New Tortoise mom again after many years

Beachtherapy

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I’m here to introduce myself. I’m 63 years old and have been fascinated with tortoises since my first ride on a huge (probably Galapagos) one at Silver Springs Zoo in Silver Springs Florida about 59 years ago. We lived in Cocoa, Florida. My dad fished in the jeddies at Merritt Island. We would watch the huge military ships and submarines come in and the awesome fully dressed out in uniform sailors come ashore to greet their families. I loved him fishing there because the channel was so deep any size sea creature could be seen and or caught. Even big sharks and occasionally we would see a sea turtle meandering by. There was so much food thrown in from everyone it was an aquatic buffet. Ribbon fish were the prize catch because all the fisherman shared them for bait.

We grew up with many different reptiles my dad caught. Snakes for the most part and crossed a creek to go to Pineda Elementary where we seen alligator tails sliding in the water as we crossed a little plank swinging bridge. We actually never saw one sitting. Guess we were to noisy and never gave it a thought. It was our way of life. We would go to Clear Lake and half was roped off for the gators on the other side. We rarely saw them. My 2 year old brother came running in the house one day flinging in his hand a “lizard” he caught lol. He had a baby alligator in his little hand flinging it’s little head sideways back and forth. My dad rescued it from my brother and took it to the creek to turn loose. Don’t think it survived to get there. He never would tell me. But we were fearless around any reptiles of any kind.
So he would on occasion bring me a what (he called a tarpon turtle) terrapin. We didn’t know they were box turtles. However they were always grown and would never come out to play lol. So interest was lost.

Then we moved back to his and my mom’s home town in Northeast Tennessee in the Tri Cities when I was 11 in 1967. We lived by a huge wooded area with a fairly decent creek and box turtles were plentiful. So we pretty much tortured many and forget about them and they would leave. Got a hatchling once I took care of for a few months and actually did a great job till as I’ve read on here NOT to do! Walk away. I cried and hunted for days.

So skipping “centuries” to the late 80’s early 90’s in my 30’s moved to another area in the Tri Cities where having a small pet store we had people bring me box turtles of all sizes. We had a huge ridge and rocky sink hole on the back of the property I would release them. Then one day someone brought me a grown very tame one that I took care of for a few years. Me and my young girls would go hunting pinkie mice in the barn for him. We found some in our aviary one day. Brand new babies so I offered him one and he became a true friend when I had them.
It was kind of fun since I Hate mice! So I thought how cool to feed him a pinkie new baby rat. By then we sold both sizes for snakes in our pet store. Had several people giving me pinky rats where they raised for their own snakes and always had too many. Giving one to Jason ( OH MY GOD! ) I did not consider he could swallow a pinkie mouse in a bite, what he would do to a brand new pinkie rat😧 that was his last one. Poor little rat. Jason was a torture chamber of sharp scissors. It literally hurt my heart😞
Well “Jason” got a wife from another pet store and I got to see turtles in the making. I had no idea 😳
and it was as I’ve read on here over and over and over. So reading up on them it said (by now we had internet in the mid 90’s) that they could carry fertile eggs for years. That may or may not have been accurate but I felt bad for Jessie and decided to take turtle husband and wife to the sink hole. As soon as they went opposite directions I knew I should have kept Jason. SO.....our pet supplier had baby sulcatas and I traded for 2 babies. Wow I was busy and all they did was eat and grow and eat and grow and potty. Not what I expected. Not sure what I expected. Wasn’t educated on this type tortoise and panicked over where I was going to put two 2’ plus turtles and what would I have to build. So another local pet shop took them on consignment and at this point they had gotten to about 5” each. Shop cleared out one night and left town emptying the store and ran with all the critters.

Wonder if any of you guys remember a show that there was a larger small tortoise named Lucy, I think. She brought up all my turtle wishes again. Wish I knew what show. And I think it was a young woman that had had her for years and they were great friends.

