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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 14-01-2008, 09:58 AM
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Location: Glasgow, Scotland
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Question Horsefield Tortoise

Hi Everyone!

I bought a wee horsfield tortoise a few months back from a local pet shop. I had done a lot of research beforehand and was confident when I bought him that I knew what I was doing. I have found it quite difficult to get reliable info regarding further care of my little toroise, so I'll prob be pestering a lot of you for some information to make sure i'm doing right by the little one

When I bought him he was pretty unwell, unknown to me. Like all my pets I take them for a check at the vet a few days after I buy them to make sure they are ok! However when I took wee humphrey, the vet advised he was pretty sick (he was riddled with worms and had a lung infection). So after some treatment, he is now ok, and developing into some character! :op

However, I have read on this forum that tortoise tables are by far better for Horsefields compared to that of a vivarium. And what concerns me is that I was sold a vivarium when I bought humphrey, and due to the mixed information I got from different sources, I assumed this was ok. Do you guys recommend selling the viv and replacing it with a tortoise table? I really don't want to do anything which would in any way cause harm to him, as I am still learning, so opinions and tips would be greatly appreciated from anyone who has tortoises or who knows a lot about them as I'm still learning

Also, what substrate would be best for him and where can I buy it? I had him on a kinda dirt compound which was made from coconut husk which came with his starter pack, however when i took him for his check up the vet advised this was inadequate as he could eat it or breathe it in, so I have him on wood chip substrate to keep the humidity low. However, he is a burrower by nature so i feel he is missing out cos wood chip is difficult to burrow in. Any suggestions?

Also, I have heard mixed opinions on what to feed these little guys. I know weeds is key but is there any other foods which are particularly good for them?

Sorry for the millions of questions, Just trying to gain as much knowledge about these little creatures as possible

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Old 14-01-2008, 10:04 AM
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personally i'd sell the viv and get a tortoise table either built or made.

in a vivarium humidity can build up very quickly which can lead to RNS(runny nose syndrome) also harder to provide a cool end and thermal gradient. ventilation is also usually lacking.

Substrate should be 60/40 top soil to play sand mix (respectively) just your bog standard top soil (b&q - make sure nothing is added) and children's play sand (again b&q)

Diet is weeds weeds and more weeds..horsfields and other med tortoises aren't adapted to eat fruit (which can upset the gut flora) or the majority of veg. Also alot of vegetables are very high in oxhalic acid which inhibits the absorption of calcium.

the eco-earth (coconut husk) is used for high humidity species so its a good thing u got him/her off that (i use it for my brazilian rainbow boa who needs 75-90% humidity). Wood chips are really no good for a med tortoise,especially not a horsfield as like u said they like to burrow and dig long tunnels.

you won't go far wrong with top soil/play sand mix. he may nibble it a little at first, but it won't do any harm


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Old 11-08-2008, 09:38 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 1
Smile Horsfield Tortoise

I too am buying a horsfield tortoise soon but am having difficulty in finding a tortoise table to buy as I understand that vivariums are not good for horsfields. Does anybody know of any good sites that sell these tables. Also what would be best in terms of heat lamps, lights or anything else that the little fellow might need to make him comfortable. Do I need a day/night dimmer light.

The tortoise I am buying is about seven months old from a pet shop and they are holding him until I get his home set up - I am a complete novice and don't know exactly where to begin - lots of research just seems to complicate things, any help and advice would be appreciated.

As I am buying the little fellow near to hibernating time I am unsure as to how to do this, ie, what weight he should be before hibernating, is there a certain age to hibernate him, when to start feeding him less (I know he should have stopped feeding altogether for 4-6 weeks before hibernation). As we won't have got used to him before hibernation I just want to make sure that I do everything right for him and can't seem to find a site that answers all the simplest of questions.

Any helpful tips and information would be most appreciated.
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Old 11-08-2008, 10:07 PM
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Hi and to RFUK.

The best place to find a range of tortoise tables is on Ebay or you could do what a lot of us do and use the large underbed boxes that Ikea sell or indoor rabbit cages. These are both pretty cheap, easily upgradeable as the tort grows and are made out of plastic so are easy to clean.

As you read in the original post in this thread pet shop torts can come with problems, especially the imports which tend to have heavy parasite loads. It would be advisable for you to have the tort vet checked and treated for parasites as soon as you get him.

