Desert Tortoises here in Tucson.

HammersTow

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Joined
May 19, 2021
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Tucson, AZ
Hi everybody, I'm a new tort mom here in Tucson, AZ. I've never had tortoises before so know next to nothing. I inhereted two desert torts, Mickey and Minny, and have had them for about a year. They have a large area, relatively speaking, with a water source, a den that is well insulated, lots of shaded places and a dog who totally ignores her and cats who do the same. My only problem or fear is that I rarely see the female, Minny, eating. The male eats well, everyday, but Minny, not so much. I've never seen her eat anything I have put out for them. The only time I see her eat is when I take her out on supervised walks and she eats the native plants. Unfortunately I can't walk her every day and I worry that she isn't getting enough to eat. Last spring I harvested a bunch of dried native grasses and kept them in paper bags in my work shop and fed her those. But I'm all out of that and they haven't grown yet this year so again, I'm afraid she isn't eating enough.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 

Tom

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Hi everybody, I'm a new tort mom here in Tucson, AZ. I've never had tortoises before so know next to nothing. I inhereted two desert torts, Mickey and Minny, and have had them for about a year. They have a large area, relatively speaking, with a water source, a den that is well insulated, lots of shaded places and a dog who totally ignores her and cats who do the same. My only problem or fear is that I rarely see the female, Minny, eating. The male eats well, everyday, but Minny, not so much. I've never seen her eat anything I have put out for them. The only time I see her eat is when I take her out on supervised walks and she eats the native plants. Unfortunately I can't walk her every day and I worry that she isn't getting enough to eat. Last spring I harvested a bunch of dried native grasses and kept them in paper bags in my work shop and fed her those. But I'm all out of that and they haven't grown yet this year so again, I'm afraid she isn't eating enough.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
They need to be housed separately. Tortoises should never be housed in pairs. This is extremely stressful on them and appetite suppression is just one side effect of this chronic stress. The female is living in constant fear. Separate them ASAP.

Your dog might not have shown interest yet, but first hand experience, and dozens of cases here on the forum, tell me that it eventually will. The dog cannot be allowed access to the tortoise area and vice versa. There was yet another case just yesterday. Dogs do what dogs do. It doesn't matter how nice or well trained your dog is. Ignore this at your own peril. Do a search for "dog attack" here on the forum and let the pics you see sink in. Notice how most of them never thought their dog would do this. They will.

Most of the care info given for DTs is wrong. Its old, outdated and based on incorrect assumptions. Here is the correct care info:
 
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HammersTow

New Member
Joined
May 19, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Tucson, AZ
They need to be housed separately. Tortoises should never be housed in pairs. This is extremely stressful on them and appetite suppression is just one side effect of this chronic stress. The female is living in constant fear. Separate them ASAP.

Your dog might not have shown interest yet, but first hand experience, and dozens of cases here on the forum tell me that it eventually will. The dog cannot be allowed access to the tortoise area and vice versa. There was yet another case just yesterday. Dogs do what dogs do. It doesn't matter how nice or well trained your dog is. Ignore this at your own peril. Do a search for "dog attack" here on the forum and let the pics you see sink in. Notice how most of them never thought their dog would do this. They will.

Most of the care info given for DTs is wrong. Its old, outdated and based on incorrect assumptions. Here is the correct care info:
Thank you so much for the info. I'm buildiing a seperat enclosure for her this weekend and in the meantime she can stay in my garden. There's nothing planted at the moment so she should be fine there although it isn't as roomy as the other enclosure.
 

HammersTow

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May 19, 2021
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Tucson, AZ
Wow! That was quite a read! Thank you again. And it opened my eyes as to something I see on the male tortoise. I think he has the beginnings of pyramiding. I'm not really sure. I got him a little less than a year ago and his shell seems to be the same now as when I got him. But I have noticed his shell has the beginnings of peaks where as the female is smooth. Here is a picture of the male. Is this pyramiding? His diet consists of greens like collard greens, beet greens, chard, the occasional carrot. In the summer months when the prickly pear fruit are ripe as well as another cactus which I don't know the name of I feed them the fruits. These plus dried native grasses are pretty much it for the diet. I've read that they need supplementation of calcium so I'm buying some today. Is there anything else that I didn't pick up on in that wonderful article? Your help is greatly appreciated. It's not their fault they have to live in captivity so I want to do right by them, I just need a little guidance. 20210519_124846[1].jpg
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Wow! That was quite a read! Thank you again. And it opened my eyes as to something I see on the male tortoise. I think he has the beginnings of pyramiding. I'm not really sure. I got him a little less than a year ago and his shell seems to be the same now as when I got him. But I have noticed his shell has the beginnings of peaks where as the female is smooth. Here is a picture of the male. Is this pyramiding? His diet consists of greens like collard greens, beet greens, chard, the occasional carrot. In the summer months when the prickly pear fruit are ripe as well as another cactus which I don't know the name of I feed them the fruits. These plus dried native grasses are pretty much it for the diet. I've read that they need supplementation of calcium so I'm buying some today. Is there anything else that I didn't pick up on in that wonderful article? Your help is greatly appreciated. It's not their fault they have to live in captivity so I want to do right by them, I just need a little guidance. View attachment 325457
He's well past the stage where pyramids will form. That is more a concern for small growing babies.

Your diet should be more weeds, grasses and leaves, less grocery store produce. No carrots. More spineless opuntia pads. Look for local grape or mulberry leaves.
 

Yvonne G

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Your female is probably wild caught. Some wild caught tortoises don't acclimate to being captured and don't recognze store bought food as edible.
 

HammersTow

New Member
Joined
May 19, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Tucson, AZ
A lot of big chain grocery stores carry cactus pads and aloe vera
I live out in the boonies with lots of cactus around me. I don't think I'll have a problem finding some for them to eat. I've got the regular prickly pear but also some that have no needles. You're right though, I do believe they are both wild caught. A friend of mine has rental units near where I live. Some tenants she had owned these two which she said she had caught wild. When she skipped out on a months rent she left the tortoise behind in the bathtub of the rental. My friend already had a tortoise and couldn't handle any more pets so she asked me to take them....Voila, instant tort mom.
 
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