Need Information for Chaco Tortoise

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pyxistort

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I have been very interested in Chaco tortoise, so I have been doing a lot of research.

Most of the people keep them in warm and dry enclosure. However, the temperature & humidity from the nature habitat seems to be varied.... hot & cold and dry & humid... If it is true that they can survive in cold and humid habitat, northwest weather should be good for Chaco tortoise.

I would love to hear any information and experience about keep it. Danny... help!!!!

Scott
 

Crazy1

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Scott, I'm afraid you may need to wait for Danny or PM him so he has it when he returns from Vacation on or about the 27th of May.
 

pyxistort

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Thank you, Robyn. Just one day late.... :(

Any other people has experience with Chaco tortoise?
 

Lynn DeVries

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Hi Pixystort

I had 3 chacos but just recently sent them to Danny. I was concerned they may be too delicate for me to keep here in Iowa on a long term basis. The new book by Vinke and Vetter, just out on South American Tortoises has probably the most information about them. I would suggest that you review it, as I did, and then see if you still want to try them. They are very fascinating creatures, I have always liked them. In fact I like them so much that sending them to Danny was the right thing to do....for me anyway:D

Lynn
 

pyxistort

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Hi Lynn,
Thank you!! That's the book I am going to get soon, since it also has very good information for redfoot.

What make you think it is too delicate to keep chaco in Iowa? Did you have any challenge that you can not change it? How long had you had those chaco?

Scott
 

Lynn DeVries

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Hi

The climate here is very extreme in both temperature and humidity. Both can vary widely from day to day. Yesterday for example was 92F with 20% humidity. But today it is only 60F but the humidity is 60%. This makes it very difficult to offer a stable and controlled climate outdoors. Not that Chaco's neccasarily need an absolute stable environment after all very few animals do. But in Southern California for example, the seasons change but in between seasons the weather is fairly stable ie endless summer days HA! just kidding:D I didnt feel that Iowa was the best place for them in my particular instance.
Also in Vinke & Vetters book Pritchard states that long term survival outside of their natural range is very limited (I have heard the same is true for Desert Tortoises as well) as they seem to be very virus sensitive. I have a lot of Russian Tortoises here and they do very well as my climate is similar to that of Almaty, Khazakstan where Russians are native. But again if Chacos are virus sensitive then my facility is hardly the place for them.
In talking with a friend in Uraguay, South America he stated that his do best in a greenhouse rather than outdoors in open air pens. He said it is very warm there with high humidity, so in the greenhouse it is very dry (protected from rain), but also very humid. His do very well and even reproduce! I know people who have had Chacos for decades with no problems what so ever. Mine were only here for a few months and they did fine, but for the long term I felt better knowing that Danny would have them. I do very well here with Russians, Hermanns and ibera as they are a hardy bunch! (and I think they like Iowa)
I dont mean to discourage you from keeping Chacos, on the contrary I encourage you to keep Chacos. But they are a funny creature in captivity. In Argentina they are kept as pets, just like Desert Tortoises are kept in California, and they do great! But outside their Natural range things can get dicey for some.
Get that book and read read read! :D

Lynn



pyxistort said:
Hi Lynn,
Thank you!! That's the book I am going to get soon, since it also has very good information for redfoot.

What make you think it is too delicate to keep chaco in Iowa? Did you have any challenge that you can not change it? How long had you had those chaco?

Scott
 

pyxistort

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I am pretty sure they will be very happy to stay with Danny. :D

After you got those Chaco tortoises, had you experienced any parasite or URI issue?

"long term survival outside of their natural range is very limited" might be due to the reason that not many studies have been done for them?? Maybe we just miss some crucial point to provide them the best environment and diet. As for the desert tortoise, I have seen quite a few kept in Seattle area... totally not the best nature environment for Desert tortoise. :rolleyes:

Your input is very informative. Thank you for the information, Lynn. :)

Scott
 

Lynn DeVries

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Hi Scott

I think some people (Danny) have a knack, a green thumb if you will. I know what species do well for me here in Iowa, as I have had most kinds at some point or another.
I enjoyed our talk and hopefully it will tide you over until Danny is back online :D

Lynn

Oh sorry forgot the question! :p No I never had any trouble with parasites or URI. They were just as healthy as can be :D


pyxistort said:
I am pretty sure they will be very happy to stay with Danny. :D

After you got those Chaco tortoises, had you experienced any parasite or URI issue?

