I'm afraid I'm a bad toroise owner...

Salhoof

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Joined
May 26, 2024
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15
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Irbid Jordan
I have two male Greek tortoises, and I've had them for about 3 and a half years now ( I got the first one in October of 2020, and the second in December). They were given to me by my uncle, who found them out in the wild when they were really small ( I used to compere their size to my big toe, hehe). We live in Jordan, and there are lots of Greek tortoises here. I'm not 100% sure that they're Greek tortoises, but they seem to fit their description. Now the bigger one, Salhoof (which means Tortie in Arabic by the way) is a bit bigger than the size of the palm of my hand, and Naqoot (which means Spotty) is a bit smaller.
We live in an apartment, so we haven't got a big enough space for them. I keep them in our balcony in a wooden box (80cm × 80cm), and when it's cold or hot outside I bring them inside and put them in a small box, and when it's Winter I place their bigger wooden box in my room so that it stays warm enough. I know that (80cm × 80cm) is small, but that's the best that we can do for now... I used to let them roam free in the balcony, but they dirty up the place so much that I can't let them roam around anymore. It has only been about three months I think when I stopped letting them roam the balcony.
I don't have any UV lights up for them, because my dad says that they're too expensive and unnecessary, since they stay outside in the sun most of the time.
Their diet mainly consists of lettuce, watermelons, strawberries, cauliflower, zucchini, watercress, and sometimes figs. Here in Jordan I can't find things in stores such as kale or dandelion greens, so they mostly eat lettuce. I tried to give them other stuff like cucumber and bell peppers, but they won't try them. They go crazy for cauliflower, which I know isn't healthy for them, so I try to give it to them in moderation.
Now for the calcium part, when we first got them I didn't know where to get cuttlefish bones, so my mom (a pharmacist) gave me some calcium pills to crush up and sprinkle on their food. I wasn't sure if what I was doing was good or if it was harming them, but I had noticed that they would avoid the areas of their food that were covered in calcium, so I stopped giving it to them.
Recently they started digging in the corner of the box, and by digging I mean a lot. We have the box filled with soft sand, and I put rocks in it so that the could climb and hide, but I've never seen them dig so much before. I'm worried they might be stressed.
I seriously don't know what to do, I love these torts a lot, but I'm afraid I have been abusing them for the last three years. What do I do??
 

wellington

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Unfortunately you are not giving them a good life at all. Housing to small, roaming house is dangerous for them, diet very poor. They need their own enclosure not living together. Everything needs significant improvement. The no uvb is fine as they do get it from the sun. However, they do need to bask daily under an incandescent flood bulb that reaches 95-100 to properly digest their food.
If you can't do way better for them, then rehome or sell them. It's not fair to keep an animal that you can't do better then what you are doing.
 

Salhoof

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Joined
May 26, 2024
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15
Location (City and/or State)
Irbid Jordan
Unfortunately you are not giving them a good life at all. Housing to small, roaming house is dangerous for them, diet very poor. They need their own enclosure not living together. Everything needs significant improvement. The no uvb is fine as they do get it from the sun. However, they do need to bask daily under an incandescent flood bulb that reaches 95-100 to properly digest their food.
If you can't do way better for them, then rehome or sell them. It's not fair to keep an animal that you can't do better then what you are doing.
Thank you for your reply.
I unfortunately think that rehoming them won't be possible. People here don't see tortoises as pets, I mean it's like how people in the UK view pigeons, no one there keeps them as pets. There's an online shop that's popular here called "Opensooq", and it's kind of like Craigslist. I'm not trying to sell them, but what I want to say is when I open "Opensooq" and search for tortoises, all I see are pictures of tortoises living way worse than mine. 8 or 9 tortoises put together in a tiny birdhouse, and things like that. They also only sell each tortoise for an average of 5JD (7USD), and I have a feeling that its because they view them as "worthless", kind of like how some people would impulsively buy a 1 dollar goldfish and keep it in a tiny bowl, only for it to die a few days later. I know I'm not taking good enough care of my tortoises, but I'm 100% sure that people here will treat them even worse.
The other option is releasing them back into the wild where they came from, as my dad had suggested many times. The thing is, they have been living in captivity for about 4 years now and I'm afraid they won't be able to adjust to living in the wild. So that also isn't an option.
By the way I never let them roam the house, I only let them roam the balcony, which has no furniture or anything like that. And it's pretty big, like 3 and a half times the size of the wooden box. No one ever went there unless to feed them or clean after them.
There's a meadow beside my great aunt's house, and I've been told that a lot of tortoises live there. Should I release them there?
We are moving to another house by the end of the year, or maybe during the beginning of 2025, and it has a big garden with a high fence. Predators won't be able to get inside, so would it be reasonable if I let them roam free in the garden? I'm sorry but I don't really have many options here.
About their diet, what could I do to improve it? As I said they don't sell any kale or collard greens or dandelion greens here in Jordan, but would it be okay if I gave them some of the weeds that grow outside? I'm not trying to justify what I'm doing here, but remember these tortoises are wild caught, and before we got them they were eating only what was available, and they didn't have any artificial light to help them digest their food.
I could go and buy broccoli, if they eat that, but we honestly don't have much variety in veggies here.
So what should I do??
 

