Total beginner needing advice

J-Lo

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Joined
Nov 22, 2020
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4
Location (City and/or State)
Kent
Hello all, we got our tortoise last Saturday with a starter set. He’s a baby Herman called Koopa Jafar (my son got to pick the name!). When we got him he weighed 57g but today he only weighs 50g! Should I be worried? I hardly see him eating and he won’t touch the pellets provided by the seller (no matter how wet I make them), but he will eat some Kale if given to him.
We have bathed him every other day and I’ve cleared poo from his enclosure every morning after he wakes. We have a routine that fits in with my son, so the basking lamp comes on at 7am and goes off at 8pm when the heat mat goes on in the bedroom.

Any help or advice you can give would be appreciated.
Is it worth me getting a seed mix to grow our own mix of food for him?
I’ve included pictures of our enclosure for your information but he also has supervised walks on our laminate floor.

E1749AEF-ACCF-47D9-91E7-AFAA40EFF45B.jpeg 698E5F84-9060-429A-8329-183A1BF1B542.jpeg 80AC3BB3-BA24-4EB3-AA55-8CC073DCE9E3.jpeg 55B9046A-2239-4224-8018-1835D16497F9.jpeg 929397E0-4E37-41EB-926A-E558A68A245E.jpeg
 

louieboy!

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I won't lie, it's a bit alarming that your tort has lost so much weight. It seems he doesn't like the pellets from what you said, and since it would be good for your tort to gain that weight back quickly, you'll have to start feeding him grocery greens. Your seed pack is going to take a while to get there, so the grocery greens are your best bet. Spring mix (no spinach), mustard greens, escarole, and only sometimes kale are great options that most torts love. I suggest that you feed about a handful everyday.
Are you using vitamin supplements and calcium supplements?
What temp is your enclosure? How long are you soaking him? The ambient temp should be 80 degrees F, and the basking spot should be 90-95 degrees F. You should be soaking him in warm(!) water for 15 to 20 minutes everyday if he's a baby.
What type of substrate are you using? Are you adding water/misting it to keep the microclimate moist? Moisture is VERY important for the development of a baby tort.
I also don't recommend walks around the floor, as that really stresses torts out. I learned that the hard way.
It also looks like you don't have any sort of hides, which really stresses out torts, babies especially. You can use pots for plants, log half hides, etc. You also need something for enrichment, like rocks to climb on and things to hide in. This is very important as torts can get depressed and stop eating.
 
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Tom

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Hello all, we got our tortoise last Saturday with a starter set. He’s a baby Herman called Koopa Jafar (my son got to pick the name!). When we got him he weighed 57g but today he only weighs 50g! Should I be worried? I hardly see him eating and he won’t touch the pellets provided by the seller (no matter how wet I make them), but he will eat some Kale if given to him.
We have bathed him every other day and I’ve cleared poo from his enclosure every morning after he wakes. We have a routine that fits in with my son, so the basking lamp comes on at 7am and goes off at 8pm when the heat mat goes on in the bedroom.

Any help or advice you can give would be appreciated.
Is it worth me getting a seed mix to grow our own mix of food for him?
I’ve included pictures of our enclosure for your information but he also has supervised walks on our laminate floor.

View attachment 311913 View attachment 311914 View attachment 311915 View attachment 311916 View attachment 311917
Babies should be soaked daily. Hydration is critical for little ones.

They also need warm temps and moderate humidity and it doesn't look like the enclosure they sold you can accomplish that. Heat mats should not be used under small tortoises in indoor habitats.

Here is the current and correct care info for your review. Go through this and see how it differs from what you are offering: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-best-way-to-raise-any-temperate-species-of-tortoise.183131/
 

J-Lo

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Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Kent
We are soaking him for 15-20 mins in Luke-warm water every other day. The temp under the basking lamp is 30c and we have a rock under there for him to climb on. We recently got him a flexi-hide, but my son keeps putting it as a tunnel for Koopa to go to bed through! The substrate is Hemp bedding as the place we bought him from said that was best due to no duct so it won’t irritate the eyes. I will pop out and get some spring mix now and give that a try. We are using reptavite substitute lightly sprinkled on his kale for added vitamins. The pellets are complete diet ones but as I say he won’t touch them (he would have one or two but now turns his nose up when they are offered).
 

