I have a 6-7 month old baby red foot tortois and I feel he is very undersized

Joined
Apr 7, 2024
Messages
35
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
I have had my rf tortoise for about 4 months now and I am just a little worried that he is not gaining weight like he should be. When I first got him he was 65 grams he is now hovering around 76 grams but I feel like in four months he should have grown so much more. As I see these other posts talking about how they should be growing at around 10 grams a month. Can someone tell me why he is not gaining weight?
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
93,623
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Redfooted tortoises really love Mazuri Tortoise Diet, and it's a good 'growth' food. You can buy it from Chewy.com. Tell us how you have him set up and what he eats. . . lights, water, substrate, etc.
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2024
Messages
35
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
Redfooted tortoises really love Mazuri Tortoise Diet, and it's a good 'growth' food. You can buy it from Chewy.com. Tell us how you have him set up and what he eats. . . lights, water, substrate, etc.
He is currently in a 40 gallon setup, his diet is about 50 percent greens, 45 percent fruits, and about 5 percent protein. He has a 100 watt heat bulb and a 5.0 uvb bulb. And his substrate is a mixture of forest floor bedding mulch, and coconut coir. His humidity is at a constant 85-87 percent humidity he has a hot spot that gets to about 90 degrees, and on the cooler side it hovers around 85.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
93,623
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Change your heating and lighting. Put in a couple potted plants to provide a closed in, safe feel, and soften the lighting. Adjust the heat to remove the hot spot and have it be 80-85F degrees all over the whole tank. Moisten the substrate and cover the enclosure.
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2024
Messages
35
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
Change your heating and lighting. Put in a couple potted plants to provide a closed in, safe feel, and soften the lighting. Adjust the heat to remove the hot spot and have it be 80-85F degrees all over the whole tank. Moisten the substrate and cover the enclosure.
What should I change my heating and lighting to, and what plants are safe to put in his enclosure
 

Alex and the Redfoot

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2023
Messages
2,368
Location (City and/or State)
Cyprus
What should I change my heating and lighting to, and what plants are safe to put in his enclosure
Hello!

From your description, overall care and environement are good.

1. What kind of heat bulb do you use? Is it a ceramic heat emitter? I'm asking because nighttime temperatures should stay in the same range as daytime.
2. What kind of UVB bulb? What distance to substrate, is it over the mesh top?
3. Do you use any supplements like calcium powder? How often?

Safe plants are coleus, hostas, pothos, spider plants, carex (sedge), boston fern, tradescantia zebrina ("wandering dude"), prayer plant. As it's safest to put only plants propagated from new growth, spider plants are the easiest: get one from store, wash the roots and pot in the clean "organic" soil. Then wait until small "plantlets" appear and put them in enclosure in smaller pots (2-3 per pot). Also newly grown pothos vines will work.
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2024
Messages
35
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
Hello!

From your description, overall care and environement are good.

1. What kind of heat bulb do you use? Is it a ceramic heat emitter? I'm asking because nighttime temperatures should stay in the same range as daytime.
2. What kind of UVB bulb? What distance to substrate, is it over the mesh top?
3. Do you use any supplements like calcium powder? How often?

Safe plants are coleus, hostas, pothos, spider plants, carex (sedge), boston fern, tradescantia zebrina ("wandering dude"), prayer plant. As it's safest to put only plants propagated from new growth, spider plants are the easiest: get one from store, wash the roots and pot in the clean "organic" soil. Then wait until small "plantlets" appear and put them in enclosure in smaller pots (2-3 per pot). Also newly grown pothos vines will work.
The heat bulb is a general basking bulb, don’t worry I’m improving that soon, and the temperature at night does not drop anything below 85 degrees as his enclosure is in a room where the AC is not working. As of the UVB bulb it is a 5.0 forest bulb it is on a mesh top but I cut out the mesh underneath the bulb as I know the mesh blocks a lot of uvb, the bulbs are around 10-12 inches above the substrate yes I do give him calcium D3 on his food about 2-3 times a week, he also goes outside and walks around for about an hour a day on average.
 

Alex and the Redfoot

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2023
Messages
2,368
Location (City and/or State)
Cyprus
The heat bulb is a general basking bulb, don’t worry I’m improving that soon, and the temperature at night does not drop anything below 85 degrees as his enclosure is in a room where the AC is not working. As of the UVB bulb it is a 5.0 forest bulb it is on a mesh top but I cut out the mesh underneath the bulb as I know the mesh blocks a lot of uvb, the bulbs are around 10-12 inches above the substrate yes I do give him calcium D3 on his food about 2-3 times a week, he also goes outside and walks around for about an hour a day on average.
Great, thanks for the explanation!

