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Leopard tortoise - Is there anything else I need to do?

Discussion in 'Leopard tortoises' started by EdB, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. EdB

    EdB New Member

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    Hi all,

    Ok long story short. We found a leopard tortoise in the road in front of our house. To save him from dogs and cars, we put him in our back yard where he is safe. They are native here (South Africa). We do not intend to keep it captive but just want to kind of make sure the little guy is ok. He weighs about 75g and is 7.5cm long, which as far as I understand means he is about 1 year old?

    Now I've read almost everything I can find on these guys but now after hes been here for about a week, I have some concerns /questions :

    1. I dont ever see him eating. I've on occasion given him lettuce which he chomps immediately, but he hardly seems interested in the more suitable foods such as grass mix, cuttle fish or softened rabbit pellets. Perhaps he is eating the lawn and weeds when I don't see. Any advice?

    2. I've also never seen him drink water. He has water available but honestly I'm not sure hes clever enough to remember where the water is? I've put him in luke warm water but he will either immediately or after a minute or 2 get out without drinking or pooping. I'm worried he is dehydrating?

    3. Damn hes lazy. Maybe its just nerves as its a new space? Its only like 50m from where he was found. He will only move for brief periods, otherwise napping under some kind of cover in the garden. Its summer here so days are 25-35C and nights 16-22C. It has been rainy the last few days. Should I be worried?

    Just hoping for some feedback whether I should just let him be, try something different or maybe even take him to a vet?

    Would appreciate any advice!

    Cheers
  2. EdB

    EdB New Member

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    (These ads do not appear for registered members.)
    Heres the little bugger for reference ;-)

    20170102_093317.jpg
  3. cmac3

    cmac3 Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forum. Awesome looking leopard, love seeing the true wild ones. Take a look at the caresheets and the leopard section.

    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/forums/leopard-tortoises.87/


    1. no rabbit pellets. He will eat the weeds and grass but make sure it hasn't been treated with chemicals.
    2. Put him in a small tub that he can't get out of, the water should go up to about where the top and bottom of his shell comes together.
    3. They stay hidden because everything is a predator to them.
    Tidgy's Dad likes this.
  4. Tidgy's Dad

    Tidgy's Dad Well-Known Member

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    Hello, Ed, and a very warm welcome to Tortoise Forum.
    Thanks for helping the handsome chap.
    1. As above, natural broad leafed plants and weeds are great and he is probably eating some of them.
    2. As above for 15 to twenty minutes a day. He will absorb water to soften his skin and take some up through his cloaca (rear) even if he doesn't seem to drink.
    3. As above, he's scared, probably.
    I wouldn't worry about a vet for a bit. He'll settle down soon enough in all likelihood.
    cmac3 likes this.
  5. Grandpa Turtle 144

    Grandpa Turtle 144 Well-Known Member

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  6. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    Welcome to the Forum, Ed!

    It's a wonder any baby tortoise lives to be full grown in the wild when you consider how we baby the babies in captivity. If this were a captive tortoise I would be advising you to make sure the habitat stays around 80-85F degrees all the time. Give him a hiding place or two and feed him dark, leafy greens and weeds. However, as you are planning to release this tortoise back into the wild, I'd hesitate to get him set up as I've stated above. It will just make it harder for him to adapt back to native life.
  7. EdB

    EdB New Member

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    Thanks for the answers!

    Just 4 follow-ups:
    1. Does normal green lawn also count as food or do I need to make sure to leave more indigenous grass for him? I will also introduce him to our indigenous succulent garden bed, which he cannot get to on his own. I suspect I will regret this introduction when I get home to find he has eaten everything... :confused:
    2. How warm should the water be? Im thinking its too cold which is why he wants to get out, but dont want it to be so hot that it hurts him somehow.
    3. I assume tortoises don't normally sleep in the same place? I converted an old bird feeder house into a very nice hut for him but he seems to just randomly sleep wherever he happens to be when the sun sets :rolleyes:
    4. I wonder at what age/size he would be less vulnerable? At this stage he could still drown in a deep puddle, is barely identifiable in the road to a driver; and most dogs would fit him in their mouth. Luckily we live in a closed off area so there's not much traffic, should he decide to eventually wander out the gate. :eek:
  8. Kasia

    Kasia Active Member

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    Hi maybe I will sound harsh but if you want to keep it just do it. If not let him go ASAP. Keeping him will do him no good, he has to learn how to survive on his own. You are not helping him and not to mention you will be heartbroken:(.
  9. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Hello and welcome! I love the RSA. I've been there a couple of times and almost went to live there, I liked it so much.

    I tend to agree with Kasia on this matter. I think you either need to fully return this baby to the wild as far from people, dogs and roads as possible, but in a suitable area, OR, you need to fully bring it in to captivity and give it all the proper care that a baby needs.

    Here is proper baby care for you to mull over. I wrote this care sheet based on the experience of raising dozens of captive bred South African leopards over several years. Mine are adults now and laying dozens of eggs a year.
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/

    Here is a feeding sheet. I wrote it for sulcatas because they are so common over here, but I feed my SA leopards identically.
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/

    To answer your grass question: Lawn grass is fine, as long as it isn't treated with chemicals like fertilizers and insecticides. "Weed n' Feed". Most lawns over here are treated with all sorts of toxic chemicals, but if yours is not then its great tortoise food.
  10. EdB

    EdB New Member

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    Honestly, I have been mulling over that very thing. I would like to keep it in the wild (it is currently free to come and go as it wants, so technically it is not captive), but I fear his chances of survival are slim in the area. Taking him to a nearby farm or nature reserve could work better, as he would only face his natural predators then.

    Until I can make such plan I am trying to interfere as little as possible, except for making sure he is healthy. I will stop giving him food for now, I don't want him to get lazy and stay in the yard just because life is easy there.

    I would actually love to keep him, but doing so requires a permit in RSA (which they don't just give to casual pet owners).
    Tidgy's Dad likes this.
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