Free roaming

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crazyfaerie

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Hey All :)

My name is Amy and I am the very proud owner of an 8 year old leopard tortoise called Malawi...I have had him just over two months after rehoming him from a lady who was moving house and couldn't take him with her...I need some advise on him though and hope you guys can help...

The lady had him from a hatchling and has always let him free roam her house with a basking/water/sleeping area in the cupboard under the stairs!...We have replicated this in our house with an open fronted viv with a big sleeping area and basking spot etc....However he does spend a lot of time away from his viv and this is what is worrying me! I have lots of reptiles from tiny gecko's to african rock pythons so have a decent enough knowledge to know that as a reptile he should be thermoregulating...Now he does come back to his tank so he does bask but not for as long as I thought he would...When I asked the lady about it she said he would quite often just fall asleep at night under the coffee table!

We have tried him in a massive table and also cornering off a section of the room but he just gets very stressed trying to get out so we gave up and let him go again and he is so happy just wadering around the room! I have lots of other species of tortoise but all live in tables and vivs so this is completely alien to me!

He is very safe in the room he is in and I know he cannot get hurt so I am not worried about him in that respect I'm just not sure if him free roaming will actually have any effects on his health...The room sits around 21 degrees ish in the daytime so is quite a bit colder than a care sheet would recommend for him...Can reptiles aclimatise to life like this?

Any advise on him is more than welcome :)
 

jtrux

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Where do you live? Have you ever considered letting him outside?
 

Greg T

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Don't expect him to act the same in your house as he did before. He will make new habits based on his new house. And don't worry about thermoregulating, especially inside. he is old enough to know what temps he wants and will move accordingly.

You'll probably catch flack over letting him free roam the house. That can be dangerous because he may eat stuff off the floor, or possibly get into insect/rat poisons. Make sure you watch where he goes and keep it clean. I'm amazed at people who let them free roam because I've seen the poop piles my big ones create and that would ruin a carpet instantly, not to mention the gallons of pee. whew!
 

Yvonne G

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In my opinion, he should be left in his viv. If he scrambles the walls trying to get out, too bad. He belongs in there.
 

jtrux

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I guess if you soak him regularly and he goes to the bathroom when he soaks you would probably be ok letting him wander around. A member on here Cemmons has a big Sulcata that he lets roam around his house so it can be done.
 

Tortus

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When I was a kid I had a free roaming iguana. It had one potty spot though and we kept puppy pads there so waste wasn't a problem. It would go back in its enclosure to bask and eat. But it would never, ever relieve itself in there.

If it was something that would poo just anywhere there's no way I'd let it wander around all the time. You'd probably get used to the smell, but guests would notice.
 

Team Gomberg

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Can you post a picture of your leopard? I am very curios to see how a house wandering Leo looks after 8 years.
 

crazyfaerie

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Pictures as requested :)

20121105_153318.jpg


20121014_132350.jpg


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20121105_152246.jpg
 

Greg T

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Not bad looking. Good coloring. As expected he is a bit small for his age and there is some pyramiding and overgrown beak. Make sure he gets plenty of food an water and feed him on a hard surface like a piece of slate or ceramic floor tile so he can wear the beak back down to normal. You can pick them up at Home Depot for $1.
 

crazyfaerie

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I have a piece of slate for him to eat off and his beak has gone down a little in the time I have had him so I'm hoping that will be back to normal soon :)

I have started to put him back in his viv when he falls asleep so he wakes up and gets the heat off his lights, does anyone know if he will eventually learn to take himself back to his viv? Are they trainable like that or do they not pay any attention?
 

EKLC

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I would try to fence off a piece of the house for him to live in. It is too hard to keep track of little things on the floor he could eat or cords he could chew through. And even if he seems to prefer going to cooler areas, it's not good for him to spend that much time in the cold. I made a 4' x 8' indoor area for my sulcata, which is plenty of room, and I only had to buy two boards.
 

Greg T

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I'm curious about how train-able they are also. I'd like to build an outdoor shed to keep my adults in over winter but I'm afraid they will stay outside in the cold weather. If I knew they would come into the heated shed after some training then I'd feel better about it.
 

Tom

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Most tortoises will become habituated to a routine. I guess this is sort of "training", but often people build the routine around the animals preferences. The former owner may have put the heat under the stairs because the tortoise seemed to favor that area for sleeping or hanging out. In a new house, the tortoise may prefer a different area.

Down on the floor in a typical UK or, or a North American house for that matter, it is too cold for a leopard. Yes they can survive it for a while. They do get through winters in parts of their natural range, but living this way full time in a cool area like the UK is more or less perpetual winter which is not good for any animal. I prefer to keep them up off of the floor and in a proper enclosure with the correct temps and conditions for that species. If he is used to having a whole house to roam in then sure, he is going to pace and try to climb the walls. Any tortoise will do this in any enclosure. A couple of years ago I took in a 60 pound sulcata from a rescue. She had lived in a dirt floored 8x8' enclosure for many years. I put her into my 7000 sq. ft. outdoor enclosure that wraps around a building, has two "wings", a hillside, 3 trees, grazing areas and many nooks and crannies for hiding and exploring, and all she did for the first two months was pace the walls all day long looking for any weakness where should could escape. I would put her outside the enclosure during the day and give her the run of the entire 5 acre ranch, and all she did was pace THAT perimeter looking for an escape route. After two months she seemed to settle down and now seems quite happy and content with her free food, warm night house and large roaming areas. The point is, stick your new tortoise in a large, but proper enclosure, and he'll get used to it in time. Getting sick or injured from being on the floor will be far worse than a little bit of normal adjustment stress he will experience from being confined to a new area.
 
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