My tortoise will only eat tomatoes!

kbf190998

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Hi all, I am new here. I have an 11 month old Hermann's tortoise called Leonard. He's a real sweetie, but I can't get him to eat. The ONLY thing I've ever seen him go for are little tomatoes. I've since read on here that you shouldn't give them tomatoes (or only occasionally). I give him one every two/three days (trying numerous other food in-between), and he'll eat about half of it. Other than that, I've never seen him eat anything else, and he's not putting on weight either. (Oh, I have seen him eat a little cuttlefish too).

I have tried: various different types of lettuce and other leaves, dandelion leaves, wild strawberry leaves, cucumber, grape, grass etc. I've even bought some tortoise friendly weed seeds and planted and grown them for him, but he's not interested. Oh, and alfalfa hay, which the pet shop suggested....

Yes, I got him from a pet shop. I didn't know you weren't supposed to get them from pet shops. Now I know, I'll never get a pet from one again (although this one has been very helpful to be fair). But I can't go back in time and I love the little blighter dearly now, so what's done is done.

Other info: he's in a tortoise table with a uv lamp one end. Under the lamp it's about 35-38 degrees, in the colder end it's usually about 20 degrees (probably going down a little at night). The lamp is on for 14 hours a day. He has fresh water every day and a large food dish which obviously I change every day. I bath him once a day in repto-boost for about 20 minutes. He poos every couple of days. He's usually very active for a good few hours a day. I don't know if there's any other relevant info?

The other thing is that he doesn't seem to be very good at eating (!?). I watch him and do wonder if he can see properly. He'll go right up to the food and open his mouth, but it looks like he's just guessing where it is and opens and closes his mouth without getting it round the food properly - if that makes sense? Half the time he ends up pushing it further away, or just not managing to get anything. People say to cut it up small, but this seems to make matters worse. When he eats the tomato (which I break up into a few pieces), he (eventually) gets a piece in his mouth, then puts a paw (foot?) on it and tears a bit off (which he wouldn't be able to do with very small pieces).

So, I wonder if anyone can give me any advice please? He seems perfectly fine apart from this one (rather important!) aspect.

Thanks in advance
Karen
x
 

wellington

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Squirt a little tomato juice on the foods he should eat. As he eats the right foods, use less and less tomato, until he is eating the good foods without any tomato at all. Then you should never give him another tomato, as it could set you back to having to do the above all over again.
 

kbf190998

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Ah thank you, that is a good idea, I will try it and report back! Thanks x
 

Lyn W

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Hi Karen, He is a picky eater isn't he?
Wellingtons idea will probably work eventually.
My tort rarely has tomato, but he loves it. If he can smell it on my hands he will try to take a bite out if then
He's eating the cuttlefish because his little body is telling him he is lacking in calcium.
Good luck!
 

ZEROPILOT

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Hello. It has been my experience that some if not most tortoises will find a favorite food and then go on a mini hunger strike until they get it again.
Rest assured that your little tort will eat the better stuff once he gets down right hungry.
 

Angel Carrion

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The only other important measurement I can think of would be humidity. Do you know what your humidity levels are?
I've noticed strange feeding practices with one of my turtles, as well. He will grab a piece of carrot, attempt to chew, spit it out, grab it again, and repeat until he gives up. I'm thinking maybe it's too hard for him (even though he's an adult) so I'm going to try microwaving it on a low setting to soften it up. Maybe softening any hard food will help your guy?
 

domalle

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Hi all, I am new here. I have an 11 month old Hermann's tortoise called Leonard. He's a real sweetie, but I can't get him to eat. The ONLY thing I've ever seen him go for are little tomatoes. I've since read on here that you shouldn't give them tomatoes (or only occasionally). I give him one every two/three days (trying numerous other food in-between), and he'll eat about half of it. Other than that, I've never seen him eat anything else, and he's not putting on weight either. (Oh, I have seen him eat a little cuttlefish too).