The best lights on the market are the combined mercury vapour bulbs, I use a Megaray 100w bulb. The preferred substrate for horsfields, who love to burrow and dig, is a mix of topsoil (70%) and playsand (30%). You'll need a shallow container for water which is big enough for the tort to get into and a piece of slate for feeding off. A hide may or may not be used be a horsfield.

As for hibernation, well it's safe to hibernate as long as the tortoise has put on a good amount of weight over the summer and is fit and well. As you're getting your tort so late in the summer it may be worth you overwintering it this year and hibernating next year when you are sure it is fit, healthy and putting on weight.

There's a thread here which gives a lot of links to articles on housing, feeding and general husbandry:

Good luck with your new tort. If you have any more questions we'll be pleased to help if we can.
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Old 11-08-2008, 10:35 PM
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you could make your own table by recycling other furniture.
i made mine fom this that someone gave to me

and made it into 2 tables to separate my 2 torts.

i got the stones and such from the beach and the plant pots were from the garden so i really only paid for the soil/sand mix. bargain
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Old 11-08-2008, 10:50 PM
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Hi Jo and Hermy

There are a lot of people who say don't use vivs as they are bad for the tort, and in some instances can be ... but when we got our Horsfields they were both kept in a viv ....... heat gradient and humidty weren't a problem.
We use a combined heat and uvb bulb and when it was in the viv we monitored the temps under the lamp and moved it up/down until the temps were right and also monitored the temps at the cool end, opening the door slightly helped to make sure the temps were right.
It was a meshed top viv so was slightly easier as there was ventilation across the top and by opening the cool end door slightly allowed for adequate airflow.
We have now built a tort table using contiboard, cost us less than £40, the table is 6' long by 2.5' wide.
The reason for building the table had nothing to do with thinking the viv was bad as we knew we had the temps right and humidty wasn't a problem, a hygrometer proved this to us.
The reason we built the table was due to the fact the torts will eventually get too big for the viv and even though they will be spending time outside the weather is dismal and Horsfields don't get on very well in wet conditions.

Our first substrate was a sand and soil mix, 30% sand to 70% soil, we then tried a jungle bed substrate but that didn't seem very good and since they have been in the table we have used repti turf, basically it is pellets of dried grass so if they do decide to eat some it is digestable, also as Horsfields love to dig they can do so quite easily in it.

Feeding wise, weeds are thought to be best and that is what makes up the bulk of their diet, but we do supplement with dry feed as well to make sure they are getting all the nutrients they require. Also it does help giving them the dry food so that they are used to eating it if you decide to over winter rather than hibernate them as weeds are scarcer in the winter months.

There is a lot of contradictory advice and most of this advice is based on peoples personal experiences and opinions, but just because that worked for one person doesn't mean it will work for everyone.
As long as your torts are healthy then what ever you do you are doing it right.
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Old 12-08-2008, 07:28 AM
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If you want to use a table, just take the doors off the viv and flip it onto it back for the time being. It will be just the same

I had a small table for Henry when i first got him but i have now converted a medium sized bookcase into a table ( the bookcase cost me £7 off an ad) and he loves it. I have got a HUGE cabinet in the front room that i am trying to convince my OH would make a GREAT table for Henry but as the cabinet is over 6 foot tall and at 3-4 foot wide we do not have the floor space indoors for it atm, we are moving tho and i am looking for somewhere with a dining room or conservatory i can use for that indoors. Henry does have a large outside house and run too but i like him to be inside over night and on horrible days.
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Old 12-08-2008, 08:50 AM
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If you want a built tort table google Cosy Tortoises - I got mine from them and they will make to any size required - just remember the bigger the better.
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Old 13-08-2008, 02:22 PM
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I have only had my tortoises for about a month i got my tortoise table of ebay with a food bowl, water bowl and a pack of 10 seeds they seem pretty happy and i agree you cant go wrong with top soil and play sand.
Life consists not of what cards you were dealt, but how you play those cards.
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Old 13-08-2008, 07:55 PM
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Smile Hi

Hi there welcom to RFUK, im learning all i can about torts to, the people on here are amazing ask away with all your questions if someone can help they will!

i found these stickys very helpful maybe they will help you to lol

i also found this website very good and packed full of info


i also bought my equipment for my tort table from here (hope im allowed to add this lol) the guy Darren was very helpfull

i hope this helps you

Last edited by Alexanders_mummy; 13-08-2008 at 07:58 PM..
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