What to Feed? Need variety.

tortol

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Hello, I'm Audrey and I don't know what I should feed my Russian tortoise Penny. I've been feeding her the same thing for awhile now and her energy level seems to have lowered. I think this is a problem in her diet. Are there any other options for food for her, if so please tell me.

Thank you! :)
 

Tom

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How are you heating and lighting your tortoise? What are your four temperatures? Warm side, cool side, basking area and overnight low? Any UV? What type?
 

tortol

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How are you heating and lighting your tortoise? What are your four temperatures? Warm side, cool side, basking area and overnight low? Any UV? What type?
I don't really know what her UV light is or her night time low temperature is right now, but I'll look into it and change them to what they should be. What temperature do you recommend for her enclosure? Any product ideas?
 

tortol

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Annndd, what are you currently feeding Penny?
Right now I've been feeding her a mix of Romaine lettuce leafs and Kale, but she doesn't seem to eat the Kale or even acknowledge it as a food.
I was also think of carrot tops and I have a Hibiscus Plant but its not blooming currently.
P.s. I have a lot of dandelion weeds in my yard but I don't know what part of the plant to feed her??
 

Cowboy_Ken

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What temperature do you recommend for her enclosure? Any product ideas?
Go to the "species specific" section of the forum and look up the russian tortoises care sheet information post. It's a the top of the page and will likely answer questions you didn't even realize you had, as well as providing lots of great, current, up-to-date care information for helping you, to help your russian live a long and healthy life.
From there you can develop some solid questions about things that might be confusing to you. We have many russian tortoise keepers and breeders here that are all happy to help. Soon, you will be helping new owners and answering their questions yourself. It's very self-satisfying and a very needed service to all. Enjoy the tortoise ride!
 

Cowboy_Ken

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I have a Hibiscus Plant but its not blooming currently.
P.s. I have a lot of dandelion weeds in my yard but I don't know what part of the plant to feed her??
ONLY FEED WILD COLLECTED PLANTS FROM AREAS YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY SURE DO NOT HAVE FERTILIZERS, PESTICIDES, OR ANY HERBICIDES APLIED TO THEM OR THE AREA. Tortoises are very sensitive to these types of chemicals and even the organic or "natural" varieties can make your tortoise seriously ill or cause early death!!!!!
Hibiscus plant is fully edible, leaves and blooms are relished. Dandelions are the bane of many gardeners and lawn keepers, but are a wonderful food source for a tortoise. Flowers, stems, and leaves. Plantain, both broad and narrow leaf verities are a favorite as well. Mallow, with its attractive purplish flowers are hard to turndown for a tortoise and the leaves are favored as well. Most of the broadleaf weeds are great to use as free food for your russian tortoise. You should be able to feed a wide variety of plants without ever going to the store. Remember, it's your job to make sure you only feed from "clean" areas!!
 

missjmg19

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ONLY FEED WILD COLLECTED PLANTS FROM AREAS YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY SURE DO NOT HAVE FERTILIZERS, PESTICIDES, OR ANY HERBICIDES APLIED TO THEM OR THE AREA. Tortoises are very sensitive to these types of chemicals and even the organic or "natural" varieties can make your tortoise seriously ill or cause early death!!!!!
Hibiscus plant is fully edible, leaves and blooms are relished. Dandelions are the bane of many gardeners and lawn keepers, but are a wonderful food source for a tortoise. Flowers, stems, and leaves. Plantain, both broad and narrow leaf verities are a favorite as well. Mallow, with its attractive purplish flowers are hard to turndown for a tortoise and the leaves are favored as well. Most of the broadleaf weeds are great to use as free food for your russian tortoise. You should be able to feed a wide variety of plants without ever going to the store. Remember, it's your job to make sure you only feed from "clean" areas!!


If you are unsure as to whether an outdoor plant is safe (ie. free from pesticides and stuff), can you wash it and then feed to russian tortoise?
 

JoesMum

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Your tort's diet should be leafy greens.

It cannot digest sugars properly - it causes kidney and digestive problems - so fruit, bell pepper, carrot and tomato should only be fed very sparingly and very occasionally.

Make a list of the plants, trees and bushes growing round you and those you can buy in your grocery store and look them up on the Tortoise Table Plant Database for suitability to feed.
http://thetortoisetable.org.uk/site/plant_database_14.asp

Here's a list of suitable greens that may also help

Look them up on The Tortoise Table Plant Database if you're not sure what they look like.
http://thetortoisetable.org.uk/site/plant_database_14.asp

Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Geraniums
Gazanias
Lavatera
Pansies
Petunias
Hostas
Honeysuckle
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

Weeds:
There are soooooooo many...
Dandelion
Mallow
Filaree
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Nettles
Trefoil
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Clovers
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed
Hawksbit
Hensbit
Hawksbeard
 

JoesMum

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You commented on lighting/temperatures so here's a lighting summary:

Your tort needs:

1. A basking lamp
This must hang vertically, not at an angle. Basking is essential to raise your tortoise's core temperature so it can digest food.

