Marginated Burrowing

Becca267

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2017
Messages
79
Location (City and/or State)
North Texas
Our marginated tortoise has recently started to dig himself down a few inches (3-5) into the soil in his enclosure. Always in the same area (under one of his favorite plants...sometimes under its root ball). He's outside with daytime highs in the mid 80s and night time lows 65-72 right now. Is this normal? Should I be doing something extra for him? He never appears to eat anything we give him, but has lots of edible plants in his enclosure and pooping, so I've stopped worrying about that. He's our first tortoise so we're new and I don't want to mess up.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
39,865
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
I'm not familiar with marginateds. However, does he have a hide available to go into?
I would only worry about night time if he's left out all night without being closed up in a hide. Also would worry about rain and a possible collapse. If he has a hide, but won't use it, try moving it to the area he is going.
 

tortoiseplanet

Active Member
Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
290
Location (City and/or State)
Earth
Make a artificial pen for him that is rainproof. If he's only hiding in his own diggings that could be fatal. Rainfall will collapse the dirt and he could die, it had happened too many times. You could simply buy a tiny out door dog house that he could crawl into or if your a handy man you could screw up some wood and make it yourself. Another idea is getting a large plastic bin and you could flip it over and cut a square entrance for him to go into. Of course it's based off your preferences and how large the tortoise is.

Sincerely, Dylan
Instagram: @tortoiseplanet
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
88,550
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Tortoises need to thermoregulate. This means they sit in the sun to warm up and they find suitable shade to cool down. If there isn't a nice, shady house or bush to cool down under, a tortoise will dig down into the earth to find a cool spot. I don't have marginated tortoises, but I have Russians. I have provided a dog house for the Russians and they don't use it, but rather they have dug UNDER it to shelter. And there's one large female who insists upon digging down under the grass in the middle of the yard.

A tortoise does what it has to do to keep itself comfortable.
 

Becca267

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2017
Messages
79
Location (City and/or State)
North Texas
He has a nice "cave" made out of stacked rocks, but stopped using it once he discovered his favorite plant. That was the same time we modified it a bit. Maybe we accidently "ruined" it. Would it be a goof idea to switch it back? He also has a hollowed out log he has never liked.

He is shaded by the house and a gigantic fig tree, but I'm going to add some shrubbery of some sort. He may need more overhead cover to feel comfortable.

I watered everything really well yesterday, especially his plant because I was worried about its root damage. Today he didn't dig down, just made a nice depression in the soil. I'm wondering if the lack of water was part of the problem. (He always has access to a terra cotta dish with water).
 

tglazie

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Jul 21, 2010
Messages
631
Location (City and/or State)
San Antonio, TX
This is perfectly normal. I have a male, Joey, who behaves in this fashion constantly. There's this bunch of English plantain on some loose soil that he enjoys digging down into. Whenever the nights drop into the upper fifties, he retreats to the insulated shelter. But this past week, temps have been in the upper eighties in the day and the mid sixties at night. The summer dryness is also starting to creep in, so he's definitely using this strategy as a means of preserving his level of hydration. So long as you're soaking your margie regularly, and so long as he/she is making solid poop, it shouldn't be anything to worry about. Interestingly, this behavior does vary depending upon the tortoise in question. My largest, Big Gino, never burrows anymore, despite the fact that he used to do it constantly. Most younger margies do burrow, I've found, but it isn't most by much. The majority do, but it's not at all unusual to see ones that don't. They aren't Russians, for example, which in my experience, always burrow whenever given facilities to do so.

T.G.
 
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top