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Joan, Internet Researcher
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Hi. I have a tortoise (possibly a Horsfield) which came

Resolved Question:

I have a tortoise (possibly a Horsfield) which came to live with us about 40 years ago. It's probably about 60 years of age.
We always put it away in a box hidden away in the garage in the cold weather. My main worry is that it hardly eats anything. Sometimes, if I manually feed it, it will eat a little. I have tried lettuce, apple, tomatoes, melon, dandellions, thistle. This morning I bought a pack of rocket & spinach leaves as several people said they like that. But it just turned it's nose up. Is this normal behaviour?
I would be grateful for some advice. My husband says I'm worrying too much. It's probably not hungry. It must be hungry sometimes. It does eat a little sometimes. Some advice would be appreciated.
***** *****
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  Shantal-Mod replied 2 years ago.
Hello Pat,
I'm Shantal and I'm a moderator for this topic.
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Expert:  Joan replied 2 years ago.

My name is ***** ***** I have been a Vet tech for 30+ years with special interst in Reptiles and Reptile rescue.

Is the weather cold where you are now?

Do you have a UVB ligh and basking light?

What type of UVB light do you have, age of bulb, strength and brand?

is ther any runny nose?


Do you offer and hay,orchard grasses or weeds?


Customer: replied 2 years ago.


The weather is very hot here at present. We don't have a UVB light and have never had one and my husband says we do not need one. We don't give it supplements. It hardly eats food let alone supplements. We do give it dandellions & milk thistle which it used to eat quite a bit of when it first came out of hibernation but now rarely eats these. It is also difficult to find these at the moment.

As I said previously, it does eat a little if I hold the food for it & "spoonfeed" it but it takes a lot of time to do this.


Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I'm still waiting for a reply to my email this morning

Expert:  Joan replied 2 years ago.


I am sorry about the amount of time, but I am on Est Standard Time and work 14-16 hours shifts. UVB lights are a necessity with Reptiles. The tortoise needs two forms of lighting a UVB and a basking light. The UVB alson with a claicum supplement is imperative to prevent Metabolic Bone Disease.

I suggest a Reptisun 10.0 linear florescent tube and a Calcium block or a cuttle bone be available at all times. The light cycle and temps goveren the activity level and apptetite on Reptiles. The tortoise shoould also have a basking light that supplies heat. The UVB may make a difference in the appetite and activity level of the tortoise. This is a care sheet for the Horsefeild tortoise tortoise:

The care sheet goes over the need for UVB if the tortoise is housed inside as well as the need for a calcium supplement. The UVB should be 12-14 hours a day in the warm months when the tortoise is not in Brumation.

If he has just come out of Brumation it is not uncommon for the tortosie to take a week or two to start eating well again. I suggsest a good soak in Dioralye and warm water 50/50 to rehydrate him as soaks are imporatan especially to a tortoise that is not eating well.

This is a dietary list that you can try and feed:

Horsefield Tortoise Food list



Grass (Bermuda, Rye, Alfalfa, Blue grass, Fescue)


Green leaf lettuce



Hibiscus flower and leaf



Mulberry leaves

Dandelion (one of their favorite!)



Chrysanthemum flowers

White (Dutch) clover

Rose leaves and pedals

Sow thistle




Wild Mustard greens

Most broad leaf weeds

Grape leaves

Japanese waxleaf

Ficus leaves


Collard greens

Turnip greens

Pear cactus, feed him the pads (called nopales)

Aloe vera





Sweet peppers



Mazuri Tortoise Diet ® (exception to the pellet rule)

Use Sparingly

Romaine lettuce

Red leaf lettuce



Bok Choy


Shredded carrot and top

Zucchini/ Squash

Bell peppers


Shredded sweet potatoes

Shredded beets and tops


Fruit are a treat and only a little at a time and not a Staple:

  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Berries
  • Prickly pear cactus apples
  • Watermelon
  • Banana
  • Papaya
  • This is a tortoise pellet food that you can try:

    This is another food that he may like:

    If he does not start eating in a week after you have the UVB in place and basking light, it may be wise for a Herp Vet visit to rule out a Parasite issue that could affect the appetite. Thse are her Vets in the UK:

    Please let me know if you have further questions and I will be happy to continue with you. Joan

    Joan, Internet Researcher
    Category: General
    Satisfied Customers: 18211
    Experience: I believe that knowledge is Power! I would like to try to share my knowledge with others.
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