Tortoise Identification help

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atklosek

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Hi, over the past few months me and my girlfriend have been very interested in getting a tortoise for our house. We have done a lot of research and recently went to a local petstore and had a look to see what they had. When we got there we found out that the owners had just taken over the store at the beginning of the year and have no idea how to take care of tortoise and have no idea what they had. They had two in a take that looked like they were in real bad condition. When we took one out it pooped all over my girlfriends hands and we saw that it had worms. We told the owner and all she had to say was "tortoises can get worms?!" ...not a good sign. we decided to get them and get them out of that place because it was obvious they were not taking good care of them at all. The one big problem is that we dont know what exact species they are and we need to figure this out before we are able to put their complete habitat together. i have some pictures of them posted below and ill get pictures of the habitat we built up later on for some constructive criticism.
(yes this is the same as my introduction thread. but i dont wanna retype all of the information to get a wider audience)

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PeanutbuttER

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Hingeback of some sort is my guess, judging by the bump on the rump :).
 

atklosek

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thanks a lot! thats what ive been thinking but i wasnt really sure if it was just a deformity in the shell from a bad diet or something
 

Tracy Gould

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i have just done a spot of reading about these torts and what i can gather is the first picture looks like a male there is a great section about Hingeback kinixys on here that will help u alot as do not now much about these
 

atklosek

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Another thing we've noticed about one of them is that her eyes look watery every once in a while. Some stuff I've read says that eyes that aren't clear are a sign of an unhealthy tortoise. What could be the cause of that?
 

Tracy Gould

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atklosek said:
Another thing we've noticed about one of them is that her eyes look watery every once in a while. Some stuff I've read says that eyes that aren't clear are a sign of an unhealthy tortoise. What could be the cause of that?

I have read watery eyes can be a sign of dehydration try soaks in warm water the water should not be to deep it should not go passed the neck of the tortoise, u will need to soak for about 15 mins i normally place the tub under the heat lamp to keep the water warm but u could place it on a heat mat too
 

Kristina

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Watery eyes means your Home's is too dry. They need a lot of humidity and are much more aquatic than most tortoises. I am at work now, but later I will post more care info, unless someone else beats me to it :) I have seven of these guys myself.
 

atklosek

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thanks a lot kyryah! I really appreciate all the help! me and my girlfirend just took them to the vet and were given some pyrantel to give them to help with the worms.

also if anyone knows how to force feed(the worm medication) a shy tortoise with a syringe it would be greatly appreciated!
 

Kristina

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All right, Hingebacks Hingebacks Hingebacks, where to start...

First off, if you can post a picture of each tortoise, not of the plastron but of the actual tail, it will be easier to sex. If I had to guess I would tag the first one as female, honestly, and not male. The coloration and head size look girly to me :) They do not look all that bad. They do look too dry to me, however. Hingebacks that are consistently too dry will suffer eye and kidney problems over time.

Second, they need to be treated for parasites. Home's Hingebacks that are found in petstores are wild caught, and can be carrying many things. Being wildcaught they can also be very shy, and difficult to get started eating. Handle them as little as possible for at least the first few days, preferably the first few weeks.

Third, we need to discuss housing and substrate. What are you currently housing them in, and what are you planning on for long term? Personally I have had good experiences with both large aquariums (75 gallons or bigger) and livestock water tanks for this species. They can get to be a good sized tortoise, and need to move around, but the problem with tortoise tables is humidity. Hingies flat out NEED it. The best substrates are either cypress mulch (you can get the large bags at stores like Home Depot or Lowes for $2-3 a bag) or coconut coir (sold in a brick, such as EcoEarth or Bed A Beast.) You can also use a mixture of the two, or, if you are going to use live plants in your enclosure, top soil covered with a thin layer of mulch and leaf litter is awesome. I use a huge pile of leaf litter in one end of my indoor enclosure as a hide, and they just bury down in the leaves and love it. Oak or Maple works well, just collect them from a pesticide free area.

To search for suitable live plants, you can look here - http://www.africantortoise.com/edible_landscaping.htm It helps to print off a list and take it shopping with you. You can write down things that they have at the store, and look up the scientific names later to cross reference if needed. I like Spathum (Peace Lilies) as they are easy to keep and get nice, big, shiny leaves, and can grow under lower light conditions.

Here are some pics of a stock tank I had set up, with half log hides, leaf litter, and silk plants. It is the whole enclosure from left to right.

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The humidity needs to be kept high, but this is helped by using the substrates I have mentioned, and also by keeping the leaf litter damp. I purchased a garden sprayer at Walmart for $9 and use it to spray down the enclosure once a day, simulating rain. This also entices them to eat.

These tortoises LOVE water and need a dish that they can get into completely. Flower pot saucers, hot water heater drip pans, trash can lids, and cat litter boxes work well. They absolutely need to be able to get in the water. This is important.

Lighting - Hingebacks do not like bright light. Ambient lighting for them is fine. They will not suffer ill effects from not having UV lights. They receive a large portion of their Vitamin D3 from the meat in their diet (yup, they eat meat :) )

Along with lighting goes heat :) My Hingebacks are consistently happiest at around 71-75 degrees Fahrenheit. You can offer a basking area at one end of about 80 degrees, but they will most often gravitate away from it. I use a simple 60 watt black light incandescent bulb from Walmart. You can get a two pack for less than $7. Alternately you can also use a ceramic heat emitter, but they are considerally more expensive.

