Newbie- need to narrow down choices before building enclosure

NancyinSoCa

New Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
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3
Location (City and/or State)
Eagle Rock, CA
First time potential tortoise owner (on my own- had a desert tortoise as a child). I’m located in Eagle Rock (Pasadena adjacent in Los Angeles).

Trying to narrow down tortoise options before I build an outdoor enclosure. My yard has a few choices for location, but my house is too small for an indoor tortoise. My outdated dream was a larger yard tortoise locked up at night, but I realize we have way too many poisonous plants for a free range friend, not to mention other potential hazards.

The best option sun-wise is pictured in the attachment. The biggest drawback is that is a mandarin tree that I cannot remove. We pick fallen fruit daily to reduce critters, but if it’s an absolute no go, we can all stop here. 😆. Raking leaves would not be an issue. We also have an avocado tree but the leaves don’t fall in this area, but we know to keep a lookout. On the plus side, we have organic grape vines around the corner that can be picked.

My choices are this:
-Fence in the whole garden area. Calla lillies and ivy would be removed. Sago palm could be cut back and be outside of an enclosure. The top of the gentle slope has an electrical outlet by that lamp post, so would be a good place for a heated box that could be locked at night- we have the usual raccoons, skunks, and possums. Even during Los Angeles mini monsoons, only the bottom couple feet of the slope stay damp for more than a day. We’d like to keep the raised beds. If we go for this option, I was thinking a Hermann’s or a Greek would be good options.
-If this doesn’t seem ideal, we could build a box approx 9x4 on the far side of the furthest planter box, add a hinged heavy duty wire lid, and get a Russian. Would a Russian need a heated box? Because getting electrical to this spot would be more difficult.

I don’t think I’m ideally set up for hibernating over winter (not consistently cold enough).

I’m a long time horse handler, and while they’re no reptiles, I am achingly familiar with obsessive level daily needs of persnickety animals. Plus this gives me great access to really good timothy hay. I will probably buy my time and try to purchase or adopt a true adult/ middle aged tortoise, because that’s how I like all my animals. I want to get an ideal enclosure settled first and then work around that.

Please hit me with anything that comes to mind.

TIA for reading this far!
0367ED05-7D92-4512-BC33-2EF15B46639F.jpeg
 
Last edited:

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
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Welcome, you might also think about a redfoot. @ZEROPILOT would have some input on that.
I have no idea what type of climate that is. Or I would've already suggested Redfoot.
They aren't ideal or easy for most members. And I don't want to steer anyone wrong.
A 9x4 is also too small for an adult Redfoot.
 

Lyn W

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Jul 22, 2014
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Hi and welcome
Good idea to get everything in place before you get your tort. I'm in the UK so my comments may not be relevant at all but @Yvonne G lives in CA and has a ton of experience with torts of all species so she'll be able to help you better than most of us with what species would best suit your circumstances and the trees etc so I've tagged her.

A minimum of 4 x 8 feet is recommended for the smaller species but the bigger the better as torts like to wander.

Does that area get plenty of sun? I think I would opt for fencing in all that area but would remove the gravel to provide a grazing area where you could grow weeds. The raised beds would probably be OK as it would give your tort areas that he could explore around. You would need to research and remove all plants toxic to torts.
It would obviously have to be predator and thief proof - what about making it all into a walk in covered pen?
The Timothy hay might only be useful if the tort is a grass eater but there are other grasses/hays that may be better for torts.

Many people use a fridge to hibernate torts to keep temps low and stable.
My tort doesn't hibernate but I've seen advice that you don't hibernate the first winter a tort is with you and obviously it has to be fit and healthy enough to hibernate.

Hope that is of some use - even if just to bring in Yvonne's help.
 

NancyinSoCa

New Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
3
Location (City and/or State)
Eagle Rock, CA
Hi and welcome
Good idea to get everything in place before you get your tort. I'm in the UK so my comments may not be relevant at all but @Yvonne G lives in CA and has a ton of experience with torts of all species so she'll be able to help you better than most of us with what species would best suit your circumstances and the trees etc so I've tagged her.

A minimum of 4 x 8 feet is recommended for the smaller species but the bigger the better as torts like to wander.

Does that area get plenty of sun? I think I would opt for fencing in all that area but would remove the gravel to provide a grazing area where you could grow weeds. The raised beds would probably be OK as it would give your tort areas that he could explore around. You would need to research and remove all plants toxic to torts.
It would obviously have to be predator and thief proof - what about making it all into a walk in covered pen?
The Timothy hay might only be useful if the tort is a grass eater but there are other grasses/hays that may be better for torts.

Many people use a fridge to hibernate torts to keep temps low and stable.
My tort doesn't hibernate but I've seen advice that you don't hibernate the first winter a tort is with you and obviously it has to be fit and healthy enough to hibernate.

Hope that is of some use - even if just to bring in Yvonne's help.
Thank you! The idea of an RT in a separate pen is an idea if the tree is a problem. If that’s too small then I won’t do that.

This is north facing, but different locations within get at least ten hours of sun a day. There aren’t pebbles- it’s old bark mulch. We would take that out and put in the appropriate substrate.

I like the idea of a covered pen, but I’d certainly have to get a quote on that! All surrounding neighbors have dogs, so we’re not overrun with wildlife, but I know it just takes one raccoon. Our perimeter fence is very secure and the dogs aren’t a threat. Secure enough that we had two yard rabbits for years with no escapes (they were also locked up at night).

I do have one other option by the grapevines, but that is a space between buildings and I think it would get too hot in our 100 degree summers. Time to get a thermometer gun!
 

BrookeB

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Mar 3, 2012
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422
Location (City and/or State)
Bodfish
Thank you! The idea of an RT in a separate pen is an idea if the tree is a problem. If that’s too small then I won’t do that.

This is north facing, but different locations within get at least ten hours of sun a day. There aren’t pebbles- it’s old bark mulch. We would take that out and put in the appropriate substrate.

I like the idea of a covered pen, but I’d certainly have to get a quote on that! All surrounding neighbors have dogs, so we’re not overrun with wildlife, but I know it just takes one raccoon. Our perimeter fence is very secure and the dogs aren’t a threat. Secure enough that we had two yard rabbits for years with no escapes (they were also locked up at night).

I do have one other option by the grapevines, but that is a space between buildings and I think it would get too hot in our 100 degree summers. Time to get a thermometer gun!
I think leopards and Bernese star tortoises do best in our climate.. the trees are an issue though. I would think it would be safer to put them in the area with the grapevines and just provide shade. With your space I would suggest a Bernese star over a leopard tortoise. But that’s just my opinion.
 
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