Good (Cheaper) Tortoise Salad Topper Alternatives?

Geode890

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Hey all. For the past few years I've been getting the Tortoise Supply Herbal Hay for my russian tortoise, but with everything going on recently (and I feel like the herbal hay itself got more expensive?) it's been getting harder to fit it into my budget, so I've been looking into alternatives. I came across the one ZooMed one, but despite being lower quality, it seems significantly more expensive per ounce.
Recently though, I came across this Rosewood Naturals Nature's Salad stuff at my local store, and while it does have a lot less flowers and such in it, it is significantly cheaper, and most of the ingredients would likely be beneficial to his diet as far as I can tell. The only exception is that it has peppermint in it, which in a related thread someone mentioned is pretty bad for tortoises. The packing mentions that peppermint makes up less than 1% of the contents, but I'm not sure if this would be safe or not. If this is something best not to risk, are there any alternative salad toppers, or am I going to have to bite the bullet with the Herbal Hay? Thanks in advance!
 

wellington

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I was going to also mention you look at @Kapidolo Farms he, Will has a big variety.
Also you could pick edible flowers and/or weeds you know weren't sprayed with anything and hang them upside down to dry them for future use.
Might see if a local grocery store sells edible flowers and what they run.
 

jsheffield

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I buy dried flowers and herbs on Amazon.

I also use opuntia cactus powder as a shake and vitamin powder... also bought on Amazon.

Jamie
 

RosemaryDW

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A pinch of peppermint is not going to hurt your tortoise. Might throw the smell off but hard to say without trying it.

Nothing wrong with herbal hay but is there a reason you aren't able to get fiber and variety into his diet some other way? As you are not in a cold or dark season just now. Perhaps you are in the city?
 

Geode890

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A pinch of peppermint is not going to hurt your tortoise. Might throw the smell off but hard to say without trying it.

Nothing wrong with herbal hay but is there a reason you aren't able to get fiber and variety into his diet some other way? As you are not in a cold or dark season just now. Perhaps you are in the city?
You pretty much guessed it. My initial plan was to stay in my apartment for only a short period and then get the space to grow the optimal variety of food, but that plan got pretty sidetracked, and seems like it will be for the foreseeable future. As of now, I have to stick to the grocery store spring mix with vitamin supplements (and occasional extra grocery store inclusions like mustard greens and such), but I've read that over time that can get pretty lackluster in terms of some nutrients, which I believe the flower mix supplements. If there's other things I can introduce to the diet or anything else that would be missing, I'd be more than happy to try to include them!
I'll definitely take a look into some of the other recommendations others have laid out to see if those work a little better, as well
 

MenagerieGrl

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A pinch of peppermint is not going to hurt your tortoise. Might throw the smell off but hard to say without trying it.

Nothing wrong with herbal hay but is there a reason you aren't able to get fiber and variety into his diet some other way? As you are not in a cold or dark season just now. Perhaps you are in the city?
Oh, hey . . and a very Happy birthday to you, @RosemaryDW 🥳
🎉 Yay!
 

RosemaryDW

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Thank you!

When it comes down to it I just don't think you are going to get more bang for your buck when it comes to the herbal hay.

I looked at the mix you've identified and while it's got quite a few good things in it, it's also got a good amount of various grains. Good for bunnies and guinea pigs, not so great for tortoises. It wouldn't hurt him; it's just not ideal. I see they sell a dandelion one that only has three things in it: dandelion, plantain, and lemon balm, all good. Lemon balm has a strong scent so it might not go over but for $5 worth a try. But for the price of the dandelion mix you might not do much better price wise if you were buying a whole pound's worth.

Kapidolo Farms, which is regularly mentioned on the forum sells great stuff but not more cheaply. He's got some things that surely aren't in that herbal mix: https://www.kapidolofarms.com/shop/?filters=product_cat[25].

I know Indiana is not the most diverse part of the country but are there *any* stores around you that are ethnic grocers or hipster/granola? If so and you can tell me what they are I might have a few ideas to at least bulk up your current grocery store diet. Or a farmers market.

Growing your own food is harder than you think, especially for one Russian tortoise. Once you figure out soil, containers, plants, "safe" pest control; etc., you might find the return on investment isn't great. You could end up growing the equivalent of the $30 "home grown" tomato I've raised in the past. :) But if you want, you might still have a few successes at an apartment. If you have even the saddest of outdoor spaces you could try turnip and radish greens; they like shade and will sprout overnight. Plant daikon radishes for the biggest leaves and there are turnip types that are grown exclusively for the leaves. A squash plant won't do great in poor light but for two bucks at whatever nursery or grocery store you find it at, it's worth sticking in a big container if you have it. If it grows only for a short while it's still great fiber (and delicious) for the price. Those are pretty much the only two things I will recommend to those with brown thumbs or bad space.

And finally!! if you are very limited in your grocery diet—and it looks to me like you are—it is perfectly reasonable to supplement with a prepared diet like Mazuri. Your diet is missing fiber. I see that Mazuri is finally selling food in smaller bags, not only 25 pounds at a time! Most people wet up a pellet or two (depends on your tortoise's size) and mush it around with the other food, probably the same as you do with the flowers. Some tortoises will eat it dry eventually. There is more than one formulation, most folks stick with the "original" formula. You can buy the 1.25 bag at chewy.com.
 
