What to feed baby desert tortoise


Captive Desert Tortoise Care for Hatchlings

Special Care for Hatchling Desert Tortoises

Hatchling Enclosure
Breeding captive tortoises is illegal and increases the number of captive tortoises needing adoptive homes, but occasionally an adult female desert tortoise may lay viable eggs from mating years earlier, resulting in tortoise hatchlings in your backyard enclosure. In this case, it is important that they are kept outside so that they can receive sunlight to help develop a healthy shell and bones. Contact the Desert Tortoise Adoption program coordinator as soon as possible if you recently adopted a female desert tortoise and suspect she may be gravid, or is laying eggs, or if you find hatchlings in your backyard and need to surrender them to the adoption program.

A smaller version of the adult burrow should be prepared for warm weather shelter and cold weather hibernation. The hatchling enclosure should provide both sun and shade throughout the day.
Because young tortoises must be protected from predators such as cats, dogs and birds, the enclosure must be covered, but allow sunlight inside. Wire fencing or poultry netting is appropriate, but should either be too small for the tortoise’s head or limbs to penetrate or large enough to allow the head and limbs to freely enter and exit.

To protect the hatchlings from ants, keep the tortoise burrow away from grassy feeding zones which may attract ants because of the extra water.

Hibernation in Hatchlings
If healthy, hatchlings should be allowed to hibernate during their first winter. As the weather becomes cooler in the fall, the appetite of the hatchlings should naturally decrease. If a hatchling attempts to hibernate outside the enclosure, move it inside the burrow. During hibernation either inside or outside, mortality can be expected, but survival of hibernating captive hatchlings is usually considerably higher than in the wild.

Hibernation indoors is acceptable if the same methods outlined for adults are used.

Approximately 10 days prior to placing hatchlings in hibernation, feeding should be stopped to allow the digestive tract to empty. If hibernating indoors, hatchlings become active in the spring, they should be removed from hibernation and placed in their enclosure to resume regular feeding.

If your hatchling is not healthy enough to hibernate, contact a veterinarian and bring it inside to prevent it from hibernating.

Proper Temperatures
The daytime temperature for hatchlings should range between 85-90 degrees in one spot of the enclosure, and 68-75 degrees at night. A normal day/night light cycle (11 hours day/13 hour night) using artificial lighting should be maintained. Hatchlings must receive regular solar radiation to ensure proper vitamin D synthesis and calcium assimilation. The required ultraviolet radiation in the UV-B range is filtered by glass, but the minimum requirements can be met by artificial lighting.

A shelter box of some type should be provided for resting from heat to prevent dehydration. Hatchlings can easily tip over onto their backs, usually by climbing against the wall or over siblings, so it is best to keep only one hatchling per box to reduce this problem.

Hatchling Diet
The same foods offered to adults should be made available to young tortoises, but in smaller amounts. The hatchling diet should contain about twice the protein and half the fiber content of the adult diet until the third year.

A tortoise that does not receive adequate protein will develop a thin shell, become stunted and have a greatly reduced life expectancy.

Good sources of protein for young tortoises include:

  • Natural forages like mallows, primroses and rock hibiscus
  • Cultivated plants like clover and dichondra
  • Produce like kale, collards, turnip greens, beet greens, mustard greens, bok choy, dandelion greens, parsley and cilantro
  • Chopped Timothy or Bermuda grass hay is another good option

Hatchlings eat frequently and should be provided food daily. It is always a good idea to mix several food items in each feeding and feed a variety of these foods. Several plant species should be established in the enclosure to allow browsing.

To prevent overgrazing, 14 days of plant growth is recommended before allowing the tortoise access to the plants. If supplementary foods are offered, remove uneaten portions from the enclosure at the end of the day to avoid attracting insects.

No insecticide, pesticide or any toxic agent should be used near the hatchlings, as they are especially susceptible to these compounds.

Hatchlings require a shallow water dish containing about a half-inch of water for drinking and soaking. Be sure to keep the water dish away from the walls of the enclosure as they can flip over into them in corners. The shell is relatively soft but will harden over time if the tortoise has access to an appropriate diet and sunlight.


