annasofiajorgensen

New Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2020
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Denmark
Hello you all! I am a new tortoise owner and I love this forum!

First the backstory and plain information, in case you are going to ask about all the usual things:
We got two 4,5 months old hermann’s tortoises about a week ago and the pet shop owner told us that it was fine to have them together for the first 4-5 years and that they wouldn’t fight or anything because they were so young. I had read a lot beforehand and I’d also read that it is not good to keep 2 tortoises in the same tank, that it is best to have 1:3 male to female ratio etc.
But he then told me that it would be no problem, so I decided to trust him. We bought two, one 30g and one 42g, they had the same hatch dato and were captive bred with all the right papers, etc.



The first 3 days of torts general information, temperatures, lamps, humidity, bathing, tank size, diet and vitamins/calcium.:

They were fine at first in the tank that we bought from the store. It is a vivarium with ventilation where the night temperature is 22c, the day basking temperature is 37c and the other end day temperature is 23-25 c, mostly 24c. I can’t get it under that temperature in the cold end, I would like to have it at 22c like our room temperature is, but I don’t know how to, except having a bigger tank which the pet shop owner said would be too big and that it shouldn’t be bigger than 45x60 cm for such small tortoises.
Anyway ...
For this vivarium we have an Exo Terra Solar Glo 80w combilamp with UVB, UVA and heat. Is this a bad idea? I asked the pet shop owner if it wouldn’t be better to have a seperate heat lamp and UVB/UVA bulb so that the UVB/UVA bulb could be a fluorecent one so they could get it over the whole tank like they would in daytime in nature. He assured me that this was not necessary and that the other thing was just as good.
The vivarium has a hiding place, a hay clump for hiding, a calcium stone, a low water tank, a flat stone for eating, trixie natural humus and flamingo ground cover terra bark mixed together where we have laid pretty much so there is kind of a hill and something to climb on. We also do have moss but we are not sure were to put it yet, maybe into the hiding place and together with some hay in a corner so there can be two nice humid places.
We keep humidity mostly at 60-70%, mostly 70% actually, (sometimes it goes up to 75% right after spraying water) in their hiding places and we spray water every day in the tank to keep humidity stable (we do this as baby hermann’s tortoises need higher humidity than the older ones in order to thrive). Of course it gets kind of dry, like 52% in the basking spot after a whole day, so we try to empty some of the water on the basking spot when we change it every morning and spray it more often during the day. We also occasionaly spray a little bit on the tortoiseses in the vivariums to mimic occasional rainfalls although they are rare in their natural habitat.
We bathe them every day for 15-20 min. and use gentle removing of dirt with a wetted cotton swab from the shell, the skin attached to the shell etc. so that dirt doesn’t get caught under it and gets wet and we risk fungi etc. And then we very gently pat them dry on the wettest parts of the body and wait until they are fully dry before we put them in the tank so that all the dirt doesn’t stick to its wet body. Our water temperature that we bathe them in are between 29-35c where we start at 35c and then it goes gradually down and is cooler when they are done. And we of course bathe only one tortoise at a time and we wash the bowl with water in between.
And more informtion: The tank is 45x60cm. I kept asking the shop owner if this tank wasn’t too small for 2 tortoises but he kept saying no, so again I chose to trust him. He also told us to feed them romaine lettuce, napolitana mix, italiano mix, shredded carrots and romaine mix - which I then read later was not at all a natural diet for hermann’s tortoises, so now my boyfriend and I have been outside picking dandelion leaves, grass and other wild plants that are ok for hermann’s tortoises to eat. We also bought pre alpin testudo original as they are the only food pellets we have found that are recommended by tortoise specialists. We are also planning to buy the herb and fibre version of pre alpin for diversity. We have to grind it a bit though so it resembles the baby version as the tortoises’ mouths are so small that it wouldn‘t fit in otherwise and their biting is too weak to bite through the food so it gets small enough to fit into their mouth to swallow it. Anyways, they haven’t eaten any of it yet, not soaked and not dry. P.s. We also sprinkle a tiny bit of calcium+D3 vitamin every other day and multivitamin 2-3 times a week (lol we have only had them for a week) on the food. And we also have bought organic soil and testudo saatgut seeds which are specialized for european tortoises to eat.



