Just how cold-tolerant are chaco tortoises?

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GeoTerraTestudo

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How far south in South America (Argentina) do chaco tortoises (Chelonoidis chilensis) go. How cold-tolerant are they, and are they good burrowers? People don't really brumate (hibernate) them in captivity, but how often do they do so in the wild? I don't keep this species, but since they are from the southern temperate zone, I'm just wondering how they compare to the Gopherus and Testudo species in terms of the climate they live in, and their adaptations to it. :tort:
 

Benjamin

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When I was keeping a group of them I usually brought them indoors if the low temp was forecasted below 50F. If it was raining and going to be under 60F they would come in as well.
 

tortadise

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Its tricky with these guys. Their range spans from Bolivia to Paraguay. So depending on where the wild specimens are dictate the winter. They are excellent burrow excavators. Southern gran chaco can get as low as 32 at night and up to 93 the next afternoon. Then in patagonian regions it can stay 69-84 for months. The weather there has so many variables. Cold wet, cold dry, warm dry, warm wet. Ive always kept mine warm. In the winter they slow way down unless humidity is very high. They seem to not favor cold and dry. But love very hot and dry and very hot and humid stimulates copulation. Next year i will be making a trip to research these guys in their natural range. Hope to figure more scientific data on this.
 

GeoTerraTestudo

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tortadise said:
Its tricky with these guys. Their range spans from Bolivia to Paraguay. So depending on where the wild specimens are dictate the winter. They are excellent burrow excavators. Southern gran chaco can get as low as 32 at night and up to 93 the next afternoon. Then in patagonian regions it can stay 69-84 for months. The weather there has so many variables. Cold wet, cold dry, warm dry, warm wet. Ive always kept mine warm. In the winter they slow way down unless humidity is very high. They seem to not favor cold and dry. But love very hot and dry and very hot and humid stimulates copulation. Next year i will be making a trip to research these guys in their natural range. Hope to figure more scientific data on this.

Thanks! Okay, so they don't like it cold and dry. Well, that means they would not like Denver winters, where the humidity can get into the single digits.

Your comment kind of confirms what I've read, that although chacos are not tropical, they are not really built for winters in the northern temperate zone, either. I suppose it makes sense, because although they are at a fairly high latitude, it's not necessarily as high a latitude as some of the Gopherus or Testudo species. Plus, South America becomes narrower in the far south, so you're going to have influence from the oceans on either side, with more moisture and temperature buffering.

From what I've read, there may be three subspecies of the chaco tortoise, with C. chilensis petersi coming from lower latitudes, C. chilensis chilensis coming from low-to-medium latitudes, and C. chilensis donosobarrosi coming from higher latitudes:

http://www.testudines.org/en/taxons/taxon/96/distribution

Do you know which subspecies or type you have?
 

tortadise

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I know 3 are chilensis chilensis, and one appears to be petersi. The c.c.d. Are the patagonian. They get very round and kinda flat. Typically have black spot in the center of each scute. They are considered critically endangered in Argentina. I saw one for sale like 10 years ago. They can all successfully breed though. Not sure if they will classify them different species or not. A good amount of field studies were done in the 70s-90$ and then nothing. That I could find at least.

Definitely spot on with the weather system down yonder. The Andies im sure play a big role in pacific storm systems. Kinda like the backside of the devils peak(i think thats the name) in Madagascar and how it blocks rainfall from western to eastern side, so it creates a tropical lush on one side and arid desert on the other.
 

Benjamin

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The Turtle Conservamcy has very good video online about. They travel the range looking to firgure things out. They left weather data loggers in places to study the weather patterns. They also collected DNA samples from animals across the range. I have not found where these results are located though.
 

GeoTerraTestudo

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Benjamin said:
The Turtle Conservamcy has very good video online about. They travel the range looking to firgure things out. They left weather data loggers in places to study the weather patterns. They also collected DNA samples from animals across the range. I have not found where these results are located though.

Ah, good to know! I found the trailer for the video on YouTube. Looks like the video costs $18 on DVD, or $8 to download. I just might have to get it!

[video=youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_OiMYZRiAc[/video]

http://turtleconservancy.org/argentinetortoise/
 
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