So.......... jump mid 2000 maybe around 2010 I started my turtle journey again. I did research and still had my big turtle love in my heart and found the little big cutest ever, the Leopard Tortoise.
So thinking I knew enough and believed the seller with turtles for sale with actual website with pretty much any kind you could want, believed I bought a well started baby. Paid more for the well started. I couldn’t pay the higher price for the high white prettier ones. Well he came at about just under $400 because shipping was $99.. had everything ready but he refused to eat and really never opened his eyes all the way open. I tried and tried to get him to eat. Called them. They only guarantee live arrival. Well he was alive and we had had him several days BUT he had his egg tooth! A given he was a hatchling. Tiny scab like on his underside like a tiny belly button. I didn’t know about absorbing egg sacs then either.
If I could remember the name of the turtle store I would put it right on here. We had no exotic vet around but for birds and iguanas. My young daughter did more reading and she took him but couldn’t save him either. He never had a chance.

Skip a few years and we got brave again and found a different seller and we together bought 3 red foot tortoises. Once again it said well started and they did eat but only one survived and she is 7 years old now with my daughter. She learned the hard way about pyramiding. Her red foot has a bad dent in her pyramided shell and got growing better and is doing wonderful.
So........On Craigslist searching for a chocolate lab came across for the first time ever a leopard tortoise for sale for $200 and had been on there I’m thinking a month. Messaged and it was still available right in my local area.. so exchanged our numbers and we talked about “him”. They say he would come with everything to take care of him. A large 34” tote type set up with the supposedly right food, the ZooMed dual lighting system and its stand for sale. So my heart leaped and my brain said NO NO NO.
Then I offered $150 and they said yes! So got him. They had told me he had some pyramiding on his shell and they had rescued him and he was 2 years old and they had him about 6 months. They also rescued a year old Sulcata and they adored him and decided they were neglecting him some. So we meet that day and I come home with the most beautiful blonde spotted pyramided beautiful shell baby Leopard tortoise I could imagine. My hearts desire!
He was friendly instantly and after I got over the shock of such a deal it hit me the next morning WHAT was I doing. Where would I put “Douglas” in the cold winters and panicked again!
So I asked if they would take him back and my money would be what I paid for a Tortoise one day adventure. First the one I talked to said she thought they would. But later that evening the true tortoise care taker who deeply loves her sulcata had said no. So the one I’d been talking to said just put him back on Craig’s list. My heart broke. I’d ask my daughter if she would help me research and do this right. I wanted to stop the pyramiding of his shell for sure. She said she would definitely help me learn the care. She also said if you think you will not want him in a few weeks No! I’ll not take him!!!!
you'll have to put him back on Craigslist. But if you keep him and love him and take good care of him when you’re too old to take care of him I’ll be happy to keep him the rest of his or my life. How sweet is that. So I took a deep breath and got hold of my self and breathed in and out like we are supposed to do and absolutely fell in love with this little 4x5” almost 1# creature of God. Who literally dropped one of my biggest heart’s desires in my lap with pretty much everything I needed till I decided what I did want for him. I spent less than about what they spent buying the best supplies to start taking care of him. There are hundreds of you that know when I say Douglas is a blessing from God and really what I needed at this time in my life. I also don’t have to tell any of you my favorite thing is feeding him by hand and actually just watching him eat. And that little tongue. Oh how I love his little mouth crunching and pushing food around with it. There really are no words to explain how relaxed and peaceful I get taking care him him in all the ways he needs. He is so social it’s really a miracle. He loves any part of his body rubbed. I mist him down and he fits perfectly in both my hands to rub him from head to toe. He relaxes to the point i can feel it thru his shell. He craves my attention. And he loves his soak bath and the warm pulse shower after. I did manage to get a 36” 2 door terrarium for him with the desert scenery that he loves looking at and I absolutely love this set up for now. I have room to have a huge turtle table in front of a corner fire place I'll never use, that will sit perfect so he’s always seen. I will have doors built the same way. He learned in one day if I open the door he’s getting a green bean. I’d read they could have them so I bought the small snap beans. I had to fight him to get this huge piece he chomped and almost swallowed. He wasn’t giving. Lol. So I did win but chop them up unless I split the bean and be ready to twist so it breaks. He’s getting strength in this bean therapy 🥰 so i wasn’t sure how many he could have in daily feeding. Wasn’t sure if it was occasionally. He went on strike for 2 days and barely ate. Sniffed and put his little nose in the air lol. So I started giving him one before breakfast of soaked Mazuri LS pellets that he finally are well when I finally decided to soak in very hot water and wow the grass fragrance! He gobbles up now along with chopped up cactus and a salad mix that has very little spinach if any and some romain stalks, occasional zucchini didn’t care for squash and chopped collards. He eats, leaves the dish to go traveling looking at his scenery then comes and eats again and then starts grazing as he passes it on his Desert journey till he calls it a day. So with this system going and me giving him his sliced in half bean, I decided to open these wonderful glass doors. All it took was a sniff and if a turtle can run he did. He’d already had a piece of it earlier. I had his bowl ready with the bean and there’s no way to tell you how precious he looked running to me for his bean. Then I’m talking to him doing a video of it and telling him I’ve got his dinner. He is a early to bed, late riser. And he knew! Who would think feeding a turtle that has the most precious smiling face coming as fast as his little legs can go with that huge domed gorgeous shell would be such a gift to my mental health. I had no idea I would love him like this. My best friend and companion 24/7 is a beautiful, even if I raised him (schnauzer breeder 32 years) 5 year old giant schnauzer Walter, how could feel about the same for Douglas this fast. What a mere 2 months tomorrow?
He has a small video fan club. My best friend who is a groomer and reptile and fish and miniature schnauzers from me and a Newfoundland x2 mom, is hoping the fever she’s getting wanting this joy, peacefulness and fun in her life like we’ve never know will pass in the spring when she’s milking little goats to have milk to bottle feed their babies and small babydoll sheep babies.

