Picky eaters

Mavrik

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Does anyone have any tips and/or tricks to get an EXTREMELY picky tortoise to eat healthy stuff?

I adopted another Russian tortoise yesterday -- he was at a pet store where my friend still works (I have worked there previously) -- according to my friend, he had been there for over a year and has been returned twice because he will not eat. The only remotely healthy thing that my friend had gotten him to eat is an all-natural freeze-dried mix of green beans, corn, and sweet peas. She had tried warm baths right before food, withholding food (though this became a problem because during his previous 3 vet checks, his weight has gone down each time), mixing food, all the things that I myself would have thought to do.

So now I am asking for your help TF peoples, to see if there is anything out there that I haven't tried that might work. I am committed to having him eating greens and grasses by the end of the summer, I'm not giving up. Just asking for help and advice...
 

wellington

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First, give him time to get accustomed to his new home. It sometimes takes adults a long time. I'm guessing the other owners didn't give him the time needed. Tortosies can go a long time without eating so don't worry too much. I would give him warm water soaks every day, keeping him hydrated. Then I would mix his favorites with a little of the better stuff. Chop the better diet finely and mix with the other stuff. Spritz with water, which will make the two diets stick together. As he eats this, slowly decrease the bad stuff and increase the good stuff until he is eating good and then you can cut back on the soaks too.
 

lismar79

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Torts, even the picky ones, can not seem to resist pumkin. Try mixing the can pumkin puree ( the kind you buy for pies, without all the sugar and spices) with some healthy green leaves. Also romaine and mazuri are two other tort favs. Like posted above, slowly changes are best. Also recheck your temps, they need a basking spot of 95-100 to process food.
 

Mavrik

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Just updating you guys... Almost a month later, and we've made a little bit of progress. I got him to eat some cantaloupe yesterday, and he went crazy for some sweet potatoes today! I know that neither of those foods are ideal for him, but any food is progress. I've been bathing him every other day in a warm water / pedialyte / carrot juice bath, so he has been getting some nutrients that way, but not really eating. Until yesterday! Now I have to figure out how to sneak some green stuff into his food...Trotsky 1.jpg Trotsky 2.jpg Trotsky 3.jpg
 

WallieWay

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I have a very picky tortoise too, and I almost want to throw a little party every time she eats! What are the benefits of soaking in pedialyte or carrot juice? I've never heard of that!
 

tortdad

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I have a very picky tortoise too, and I almost want to throw a little party every time she eats! What are the benefits of soaking in pedialyte or carrot juice? I've never heard of that!
To help a tortoise, who's not been eating, regain some vitamins. It's usually done on a sick or very dehydrated tortoise
 

Tidgy's Dad

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Keep at it!
I'm sure the little blighter will come round eventually.
It took me months to get Tidgy to eat healthily.
Now, there's no stopping her.
Your patience will be rewarded.
 

leigti

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I would stop feeding fruit. It is not good for them and it can cause G.I. And parasite issues. Their system is not made to eat fruit. Romain lettuce seems to be the go to for a tortoise who won't eat. Depending on where you live weeds might be coming up now. Have you tried dandelion leaves and flowers? I always read that is their favorite food, but it took my Russian a year and a half before she would eat them now she literally comes running when I plopped them down. I also get cactus from a local supermarket and scrape off the spines. She loves that. And it is high in calcium. Tortoises are smart, and they will hold out for the good stuff, what they consider good not what we consider good. Sometimes when I try to give a new food to my tortoise she will look at it, don't rush it aside with her little foot, glare at me for a second, and stomped away. I swear! It is absolutely hilarious. Then the next day she won't eat it, and maybe the next day either. But by the third or fourth day she's eating it. Or you can mix the good stuff in with the bad. But a little Toughlove is okay also.
Variety is the key. I'm sure you have checked out the food list but go back and review them and maybe try some of those things also. Don't feed the bad stuff because you're worried that he's not eating, he will eat eventually. It sounds like he is doing okay so time to change his habits a little bit. Also, if you can get him outdoors weather permitting you will probably see a whole new tortoise. And his eating will also probably improve.
 

Lyn W

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Mine won't touch dried grass so I followed advice from the forums and bought a blender then ground the grass (I use Readigrass) to a powder so that it would stick to the wet dandelions - or Florette classic crispy salad mix over winter - and spray again before mixing it all in. Its the only way to get grass into him that works.
 

leigti

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Russians will only eat grass if they absolutely have to usually. So getting them to eat it is especially difficult because it's just not what they usually will eat. Try the herbal hey from tortoise supply.com. My Russian will eat it along with greens if I went it down or soak at first. But she won't eat it dry.
 

