Desert Tortoise is going crazy

JohnnyB65

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OK the guy that normally doesn’t come out till late afternoon has suddenly started coming out in the morning before 9AM and is into everything. He has been the most active since I’ve had him. I’m really glad to see him getting so much exercise, but I’m worried about his well being while I’m away.

He is climbing everything and I’ve been putting up barriers up to keep him from getting hurt. I like for him to have access to the full yard so that he gets plenty of exercise and that may have to end if he keeps this up.

So today while I was working on my patio he was trying to climb over the AC unit and tipped over. I was told that they can up right themselves so I let him give it a try. He didn’t look like he could make it over so I gave in and turned him over after about 5 min of turning around in circles.

deserttortoisetipover001_zps271c8a78.jpg


After I up righted him, he was persistent on doing it again so I put up a little fence to keep him off the lines.

deserttortoisetipover003_zps92071b4e.jpg


So what might be going on is it matting season or something? There are other Tortoises in the neighborhood and I guess it’s possible that he got a scent or something. I just don’t know.
 

littleginsu

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Is there anyway to prevent him from being able to see what's n the other side of his enclosure? Perhaps knowing there's something beyond his enclosure walls makes him want to climb over them to see what it's all about.
 

JohnnyB65

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Well I have a 5 to 6ft concrete block wall all the way around my yard and years ago I bought some 16” wide by 21 ft long house siding boards to keep him from seeing past the fence around his enclosure.

Last year I opened up the yard to him now that he is so much bigger, but today he’s been even trying to climb up the house wall like he knows what’s inside. I hate to close off his area because he would only come out of his burrow for about a ½ hour everyday to eat and drink before going back in.

Now he’s is out walking around for at least a few hours before going back in until the last couple of days that is. From what I saw today I don’t think he will be satisfied being confined in his area again and will probably try to climb over.

He only has a few more weeks before slowing down for hibernation. Last year he was in by Oct 1, but today its been over a 100F here so I don’t when he will go into hibernation this year.
 

JohnnyB65

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Wow he finally went into his burrow and I hope it’s for the night. I feel a little like when my kids were babies and I couldn’t wait for their bed time so I could relax. LOL :)

So today he’s been running around pretty active for at least 9 hours that I know of and maybe even longer. He usually hangs around for a couple hours at the most while I’m working on the patio and its pretty cool, but today I had to watch him so he didn’t get into trouble. :rolleyes:

Yesterday I had to work and found all my recyclables scattered around the side of my house when I got home at 5 pm. I didn’t know what to make of it and thought someone was going through my stuff until I viewed my security cameras. Then I saw him out there for about an hour scattering around all my plastic bottles from a plastic bag that he tore open. :oops:
 

kimber_lee_314

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My males are going crazy too - this time of year seems to be when they want to mate badly. He should settle down as the weather starts to cool down.
 

JohnnyB65

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Thanks kimber_lee,
I was hoping it was something like that, because I dug him a new burrow and was worried that he didn’t like it. The new burrow is a lot bigger and I spent two days digging it.

I still have to buy more concrete blocks to extend the cover over the tunnel for the additional length and added height.

DSCN1396_zps2474c7a4.jpg


I used a 55 gal drum this time around and I’m not so sure if he like the extra space.

DSCN1384_zps30f5f4eb.jpg
 

ascott

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I am surprised that he does not climb the burrow you made...lol...good length by the way....I have a tort here that will literally launch himself off of any thing that is raised and has a ledge....face plants each and every time.....then shakes it off and keeps going...and likely the reason the tort was not able to readily right himself is that the place his roll over happened is smooth hard surface vs dirt....does make a difference....

Also, they love to wedge into places they see...so when I looked at the pic you showed of the lines to the ac unit, I noticed that there was a small space between the unit and the wall the lines are coming out of....so there is hope in the eye of the tort that there is absolutely something he has to get to there...lol.

Also, walk about the enclosure/yard and move and remove any items that are readily movable and trapable to the tort...somewhat like what we do with babies and toddlers in the house.....then let the tort do what he does....he will get use to the space and you will get use to him doing his thing....as long as the space is secure...
 

