Desert tortoise flipping over

Roriart

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Joined
Jun 23, 2021
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AZ
Hi! I'm posting on behalf of my sister, her roommate's sister just gave them two desert tortoises that she could no longer care for. I believe they are both males, but after receiving them we did lots of research and we know to seperate them before they reach maturity. Right now they don't mind each other, they use the same hideaway and same basking spots with no fuss. They are in an enclosure which is about 3 x 5 feet, but are only a few inches big right now so definitely will need an upgrade eventually. However we have an issue with the smaller tortoise flipping himself over. We have one of those hollow half-logs, and we believe he tries to climb up it and flips over. Can anyone recommend a flip-prood hideaway, or should I just move it? Also, he is always trying to climb sideways, like in the picture. Does he need more space or should I move the things away from the walls? 20210623_142003.jpg
 

Tom

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They need to be separated now. Using the same hideaway and basking spots is one trying to crowd the other out of its territory. Does one or both also sit on top of the food? Bad sign. Your flipper may be desperately searching for a way to escape the territory of its foe.

Be aware that more of the care info given for this species by vets and "experts" is wrong and will result in their death. Here is the correct care info. First and foremost, you've got to get them off that sand. Its deadly.
Read this and then feel free to ask lots of questions:

Flipping is less likely when there is not another tortoise in the enclosure, there are adequate hiding places, and the temps and lighting are correct. Are you using a UV bulb? What kind of bulb? Remove the log hide and replace it with something can can function as a humid hide and prevent climbing. I use black dishwashing tubs from Walmart. Flip them upside down and cut out a small door hole. Wet the substrate under it.

We will help you get them all sorted if you let us. I love the species and hate to see so many babies die because of incorrect care advice.
 

Roriart

New Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2021
Messages
3
Location (City and/or State)
AZ
They need to be separated now. Using the same hideaway and basking spots is one trying to crowd the other out of its territory. Does one or both also sit on top of the food? Bad sign. Your flipper may be desperately searching for a way to escape the territory of its foe.

Be aware that more of the care info given for this species by vets and "experts" is wrong and will result in their death. Here is the correct care info. First and foremost, you've got to get them off that sand. Its deadly.
Read this and then feel free to ask lots of questions:

Flipping is less likely when there is not another tortoise in the enclosure, there are adequate hiding places, and the temps and lighting are correct. Are you using a UV bulb? What kind of bulb? Remove the log hide and replace it with something can can function as a humid hide and prevent climbing. I use black dishwashing tubs from Walmart. Flip them upside down and cut out a small door hole. Wet the substrate under it.

We will help you get them all sorted if you let us. I love the species and hate to see so many babies die because of incorrect care advice.
Thank you so much for the help. I am definitely getting a new substrate, but I don't think i explained very well, I'll try and elaborate. They sleep for most of the day and during these times they will sometimes use the same hide, but other times not. They do not hide or cover the food, they eat at different times during their busy time. And during the busy time which is around 2:30, one will kind of wander while the littler one tries to climb the hide and falls backwards. They don't interact during this time or use the same basking spot during this time. There is no biting or chasing or any kind of aggression between them. I am very grateful for the advice and trust your experience, and im reading the care sheet and adjusting their environment, but I know that these tortoises require a lot of specific care and cannot be lumped in with other tortoises. I am going to adjust the hide and if there is still falling issues I will seperate them but he doesn't try to climb the walls and escape, he's just trying to climb the log. I will try the dishwashing bucket like you recommended!
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,106
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Thank you so much for the help. I am definitely getting a new substrate, but I don't think i explained very well, I'll try and elaborate. They sleep for most of the day and during these times they will sometimes use the same hide, but other times not. They do not hide or cover the food, they eat at different times during their busy time. And during the busy time which is around 2:30, one will kind of wander while the littler one tries to climb the hide and falls backwards. They don't interact during this time or use the same basking spot during this time. There is no biting or chasing or any kind of aggression between them. I am very grateful for the advice and trust your experience, and im reading the care sheet and adjusting their environment, but I know that these tortoises require a lot of specific care and cannot be lumped in with other tortoises. I am going to adjust the hide and if there is still falling issues I will seperate them but he doesn't try to climb the walls and escape, he's just trying to climb the log. I will try the dishwashing bucket like you recommended!
There doesn't have to be overt aggression for this to be a problem. One is dominant and one submissive. Neither wats to be in the same territory with the other. This causes low grade stress which can reduce appetite and hamper the immune system. They need to be separated now. Living as a pair is very uncomfortable to them. This forum is loaded with sad stories of people who learned this lesson the hard way, and too late. Do them a favor and separate them now before something like this happens:

DTs are scrappy. One of the worst. Don't wait until one is injured or permanently disfigured. It is a problem right now and a likely contributor to the frantic escape attempts.
 

Roriart

New Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2021
Messages
3
Location (City and/or State)
AZ
There doesn't have to be overt aggression for this to be a problem. One is dominant and one submissive. Neither wats to be in the same territory with the other. This causes low grade stress which can reduce appetite and hamper the immune system. They need to be separated now. Living as a pair is very uncomfortable to them. This forum is loaded with sad stories of people who learned this lesson the hard way, and too late. Do them a favor and separate them now before something like this happens:

DTs are scrappy. One of the worst. Don't wait until one is injured or permanently disfigured. It is a problem right now and a likely contributor to the frantic escape attempts.
I appreciate the advice and I'll let my sister to know they should be seperate ASAP but, again, there are no frantic escape attempts. He's not climbing up the walls. In fact, I bought a new hide and he went up and down it without falling over. He hasnt flipped since then, I think it was just the odd shape of the log.
 
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