Zoo diet

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jobeanator

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I thought id share this with everyone, im currently interning at a zoo near me and working with the reptiles and amphibians and i wanted to show what we feed the radiated tortoises at the zoo. could this diet be implemented to leopards, sulcatas stars, etc? The radiated tortoises seem to love it, and im thinking of copying what they feed the radiated tortoises to my tortoises. Would this be good for most species? let me know what everyone thinks.
-joby

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ewam

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It does have very good types of greens in there for tortoises but I'm not sure about some such as turnips.
 

GBtortoises

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That is their entire diet? In my opinion it's not a very good one in fact just the opposite! It contains alot of foods that are high in protein and oxalics. Two things that have either been proven or suspected to not be good for tortoises on a regular basis in high quantities. I've never been very impressed with the growth of tortoises that I have seen in zoos. Most I've seen that were raised at a zoo are pyramided and poorly hydrated.
 

Kristina

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The listed ingredients ARE the "Herp Herb."

Also, turnip greens are fine.

I do agree that as a regular diet, it is a poor one. I just can't imagine feeding the same things day after day after, and the starch and sugars in the yams are high, as are the oxalates in the broccoli, kale, carrots, and quite a few other things.

Also, "cut off all stalks and discard from greens?" Stalks are an important part of my tortoises diet. It makes them work at eating and keeps their necks and jaws strong and their beaks trimmed.
 

jobeanator

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when preparing it, we always cuts the stalks off, and i didnt understand why to be honest. The radiated tortoies seemed to enjoy it when i had forgetten to do it. I had reccomended just getting the fresh weeds from outside and such but they seemed to poo-poo the idea. Mazuri was a idea i threw around also .
 

Madkins007

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ewam said:
It does have very good types of greens in there for tortoises but I'm not sure about some such as turnips.

Its turnip GREENS, a good option.

Is the zoo AZA certified? If so, they must register their diet, demonstrate that it is based on sound principles, and follow the plan religiously or risk loosing certification, as I understand the process.

I am fascinated by zoo diets for all animals. In almost every species, well-informed laypeople dislike what is fed, but in the zoo world, they measure success differently than we do in ours and they generally stand by their plans.

Kristina- based on this site (http://oxalicacidinfo.com/), the oxalate levels of some of the things you mentioned are:
- Broccoli- 0-0.19%
- Kale- 0.01-0.02%
- Carrots- 0-0.5%

Parsley is the only high one I see- 0 to 1.7% (The variations in the numbers above reflect the different ways you can measure the oxalate levels.)

The greens and kale (brassicas) are considered goiterinogenic by some people, but there is little evidence that they are a problem for tortoises when fed in a balanced diet. On the other hand, the brassicas are almost always low in oxalates and often have good calcium:phosphorous ratios.

Just for comparison, here is the 'newer' diet for Red-foots at the Philadelphia Zoo:
 116 g of romaine
 77.5 g of escarole
 31 g of banana
 8 g of quartered apples
 ¼ of a hard-boiled egg, and
 2 g(?) of Walkabout Farm's reptile salad supplement
 10-35 g ‘gelatin cake’
(BENTLEY, Adrienne; Toddes, Barbara; and Wright, Kevin, D.V.M “Evolution of Diets for Herbivorous and Omnivorous Reptiles at the Philadelphia Zoo: From Mystery Toward Science” Scientific Advisory Group to the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, 1997. )

And the San Diego Zoo:
"Tortoise diets at the zoo consist of chopped oranges, bananas, apples, sweet potatoes, carrots, hard-boiled eggs, lettuce, kale and parsley in amounts that can be eaten by the six animals in 20 minutes. They are fed every Monday and Thursday. The ‘salad’ is supplemented with powdered Pervinal and bone meal, and on Thursday feline diet is added. Newborn mice are occasionally given and are readily devoured."
(DAVIS, Sam, “Husbandry and breeding of the Red-footed tortoise, Geochelone carbonaria, at the National Zoological Park, Washington.” International Zoo Yearbook, 19: 50-53. 1979)
 

jobeanator

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i still get somewhat confused on which is a good staple diet for tortoises... can spring mix be a staple or should that be mixed with some veggies, and weeds i collect outside, or also incorperate mazuri? ive heard some much different views on diet even from the keepers at the zoo i talk to.

oh and yes mark the zoo is AZA accredited. Im still trying to learn what is the "perfect" diet is for a tortoise is
 

