Switching Tortoise Diet! Please HELP!

ryankenn

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Aug 22, 2021
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Arizona
Hello,

My name is Ryan, and I am new to this forum. I am super grateful to have stumbled across it because it has been so helpful!

However, I am seeking some advice for my own tortoise...

When I was 10 years old, I really wanted a tortoise so my mother allowed me to get my own Sulcata tortoise. That was 15 years ago, so my tortoise is about 15 years old. I realize that others will probably formulate an opinion about children owning pets, trust me I have formulated my own thoughts. I kindly ask for solution based responses because I already feel embarrassed about the routine in raising my tortoise.

Due to miseducation of our own making, our tortoise has relied on leafy greens for most of his life, mostly romaine. He does have pyramiding of his shell. But now that I am older and more responsible, I want to make sure my tortoise is healthy and leads a happy life.

The other day I picked orchard grass from the store, and am dedicated to changing the diet of my tortoise. The first few days, I would blend the orchard hay and mix it in with the romaine. But I noticed that he would only try to eat the pieces that don't have any orchard hay on it. The last two days, I have been putting the orchard hay in a romaine leaf, folding it in half, and feeding it to him. But he HATES it! I spend about an hour each day doing this.

My fear is that he'll never adjust to the orchard hay, and will never successfully switch over. I am willing to do ANYTHING to make sure my tortoise is healthy and leads a happy life.

My questions are... will he eventually adjust to the orchard hay and eat it without the romaine? If so, how long will it take for him to adjust? Any other advice to greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance!!

TL;DR: Tortoise has pyramiding. 15 years old. Trying to switch his diet over to orchard hay. Last couple days I've been sandwiching orchard hay in a romaine leaf and feeding it to him. Will he eventually adjust to the orchard hay and eat it without the romaine? If so, how long will it take for him to adjust? Any other advice to greatly appreciated!
 

Yvonne G

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Take a handful of the orchard grass hay and cut it up into bite-sized pieces. Put it in a bowl of water and allow it to sit there for about 15 minutes. Then break up the romaine and mix in the rehydrated hay, mixing it all together. You can also use mulberry leaves, grape leaves, any edible weeds, and if you have a section of his yard you can plant some grass, Bermuda is a healthy, strong grass that will withstand heavy grazing. But you'll have to keep him off it until it's established.

Don't beat yourself up over his previous care. Many, many first time tortoise keepers have also travelled that road. The good thing is that you're now re-thinking your care of him and researching to try to change his life for the better. Also, pyramiding wasn't caused by what you fed him, that would have led to loose stools, not bumpy shell. No, pyramiding is caused by raising him in too dry conditions and under a very hot, desiccating light.
 

Krista S

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Saskatchewan
Hello,

My name is Ryan, and I am new to this forum. I am super grateful to have stumbled across it because it has been so helpful!

However, I am seeking some advice for my own tortoise...

When I was 10 years old, I really wanted a tortoise so my mother allowed me to get my own Sulcata tortoise. That was 15 years ago, so my tortoise is about 15 years old. I realize that others will probably formulate an opinion about children owning pets, trust me I have formulated my own thoughts. I kindly ask for solution based responses because I already feel embarrassed about the routine in raising my tortoise.

Due to miseducation of our own making, our tortoise has relied on leafy greens for most of his life, mostly romaine. He does have pyramiding of his shell. But now that I am older and more responsible, I want to make sure my tortoise is healthy and leads a happy life.

The other day I picked orchard grass from the store, and am dedicated to changing the diet of my tortoise. The first few days, I would blend the orchard hay and mix it in with the romaine. But I noticed that he would only try to eat the pieces that don't have any orchard hay on it. The last two days, I have been putting the orchard hay in a romaine leaf, folding it in half, and feeding it to him. But he HATES it! I spend about an hour each day doing this.

My fear is that he'll never adjust to the orchard hay, and will never successfully switch over. I am willing to do ANYTHING to make sure my tortoise is healthy and leads a happy life.

My questions are... will he eventually adjust to the orchard hay and eat it without the romaine? If so, how long will it take for him to adjust? Any other advice to greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance!!

TL;DR: Tortoise has pyramiding. 15 years old. Trying to switch his diet over to orchard hay. Last couple days I've been sandwiching orchard hay in a romaine leaf and feeding it to him. Will he eventually adjust to the orchard hay and eat it without the romaine? If so, how long will it take for him to adjust? Any other advice to greatly appreciated!
Welcome to the forum Ryan!

Patience is key when trying to expand your tortoises diet. They are stubborn buggers and don’t like change, but you already know that lol. Try just adding a little of the new food you’re trying to introduce. Chop up the new food into very very small pieces and wet the romaine. Stir it up so the new food sticks to the romaine and can’t be picked off. He will eventually get hungry enough to eat it, but it will take time. As he starts to eat it, everyday add a little more of the new food and a when it seems safe, start decreasing the amount of romaine. Persistence will pay off. You can do it!!

When you’re comfortable, I’d love to see a picture of your tortoise. What is his name? That’s really cool that you’ve had him from such a young age and got to grow up with him. I didn’t get my tortoise until I was 40 and often think of how great it would have been if my tortoise came into my life a lot sooner.
 

Ink

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Welcome to the forum.
 
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