Horsefield Tortoises are a great pet to own, but they require a lot of education and preparation. Here is some helpful information to know before getting your first tortoise!
Housing Indoors, Outdoors or Both
A major problem that arises when raising tortoises is not giving them enough space to exercise. They may be slow, but it’s still important that your new pet has enough space to stretch its legs! When keeping a Horsfield Tortoise indoors, make sure they have at least 3 square meters of space. (This is 3 square meters per tortoise, so make sure and get a larger tank if you have multiple tortoises. The enclosure should get plenty of sunlight and be at a temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, ordinary room temperature, but between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius under the lamp.As with most tortoises, the best environment is one which includes and indoor and outdoor setup. There are two requirements when building an outdoor setup: the soil must be well-drained and the tortoises must not be able to burrow out. Tortoises love to burrow, so don’t prevent them by putting down wood or gravel. Prevent your pets from burrowing out by circling the ground underneath (about 30-50 centimeters deep) with two layers of chicken wire. Place gravel and your soil on top of the chicken wire.
Beech woodchip is a good substrate. While sand can be useful in loosening dirt, it can also be ingested easily, causing a build-up in the tortoise’s lungs and potentially causing severe health problems.
Tortoises don’t need a lot of water, and they can usually get what little hydration they do need from the food they eat. It’s also not a good idea to keep a water bowl in an enclosure–it creates humidity and can cause respiratory problems. Instead, take your tortoise out of the enclosure and bathe it in lukewarm water and least twice a week.
Your Horsefield Tortoises will appreciate if they have a place to hide within their enclosure. This can be anything from plants, rocks, branches, fake “caves,” and so on. It’s important to consider the potential hazards when incorporating a hiding spot into the Horsefield Tortoise setup. Always make sure the objects are non-toxic and that they won’t home your pet. Also consider that if you’re making a hiding spot out of vegetation, your tortoise may eat it.
Horsefield Tortoises can eat a variety of greenery you can likely find in your yard, including dandelion, clover, honeysuckle. They also enjoy some of our favorite vegetables as well, including leafy salads, watercress, curly kale, brussel tops, spring greens, coriander, parsley, rocket, carrot, parsnip, courgett, peppers and small amounts of non-citric fruit. Never feed your pet cabbage, spinach, onion, tomato, buttercup, citric fruits, or iceberg lettuce. Feeding your horsefield tortoise doesn’t have to be expensive, just make sure to research a food before introducing it into your pet’s diet.
Day light is good for tortoises, though all will also require additional UVB lighting in order to efficiently synthesize vitamin D. (If they can’t metabolize the vitamin properly, your Horsefield Tortoise may have an issue with bone growth, with potentially dangerous health consequences.) Your pet requires a 10% UVB light to stay healthy, and the light should be placed no than 30 centimeters (or 12 inches) from the animals. It’s a good idea to replace the UVB tube, so that your tortoise is getting the able to take advantage of it–between 6 and 9 months is the average. Make sure and always buy the right size light for your unit.
The enclosure’s border, whether inside or outside, should be made of treated wood, brick or concrete, and be at least 40 centimeters (or 16 inches) high. Tortoises can be tricky pets because they don’t seem like they’d be able to cause much damage–watch out, though, because if the border wall isn’t sturdy, they’ll knock it right over.If you’re building a border for an outdoor enclosure, make sure the tortoise can dig underneath the wall and flip it over. Remember: tortoises are stronger than they look!
Though it’s important that your tortoises have at least 3 square meters each, it’s equally important that they not have too much space. Remember that you’re making an environment for them, and you need to be able to find them. You’ll understandably have less room inside than outside, but try and abide by the 3 square meter rule.
Obvious dangers exist if you’re housing your turtles in an outdoor enclosure, such as larger animals like dogs, coyotes, raccoons, rats, cats, and so on. Your tortoises can also be affected by heavy or long-lasting rainfall, or extreme heat and falling objects. Surrounding your pet’s enclosure with mesh or chicken wire is a simple and effective way to protect your tortoises.There are few indoor threats which you need to protect your animal against, just remember to research new foods before introducing them into the tortoise’s diet.
Horsefield Tortoises like to bask under a hot heat source during the day, so make sure you have both a suitable heat emitting bulb and a comfortable place for your tortoise to rest while it’s sitting in the heat. (These bulbs have a pretty short life, however, so be careful to not leave the light on too long during the day–remember, you’re trying to mimic daylight!) Horsefield Tortoises are also quite tolerant to cooler temperatures, so they’ll be fine in a normal room temperature.
It can be difficult to replicate a tortoise’s natural habitat, and elevation is probably one of the most confusing aspects to mimic. It’s not difficult, though, and it provides your tortoise with some good exercise. Simply use dirt or substrate to create a mound that your pet can climb all over. Make sure they aren’t too close to each other, or close enough to the border that the tortoise can escape.
Though there’s a lot involved with raising Horsefield Tortoises, but it’s definitely worth it. Good luck!