Questions in General

shelby47493

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Mar 29, 2021
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I created this account just now to ask some questions.

I was given a desert tortoise almost two years ago. It was a surprise that I wasn't ready for. He is pretty big and I usually put him in the backyard on sunny days. I did research here and there, but unfortunately the tortoise was never my first priority. I want to do better, so today I cleaned up his indoor enclosure and did a bit of research and online shopping. I had a humidity gauge but I'm pretty sure it's broken, so I'm getting a new one. I am having trouble finding out what the ideal humidity is for desert tortoises. Also, should I be keeping the substrate damp? I have been soaking him a couple times per week in the sink. I don't put water in his enclosure because substrate ends up in it and I haven't been able to find a good dish that he can fit in.

Please don't judge me. I know that I have not been doing a great job, but I am trying to do better. Thanks for any advice!
 

Gillian M

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Welcome to the forum.

We all start from zero, so as to say, so don't worry.

Any pics of your tort?

Torts do need humidity so as not to pyramid and so as to avoid dehydration.
 

Tom

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I created this account just now to ask some questions.

I was given a desert tortoise almost two years ago. It was a surprise that I wasn't ready for. He is pretty big and I usually put him in the backyard on sunny days. I did research here and there, but unfortunately the tortoise was never my first priority. I want to do better, so today I cleaned up his indoor enclosure and did a bit of research and online shopping. I had a humidity gauge but I'm pretty sure it's broken, so I'm getting a new one. I am having trouble finding out what the ideal humidity is for desert tortoises. Also, should I be keeping the substrate damp? I have been soaking him a couple times per week in the sink. I don't put water in his enclosure because substrate ends up in it and I haven't been able to find a good dish that he can fit in.

Please don't judge me. I know that I have not been doing a great job, but I am trying to do better. Thanks for any advice!
Glad to hear you want do do better. I want to help you with that.

Humidity is not important for larger grown torts. The substrate should be damp orchid bark indoors, but this guy should be living outside, with a heated shelter for night time and inclement weather.

Also know that most of the care info you find for this species will be wrong. Here is all the correct info. Questions are welcome: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-best-way-to-raise-any-temperate-species-of-tortoise.183131/
 

shelby47493

New Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
California
Glad to hear you want do do better. I want to help you with that.

Humidity is not important for larger grown torts. The substrate should be damp orchid bark indoors, but this guy should be living outside, with a heated shelter for night time and inclement weather.

Also know that most of the care info you find for this species will be wrong. Here is all the correct info. Questions are welcome: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-best-way-to-raise-any-temperate-species-of-tortoise.183131/
Thank you for this! I do have a couple questions. First, why does it matter if he is inside or outside during night time?

Also, about a year ago I bought Timothy hay because I read that tortoises should eat a good amount of hay. He never really liked the Timothy hay. I think it's because it is too stiff and he can't swallow it easily. Can you suggest a hay that he might enjoy better?
 

Tom

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Thank you for this! I do have a couple questions. First, why does it matter if he is inside or outside during night time?

Also, about a year ago I bought Timothy hay because I read that tortoises should eat a good amount of hay. He never really liked the Timothy hay. I think it's because it is too stiff and he can't swallow it easily. Can you suggest a hay that he might enjoy better?
Best if they can come and go in and out of their own shelter as they please. They will use it during the day sometimes as well. The night box becomes a surrogate burrow for them and greatly increases their peace of mind. Inside is for babies. Grown ups belong outside.

Timothy hay is too stemmy, as you discovered. I prefer orchard grass hay or Bermuda. You'll have to spend weeks or months introducing it and some DTs just don't like it. I like to wet their pile of greens, and then grab a handful of hay and cut it into small pieces over the wet greens. Then mix it all up. Start with almost no hay at first. Just a few crumbs. Gradually add more day after day. You can also feed the other foods on a bed of hay. In time, some of them will start eating the hay.

