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    THE AFRICAN HINGEBACK TORTOISE CareSheet

    Metal Maniac
    Metal Maniac
    Administrator-Founder-Owner
    Administrator-Founder-Owner

    Male Number of posts : 2242
    Birthday : 1970-11-17
    Age : 48
    Location : From the River Bed of the Rio Negro
    Humor : Raunchie!!!
    Registration date : 2009-03-05

    THE AFRICAN HINGEBACK TORTOISE CareSheet Empty THE AFRICAN HINGEBACK TORTOISE CareSheet

    Post by Metal Maniac on Fri 03 Apr 2009, 12:52

    THE AFRICAN HINGEBACK TORTOISE

    There are four currently recognized species of African hingeback tortoise (although several taxonomic revisions are in progress) and all have a slightly different appearance. All hinge-backs are characterized by a distinctive single hinge located at about 3/4 of the way along the back of the tortoise. This is an important point as sometimes people confuse them with American box tortoises which are also hinged but with a double hinge on the plastron (underside).
    The four species of African hingeback are;
    Kinixys homeana (Home's Hinged Tortoise) A medium-brown colored tortoise with a light colored head and large eyes. The shell is sharply angular and falls off quickly at the back end. The species is found in Nigeria, the Congo and the Ivory Coast areas.
    Kinixys belliana (Bells Hinged Tortoise) Much more 'normal' looking, this tortoise has a rounded back, and a lighter colored shell with dark markings. Mainly from the Sudan, Tanzania and is generally widespread throughout central and southern Africa. It prefers a drier grassland habitat to the forest or riverbank habitats favored by K. homeana and K. erosa. There are several subspecies and the Bell's hingeback tortoise is subject to wide variation throughout its extensive range.
    Kinixys natalensis (Natal Hinged Tortoise) A small tortoise which typically measures only 10 - 14 cm. It inhabits dry and rocky areas at an altitude of 300m - 1,000m so has somewhat different requirements from most other Kinixys sp.
    Kinixys erosa (Schweigger's Hinged Tortoise) Similar in appearance to K. homeana this tortoise is the largest species of the genus. Adults may surpass 30 cm. K. erosa inhabits moist riverbanks and tropical jungles from the Congo to Uganda.
    Diet
    Unlike most land tortoises African Hingebacks are omnivorous and are insectivores. In the wild their diets include snails, slugs, millipedes as well as fallen fruits, grasses and plants. In captivity all three commonly encountered species generally enjoy earthworms, mealworms, slugs, bananas, tomatoes, peaches (a great favorite with ours), mushrooms, lettuce, melon and sliced orange. A small quantity of low fat dog food is also appropriate for this species but excessive amounts must not be given otherwise carapace deformities and liver or kidney damage may result. Live food in the form of crickets, snails, earthworms and zoophobas should also be provided at least once per week. Rapidly growing specimens, and egg-laying females, should be provided with calcium supplement such as 'Repcal' daily.
    Environment
    All species of hingeback tortoise require constantly warm surroundings. K. belliana can tolerate drier environments than either erosa or homeana which both require very high levels of humidity. Failure to provide this will result in severe eye inflammation, possible respiratory problems and kidney disease. Hingeback tortoises which are kept too dry will remain lethargic and inactive. K. natalensis is a possible exception to this general rule. All hingeback tortoises must be provided with constant access to a bathing and drinking area. A plant tray is ideal and should be filled to around 2'' depth with fresh water changed daily. This is absolutely vital to health and survival. An occasional spray of fine mist from a hand plant sprayer is also appreciated by most specimens. Temperatures for Kinixys should be maintained at circa 24 oC - 27 oC fairly constantly - although some K. belliana enjoy an occasional session of basking under a 'hot spot' of up to 30 o C. The best sort of terrarium lighting for Kinixys species is undoubtedly full spectrum fluorescent (Reptisun 5.0 or similar). This provides 'natural' type light which rich in UV It can make all the difference and is especially suited to this genus as it does not produce too much radiant heat. Most hinge-back tortoises, especially K. erosa and K. homeana, actively dislike bright light and prefer a well shaded, warm and very moist habitat. In the terrarium, a good substrate for these tortoises is organic potting compost mixed with fine sand and sphagnum moss. This should be changed regularly. Underfloor heating is well suited to these species, and provided the substrate is kept moist, this type of heating can also assist in raising ambient humidity within the terrarium.
    In fine weather, Kinixys species can be allowed outside, but as the terrarium will provide their home for most of the time it should be large, comfortable and well equipped. Most hingeback tortoises become highly active during and just after warm, summer rain. It should be noted that ''fish-tank'' type vivaria are categorically not suitable for long-term housing of tortoises. If maintained indoors, a large terrarium will be required. We recommend a minimum area of at least 20 square feet per tortoise. Hinge-back tortoises should always be provided with plenty of leafy cover as they tend to be rather secretive animals and spend quite a lot of time hiding; they are also often very active at dawn and dusk so this can be a good time to offer food. Our own hingebacks are generally fed about 3 times per week - don't remove the food immediately if they decline to eat, as these tortoises tend to like their food squashy and ripe!
    Diseases
    Newly obtained specimens must be subject to a period of quarantine before being allowed to mix with any existing stock. Tropical tortoises carry many different parasites some of which are extremely contagious and pathogenic. Isolate new specimens, obtain urine and feces samples and have these examined by your veterinary surgeon for nematodes (worms), ciliate organisms (Balantidium etc.) and flagellates (especially Hexamita parva in the urine). Externally 'Ticks' may also be observed and must be removed.
    Bacterial diseases are also a major problem in all reptile collections. Bacterial infections of the mouth, lungs, shell and eyes are particularly common and must be detected as soon as they occur. Abscesses are also frequently encountered and once again early detection and prompt expert treatment make all the difference. Check animals carefully and regularly for any unusual symptoms and seek expert advice immediately you even suspect that there may be a problem.
    Hibernation
    Hingeback tortoises should not be hibernated! They will require warm and moist vivarium accommodation over winter.

      Current date/time is Sun 25 Aug 2019, 12:14