Wisdom From The Experts Pt 4 & 5 Two Turtle and Tort experts, two related pieces of wisdom to share about turtle and tortoise anatomy! Lori Neuman-Lee, PhD (@CheloniaGirl ), prof at Utah State University, says – “I wish people knew that turtles can’t come out of their shells…because their shells are part of their...
Words of Wisdom from the Experts Pt 3- “I wish people knew how smart turtles are. They learn quickly where their food comes from; if from a human then they learn that specific person” Is what Michelle Kelly (@MichelleKellyCW), public speaker about Reptiles and amphibians, wishes more people knew about turtles and tortoises. Those of...
Words of wisdom from the experts pt 2 Check out this INCREDIBLE photo by Amanda Hipps, @biophilamanda, one of the experts who responded to our #worldturtleday question. Amanda studies the animals that live in gopher tortoise burrows. In case you didn’t know, gopher tortoise burrows are home to hundreds of other animals. Their status as endangered directly...
This year, in honor of #WorldTurtleDay, we asked herpetologists, biologists, rescues, and rehabbers, to tell us what they wish more people knew about Turtles and Tortoises. Starting today we’ll be sharing a few responses a day! Let’s learn more about the animals we love from people who have devoted their lives to protecting them. Biologist...
Awesome! My humom and fellow red eared slider siblings are also located in the Boston area. We must unite against the snow!
YES! Hello Neighbor and fellow snow enduring shell! Always happy to meet shells in our area! You have a good plan. I’ve been trying to eat like its spring to make the snow go away and I thought it was working… but nope. Maybe if we raise our butts in the air all at the same time?
Humom has a big plan involving tshirts. she thinks if the humans give the snow a parade it will go away. I dunno about that but I know I want sunshine and dandelions and to go back in my garden! How are you faring the weather?
Hi there! Do you have any comments about getting a tort to actually eat hay? I’ve had my little guy for about a year now (He’s about 2yrs) and he refuses to touch hay or grass pellets. I keep these items in front of him just in case he decides today’s the DAY, but no luck. He eats greens and veggies readily, but I know they are supposed to have a drier diet than that (mostly). In that case- I’d like know what veggies are ok to feed him daily….. picky torts..
This is a great question. We battle with this too. One thing that helps me is grinding up the hay in a coffee grinder (not one you use for coffee!!) and then sprinkle it on the greens. if they’re a little wet (spritz them with water) it’ll stick. I’ll do this to some of the radicchio (her favorite… to a fault hah). This will sometimes work. I’ve read on some lists that Russian tortoises prefer orchard hay to timothy hay.. so I’m in the process of switching things up to see if I can get her to eat more. Unfortunately its a battle of wills. Sometimes you just have to do the parental thing and not give in to those cute faces by giving them the treats they like best (its hard and now I feel I have betrayed the turtpocalypse.. SORRY ZOYA PANTS!).
As far as diet goes I’d stick to the whats listed on that site I posted earlier. (russiantortoise.net) There are a lot of different greens you can try this with. Prickly pear cactus (the pads AND the fruit) is great for tortoises, though its hard to find. some specialty grocery stores have them (they are also known as Nopales). I’ve been able to find the fruit of the prickly pear plant in the produce section of my grocery store lately. It’s usually in the small section of ‘ exotic fruits’. They are oval shape and red if ripe (green if not). Heres a picture, The pads with the fruit on top:
I also allow Zoya to have some apple a couple times a year (the pectin in apples is good for torts but they still have lots of sugar so not often) and a bit of pumpkin on halloween, no more than that. Zoya had parasites when she was younger and even though she was treated (and her fecal exams have been clear every year since) I don’t want to risk giving her sugary foods. The thing to remember is that there is a small number of parasites living in the tortoise tummy. Sugar causes these parasites to “bloom” aka grow, reproduce, take over, and that’s when you get a problem.
Hope this helps! I know some people do fruit but its just too much risk for something that doesn’t do anything good for them. MHO.
Hello! My Russian tortoise is very picky about what she eats and will only eat kale and occasionally a couple bites of zucchini. I’m worried this isn’t enough for her? What else could I try? Thank you!
Hey there! Oh man, Russian Tortoises are definitely stubborn shells. It’s tough to get them to change diets but in the long run it will be SO much better for their health. Tortoises need a highly varied diet of dark leafy greens. Kale is OK but it should be fed every day for sure. I wouldn’t give a Russian tortoise any zucchini… though I have no doubt they think it’s tasty (I like em anyway!).
Switching up your tortoises diet can be frustrating. They are stubborn little shells. It’s why I love them but can drive you nuts when you are trying to get them to do what they need to do (cause I’m not in charge… yes Zoya, I know that) If she refuses to eat any of the new food options, you’ll want to try slowly mixing in some of the new foods and reducing the amount of the other food. Eventually, they’ll give in. Hand feeding can help too but watch out! She’ll get used to it and you’ll be required to hand-feed her all the time.