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Geode890

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Thank you all for the tons of great information! :)
I took a look into the Kapidolo farms stuff, and while it does seem to be pretty good, it also seems to be a bit more expensive (only by about 50 cents an ounce, albeit) and the herbal hay seems to have a tad more inherent variety to it, do I suppose I’ll stick with that. I only need a bag every 2 months or so, so I think I can just work with that.
I have moved since I set up this profile, and I’m over in Kentucky now. There’s a pretty big city about an hour away, so I’m sure I can find pretty much anything there if there’s anything specific I should look for that I can stock up on. The farmer’s market here is a bit lackluster :p
As for growing my own stuff, unfortunately I have no land at all at the moment. When I get my own place I don’t figure I would be able to grow literally all his food, but figure I could supplement it with some of the stuff grown from the “tortoise seed” mixes I’ve seen online. I’d have to see how much the harvest per price is though, for the exact reason mentioned above.
As for the pellets, coincidentally I was looking into those last night and figured I could give the ZooMed/Mazuri ones a shot, alongside the flowers. Geode’s a bit picky about food, so I’m not sure how well received they’ll be, but it sounds pretty much like what I’m looking for. I was hesitant at first due to the pretty mixed opinion towards them, but it seems more like a lot of negativity is aimed towards those who use pellets exclusively as the only food source
 

RosemaryDW

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Hmm, well a big city is good in terms of variety the more ethnically diverse it is. I am not familiar enough with Kentucky to know how the demographics break out so you'd have to tell me! The most diverse city I can think of is Nashville (I could be totally wrong here) and there are almost no Asians or hispanics there, which would be the first types of markets I would encourage you to look for. Mexicans, for example, eat a fair amount of cactus pads (nopales) so are commonly available in latino grocers in my area. Kentucky well, probably not so much. So maybe a Whole Foods or similar would be the place to start. Not cheap though so perhaps you are back to the same problem. If your regular grocery store sells the Ready Pac salad mix brand look for the Santa Barbara Mix; it contains only the more bitter lettuces, no filler. :)

Your tortoise is likely to be slow to pick up on pellets; start with a tiny moistened amount mixed into the regular food. Feel free to grate some cucumber in with it to make it more enticing.
 

Cathie G

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Thank you!

When it comes down to it I just don't think you are going to get more bang for your buck when it comes to the herbal hay.

I looked at the mix you've identified and while it's got quite a few good things in it, it's also got a good amount of various grains. Good for bunnies and guinea pigs, not so great for tortoises. It wouldn't hurt him; it's just not ideal. I see they sell a dandelion one that only has three things in it: dandelion, plantain, and lemon balm, all good. Lemon balm has a strong scent so it might not go over but for $5 worth a try. But for the price of the dandelion mix you might not do much better price wise if you were buying a whole pound's worth.

Kapidolo Farms, which is regularly mentioned on the forum sells great stuff but not more cheaply. He's got some things that surely aren't in that herbal mix: https://www.kapidolofarms.com/shop/?filters=product_cat[25].

I know Indiana is not the most diverse part of the country but are there *any* stores around you that are ethnic grocers or hipster/granola? If so and you can tell me what they are I might have a few ideas to at least bulk up your current grocery store diet. Or a farmers market.

Growing your own food is harder than you think, especially for one Russian tortoise. Once you figure out soil, containers, plants, "safe" pest control; etc., you might find the return on investment isn't great. You could end up growing the equivalent of the $30 "home grown" tomato I've raised in the past. :) But if you want, you might still have a few successes at an apartment. If you have even the saddest of outdoor spaces you could try turnip and radish greens; they like shade and will sprout overnight. Plant daikon radishes for the biggest leaves and there are turnip types that are grown exclusively for the leaves. A squash plant won't do great in poor light but for two bucks at whatever nursery or grocery store you find it at, it's worth sticking in a big container if you have it. If it grows only for a short while it's still great fiber (and delicious) for the price. Those are pretty much the only two things I will recommend to those with brown thumbs or bad space.

And finally!! if you are very limited in your grocery diet—and it looks to me like you are—it is perfectly reasonable to supplement with a prepared diet like Mazuri. Your diet is missing fiber. I see that Mazuri is finally selling food in smaller bags, not only 25 pounds at a time! Most people wet up a pellet or two (depends on your tortoise's size) and mush it around with the other food, probably the same as you do with the flowers. Some tortoises will eat it dry eventually. There is more than one formulation, most folks stick with the "original" formula. You can buy the 1.25 bag at chewy.com.
I was able to buy the Mazuri LS for small tortoises diet in an 8 oz bag from Mazuri plus shipping. It was worth a try to see if Sapphire would like it. He didn't like the other Mazuri for Russians but he tolerates the LS.
 

Beasty_Artemis

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Oh i.bet she loves it!
I just ordered 9 bags of tortoise foods and calcium cupliments. My 3 babies are going to be absolutely thrilled
 

Beasty_Artemis

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I love that there are so many tortoise products out on the market for me these days. Not like the turtle pellets out there as a kid!
 
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