Kristina

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Madkins007 said:
Kristina- based on this site (http://oxalicacidinfo.com/), the oxalate levels of some of the things you mentioned are:
- Broccoli- 0-0.19%
- Kale- 0.01-0.02%
- Carrots- 0-0.5%

Mark, you are right and I stand corrected. I said oxalic acid but meant CA: P ratio. The broccoli is pretty poor at 0.7:1 and the carrots are only 0.6:1. Not sure where I was going with the kale, lol.
 

jobeanator

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ive also consider reptigreens.com's prepared foods that they offer but it seems quite expensivie. whats everyones views on them?
 

ascott

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I believe that variety/switching it up is also necessary to continue a healthy appetite, as well as not good to feed the same o same o...while there are some things that I will feed more than others I try to switch up from time to time :D IMHO
 

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Jobeanator- I'll make you a deal... I'll tell you the PERFECT TORTOISE diet when you tell me the PERFECT HUMAN diet. Heck, I'll settle for the PERFECT CAT or DOG diet.

The problem is that everything is a trade off. Foods high in calcium block iron, which you need. This stuff is high in these good things, but has this bad aspect. This stuff is great if you get it from the wild, and is not so hot from the grocery store.

How about the issues of local availability. The guys in places like Florida and California have all kinds of great stuff growing wild in ditches for their torts. We rarely get figs, escarole, or cactus pads here.

Then there is the problem of grain-based foods. Not many animals are really evolved to eat grains and they take a lot of processing to release the nutrients- while simultaneously blocking the toxins they have to protect themselves. Humans can do this by processing the grains in various ways. In theory, tortoises should be fine on processed grains as well, but lots of keepers and anecdotal evidence say otherwise (but on the other hand, several studies seem to support the idea.)
 

jobeanator

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i try to get most wild foods and grasses for my tortoises, but i mostly rely on spring mix and other greens for the store which sometimes i dont think is the best option, but wild weeds and such are not here long in new york once it starts getting cold. Is spring mix a alright staple diet for my tortoises all the time or no?
 

Madkins007

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Just my 2 cents here, OK? I would say 'no'. Some of the lettuces in spring mix are great, but most are rather nutritionally bland. I use it a lot, as I said, boosted with fiber, calcium and vitamins but if I had better choices, I would prefer to use things like grape leaves, mulberry leaves, wild plants, cacti, fungi, etc.
 

GBtortoises

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I agree with Mark that spring mix is not a good staple. I personally believe that there should not be a "staple". I feed my tortoises a huge variety of foods all the time. Never just two or three items. I live in central New York state and while it's true our summers are short, wild weeds can be found in abundance from mid April all the way through early October. At least until we get a couple of heavy frosts. Mine are currently still being fed solely weeds and we're almost into October. We here in New York State have alot of excellent tortoise foods growing wild too. The time and effort has to be made to go pick them though. Every two to three days I spend about an hour to hour and half picking the equivalent of two 33 gallon trash bags full of weeds in various locations in my area. It's work.


"I am fascinated by zoo diets for all animals. In almost every species, well-informed laypeople dislike what is fed, but in the zoo world, they measure success differently than we do in ours and they generally stand by their plans."

Mark I take exception to the above statement. Many of those same zoos have pyramided and disfigured tortoises too. I've seen them in person in several zoos across the U.S. Many of those same zoos for years were feeding their tortoises a base diet of high protein primate food biscuits softened in water thrown on top of some hay or lettuce. Some of those same zoos have rarely ever had any captive breeding programs or even had "accidental" reproduction take place. Not all zoos fit into this catergory, but unfortunately many of them do.
Yet, many "laypeople" have for decades, been sucessfully keeping, raising and reproducing tortoises, some very rare, for generations. The majority of which are representative cosmetically and in health to their wild counterparts.

Frankly, I am fascinated that most zoos still consider themselves the "experts" on something that the majority of them have failed so miserably at. Zoos are a great place to see big animals from the plains and cute furry animals that make you "aww", the ones that sell tickets at the gates. But not so much their reptiles.
 

Madkins007

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GB- you may notice that at no point in the bit you cut and pasted did I mention that I think zoos do a good job of raising animals or that I would recommend the diets.

I admit I was trying to walk a line. I support zoos and their general missions, but I also know that they are, at best, imperfect, and can actually be quite bad- and still be AZA certified. I was hoping to avoid a zoo-bashing direction in the thread.

I also agree with your comments overall. I cannot think of the last time I have seen a smooth Sulcata or Red-foot at a zoo.
 
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