Captive Desert Tortoise Diet

One of the most important aspects of tortoise care is proper diet. These guidelines will help ensure the health and longevity of your tortoise.

A Healthy Diet

Desert tortoises are completely herbivorous, eating on a wide variety of plants in the wild. Likewise, in captivity, the best diet is one that provides a variety of foods to meet its nutritional needs. Ideally a captive tortoise should be allowed to graze on grasses, leafy plants and flowers.

Grass can contribute a significant portion to your tortoise’s diet if you establish a patch large enough for it to browse (at least 6 feet by 6 feet.

Other plants that you can establish in your yard that provide a varied diet include native grasses, dichondra, filaree (heronbill), spurge, dandelion, hibiscus, wild grape, mulberry and wildflowers such as globemallow. Your tortoise will enjoy the leaves, stems, and flowers of these plants.

Native plant seeds can be purchased at the Arizona Native Plant Society website or by inquiring about native plants at a local nursery.  Plants meant for your tortoise to graze on must be planted inside the enclosure in sufficient quantity to allow daily grazing.

Commercial Produce

In general, commercial produce is less nutritious than native plants for tortoises due to higher water and lower fiber content. However, produce can serve as a supplemental food source if you are unable to establish plants within the enclosure. Dark greens rich in minerals and vitamins such as collard, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, cilantro and parsley can be offered as a short-term alternative or as a supplement to grasses.
When dark greens and acceptable produce are offered, they should be clean, fresh, and chopped into pieces small enough for the tortoise to eat. Iceberg lettuce provides little nutrition and should be avoided entirely. Foods should be served on a dish or feeding platform to prevent ingestion of gravel or sand, which can cause gastrointestinal irritation or impaction.

Foods to Avoid

Many tortoises will eat foods that are not part of a healthy diet. They may even appear completely healthy for years on a poor diet. In reality, poor diets, such as those that are rich in sugars (including fruits), protein or animal fats will impair organ function and may result in the eventual death of your tortoise.

Do not feed your tortoise dog or cat food, monkey chow or any food that contains more than 15 percent protein. These will cause liver and kidney damage, as well as deformed shell growth.
Do not feed tortoises frozen vegetables or sodium-rich foods including canned vegetables, dairy products, breads and celery.
Please exercise caution to ensure that captive tortoises cannot consume toxic plants such as oleander, chinaberry trees, tree tobacco and toadstools.

Fruits as Snacks

Fruits, should only be offered as a special treat. Once a month or so you can give your tortoise a small piece of fruit such as a strawberry or one-quarter slice of peeled watermelon. Fruit generally has too much sugar and water to be fed in large amounts and should only be fed in moderation (no more than 10 percent of the diet). Sugar and starch disrupt digestion by changing the type of bacteria that live in the tortoise’s hindgut.


Make sure that water is available in the enclosure a few days of the week. Keep the water dish in the same place so the tortoise knows where to find it. Your tortoise will get a lot of its water from its food, so you may not see it drink frequently. However, tortoises enjoy soaking occasionally so the water dish should be just a few inches deep, and wide enough for the tortoise to sit in.

Provide a shallow water dish that is wide enough for your desert
tortoise to soak in, but not too deep that it is in danger of drowning

What to feed tortoises at home, what not to feed

Most species of tortoises eat plant foods. Therefore, if such a turtle is kept at home, then you need to be very careful about its diet. People who faced a debilitating problem began to keep special food journals for their pets:

  • daily;
  • weekly;
  • monthly.

As a rule, the menu is prepared in advance, with planning for each day. This takes into account all the necessary vitamin supplements, in the form of calcium and various amino acids. If you purchased a turtle, and you don’t know how to feed it, then for a start you should at least make a preliminary planning of its diet. In the process of feeding, it will become clear how to adjust her nutrition. In order not to risk it, it is better to seek information from a specialist or “dig” on the Internet, where there is a lot of useful information.

