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Baby Horsefield Tortoise rescued
Posted: 18/10/2009 by Pauline1976

I happened to be passing a pet centre today and saw they had a sign saying Reptiles Half Price.  I thought I would have a look inside.  They had two Horsefield Tortoises in a vivarium with their food being lettuce.  The baby was the one I came home with.  I immediately put him/her into my tortoise table but had a sudden horrible thought, will my two Spur thighed tortoises accept a newcomer?  Also I immediately went outside and found some nice dandelions and a sow thistle but the baby is not eating them.  He/she looked ravenously hungy when I bought it as it was desperately trying to climb into the feeder to eat the lettuce.  My questions are 1. Can both species be kept together.  2.  Why is it not eating the food. 

I was told in the pet shop that your don't need a CITES for this particular tortoise and simply not to give it Iceberg lettuce or Spinach.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I am planning to hibernate the Spur thighed so the tortoise table will be used for the baby.


Re: Baby Horsefield Tortoise rescued
Posted: 19/10/2009 by Elatort

Good morning Pauline, I know you have the torts best interest at heart but you  are putting your two torts at very high risk! REMOVE the petshop one asap!!

When ever you add any animal to your group it needs strict quarintine, deal with your own torts first THEN any new animal thus reducing the risk of spreading infection. WASH hands inbetween any hands on, don't share or mix anything eg water bowls between the 2.

If I were you I would also have a faecal sample tested from the new tort, I would also not hibernate this year as it is to soon after aquiring him/her.

LONG TERM: you can't mix species.

Good luck,


Re: Baby Horsefield Tortoise rescued
Posted: 19/10/2009 by Pauline1976

Hi Elaine  Many thanks for your reply.  I have segregated them at the moment although they are in the same tortoise table.  Is this good enough or do I have to have them completely away from each other.  The baby is actually eating today and I bathed it.  I noticed that it drank some water but the wee, if it was wee, came out almost looking like poo and dark green.  I have hopefully posted a couple of photographs and any opinions would be greatly appreciated.  I am now slightly worried about whether to hibernate the other two.  If they have become infected with anything I would hate to lose them during hibernation period.  The shell looks very dry and not shiny like my healthy two, and its legs etc look quite anaemic.

I have a parrot size bird cage which I could keep the baby in but am now worried about the expense of the lamp etc, can I get away with waiting until I hibernate the others (if I still can hibernate them) or do I need to get another lamp. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Re: Baby Horsefield Tortoise rescued
Posted: 19/10/2009 by VivTPG

Hi Pauline, It's so tempting to 'rescue' these poor torts from pet shops, and its appauling of them to advertise a 'reptile sale' to get people in.

As Elaine explained the baby must be kept separate from your spur thigh, they are different species and cannot be mixed now or in the future.  The horsfield is likely to be an imported tortoise it would be very wise to have a poo sample examined by a vet as they usually have a heavy worm load, which are passed from tort to tort when transported here. 

I have checked your photos and the new tort will need its own enclosure, a piece of card separating the torts isnt adequate protection, also it cuts the size of the area down for all the torts.  The separate parrot size cage should do while it is small, and it will also need its own lighting, that is a basking lamp and uv strip (or combined heat/uv lamp).  Please read our care sheets on Horsfields, look under 'tortoise' on the left.  Its runny green poo may be the inadequate diet the pet shop were feeding it, keep an eye on this.

I think now you have mixed the torts, you should also keep an eye on your spur thighs, and perhaps delay hibernation for a month.

The petshop was correct in that horsfields do not need paperwork. 

Please let us know how you get on, by the way what the baby called, you will love horsfields they have so much character!Click and drag me down to the editor

Regards VivienneClick and drag me down to the editorClick and drag me down to the editorClick and drag me down to the editor

Re: Baby Horsefield Tortoise rescued
Posted: 19/10/2009 by Pauline1976

Hi Vivienne thanks for the reply.  Baby has already been housed in a different place.  It is a makeshift one for the minute, I was desperately trying to get something done quickly as it was getting dark and to get baby out from where my other two were so I have used a large printer box, bought a heat lamp and in the next couple of days will get a UV strip as well.  Even though it was set up really quickly its quite good if I say so myself.  One more question and that is if I decided to buy a mercury lamp could I screw it into the lamp holder that I have for the basking lamp.  Or do I need to fork out for a expensive lamp holder.  The lamp holder I have at the moment is an Arcadia Ceramic Lamp Holder and Bracket, the picture on the box shows a bulb that looks like an energy saving bulb but I have screwed in a 60W Zoo Med Repti basking lamp.  Oh sorry one more question, do I need to replace the substrate now that I have taken out baby, I would hate to think it might be soiled now. I think his/her name will probably be Baby as I seem to have used it quite a lot in this message.

Many thanks Pauline

Re: Baby Horsefield Tortoise rescued
Posted: 20/10/2009 by VivTPG

Hi Pauline, so glad to hear you have taken our advice.  Firstly, the lamp holder you have sounds fine for the combined heat /UV mercury lamp, it is a ceramic holder so will withstand the heat.  You may need to check that the wire is heat resistant wire too, and if you do get a combine light remember not to touch the bulb with your bare hands, use a lint free t-towel or cloth.

Regarding the substrate, it depends how long baby was on it and if it poo'd or wee'd on it!! If you are concerned then you may feel better changing it, or I have heard of people sterilising it by baking the soil in the oven or microwave, must say I have never tried this myself!!

Hope it all works out for you, baby will have a lovely home with you! Click and drag me down to the editor

regards Vivienne


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