Hi!

spacercaser

New Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2018
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Kansas
I'm Rachel. I got my eastern hermann's tortoise, Beatrice, last april.

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She's not a big fan of me unless I'm holding food, but she loves exploring the apartment, rearranging the furniture in her tub, and snuggling up in hay.
I have about 2 years experience caring for reptiles. I just started my first full time zookeeper job, and I'm always accepting of advice (and cool ideas for her tub and enrichment!) I know there's a lot to learn, plus I want to make my animals happy both at home and work.
I also have a profile under the same name on geckotalk.com where I'll be talking about my crested geckos. I won't always be able to respond quickly but feel free to send me a message! Especially if there's a better way to post pics :confused:

I have been curious about this for a while but now I need to know: how many tortoise owners buy organic veggies? I do (except a few times on accident) but I just moved to a much smaller town and I don't think I'll be able to get the same variety I usually do if I only buy organic. Bee can be a picky eater which doesn't help. Will it hurt her if I buy non-organic and wash them really well?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Hello and welcome.

What are the little white bits in the soil? Did you use a soil mix that had perlite in it? If yes, you need to remove that immediately. Perlite is a slow killer of tortoises. They eat little bits at a time and it collects in their GI tract over time and eventually kills them.

No need for organic veggies and in fact no need for store bought grocery store greens at all. They best diet for your tortoise is a large assortment of weeds, leaves and flowers that you either grow or scrounge from safe sources outside. Grocery store greens lack fiber and calcium, and some have a poor calcium to phosphorous ratio. Use them if you must, but they need to be amended with blended grass hay, ZooMed Grassland tortoise chow, herbal hay, grass, or something to give it more fiber. There is a good list of foods in this thread if you just scroll past the text:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/

It is a mistake to let the tortoise roam the floor of your apartment. This often ends in tragedy in one of many ways. Upon hearing this most people reply with a story of how careful and watchful they are. This implies that all the people whose tortoises were injured or killed doing this were somehow not watchful or careful. Every single person who has lost a tortoise this way thought it was safe, or they wouldn't have been doing it. Some people take this message to heart and others insist on learning the hard way. I hope you will learn from the mistakes of others before its too late for your tortoise.

There might be some helpful info for you in here too:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/

Please feel free to question any of this or ask for more explanation. We are all here to help each other and have tortoise conversation.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
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Clovis, CA
I'm not sure the Zoo Med Grassland Tortoise Food would be a good one for your Hermanni. They mostly eat broad-leaf weeds and plants, not much grass. But if you can get him to eat it, it's a great source of fiber for him. Being in Kansas, you probably have plenty of edible weeds growing outside right now. I DO use store-bought greens, but the ratio of store bought to edible weeds is higher on the weed side. But a tortoise that is used to the sweet taste of store bought sometimes won't eat what's good for him (weeds), and you have to get creative. One trick I use is to grate up a cucumber to practically mush, and toss the cut up weeds until they're all coated with cucumber.
 

spacercaser

New Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2018
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Kansas
Hello and welcome.

What are the little white bits in the soil? Did you use a soil mix that had perlite in it? If yes, you need to remove that immediately. Perlite is a slow killer of tortoises. They eat little bits at a time and it collects in their GI tract over time and eventually kills them.

No need for organic veggies and in fact no need for store bought grocery store greens at all. They best diet for your tortoise is a large assortment of weeds, leaves and flowers that you either grow or scrounge from safe sources outside. Grocery store greens lack fiber and calcium, and some have a poor calcium to phosphorous ratio. Use them if you must, but they need to be amended with blended grass hay, ZooMed Grassland tortoise chow, herbal hay, grass, or something to give it more fiber. There is a good list of foods in this thread if you just scroll past the text:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/

It is a mistake to let the tortoise roam the floor of your apartment. This often ends in tragedy in one of many ways. Upon hearing this most people reply with a story of how careful and watchful they are. This implies that all the people whose tortoises were injured or killed doing this were somehow not watchful or careful. Every single person who has lost a tortoise this way thought it was safe, or they wouldn't have been doing it. Some people take this message to heart and others insist on learning the hard way. I hope you will learn from the mistakes of others before its too late for your tortoise.

There might be some helpful info for you in here too:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/

Please feel free to question any of this or ask for more explanation. We are all here to help each other and have tortoise conversation.

Thank you for taking the time to message me! I haven’t neglected to research tortoise care but I still have a lot to learn and I’m happy to have a conversation/take advice.

I’m currently using 50/50 potting soil and coconut fiber (eco earth) since that was what was on hand. Her tub had some black flies from a plant I bought so I changed the substrate out asap. I didn’t know that about perlite! I’m going to change out her soil tonight just in case that’s what it is. I hope she didn’t eat any...
I usually use 2/3 to 3/4 topsoil and the rest is half sand and half coconut fiber to make it easier for her to burrow.

This winter, Beatrice has been getting Mazuri tortoise chow twice a week and always has access to grass hay but she doesn’t eat very much of it. She gets 1-2 days without veggies offered (hopefully to make her more interested in eating the hay). So veggies 3-4 days a week (kale, collards, turnips, dandelions, mustard). In the summer I usually just keep kale on hand since it’s her favorite, as a way to get her to eat calcium. Tortoise chow 1-2 times a week. She gets leaves from squash, pumpkin, carrots, and whole dandelion plants from the yard. Also I’d often give her leaves and flowers from hibiscus and petunias. Every month or so I sprout a few sunflower seeds in her tub. Over the winter I moved out of state and into an apartment but I’m going to try to grow what I can in pots. When I got her she was a little underweight and the vet recommended feeding her pumpkin or sweet potato, as she’s gained weight I’ve tapered off the frequency and now only give her a tiny dollop once a week to get her to eat more calcium. I’m trying to decide if I should just give her a cuttlebone instead, I don’t know if she’d use it.

