPER AT HEART 5 Year Member

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    * We offer a 50/50 blend of orchard & bermuda hay on a regular basis. The adults relish it, however the hatchlings and younger aldabras seem to have minimal interest in it. After i blend the two types i chop some up into very fine pieces and provide very small piles to our hatchlings.

    * Just to add an observation, when i cut the grass in the area of the younger tortoises i have seen on several occasions that the younger tortoises will eat the fresh chopped variety following my cutting. I have scooped up some and offered it to our hatchlings and they really liked it. My thoughts is that is has a very distinctive fresh smell that they are attracted to that or maybe it is the variety of grass, weeds, etc.
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