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New Homes Hingeback won’t eat much

Discussion in 'Hingeback tortoises' started by Mollie McFarland, Jan 24, 2018.

  1. Mollie McFarland

    Mollie McFarland New Member

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    I’ve got a new Homes Hingeback. I adore her. She’s really shy and awfully choosy, just like many of your Hingeback torts. I’m having an awful time getting her to eat. She’ll have a few bites of her favorite foods every couple of days, but I have yet to see her dig into a full meal.
    She loves earthworms and strawberries most of all. I’ve convinced her to eat some greens and a little bit of watermelon but she turns her nose up at mushrooms and even cucumber!

    I’ve got her set up in a five by three foot stock tank with lots of hides. I’m working on ways to increase humidity. I keep a reptifogger going in the morning and evening to give her a food dose of moisture during her most active times. She’s been with me for about two months now.

    Should I worry about her not eating? Do I need to show some tough love and offer food with more variety instead of giving in and feeding her faves? I’m stumped.
    Gwen Loves Tortoises likes this.
  2. ColaCarbonaria

    ColaCarbonaria Active Member

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    Please post some more pics of your tort from th top, side and rear views. I have 4 serrated hingeback, which are forest dwellers like th homes, and can relate to the pickiness, as could most hinge keepers, at some point, I’m sure! You said she’s been with you for 2 mo, what do you know of the tortoise before that? Did it come from pet shop, internet, someone’s pet? Was the tortoise eating before? Im going to assume the animal came from a dealer of some sort and no real history exists. And what follows is based on that assumption. As far as humidity goes the easiest way would be using some plastic sheeting from Lowe’s, super cheap and you can just roll back the end of the cage you are working in so you don’t lose all the “good air” that you’ve built up. I keep my guys 82-83 degrees with at least that much RH and they don’t like bright lights, bc they are super secretive bottom of th jungle dwelling vacuums and wild caught tortoises are just plain scared of humans, so my enclosures are pretty dim w lots of hiding space and a big water dish. And I place food plate right at their hide so they can eat and not have to really show themselves when they eat, thanks @Jacqui:) I didn’t see anything about how much you’re soaking the tort but i would do that very regularly, warm water in a smaller tub w a towel over top works for me. This serves many purposes including hydration but may help towards pooping and peeing (which goes back to hydro) but this could get the system moving and increase urge to feed. My advice on the food is whatever it wants to eat give it to them. Somebody much smarter and more experienced than me may have something different to say but this is what’s working for me. I feed lots of different fruits cut up into small pieces along with beef heart for protein. You can continue to try greens but I’ve found it’s a total waste. Think about where they live, they’re opportunist of the highest sort so very over ripened fruits works best, I’ll chop up their food days in advance leave it in Tupperware in fridge for few days then feed out, that sick sweet smell of fermenting, rotting fruit is a pretty sexy talker, hope you love the smell of napalm in the morning! (Sorry couldn’t resist:). Anyway, in my opinion, the time for tough love is later once you’ve gotten the animal established and have a good body weight, (do you have a scale to monitor weight?) but honestly who are we to tell a wild caught animal what to eat when it’s in a situation it can’t control. The only thing that animal has control over is whether it eats or not, so I don’t care if it’s bananas feed it to them if they will eat it. You can work on an alive tortoises diet, if it’s dead from starvation there’s not much to work with. I don’t recommend bananas and such high fruit diet for other situations like cb tortoises, but we’re not talking about them and somebody may come and light me up for saying this but get the thing healthy before you go off showing tough love to something that isn’t exactly in the best shape, tough love could kill the tort. I recently tried a diet change and everybody revolted! So I went to try and get some veggies in their life by grating squashes and sweet potato and different things, and it didn’t take long and they quit eating for the most part, except one of my females and she would just pick out the beef heart and look at me like “this is bull$%#@ dude” in th evening when I cleaned pens. So I looked back in my notes and realized I had totally gotten away from what had brought success earlier and I went back to th sugary sweet napalm mix of fruits and beef heart and one of my females has been wiping her plate clean everyday we’ve been back on old mix, another 2 have been crushing it but not quit as well as her and I’ve still got one problem child on my hands that really hardly eats but he’s attentive and I still soak him just about daily. So now is my time to start slowly adding small amounts of the grated veggies into their sweet mix so it’s not like raising your children on Jolt cola and Fun Dip. Check out my thread ‘Almost’ here in hingebacks, a handful of experienced people helped me there and I’m basically telling you what they told me, so I’m no expert but they pointed me in the right direction and it’s up to you to figure out the specifics of your particular little buddy. I know this is way more than you asked for but if you can make the tortoise more at ease by providing the right environment it might be more inclined to feed. Again sorry for the dissertation, hope it helps.
    Mollie McFarland likes this.
  3. Mollie McFarland

    Mollie McFarland New Member

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    View attachment 228634 View attachment 228635 View attachment 228636

