Spekes hinge back tips?

Kristielllen

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Hello! I’m new here and I recently got a spekes hinge back tortoise. I’ve named her Maeve and she’s adorable. She’s eating great, I’m just trying to get her comfortable and less shy. Everything I’ve read about spekes is pretty broad and I feel like every picture I’ve seen has looked different, so any information I can get would be helpful! Just trying to keep my tort happy and healthy!


I’m also trying to figure out an approximate age. Does anyone know when hingebacks start to actually form a hinge? Or is there any way to tell?
 

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2turtletom

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Hello! I’m new here and I recently got a spekes hinge back tortoise. I’ve named her Maeve and she’s adorable. She’s eating great, I’m just trying to get her comfortable and less shy. Everything I’ve read about spekes is pretty broad and I feel like every picture I’ve seen has looked different, so any information I can get would be helpful! Just trying to keep my tort happy and healthy!


I’m also trying to figure out an approximate age. Does anyone know when hingebacks start to actually form a hinge? Or is there any way to tell?
Hi Kristen, welcome to the group. What you have purchased is a Bell's hingeback, Kinixys belliana. They're being labled as Speke's hingebacks to get around an import ban on this species. Unfortunately, the importers of these animals care more about selling tortoises than letting their customers know what they are buying! It's really sad, and just shows you how careless some of the importers are. @William Lee Kohler has this species and can make some recommendations for you.
 

Kristielllen

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Hi Kristen, welcome to the group. What you have purchased is a Bell's hingeback, Kinixys belliana. They're being labled as Speke's hingebacks to get around an import ban on this species. Unfortunately, the importers of these animals care more about selling tortoises than letting their customers know what they are buying! It's really sad, and just shows you how careless some of the importers are. @William Lee Kohler has this species and can make some recommendations for you.
That’s so sad that they do that! So speke’s are illegal to import? I wish I knew that when I bought her, she was just too cute to pass up! But thank you for the info! And @William Lee Kohler any info you could give would be much appreciated! ( :
 

TeamZissou

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That’s so sad that they do that! So speke’s are illegal to import? I wish I knew that when I bought her, she was just too cute to pass up! But thank you for the info! And @William Lee Kohler any info you could give would be much appreciated! ( :

I believe Bell's are illegal to import because they can carry ticks. They label them as Speke's and nobody checks.
 

2turtletom

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That’s so sad that they do that! So speke’s are illegal to import? I wish I knew that when I bought her, she was just too cute to pass up! But thank you for the info! And @William Lee Kohler any info you could give would be much appreciated! ( :
Yes- What @TeamZissou said. I see that Bill didn't chime in- But I'll chime in and recommend this article. Your animal is a wild caught import, and they need A TON of tender loving care- here's one of my favorite articles on how to do it: http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/kinixys.html
 

Kristielllen

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Yes- What @TeamZissou said. I see that Bill didn't chime in- But I'll chime in and recommend this article. Your animal is a wild caught import, and they need A TON of tender loving care- here's one of my favorite articles on how to do it: http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/kinixys.html
After what everyone on here has told me, I texted the guy that I bought her from. He still believes it’s a spek but he did say that she’s wild caught and about 3 years old. He said he had her dewormed but feeding her pumpkin would be helpful. Any thoughts on this?
 

Kristielllen

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Also is there anyone on here that has this species where they’re doing well? I think I’m a little paranoid now ?
 

2turtletom

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Also is there anyone on here that has this species where they’re doing well? I think I’m a little paranoid now ?
There are a handful of people, and if you're committed to doing the things in that article that I sent, you'll have a chance. But the mortality rate has been extremely high- those of us that have been following these things estimate that about 90% of them have died.
 

2turtletom

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After what everyone on here has told me, I texted the guy that I bought her from. He still believes it’s a spek but he did say that she’s wild caught and about 3 years old. He said he had her dewormed but feeding her pumpkin would be helpful. Any thoughts on this?
Pumpkin as an actual de-wormer is a wives' tale. Get hooked up with a great tortoise vet. Everyone believes they are Speke's that haven't studied hingebacks- because the lie is perpetuated down the chain. If "the guy" you got it from has had it a while, and it's been in his hands and he's been working with it for several months, than that's much better than if you just bought it from a pet store, a reptile show, or Underground Reptiles, which seems to be one of the major sources of these guys being imported from Kenya right now.
 