1. With 85F in the room you can remove the basking lamp and use just a LED bulb for ambient lightning. Even better if you get a ceramic heat emitter with a thermostat (this will be superhandy later when temperatures drop). Redfoots are not "sun worshippers" and can do without a basking bulb or with a very mild basking zone heating. A combination of ceramic heat emitter, UVB lamp and ambient LED works too.
2. If you use compact flourescent bulb (coiled or straight) - at 10-12 inches it likely won't give enough UVB. T5 tubes are better UVB sources. However, if your tortoise gets 1 hour of outdoors time daily, you can simply turn off the UVB lamp and address the issue later.
3. Also you can cut off calcium with D3. Just plain calcium powder two times a week should be enough.
4. You didn't mention soaks, but I believe you do them daily :) I would do them after outdoors time to rehydrate tortoise and moisten the shell.

Now we can explore the weight gain. Tortoises grow in each own pace (some slowly and steady, some in spurts). So average weight charts aren't very useful. Yet gaining and not losing weight is an important sign.
1. What kind of greens, fruit and protein to you feed?
2. Is stool regular and well-formed?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tom
Joined
Apr 7, 2024
Messages
35
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
Great, thanks for the explanation!

1. With 85F in the room you can remove the basking lamp and use just a LED bulb for ambient lightning. Even better if you get a ceramic heat emitter with a thermostat (this will be superhandy later when temperatures drop). Redfoots are not "sun worshippers" and can do without a basking bulb or with a very mild basking zone heating. A combination of ceramic heat emitter, UVB lamp and ambient LED works too.
2. If you use compact flourescent bulb (coiled or straight) - at 10-12 inches it likely won't give enough UVB. T5 tubes are better UVB sources. However, if your tortoise gets 1 hour of outdoors time daily, you can simply turn off the UVB lamp and address the issue later.
3. Also you can cut off calcium with D3. Just plain calcium powder two times a week should be enough.
4. You didn't mention soaks, but I believe you do them daily :) I would do them after outdoors time to rehydrate tortoise and moisten the shell.

Now we can explore the weight gain. Tortoises grow in each own pace (some slowly and steady, some in spurts). So average weight charts aren't very useful. Yet gaining and not losing weight is an important sign.
1. What kind of greens, fruit and protein to you feed?
2. Is stool regular and well-formed?
He usually gets Roman lettuce for greens, and for fruit his favorite is mango, for protein he will sometimes get mealworms, but he will also usually about once a month get a hard boiled egg, and yes he does get soaks. He was producing stool every day for a while but now it is more like every other day but it is well formed
 

Alex and the Redfoot

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2023
Messages
2,368
Location (City and/or State)
Cyprus
He usually gets Roman lettuce for greens, and for fruit his favorite is mango, for protein he will sometimes get mealworms, but he will also usually about once a month get a hard boiled egg, and yes he does get soaks. He was producing stool every day for a while but now it is more like every other day but it is well formed
Ok, I see.
Romaine lettuce is good "staple green", this definitely needs some changes. Here you can find a list of foods: https://tortoiselibrary.com/nutrition-2/diet-plans-omnivore/
Also, once in week or so you can feed mushrooms (porto bello or white mushrooms for example). Mealworms are ok, but not the best protein source among invertebrates (high chitin, high fat) - try to add some variety there (black soldier fly larva, frozen crickets, small dubia roaches). Also, boiled chicken breast, low-fat high quality dog/cat food, shrimp or two. There is an opinion that hatchlings should consume more protein than adult tortoises, so up to 20% is fine.

Mazuri 5M21, mentioned above, is a good growth boost - you can use as a supplement 2-3 times a week.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tom
Joined
Apr 7, 2024
Messages
35
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
Ok, I see.
Romaine lettuce is good "staple green", this definitely needs some changes. Here you can find a list of foods: https://tortoiselibrary.com/nutrition-2/diet-plans-omnivore/
Also, once in week or so you can feed mushrooms (porto bello or white mushrooms for example). Mealworms are ok, but not the best protein source among invertebrates (high chitin, high fat) - try to add some variety there (black soldier fly larva, frozen crickets, small dubia roaches). Also, boiled chicken breast, low-fat high quality dog/cat food, shrimp or two. There is an opinion that hatchlings should consume more protein than adult tortoises, so up to 20% is fine.