"long term survival outside of their natural range is very limited" might be due to the reason that not many studies have been done for them?? Maybe we just miss some crucial point to provide them the best environment and diet. As for the desert tortoise, I have seen quite a few kept in Seattle area... totally not the best nature environment for Desert tortoise. :rolleyes:

Your input is very informative. Thank you for the information, Lynn. :)

Scott


The way I see it is, If I were a Chaco, I would want to live at Dannys :D
 

pyxistort

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Hi Lynn,
I enjoy reading your reply. Thank you for the information. :)

One off subject question. Do you keep hermann outdoor all year? I am thinking to set up a permanent outdoor enclosure for my hermann's. :p

Scott
 

Lynn DeVries

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Hi Scott

When Hermanns get to be about 4" in length they go outside in predetor proof enclosures. I put the Hermanns out in the spring after the ground thaws. In this area the ground freezes to a depth of 3 feet, and in very severe winters the ground has frozen to a depth of 6 feet and frozen water pipes. For this reason I bring all of the Hermanns indoors on or about Halloween. By this time they have all gone into hibernation naturally but the ground hasnt started to freeze yet, even though snow before Halloween is fairly common here the ground has enough summer heat stored it doesnt begin to freeze untill mid November.
In my area there is a natural ground temperature of 40F but you have to get below the frostline in winter to find it. And in the summer you have to get below the "Heatline" ie below where the groung is warmed by the sun.
My ground temp is the perfect temp for Hibernating Hermanns. The problem is that its so deep the Tortoises would would be in danger of freezing if they could not stay below the frostline.
I have tried many different methods over the years and what seems to work best for me is to gather them up on Halloween and put them in plastic tubs. Then I cover them with dry fallen leaves and put them in my Root Cellar. The root cellar is below frost and stays a constant 40F without the use of artificial heating or cooling. Since the root cellar is below ground it has a naturally high humidity. So while the Torts are dry, the air is humid and they "Keep" this way in great condition all winter long (kinda like storing carrots :D )
Then in the spring time about April 1st I unpack them and place them back in their outdoor hide boxes and let Nature slowly wake them up and by mid to late April they have all woken up and begin a new season. Since they are hibernating when I bring them in and when I put them out, I really dont think they even know they are in the root cellar all winter :D
You can determin the ground temperature in youre area in several different ways. It is consistant with youre annual climate providing you dont have a variable such as geothermal heat ie hot springs for example.
Good luck with the Hermanns they are great Tortoises! :D

Lynn
 

Madkins007

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I don't think I would try Chacos in the Seattle area. They DO have a bad reputation as being a tricky species to keep alive for long, and that may be a missing element, or it may be many little things- as we see in many other animal species.

A few tidbits from Vinke's book:

HABITAT- dry thorn scrubs, most active in hot weather (when nearby Red-foots are aestivating). The authors saw that they are VERY sensitive to changing weather patterns- possibly one reason they do not do so well outside of the home range. Even in the rainy season, rain is infrequent and drains quickly. They are seldom seen in the cooler parts of the year, especially if it is dry and cool. They show signs of hibernating or aestivating in the cooler weather. (This would seem to suggest that Seattle is not a good area)

DIET- typical herbivorous tortoise diet, heavy in grasses and vegetation. They eat a lot of cacti and succulents since their habitat is so dry.

BREEDING- rarely happens in captivity. It is thought to be due at least partly to dietary issues as Chacos kept in the native areas breed more freely.

CAPTIVE CARE- the authors do not really discuss the captive care of this species since it is so rarely kept outside of its range. It is also considered delicate and is protected. Combine this with the poor reproductive history and the authors hint that it should not generally be kept.
 

pyxistort

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Danny,
I saw your post today... I assume you are back. If you have time, could you give me some information about Chaco tortoise? Thank you!

Scott
 

egyptiandan

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I'm back :D and on it now :p

Where to start, I keep mine pretty much like I keep my Testudo. They can take most any humidity as long as they are on a dry substrate. Inside, males are kept singly and females either singly or in pairs. They are feed like redfoots, but without the fruit and protein. Temperatures are 95 to 100F under basking lamps, mid 80's warm end and mid 70's cool end. Night time temperatures are 65 to 70.
Mine go outside when day time temperatures are in the 70's and sunny. They stay outside when night time temperatures are 60 and above.
I have had some URIs, but not anything that wasn't curable.
With breeding, I think you need to start with young females to acclimate them to the reversed seasons from the southern hemisphere.

