Timothy hay

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Is Timothy hay good for russian tortoises? I know that they usually don’t eat it but my tortoise isn’t picky at all and would it be beneficial to him if I soaked it in water and possibly mixed it with his food?
 

Tom

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Is Timothy hay good for russian tortoises? I know that they usually don’t eat it but my tortoise isn’t picky at all and would it be beneficial to him if I soaked it in water and possibly mixed it with his food?
Russians aren't grass eaters. This would include grass hay. When I've tried to feed them grass in the past, it just goes through them completely undigested. I won't hurt your tortoise, but its not really an appropriate food item for them either. I use soaked horse pellets made of ground up Timothy hay to add fiber to grocery store greens. If you cut up the hay fine enough and soak it, you could use It for that purpose when weeds, leaves and flowers are hard to find.
 

MichaelL

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Russians aren't grass eaters. This would include grass hay. When I've tried to feed them grass in the past, it just goes through them completely undigested. I won't hurt your tortoise, but its not really an appropriate food item for them either. I use soaked horse pellets made of ground up Timothy hay to add fiber to grocery store greens. If you cut up the hay fine enough and soak it, you could use It for that purpose when weeds, leaves and flowers are hard to find.
Dumb question, but in grass eating species does it get digested more? I always assumed it stayed undigested in other species.
 

Tom

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Dumb question, but in grass eating species does it get digested more? I always assumed it stayed undigested in other species.
Not dumb at all. In other species of similar size, I don't see frank undigested green grass in the stool that way I do with Russians. In larger grass eating sulcatas, SA leopards, Aldabras or Galaps, you can definitely see large undigested grass fibers, but it looks like it has been worked on by the gut flora and fauna, and its no longer green, loose, and in-tact looking.

In the soak water for a Russian, I would find what appeared to be uneaten pieces of grass in the soak water that they had defecated out. I don't usually see that in other species. In younger animals of grass eating species, you can still make out what appears to be grass fibers, but it doesn't look fresh and green as if it has never been eaten.

I hope I'm explaining this in a way that makes sense...
 

MichaelL

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Not dumb at all. In other species of similar size, I don't see frank undigested green grass in the stool that way I do with Russians. In larger grass eating sulcatas, SA leopards, Aldabras or Galaps, you can definitely see large undigested grass fibers, but it looks like it has been worked on by the gut flora and fauna, and its no longer green, loose, and in-tact looking.

In the soak water for a Russian, I would find what appeared to be uneaten pieces of grass in the soak water that they had defecated out. I don't usually see that in other species. In younger animals of grass eating species, you can still make out what appears to be grass fibers, but it doesn't look fresh and green as if it has never been eaten.

I hope I'm explaining this in a way that makes sense...
Totally makes sense. Thanks. Whenever my russians have accidentally taken in grass when eating weeds in their enclosure, it comes out just like you said.
 

mrpresitort

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Is Timothy hay good for russian tortoises? I know that they usually don’t eat it but my tortoise isn’t picky at all and would it be beneficial to him if I soaked it in water and possibly mixed it with his food?
I had an exotic vet tell me to feed mine 80% hay, but my tort doesn't eat any at all no matter how many times I try to feed it to him. So I've been sticking to various broad leafed greens. I've seen on this site that others have some luck feeding hay to their russian torts.

I've also tried soaking him in water of various depths and temperatures and he absolutely loathes it. I found a post somewhere once suggesting that the soaking isn't actually necessary for certain tortoises. My little guy has a shallow water basin in his enclosure that he barely touches. So I figure if it doesn't feel natural to him to soak himself in water, why would I force it? His instincts know best.
 

Maro2Bear

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I had an exotic vet tell me to feed mine 80% hay, but my tort doesn't eat any at all no matter how many times I try to feed it to him. So I've been sticking to various broad leafed greens. I've seen on this site that others have some luck feeding hay to their russian torts.

I've also tried soaking him in water of various depths and temperatures and he absolutely loathes it. I found a post somewhere once suggesting that the soaking isn't actually necessary for certain tortoises. My little guy has a shallow water basin in his enclosure that he barely touches. So I figure if it doesn't feel natural to him to soak himself in water, why would I force it? His instincts know best.

Even if it appears that your tort loathes being soaked, the benefits of good hydration outweigh the appearance of it disliking the soaking. Yes, their instincts know best in the wild, but an enclosure in NJ is anything close to that. So we as keepers need to compensate for these things. Good luck!
 

