my 19 years old Chaco tortoise, Bureaucracy

fabzu

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Berisso, Argentina
hey everyone! I just discovered this beautiful forum and wanted to introduce my tort :):tort:
she's been with me for around 19 years now, I live in Berisso, Argentina. it's very humid here pretty much the entire year. her shell is 23cm long and 16cm wide.
I haven't found much information about the species so I'd like to know how long can they be expected to live, and if she will continue to grow.

IMG_20201024_133621.jpg IMG_20201024_134031.jpg
 

turtlesteve

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She’s beautiful. She is fully grown at that age. I am not sure I have ever seen an estimated longevity of this species, but 50 years or more is likely.

Not much is written on these in captivity, as so few people keep them outside of their native range. They were imported into the US in times past, but very few survived. That, combined with them being fairly difficult to breed and incubate, has kept them uncommon.
 

fabzu

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Berisso, Argentina
She’s beautiful. She is fully grown at that age. I am not sure I have ever seen an estimated longevity of this species, but 50 years or more is likely.

Not much is written on these in captivity, as so few people keep them outside of their native range. They were imported into the US in times past, but very few survived. That, combined with them being fairly difficult to breed and incubate, has kept them uncommon.
thanks for the info!
if my memory isn't failing, I think that around the time I got her they were pretty common here, but soon after it became illegal to sell / buy them anymore.
 

fabzu

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Berisso, Argentina

turtlesteve

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Yep, these are good references. I’d love to hear more about how you are keeping this one. Do you allow her to brumate (go dormant) in winter? If so, for how long and what temperatures does she experience? Has she ever laid eggs?

I have seen posts on YouTube where it seems they are still widely kept and bred in Argentina. Is the prohibition there only on selling them?

Steve
 

fabzu

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Berisso, Argentina
Yep, these are good references. I’d love to hear more about how you are keeping this one. Do you allow her to brumate (go dormant) in winter? If so, for how long and what temperatures does she experience? Has she ever laid eggs?

I have seen posts on YouTube where it seems they are still widely kept and bred in Argentina. Is the prohibition there only on selling them?

Steve
yes, I do. I was never really educated about their behavior unfortunately, so I just didn't want to interfere with what she always did. she usually goes dormant around late April/early May. that's when the weather starts to go colder here. she always hides inside a sort of shed I have and stays there until late September/early October when spring starts. winters here range between 5 and 15 Celsius, with only a few days between 0 and 5 celsius.
she has never laid eggs.
the prohibition is on breeding and selling them, don't know about keeping them as pets. although I honestly don't think that this laws are being enforced very much, and from what I just read there still is a big black market.
 

turtlesteve

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yes, I do. I was never really educated about their behavior unfortunately, so I just didn't want to interfere with what she always did. she usually goes dormant around late April/early May. that's when the weather starts to go colder here. she always hides inside a sort of shed I have and stays there until late September/early October when spring starts. winters here range between 5 and 15 Celsius, with only a few days between 0 and 5 celsius.
she has never laid eggs.
the prohibition is on breeding and selling them, don't know about keeping them as pets. although I honestly don't think that this laws are being enforced very much, and from what I just read there still is a big black market.
Well, in their native climate, letting her figure it out is probably for the best. Here in the states some people brumate and some don’t. It can be risky, and I am aware of someone that had some die during brumation. Does she stay dormant for 5 months straight, or will she come out if you have warm weather mid-winter?
 

fabzu

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Berisso, Argentina
Well, in their native climate, letting her figure it out is probably for the best. Here in the states some people brumate and some don’t. It can be risky, and I am aware of someone that had some die during brumation. Does she stay dormant for 5 months straight, or will she come out if you have warm weather mid-winter?
it depends on how cold in general the winter is, but yeah she's definitely come out some warmer days during winter, very sparsely though.
 

Sarah2020

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Welcome. Lovely looking tortoise. Thanks for sharing, it is nice to see other varieties .
 

Texangie55

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hey everyone! I just discovered this beautiful forum and wanted to introduce my tort :):tort:
she's been with me for around 19 years now, I live in Berisso, Argentina. it's very humid here pretty much the entire year. her shell is 23cm long and 16cm wide.
I haven't found much information about the species so I'd like to know how long can they be expected to live, and if she will continue to grow.

View attachment 309725 View attachment 309726
I have a male Choco Tortoise...found him about 30 years ago...he is about 7 inches front to back of shell...and as far as I have researched, 8 inches is longest I should ever expect..the old articles from the 1990s showed life expectancy in wild to 80 plus years..yours is a lovely healthy specimen and may very well outlive you...I have a daughter here in Texas who has a variety of tortoises...someday she will continue care for Chaco.
 

