TT Winter Feeding Guide

Special area devoted to all aspects of feeding tortoises and turtles.

Re: TT Winter Feeding Guide

Postby Stuart » Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:46 pm

dandelion wrote:Hi Everyone,
First year overwintering my adult hermanns due to her recovering from an op,and she was eating very well for the first few months. Now days go by with her ignoring her food and trampling it through the substrate.
She is very active and walks round and round in circles which is quite stressful to see as I feel she wants to get out or is bored. In fact, because of this her lighting and heating is often switched off early to prevent this behaviour and let her settle and save energy. Her table is large but not much point putting plants etc in as she is very destructive [aren't they all?!!
She is regularly bathed.
it has been very hard to get a varied diet as nothing is growing in the garden this time of year so ive had to rely on mixed salad, [lambs lettuce, rocket, mizuna leaf, baby red leaf, frisee, radichio, watercress, etc.]
Also offered is cucumber, pepper [she doesn't like] and the odd piece of fruit. Nutrobal is sprinkled on it all as she ignores cuttlefish.
Ive ordered pre alpin fibre food as I understand fibre is important in their diet [and you mentioned Andy, that it should help clear up the bad faeces smell she has.]
I dont know if she'll eat it. Will it be best offered dry? Does soaking it defeat the object?!!
Ive also noticed that she passes urine and faeces much less often than in the summer.
After reading on your site about fibre,that tortoises fed on salads often have worms, I hope it isnt that.
She was last wormed end of 2012 as they dont like routinely worming them now.
In the same article on fibre, it states that wild tortoises ingest large amounts of seeds.
Is this advised and if so, which ones should be offered?
Very much looking forward to your reply and any solutions.

I'm currently overwintering a sub-optimal mature hermanns (who would normally be hibernated) along with her hatchlings from the last three years (who haven't yet hibernated).

How much space does yours have? Light levels? Background heat and basking area temperatures?
In general I'd have thought turning off her lighting and heating early might be counter-productive. You need to replicate late spring/ summer temperature and light levels so that the tortoise is active, and is then likely to eat.
No good keeping them on "tick-over" - that way disaster lies.

Soaking pre-alpin doesn't necessarily defeat the object, if at least one of the objectives is to provide a wider range of more fibrous and more natural foodstuffs until our own native weeds come through. Meanwhile mixed salad such as that in "Florette Crispy" (others are available , but watch out for spinach in other commercial bags, or you can mix your own)is fine. You could add pre-alpin to that, or try feeding it on its own. Fortunately mine take it dry, which replicates the kind of high summer natural diet Mediterranean tortoises would experience. As for seeds, I don't provide those as such - There might be grass or other seeds in pre-alpin.

I note you're offering some fruit, including peppers and cucumber. Cucumber is mostly water, and a good way of getting the Nutrobal in...good that she doesn't like peppers, as she probably shouldn't have it, nor any other fruit. We generally say that fruit is a no-no.

(I see that Andy has replied as I was typing this)
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Re: TT Winter Feeding Guide

Postby Kaarina.rantala » Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:27 am

Andy is, as always, right in emphasizing the fibre content of food. There is a separate thread about drying your own food for tortoises

There Andy suggests a seemingly "little", but actually astronomical, improvement to feeding your tortoise in winter. Instead of shop-bought salads you can feed summer food in dried form, which the tortoises consume in the wild as well. And they seem to love dried weeds! Testudo Pre-Alpin is pretty much the same but expensive, whereas you can collect and dry weeds for wintertime use with minimal cost. My tortoise had black, shiny and smelly faeces as we got him. As his diet moved towards fresh and dried weeds and plants found in his tortoise table, that changed into green, dry, odorless firbrous faeces.

And Stuart (thanks for chiming in!!) is absolutely correct in saying that if you want your tortoise to keep awake, keep the lights and heat up! I am keeping my tortoise awake because it is a juvenile who moved in with us in the autumn. He has a full day of bright lights, heat lamps on and in general enough hullabaloo to keep active (daily soaks, for example). We even take him for a stroll in natural sun when that miracle appears (I live in Finland and days are very short here in winter).

I am ashamed I did not come to think about physical problems causing the running. But then again, I am not pretending to be anything but a rookie :D But apart from bladder stones and other serious, I would still urge you to look at the setup as Stuart suggests. The stress may be caused by physical discomfort, but "psychological" unease is another possible culprit.Tortoises have a strong natural tendency to hide and keep close to a "safe" hiding spot, so keeping them in too open a space may also cause the running. For example, I sometimes took my tortoise out of his seemingly small tortoise table to give him the possibility to strech his legs in the living room. The only thing he did was run like a speed train under the curtains in the corner. That much for stretching legs in the open :oops:
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Re: TT Winter Feeding Guide

Postby Fintenboys » Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:10 pm

Hello, where can I find a clear, detailed and trusted list of foods/vegetables that you can buy at a supermarket that are suitable for spur thighed tortoises?



Tortoise Trust wrote:Just to give an example of some of the info we release to E-Newsletter subscribers, this is a recent article on Winter Feeding:

The previous one dealt with hibernation frost dangers.

From now on, we'll try to get an E-Newsletter out every month. This is completely free, you do not even have to be a TT member.

For more details, see:

We have some interesting stuff coming up in that...

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Re: TT Winter Feeding Guide

Postby karen davidson » Sun Mar 20, 2016 10:23 pm

Don't have access to flowers at the moment My Tom is about 30 is lbs and approx 11 yrs old were in Ontario Canada also I didn't see any mention of hay is it not supposed to be a regular part of their diet? Do you have a feeding chart for sulcattas specifically ? Thx karen
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Re: TT Winter Feeding Guide

Postby Tortoise Trust » Wed Mar 23, 2016 12:19 pm

The Winter Feeding Guide is aimed at Mediterranean tortoises.

Yes, hay is relevant to G. sulcata.
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