Horsfield Tortoises, Leeds
This page has been moved to : Horsfield Caresheet
Caring for your Horsfield Tortoises
We pride ourselves on being voted one of the best Independent Pet Centres in the U.K. by “Which” Magazine so if in the first few days of your Horsfield Tortoise coming home you are concerned about its health or well being, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are open seven days a week and often a quick call to one of our shops in Leeds may alleviate any minor problems and put your mind at ease.
This caresheet is a basic guide to the care of Horsfield Tortoises, though any potential owner would be wise to purchase a more in depth book to ensure they have as much knowledge as possible on their care requirements before purchasing your tortoise.
Horsfields, also known as the Russian Tortoise, is a very popular species in the UK. They come from very temperate regions where the climate is similar to that of the UK and so they should be fine outdoors most of the time providing an appropriate outdoor pen is provided.
3 - 4 foot Tortoise Table
Shallow, heavy dishes
Calcium/D3 and multivitamin supplements
5% UVB Lighting
Heat Bulb (either a red spot bulb or ceramic heater controlled by a thermostat...heat mat is not suitable)
Horsfields tolerate a very wide temperature range and are commonly kept outdoors in the UK. If being kept outdoors, be sure that an appropriate pen is used, but we will look at that later in the caresheet.
Young Horsfields can be kept in a heated Tortoise Table within a temperature range of 75F to 80F with a hot spot at 90F with a 10-15F drop at night. Provide a deep layer of substrate as Horsfields really likes to burrow!
While kept indoors it is vital that they receives the correct UVB lighting to aid vitamin D3 production and utilisation. If kept outdoors, then natural daylight is fine. It is imperative that if you put your tortoise out in natural sunlight that you also provide it with a shaded area. This can be done either with a hide or with clumps of hay or grass.
While kept indoors, use a 5% UVB emmitting light tube to replicate natural sunlight.
During the warmer summer months an outdoor enclosure can be used to house your Horsfields. This normally takes the form of a fenced off area of your garden, where the fence extends at least 8 inches below the surface of the soil to prevent the tortoise from digging out and should be at least 18 inches high. Horsfields are suprisingly good climbers and so care should be taken not to provide anything near the fence that your horsfield can climb and escape over the fence! A wire mesh top for the enclosure is also advisable to protect your tortoise from predators.
The outdoor pen should have a shaded area so your tortoise can cool off if it gets too hot. This area should also have cover from the rain, as horsfields prefer drier conditions.
In colder months, it is advisable to bring the tortoise indoors.
Whether kept indoors or outdoors, a shallow water dish must always be available.
Your Horsfield Tortoise will thrive on a diet of leafy vegetables. Fruit should be provided sparingly as a diet too high in sugar can result in diarrhea and other health problems. The greens should consist of Kale, Brussell Tops, Parsley and Watercress. Carrot, Tomato, Melon and Grapes should be offered sparingly as they are the human equivellant of "junk food". Do not feed your tortoise Iceberg or Round Lettuce although you can provide "Mixed Lettuce" sold in supermarkets that consist of Chinese Lettuce, Raddico, etc. Lettuce should be viewed as once a week feed as it contains high amounts of water and not as much goodness as the other foods mentioned.
Experienced keepers prefer to use a wide variety of non toxic weeds as this will better simulate their tortoise's natural diet and if this is possible in your area it is highly recommended. However, if you are uncertain which weeds are poisonous and which are not, or if you suspect the weeds may have been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals, you are probably better off with commercially bought vegetables.
All foods should be supplemented on a daily basis with Calcium. All tortoises require a diet rich in caclium to ensure healthy growth of their shells. Calcium deficiency can result in growth deformaties which can lead to other health problems. Also, fresh water should be available at all times in a shallow bowl though deep enough so that the tortoise can submerge both its mouth and nose to drink. Also be sure that your tortoise can climb in and out of their bowls with ease.
A good quality tortoise food can also be used to supplement their diet but in no way can be considered a substitute for fresh leafy vegetables.
Check the tank daily for faeces and remove them immediately. Wash out the food and water dishes daily. Place your Horsfield's Tortoise in an escape proof container while cleaning its enclosure. Both the tank and any washable floor coverings should be washed monthly in hot water and mild detergent. Use a Reptile Safe disinfectant to sterilise the tank such as BEA Reptile Disinfectant. Rinse well with hot water and dry thoroughly.
ON RECEIPT OF YOUR TORTOISE
On arrival soak you tortoise in tepid water in a cat litter tray or shallow bowl. Do not use cold tap water as this will be a shock to them. Soak them for approximately 30 minutes and then offer them fresh food. When you receive your tortoise it may have its eyes closed. They may have fallen asleep in transit. When you pick your tortoise up they should open their eyes within a few seconds. If your tortoise is sluggish in opening its eyes then bath them with clean tepid water.
To ensure that your tortoise stays hydrated soak them every other day, as you did on arrival. You will notice that your tortoise will drink and then defecate. Leave them in the tray to soak for approximately 30 minutes. Clean the Vivarium completely at least once a week and remove droppings daily.