Tortoise behaviour, first 3 days::

Day 1: When we got the tortoises home, the smaller one (30g) seemed more lazy, but it was doing ok and explored a bit but would only eat romaine lettuce. It seemed a bit weak but not that weak.
The bigger one (42g) didn’t seem that lazy and was very curious and walked a lot and knew the vivarium by no time and wasn’t afraid at all. It ate everything that was served but the pre alpin testudo food as it probably is to boring to eat unless really hungry although we keep mixing it with the other stuff and hope they will get used to it.
We were worried as the little one refused everything but romaine lettuce but then I went out and picked dandelions and it ate its leaves and was kind of fine. I also rang the pet shop owner and he said that they had been feeding them romaine mix salad, italiano mix, napolitana mix and lettuce. I had read a lot about diet before I rang and told him more things about diet and that the small one probably only ate the lettuce with almost no nutrition value because it hadn’t been served anything else and they hadn’t monitored what each tortoise ate, etc. And that was also maybe the reason it was smaller than the other.
Day 2: Kind of similar.
Day 3: Again, kind of similar, although the smaller tort began basking more on this day and sleeping a lot in the basking light.



Day 4, something happened: The bigger one started becoming aggressive and approaching the smaller one and biting at its legs even its head and we kept moving him away but he kept approaching the smaller one all the time every time we moved him away. I rang the shop owner right away and was very frustrated as this wasn’t what he’d promised me. I had even read the opposite of what he told me before we purchased them but he kept reassuring me when I bought them that they would be good together, so I kind of felt like he betrayed me and that I had betrayed myself by not listening to what I had read so much about beforehand. He told me to relax but it was very hard to, as the bigger tortoise also approached the smaller one’s head when I talked to him in the phone and kept doing it although we moved him away every time before he really could hurt her. The smaller one didn’t do anything, didn’t run from the bigger one or anything, didn’t turn away even. It was just still in one position all the time. It didn’t fight back or anything, no reaction at all, which worries me also. Kind of like a zombie. Why is this?
I had to go out late and buy two wooden boxes while my boyfriend monitored the tortoises and then my boyfriend and I built a tortoise table as fast as we could for the smaller one, 35x70cm. We have purchased another one as we think both are too small to have the best temperatures. The next one will be 110x55cm for each tortoise. But here is the problem - this is just too much room, we don’t have this room in the apartment and the info we got from the pet shop owner was wrong all the way. We are going to move in 2-3 years into either a house or an apartment with either a balcony that we build into a tortoise table where it can go out fresh into air on a whole balcony and also go into the indoor part of the enclosure if it wants, the enclosure is going to be big so it is inside as well as outside with a passing tunnel for the turtles to walk through. And if not a tortoise balcony, then a tortoise garden.

