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Turtles/Star Back Indian Tortoise


I have recently got a pair of home-bred star back tortoise and have keep them in a warm well lit indoor environment. Direct sunlight is available to them 2 hours a day. Followed by a warm water (25 C) bath for 5 mins once a day. However they have not been eating regularly (alternate days). I have fed them lettuce leaves (80%), tomatoes(5%), apples(5%) and coriander(10%), which they eat happily. I want to know whether this routine is healthy and are their eating habits normal.

Hi Priyank,

I need to know exactly how you have their enclosure set up--type of enclosure, size, what the substrate is, EXACT temperatures in the basking area and also in the cooler areas, what kind of basking/UVB bulb you're using.  Also please let me know how big the tortoises are.  

When you say "direct sunlight," do you mean through window glass or actual outside light?  UVB rays don't penetrate through glass, so unless they're outside for at least a few hours a day or have a special UVB reptile bulb indoors, they're not getting essential UVB.  That will cause lethargy and eventually shell and bone deformities.

They should not be soaked daily.  Three times a week for 15 minutes each time is enough, provided there is a shallow water dish in the enclosure at all times.

Their diet needs to be changed completely.  Don't feed vegetables or fruit at all, and lettuce only occasionally.  Star tortoises should have a diet of grasses and hay, broad-leafed weeds and greens (turnip, mustard, kale, collards, dandelion, etc.), and cactuses.  Lettuce isn't very nutrititious, so while it's OK to feed, it shouldn't be a staple.

Please post back with the additional information, and I'll try to get back to you as soon as I can.


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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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