It is very important that nutrition is optimal and balanced. The turtle should not be overfed, but should not be allowed to starve. Her diet should include foods rich in essential vitamins and minerals in order to ensure normal development and growth for the pet.

If the turtle eats a lot of different foods, this can negatively affect the health and longevity of the pet. As a result of overeating, the turtle can develop diseases of the liver and gastrointestinal tract.

With insufficient food, the turtle will not receive the required amount of nutrients, which can lead to developmental defects.

Although tortoises eat mostly plant foods, care should be taken to ensure that the tortoise also consumes animal foods. It can be no more than 5% of the total diet, but this is quite enough for its normal development.

Those who do not know how to feed this animal can purchase special artificial supplements with vitamins, proteins and other trace elements. How many such additives are required to the main diet is indicated on the package.

A complete list of allowed plants and vegetables can be found here.


  • 1 Turtle diet
  • 2 Should turtles be fed
  • 3 What do turtles eat in their natural habitat?
  • 4 What should not be fed to tortoises?
  • 5 Turtle diet in winter and summer
  • 6 In addition

Turtle diet

  • Greens - 75%;
  • Fruits, berries and vegetables - 15%;
  • Complex dishes in the form of various cereals - 5%;
  • Vitamin supplements - 5%.

In formulating her diet, one must take into account the fact that certain substances, such as vitamin D 3 , can adversely affect her health. You should carefully study the list of substances prohibited for land turtles.

It should be remembered that in animals that enter captivity, there is a shift in her behavior. With a lack of nutrients, she will begin to eat everything, including the earth in the terrarium. To prevent this from happening, you should take great responsibility in organizing the nutrition of your pet. With proper and balanced nutrition, the turtle will delight others for many years.

Therefore, before you start feeding an animal, you should draw up an approximate diet:

  1. As mentioned above, the basis of the diet is greens, in the form of lettuce and dandelion leaves, plantain and alfalfa, thistle and sorrel, lawn grass, as well as leaves and stems of legumes (peas or beans). In addition to this greenery, turtles are happy to eat inflorescences of various plants. The main component must always be in the feeder, and the reptile will decide how much to eat.
  2. Vegetables are in second place. Turtles love to feast on pumpkin, fresh carrots, ripe zucchini, young beets and radishes. Once a month, the turtle can be given a cucumber or horseradish.
  3. Apples and pears must be included in the list of berries and fruits . From time to time, apricots, plums, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon can be included in the diet, but in small quantities.

Is it necessary to water the turtle

As a rule, tortoises get the main dose of moisture from vegetables, fruits and greens. Most experts say that it is enough to provide the turtle with a bath of water once a week and it will not suffer from a lack of moisture. The fact is that turtles are able to replenish the lack of water through the skin. If a turtle swims in a bowl of water for 10 minutes, then this is quite enough for her.

There are cases when, after acquiring a turtle, this small animal still suffers from a lack of moisture. In such cases, for some time you should provide the turtle with daily baths with water. Water should be poured up to half of the body so that the head peeks out of the water. To this end, at first, you can install a drinker with clean water so that the turtle can drink at any time.

What do turtles eat in their natural habitat?

The diet of tortoises consists of plant foods. Being in natural conditions, the turtle consumes all the necessary nutrients that ensure its normal development. At the same time, the turtle always feels which microelements it lacks at one stage or another of its life path, and it does an excellent job of this task, finding the food that it needs.

A turtle can be in a state of searching for scarce food for a long time without harming its health. You can learn a lot of interesting things about these amazing animals by reading the relevant information on the Internet.

What should not be fed to tortoises?

Unfortunately, the list of prohibited products is very extensive and should be read. This list includes cockroaches, crickets, eggshells, potatoes, garlic or onions, various meat products (including sausage and minced meat), bread, milk, various cereals (except for rolled oats), citrus peels, cherries, seeds from any berries . These foods can cause liver disease, which will significantly reduce its life expectancy. Therefore, when starting to draw up her diet, one should take into account the harmful effects of the above products on the turtle's liver and not include them in the diet.