Mavrik

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I would stop feeding fruit. It is not good for them and it can cause G.I. And parasite issues. Their system is not made to eat fruit. Romain lettuce seems to be the go to for a tortoise who won't eat. Depending on where you live weeds might be coming up now. Have you tried dandelion leaves and flowers? Tortoises are smart, and they will hold out for the good stuff, what they consider good not what we consider good. But a little Toughlove is okay also.
Variety is the key. I'm sure you have checked out the food list but go back and review them and maybe try some of those things also. Don't feed the bad stuff because you're worried that he's not eating, he will eat eventually. It sounds like he is doing okay so time to change his habits a little bit. Also, if you can get him outdoors weather permitting you will probably see a whole new tortoise. And his eating will also probably improve.


I am well aware that Russians are not supposed to eat fruit -- thanks for not helping me at all. This is not my first tortoise, I am well educated in what the proper diet is for a Russian tortoise. If you had actually read my post instead of calling TL;DR, you would see that I said "I know that neither of those foods are ideal for him, but any food is progress."

The only reason why I offered fruit was because he has turned his nose up to everything tried previously with exception to the freeze-dried mix of greens beans, sweet corn, and snap peas. I tried all the greens and weeds and hays and grasses available to me, and finally turned to fruit as a last resort to get him to eat SOMETHING. He had not eaten in a few days before I received him, and I tried the whole tough love part -- but he became noticeably skinnier in that span of 2 weeks, and after consulting a qualified reptile vet it was recommended to offer anything and everything to see if Trotsky would eat it. The vet also said that since Trot has been off a "proper" diet for long, at this point his G.I. tract is totally off-kilter anyway, so introducing "unhealthy" foods will neither help nor harm him.

I live in NE Ohio, where we are finally starting to get warm weather. We spent a couple hours outside today (67* and sunny!) but he did not show any interest in the grass. I plan on continuing this whenever weather permits -- the other tortoises enjoyed the outside play time as well. Luckily since we're moving into late spring and summer, this will be happening more often!
 

leigti

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What is TL DR? And why are you so damn defensive? Your tortoises out of danger now so now you can start feeding him the right things. Russians don't usually eat grass unless they have no choice. Have you taken him into get checked for parasites? If not that could be a good idea. It is easier to feed the right foods once the snow thaws and weeds come up. Good luck with your tortoise.
 

Mavrik

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TL;DR is "too long; didn't read" -- meaning you didn't really read my post but just browsed and picked out words and then inferred the meaning. I KNOW he is out of danger, but that was not the reason for my post -- I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET HIM TO EAT THE THINGS THAT ARE GOOD FOR HIM, BUT HE SIMPLY WILL NOT DO SO. If you had actually read the post, you would have known that. I am being "damn defensive" as you put it because you hijacked my thread with your assumption that I did not know information that can be found in a quick internet search (which I had previously stated that I did) and simply did not contribute anything helpful.

He has been checked for parasites, among other things. The vet did an extensive work up after I first brought him home -- the only thing that came up of note was that Trotsky had a blood disease. After a round of medications for that, he is now healed and otherwise healthy, BUT STILL NOT EATING ANYTHING THAT HE HAS BEEN OFFERED, WHICH IS AN EXTENSIVE LIST.

Be gone troll -- I have wasted enough of my time on your silliness!
 

leigti

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I did read the entire thread, it's not very long anyway. People have answered your questions here there also about 100 threads on the site answering the same question, do a search and go check out some of those. Use some of that excess angry energy and put it to good use. I'm pretty proud, the first time I've been called a troll :) although your definition seems to differ but that's okay.
 

crimson_lotus

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I am well aware that Russians are not supposed to eat fruit -- thanks for not helping me at all. This is not my first tortoise, I am well educated in what the proper diet is for a Russian tortoise. If you had actually read my post instead of calling TL;DR, you would see that I said "I know that neither of those foods are ideal for him, but any food is progress."

The only reason why I offered fruit was because he has turned his nose up to everything tried previously with exception to the freeze-dried mix of greens beans, sweet corn, and snap peas. I tried all the greens and weeds and hays and grasses available to me, and finally turned to fruit as a last resort to get him to eat SOMETHING. He had not eaten in a few days before I received him, and I tried the whole tough love part -- but he became noticeably skinnier in that span of 2 weeks, and after consulting a qualified reptile vet it was recommended to offer anything and everything to see if Trotsky would eat it. The vet also said that since Trot has been off a "proper" diet for long, at this point his G.I. tract is totally off-kilter anyway, so introducing "unhealthy" foods will neither help nor harm him.

I live in NE Ohio, where we are finally starting to get warm weather. We spent a couple hours outside today (67* and sunny!) but he did not show any interest in the grass. I plan on continuing this whenever weather permits -- the other tortoises enjoyed the outside play time as well. Luckily since we're moving into late spring and summer, this will be happening more often!

Some people do not know they should not feed fruit to Russians, so it's good you know that. I don't think leigti meant any harm in saying so, it's just that some people honestly don't know. I've even seen people on this forum feed chocolate to their tortoises, and asking why it's bad...

If tortoises are not warm enough they often do not eat because they need to be warm to digest food. I don't know if you know this, but if you do I'm sorry.
 
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