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Commercial Tortoise Food Questions

jsheffield

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I've had a redfoot for a year, and just recently invited a Russian into my home... I feed them both fresh ingredients as a large portion of their diets but supplement both with a mix of couple of different commercial tortoise food 1-2 times each week.

I'm wondering if there are any scientific studies about the long-term effects and outcomes of different commercial tortoise foods... curious about different foods, as different proportions of the total diet, and for different types of tortoises.

I googled without success but have my suspicions:

1) making commercial feed 10-20 percent of your tort's diet may help to cover any shortcomings in the fresh foods you provide, in terms of vitamins and minerals.

2) making commercial feed 80-100 percent of your tort's diet may lead to too-fast growth and long-term issues similar to what people who eat lots of processed foods over fresh foods.

Failing links to scientific studies, I'd love to hear people's thoughts about, and experiences with, feeding their torts commercial foods.

Jamie
 

Kapidolo Farms

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jsheffield

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I've been hydrating the commercial feed, so I guess that's what I mean...

Thanks for the link and info.

Jamie
 

Relic

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Great question, and one that puzzles me as well. I have a young yellowfoot (around 6 inches) and despite the ease of feeding most redfoots, he is a bit more picky. He will move heaven and earth to get to Mazuri and would be happy, I'm sure, to subsist 100% on that. Despite his extreme fondness, and knowing the need for a wide variety of fruits and veggies, he only gets it two days a week. The other 5 days are a continuing hit-or-miss offerings of "non-Mazuri" items. And there is yet no rhyme or reason for what he will or won't consume on those other days...
 

jsheffield

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My Redfoot is crazy about plantain and dandelion greens, any part of the hibiscus plant, rehydrated wakame seaweed, papaya, and strawberry, squash, reptilinks, salmon, and scrambled egg.

I'm still getting to know my Russian, but he seems to like plantain and dandelion and hibiscus, and is not yet sure about the wakame

I have three kibbles: Mazuri, RepCal, and ZooMed, which I feed 1-2 times a week, either together or singly, mixed in with their other foods... both of my torts favor Mazuri, then RepCal, then ZooMed (although I think the RepCal has too much fruit/sugar for the Russian, so I'm cutting it out of his rotation).

I like to think that the commercial feeds have some vitamins and minerals that may be missing in the rest of their diets, which is why I have them in the rotation... that being said, it's not a lot of kibble involved... in the year I've been feeding it, I've used about a pound of Mazuri, and about a cup each of the two other feeds (I added them to the dietary rotation later, so have used less).

Jamie
 

Blackdog1714

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My russian would eat the Mazuri, but is an absolute fiend for plantain. I replace a full grown plant once every four days cause he takes it to the nubs! Crushes hibiscus and zinnia blooms! I am working to start my fall grow to get me a ways through winter
 
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It's a shame that studies about the long-term effects don't exist or are super rare.
my personal opinion is that those pellets add a great variety and vitamins we maybe miss by only giving them foods we have around

If u dont overdue it u won't harm ur tortoise
It's like us all the time the same food or lots of it makes us ill and unhealthy

The important thing is to know the ingredients
 

Olddog

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Hi Jamie,
By now you are probably aware of the high requirements for crude fiber of certain tortoise species and the later developing health problems of certain species when grown rapidly and/or without adequate crude fiber. Some of the commercial pellets are high in crude fiber and others are not. Generally, the high crude fiber diets are not as palatable as the traditional Masuri. Perhaps you saw the presentation by Ashley Ortega referenced below: I saw and handled those little ones when visiting in February and they were quite solid and well grown.