Salhoof

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May 26, 2024
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15
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Irbid Jordan
Thank you for your reply.
I unfortunately think that rehoming them won't be possible. People here don't see tortoises as pets, I mean it's like how people in the UK view pigeons, no one there keeps them as pets. There's an online shop that's popular here called "Opensooq", and it's kind of like Craigslist. I'm not trying to sell them, but what I want to say is when I open "Opensooq" and search for tortoises, all I see are pictures of tortoises living way worse than mine. 8 or 9 tortoises put together in a tiny birdhouse, and things like that. They also only sell each tortoise for an average of 5JD (7USD), and I have a feeling that its because they view them as "worthless", kind of like how some people would impulsively buy a 1 dollar goldfish and keep it in a tiny bowl, only for it to die a few days later. I know I'm not taking good enough care of my tortoises, but I'm 100% sure that people here will treat them even worse.
The other option is releasing them back into the wild where they came from, as my dad had suggested many times. The thing is, they have been living in captivity for about 4 years now and I'm afraid they won't be able to adjust to living in the wild. So that also isn't an option.
By the way I never let them roam the house, I only let them roam the balcony, which has no furniture or anything like that. And it's pretty big, like 3 and a half times the size of the wooden box. No one ever went there unless to feed them or clean after them.
There's a meadow beside my great aunt's house, and I've been told that a lot of tortoises live there. Should I release them there?
We are moving to another house by the end of the year, or maybe during the beginning of 2025, and it has a big garden with a high fence. Predators won't be able to get inside, so would it be reasonable if I let them roam free in the garden? I'm sorry but I don't really have many options here.
About their diet, what could I do to improve it? As I said they don't sell any kale or collard greens or dandelion greens here in Jordan, but would it be okay if I gave them some of the weeds that grow outside? I'm not trying to justify what I'm doing here, but remember these tortoises are wild caught, and before we got them they were eating only what was available, and they didn't have any artificial light to help them digest their food.
I could go and buy broccoli, if they eat that, but we honestly don't have much variety in veggies here.
So what should I do??
By the way I forgot to add that the fence is made of stone, so there's no way for them to dig under, and predators shouldn't be able to get in
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Thank you for your reply.
I unfortunately think that rehoming them won't be possible. People here don't see tortoises as pets, I mean it's like how people in the UK view pigeons, no one there keeps them as pets. There's an online shop that's popular here called "Opensooq", and it's kind of like Craigslist. I'm not trying to sell them, but what I want to say is when I open "Opensooq" and search for tortoises, all I see are pictures of tortoises living way worse than mine. 8 or 9 tortoises put together in a tiny birdhouse, and things like that. They also only sell each tortoise for an average of 5JD (7USD), and I have a feeling that its because they view them as "worthless", kind of like how some people would impulsively buy a 1 dollar goldfish and keep it in a tiny bowl, only for it to die a few days later. I know I'm not taking good enough care of my tortoises, but I'm 100% sure that people here will treat them even worse.
The other option is releasing them back into the wild where they came from, as my dad had suggested many times. The thing is, they have been living in captivity for about 4 years now and I'm afraid they won't be able to adjust to living in the wild. So that also isn't an option.
By the way I never let them roam the house, I only let them roam the balcony, which has no furniture or anything like that. And it's pretty big, like 3 and a half times the size of the wooden box. No one ever went there unless to feed them or clean after them.
There's a meadow beside my great aunt's house, and I've been told that a lot of tortoises live there. Should I release them there?
We are moving to another house by the end of the year, or maybe during the beginning of 2025, and it has a big garden with a high fence. Predators won't be able to get inside, so would it be reasonable if I let them roam free in the garden? I'm sorry but I don't really have many options here.
About their diet, what could I do to improve it? As I said they don't sell any kale or collard greens or dandelion greens here in Jordan, but would it be okay if I gave them some of the weeds that grow outside? I'm not trying to justify what I'm doing here, but remember these tortoises are wild caught, and before we got them they were eating only what was available, and they didn't have any artificial light to help them digest their food.
I could go and buy broccoli, if they eat that, but we honestly don't have much variety in veggies here.
So what should I do??
Hello!
As you move into a new house, I think you don't need to rehome your tortoises or release them (unless the move won't work out). You really care about them and can provide them good living conditions.
As of now, you really need to separate them - growth difference shows that one of them is being stressed and bullied. The best option you have now is to turn your balcony into outdoor pen and put a divider in the middle to keep each tortoise alone. Less preferable is to build another 80x80 box. While such enclosures are non-optimal your tortoises will survive another 6 months. Make sure each one have shade, sun and water.