Danny
 

pyxistort

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Thank you, Danny...

Do you have any overgrown beak issue? How about shell pyramiding issue? I have seen many picture of chaco tortoise showing pyramiding issue in captive environment.

I wish it could be easier to identify female when they are young.

Scott
 

egyptiandan

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I think I've had to trim beaks twice in 20 years of keeping Chacos. I've gotten ones that have pyramided, but any growth I've gotten has been smooth.
Chacos are just the hardest tortoises to sex, hands down. Unless they are almost adult size.

Danny
 

Texangie

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I have a Chaco Tortoise that actually found me....one morning while loading the car to take my daughter to school...we looked out towards the road and there he was. Now this was in far North Houston..Texas. The only thing we could figure is that he escaped someone who had brought him here from South America...we were in an apartment heavy neighborhood with lots of transients. We took him to the Houston Zoo and had him identified properly but they would not take him due to the fact that I had no ownership or breeder papers for him. And so we began the research to care for this amazing creature....now, 15 or so years later I can tell you this. Chaco does extremely well here in this area of the country..he lives mostly outdoors from mid-march to late October...I bring him in for good when temperatures at night get too low, otherwise I move him in and out as the seasons change so he can enjoy a sunny day when it comes. During the heavy cold months...Chaco lives in a corner of the sun room covered with a towel, or at times I kept him in a cat carrier covered with a towel...for several months at a time he will not even move. He loves and thrives very well...illness free all this time, on yellow squash, romaine lettuce and tomatoes...I soak him and bath him about 4 times a year and he has water to get in on his own when he wishes. His outdoor enclosure has walls he can see through so he does not try to dig under...he comes to my voice when I come out with food. Hope to someday find him a lady friend since he has been a single guy so long.
 

Stephanie Logan

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Texangie said:
I have a Chaco Tortoise that actually found me....one morning while loading the car to take my daughter to school...we looked out towards the road and there he was. Now this was in far North Houston..Texas. The only thing we could figure is that he escaped someone who had brought him here from South America...we were in an apartment heavy neighborhood with lots of transients. We took him to the Houston Zoo and had him identified properly but they would not take him due to the fact that I had no ownership or breeder papers for him. And so we began the research to care for this amazing creature....now, 15 or so years later I can tell you this. Chaco does extremely well here in this area of the country..he lives mostly outdoors from mid-march to late October...I bring him in for good when temperatures at night get too low, otherwise I move him in and out as the seasons change so he can enjoy a sunny day when it comes. During the heavy cold months...Chaco lives in a corner of the sun room covered with a towel, or at times I kept him in a cat carrier covered with a towel...for several months at a time he will not even move. He loves and thrives very well...illness free all this time, on yellow squash, romaine lettuce and tomatoes...I soak him and bath him about 4 times a year and he has water to get in on his own when he wishes. His outdoor enclosure has walls he can see through so he does not try to dig under...he comes to my voice when I come out with food. Hope to someday find him a lady friend since he has been a single guy so long.

Hallelujah! Another Chaco keeper! Excuse me while I do a little happy dance in front of my computer!:D

I can only add to your superior knowledge and experience to say that Vinke and Vetter's South American Tortoises convinced me to buy a bunch of prickly pear fruits (which, actually, my husband bought from an HEB in McAllen, TX--I am sure you have plenty of access to this food in Houston!), which I mix with Taco's food every day, and it seems to have affected her in a positive way.

Sorry I cannot offer my precious bean to you for company to your Chaco; besides, our initial neglect of Taco has resulted in a pyramided shell, so it would not be safe for her to breed her.:shy:

I would love to know more about your Chaco. Please share, and post some pictures!
 

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Texangie-Welcome to the group! Congrats. I would love to read more about your care. What do you mean for several months at a time he will not even move? What are the temperatures at that time? Best wishes and looking forward to chatting with you soon.

Stephanie-Why would it not be "safe" to breed her because of pyramiding?
 

Stephanie Logan

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This is the web page that says reproduction may not be safe for pyramided-shell Chaco's:

http://65.175.73.112/Articles/Gchilensiscare.htm

Then there's the info in Vinke and Vetter about how difficult it is to keep Chaco's alive in captivity, and how difficult it is to get Chaco's to reproduce in captivity (I think Danny will back me on that point), so the bottom line is I would not risk it (even if I wanted to, it would be tough to find her a suitor) since it may be a risk to her health.:)
 
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