A few questions !


New Member
Apr 13, 2014
Hello all !

It has been almost a month since I became the owner of my baby horsfield Ralph, who is now just 6 months old. Still learning as much as I can about tortoises, but I just have a few questions bobbling around in my head I would like to get some answers too !

1) When I "bath" Ralph, he sometimes dunks his head/face underwater and appears to blow bubbles, the frst time I saw this I panicked a bit ! Is this normal/safe ?

2) I try not to feed by hand too much, but as you probably understand it's a nice experience to interact with your tortoise this way, however .. feeding by hand has seen Ralph ignoring the food I am offering and trying so very hard to nip my fingers ! (he was successful once, and it surprisingly was quite a pinch !)

3) What is (in your opinon) the BEST all year round indoor substrate for a horsfield tortoise ? (The main enclosure substrate, and the "bedding")

Many thanks in advance for taking the time to read and answer any of these !

Last edited:


Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Sep 6, 2011
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Tortoises will put their heads under water sometimes to drink, don't panic, it's fine. Hand feeding can be tricking, I got one that wants to grab the food where my hand is. Can be done, just shouldn't be done all the time. I would use dirt or coconut coir for a substrate.

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 23, 2008
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Tortoises drink through their nose, so seeing them with their whole face in the water isn't unusual.

I don't like to let my tortoises know that the food comes from me. Once they realize that, they walk right through the pile of food to get to me or my hand. So I like to put the food down before the tortoises are out.

My favorite substrate is the small grade (fine) orchid bark. But substrate seems to be a personal choice. Everyone has their own favorite. Just don't use walnut shells, corn cob bedding, sand or alfalfa pellets.