Some changes to how I feed my creep

Recent Alterations to the Creep's Feeding Schedule

Keeping tortoises in New Hampshire that couldn't possibly live through New Hampshire winters can be challenging. Food is one of the areas of challenge, but recently I found a couple of ways to make my life easier, and their diets better.

Variety, quality, and appropriateness of foods are directly linked to the growth, health, and long-term outcomes of your tortoises. Grassland tortoises, like my Russians, eat a significantly different diet than do Forest tortoises, like the Redfoot Tortoise and Black Mountain Tortoise.

Although the graphic above is generally in line with my thinking, I disagree with some of the suggested proportions/percentages. The three common elements in the diets are greens, gourds, and kibble; I go with about 60:20:20 for the grassland torts, and 40:20:10 for the forest tortoises, with the remaining 30% split between fruit (20%) and animal protein (10%).

Since I'm feeding six tortoises of various sizes while living a life, I don't stick to those numbers exactly by weight or volume, I approximate: 

  • every tortoise gets a handful of greens about the size of their shell first thing every morning
  • every tortoise gets a bit of soaked kibble and pumpkin/squash as a second breakfast a couple of times (2-3) each week
  • the forest tortoises get a bit of soaked kibble and fruit as a second breakfast a couple of times (2-3) each week
  • the forest tortoises get animal protein once a week
  • I supplement these feedings with the addition of dried flowers, weeds, seaweed, and herbs over the greens and other food a few times a week

I recently started a subscription to Misfits Market, a company that rescues organic produce that's in danger of going bad on the shelf or at the farm and ships it directly to you. I get a big box of fantastic produce every week for $35, including lots of great greens and gourds and fruits and mushrooms for the torts.

The link above will take you to their website and gives you a 25% discount on your first box, it's definitely worth a try.

When my box comes every week, I start by rough chopping the greens (including beet and turnip and radish tops) and keeping those in a huge plastic bag to feed the torts every morning. Next, I separate any of the produce I may share with the torts from the produce that is strictly for me and my family, and do some menu planning for the rest of the week for both my family and my creep.

The other change I made was in terms of the animal protein I'm offering the forest tortoises. I had been offering "Reptilinks" a raw meat sausage product made from a mix of meats and fruits and veggies. It was, and is, a great product, and my torts loved it, but when I went to re-order it, I noticed that it worked out to $22 per pound, which is more than I was interested in spending on tort food if I can help it (and as I found out, I can).

I did some research and found that raw foods designed for dogs are pretty much perfect as an animal protein option for my tortoises. The "Instinct: Signature Raw" nuggets are 95% meat, organs, and bone, with the remaining 5% is made up of some fruit and veggies and fish-oils and seaweed. The four-pound bag of the beef formulation was available at a local pet store for $27.99, which works out to a hair below $7 a pound, which is much more in line with what I want to spend on feeding my torts. 

The forest tortoises love their new source of animal protein... both were members of the clean-plate club on the two days that I've served it so far. I think the addition of organ meat and bone in their animal protein offering will enhance their diet and health in the longterm.

I am absolutely certain that both of these changes in how I feed my tortoises will have a positive effect on the wellbeing as we get through the dark and cold part of the winter.