Mrs.Jennifer

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The very best thing you can do for your baby is to read the comprehensive care sheet that Tom linked in his response above. It is THE resource for everything you need to know. Ask him any questions or for clarification if necessary.
 

KarenSoCal

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Any help or advice you can give would be appreciated.
Hi, and welcome to the forum! You're at the best place to get the most reliable, up-to-date info there is on your baby.

There is a huge amount of wrong info out in the world that finds its way onto the internet. It's old, outdated, and sometimes harmful to our shelled friends. Sadly, pet stores, some breeders, and even vets either do not or will not keep up with advances. When people get set in their ways, it's very hard to change their viewpoints, even with irrefutable evidence that the new way produces vastly improved results.

Add to that the fact that keepers in England do things differently than we do in the USA, you can see why occasionally there are differences of opinion on what's the best way.

I assure you, on this forum we have keepers, breeders, and scientists who are known and respected worldwide. People who have done side-by-side experiments, and are willing to spend their "free" time advising newbies like you and me, only because they love tortoises.

Please do what you are advised to do here. Think the info over and come back with questions. Study that care sheet that Tom linked for you. You've been asked to soak every day...he needs it. Your setup is not ideal for your baby, and only you can make it so.

Are the pellets you have what the seller was feeding? What kind are they? You want to feed him what he was getting before you, and then you can start adding new foods. You use very tiny amounts of the new food, cut up into small bits so he can't pick them out. As he gets the taste of the new food, he'll eat it and you can slowly use more and not have to cut it so fine.

Torts take a long time to adjust to any kind of change. It's not unusual that he isn't eating yet. He doesn't feel safe, and needs something to hide in/under. A couple of plants in pots would be great! Pothos, spider plants, Boston fern are all good, and safe if he eats some.

Another reason they don't eat is because they are too cold. Try checking the temp in the corner farthest away from the basking light. Check a couple inches above the substrate, at your tort's shell height. Then again at night. I suspect you may be surprised how cool it is. It should be 80°F (27°C).
 

J-Lo

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Nov 22, 2020
Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
Kent
Thank you, I will be soaking him every day from now on and not letting him walk on the floor.

I was worried the food was drying out again too quickly when nearer to the basking lamp but will try moving it closer.

There is a spider plant in there now and we will look for a small Boston fern tomorrow. We are also going to look for a different substrate like it says in the link from Tom.

The pellets are the ones he was being fed by the breeder. I managed to feed him a few mushed up into a paste tonight which is better. But I will be reading the link from Tom very carefully and try to take it all in and keep my tort happy.

I will definitely be back with follow up questions.
 

Yossarian

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Thank you, I will be soaking him every day from now on and not letting him walk on the floor.

I was worried the food was drying out again too quickly when nearer to the basking lamp but will try moving it closer.

There is a spider plant in there now and we will look for a small Boston fern tomorrow. We are also going to look for a different substrate like it says in the link from Tom.

The pellets are the ones he was being fed by the breeder. I managed to feed him a few mushed up into a paste tonight which is better. But I will be reading the link from Tom very carefully and try to take it all in and keep my tort happy.

I will definitely be back with follow up questions.
FYI, at Tesco you can buy a few suitable foods for regular feeding, First is Lambs Lettuce, you can feed as much of it as the tort wants. I alternate in rocket, watercress(careful on this, not too much), pak choy, and of course they like kale as well. Outside, if you can find dandelions they are great, otherwise there is a common plant called plantain that is suitable and seems to grow year round, my tort seems to prefer young leaves. Sainsbury also sell lambs lettuce but in smaller bags I believe. M&S sell a mix called rosa verde mix that is decent also.

The quality of advice you will receive from shops in the UK is pretty poor, even the reptile specialist near me doesnt know squat about torts. Ditch the hemp, it will never hold and release moisture the way you need the substrate too. Coco is ideal, no need to mess with it, if you want something else or additional, orchid bark is ok, but bear in mind, once your tort grows up a bit, if you try to neatly landscape different substrates, the tort will find a way to mix them up whatever you do. The real issue you face is keeping your baby humid enough, baby torts would spend almost all their time in micro-environments that are actually pretty humid even though they live in temperate zones. At the very least you need to make a good humid hide and make sure you keep the substrate under it damp. You can search humid hides but it is basically just using a plastic bucket of some sort with a door cut into it, by damping the substrate under it, and keeping the hide warm, it will stay humid. You may need to get a CHE near the hide
 