2turtletom

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I believe Bell's are illegal to import because they can carry ticks. They label them as Speke's and nobody checks.
And from what we understand, the importers have even duped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Several were confiscated in the Northeast from what I understand, but in Florida, the USFWS has been duped into believing they are truly Speke's (the younger ones) or truly Zombensis (the older ones). Yes, because the tortoises change in appearance as they age, they're calling them two different species.
 

Kristielllen

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Massachusetts
Pumpkin as an actual de-wormer is a wives' tale. Get hooked up with a great tortoise vet. Everyone believes they are Speke's that haven't studied hingebacks- because the lie is perpetuated down the chain. If "the guy" you got it from has had it a while, and it's been in his hands and he's been working with it for several months, than that's much better than if you just bought it from a pet store, a reptile show, or Underground Reptiles, which seems to be one of the major sources of these guys being imported from Kenya right now.
The guy I bought it from breeds ball pythons and it was at a reptile expo, so he probably didn’t handle it very long. I’ve been soaking her every day, and she has been eating. I was told she was dewormed but how do I know that that’s true or if she still has parasites or not? I’m stressing out because if I knew all of this I wouldn’t have bought her. I want to give her a fighting chance even if that meant giving her to someone who has rehabilitated them before. ) :
 

TeamZissou

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And from what we understand, the importers have even duped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Several were confiscated in the Northeast from what I understand, but in Florida, the USFWS has been duped into believing they are truly Speke's (the younger ones) or truly Zombensis (the older ones). Yes, because the tortoises change in appearance as they age, they're calling them two different species.

I believe it. Hingebacks are rarely discussed here on the forum. Looking at simple stats like the total number of threads in each subforum, hingebacks account for only about 7000 posts on TFO. This is on par with other rarely discussed species: chersina (1700 posts), pancakes (3900 posts), Chacos (3000 posts), and spider tortoises (1500 posts). More widely kept species like leopards have a ton (53,000 posts), sulcata (147,000 posts), Hermann's (34,000 posts), and Russians (73,800 posts).

It's tough enough for hardcore tortoise people here on TFO to tell the difference between different species of Greek or Hermann's let alone different species of hingebacks since they show up so rarely. We really need a detailed website like HermanniHaven for kinixys to be able to readily identify them. I am not sure how a USFWS person could get the amount of experience needed to identify them at different stages of life.
 

William Lee Kohler

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That’s so sad that they do that! So speke’s are illegal to import? I wish I knew that when I bought her, she was just too cute to pass up! But thank you for the info! And @William Lee Kohler any info you could give would be much appreciated! ( :
Don't stress over your new pet. We'll be glad to help you if possible. Just saw this so sorry to be so slow. "About 3 years old" is likely pretty close and should translate to about 3 3/4" to 4 1/4" in length. If bigger probably also older. Can you take this one to an EXOTIC animal Vet for a good check up including fecal, urinalysis and blood tests for any diseases or bad parasites. You need an environment with high humidity(a closed chamber), thermostatically controlled temp of about 79-82 degrees F 24 hrs a day. Tubular UVB or LED UVB lighting and heat source of ceramic heat emitter. Please do not use any fixtures held by clamps as these have and do fall killing animals and/or starting a fire. Get a terracotta plant saucer about 10" or so across for water your tortoise can drink and soak in. Hydration is very important for these in getting established. Give a warm water soak of about 40-60 minutes daily until healthy and regularly eating well. Keep the substrate damp to help keeping up humidity. Once established a couple soaks a week should do. One or more hiding places should be provided and a potted organic pesticide free plant or 2 for additional sheltering spots and a bit of nature for the environment. Pothos and Spider plants are commonly used and safe for them. Please use potting soil in the plants with no pumice, little rocks, vermiculite or similar things in it. They may eat these things so best to not use. That should cover the basics for now but glad to answer any other questions if I can. Please can you tell what you are feeding and is your tortoise eating well? You can contact me by PM on here if you want to.
 
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turtlesteve

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Saying that 10% of these survived is being generous, but at this point many of those that are still alive have a good chance of making it with proper care.
 

2turtletom

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Saying that 10% of these survived is being generous, but at this point many of those that are still alive have a good chance of making it with proper care.
I agree- it's generous, and I specifically gave that percentage to give some hope to the owner that if she does work with them, puts in the time, there is hope. In our Facebook group, are people that are keeping them alive. Most of these are single tortoise owners who have the time and money to work with them extensively.
 

Jacqui

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I think the survival numbers are better, as we have learned so much from past mistakes. Just be patient and take it slow. You've got this.
 
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