Commercial packaged tortoise food

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scuseme

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I just got a new Redfoot Tortoise on Christmas Eve from PetCo. Not really knowing much beyond the readily available care info on them, I bought everything the associate suggested I needed to care for him, including some T-Rex dry tortoise food.

After reading LOTS more info about Redfoots and tortise care in general, I found that the one thing everyone seemed to agree on is that these commercial diets are BAD for tortoises--too high in grain, protein, and fat, and that they should not be used AT ALL in favor of an all fresh food diet. I really liked what one site said, "If it's not something a tortoise would be able to find and eat in the wild, it's not appropriate food."

I told the manager what I found through my research when I went to return the food and she was shocked and kinda angry! I told her every tortoise forum and article I read agrees that this stuff is crap. She said well "It's meant to be part of a balanced diet, you have to feed greens too. I said, "He's only going to get fresh 'real' food from now on."

I truly believe this kind of care is why he has some pyramiding. I am not sure if this is a topic for debate or not, or if everyone here agrees, but I'd like to know if anyone does feed the commercial processed food, and if so, why?
 

Yvonne G

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I feed my Aldabran tortoises one meal a week of Mazuri Tortoise Diet. Reason being, they were calcium poor with weak legs and shells that had a "give" to them. I have never fed these tortoises anything besides what grows in their pen, and really no way to give them a supplement. So I figured that a weekly meal of Mazuri with extra calcium and vitamins sprinkled over the top would help them. They now also get a hand-fed piece of fruit or veggie with some human calcium tablets in them every day.

I have offered the Mazuri to my other tortoises too, but none of them would even take a bite.
 
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Maggie Cummings

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I feed Mazuri to my 80 pound Sulcata every other day because we live in Oregon and nothing is growing right now so he has nothing to graze on. So I feed him Mazuri, what hay he will eat and some greens that I buy...
 

terryo

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Once a week I make a mix of Mazuri, chopped greens, and some chopped fruit...whatever I have. I mix it all up and put some calcium powder on top. I do this in the winter when he's inside.
 

Balboa

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I don't recall ever hearing a good thing about T-rex brand food, but can't say I've studied it closely.
Many people get very good results from Maxuri, I choose not to use it as I feel it contains too much processed grain, however I'm sure the nutritional balance on it is great.
I've heard good things about Zoo-Med Brand foods, and use their Grassland Tort food once a week. I like how it looks to be largely grain free.

In any case I feel that occasional use of packaged foods is fine, as it helps to promote a complete nutrition diet. The bulk of the diet, however should be fresh greens, fruit, hay, grasses, whatever, depending on species.

Just my 2 cents.
 

Yvonne G

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"grain" is the seed from a grass-like plant. Oats grows like grass. Wheat grows like grass. Corn, though having broader leaves, grows like grass. My Bermuda grass goes to seed all the time and the tortoises eat the seeds. So I don't see anything wrong with the tortoise eating a feed that has grain as part of the ingredients.
 

Madkins007

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It is easy to make issues like this black and white, good and bad, but it is not that simple.

You see- humans cannot digest grains either. If you ate a handful of most grains or seeds, they would pass unaltered through your system. We can chew some of them to a degree, but we really cannot unlock the nutrients trapped in most of them, and we cannot neutralize the toxins in most grains and seeds that protect them from some kinds of predation.

However, if you process the grain, it not only becomes edible, it becomes an important part of the human diet. Cats, dogs, and tortoises cannot eat unprocessed grains, but seem to do OK on properly processed grains.

OK- next, 'edible' does not automatically mean 'good' for tortoises or other animals. The next thing to look at is portions/doses, other ingredients, key nutrients, etc. Just as there is junky dog and cat food, there is junky tortoise chow- cheap ingredients, bad fillers, overuse of chemicals to make palatable, etc.

For example- protein. In processing and counting it for the label, protein is protein. Old leather, connective tissue, etc. all counts as protein and has been used in cheaper feeds. No one expects that you will grind up top quality meats for cost-effective pet foods, but there is a lot of decent stuff decent mills use.

Having said all that, I would tend to put more trust in a company that has a good track record with other animal feeds, good lab and milling facilities, etc. For example, Mazuri is made by Purina Mills, and is used by zoos (they also make feeds for many other zoo animals). Personally, I just use to to supplement as natural of a diet as I can provide but I would not tell others not to use it more heavily (at least, I would not since I have done more research on the topic.)