Try foods like watermelon, and cantaloupe, grapes, summer squash and zucchini, butternut squash, pumpkin, shredded sweet potato, hibiscus blooms, rose petals, nasturtiums and MUSHROOMS!!!! No Hingeback will turn down a big juicy portabella ;) In the wild they derive most of their fiber from mushrooms, rather than greens like grazing tortoises. It is perfectly fine to have mushrooms be about 50% of the total diet.

If you take some spring mix, collard greens, turnip greens, or dandelion (the stuff most often sold in stores is chicory, but fine also) and mix it with some butternut squash baby food (i.e. Gerber) it will entice them to eat that as well. They seem to go after the red leaves first. They like reds and oranges, and will eat red and orange flowers and fruits over green colored things. Figs, they love.

I grate the sweet potatoes and squashes with a cheese grater and feed them raw. Other people slice them or soften them in the microwave and then mash them.

I feed mine about 50% mushrooms, 40% greens/fruit, and 10% meat. I prefer worms, other insects, and lean canned salmon or mackerel in water over any prepared meaty foods or dog/cat kibble.

I hope that gets you started. I probably forgot something, and I am sure someone else will come along to remind me!!! ;)


atklosek said:
thanks a lot kyryah! I really appreciate all the help! me and my girlfirend just took them to the vet and were given some pyrantel to give them to help with the worms.

also if anyone knows how to force feed(the worm medication) a shy tortoise with a syringe it would be greatly appreciated!



You can try mixing it with some canned pumpkin (pure pumpkin, NOT pie filling) or baby food squash. I am surprised the vet did not help you with this, as force feeding a tortoise should not be done by someone inexperienced.
 

atklosek

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wow thanks a lot for all the info! i will get pictures up of the two of them as soon as possible. we figured out that both of them are female due to their small tails and the plastron was completely flat. as for the tank right now i have an old bookcase layed down on its back thats reinforced with plywood on the bottom. we have the shelves taken out but one that contains a hinged door on it so it provides a good area for them to go to be hidden if they want. at the moment we just have newspaper layed down for bedding because i didn't want to commit to any sort of bedding before i knew what was best. i will also get pictures of this up as soon as possible cause it might be a little hard to imagine but its 28 inches wide and about 54 inches long including the covered area.

the reason that the vet didnt help us with it is because they dont specialize in exotic animals. only one of the workers there had knowledge of turtles/tortoises. She was the one that helped us and made the mixture but wasnt one of the head peoples o i dont think she wanted to do anything with the actual animal. the nearest reptile specialist is about an hour and a half away from me so itll take some time to get there.

i noticed that you are from michigan! i am too! but im all the way up in the UP over in Houghton/Hancock and that vet is down at Marquette...
 

atklosek

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PICS ARE HERE
first off we have the shy one(still no name, ideas are welcome) she is also the one that has worms
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next up we have the rowdy one!(also no name)
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thats all the pictures i have now. im going to get some of the tank tomorrow when i have actual daylight and some bedding for it that isnt newspaper so that it looks nice lol
 

Jacqui

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I am glad you have these two. They overall do not look in bad shape. Are they eating for you?
 

Kristina

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They are so little, lol. Sexing at that size may not be 100% accurate, they do not have a fully developed hinge yet, and I would guess that they are between 2 and 2 1/2 years old. The hinge develops at around 3 years of age. Even the plastrons in older females can go slightly concave, so the best method of sexing is the tail. My males have tails that are almost as large as their back legs.

Yup, I am in Michigan :) I am located just south of Traverse City in the lower peninsula, but north enough to be in no man's land as well.

The size of your enclosure should be perfectly fine long term, in the very least for several years. Since it has lower sides and will be more open to humidity escaping, I suggest using top soil covered with a mix of cypress mulch, coconut coir and leaf litter, and using some real plants as well. Daily misting will certainly help as well. One of the benefits to Michigan is the humidity - however, it does get awfully dry in the winter. The hide are you described sounds great, I would just fill it loosely with some leaf litter and keep it damp.
 

Floof

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Have you lined the inside of the bookcase with a shower curtain or tarp or anything of that sort? Without something to protect the wood, that bookcase will crumble to nothing in no time under the humidity Hingebacks need.

Thank goodness someone got them who actually cares about doing the best by them! It's way too common for people to get a reptile, throw it in an aquarium, and call it good... I'm so, so glad this pair didn't have to be subjected to that post-pet store life. Best of luck with your new torties!!!
 

Kristina

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See, I told you I would forget something... Good catch, Taylor!

I agree you need to line the book case, a shower curtain liner would be plenty big enough, and more waterproof than most tarps (and cheaper too :) )
 

atklosek

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we got one of them to eat some baby food and a mushroom but the other one is still being really shy.

also we did line the whole bookcase with a plastic sheeting that you would use for insulation on windows and any sort of construction work.

me and my girlfriend are going to go looking to find some mulch today but since we dont have a lowes or home depot up here we need to go check out a few local places and hope for the best.
 

Jacqui

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Try placing the food dish right next to the hide, that can help with really shy ones, along with using the ripe yellow or red fruits (such as the muskmelon or papaya), mushrooms and some really like the earthworms. Do you know what the store was feeding?

Also try misting the cage just before feeding. Most feeding seems to be done early in the morning or toward evening time, so try that too?

Do you have lights on them? They tend to not like the lights so much and do fine with just normal room lighting.
 
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