About feeding: likely you can get them greens and weeds that are far better than lettuces (either wild growing or local grocery greens). Perhaps you can find hibiscus, mulberry or grape leaves, caper's bush, thistles. Mallow (malva) season is probably over but it was a good option too. Maybe opuntia cactus is growing too (I doubt it's native to Jordan but it's rather invasive specie). You may get some photos or names of the local plants growing around or sold in stores - we can try to tell if they are edible.
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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Welccome tpo the forum! I am sure we can help you to find a solution, but first try to improve their lives as much as possible.

Here are some ideas to make improvements while you are considering your options. These improvents should be done imedietly:

  • By all means, try to find some local weeds that grow in your area to feed to these tortoises. After all it is their native environment. Here is a great website that can be used to help identify safe plants: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/
  • Otherwise, regards to their diet, watermelon, strawberries and peppers are too high in sugar and should not be fed. You can check the same website for safe vegetables.
  • Your tortoises probably didn't touch the calcium because they didn't like the taste, not because it is bad for them. When using calcium supplementation made for humans, make sure it is 100% calcium carbonate. Try giving the calcium ion small amounts, mixed in with the food.
  • Could it be possible to temporarily separate the balcony with a blank or something into two enclosures and use some plastic to protect the floor of the balcony from the tortoises and the substrate?
For further reading, here is a post for all our new members: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/info-for-new-people-please-read-this-first.202363/

And here is a care guide for greek tortoises: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-best-way-to-raise-any-temperate-species-of-tortoise.183131/

You could send us a list or a link to what your local grocery store sells. The same with local weeds, this is the right place to improve their quality of life! Also, if you send photos of your tortoise we can give you a little advice on their health :)
 

wellington

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No, do not release them into the wild. As bad as it is taking them from the wild, it's just as bad releasing them after captivity.
When you move, the garden would be a great area. Divide it into two areas and let each have a side. Be sure they is shade available.
Yes, weeds, flower, leaves, whatever you can find to add to its diet that is tortoise safe to eat.
For now if you can make the balcony their home, dived into two spaces, that sounds like your best option for now. Provide shade if there isn't any.
Do the best you can.
 

Salhoof

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Joined
May 26, 2024
Messages
15
Location (City and/or State)
Irbid Jordan
Hello!
As you move into a new house, I think you don't need to rehome your tortoises or release them (unless the move won't work out). You really care about them and can provide them good living conditions.
As of now, you really need to separate them - growth difference shows that one of them is being stressed and bullied. The best option you have now is to turn your balcony into outdoor pen and put a divider in the middle to keep each tortoise alone. Less preferable is to build another 80x80 box. While such enclosures are non-optimal your tortoises will survive another 6 months. Make sure each one have shade, sun and water.

