Anonymous:

I’m a bit concerned because my tortoise doesn’t seem to be eating. His mate recently passed away, so I was worried that he’s too depressed without her, but honestly, he seems really happy. He’s running around, playing, just not eating. I give him fresh pellets every day and have offered him treats, but he won’t take anything. His weight hasn’t gone down and he’s in good health. Should I be worried?

Well first I should remind you and everyone that I’m not a vet or licensed in anything other than really loving tortoises and turtles … oh and being owned by a fantastic Russian Tortoise.  I’ll try and bold the important parts of this response since I’m REALLY wordy most of the time. hah. #sorry

Now that we have that out of the way, I can tell you one thing right off the bat… JUST SAY NO TO PELLETS! I don’t know what type of tortoise you have (feel free to let me know and I can direct you to some links with good info!) but I do know that pellets aren’t the proper diet for ANY tortoise. yes, the pets stores sell them but I promise that doesn’t mean they’re good for your tortoise. If you have a russian tortoise, for example, they eat lots of greens and only greens, no protein and nothing that has a sugar content (even though they loooooove apples and tomatos.. that should only be a rare treat). 

The other thing I’ve learned throughout my reading is that they are, for the most part, solitary animals. They are used to being on their own and the loss of a mate, from what we know, isn’t detrimental to their health. They are pretty used to having lots of mates. A lot of new research is coming out about play behavior and intelligence in turtles and tortoises, as their hasn’t been much done in that vein.  So, that being said, I’d guess your little guy isn’t too depressed at the loss. We definitely don’t know that for sure but, unlike animals known for monogamous companionship, the circle of life has taught him to move on. 

The other thing to note, and I’m not sure where you are anon but I’m in MA and its cold and gross and dark, is that our shelled friends are pretty tuned to the seasons/weather. This time of year they slow down, eat less, and are less active much of the time. Its their internal clock nagging them since in the wild they’d likely be hibernating at this point. For an indoor tort that you aren’t hibernatig, make sure temperatures are steady (and appropriate for the type of tort), they get a good soak every couple days, and keep feeding them GOOD food.. not pellets. 

you’re already on the ball with a lot. You know his weight hasn’t changed, he’s active and playing (so fun to watch), and you are aware that he’s eating less.. paying attention to things like this are what will catch things before they go bad. If you update me with the kind of tortoise you have I’ll send you all the info I have. 

Last thing is I’m really sorry to hear you lost a tort recently. Even if your little man is doing ok I can only imagine its awful for you. Hugs and thanks for reading! 

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