I like to make sure they are eating plenty of opuntia pads when they are eating dry hay, and also soak them and have at least two water bowls out.

For DTs, I prefer to grow grass for them in pots, raised garden beds, or just on the ground. Fresh grass seems to suit them better than dry hay. Mulberry leaves, grape leaves, hibiscus leaves, and lots of the right weeds, will make a great diet.
 

shelby47493

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This is my second post. As I said in my last one, I have had Yoshi for almost 2 years and I am trying to do a better job with him. I believe he is a desert tortoise. He is 12 inches long, 8 inches wide. He has a small indoor enclosure and I usually put him in my large backyard during the day if it is sunny. Once I have moved homes (in a few months), I would like to make an outdoor enclosure for him. I live in California, so it doesn't snow. There are a few rainstorms per year, and there is light rain every so often. I have some questions. If you can't answer all of them, that's ok. If you know of any good videos or articles, feel free to link them.

- any recommendations for hideouts? I am having a hard time finding one big enough.
- what size enclosure would be good for him?
- what am I supposed to do when it rains? I was thinking of bringing him inside when the weather is bad. What do you guys usually do?
- what should I use as a barrier? Wood? Bricks?
- best substrate? should part of the enclosure have grass?
- should I put a tarp under the substrate
- are plants necessary?
- will snakes try to enter?
- how do you heat the enclosure during cold rainy days?
 

Tom

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This is my second post. As I said in my last one, I have had Yoshi for almost 2 years and I am trying to do a better job with him. I believe he is a desert tortoise. He is 12 inches long, 8 inches wide. He has a small indoor enclosure and I usually put him in my large backyard during the day if it is sunny. Once I have moved homes (in a few months), I would like to make an outdoor enclosure for him. I live in California, so it doesn't snow. There are a few rainstorms per year, and there is light rain every so often. I have some questions. If you can't answer all of them, that's ok. If you know of any good videos or articles, feel free to link them.

- any recommendations for hideouts? I am having a hard time finding one big enough.
- what size enclosure would be good for him?
- what am I supposed to do when it rains? I was thinking of bringing him inside when the weather is bad. What do you guys usually do?
- what should I use as a barrier? Wood? Bricks?
- best substrate? should part of the enclosure have grass?
- should I put a tarp under the substrate
- are plants necessary?
- will snakes try to enter?
- how do you heat the enclosure during cold rainy days?
Most of this is explained here:

-A temperature controlled insulated night box makes a good shelter. A burrow works great in summer.
-30x30' or larger would be best.
-When it rains he can be in his box. It mostly rains in winter here, and he should be in hibernation during that time anyway.
-Anything that is not-see-through or climbable can work as a barrier.
-The ground is the best substrate for an outdoor enclosure. Grass is great.
-No tarp needed.
-Plants, bushes and shade are necessary and beneficial in many ways.
-Snakes? They go where they want outside, so yes, they might.
-See the thread for heating info.
 

shelby47493

New Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
California
Most of this is explained here:

-A temperature controlled insulated night box makes a good shelter. A burrow works great in summer.
-30x30' or larger would be best.
-When it rains he can be in his box. It mostly rains in winter here, and he should be in hibernation during that time anyway.
-Anything that is not-see-through or climbable can work as a barrier.
-The ground is the best substrate for an outdoor enclosure. Grass is great.
-No tarp needed.
-Plants, bushes and shade are necessary and beneficial in many ways.
-Snakes? They go where they want outside, so yes, they might.
-See the thread for heating info.
When it rains, will mud and puddles be a problem? I've never had him outside when it has rained so I have no idea what tortoises do in that situation. I wouldn't want him to accidentally swallow or inhale dirty water.
 

Yvonne G

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That's what they drink in their home territory (the desert) when it rains.

Once his body is acclimated to living outside all the time, if it rains, and it's colder than, say, 55°F, you can lock him inside his outdoor shelter. If it's warmer than that, let him stay out in the rain if he wants to.
 
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