A Comparative Diet Study for Hand Rearing Galapagos Tortoises (Chelonoidis microphyes)
ASHLEY ORTEGA
Gladys Porter Zoo, Department of Herpetology, Brownsville, Texas 78520 USA [[email protected]]
Abstract:
Hundreds of Galapagos Tortoises have been produced in collections over the past several decades. Despite the species’ documented lifespan of over one hundred years, many of the F1s have failed to survive past year thirty. Necropsies have revealed a high incidence of heart and liver disease. Survivors are commonly plagued with abnormal shell conformation, rapid weight gain and inability to adequately bear weight evenly on all four legs. Among all of the husbandry techniques implicated, dietary issues seem to be the most significant. The purpose of this study is to compare the results of hand-rearing Galapagos Tortoises utilizing our “tried and true” dietary regime, versus the use of a commercially-produced pelleted tortoise diet. Ten hatchlings (five different clutches from same sire x dam) were split into two separate groups as soon as they were started on food. One group was fed a variety of natural browse and the Gladys Porter Zoo (GPZ) house diet, while the other group was exclusively fed ZooMed (ZM) Grassland Tortoise Diet pellets. After three years, the tortoises on the pelleted diet showed excellent shell conformity, but grew at an unacceptably slow rate in comparison to the GPZ group. After re-evaluating nutrient levels in diets for both groups, the ZM tortoises were switched to ZooMed Forest Tortoise Diet pellets with the aim of achieving a more acceptable growth rate. A second test group of eight tortoises was added to the study to compare tortoises started on the Forest Tortoise formula. Currently in year four of this ongoing study, an exclusive diet of ZooMed Forest Tortoise has subjectively yielded positive results. In close comparison to the GPZ diet, the ZM group has grown at a steady rate with no appearance of shell abnormalities or ambulatory issues. Zoos & Chelonians: Oral
 

jsheffield

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Hi Jamie,
By now you are probably aware of the high requirements for crude fiber of certain tortoise species and the later developing health problems of certain species when grown rapidly and/or without adequate crude fiber. Some of the commercial pellets are high in crude fiber and others are not. Generally, the high crude fiber diets are not as palatable as the traditional Masuri. Perhaps you saw the presentation by Ashley Ortega referenced below: I saw and handled those little ones when visiting in February and they were quite solid and well grown.

A Comparative Diet Study for Hand Rearing Galapagos Tortoises (Chelonoidis microphyes)
ASHLEY ORTEGA
Gladys Porter Zoo, Department of Herpetology, Brownsville, Texas 78520 USA [[email protected]]
Abstract:
Hundreds of Galapagos Tortoises have been produced in collections over the past several decades. Despite the species’ documented lifespan of over one hundred years, many of the F1s have failed to survive past year thirty. Necropsies have revealed a high incidence of heart and liver disease. Survivors are commonly plagued with abnormal shell conformation, rapid weight gain and inability to adequately bear weight evenly on all four legs. Among all of the husbandry techniques implicated, dietary issues seem to be the most significant. The purpose of this study is to compare the results of hand-rearing Galapagos Tortoises utilizing our “tried and true” dietary regime, versus the use of a commercially-produced pelleted tortoise diet. Ten hatchlings (five different clutches from same sire x dam) were split into two separate groups as soon as they were started on food. One group was fed a variety of natural browse and the Gladys Porter Zoo (GPZ) house diet, while the other group was exclusively fed ZooMed (ZM) Grassland Tortoise Diet pellets. After three years, the tortoises on the pelleted diet showed excellent shell conformity, but grew at an unacceptably slow rate in comparison to the GPZ group. After re-evaluating nutrient levels in diets for both groups, the ZM tortoises were switched to ZooMed Forest Tortoise Diet pellets with the aim of achieving a more acceptable growth rate. A second test group of eight tortoises was added to the study to compare tortoises started on the Forest Tortoise formula. Currently in year four of this ongoing study, an exclusive diet of ZooMed Forest Tortoise has subjectively yielded positive results. In close comparison to the GPZ diet, the ZM group has grown at a steady rate with no appearance of shell abnormalities or ambulatory issues. Zoos & Chelonians: Oral
Thanks!

J
 

turtlesteve

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I will say I've had some tortoises that love Mazuri tortoise diet, and others that won't touch it. I tend to offer it 2-4 times a week but often mixed in with other food options. I have not noticed a major impact on growth rates nor do the tortoises that eat it grow faster. I do have tortoises that are fast / slow growers but it goes back to how they were started as hatclings.

