Questions about food (desert tortoise)

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ellen

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There's a great non-profit in my area that sells seeds.

The trouble is, they don't have a tortoise mix. I've already sent an E-mail about making such a mix since I've been too busy to go down there, but until I do I'd like to ask about the mixes they do have.

This is a really silly question. I'm looking at the lists here, at Game and Fish, and on other tortoise sites and not seeing a lot of the listed plants in the seed mix I'd like to buy. Surely tortoises wouldn't mind eating them, would they? Are the lists posted here general guides or strict diet regimens?

I know I can just get readily made mixes for desert tortoises online, but I'd really prefer to continue buying from my non-profit because it's a retail store. I can see what I'm buying, ask questions about the seeds, and I don't have to pay shipping and handling.

This is what is in the mix I'm looking at getting: Bahia, Desert Marigold, Desert Senna, Dyssodia, Owl's Clover, Mexican Gold Poppy, Desert Lupine, Silverbells, Wild Sunflower, Rothrock Grama, AZ Cottontop, Giant Dropseed, Sand Dropseed, Spike Pappusgrass, Alkali Sacaton, Plains Bristlegrass, Indian Wheat, Catclaw Acacia, White-thorn Acacia, Brittlebush, Indian Wheat [not sure why this is repeated], White Bursage, Creosote, Fourwind Saltbush, Desert Saltbush, Quailbush, Soaptree Yucca, Foothills Palo Verde, Mesquite, Ironwood Desert Willow, Bebbia, Wolfberry.

Again, it's a really silly question. It's formulated specifically for the area I live in so I would assume that combined with nopales it would be perfect for an enclosure.

What do you guys think?
 

Yvonne G

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I hate to suggest it because she is notorious for filling orders very slowly, however, Annie Lancaster actually lives in the desert where these tortoises roam naturally. She has a list of different types of seeds she sells and what foods the tortoises eat. May I suggest if you do decide to order from her, you use paypal.

http://www.turtlestuff.com/avoidthese.html
 

ellen

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Thanks!

She lives in the Mojave desert, but my tortoises and I were all born (and live) in the Sonoran desert. I can't speak for how long their family have been here, but I'm a ninth generation native to the area.

I'm starting to get the feeling that shop will be my only option. At least I have a nopal cactus growing wild in my yard.

I still wonder if the tortoises would be opposed to a wider variety of food as well as the ones from all these lists, though...Hmm. I hadn't seen that list on Ms. Lancaster's website, so I think I'll do a closer inspection of the list of seeds on her site, the toxic ones listed, and the Sonoran habitat restoration mix I listed above.

You've definitely encouraged me to keep looking! :)
 

ellen

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Sorry for double posting... I wanted to share my findings about the plants in this mix.

A lot of them are eaten by Sonoran Desert Tortoises, and those that aren't seem to offer shade, help the soil, or are commonly found with plants that are eaten by tortoises in this area. I'm definitely considering this seed pack now. I don't want to give them an enclosure where they'll just find things to eat... I want to give them a perfect habitat as if they weren't captive bred - minus the predators of course! I think this mix is a perfect step in the right direction.

Here's what I came up with:
Desert Marigold - Eaten by tortoises. Available at TurtleStuff.com
Desert Senna - Listed on the Arizona Native Plant Society's list for a tortoise friendly garden.
Owl's Clover - Eaten by tortoises. Available at TurtleStuff.com
Mexican Gold Poppy - Commonly found with Lupine and Owl's Clover, good soil stabilizer. Regulated Riparian Habitat Mitigation Standards and Implementation Guidelines.
Desert Lupine - (dried) Observed to be eaten by desert tortoises. The Sonoran Desert Tortoise: Natural History, Biology, and Conservation by Thomas R. Van Devender
Rothrock Grama - Observed to be eaten by desert tortoises. The Sonoran Desert Tortoise: Natural History, Biology, and Conservation by Thomas R. Van Devender
AZ Cottontop - Eaten by tortoises. Available at TurtleStuff.com
Sand Dropseed - Eaten by tortoises. Available at TurtleStuff.com
Alkali Sacaton - Tough leaves, considered valuable browse (didn't specifically say tortoise), provides cover. Regulated Riparian Habitat Mitigation Standards and Implementation Guidelines.
Plains Bristlegrass - Observed to be eaten by desert tortoises. The Sonoran Desert Tortoise: Natural History, Biology, and Conservation by Thomas R. Van Devender
Indian Wheat - Observed to be eaten by desert tortoises. The Sonoran Desert Tortoise: Natural History, Biology, and Conservation by Thomas R. Van Devender
Catclaw Acacia - Nitrogen fixer, great shelter. Regulated Riparian Habitat Mitigation Standards and Implementation Guidelines.
White-thorn Acacia- Often found with wolfberry, acts as a nitrogen fixer. Great shelter. Regulated Riparian Habitat Mitigation Standards and Implementation Guidelines.
Brittlebush - Desert Tortoises love flowers, great spring color. Desert Survivors Non-Profit Organization's Plant List
White Bursage - Observed to be eaten by desert tortoises. The Sonoran Desert Tortoise: Natural History, Biology, and Conservation by Thomas R. Van Devender
Creosote - Provides valuable shelter. Regulated Riparian Habitat Mitigation Standards and Implementation Guidelines.
Fourwind Saltbush - Provides good cover. Regulated Riparian Habitat Mitigation Standards and Implementation Guidelines.
Quailbush - Provides cover. Regulated Riparian Habitat Mitigation Standards and Implementation Guidelines.
Soaptree Yucca - Occurs in open desertscrub and grasslands (the habitat of Gopherus morafkai) Regulated Riparian Habitat Mitigation Standards and Implementation Guidelines.
Foothills Palo Verde - Observed to be eaten by desert tortoises. The Sonoran Desert Tortoise: Natural History, Biology, and Conservation by Thomas R. Van Devender
Mesquite - Listed on the Arizona Native Plant Society's list for a tortoise friendly garden.
Ironwood Desert Willow (Olneya tesota) - Observed to be eaten by desert tortoises. The Sonoran Desert Tortoise: Natural History, Biology, and Conservation by Thomas R. Van Devender
Wolfberry - Observed to be eaten by desert tortoises. The Sonoran Desert Tortoise: Natural History, Biology, and Conservation by Thomas R. Van Devender

Still researching - Bebbia, Silverbells, Desert Saltbush, Spike Pappusgrass, Giant Dropseed, Bahia (Basin Daisy, I think. Not the grass), Dyssodia, Wild Sunflower
 

ShadowRancher

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Wow...that's a great list. I spent the other night doing something similar for my sullies. I actually managed to find seeds for quite a few of their native grass and plants that I found between etsy and eBay (I decided to make my own custom mix).
 
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