    Thank you so much for the helpful info! That’s exactly what I was hoping for. I can’t quite get a good picture of her from every angle. You’re right, her history is really murky. A man on Craigslist was rehoming her and I took her in. He got her from a pet shop. I guess the most I can know is that she’s wild caught.
    Her physical condition seems to be really good. She’s got a nice looking shell and big, bright eyes. She’s not a huge fan of people but she’s outgoing enough to come out of her shell even if I take her out of her enclosure for a bath.
    I haven’t been bathing her enough, I think. I do that a lot more often. Her previous owner seemed to be pretty knowledgeable about keeping torts. He said he has a pretty good collection of other species. He said he dewormed her when he bought her (not sure if it was necessary or precautionary.)
    I keep a couple of Russian torts and their personalities are like night and day. My Russians are outgoing little tanks. It’s taking a whole different approach to figure out how to make my Hingeback happy.
  4. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Mine eat, earthworms,slugs,crushed snails, pieces of chicks, mushrooms, banana, papaya, plums, kiwi, mango, melon and satsumas. Occasionally they eat dandelion and rocket when it's days old and dry. I've also caught them eating dried leaves on numerous occasions.
    Keep them very humid, rain on them and it's action time. Temps around 80f. No basking spot and plenty of leaf litter. Make sure they have a bath to sit in.
    Mollie McFarland likes this.
  5. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Oh yeah, they love raw beef heart.
    Mollie McFarland likes this.
  6. Mollie McFarland

    Mollie McFarland New Member

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    Awesome advice! I had no clue they would eat beef heart. Never would’ve occurred to me. I took a few of your suggestions and I’ve gotten her eating a little meal two days in a row. She’s soaking now and she’s reasonably cool with me hanging out with her. I feel very encouraged
    Anyfoot likes this.
  7. omhoge

    omhoge Member

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    Wow, never heard of beef heart either! Color plays a big part in food for our african hingeback. He loves red, yellow and orange food. I discovered this his first night with us when I caught him going after a red Barbie shoe that fell on the floor.
    Chopping up plenty of coarse greens really fine works well. He ignored live worms and sometimes avoids the dry ones,
    so I crush the dried worms into a corse powder and put that on his food.

    Hope your guy is eating more now.
    Mollie McFarland likes this.
  8. Mollie McFarland

    Mollie McFarland New Member

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    I’ll have to see if I can temp her with more colorful variety. She LOVES red stuff! I can get her to eat pretty reliably lately. Not much variety, but we’re making progress. I have been soaking her daily and noticed her drinking a lot. I am a bit worried that I haven’t noticed a bowel movement in quite a while. Or maybe I’m just not seeing it in her enclosure. It’s a strange thing to look for but, I know it’s an indicator of health.
  9. omhoge

    omhoge Member

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    I'm no expert at all but figure eating and drinking are always very good signs. We have on occasion also played with portion size, for a while he did better with a small amount for breakfast then a larger offering for dinner. When we first found our current (and awesome) vet she'd ask how often we offered food and would go by his weight.

    Ours has, at times, held it for several weeks, I had to remind myself they are mostly intestines inside and things just move slowly.
    I've often had luck getting him to poop by keeping the bath warm and changing the water several times.
    Not hot water but like a very warm baby's bath. Getting course greens in him helps too which the vet really emphasized.
    He's also been fickle over the years, so I've tried to keep open to trying new foods even if he turned his beak up at them before.

    Your new gal is probably still adjusting too. Is she more comfortable and coming out to look at you more now?
    Your new photo is cool and she looks like she's getting active.
    Mollie McFarland likes this.
  10. Mollie McFarland

    Mollie McFarland New Member

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    That makes me feel a lot better. She is settling in nicely. She’s still a bit shy around me, but she wants to explore everything when I get her out for a bath. Curiosity overcomes shyness when she’s out and about. I don’t want to let her roam the house but I give her some time to explore the bathroom after her soak. She’ll probably become a good pal after she really settles. IMG_1518035335.520969.jpg IMG_1518035348.963063.jpg
  11. Mollie McFarland

    Mollie McFarland New Member

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    Every so often she gets really interested in leafy greens but it’s not often. It’s so hard to predict what she’ll eat from day to day. She’ll always chase down an earthworm but that’s the only guaranteed hit.
  12. omhoge

    omhoge Member

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    Your photo just made me laugh out loud! Boy do I know that look.
    It is not an odd thing to look for at all. After a long delay, I literally jump for joy when he pooped in his bath last Sunday.

    Somewhere in this forum there is a great thread about how tortoises "map" their environments.
    They love to explore, and then hide really well faster than you'd expect.
    But he knows his rooms really well. Since I've always blocked him from seeing or accessing the kitchen
    he seems never to have mapped it and has not tried to go in there.

    A trick I learned when traveling with him is to keep food and water in the same relative positions, both specially and by the compass,
    wherever we are. I also give him a hide box, but he manages to find better places to hide no matter where he goes.
    Mollie McFarland likes this.
  13. Mollie McFarland

    Mollie McFarland New Member

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    I’ll have to find that thread on how they map an environment. That sounds fascinating! I always feel a bit guilty that I don’t have many things for her to explore in these winter months. She’s in a pretty big stock tank, nowhere near her native environment, though. There’s not an easy way to replicate that. But she seems to enjoy a stroll indoors every now and then. She is very lively and curious.

    I have two Russian torts who live in a different part of the house than she does. I’m paranoid that they’ll pass a non-native bug or virus to each other and I won’t let either roam where the other has ever been. It’s exhausting worrying about cross contamination!
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