Tortoise will only hand eat

tortoishell

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When my tortoise was a little gloomy from not being able to go outside (he was also a bit lethargic from low temperatures he's fine now) ) I hand fed him to make sure he was okay, and soon he was up and about and bouncing off the walls. After a while, though, he got used to being hand fed. I now have to give him a piece of lettuce in my hand and then introduce the food bowl in the exact place as I hand feed him. Thus, the bowl is always in a different place. The result is that he doesn't know how to eat alone, as in he doesn't know to crawl to the food bowl. I've been trying to place the food further and further from him but it doesn't work. Some people have told me that if I don't hand feed him for a couple days and let him work up an appetite, he will learn to eat by himself. Is this true? What do you guys think?
 

Speedy-1

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Yes , "some people" are exactly right ! Sounds like you are well on your way to being trained by your tort ! :D Seriously , put his food down , when he gets hungry enough he will eat ! You aren't denying him food , he is to lazy to walk over and eat it ! ;)
 

wellington

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Yes, stop hand feeding him. Be sure his food dish is something flat and easy for him to get into to get the food. Put it where you know he can see it. He will eat before he starves himself.
 

Gillian M

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You needn't worry. Once you tort gets hungry he will eat by himself.

By the way, I've been hand-feeding my beloved tort for years. I do not mind it, well, actually I love it. But there are people who do not have the time to hand-feed their torts; that I'm aware of.
 

tortoishell

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We are about to get more variety in his food (pellets occasionally, greens, dandelion, clover, etc. During the winter, however, it will consist of mostly grocery greens as the dandelion and clover are less readily available.
 

sibi

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How old is your tort? Depending on his age, you may want to introduce the foods he's born to eat, hay. Pet stores have Timothy Hay readily available especially for winter seasons. Fresh green grass is best, but unfortunately, unless you live in a tropical climate, there's no fresh grass in the winter. Also, some of us feed our torts mazuri especially cause winters are hard to find foods for them.

Torts are so smart. If you begin to hand feed them, they'll always want it done everytime. As some already said, if you stop hand feeding him, eventually he will eat on his own before starving.
 

Speedy-1

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We are about to get more variety in his food (pellets occasionally, greens, dandelion, clover, etc. During the winter, however, it will consist of mostly grocery greens as the dandelion and clover are less readily available.
That's why I got Speedy started on hay early . Just chop up a bunch on a plate and soak it , it will soften and sort of rehydrate ! Mix it with some Mazuri and let him at it ! I also give him hay pellets , put them in some water and nuke them in the microwave til they are soft and mix it in with his other food when it cools off ! lots of alternatives to the grocery store !
 
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Maggie Cummings

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You needn't worry. Once you tort gets hungry he will eat by himself.

By the way, I've been hand-feeding my beloved tort for years. I do not mind it, well, actually I love it. But there are people who do not have the time to hand-feed their torts; that I'm aware of.



There are those of us who do have the time to hand feed my 4 Sulcata and 15 box turtles, I'm disabled and retired, however, I have learned from experience that once you teach a tortoise to hand feed he will sooner or later bite someone, you, a toddler maybe or someone else. Not to be mean, but looking for food. My 125 pound Sulcata was looking for strawberries when he bit my hand. It took 7 stitches to close one wound and 8 to hold my finger on. I now have a 2 yr old Sulcata who has bitten me 3 times, drawing blood twice. I had a Russian that some previous keeper had hand fed. He bit me a few times drawing blood. You are making a mistake by doing that. I have a box turtle who bites me thinking I have worms, the only way to get her to let go, I wouldn't say on this forum.
 

tortoishell

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How old is your tort? Depending on his age, you may want to introduce the foods he's born to eat, hay. Pet stores have Timothy Hay readily available especially for winter seasons. Fresh green grass is best, but unfortunately, unless you live in a tropical climate, there's no fresh grass in the winter. Also, some of us feed our torts mazuri especially cause winters are hard to find foods for them.

Torts are so smart. If you begin to hand feed them, they'll always want it done everytime. As some already said, if you stop hand feeding him, eventually he will eat on his own before starving.
The pet store did not give us his hatch date but I believe he is around 3 years old.
 

TammyJ

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The bite is a serious thing, especially if it involves a child, it could take off his hand associating it with food.

I would not hand feed unless I have a very sick tortoise to nurse back to health with treats/medication.
 

tortoishell

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Thanks everyone! He is getting better at eating on his own but he always guilt trips me into giving him a treat by hand. He's not very aggressive so this should be fine.
 

tortoishell

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As on my other post, we have no way to determine whether tortoises have emotions-sorry if I sound snappy, but I get winded up when we judge animals based on nothing.
 

JoesMum

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Tortoises don't know how to "guilt trip". That's a human emotion.
I agree. The human feels guilty. The tortoise knows what it likes and can be very stubborn about trying new things.

If given no option but to eat from a pile or graze then a hungry tortoise will do it.

It will not starve itself deliberately. So there is absolutely no need to feel guilty.

Getting bitten by accident is a side effect of hand-feeding a tortoise that can happen with the friendliest animal. They don't mean to do it, but when it happens it hurts and that beak is sharp!
 
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