As a staple hay for foraging tortoises, feed first and/or second cut timothy hay. Third cut timothy hay should be offered as a treat.
First cut timothy hay is the first hay harvested for the year. It’s cut before the hay blooms, when cut early the stems are relatively thin and flexible. It tends to be lighter with more yellow/brown parts.
First cut timothy hay usually has a higher fibre and a lower protein and fat.
A tortoise may eat between 3% and 5% of their body weight per day including greens, veg treats and tortoise pellets. Again, alter feed amounts to suit the time of year and individual requirement. Our boxes make ideal hibernation huts and beds for tortoises.
Some respected tortoise keepers recommend a diet for grassland species that contains up to 85% high-fiber foraging feed such as timothy hay, alfalfa hay, grass hay, and various other grasses, with only a small portion of the diet being fresh produce such as veggies and greens.
The most commonly available and popular type of hay is alfalfa. Alfalfa hay comes in many forms and is one of the few types of hay grown in nearly every state in the United States. Alfalfa hay is highly digestible and high in protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals.
But alfalfa should be fed in moderation, as feeding grassland tortoises a diet too high in protein can cause severe shell deformities.
The main difference between grass hay and alfalfa hay is the protein and fibre content.
Grass hays such as Timothy and Bermuda hays have minute differences in nutrient content and trace minerals, but the main difference between grass hay and alfalfa hay is the protein and fibre content. Timothy hay is higher in fibre/roughage and lower in protein therefore great for their digestive system and preventing obesity.
How Much to feed?
As a general rule, you should offer an amount of food equivalent to the size of your tortoise’s shell. They should be fed once a day, 5 days a week.
Tortoises will eat 2-3% of their body weight per day, they eat quickly and if anything is left of their meal after 45 minutes the remains should be taken away. Tortoises do not often over eat grass/hay/vegetables so you can very quickly assess what their dietary amounts are from what they leave uneaten.
The 2 fasting days can be implemented at any time, in any order. This allows the slow-working digestive system to catch up, removing the tortoise’s need for a self-dieting period in the summer.
Why feed 1st cut timothy hay?
First cut timothy hay is highly recommended for tortoise nutrition and health.
First cut Timothy hay is crisp and sweet and has the highest roughage and fibre of all hay varieties. Because of a tortoises slow digestion rate first cut timothy ensures the correct amount of fibre, roughage, protein, and fat as a main complement in their diet.