Sorry to ask a gross questions, but what kind of poo should Russian tortoise keepers be wary of? (I could only find more of what they should have than what they shouldn’t, so I thought I’d ask someone who might know.)
What you don’t want to see is runny poop. It’s much like people, runny poo is a sign that something is up with your tortie’s tummy. A solid poop is a good poop. If its barely staying together, or is liquidy, thats a sign of trouble.
Runny poop can be caused by poor diet. Its important to provide food high in nutrients and high in fiber (see: http://russiantortoise.net/russiantortoisediet.htm). Adding hay to the diet can help too (if your tortie will eat it, which is tough sometimes).
A major culprit is sugar in the diet (which is any sugar… fruits, high-sugar veggies, etc). Sugary diets can activate parasites in your tortoise’s tummy causing a lot of problems (see next point).
Runny, loose poo can be a sign that your tortoise has a lot of parasites in its tummy. This is a common problem with wild caught tortoises (often those acquired at a pet store) but can happen to any tort. It’s not something to ignore, not treating the problem quickly can lead to serious respiratory issues, vitamin deficiencies, and can result in death. If caught early, your vet should be able to treat it pretty easily.
I can’t stress enough that a fecal exam should be done on any new tortoise, and regularly afterwards. It’s not an expensive test and will give you piece of mind for the coming year. Just tell your vet you need one and often times they’ll let you drop off a fresh poo sample when you get one. You’ll get the results in a couple of days and be more secure in your tortoises health and it will be easier to identify if diet is the issue as opposed to parasites.
My friend has a turtle (idk the different kinds of them but possibly a yellow belly slider. we live in central NC) and she is worried about some spots on the underside of the shell. In the picture they seem red/pink and some others look brown. I was wondering if you could help me out so I can tell her. If it helps to submit a picture I will be more than happy to do that. I just want to help her out and I don’t know anything about turtles. Please help? 🙁
Hey there. Well, if unexpected pinkness shows up on a shell my first instinct would be get to a vet ASAP. I don’t have any personal experience with sliders but I do know that pinkness can be a sign of sepsis. That’s an emergency situation and a vet should be seen ASAP.
You are welcome to submit a picture but I am not a vet and know most about tortoises. I can absolutely post it here and share my thoughts, see if anyone else can give you better info… but like I said.. pinkness to me is a scary thing IMHO and I’d go to the vet. better to be safe than sorry if you ask me. Anyone with thoughts please reply!
Hello! Thank you so much for replying about the 2 turtles. I’ll try and grab a good picture, they have little stripey faces :). I have the light and heat set up ok I believe, my main well primary (first) concern is are they even meant to be cohabitating? And the tank he gave me seems to be half water/half dry with sand, which I’m guessing isn’t the right substrate. Their last owner seems negligent or clueless to the point of abuse so I have a vet appointment Monday to see what’s going on.
Hey there! Well I think they are incredibly lucky to have found you. They sound like sliders to me. Did the vet have any info on them? Hope they are doing well. I know there are lots of slider parents here on tumblr that would happily give you info or direct you to resources on diet, housing etc. Share some pics of your new friends if you feel up to it! Way to rescue! 😀
Excuse me while I feel quietly vindicated for telling off my brother for poking at old holes in a box turtle’s shell.
Well I think you should feel vindicated LOUDLY! Poor Boxie! Way to stand up to animal abuse! Its not funny, its cruel, and ignoring things like that is how we end up with people posting facebook videos of themselves killing an endangered tortoise. #notok
I took my Russian to the vet yesterday and among other things that the weird vet said, she suggested feeding our tortoise spinach pasta and egg yolk. I have never seen either of those things suggested for a tortoise to eat…what do you think about that?
Well I’m not a Vet but I think my eyes popped out of my head reading this! There may be some differences on the best weeds, greens, etc to feed your tortoise, but I have never ever encountered a single reputable source that would suggest spinach pasta or egg yolk! Spinach itself is not a great food for your Russian tortoise. Its high in calcium, so tolerable in small amounts, but contains a high amount of Oxalic Acid. That messes with kidneys of the tort and in high amounts can cause kidney stones. Its not terrible, it has a lot of calcium, but it shouldn’t be fed in large amounts. This is where the whole “feed a varied diet” comes in.
Pasta and Egg yolk?! I don’t even know what to say about that. Neither of those are things a tortoise would eat in nature… or in any situation! Russian tortoises are herbivores.. they require very little protein that they should get from the greens they eat (like hibiscus leaves etc). No animal protein should be consumed, they’re vegetarians! Egg whites are animal protein and not natural or recommend from what I read. They include other stuff that messes with your tortoise’s ability to metabolize nutrients.
Its awesome that you are trying to take good care of your tort and getting check ups! I would guess your vet doesn’t specialize in Exotics and specifically not tortoises. You may want to consider finding a new vet that does. Its important to have that number on hand. So glad you asked and clearly you know enough about torts to look out for the not so great information. #HighFive