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What's "Occasional"?

Discussion in 'Tortoise Diet and Food' started by Josh Gibbs, Jun 29, 2017.

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  1. Josh Gibbs

    Josh Gibbs New Member

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    Hi all - first actual question post... I have looked around to try and find some specifics, but thought I'd just try and ask. Of course everyone has their own practices, so I'm hoping someone can chime in on my specific case.

    I've been reading through lots of pages online and posts on here about a good diet for my 13 yr old Sulcata I just adopted. I've had him about 2 weeks now, but want to make sure I've got his diet nailed down for the long run. I get that the main staple should be grasses and weeds high in fiber, but one thing I've noticed about everywhere I read are the "occasional foods" (which seem to differ a lot). I guess each plant/food would be different, but I'm trying to figure out just how often I should be feeding some of these occasional foods. Couple times a week, once a week, once a month, etc...

    So far, I've been feeding him a main staple of weeds I've got around the yard, here in San Diego county. It's mostly sow thistle, dandelion, spurge (or purslane), bindweed, bermuda grass, black mustard, prickly lettuce. I also give him some rose bush leaves, hibiscus leaves (and flowers), aloe leaves, agave attenuata leaves and flowers, and some st augustine grass I got a flat of from a box store (I wash first). Are all these ok as a staple?

    [In the 2 weeks I've had him] Occasionally, I've given him some kale and mazuri maybe 2-3 a week. Some small carrots 1x a week. I gave him a slice of watermelon once (I know this is a rare treat). A rose flower once or twice. I also have what I think is a Trichocereus pachanoi cactus that I've sliced off the spines and given him a couple times. I was given a spineless prickly pear cutting I'm trying to grow as well.

    I guess I'm just asking if my staple items are ok for every day and if I should add or eliminate some. Same with the occasionals... I can always purchase greens from stores if I should be adding any.

    Would anyone mind sharing their overall diets the feed? Thanks so much.

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  2. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I think the bind weed is bad. I wouldn't feed that.

    I've fed organ pipe cactus with the spines cut off for years, but I don't know about your species. Some cactus species are toxic.

    Grass bought in a flat is likely to be full of all sorts of chemicals to keep it pretty and pest free. I would't use that. Washing it does nothing to remove systemic pesticides. Either grow your own from safe seeds, or you can use the wheat grass plots form the pet or grocery store. Get seeds here:
    https://www.groworganic.com/premium-horse-pasture-mix-irrigation.html

    Grass should be the primary food item for an adult sulcata. I've heard anywhere from 50-90%, but those numbers are just made up guesses as no actual studies have ever been done to discover the optimal percentage. I'm fairly confident, based on experience, that the main thing they eat should be grass or grass hay. I prefer bermuda grass hay or orchard grass hay, but I also grow lots of real grass too. The hay makes life easy. You just leave a flake of it sitting somewhere dry and the tortoise can munch a will. Really, you don't have to feed anything else except the hay. They can survive just fine on it. But c'mon, who doesn't want to feed lots of weeds and cactus pads to their tortoise too? I use the grass hay as a main staple, and then just feed them all this other stuff we've been talking about when I get around to it.

    The term "occasional" will have different meanings for different people, and different foods too. In most cases, it is not critical. For example: If you feed some kale once a month or three times a week, I think you'd be covered under the definition of "occasional" either way, and either extreme would be fine for the tortoise. I would feed carrots or melon less often due to the sugar content. Occasional opuntia pads, I would feed more often.
  3. Josh Gibbs

    Josh Gibbs New Member

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    Thanks much for your reply Tom. I'm not even 100% sure on some of those weeds - I just looked up online common weeds and those looked like what I have. Luckily, there was just a tiny bit of what I think was Bindweed in his pen that he maybe got to once. So, that makes me feel a little better. I'll make sure to not feed him any I may find around the yard.

    I did get some grass seeds that I'm trying to grow, so thanks for that. I found some other seed mixes on this forum I'll likely buy (or what you linked) and see how that works. The grass from the store flat I only fed once and it wasn't even a handful, so again, hopefully it won't be too bad a mistake!

    I forgot to mention previously that I did buy a bail of green Orchard Grass Hay, but he doesn't seem to touch it. Maybe I'll try chopping it up and mixing it in with the rest next time, to get him going on it. I've thrown a few handfuls of it in his pen and it doesn't seem to ever get touched. Which sucks because I have a whole bail of it! Do you have any links or suggestions on what hay you get and where? We have a local feed store where I got mine, and they had some other varieties.

    Thanks again for the reply!
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