I have tried: various different types of lettuce and other leaves, dandelion leaves, wild strawberry leaves, cucumber, grape, grass etc. I've even bought some tortoise friendly weed seeds and planted and grown them for him, but he's not interested. Oh, and alfalfa hay, which the pet shop suggested....

Yes, I got him from a pet shop. I didn't know you weren't supposed to get them from pet shops. Now I know, I'll never get a pet from one again (although this one has been very helpful to be fair). But I can't go back in time and I love the little blighter dearly now, so what's done is done.

Other info: he's in a tortoise table with a uv lamp one end. Under the lamp it's about 35-38 degrees, in the colder end it's usually about 20 degrees (probably going down a little at night). The lamp is on for 14 hours a day. He has fresh water every day and a large food dish which obviously I change every day. I bath him once a day in repto-boost for about 20 minutes. He poos every couple of days. He's usually very active for a good few hours a day. I don't know if there's any other relevant info?

The other thing is that he doesn't seem to be very good at eating (!?). I watch him and do wonder if he can see properly. He'll go right up to the food and open his mouth, but it looks like he's just guessing where it is and opens and closes his mouth without getting it round the food properly - if that makes sense? Half the time he ends up pushing it further away, or just not managing to get anything. People say to cut it up small, but this seems to make matters worse. When he eats the tomato (which I break up into a few pieces), he (eventually) gets a piece in his mouth, then puts a paw (foot?) on it and tears a bit off (which he wouldn't be able to do with very small pieces).

So, I wonder if anyone can give me any advice please? He seems perfectly fine apart from this one (rather important!) aspect.

Thanks in advance
Karen
x

Hi Karen,
The problem with withholding food until he gets hungry enough to eat is that clear signs of nutrient deficiency and developmental deformity
are already apparent from his previous treatment. A clear indicator of calcium deficiency is evidenced by an underslung lower beak.
We see this in malnourished iguanas that develop "rubber jaw" fed exclusively with tomato, banana and iceberg lettuce.
Another sign of calcium and nutrient deficiency is depression of the rear carapace and undersized and poor shell development.

Since he has these other issues, it is not surprising that he has trouble finding his food.
His visual and olfactory abilities may be affected as well.
So correction of the diet issues is critical.
Is he ever exposed to natural sunlight? That factor alone can spark an improvement in appetite.

When rehabilitating a herbivorous tortoise in need of caloric intake quickly, I will often feed things to get them some immediate nourishment
that I would not offer routinely, like small amounts of dog or cat food smeared on whatever else you can get them to eat. They are smelly and tortoises can easily find their way to them.
These high energy calorie foods can be problematic if overdone because the issue of habituation to the new foodstuffs can arise.
But they are sometimes necessary even with herbivorous animals.

These issues are all in their early stages. They can be corrected. Good luck.
 
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kbf190998

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Aug 6, 2015
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Hi again all. I wanted to come back and say that Leonard is doing a lot better with his food now. I did as someone suggested and for a few days dripped a few drops of tomato juice onto other food and that seemed to do the trick. I am giving him just a variety of leaves now and we see him eating quite a lot. I'm also spraying his table more each day to up the humidity too (I don't have a humidity tester but will get one), so I don't know if this has helped too.

He's still not really putting on weight (just a couple of grams in the last month), which worries me. But he seems very happy and healthy and is very active for a good part of the day. I was happy with his progress until I've come back here and read the message from Domalle above, which really has me worried again. Domalle - are you saying that you can see from that photo that he has all those things wrong with him?? How would I go about fixing things like an underslung lower beak?? (I'm not even sure I know what that means!). And the other things?

He does seem to be getting stronger too though - I can feel it when he pushes his legs when I'm holding him (iyswim?) and he's learnt to climb right on top of his bark tunnel!! (It's an impressive feat as he's only little!) - imagine my surprise when I walked in to find him sitting on top of it instead of under it!

Anyway, I thought I'd come back and write a positive message, but now I'm worrying again!

Thanks
Karen
x
 
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