1. Managing Your Tortoise’s Diet

Mediterranean tortoises are almost exclusiely herbivourous (with perhaps one exception Testudo Hermani which my take abitefrom a passing snail). They are adapted to high fibre, low fat , low protein diet which is rich in essential trace elements. Under no circumstances feed cat or dog food, or any other high-protein, high fat diet. To do so leads to kidney and liver disease and, in juveniles especially, cause deformity of the shell. Peas and beans are also too high in protein for regular use and can cause the same problems. Try to provide as much natural grasing as possible, and where this is not possible, provide a varied vegetarian diet with as many different kinds of green leaves as you can. Restrict access to fruit, however, as this can sause digestive problems if provided in excess.

Always use a good calcium and multi-mineral supplement which also contain vitamin D3. This is critically important for young tortoises and foregg-laying females. Vitamin D3 can be synthesidsed naturally, by exposure to strong sunlight in their native country but in Ireland the sunlight in your garden is not likely to prove sufficient.

2. Hibernation Temperature Management in Mild Weather

In their natural habitat most species of tortoises spend a short (sometimes long) period when they change their normal metabolism to a “shut down” metabolism. This can take the form of hibernation or aestivation, or both. In captivity tortoises can be kept without this “shut down” period, for a short while if the tortoise is sick but this should never be done on a long time basis.