Basking lamp

Supersnusk

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Joined
Mar 26, 2020
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Bristol
Hi there.
What is the best soil for a herman tortoise? I have a 18 month.
I have been using fertilized top soil.
Yet seems to get dry.
I have a spray water bottle and water it in the morning before switching on the light.
Also im using a d3 uv basking lamp 100 watts is this appropriate?
Also im finding it hard for natural weeds in the uk, i know dandelions but other natural plants?
I have also purchased supplements for her and cuttlefish.
Thanks
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Jan 9, 2010
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48,455
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Hi there.
What is the best soil for a herman tortoise? I have a 18 month.
I have been using fertilized top soil.
Yet seems to get dry.
I have a spray water bottle and water it in the morning before switching on the light.
Also im using a d3 uv basking lamp 100 watts is this appropriate?
Also im finding it hard for natural weeds in the uk, i know dandelions but other natural plants?
I have also purchased supplements for her and cuttlefish.
Thanks
Hello and welcome.

Soil should never be used as tortoise substrate. It is made form composted yard waste, and there is no way to know what is in it. Could be something toxic. All the additives are just one more reason to not use it. I prefer coco coir for small Testudo, and fine grade orchid bark for larger Testudo.

Spraying the surface does nothing, as you've already seen. You have to dump water into the substrate to maintain dampness. How much water and how often varies with every enclosure. You have to go by feel.

Your bulb is fine, but make sure you use a thermometer to mount it at the correct height.

I don't know the UK weed situation. Seems like everything would be green all around you in spring time with all the rain you get. If you can't find weeds, use endive, escarole, and arugula, from the store and mix in all sorts of other stuff for variety. Then you have to add something to the greens to increase the fiber content and make it better for your tortoise. Soaked ZooMed Grassland pellets, Mazuri, soaked horse cubes, etc...

Care for hermanni and Russians is the same. Check these out:
 

Lyn W

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Hi and welcome, I'm just across the Bridge from you in Wales.
The caresheets will help you with your set up, diet temps and humidity etc. and if you post pics you'll get constructive feedback to make sure your tort is as safe as possible.
Our weeds are still hard to find at the moment, but over winter I use a mixed leaf salad from Aldi as a basis for my torts diet, It is in the dark green bag and only about 50p. I then add other things like some dark green Romaine leaves or Pak choi leaves, lambs lettuce, some kale and spring greens etc (I sprinkle ground Readigrass over my leaves, but my tort is a Leopard and a grass eater - I don't think yours is.) I sprinkle with a pinch of calcium and Nutrabal a couple of times a week. usually on different days.
Other good salad bags to use as a base are Florette Classic Crispy, Sainsbury's mixed leaf, Tesco mixed leaf, and Lidl also do a nice mix of salad leaves in an orange bag I think. Sainsbury and Lidl also do a living salad tray for about a £1 which my tort likes to chomp on occasionally. Variety is the spice of life!
Favourite weeds are dandelions, ribwort plantain and broadleaf plantain and clover but there's lots of others Have a look at www.thetortoisetable.org which is a good guide to tort safe plants and helps ID them.
Make sure you pick them from chemical and fume free places, so not where weed killer has been used in the last couple of years or from the side of roads etc.
 
Last edited:

Supersnusk

New Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2020
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Bristol
Hello and welcome.

Soil should never be used as tortoise substrate. It is made form composted yard waste, and there is no way to know what is in it. Could be something toxic. All the additives are just one more reason to not use it. I prefer coco coir for small Testudo, and fine grade orchid bark for larger Testudo.

Spraying the surface does nothing, as you've already seen. You have to dump water into the substrate to maintain dampness. How much water and how often varies with every enclosure. You have to go by feel.

Your bulb is fine, but make sure you use a thermometer to mount it at the correct height.

I don't know the UK weed situation. Seems like everything would be green all around you in spring time with all the rain you get. If you can't find weeds, use endive, escarole, and arugula, from the store and mix in all sorts of other stuff for variety. Then you have to add something to the greens to increase the fiber content and make it better for your tortoise. Soaked ZooMed Grassland pellets, Mazuri, soaked horse cubes, etc...

Care for hermanni and Russians is the same. Check these out:
Thank you very much for the information 😀
 

