Hello from Southern California

thelifeofbuttons

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Hi!
My name is Kelly, and I have two young Desert Tortoises, my oldest, who I have had for 6 years, is named Stillwater, is 9 years old. Stillwater likes to sleep stretched out with his head resting on his arm, or on one of the pieces of drift wood in their hutch. My youngest, who I've had since birth, is named Scout, and is just 3 years old. He or she was the runt of the clutch, and still remains pretty small. Scout loves to hang out in their water dish a lot, and is a much more sound sleeper than Stillwater. :)

Also in our family, are a daddy, two little boys, and a Boston Terrier. We live in Southern California, about 30 minutes inland from the ocean, so an get some very warm weather.

I am currently in the very slow process of building our tortoises a habitat in our back yard, and so I will be looking for help with certain areas pertaining to developing them the ultimate space.

Looking forward to my time here!
Thank you!
Stillwater and Scout.jpeg
 
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Yvonne G

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Hi Kelly, and welcome to the Forum!

The tortoise in your picture almost looks like a sulcata. Desert tortoises don't usually grow bumpy shells like that. Can we see more pictures?

Your tortoises will benefit from having a bit more moisture in their habitats. The moisture helps them to grow smoothly.
 

russian/sulcata/tortoise

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Hi Kelly, and welcome to the Forum!

The tortoise in your picture almost looks like a sulcata. Desert tortoises don't usually grow bumpy shells like that. Can we see more pictures?

Your tortoises will benefit from having a bit more moisture in their habitats. The moisture helps them to grow smoothly.
i have to disagree with you:eek:. if you look the tortoise in the picture has a nuchal scute behind its head. sulcatas don't have those:p
 

thelifeofbuttons

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Thank you for the warm welcome, everyone!

Hi Kelly, and welcome to the Forum!

The tortoise in your picture almost looks like a sulcata. Desert tortoises don't usually grow bumpy shells like that. Can we see more pictures?

Your tortoises will benefit from having a bit more moisture in their habitats. The moisture helps them to grow smoothly.

I agree Stillwater has a bit more of a bumpy shell, but I do know for a fact that both my tortoises are Desert Tortoises. I thought it may be from not enough sun exposure, when he lived indoors, in a terrarium, for the first few years...(?) They have been living outdoors full time for 2.5 years now. They have exposure to morning and afternoon sun, and I graze them in the yard a few days a week. Since then, he's had some really good growth spurts, but his shell remains the same. I've always wondered how I could help his shell become more smooth, but can they actually change that much and smooth out, after developing ridges like that? I'm really interested to learn as much as I possibly can to help provide them with the best possible home I can.

Thank you!
Here's a another photo of the same tortoise. Sorry, it's probably not that great to see his shell, but it's all I have until I can take better pictures. Unfortunately, right now I have a sick little boy, so I'll have to get to those maybe tomorrow.
stillwater.jpeg
 
M

Maggie Cummings

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desert tortoises don't usually pyramid. I'm thinking if they are living on those rocks they are too dry. Also they need to eat everyday not a few days a week. ...Welcome to TFO, Gopherus agassizii are about my favorite tortoises and you are (in my mind) lucky enough to keep 2. Sorry, about your little boy, I hope he's not sick too long...
 

thelifeofbuttons

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Pyramiding is cause by growth in conditions that are too dry.
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-end-of-pyramiding.15137/
desert tortoises don't usually pyramid. I'm thinking if they are living on those rocks they are too dry. Also they need to eat everyday not a few days a week. ...Welcome to TFO, Gopherus agassizii are about my favorite tortoises and you are (in my mind) lucky enough to keep 2. Sorry, about your little boy, I hope he's not sick too long...

Thank you all for the awesome information already. I feel like I should explain their living situation a bit more. I used to house the big guy in a terrarium, as he was just a little guy, and we have very large racoons and possum who roam our neighborhood. In the terrarium, I used coconut substrate, with a large water dish, and a sun lamp.

A few years ago, I was able to secure a rabbit hutch, which I converted to a Tortoise hutch, and reinforced to keep the ROUS's (Rodents of Unusual Size) out. I use coconut substrate and terrarium specific wood chips, with a large saucer of water which is cleaned and refreshed almost daily, large enough for soaking.

I have always grazed my tortoises in my yard. In the last year, after further research, I started flooding the area of my lawn that needed the most water, with a running hose, while I grazed the tortoises, so they could soak, and I'd hose them off, to give them a little shower. Prior to that, I always soaked them in a tub, every other week, for as along as they seemed interested to hang out there.

The pictures that were taken were while they were playing in the yard. They love to hang out on the rocks under my avocado tree.

It seems like it would make a lot of sense that perhaps not enough water and/or humidity would be a part of pyramiding. It seems to be prevalent in my oldest who lived in the terrarium for the longest, because although there wasn't as much "real sun" exposure, there was also the least amount of water in the environment, as it was hard to fit a large water saucer and it never occurred to me to mist in there. It always seemed that considering their native habitat, humidity is the last thing one would consider. My littlest seems to not show too many signs of pyramiding, but he's loved to hang out in his water since he was born...a real water baby. ;)

I appreciate everyone's opinions!! The amount I have learned in just the last couple days, since introducing myself has been invaluable! Keep that wisdom coming, please!

I'm planning on posting a thread in the area about habitats, because I'm in the beginning stages of building a large area in my yard for them to safely live and I want it to be over-the-top awesome! I do feel amazingly fortunate to have two, because I realize how special they are.

And thank you for the well wishes for my little man.
 

Tom

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May I call you TLOB for short?

Anyhow, You've done a really great job. Way better than most people. I'm sure that given your routine, you have very healthy tortoises. The grazing, sunning, indoor heat lamp and access to water are all very important details.

There is really nothing to be done about it now, but I thought I might offer some insight into the pyramiding thing... We all to to the native environment for clues about how best to keep these animals in captivity. Its the most logical place to look. A walk in the Mojave or Sonoran desert will confirm that it is very hot, dry and harsh there. The problem with this is that tortoise don't live above ground where the humans who visit the desert to take temperature and humidity measurements are. The desert that these tortoises experience underground is FAR different than the desert we experience above ground. For the past few years I have been experimenting with all sorts of underground housing for fossorial species of tortoises and the difference between above ground and just a couple feet under is astounding. Temperatures are much more stable. The extremes are taken away. Humidity is much higher and more stable than above ground.

One analogy that I use to explain it is this: Imagine how well a desert earthworm would do in your baby tortoises enclosure. We need to house DT babies in a way that earthworms could survive.

The typical open topped indoor enclosure in a heated and air-conditioned house, with a hot lightbulb overhead is extremely dry. The often have single digit humidity near the light bulb. This is not good for any species, but this is typically what is recommended for DT babies. Many of them don't survive it. I suspect your providing the water bowl is what has saved your two when they were younger. Even the commonly recommend outdoor above ground backyard housing is too dry in my area and my experience.

I combat this dryness with damp substrates, humid hides and daily soaks for hatchlings. I keep the outdoor sunning and grazing sessions short and sweet and gradually leave them outside in safe enclosures longer as they can size. I try to always follow sunning sessions with a soak. Once they get big enough to stay outside all day, I make sure they have some sort of underground housing to get away from the hot sun and dry conditions.

Anyway, glad you found the site useful and hope you have lots more questions.

Here are some underground housing ideas from my sulcata and russian enclosures just for fun:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/daisys-new-enclosure.28662/
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/semi-underground-russian-box.98590/
 
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