I say she will have to or may need to get her one. At least we know these will out live us where our beloved dogs typically at best give us 15-17 years. I’ve already cried that Walter is 5 years old in a blink and if he makes it to 15 I’ll be just 73 and will still need a special friend like Douglas even if I’m blessed to raise and breed a big little schnauzer I’m hoping is 50-60 lbs instead of 110+ lbs. I can’t help them get around like I did my last great great grandfather of Walter. He made it to 13. When we are old we need canes and walkers and wheelchairs. So far we can get harnesses with handles and that was very hard too. So at least I’ll have Douglas that probably will have his own room with a big shower here where we live.

So that’s me. And Douglas was truly one of those Gifts from God of our heart’s desires when I absolutely hadn’t give turtles a thought since the red foot babies.
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Beachtherapy

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I Know!!!! I had no idea how I could totally fall in the deep end over this adorable little guy. I think he is a guy from what the pictures say about the bottom shell where his tail is. I’m kind of glad because the the males are smaller than the females in this species
 

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Ink

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Welcome to the forum! Leopard tortoises (in my personal opinion) have great personalities. I have had mine almost 15 years now, and love him so much. Enjoy
 

Tom

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That is quite a story.

Those water bowls are dangerous. I'd remove it ASAP.

Here is all the current and correct care info:
 

Beachtherapy

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Welcome to the forum! Leopard tortoises (in my personal opinion) have great personalities. I have had mine almost 15 years now, and love him so much. Enjoy
Do you have pictures where I can look at them. I’m still learning to navigate the site. And I’d love to know the size he is now. I was thinking mine is undersized.
 

Ink

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He is almost 12 inches. @OkAdiza might have pictures comparing my male to her female. She can post.
 

Ink

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This is my tortoise Ink. The pictures were taken about 6 months ago. I think Douglas maybe a girl, however Douglas is still small. If @OkAdiza chooses to share her pictures for a comparison it might help you.
 

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Beachtherapy

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That is quite a story.

Those water bowls are dangerous. I'd remove it ASAP.

Here is all the current and correct care info:
Thanks. I actually found that post and copied the whole thing and put it in my notes where I have a folder for Douglas where I can read any time.

I
This is my tortoise Ink. The pictures were taken about 6 months ago. I think Douglas maybe a girl, however Douglas is still small. If @OkAdiza chooses to share her pictures for a comparison it might help you.
 

Beachtherapy

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This is my tortoise Ink. The pictures were taken about 6 months ago. I think Douglas maybe a girl, however Douglas is still small. If @OkAdiza chooses to share her pictures for a comparison it might help you.
Here is a good picture of his underneath. I went on line hoping he was a boy but I think his tail is short. Then foun some goog pictures of the male and female leopards. There is no sign of any intention at this time. I think he is small
he weighed 15.5 oz 10/10/20. Also traced him. I did this on 12/2/20 and he weighed 1# 4oz and tracing isn’t really accurate but across the upper end of bottom went from 3 3/4” to 4” the bottom part went from 3 1/2” to 4 1/4” and length went from 5” to 5 5/16”.
I need a better way. He actually might let me put a fuller on his under shell. Don’t want to try to spell correct name lol.
so here is a great clear picture. Tell me what you think. 1E97AE60-F63E-4BD1-A1BE-A3DDEB8D5131.jpeg
 

Ink

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I think Douglas is still too small. Maybe an expert can help.
 