JohnnyB65

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I am surprised that he does not climb the burrow you made...lol...good length by the way....I have a tort here that will literally launch himself off of any thing that is raised and has a ledge....face plants each and every time.....then shakes it off and keeps going...and likely the reason the tort was not able to readily right himself is that the place his roll over happened is smooth hard surface vs dirt....does make a difference....

Also, they love to wedge into places they see...so when I looked at the pic you showed of the lines to the ac unit, I noticed that there was a small space between the unit and the wall the lines are coming out of....so there is hope in the eye of the tort that there is absolutely something he has to get to there...lol.

Also, walk about the enclosure/yard and move and remove any items that are readily movable and trapable to the tort...somewhat like what we do with babies and toddlers in the house.....then let the tort do what he does....he will get use to the space and you will get use to him doing his thing....as long as the space is secure...
Thanks for the advice and yes he did climb up on top of the mound and luckily did not fall. I stuck blocks around it to keep him from climbing back up, but I just haven't had the time to finish the blocks permanently around it. I need to do some more digging and add a layer below the wall in the front to make the blocks level to tie it all together.

Anyway so I came home today from work and found him upside down trying to get inside the dogs area. I have a 9” high plywood barrier to keep the tortoise out, but he is persistent. I don’t know how long he was upside down, but there was quite a bit of tortoise poo all the way around him. the dogs were jumping over him like he wasn't even there.

It was 103°F outside today and my dogs room is cooled around 77°F so I think he must have been trying to get cool after his normal walk around the yard in this heat. He kept going back to the entrance until I carried him back to his burrow and placed him inside the tunnel which he quickly disappeared into.

I don’t know what the temp was inside his burrow, but it should be cool because I have a lawn sprinkler to wet the outside top of his burrow a little during the heat of the day and the evaporation should cool it. Hopefully I can get the blocks done soon and get some ground cover over the dirt so it doesn't dry out too fast.
 

JohnnyB65

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The dog’s entrance is his newest obsession. The bottom is 9” high and the tortoise can manage to get his legs over the top, but can’t quite pull himself over.

DoogDoor_1_zps02c98a92.jpg
 

ascott

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The bottom is 9” high and the tortoise can manage to get his legs over the top, but can’t quite pull himself over.

This may be the death of the tortoise....I don't say that for any reason other than to forewarn you---once a tortoise believes he can do something, even if he likely can not....the tortoise will be relentless....and if the tortoise happens to turn over and does so at the start of the day...before anyone will know any better....he can absolutely die. If there was alot of waste from him around him, then he had been that way for some time....their lungs can be compressed by their entire innards pressing against them....a slow suffocation.

Also, I don't know if you are aware of the damage a dog (even a small one) can do to a tortoise...again, not saying your dogs are bad, but they are dogs....so just a word of caution.....is the door block thing across the dogs room that height so that the dogs can get out but the tort not in?
 

JohnnyB65

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.....is the door block thing across the dogs room that height so that the dogs can get out but the tort not in?
Yes and I may make it higher so he can't get his legs over it, but I don't think it will stop him from trying.
I was driving along the 395 near Adelanto CA and saw a short fence maybe a 2 ft high along the highway and wondered if that was to keep Desert Tortoises from crossing the highway. I may put a short fence up in front of the dogs area so the dogs can jump over it but the tortoise can't climb it. I know that fences aren't the best because they can see the other side, but at least they can't climb up on it and tip over.
 

ascott

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I was driving along the 395 near Adelanto CA and saw a short fence maybe a 2 ft high along the highway and wondered if that was to keep Desert Tortoises from crossing the highway. I may put a short fence up in front of the dogs area so the dogs can jump over it but the tortoise can't climb it. I know that fences aren't the best because they can see the other side, but at least they can't climb up on it and tip over.

