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Turtles/Open your eyes


How can i get my horsefield tortoise of 17 weeks to open his eyes, i only got him two days ago, he has grey/silver eyelids which he is yet to open, the trader said he was just asleep so i thought nothing of it when we saw him in the shop, he moves around the tank no problem with energy and is eating fine, but because it is early owning him i cant say any different in routine, he is too young to hibernate i'm told without the routine, i'm just confused about the fact he is yet to open his eyes or if he is even able to, what should this eyelids even look like?

Hi Padraig,

If I were you I would return him to the shop immediately, and instead find a private hobby breeder with hatchlings.  This is not normal or healthy, and the shop was dishonest in dealing with you.  It's hard to say what the problem is--whether dehydration, blindness, illness, or what--but it indicates that there is something wrong.  Buying a hatchling from a shop isn't a good idea because there's really no way to determine where they actually came from and how they were kept prior to arriving at the shop.  A private breeder will be able to tell you everything about the hatchling--what the female ate, when she laid, when the egg hatched, etc.  

In addition, you may have been given some poor advice in regards to care.  A tortoise, even a hatchling, shouldn't be kept in a small tank (or any tank).  They need quite a bit of room (2 x 3 will hold a hatchling for a few years), open and airy, some moisture in the substrate, basking and UVB bulbs, and a varied diet of greens and weeds.  If you'd like, post back and set it to *private* and I can give you my email so we can discuss this in more depth.  I also have a hatchling care sheet I can go over with you.  


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Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.


I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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