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William Lee Kohler

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Oct 23, 2015
Messages
699
Location (City and/or State)
Eugene, OR
I
Hello all, we got our tortoise last Saturday with a starter set. He’s a baby Herman called Koopa Jafar (my son got to pick the name!). When we got him he weighed 57g but today he only weighs 50g! Should I be worried? I hardly see him eating and he won’t touch the pellets provided by the seller (no matter how wet I make them), but he will eat some Kale if given to him.
We have bathed him every other day and I’ve cleared poo from his enclosure every morning after he wakes. We have a routine that fits in with my son, so the basking lamp comes on at 7am and goes off at 8pm when the heat mat goes on in the bedroom.

Any help or advice you can give would be appreciated.
Is it worth me getting a seed mix to grow our own mix of food for him?
I’ve included pictures of our enclosure for your information but he also has supervised walks on our laminate floor.

View attachment 311913 View attachment 311914 View attachment 311915 View attachment 311916 View attachment 311917
Is your tortoises name from(StarGate) SG1 by chance?
 

LauraEade

New Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2019
Messages
2
Location (City and/or State)
UK
FYI, at Tesco you can buy a few suitable foods for regular feeding, First is Lambs Lettuce, you can feed as much of it as the tort wants. I alternate in rocket, watercress(careful on this, not too much), pak choy, and of course they like kale as well. Outside, if you can find dandelions they are great, otherwise there is a common plant called plantain that is suitable and seems to grow year round, my tort seems to prefer young leaves. Sainsbury also sell lambs lettuce but in smaller bags I believe. M&S sell a mix called rosa verde mix that is decent also.

The quality of advice you will receive from shops in the UK is pretty poor, even the reptile specialist near me doesnt know squat about torts. Ditch the hemp, it will never hold and release moisture the way you need the substrate too. Coco is ideal, no need to mess with it, if you want something else or additional, orchid bark is ok, but bear in mind, once your tort grows up a bit, if you try to neatly landscape different substrates, the tort will find a way to mix them up whatever you do. The real issue you face is keeping your baby humid enough, baby torts would spend almost all their time in micro-environments that are actually pretty humid even though they live in temperate zones. At the very least you need to make a good humid hide and make sure you keep the substrate under it damp. You can search humid hides but it is basically just using a plastic bucket of some sort with a door cut into it, by damping the substrate under it, and keeping the hide warm, it will stay humid. You may need to get a CHE near the hide
Hi Yossarian and J-Lo, thanks for this advice, it can sometimes be tricky to follow advice on this forum as a lot of the members are in the US. I have had my tort (Hulk) 18months, and he is the first baby that I have had, all my other ones have been fully grown. They are a lot trickier to care for than you think! I agree with Yossarian, Lambs lettuce is great for them and I give a little pak choi every other dayish... the other thing my tort loves is Pansies... Yossarian, can you please send a link for the coco substrate as I always worry that the one I am looking for might contain chemicals.

Many thanks
 

Yossarian

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
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Joined
Nov 21, 2015
Messages
280
Location (City and/or State)
Wales
Hi Yossarian and J-Lo, thanks for this advice, it can sometimes be tricky to follow advice on this forum as a lot of the members are in the US. I have had my tort (Hulk) 18months, and he is the first baby that I have had, all my other ones have been fully grown. They are a lot trickier to care for than you think! I agree with Yossarian, Lambs lettuce is great for them and I give a little pak choi every other dayish... the other thing my tort loves is Pansies... Yossarian, can you please send a link for the coco substrate as I always worry that the one I am looking for might contain chemicals.

Many thanks
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07CH7VZ6D/?tag=

This is fine, the same brand is sold with pearlite in it, so just make sure you double check that it is pure coco coir. That goes for any brands really, it should always be 100% coco, The bricks are more economical and easier to wet for our purposes tbh, you just need to soak them in a big bucket and they expand and can easily be broken apart.
 

LauraEade

New Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2019
Messages
2
Location (City and/or State)
UK
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07CH7VZ6D/?tag=

This is fine, the same brand is sold with pearlite in it, so just make sure you double check that it is pure coco coir. That goes for any brands really, it should always be 100% coco, The bricks are more economical and easier to wet for our purposes tbh, you just need to soak them in a big bucket and they expand and can easily be broken apart.
Fab, thanks ever so much.
 

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