It's nice to have in January when it's slim pickings for dandilions and other yard weeds.
 

Toddrickfl1

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The only commercial diet I use is Mazuri. I've got a really picky eater. He won't eat most things. So I use the Mazuri to get him to eat things he normally won't. If I mix just a little mashed Mazuri in whatever he won't normally eat, he then will eat it.
 

jsheffield

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"Tortoises were fed this diet exclusively for approximately 1 yr prior to this study. " so that would be 100% for a year, sorta precisely what you are asking.
From my initial post:
I'm wondering if there are any scientific studies about the long-term effects and outcomes of different commercial tortoise foods... curious about different foods, as different proportions of the total diet, and for different types of tortoises.

Your response made an interesting read, but as per the bolded above did not cover "precisely" what I'd asked about.

I don't know if I'm reading too much into the content and tone of your posts, but in a couple of responses to questions of mine (and those of others on TFO) you seem unnecessarily grumpy and defensive in response to pretty reasonable questions... you obviously know a lot about tortoises, but if my questions or posts **** you off for some reason, feel free not to answer, there are a lot of knowledgable people on TFO (along with those of us just learning) who don't seem put out by my questions and by my learning process.

Anyway, thanks for your initial response, it was an interesting thesis paper.

Jamie
 

qiangzhu

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Mazuri is made by bean and has a lot of protein which may make your tortoise to grow very fast. But Zoo Med tortoise food is fine per my perspective. It is made by hay and has a lot of crude fiber.
 

Kapidolo Farms

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What is long term for the purpose of your question?

From my initial post:
I'm wondering if there are any scientific studies about the long-term effects and outcomes of different commercial tortoise foods... curious about different foods, as different proportions of the total diet, and for different types of tortoises.

Your response made an interesting read, but as per the bolded above did not cover "precisely" what I'd asked about.

I don't know if I'm reading too much into the content and tone of your posts, but in a couple of responses to questions of mine (and those of others on TFO) you seem unnecessarily grumpy and defensive in response to pretty reasonable questions... you obviously know a lot about tortoises, but if my questions or posts **** you off for some reason, feel free not to answer, there are a lot of knowledgable people on TFO (along with those of us just learning) who don't seem put out by my questions and by my learning process.

Anyway, thanks for your initial response, it was an interesting thesis paper.

Jamie
 

method89

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Mazuri is made by bean and has a lot of protein which may make your tortoise to grow very fast. But Zoo Med tortoise food is fine per my perspective. It is made by hay and has a lot of crude fiber.
So is ZooMed actually better than Mazuri? Because it seems all you ever hear about is Mazuri
 

jsheffield

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So is ZooMed actually better than Mazuri? Because it seems all you ever hear about is Mazuri
I've heard some talk about how torts grown on feed with too much protein and too little fiber grow oddly and have health problems over the long haul... this makes some sense to me as grass and weeds have less protein and more fiber than most tortoise feeds.

IMG_2430.jpg

IMG_2431.jpg

Zoomed has lower protein and higher fiber than mazuri, and the ingredients list looks better to my eye... the thing is my redfoot and Russian both prefer mazuri, which sounds like a common thing among tortoise keepers, which probably has something to do with mazuri's popularity.

The numbers are the numbers, but a lot of the rest, on my part (and on the part of stuff I've read and heard), is supposition about what makes tortoises grow better and healthier... that's why I'd love some serious research looking at a lot of torts eating a lot of feeds over a lot of years... Ideally from a bunch of zoos and collectors over a decade or more.

I try to feed my torts more fresh food than commercial feed anyway, as I only have the two and it's pretty easy and seems as though it'll yield better nutrition and results.

I think the difference between the feeds is probably a less important thing for my redfoot, as they can handle more protein and sugars than my Russian.

I still find it an interesting thing to think about, as I'd like to do the best possible for my torts.

Jamie
 
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