2. UVB light
Read the instructions for the source to see how close to the substrate it must be. UVB is essential so your tort can process dietary calcium and have healthy bones and shell.

Both 1 and 2 are available from the sun for those able to live outside.

UVB does not pass through glass or perspex(plexiglass) - light must be direct to be effective not through a window. Mesh screening can also interfere with UVB.

3. A minimum overnight temperature (see the care sheet for your species) and complete darkness at night to sleep.


Notes

(a) A Mercury Vapor Bulb (MVB) provides combined UVB and Basking. Alternatively you can use 2 bulbs: a tube UVB and a reflector bulb for basking (a household reflector - not low energy or halogen - from a hardware store will do the job; it's the wattage that counts)

(b) Ignore any references to UVA you may read - it's misleading marketing speak.

(c) Compact coil UVB harms tortoise eyes and must not be used.

(d) Basking and UVB should be on a timer so the light(s) are on for 12 hours a day. Temperature under the basking is regulated by its height above the substrate.

(e) Overnight, depending on your home, you may need additional heat. You get this from a CHE (Ceramic Heat Emitter) which must be on a thermostat.

(f) Torts have outstanding colour vision and love red and purple food. Coloured heat lamps colour tank decor and torts don't always apply intelligence to what they eat, resulting them in eating tank decor. Coloured bulbs should not be used.


Measurements

There are 4 important temperatures that you must know for an indoor enclosure.
- Directly under the basking lamp
- Warm side
- Cool side
- Overnight Minimum

You will need digital thermometers for accuracy.

A temperature gun thermometer (inexpensive from Amazon) measures temperature accurately in specific places like directly under the basking lamp.

A min/max thermometer so you know the min/max temperatures in your home by day and night.

You should also get a good digital probe hygrometer to measure humidity.

Thermometers and hygrometer that stick to the side of the enclosure tend to be less accurate.
 

RosemaryDW

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If you are unsure as to whether an outdoor plant is safe (ie. free from pesticides and stuff), can you wash it and then feed to russian tortoise?

Some pesticides (these kill bugs) and herbicides (these kill plants) are long lasting and can remain in or on the plant for weeks, perhaps months. Not all are like this but we can't always know what a plant has been sprayed with or when. In these cases, better safe than sorry. I do rinse my weeds but it's because they are dirty!

Look for sad looking weeds. :) Unless you live in a damp climate or it's spring, they won't be always be beautiful and green. Instead, these weeds will have some brown spots and holes, from sun damage and being chewed on by bugs. They usually won't be in a city park, next to neatly mowed grass or perfectly maintained flower gardens. Instead they mught be found in an empty field or near a walking path. (I found plenty in my yard, once I started looking!)

Don't worry if you don't find a spot or many weeds right away. Keep your eyes open; take pictures with your phone so you can look them up at home; do some reading here. Over time you will learn what to look for. For now, just mix things up as best you can and be patient. What your tortoise ignores today, she may sample tomorrow.

You can feed her the entire dandelion plant, leaves and flowers.
 

missjmg19

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Some pesticides (these kill bugs) and herbicides (these kill plants) are long lasting and can remain in or on the plant for weeks, perhaps months. Not all are like this but we can't always know what a plant has been sprayed with or when. In these cases, better safe than sorry. I do rinse my weeds but it's because they are dirty!

Look for sad looking weeds. :) Unless you live in a damp climate or it's spring, they won't be always be beautiful and green. Instead, these weeds will have some brown spots and holes, from sun damage and being chewed on by bugs. They usually won't be in a city park, next to neatly mowed grass or perfectly maintained flower gardens. Instead they mught be found in an empty field or near a walking path. (I found plenty in my yard, once I started looking!)

Don't worry if you don't find a spot or many weeds right away. Keep your eyes open; take pictures with your phone so you can look them up at home; do some reading here. Over time you will learn what to look for. For now, just mix things up as best you can and be patient. What your tortoise ignores today, she may sample tomorrow.

You can feed her the entire dandelion plant, leaves and flowers.


Thanks so much! We've discovered that our little guy definitely does like dandelions! Thankfully, our grocery store even sells it so we'll have access come winter time. I have two hibiscus plants in pots, which I purchased at local nursery. Was wondering if washing them would make them safe, but I guess probably not.
 

RosemaryDW

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I have two hibiscus plants in pots, which I purchased at local nursery. Was wondering if washing them would make them safe, but I guess probably not.

They'll be fine eventually.

A good thing to plant in a pot now would be any kind of squash. They are fast to grow and it doesn't matter if it's not the most perfect plant; your Russian can't eat the whole thing. Since the nursery plant is sold for human consumption, the plant should be safe.
 

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