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new horsfields
Posted: 06/04/2010 by carlsberg

Hi i am a new tortoise owner, given as an easter gift from my partner. When he bought him/her ((they said it was a girl but tail looks quite long for a girl!) he was sold a glass tank to keep him in. We have organised the tank, 1/2 tortoise life calicum soil and 1/2 chip wood (sold with tank as a deal) we have put slate in the middle for food and a small water bowl but i have since heard he should be in a tortoise table! Im not sure why they didn't sell them? or stock glass tanks for them if they are not suitable? He ( i think) seems happy (i've took the lid off to allow ventilation) was living in a tank when he was bought and seems alright. Do you think we should go out and buy a tortoise table or maybe a guinea pig indoor cage? Or will he be ok for a few months/years? Also we left his friend behind, and now i'm feeling a bit guilty to seperate the pair, would it be a bad idea to go back and get his/her mate (they both look same gender)? We are off to the vets to get the gender sorted and checked.

Many thanks, from me and mini calsberg x

Re: new horsfields
Posted: 06/04/2010 by tpgAli


A table top is the best set up for your tortoise. Please can i ask what speices your tortoise is? As you may have received paperwork depending on the species. Please take a good look around our website by clicking on the links on the lefthand side you will find all you need to know including caresheets and how to create the perfect set up, but we need to establish what species you have first.


Re: new horsfields
Posted: 06/04/2010 by carlsberg

hi my tortoise is a horsfield torotise (been told at reptile/aquatic shop he is 1 year old ), i had a little look on the site and then looked at the totoise table set ups.

As i was a bit panicky at the thought of him/her hurting itself as it was burrowing alot i have replicated the tortoises accomodation on the photo of a indoor guinea pig enclosure - before reading yr reply as shops were going to close - hope its alright!

 I have filled it with tortise life soil/sand and placed inside a few wooden bendy tunnels (like what you get for hamsters), some reptile false plants which he's taken a liking to sitting under and slate around the water and food area. I hooked up the lights from the glass viv on the top to provide a hot spot away from his cool quarters.

He doesn't seem as active though since we have moved him, not sure if i've stressed him out, as this is his 3rd home in 3 days of if he's just ready for bed! Guess i'll soon see tomorrrow! It's like having a 1st child! lol 

I never realised how nerve racking a new tortoise would be, as my mum has a south african bell hinge back and it seems very different to look after to my horsfield.  

We are moving soon, so will get my other half to make an outdoor enclosure as soon as possible that is secure both at the sides and underneath so he doesn't escape!

             Click and drag me down to the editor         Thanks for the reply            Click and drag me down to the editor

Re: new horsfields
Posted: 07/04/2010 by TPGDarren



Glad to hear you ave him out of the tank Click and drag me down to the editor

From a pet shop perspective tanks & vivariums look neat and tidy, people can't reach in and steal a tortoise (secure) and they have a good profit margin on them. Unfortunately that is where the use of vivariums and tanks end or Horsfield tortoises, that require a dry environmment.

I haven't heard of tortoise life soil before - is it actually soil or is it white please?? Normal topsoil and playsand will be absolutely fine and probably cheaper, for future use. I tend to use the Homebase sterilised topsoil. It's actually quite sandy anyway, so I never add any sand at all. May I suggest, that if you're adding any obstacles to the enclosure (eg tunnels) that they are placed away from the lamp, as tortoises do like to climb and it's best to avoid the risk of them over-turning under the lamp.


Here is the link to the Horsfield care sheets:-

and a good site for a tortoise's diet:-

Many pet shops sell tortoise pellets with tortoises, they are far too high in protein for an animal that has evolved on a low protein diet.



Kindest Regards




Re: new horsfields
Posted: 07/04/2010 by carlsberg

Hi Thanks Darren,

They seems fine now in the new enclosure, alot more awake and eating plenty so that is reassuring. We got the tortoise life soil in Pets at Home, it has calcium in and is brown in colour, with little yellow pellots in, which is think is sand? It cost 7.99 a bag and we bought 2. Next time we will try the top soil. How often would you change the soil?  I've removed poo as and when it occurs.

Click and drag me down to the editor   Also do you know what constitues as fighting? and just being close friends? Bailey and Carlsberg tend be close alot but don't necessarily seem to be bashing each other?  Should i be overly concerned as they were bought together from the same quarters (they were on their own and though it harsh to seperate them)

Ann x

Re: new horsfields
Posted: 07/04/2010 by TPGDarren

Hi Ann,

I wouldn't separate the as they've been together for some time I would imagine, though I would recommend a stool sample be checked, to be on the safe side.

You'll know if they start to fight, Horsfields tend to bite (quite hard), so if it occurs there won't be any doubt. All animals will establish a pecking order, so if it does occur don't immediately separate them as it is part of their natural behaviour and you'll only be postponing them establishing a pecking order, but do separate them if one become stressed and is bing picked on. Hopefully there won't be any problems.

I'm still not sure about the substrate?
Most commercial tortoise substrates are expensive ( a bag of topsoil retails at less than 2.00)and are usually, at the very best, no better than a soil or sand/soil mix.
As they are small you will probably get away without changing it for a good couple of weeks, just continue to remove any faeces and check for any odours.

Good Luck with them Ann and please feel free to ask any questione you have.



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