Yes, the fencing was part of some deal somewhere....between developers/road builders/military/destructive solar plant idiots and the government.....you know, the folks that profit off of demolishing the most prime parts of our natural deserts.... problem comes into play that after a few monsoons that roll through and flash flooding throughout the deserts , the fencing is no longer effective...also, there are alot of wide open entries throughout for roadways and such....I still am not convinced it works....I mean, the logical deduction would be, since the natural population has been decimated the number of road kills would also have dropped significantly....and then the fencing goes up and the government gets some fluffed up credit for the reduced numbers killed....when in all actuality it likely would have been so even without the fencing...but the fencing is a "feel good" prop.....

Here is the thing that I have noticed about fencing...either a tort will be a fence tester or it will not....however, each tortoise that I have ever observed, the ones here as well, will always be adventurous WITHIN their space. I believe that the tort sees the dogs going in and out of that opening, the tortoise feels the cooler air coming from that space ...the tortoise has determined (in tort reasoning) that if the other animals are going in and out of there, so is he....so if you are going to use something to block the doorway, yet leave it open enough for the dogs to get in and out....perhaps put some type of taller barrier--then perhaps put a shelf on either side of the barrier that is adequate and correctly placed in height for the dogs....but not something that the tort can/will try to climb...and the barrier should be something of solid nature, so the tort is not furthered enticed by the perceived opportunity to get there....that may not be feasible...but it is what comes to mind...
 

JohnnyB65

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Hmm! The shelf idea is a good one. I could cantilever a deck out through the door and counter weight it on the inside with concrete patio stones so it will not tip over when the dogs step on it. It could be high enough that the tort can’t climb it and only be able to go under it.

Maybe he will be satisfied with just being under it during the hot days and not try climbing. I could also use a screen or something so the cool air goes under step as well. I just don’t want him spending the night out there.

He used to hangout on an eastern inside corner of our house where the sun only shined in the morning. We had a garden in that corner so it was pretty cool during the afternoons. I used to worry about him spending the night there because of raccoons coming through so I would take him to the entrance of his burrow each night well before it got dark.

There was one night when I was busy and was late to move him as it was getting dark, but as I ran outside to get him, I saw him actually running to his den like a scared rabbet. I quit moving him after that, but would only check to make sure he went in on his own
 

ascott

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. I could cantilever a deck out through the door and counter weight it on the inside with concrete patio stones so it will not tip over when the dogs step on it. It could be high enough that the tort can’t climb it and only be able to go under it.

Exactly....perfect....I bet this would work well.

Also, you may have to resort back to moving him to his burrow again at nights if you find him in this location.....new stuff/discoveries may warrant this....
 

JohnnyB65

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Well I had a long day today and I didn’t have much time to build anything so my wife stepped up and made something out of concrete blocks and a piece of plywood. She says it worked because he just walked around it and under it before leaving to the far northeast corner of the yard. I don’t know what he was doing back there, but he came back with spider webs all over his head and shell. Well at least he came back in one piece. I guess I’ll have to close off that area to him as well. You are right hes just like a kid and you just don't know what hes going to get into next. ;)
 

JohnnyB65

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Well as much as I hate dividing up my yard with fencing, I guess I’m going to have to.
Yesterday he was under an outdoor work bench in the farthest southwestern corner from his burrow and that is the hottest place on my property with a lot of concrete and steel to heat up during the day. I don’t want him over there at all so I’m thinking of confining him to his borrow location like I had before. It’s really a pain for me because I have to get in that area a lot to work and I just don’t like the looks of a fence in that part of the yard.
 

JohnnyB65

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What did you have before? Did he like the space then?
Yes he did like his place before, but I felt that it was too small because it looked like his shell was getting deformed or shaped like the pipe.

This is what his place looked like before I extended it. (I removed all the tortoise statues since)

MrTsnewlandscaping.jpg


Below is a video from the first summer he lived in it showing the inside and he is much bigger now. One thing I want to point out is that when I first built it, I had dirt halfway up the pipe all the way through to the end. When I just dug it all up, I noticed that he moved all the dirt from the last 2 ft toward the entrance so that he was sleeping on the rounded portion of the pipe.

 
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