Tom

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His instincts know best.
Sadly, that way of thinking has led to the deaths of countless tortoises. The instincts have have helped them survive in the wild for eons before humans came along, often do not serve them well in our captive environments.
 

mrpresitort

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Even if it appears that your tort loathes being soaked, the benefits of good hydration outweigh the appearance of it disliking the soaking. Yes, their instincts know best in the wild, but an enclosure in NJ is anything close to that. So we as keepers need to compensate for these things. Good luck!
Thank you for your suggestions! I am very open to soaking him if that is the correct thing to do. I am just worried that the stress of keeping him in the water will outweigh any of the benefits of doing so. I make sure to keep his enclosure nice and humid, and part of my routine for that is spritzing his substrate when it gets dry. If any water gets on him, he really does not tolerate it and runs away pretty much immediately. He also refuses to touch the water dish I have for him, which I swap out just about daily, unless he wants a sip of water. I have not seen him willingly walk in the water even when I try a different dish and if i put it right in his path. It seems counterintuitive to subject him to something he hates so much.
 

maggie3fan

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Is Timothy hay good for russian tortoises? I know that they usually don’t eat it but my tortoise isn’t picky at all and would it be beneficial to him if I soaked it in water and possibly mixed it with his food?
Timothy hay is coarse and yucky...locally grown grass hay is sweeter and softer...easier to eat
 

qiangzhu

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The leaves of Timothy hay may be ok but the stems and seeds are too hard and sharp. I am not sure if they will injure the tortoise or not
 

Cathie G

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Thank you for your suggestions! I am very open to soaking him if that is the correct thing to do. I am just worried that the stress of keeping him in the water will outweigh any of the benefits of doing so. I make sure to keep his enclosure nice and humid, and part of my routine for that is spritzing his substrate when it gets dry. If any water gets on him, he really does not tolerate it and runs away pretty much immediately. He also refuses to touch the water dish I have for him, which I swap out just about daily, unless he wants a sip of water. I have not seen him willingly walk in the water even when I try a different dish and if i put it right in his path. It seems counterintuitive to subject him to something he hates so much.
Something I started doing from a suggestion from a beloved member here on TFO (Bee62) was to set the tortoise in it's empty bath pan. Then use a cup and SLOWLY pour the water over the tort until it reaches where the carapace and plastron meet.. My tortoise was frightened by being put straight in the water and also by using a spray bottle. Doing that helped a lot and not so stressful. It's instinct because they can drown in deep water. Some days if it's going to rain he hides but other days he'll just sit there and enjoy it. He also occasionally drinks water so I want it fresh and available for the day he does decide to.🤗
 
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mrpresitort

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Something I started doing from a suggestion from a beloved member here on TFO (Bee62) was to set the tortoise in it's empty bath pan. Then use a cup and SLOWLY pour the water over the tort until it reaches where the carapace and plastron meet.. My tortoise was frightened by being put straight in the water and also by using a spray bottle. Doing that helped a lot and not so stressful. It's instinct because they can drown in deep water. Some days if it's going to rain he hides but other days he'll just sit there and enjoy it. He also occasionally drinks water so I want it fresh and available for the day he does decide to.🤗
I never thought to do that! I'll give that a go then. Enough people are concerned about this that I'm getting worried that this advice I was given a while ago might not have been from someone with a lot of experience. I appreciate the tip 🙏
 

Cathie G

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I never thought to do that! I'll give that a go then. Enough people are concerned about this that I'm getting worried that this advice I was given a while ago might not have been from someone with a lot of experience. I appreciate the tip 🙏
Yes it's just a simple thing that worked for my tortoise and yet it makes so much sense. He does try to walk around in the water but it's not frantically trying to escape. And they really do need a little soak for if nothing else but cleanliness. It's funny that turtles are the exact opposite. They hate to be dry so you have to give them time out of water for the shell to harden. Once again it's instinct.
 

OliveW

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Thank you for your suggestions! I am very open to soaking him if that is the correct thing to do. I am just worried that the stress of keeping him in the water will outweigh any of the benefits of doing so. I make sure to keep his enclosure nice and humid, and part of my routine for that is spritzing his substrate when it gets dry. If any water gets on him, he really does not tolerate it and runs away pretty much immediately. He also refuses to touch the water dish I have for him, which I swap out just about daily, unless he wants a sip of water. I have not seen him willingly walk in the water even when I try a different dish and if i put it right in his path. It seems counterintuitive to subject him to something he hates so much.

I had to be talked off that same ledge recently. I'm sure the old timers get tired of repeating themselves. We do have different species of tortoises, but our concerns were identical.

Things I found out that helped are using a plastic tote that is NOT clear. If he can't see out, he relaxes more. Even if he does keep walking while in his soak, it's good for him as they don't get nearly enough walking in when in captivity.
I always add my boy to the tub first, get the water just baby bath warm, then add it until the proper depth. He doesn't like being plopped into water.

My boy will not willingly get into the water in his enclosure unless it's a mud hole. Even a shallow clay dish with water wasn't temping him. Problem is, the water in the mud hole (shallow) I dug for him kept soaking into the ground. So now I ran PVC pipe over the top of his enclosure, too high for him to reach, with holes drilled that align with the edge of his swimming hole. I turn the water on just enough to have a drip going on that keeps it topped off. I do use the hose to refill it at times, but just that drip does a pretty good job of keeping it full.

I definitely wouldn't rely on your tortoise to instinctively know what is good for him, any more than I would a two year old child. Mine would eat 100% grapes and apples if he could get away with it, and would end up dead.
 
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