Horsefield tortoises are becoming some of the most common pets in homes. This could be because they are hardy animals that can withstand very cold winters and even the extremely hot summers. With a lifespan of 50 years, these tortoises also make good and long term pets. This also explains why they are readily available in many pet stores. As a pet owner who chooses to have this tortoise, below are different ways to take care of it.
You may have come across other tortoises that are omnivorous, but the horsefield tortoise is purely herbivorous. Therefore, you should never give it meat. These tortoises live on a diet of leafy greens and grasses which are also readily available. Other than just fetching these green for your tortoise, sometimes it is advisable to leave him/her to graze naturally outdoors. If you have a lawn or small garden, take the initiative of growing some of their favorite foods such as dandelions, mulberry, stinging nettle, cucumber and lettuce. Remember, it only needs five to six feedings a week to avoid overfeeding.
A horsefield tortoise requires two types of housing, indoor and outdoor. A typical indoor enclosure needs to be about three square meters to enable it walk around freely. Furthermore, this enclosure must be well positioned to allow UV light in and kept at a temperature of about 21°C. If it is not plausible to have it in an area where your pet will be exposed to sunlight, you can use mountable UV light bulbs. This light is important in the synthesis of vitamin D which helps in absorption of phosphorus and calcium and also for bone formation.
Moreover, you have to lay down an ideal substrate such as coconut coir mixed with sand. This substrate should not be damp or too humid, otherwise, it is likely to bring about pneumonia and other skin or shell conditions. Do not forget to include a water tray in the indoor enclosure. For the outdoor enclosure, ensure that it is on well-drained soil where the tortoise can burrow and just be a tortoise.
It is not simple to tell if your tortoises are mature using their age. However, you can get this information by measuring them. A horsefield tortoise that is about 11 cm long or more is sexually mature and ready to mate. Lookout for the elaborate male dance from the male tortoise, and you can tell it is time. During this period, prepare a spot for her eggs. After laying these eggs, you should then move them to an incubator and keep them at a temperature of between 29-31°C. It takes 60-75 days for the eggs to hatch. When they do so, hatchlings do not start feeding until after two weeks although they need to have access to water. They also need plenty of calcium for their shells.
Your horsefield tortoise, just any other pet will fall sick at some point. Hexamita parva is a common parasite that attacks its urinary system and kidneys causing dehydration, weight loss and kidney failure. You need to lookout for these symptoms and have your vet check on the tortoise. If diagnosed early enough, Hexamita parva can be treated quite easily. You also need to be wary of injuries that are likely to occur during the mating period as a result of fights. In case you notice any wounds, wash them with an antiseptic and keep them dressed until they heal properly.
Taking care of your horsefield tortoise is not demanding at all. In fact, it is quite easy and as long as you can follow these guidelines, your tortoise will be healthy and happy.