Beachtherapy

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This is my tortoise Ink. The pictures were taken about 6 months ago. I think Douglas maybe a girl, however Douglas is still small. If @OkAdiza chooses to share her pictures for a comparison it might help you.
I was looking at Ink’s color. I hope when Douglas is that age he keeps his markings. From what I could see Ink has nice markings.
I have no idea if Douglas would be in the high white class or not. But I think he is beautiful. Got to think of a new name if you still think girl. But he is still very much baby and I’m hoping to correct his humidity and all new growth is smooth. I do know he’s happy and happy to great me when he gets up. I’m working on how to make a nice big covered enclosure. He will get lots of outside time when I can fix him some sections for walking and grazing but also need him inside late fall till late spring and quite possibly at night. Another reason I want him to be a boy. Supposedly they are smaller.
 
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Beachtherapy

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I think Douglas is still too small. Maybe an expert can help.
I think so too so he’s eating much more than the romaine and Grassland tortoise pellets his rescue home fed him. He actually finally started eating the Mazuri LS which is small and easy to eat and he prefers them nice and warm. He gets cactus I ordered off EBay 2#/$18
I found a local Spanish food supply shop really close that sells it $2# scraped but the spots weep and it didn’t keep as well. This last time I asked to buy it the way it comes. It’s still the spineless but it’s not 100% but I think it will keep better. $1.50# bought a fruit for $.50
I sure feel blessed to have found them. They sell huge like 2’+ aloe leaves..
I bought one of those but not gave him any yet. He gets lots of greens for now organic from grocery that is an actual salad mix with all the kind of greens on the list with very few spinach leaves which I don’t give him. The fresh Romain and he absolutely begs for a green bean. I’m unsure how many green beans is too many. I have and to keep him from biting and swallowing the bean without biting through it. I slice it in half and hold for him to eat. I’ve had some tug o wars with him getting a large piece out of his mouth. He at one point acted strangled but got ok then ate a piece he got back up several times trying to eat it and I got it and actually just tossed it and started chopping. I give him a couple chopped up with his cactus and and save one I split to hand feed him. I love him eating from my hand and he has a ravenous appetite. Oh he has gotten zucchini chopped but wasn’t a huge fan. I’m up for any treats for occasionally and main diet things. The Mazuri has Timothy grass listed first. I’ve not got him to eat anything from my yard but dandelions when they were big. I found some little growing since it’s been cold and he didn’t eat them. He’s not crazy about wilted leaves. I read where he could have African violets so bought 2 nice ones but reading says not to give for less than 90 days after purchase. Also got me 4 baby aloe that in these 2 months have tripled in size. I have 4 huge braided hibiscus trees with 6” blooms and big leaves and he will have none of that.
Maybe a little older he’ll want greens and grasses and weeds in my yard but I’m going to do some raised beds and may buy the seed mix Tom put link in to his posted tortoise care for the big guys. I’ll appreciate any advice from any one who has leopard tortoise.
So far this adventure has been wonderful.
 

Skip K

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Welcome. Among our various species...is our leopard Ernie. She came to us as a rehome with not a great beginning. She was undersized ( about 4 inches), already pyramiding and had a off angle notch at the tail. But she has done quite well with us. Active and eats anything put in front of her. Lol...if you might be wondering why her name is Ernie...well she was too young to sex initially when we got her and later we just decided out of thanks to the woman who gave us her...to keep the name she gave her. Here she is (just woken up and not happy). Picture doesn’t do her size justice
 