A complete list of prohibited products can be found here.

Turtle nutrition in winter and summer

Despite the fact that the animal is in captivity, it can feel the approach of cold weather, which contributes to a change in taste preferences. In the summer, the turtle eats more juicy foods, then with the advent of a colder season, it prefers soaked hay and less juicy vegetables. In any case, you need to monitor the behavior of the turtle, as well as the fact that it consumes more from food.

In addition to

Being in captivity, the turtle tries to follow its natural instincts and may hibernate. Naturally, this can be facilitated by certain conditions of detention associated with a decrease in ambient temperature within the zone of keeping the animal. It can be not only winter, but also summer hibernation. In nature, turtles hibernate for two main reasons - this is a cold snap or lack of the required amount of food. To prevent this from happening, you should maintain the temperature at an appropriate level, as well as provide the pet with a variety of foods. It should always be remembered that even a turtle must sleep under certain conditions, which is extremely difficult to provide for her at home.

In order not to risk the health of a small pet, you need to provide it with the appropriate mode, which is on the border of the maximum level. Under such conditions, the turtle is unlikely to think about its hibernation, especially if it has all the necessary products.

It is very important that the heating is similar to the warmth that the turtle felt when it was under the rays of the sun. After all, in the sun, the turtle not only warms itself, but also receives a dose of UV radiation, which helps to better absorb calcium in the body . Without calcium, the turtle will not be able to fully develop and this should always be remembered. Therefore, the presence of a UV lamp is mandatory, as is its inclusion for several hours throughout the day.

From this we can conclude that the future of a small pet depends entirely on who cares for him. You should not think that the animal will grow up on its own, without proper care. Unfortunately, this is not so, considering what dangers lie in wait for a small turtle, if you do not pay due attention to its content.


Description of how to care for a turtle at home

Whom only we do not take as a pet - snakes, spiders, raccoons and other exotic creatures. It becomes so mundane and normal that the turtle is not surprised at all. Despite this, not all owners of such an animal can properly care for it. It is for such owners that this article exists.

  • What are pet turtles and how to care for them
  • Appearance and dimensions
  • How, when and what to feed
  • Where to keep and how to look after
    • How to choose a house
    • How to furnish a house
  • Turtle breeding and baby care
  • Turtle diseases

What are domestic turtles and how to care for them

Mankind knows about 50 species of turtles, from the largest, weighing a few centners, to the smallest, fitting on the hand. At home , the easiest way to grow an ordinary (land) turtle is y, which usually lives in the desert and steppe areas of Central Asia.

Although they live in sandy soils, they require moisture to live. She seeks this moisture by digging holes until she comes across moist soil. Attempts to find such a place continue until the moment when she does not find it, because this is the survival of the turtle - in moist soil there is grass, which is its main food.

Turtles are most active in the early morning and evening. During the day, turtles prefer to sleep hidden from the light. Under unfavorable conditions, the tortoise hibernates . This happens in winter, but if you create comfortable conditions for her to live, then she will not have to fall asleep.

Appearance and dimensions

Land tortoise, which is most often taken as a pet, is small in size. In males, the size of the shell is smaller than that of females and is 14–22 cm. In the female, the length ranges from 16 to 24. At home, the size of the shell grows to a size: 18–20 cm for females and males.

Carapace - keratinized scutes , the number of which is 14 on top, from 12 to 13 on the bottom. There are scutes not only from below and above, but also from the side. There are 25 of them. The shell resembles an oval, slightly flattened at the top. On paws of dark green color there are four fingers with claws. The color of the shell resembles the conditions of the environment in which the turtle lives - the middle of the shield is dark in color, and olive green along the edges. In the wild, she lives for about 50 years, at home, the turtle can live a little longer.