Mazuri 5M21, mentioned above, is a good growth boost - you can use as a supplement 2-3 times a week.
Ok thanks for all the info!!
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2023
Messages
1,515
Location (City and/or State)
UK
Hello! Thought I’d paste my list of things we personally feed our red foot to hopefully help give you some ideas🙂

These are some greens to feed(bare in mind the lettuce isn’t the most nutritional but fine to add as part of a varied diet);

Lambs lettuce
Romaine
Red leaf lettuce
Frisèe lettuce
Endive(chicory)
Spring greens
Kale
Rocket
Cress on occasion
The odd Brussel sprout on occasion

There’s also plenty of different weeds you can add! Providing you’re sourcing them from an area that is free of any harmful chemicals like pesticides and fertiliser, so be wary! We add dandelions and broadleaf plantain, A good site to check out is the tortoise table(link below) and if you click on the wildflowers section you’ll find loads! If you can get seeds you could even plant your own in safe soil!


Now let’s talk fruit! We remove any pips/seed/stones that are either toxic or a chocking hazard, so for my list, we’d remove the mango stone, plum stone, peach stone, nectarine stone, cherry stones(chocking hazard!), apricot stones, appel&pear seeds(toxic)

Ones we feed more regularly(but rotate cause variety is key):
Mango
Papaya
Pineapple
Raspberries
Melon
Strawberries
Watermelon(not super nutritional but a good hydration boost)
Plum
Peach
Nectarines
Cherries
Apricot
Blueberries
Figs
Guava
Prickly pear

Ones we feel less regularly:
Appel
Banana
Blackberries
Grapes
Pear

Those last ones are more of a treat basis. You can also try cherry tomatoes on occasion but not often.
We also sometimes grate a bit of carrot on our red foots food(not a lot) or some courgette, you can also add bell peppers on occasion, and they’ll also enjoy some mushroom once a week or so!

Hope this helps give you some ideas for variety🙂 we try not to give ours too much of just the one type of fruit in any given week, however she gets papaya pretty much daily, it makes up a large majority of their diet in the wild so definitely get your hands on some!

Hope your guy starts gaining!🙂
 

Maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
8,172
Location (City and/or State)
PacificNorthWest
I make feeding easy for me and my Redfoot, I start with boxed Spring Mix and add different berries one day and mushrooms and greens the next. She also eats hardboiled egg in the shell or scrambled egg. Redfoot are so easy to feed. Also, they come from the forest floor so they don't like harsh light. I don't have a basking or bright bulb, just whatever sun comes in the window. I use che's at each end of her greenhouse, keeping the temp at 85 degrees w/90% humidity. I recently had some problem with the temp falling, but after a lot of work I found a big hole (kitten sized!) in the back of the greenhouse against the wall....hadda take it all apart and fix...As far as your tort, they all grow at differnt speeds but I personally don't think you are offering enuf food or enuf of a variety. Does your tort leave any food?...I also have an outside enclosure for her and I take her out and leave her for several hours in a protected area daily...it's nothing fancy but I kinda think tortoises don't care how it looks...lol anyway that's my opinion...DSCN2469.JPGDSCN2551.JPG
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2024
Messages
35
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
Yes he usually leave food as I give him a good portion, I do give him more variety of food then I said I just couldn’t remember what it was all called, thanks so much u guys for all of the info
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
29,318
Location (City and/or State)
South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
I see nothing fundamentally wrong with what you're doing.
The temperature should be close to 80. And I personally use 85 as a high mark. Lower is better.
I also wouldn't stress about the actual gains. As much as making sure they are gains.
Weight loss is a huge red flag. But a steady but slow gain may not indicate any problems at all. In fact if your tort has a healthy appetite and gets around and acts alert, I'd be happy.
All of the information and suggestions you've been given are good.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 7, 2024
Messages
35
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
I see nothing fundamentally wrong with what you're doing.
The temperature should be close to 80. And I personally use 85 as a high mark. Lower is better.
I also wouldn't stress about the actual gains. As much as making sure they are gains.
Weight loss is a huge red flag. But a steady but slow gain may not indicate any problems at all. In fact if your tort has a healthy appetite and gets around and acts alert, I'd be happy.
All of the information and suggestions you've been given are good.
Thanks good to hear, and yes he is gaining weight slowly but he has never dropped in weight
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Chubbs the tegu

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 9, 2019
Messages
9,842
Location (City and/or State)
Ma
I wouldnt worry to much as long as hes active , eating and pooping well. In my experience ive had torts that grew very slow at the beginning and then went through huge growth spurts. As long as hes gaining a lil, is active and not losing weight. Would offer mazuri and rep cal tortoise diet into ur regimen for a lil boost. Good luck!
 

New Posts

Top