Supersnusk

New Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2020
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Bristol
Hi and welcome, I'm just across the Bridge from you in Wales.
The caresheets will help you with your set up, diet temps and humidity etc. and if you post pics you'll get constructive feedback to make sure your tort is as safe as possible.
Our weeds are still hard to find at the moment, but over winter I use a mixed leaf salad from Aldi as a basis for my torts diet, It is in the dark green bag and only about 50p. I then add other things like some dark green Romaine leaves or Pak choi leaves, lambs lettuce, some kale and spring greens etc (I sprinkle ground Readigrass over my leaves, but my tort is a Leopard and a grass eater - I don't think yours is.) I sprinkle with a pinch of calcium and Nutrabal a couple of times a week. usually on different days.
Other good salad bags to use as a base are Florette Classic Crispy, Sainsbury's mixed leaf, Tesco mixed leaf, and Lidl also do a nice mix of salad leaves in an orange bag I think. Sainsbury and Lidl also do a living salad tray for about a £1 which my tort likes to chomp on occasionally. Variety is the spice of life!
Favourite weeds are dandelions, ribwort plantain and broadleaf plantain and clover but there's lots of others Have a look at www.thetortoisetable.org which is a good guide to tort safe plants and helps ID them.
Make sure you pick them from chemical and fume free places, so not where weed killer has been used in the last couple of years or from the side of roads etc.
Hi lyn
Thank you so much for information.
I had been using pre mixed bags, which she enjoys and i mix it up with kale and chicory.
Just i read some many different reviews what to feed them it gets confusing.
I will check out the website you posted.
Its just lately i think her shell was looking a bit lumpy.
Maybe im over feeding her, i do use the calcium powder and nutrobal. But the lady i brought her from send to alternative between them and spinkle a little bit everyday. Maybe i will change to 2/3 times per week.
Thank you so much again 😀
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
48,455
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hi lyn
Thank you so much for information.
I had been using pre mixed bags, which she enjoys and i mix it up with kale and chicory.
Just i read some many different reviews what to feed them it gets confusing.
I will check out the website you posted.
Its just lately i think her shell was looking a bit lumpy.
Maybe im over feeding her, i do use the calcium powder and nutrobal. But the lady i brought her from send to alternative between them and spinkle a little bit everyday. Maybe i will change to 2/3 times per week.
Thank you so much again 😀
There is a lot of misinformation on tortoise care and feeding out there. Its daunting for new people. Their primary diet should be broadleaf weeds. Romaine has little nutrition, low ca and low fiber, kale has compounds that are bad for them in excess. Grocery store greens can work, but you need to add stuff to them to make them better. Soaked Zoomed Grassland pellets, blended up soaked grass hay, Mazuri, herbal hay from tortoisessupply.com, and Will @Kapidolo Farms has all kinds of dried leaves that you can mix in with your romaine to make it a better food for your tortoise.

Find sources of weeds and things growing locally in safe areas that aren't chemically treated. Looks for signs of insect life. Ants nearby, spider webs, holes chewed in the leaves, etc... Learn to ID your local weeds. Soon the mulberry leaves and grape vine leaves will be back. Find some established sources for those. Get some opuntia pads and plant them in pots if you have no safe areas outside for them.

You can also set up an indoor rack system with LED plant bulbs and trays of soil, and start growing your own stuff from seed.

There are sooooo many things you can do that would be better than buying food at the grocery store. Here is a small starter list of good tortoise foods:
Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Geraniums
Gazanias
Lavatera
Pansies
Petunias
Hostas
Honeysuckle
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

Weeds:
There are soooooooo many...
Dandelion
Mallow
Filaree
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Nettles
Trefoil
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Clovers
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed
Hawksbit
Hensbit
Hawksbeard

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

The shell lumpiness is called pyramiding. In the past, we mistakenly thought is was caused by too much food or the wrong types of food. We were wrong, but many people still don't know this and keep parroting the old wrong info. Pyramiding is CAUSED by growth in conditions that are too dry. This can be from low humidity, or from the wrong types of bulbs which desiccate their carapace.

Too much supplementation is bad for them. Calcium interferes with the absorption of other important nutrients and trace elements. They need calcium, but not every other day. Once or twice a week should be plenty, depending on the diet. Same with vitamin supplements. Once or twice a week should be plenty.
 

Lyn W

Well-Known Member
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Jul 22, 2014
Messages
18,453
Location (City and/or State)
UK
Use this forum as your main guide - it has up to date information. Others have a great deal of out of date advice and pet shops rarely know much about tortoise keeping.
 

Supersnusk

New Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2020
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Bristol
Thanks lyn 😀
Also just wondering. My herman tortoise is 18 months old. How many times per week do you think i should feed her? Ive been feeding her everyday, and read somewhere you should only feed 3/4 times per week? I feel bad because she always seems hungry, hunting for food in the ground lol
 

iAmCentrochelys sulcata

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Joined
Aug 10, 2019
Messages
898
Location (City and/or State)
Houston
I would
Hi there.
What is the best soil for a herman tortoise? I have a 18 month.
I have been using fertilized top soil.
Yet seems to get dry.
I have a spray water bottle and water it in the morning before switching on the light.
Also im using a d3 uv basking lamp 100 watts is this appropriate?
Also im finding it hard for natural weeds in the uk, i know dandelions but other natural plants?
I have also purchased supplements for her and cuttlefish.
Thanks
I would suggest Scott’s topsoil
 

Lyn W

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
18,453
Location (City and/or State)
UK
Also just wondering. My herman tortoise is 18 months old. How many times per week do you think i should feed her? Ive been feeding her everyday, and read somewhere you should only feed 3/4 times per week? I feel bad because she always seems hungry, hunting for food in the ground lol
I think you sold feed everyday. I was told to think of the shell as an upturned bowl and feed that amount but if she is still hungry feed more, if she tends to leave some, feed less - let your tortoise guide you. Mine has always eaten as much as he wants and will leave what he doesn't want. He eats less in the winter but makes up for it in the summer.
 

Supersnusk

New Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2020
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Bristol
I think you sold feed everyday. I was told to think of the shell as an upturned bowl and feed that amount but if she is still hungry feed more, if she tends to leave some, feed less - let your tortoise guide you. Mine has always eaten as much as he wants and will leave what he doesn't want. He eats less in the winter but makes up for it in the summer.
Ok thank lyn. I was thinking i might be over feeding her so i wanted to check. Also sorry to be a pain. But i brought my tortoise from a lady her breeds them for years at home. I recieved certificate etc.
But she told me not to hibernate her for the 1st year as its too risky while she is so young. I read alot about hibernating tortoises and alot can go wrong, little be scared about this. Do you hibernate your tortoise every year?
 
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