I’ve never heard of herbal hay before, are there any advantages over grass hay? I just got some from the stable I worked at before I moved. Also, are there any types of grass I should grow in pots for her to eat?

As for roaming the apartment, I let her out for 10-15 minutes while I do a more thorough spot cleaning of her tub once a month since she doesn’t like me rearranging things while she’s in there. I used boxes and other unclimbable objects to block off everything but bare walls, and put a couple hides out on the floor. I didn’t know that was unsafe though, so I’ll just put her in her bathtub from now on. Or maybe make or buy some kind of fold out pen? I’ll see what I can come up with.

Are the diet and substrate choices okay? I’ve found a lot of conflicting information and just tried to go with my best judgement.
 

spacercaser

New Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2018
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Kansas
I'm not sure the Zoo Med Grassland Tortoise Food would be a good one for your Hermanni. They mostly eat broad-leaf weeds and plants, not much grass. But if you can get him to eat it, it's a great source of fiber for him. Being in Kansas, you probably have plenty of edible weeds growing outside right now. I DO use store-bought greens, but the ratio of store bought to edible weeds is higher on the weed side. But a tortoise that is used to the sweet taste of store bought sometimes won't eat what's good for him (weeds), and you have to get creative. One trick I use is to grate up a cucumber to practically mush, and toss the cut up weeds until they're all coated with cucumber.

I use Mazuri tortoise food but it’s grasslands as well. I’m sure there are lots of weeds available but I don’t have a yard anymore and I’m not sure where would be safe to collect them from. Is there someplace to buy weeds (or seeds) online?

I’ll definitely try the cucumber trick! Beatrice can be picky about certain things.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,257
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I'm not sure the Zoo Med Grassland Tortoise Food would be a good one for your Hermanni. They mostly eat broad-leaf weeds and plants, not much grass.

Soaked ZooMed pellets mashed in with the grocery store greens are a suggested way to improve the low fiber content of the store bought food. Not suggesting feeding grass as a staple to a hermanni. Just trying to help her make the food better until the weather gets better and the weeds come back for her.
 

spacercaser

New Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2018
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Kansas
Reading through other threads and just found out I shouldn’t use any sand, good to know! Does anyone else have issues with their substrate compacting? If I don’t mix up Beatrice’s soil every week or two it gets hard and she doesn’t burrow as deep. Less of a problem now in her indoor tub since the soil in OK had a lot of clay, but still seems like there should be a better solution.
 

RosemaryDW

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Welcome! You’re doing a great job!

Regarding organic, if it’s safe for you to eat, it’s safe for your tortoise.

Your diet is quite good already. You could add in a chicory from the grocery store if you want or dandelions are hard to find: frisee, escarole, radicchio, endive. They are all dandelion relatives and fine for her,

You can buy a safe broadleaf tortoise seed mix at Carolina Tortoise Supply: http://www.carolinapetsupply.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=41&products_id=761 or Tortoise Supply Company: https://www.tortoisesupply.com/SeedMixes; they may not have weeds but both have plenty of good things for her to eat if you really want to grow your own. Over the summer and spring you can collect seeds for next year if you want; it’s easy to do. In the meantime, here is a thread on checking whether weeds near you are safe to feed: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/t...ng-if-your-weeds-are-safe-photo-heavy.153035/.

You’re feeding her lots of fiber in those squash stems, that’s good. You can grow a squash most of the year in a pot. They may not live long but they are $1.49 at the store and again, since you can eat them, so can she. Cactus is also easy to grow as an indoor plant, although it will take a while to grow big enough for regular feeding.

She’s not a grass eater, don’t bother trying to grow any. Use the Mazuri if you want to incorporate more fiber as she’s likelier to eat it.

Also, you’re a predator to her, hiding on the ground is how she survives. She’ll never “like” you; she may get used to being handled over time, though. My tortoise doesn’t like me either, but she’s fun to watch and take care of. :)
 

spacercaser

New Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2018
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Kansas
Welcome! You’re doing a great job!

Regarding organic, if it’s safe for you to eat, it’s safe for your tortoise.

Your diet is quite good already. You could add in a chicory from the grocery store if you want or dandelions are hard to find: frisee, escarole, radicchio, endive. They are all dandelion relatives and fine for her,

You can buy a safe broadleaf tortoise seed mix at Carolina Tortoise Supply: http://www.carolinapetsupply.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=41&products_id=761 or Tortoise Supply Company: https://www.tortoisesupply.com/SeedMixes; they may not have weeds but both have plenty of good things for her to eat if you really want to grow your own. Over the summer and spring you can collect seeds for next year if you want; it’s easy to do. In the meantime, here is a thread on checking whether weeds near you are safe to feed: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/t...ng-if-your-weeds-are-safe-photo-heavy.153035/.

You’re feeding her lots of fiber in those squash stems, that’s good. You can grow a squash most of the year in a pot. They may not live long but they are $1.49 at the store and again, since you can eat them, so can she. Cactus is also easy to grow as an indoor plant, although it will take a while to grow big enough for regular feeding.

She’s not a grass eater, don’t bother trying to grow any. Use the Mazuri if you want to incorporate more fiber as she’s likelier to eat it.

Also, you’re a predator to her, hiding on the ground is how she survives. She’ll never “like” you; she may get used to being handled over time, though. My tortoise doesn’t like me either, but she’s fun to watch and take care of. :)

Thank you for the links! I bought the seed mix from Carolina pet supply, if she doesn’t like it I’ll try the second one. I noticed they sell dandelion seeds and cacti pads there as well so I’ll be buying those next time I get paid! If I can’t find safe dandelions, anyways.
 

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