Problem:
After the bigger one attacked the smaller tortoise and we moved it to into the wooden vivarium, it has become very inactive and sleeps under the basking light all day. It seems like it doesn’t thermoregulate. It doesn’t go to the cool side all day. I therefore have sprayed it with water occasionally when it has been basking for many hours. How long is it normal for it to bask in such heat? Not 12 hours right? I have tried to put the temperature down to 32-35c and it still is basking all day. I have also tried to put it up to 38c in the hopes of getting it to become more active as it gets more active when warmer and digestion goes up etc. The cool side is 24c during the day and the enclosure is 22c during the night. Humidity is 70% mostly in the cooler end and around 50-60% in the warmer end.
I don’t know how to get it to move. It is winter here and kind of dark here in Denmark where we live so it can be a semi-hibernation state, but it just seems too inactive in comparison to before the other tortoise tried to attack it. It also seems to have much weaker limbs than the bigger one. I have tried to handfeed it and I have noticed that its bite is weak and its front legs are weak when it is trying to pull the food apart, which it can’t, not even soft leaves. When it is eating alone, it tries for a long while to bite the food and only gets maybe a tiny bit even if it is trying really much to bite and pull the food apart with its legs and mouth. The bite is weak and it doesn’t seem to get the food into its mouth where it just gives up and just goes away from it and into the basking light to sleep. It is also weird because it also sometimes aims wrongly at the food, almost like it doesn’t have a good vision or something. The smaller one can eat a quarter leaf and give up, when the bigger one has eaten an entire meal in the same time. The bigger one has a really good aim and sense of where the food is in front of him.
The smaller one is not good at climbing either or walking on anything a bit steep and its front legs seem kind of weak and when I bathe it and it walks a bit, it can’t move forward but only backwards where it seems like the limbs are too weak to drag the front body. Kind of hard to explain. The bigger one has no problem with this at all and I can really see its strength and I have felt it also when I have handfed him.
I am so worried about the smaller one. I really love it. I don’t know why it seems so weak. I am bathing it every day and it has eaten every day, although very little. Yesterday I was also quite worried because it had diarrhea. Today I got even more worried as the right eye kept being shut and half open where the left eye was just fine. I got less worried about the stools though, as they didn’t look like diarrhea today. But the eye again - it kept scratcing it, and I think it might be because of the other tortoise because I think I saw that its beak hit the eye once, the day we seperated them, but I am not sure.


Question 1: Could the smaller tortoise be in shock from the attack? Why does it seem so weak compared to the other one?
The other one is still strong, moves a lot a round but also relaxes a lot. It has a strong enough bite to eat and can tear big leaves apart with its mouth and front feet if they are too big to eat in one bite. There is really a difference in their strength. Looking at the little one is like looking at a very lethargic person with weak muslces.
Question 2: We are planning to give one tortoise away as we want to have plenty of room for both tortoises which we don’t have if we are going to keep 2 seperate tortoises. Which one would you keep? We actually chose the smaller one first and it seemed so relaxed and I really like its personality. I am so fond of it but I am so afraid it is going to die and I don’t have the money for a new one as they are expensive in the pet shop here.
I am also more fond of the smaller one, I don’t know why, I just am. I can’t bear the thought of losing it, and I am afraid it is not going to make it. I am also aware that it could be too expensive to keep though, if it maybe is sick in some way.
I know that the bigger one is a much more safe choice as it seems to thrive, and I am also fond of it, but I am afraid that if we give the smaller one to the pet shop owner, it can for sure die or get a deformed shell if they give wrong info to a new buyer like they did to us and if they feed them food with no nutrition and don’t look after each tortoise and what it eats etc. Do you have any idea? Any experiences? Did you ever have to give a tortoise away? How did you find a really good owner that really did everything in their power for the tortoise’s wellbeing?
Question 3: We are going to call a vet, and I hope it can help, maybe it is avitamin deficiency that makes the muscles weak, I don’t know. Could also be dehydration from the basking light, but both have been drinking regularly in the bath, the humidity has not been very low and I have sprayed especially the small one a couple of times a day.

Thank you in advance, this was very long, but I just though you should get all the information so that the thread wouldn’t be filled with comments about the common things as I have now laid them all out. I would love to hear each and everyone’s opinion and every comment will be appreciated! I am kind of desperate!
 

Srmcclure

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2020
Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
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Ok, so there is a whole lot to unpack there.... first things first, that shop owner is an idiot. Everything he told you is wrong and could lead to the death of a tortoise...
First off, I am really glad you separated them. That easily could have been a huge disaster...

Question 1, that little one has probably been bullied for a really long time if there were multiples in a small enclosure and i could see how it could be in shock or terrified.