About feeding: likely you can get them greens and weeds that are far better than lettuces (either wild growing or local grocery greens). Perhaps you can find hibiscus, mulberry or grape leaves, caper's bush, thistles. Mallow (malva) season is probably over but it was a good option too. Maybe opuntia cactus is growing too (I doubt it's native to Jordan but it's rather invasive specie). You may get some photos or names of the local plants growing around or sold in stores - we can try to tell if they are edible.
Next time I go to my grandma's I'll pick some of the clover there, and there's something that grows all over the place here in Jordan, I translated it's name from Arabic and it tells me that it's called cheeseweed, though I'm not sure if it's in season right now. They are outside 90% of the time, and there is sort of a "roof" covering half of the balcony, so I hope that that gives them enough shade. I have some pictures of them in another thread, maybe if the shade isn't enough I'll find a small carved log or something like that for them to take cover in.
 

Salhoof

New Member
Joined
May 26, 2024
Messages
15
Location (City and/or State)
Irbid Jordan
Welccome tpo the forum! I am sure we can help you to find a solution, but first try to improve their lives as much as possible.

Here are some ideas to make improvements while you are considering your options. These improvents should be done imedietly:

  • By all means, try to find some local weeds that grow in your area to feed to these tortoises. After all it is their native environment. Here is a great website that can be used to help identify safe plants: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/
  • Otherwise, regards to their diet, watermelon, strawberries and peppers are too high in sugar and should not be fed. You can check the same website for safe vegetables.
  • Your tortoises probably didn't touch the calcium because they didn't like the taste, not because it is bad for them. When using calcium supplementation made for humans, make sure it is 100% calcium carbonate. Try giving the calcium ion small amounts, mixed in with the food.
  • Could it be possible to temporarily separate the balcony with a blank or something into two enclosures and use some plastic to protect the floor of the balcony from the tortoises and the substrate?
For further reading, here is a post for all our new members: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/info-for-new-people-please-read-this-first.202363/

And here is a care guide for greek tortoises: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-best-way-to-raise-any-temperate-species-of-tortoise.183131/

You could send us a list or a link to what your local grocery store sells. The same with local weeds, this is the right place to improve their quality of life! Also, if you send photos of your tortoise we can give you a little advice on their health :)
Would it be good if I keep one of them in the wooden box, and the other one outside of the box to roam free in the balcony? I think maybe they can alternate, Friday Salhoof is in the box but Saturday Naqoot in the box, something like that. Or will alternating stress them out?
We live in a city, so not many plants grow here, but at my grandma's they sure so have a lot, so I'll try to get some weeds everytime I visit. I have posted some pictures of them in another thread, if you'd like to see them.
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Would it be good if I keep one of them in the wooden box, and the other one outside of the box to roam free in the balcony? I think maybe they can alternate, Friday Salhoof is in the box but Saturday Naqoot in the box, something like that. Or will alternating stress them out?
We live in a city, so not many plants grow here, but at my grandma's they sure so have a lot, so I'll try to get some weeds everytime I visit. I have posted some pictures of them in another thread, if you'd like to see them.
Moving them between the box and the balcony will stress them in the beginning but they can get used to it.

You still have to satisfy some basic tortoise needs when they roam free (water, food and a safe hide). That's how was done on my balcony: https://tortoiseforum.org/media/besha-balcony.12645/ It's not as good as it could be, but just an idea of combining a "tortoise zone" and "human zone".
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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Joined
Apr 6, 2024
Messages
613
Location (City and/or State)
Finland
Moving them between the box and the balcony will stress them in the beginning but they can get used to it.

You still have to satisfy some basic tortoise needs when they roam free (water, food and a safe hide). That's how was done on my balcony: https://tortoiseforum.org/media/besha-balcony.12645/ It's not as good as it could be, but just an idea of combining a "tortoise zone" and "human zone".
Yeah, they can learn to know two enclosures. Many on the forum have a separate outdoor and indoor enclosure for example, and after some routine building the tortoises will get used to it transferring form on to the other.
 
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