My 3 year old desert tortoise's poop seems harder than perhaps it should be

mylittlecholla

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Fillmore, California
Hello, everyone! First some background information. I'm a newly registered member of this forum. My name is Jen, my California Desert Tortoise is named Cholla (pronounced Choya) after a cactus common to the Mojave Desert. My husband and I live in Southern California, not too far from what would have been Cholla's native habitat, had she been born in the wild. It's a little more humid here, since it's closer to the coast, but still a dry climate with a low average rainfall and winter temperatures that rarely fall below 40 degrees farenheit.
Cholla was given to me by the grandmother of one of my high school students. She is a knowledgable elderly lady but not too accessible these days. So I'm very grateful for this forum and look forward to reading your responses and advice. I don't mind if any of you are brusque with me,when you think I'm doing something wrong. That's why I'm writing, after all, to find out if I'm screwing up! :) Just know that my husband and I care deeply for our little Chelonian pal.

I have lots of questions to ask at other times, but today I'm inquiring about her poops. They have never been moist or squishy, but they seem to be getting harder and dryer lately, not to mention smaller. She is beginning to brumate, so the smaller size doesn't worry me too much, but the consistency has begun to worry me.

I'll appreciate any input y'all can give me.
 

Yvonne G

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More than likely he's being kept too dry and he's probably dehydrated.
 

Tom

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Hello and welcome. I'm only about 20 minutes east of you in SCV. I pass you on the 126 regularly, and work in Piru frequently too.

So here is the bad news. Almost all of the care listed for this species is wrong. Most babies will die if its followed. Yes they are a desert species, but in the wild they protect themselves from the heat and dryness by finding or creating microclimates. They NEED hydration. Babies should be soaked daily. They should be kept mostly indoors on damp substrate with a humid hide.

At three years old, yours is past the baby stage, but can still benefit from good hydration. The number one killer of DTs is dehydration. Closely followed by the family dog, and incorrect hibernation.

Are you feeding it spineless opuntia pads? You should be. Along with regular soaks, these pads really hydrate them. What do you feed it? What goes in the front end has a lot to do with what comes out the back end.

Here is the most current and correct care info. Questions are welcome:
 

mylittlecholla

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Fillmore, California
Thanks for this reply, Tom. I'm very happy to have heard from you my very first day as a member on the forum. From browsing the forum over the past several months, I'm aware of your expertise

In response to your queries, little Cholla gets a lukewarm soak about every three days, more often if it's super hot, as it was until now around here, as you know!

I did feed her spineless opuntia for a while. She loved it at first, then began ignoring it. I'll be trying it again soon.
She gets a lot of dandelion. Recently she shows little interest in the dandelion leaves (brumation?) that's b/c she's She will, however, never refuse a dandelion flower.

She has discovered and loves knotweed, which I've read is not particularly nutritious for her, but not dangerous. I hope that's right, as she loves to pull and chomp it.

She has plenty of bermuda grass to munch on but shows almost no interest in it.

I add store bought "grassland tortoise" food to her meals, hoping that it might make up for the fact that she refuses to eat the bermuda. She doesn't like the storebought mush but manages to ingest some of it when it's mixed up in her morning "salad."

Her refusal of the fresh grass and wild violets available to her is probably my fault.. When she first came to live with us I started her out with too mu
More than likely he's being kept too dry and he's probably dehydrated.
More than likely he's being kept too dry and he's probably dehydrated.
More than likely he's being kept too dry and he's probably dehydrated.
ch Romaine lettuce, to which she became addicted. For some time now I've trying to "wean" her off of it for the most part and feeding her shredded up grape leaves as well as geranium leaf ocassaionally, She will occasionally deign to nibble on these. She gets calcium powder and vitamins about 3x per week.

Another mistake was to routinely give her a couple of (organic) blueberries in the morning. I realize now that's way too often. She eats kale with gusto, but I'm told I need to limit her intake of that too.

Now that the weather's cooling I plan to plant globe mallow in her enclosure as well as my own opuntia in a container.

In the meantime, her poops are hard and dry.

Thank you for attaching your "Best Way to Raise Any Temperate Species of Tortoise", which I've skimmed in the past and will re-read carefully.

In the meantime I would be very glad of your critique and advice.

Many thanks.

And thanks for reassuring me in my other thread that it's okay to continue "snuggle time" with Cholla as long as we make sure she's safe. She shows no signs of stress that I recognize as such during these sessions, but instead appears quite relaxed.


Be careful on that 126! :0 Some people appear to think it's a race track.
More than likely he's being kept too dry and he's probably dehydrated.
Thanks to Yvonne too. I'll be more systematic about her hydration.

y
 
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