Texangie55

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This is my Chacos winter home...here in Texas I bring him in the first time Temps get constantly under 60...usually 2nd week of October. Then usually 2nd week of March I take him back out to his enclosed yard...I've been doing this for almost 30 years. When he is outside I feed him yellow squash, Romaine lettuce, red tomatoes, watermelon when in season. I have him on a 10 x 10 foot gravel space with some cover but a good sunny area he can bask in at will. The very best house he has enjoyed on his yard is the top half of a small dog kennel, it looks much like a cave to him. I keep an 18 inch round pan about 2 and a half inches deep buried down in the gravel so he can walk into it easily to soak...had to put some larger rocks in the bottom so me can get traction to push himself up onto the gravel yard and get out of his small pool. He has been the easiest pet I have ever had...never been ill. I can only assume our climate here in Houston area of Texas suits him like his original Argentine home.
Chaco was probably brought here by a migrant family that lived in apartments behind our home in Spring Texas years ago...their child must have outgrown him and possibly they turned him loose in our adjoining wooded property. We found him walking across the end of our driveway one morning taking my daughter to elementary school. We researched him at the library and actually verified his breed with the Herptologist at the Reptile house in the Houston Zoo. My daughter at 36 now, has several Tortoises of her own, backyard pets in Austin, Tx...she is a science teacher....finding Choco may have helped influence her love for science and especially Tortoises.
 

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Texangie55

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This is my Chacos winter home...here in Texas I bring him in the first time Temps get constantly under 60...usually 2nd week of October. Then usually 2nd week of March I take him back out to his enclosed yard...I've been doing this for almost 30 years. When he is outside I feed him yellow squash, Romaine lettuce, red tomatoes, watermelon when in season. I have him on a 10 x 10 foot gravel space with some cover but a good sunny area he can bask in at will. The very best house he has enjoyed on his yard is the top half of a small dog kennel, it looks much like a cave to him. I keep an 18 inch round pan about 2 and a half inches deep buried down in the gravel so he can walk into it easily to soak...had to put some larger rocks in the bottom so me can get traction to push himself up onto the gravel yard and get out of his small pool. He has been the easiest pet I have ever had...never been ill. I can only assume our climate here in Houston area of Texas suits him like his original Argentine home.
Chaco was probably brought here by a migrant family that lived in apartments behind our home in Spring Texas years ago...their child must have outgrown him and possibly they turned him loose in our adjoining wooded property. We found him walking across the end of our driveway one morning taking my daughter to elementary school. We researched him at the library and actually verified his breed with the Herptologist at the Reptile house in the Houston Zoo. My daughter at 36 now, has several Tortoises of her own, backyard pets in Austin, Tx...she is a science teacher....finding Choco may have helped influence her love for science and especially Tortoises.
Forgot to mention...Chaco winters in an open top container with a small towel draped across above him....he has never climbed out or even tried...he can be awakened but basically is in hibernation for almost 4 months. He literally does not eat or drink until March....I have tried hard to not over feed him and have been successful at preventing pyramiding all this time...when he come alive in March I will wash him and warm him in a shallow dish of warm water for about 30 minutes before moving him back outside...I place him in the sunny spot, facing away from the sun so he can self adjust to the brightness....he is a lively , healthy fella.
 

Texangie55

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Forgot to mention...Chaco winters in an open top container with a small towel draped across above him....he has never climbed out or even tried...he can be awakened but basically is in hibernation for almost 4 months. He literally does not eat or drink until March....I have tried hard to not over feed him and have been successful at preventing pyramiding all this time...when he come alive in March I will wash him and warm him in a shallow dish of warm water for about 30 minutes before moving him back outside...I place him in the sunny spot, facing away from the sun so he can self adjust to the brightness....he is a lively , healthy fella.
When he is outside in the warm months...I rarely feed him more than once a week, usually that is an entire yellow squash sliced down the middle and about a half a head of romaine....or replace the squash with two red tomatoes cut in half....it easier for him to eat this stuff in larger pieces...not chopped up in cubes...he takes bites out of the edges like he would in the wild. When we have watermelon I always save a big quarter of the rind with about 2 inches of the red Mellon intact....he loves that...its like desert!
 

Tom

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When he is outside in the warm months...I rarely feed him more than once a week, usually that is an entire yellow squash sliced down the middle and about a half a head of romaine....or replace the squash with two red tomatoes cut in half....it easier for him to eat this stuff in larger pieces...not chopped up in cubes...he takes bites out of the edges like he would in the wild. When we have watermelon I always save a big quarter of the rind with about 2 inches of the red Mellon intact....he loves that...its like desert!
If what you've been doing as far as temperatures and housing has been working, then I say stick with it. I do think the gravel might eventually cost him his life and that you should rake that up and get rid of it.

The diet you are offering is obviously enough to survive on, but I would spend some time learning a bit more about tortoise nutrition and offer some better foods and much more variety.

I typed this up for sulcatas. If you skip the text and scroll down a bit, there is a long list of good tortoise foods. I'd highly recommend planting some spineless opuntia, as that is one of the primary natural foods of your tortoise and also easy to grow here in the US.
 

Relic

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I have the book "south american tortoises", https://www.amazon.com/dp/3899736036/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
(2008) which indicates that in a natural environment Chaco torts can probably live up to 40 years, but like turtlesteve said, there really isn't much information on this species as they are so hard to keep in captivity.
That is my favorite book on S. American tortoises, full of natural history information. It was expensive - even from Amazon (currently over $45) - but well worth it if you have one of these tortoises or are contemplating acquiring one...

I had a couple of Chaco tortoises around 1979-1980. They were freshly imported (I bought them from a reptile importer in Florida) and survived only 6 months or so. Might have been parasite overload internally, but was most likely my knowledge underload about this species, and nowhere to find it.

This is truly the Golden Age of reptilian know-how...
 

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