How, when and what to feed

In the natural environment, the turtle feeds on various vegetation : grass, shrubs, berries and fruits. The food she should be given at home is not much different from what she gets in the environment. The choice in this case is determined by what vegetation is easier to get. The main thing is that the food should be varied:

  1. Fresh greens and hay - about 70% of all food consumed.
  2. Vegetables - 10%.
  3. Fruit - 20%.

An animal must have a separate tray from which it can eat. It is needed first of all so that the filling of the tray, for example, sawdust or soil, does not get into the food. Hand-feeding a turtle is not the best option, because it is not very convenient for him, and in addition to this, he can bite painfully.

When should I feed my pet? Young pet requires daily feeding. A more adult individual needs a rare, but more abundant food - once every 2-3 days. In terms of volume, the portion should be half the volume of the shell.

To prevent the process of fermentation in the turtle's stomach, you should feed it less fruits and other juicy foods. Also, turtle food must be originally specially prepared for animal . In this case, there will be less chance that she will be poisoned by poor-quality food, for example, from the owner's table. It is not necessary for the turtle to have constant access to liquid, it is enough to drink it from time to time. But it will be useful to use bait with a calcium content.

Where to keep and how to care for

In terms of care and maintenance of living conditions, the animal is quite undemanding, especially considering the way of life in the wild. In view of this, the turtle is often taken by people who cannot pay much attention to caring for a pet. However, the turtle is not a cactus, so some recommendations for caring for it still have to be followed.

How to choose a house

Any container that will not hinder the turtle's movements can serve as a home for a turtle. Of course, it is advisable to purchase a separate aquarium, but for the first time, a regular box will do. Most importantly, never0017 do not leave the turtle on the floor unattended . A cold floor with many cracks cannot serve as a home for a turtle, even for the first time. In addition to the fact that the animal can get sick, it can hide in a hard-to-reach corner from which it will be difficult to get it.

How to furnish a house

A few recommendations regarding home improvement:

  1. The size of a dwelling for one individual should be up to one hundred liters in volume. A prerequisite is that the width must be three times larger than the pet. If these parameters are taken into account, then the animal will be able to move around in its home without problems. Ideally, this should be a glass aquarium, but if you wish, you can get by with an ordinary cage, which is not recommended on an ongoing basis.
  2. Inside the dwelling, it is worth building or buying a separate house, where a pet could retire from time to time and hide from the sun.
  3. The bottom of the terrarium should be covered with something. It can be pebbles or sawdust. It should be borne in mind that everything that is placed on the bottom can later be eaten by a pet, including small pebbles, sand or cat litter. Nothing good can come of it. Therefore, the ideal option is large pebbles mixed with hay.
  4. The microclimate of the terrarium should be as close as possible to the climate in natural conditions. The temperature should range from 25-30 degrees Celsius. A good way to achieve this temperature is to add a 75 W incandescent lamp at a height of 30-40 cm from the surface of the bottom of the dwelling. Together with an incandescent lamp, it is desirable to install an ultraviolet lamp. It can be on a par with the first and act as the sun - a supplier of vitamin D3, which helps to absorb calcium.
  5. It is advisable to give your pet a bath once every two weeks. The main purpose of bathing is to restore the water-salt balance.

Turtle breeding and baby care

In both wild and domestic conditions, turtles reach sexual maturity at 10 years of age. Turtles breed from April to July. At this time, the female lays eggs in specially dug holes. One female can create up to three holes, each of which can fit up to 7 eggs.

Requires two males and one female for breeding. After fertilization of , the female must be isolated for three months while she is carrying her eggs. When she lays her eggs, they will have to be taken away and placed in comfortable conditions. The temperature should be around 30 degrees Celsius. In this case, the turtles hatch will be able to hatch after 60 days.

After hatching, turtles should be placed separately from adults so that they cannot seriously harm them. In addition, the floor for them should be spread with small sawdust so that the kids cannot swallow small pebbles, sand or clay.

Diseases of turtles

The turtle, like any other animal, is subject to disease. Of course, it is better to entrust the treatment of diseases of turtles to a professional, but the care that will help to avoid these diseases will have to be carried out by the owners.

The most common disease of turtles can be called rickets.

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