Besides- for most of us smaller hobbyists, 'real food' is generally more cost efficient.




As for pyramiding- probably not because of the diet. Probably more related to bone density, humidity, etc. And as for telling the retailer the stuff is crap, that may not have been the most socially/politically correct act.

You mentioned an oft-heard comment- "If it's not something a tortoise would be able to find and eat in the wild, it's not appropriate food." The problem is that there is dang little you will find in the grocery store or in your back yard that a tortoise would find in the wild. ESPECIALLY Red-foots! Absolutely none of our fruit, other than figs and cactus fruits, are similar to what they get in the wild. The greens and meats we offer are also completely foreign to them. Even the mushrooms we can offer are very different than the wide range of fungi they can get. It is a nice phrase, but it is not really accurate.
 

scuseme

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Thanks for the thoughts on the matter! I really appreciate your feedback.

And just to clarify, I didn't actually tell her the stuff was "crap" I was just hyperbolizing a bit for the story's sake. ;) I did tell her that I had read many articles that said to avoid the stuff though, and that it was the "processing" of the food that made it less healthy.

So, I don't think it's necessarily the grains that are are problem, as you said, I think it's the "type" of grain. I don't think large amounts of processed corn meal as a main ingredient is healthy for humans, cats, dogs, tortoises, or just about any living thing. It's just an edible, inexpensive filler.

I also agree that protein quality is a big criteria as well... I got my guy some mealworms today to supply some of the 10% protein I plan to provide in his diet and he loved 'em! I think they're much better (and closer to what he'd get in the wild) than processed left-over cow or pig parts (which may or may not be in the packaged food--it's just what I imagine!).

So, I think this question has been answered to my satisfaction!

PetCo (at least the one by me) doesn't carry the Mazuri Tortoise Diet, which sounds like a higher-quality supplement to a balanced diet then the T-Rex stuff which I think is probably just meant to be edible and inexpensive, meeting minimum needs. I will look for the Mazuri stuff, I'd like to compare.
 

Balboa

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emysemys said:
"grain" is the seed from a grass-like plant. Oats grows like grass. Wheat grows like grass. Corn, though having broader leaves, grows like grass. My Bermuda grass goes to seed all the time and the tortoises eat the seeds. So I don't see anything wrong with the tortoise eating a feed that has grain as part of the ingredients.

Absolutely Yvonne, I suppose I should clarify, though I think Mark touched on it a bit.

Its not that a little grain is bad for anything, its a natural part of most diets, but a small part.

What the romans figured out long ago, was that you could take all those seeds and grind them up and make bread. This made for a compact, super high energy meal to keep soldiers going on those long marches, hundreds of miles from home. THere's much more calories in flour than an equivalent weight of greens.

What modern scientisits who study this stuff have found, is that over reliance on this high energy food source CAN have negative impacts on long-term health. Modern man has been adapting to this diet now for a couple thousand years. That's not enough time to fully adapt, but allows for greater success than wild animals. Many people and animals are allergic to grains as well.

Soooo, everything in moderation. A little bit of grains is likely fine, lotsa grain creates a risk.
 

TKCARDANDCOIN

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I feed my redfoot's the mazuri diet along with fresh greens and fruits and they go crazy for both.My other torts and box turtles would'nt touch it.
 

PeanutbuttER

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I dug around and found this again today. After following this thread it seems to me like it's worth posting these here too
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread-Mazuri-part-1 and http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread-Mazuri-part-2

scuseme - another option that keepers seem to like (well, the only other option that keepers seem to like) is the zoo med forest tort and grassland tort. These I can almost guarantee are sold by petco, but are much more expensive. I bought my mazuri for under 1.25 a pound. Last time I was at petco it was like $9 or so for just under a pound of the zoo med.
 

Madkins007

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You can also watch the forum. Sometimes someone will buy a big bag at about $25 for 25lbs and sell off smaller bags of it pretty cheap.
 

Mao Senpai

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I usually mix in mazuri or zoo med or both into chopped cactus and other greens or give them either or depending on the day or week... it took quiet a bit of effort for them to start touching the mazuri but now they just dig right in.
 
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