Question 2, its really up to you... you are rigbt in the larger one probably being more Harty, but that is ultimately up to you... tough call...

Question 3, you should not allow a vet to give it vitamin shots. They aren't good for tortoises. Lots of people have had major issues after that being done to their babies...

Follow this care guide for healthy babies and it will answer everything you need to know.


Also, if you want to keep both, here is how I have 2 different torts.
20200802_160514.jpg
These are 3ft x 6ft grow tents ive changed up to fit my needs 🙂
20200814_070646.jpg
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
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South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
You just witnessed a classic case of a pair being kept together.
The bully is thriving and the bullied has become very ill.
Sometimes they both become ill.
However, the whole thing is very stressful for both and they may both take some time apart to be free from the effects. Hopefully your little one will be ok.
Sometimes that bullying causes death.
Make sure that they can't see each other and give it some time.
About which one to "choose"... the bully has a much higher likelihood of thriving in the future that the timid one.
Although I'm not saying that the timid one won't survive.
I just quickly went over your post and I apologize. I'm having eye issues. I probably overlooked a lot.
This situation doesn't require a vet. It required separation. And you've done that.
 

maggie3fan

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Jun 30, 2018
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You obviously did your research and that was so good of you. I am not an expert, but I do know a few things. Start soaking the smaller one daily in strained carrots. One jar of baby food carrots in warmer water soak under a warming light for close to an hour. Make sure your lighting, heating and substrate are correct. I didn't read all your post, but you have a care sheet now, so read it over and over. Keep your tortoises the way it is written in the care sheet, lights, etc. And frankly, if the small one was the tortoise you wanted to keep. Don't desert him now! Keep asking questions, that's very important. Don't give up on that baby. Now is the time, you need to pretend that's a human baby there (sorta), that's a little teeny life there, that you want to save. Soak in the carrots, twice daily, keep him just a bit warmer. I like to wrap a sick one in a wash cloth or something, and while I'm just sitting, I wrap him up and hold him. A lot of people say that stresses them out. I keep them tight against my chest and I feel it's my life keeping them going. Probably I'm just nuts, but that's what I do. I don't give up on them until they either die or get better. Make sure you increase the heat too, good luck
 

annasofiajorgensen

New Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2020
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Denmark
Thank you so much for all the answers <3 We didn’t have room for both, so I went to another very good petshop, were they had the right food, lightning and everything, and he said that it was better if we kept the bigger one as it seemed stronger. The smaller one also gets a tortoise table on its own there, so it can rest, relax and be alone. There is also a reptile vet at the shop every week to check on all the animals, and the man at the shop really knew his stuff and cared for the tortoises.

But my heart is broken. Maybe I’ll just try and get the little one back and give them the other one instead. I can’t decide yet. Although I only had it for a week, I spent so much time with the smaller one that I really felt like we got a bond. It was relaxed but it also seemed kind of passive in its behaviour, it could just rest in my hand.
The bigger one is SO curious and lively and comes to the enclosure walls everytime we’re there and looks at us and thermoregulates very well, and we have to have fasting days because he eats everything and maybe has eaten too much. He doesn’t like bathing because he wants to climb over the walls and doesn’t like to be still in my hand, but he loves it if I have food, then he eats immediately. Sometimes I am worrying about his enclosure, maybe it is too small as he wanders so much, but a bigger one is on its way.
But my heart is so broken still. I am so sad. Would be sad either way. I wish we had a very large apartment <3
Thank you for the answers! I have read quite a lot about the bulbs, and we want to discard the MVB and get UVB light and UVA light on its own and a heat lamp. Which ones do you use? What are their brand names? I really just want the best ones!
Hugs to you
 

annasofiajorgensen

New Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2020
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Denmark
And maggie3fan, I didn't see your message until after I'd given the small one ... So I couldn't really do anything at that time. I hope I can manage this <3
 
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