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Beachtherapy

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Welcome. Among our various species...is our leopard Ernie. She came to us as a rehome with not a great beginning. She was undersized ( about 4 inches), already pyramiding and had a off angle notch at the tail. But she has done quite well with us. Active and eats anything put in front of her. Lol...if you might be wondering why her name is Ernie...well she was too young to sex initially when we got her and later we just decided out of thanks to the woman who gave us her...to keep the name she gave her. Here she is (just woken up and not happy). Picture doesn’t do her size justice
How big is she and how long have you had your beautiful Ernie?
if my Douglas is a male and it appears so by shell but I still think tail should be longer. So Douglas may be Dorothy there are a lot of fun names and at this point. I may start trying out a few. He comes when he smells me start towards his enclosure. Which, I’m going to have to change soon. He does love for me to hold and rub him. His head and all 4 legs and even tiny tail go limp. I kind of massage the water I spray on him and it’s like my big worry stone. Told him he was going to get too big for this, but for a few years or even more, could put on thick towel in my lap. I had no clue I could just sit and watch him eat or hand feed him and feel tension leave me too.
I’d love more pictures of you baby🐢🌴🌺
 

Skip K

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How big is she and how long have you had your beautiful Ernie?
if my Douglas is a male and it appears so by shell but I still think tail should be longer. So Douglas may be Dorothy there are a lot of fun names and at this point. I may start trying out a few. He comes when he smells me start towards his enclosure. Which, I’m going to have to change soon. He does love for me to hold and rub him. His head and all 4 legs and even tiny tail go limp. I kind of massage the water I spray on him and it’s like my big worry stone. Told him he was going to get too big for this, but for a few years or even more, could put on thick towel in my lap. I had no clue I could just sit and watch him eat or hand feed him and feel tension leave me too.
I’d love more pictures of you baby🐢🌴🌺
She is past “one handed” handling now. My guess is she is around 10lbs. We’ve had her for maybe 5/6 years? It took us a while to get her to have what I’d consider normal growth. Her growth was very slow the first couple of years but now she is becoming a little monster. She is looking more and more like she will become a “snow leopard”. The more she grows...the more yellow she gets. Ernie is not overtly outgoing...like the Redfoots or Sulcatas...and seems to be ambivalent to being handled or being around us...but does becomes a real outgoing tort when she knows you have food. Lol
 
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Beachtherapy

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She is past “one handed” handling now. My guess is she is around 10lbs. We’ve had her for maybe 5/6 years? It took us a while to get her to have what I’d consider normal growth. Her growth was very slow the first couple of years but now she is becoming a little monster. She is looking more and more like she will become a “snow leopard”. The more she grows...the more yellow she gets. Ernie is not overtly outgoing...like the Redfoots or Sulcatas...and seems to be ambivalent to being handled or being around us...but does becomes a real outgoing tort when she knows you have food. Lol
I’m so very blessed that Douglas when not sleeping which is quite nosy about what I’m doing. He thinks he’s getting a green bean. Honestly he would follow me anywhere to get one. Have you fed a snap green bean. They are the thinner ones that you can toss in a skillet and quick fry. (Just FYI) if you didn’t know. I’ve not offered any other type.
I think he is a high white but not sure about that or snow leopard. I do know he’s quite blonde and light blonde skin. 10 lbs is quite large I think. I think they grow slower than the eating machine sulcatas.
I have to take pictures of Douglas about every day doing something cute. And the home I got him from said they rescued him and had him about 6 months and had also rescued a fairly larger young sulkata and leopards are not quite as easy. So they put him on Craigslist. And I can’t believe he’d been available for 2 months. No other tortoise would have hit my button. And he ate the morning after I brought him home late evening. And I read all the foods and once he smelled most things he attacked it in my hand. But the green bean if you’ve not offered go get some. Slice it in half longways so it has great smell and hold it up to offer. I’d love to hear she couldn’t resist and then actually think you have one every time she sees or smells you. Douglas usually rises from 10 to 11 and is in be at 5 with our time change and days being shorter. BUT this morning I got up at 7 and let my dogs out and did my thing and got my coffee at he was sitting at the glass enclosure door that I have been opening waiting on me at 7:15 😳
I had to apologize that I didn’t have his bean. So went to kitchen and grabbed one sliced long ways and he came right at the doorway which has several inches of glass holding in the substrate. I have never actually got to see all the way down his throat and all his tongue till this morning. I got a really close up video as I video feeding him so had my phone already recording so I could just pick it up and get him.
l‘d truly love pictures of her. I love when people post pictures. And I’d love to see more leopards. His shell has significant pyramiding in the middle and the next set of scutes and then is smooths out more. I’m really hoping with the right humidity and diet he will grow smooth and it may may the top appear mor even if it spreads out some with his growth.
I’m happy she’s with someone that loves her🐢🌺🌴🥰
 
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