Renee from San Diego with Young Sulcata

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Lulu

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Hi,

I'm Renee from San Diego. I have a Sulcata named Cecil (or Cecile, I guess, depending on how things turn out), who is approximately three months old. My husband has had a few different tortoises, but this is my first one.

He had four Russian tortoises and a juvenile Sulcata (named Bowser - nerds love Sulcatas!) with a shell that was approximately ten inches in length. They all lived full time in our backyard, except for cold stretches in the winter. This arrangement was fine for about two years. We moved about a mile away into a new house. About six months after we moved, the Sulcata and the largest Russian were killed by a predator in the middle of the night. The whole family was devastated, especially my young daughter, who discovered the scene the next morning. Both tortoises were very personable, and Bowser was almost like a dog in the way he would follow family members around the yard.

We have only recently moved the Russians back out to the yard, and they are locked into their "doghouse" every night. We are hoping that will prevent them from being preyed upon again.

Bowser was irreplaceable, but I wanted another Sulcata because of his personality. The hubby is supportive, but is letting me lead the way on this one. Of course, I am extremely nervous about having my precious Cecil out in the yard, but I know it is important to him. We are almost done with his outdoor enclosure. It is 4x2, which should tide him over until next summer, when we can build him something bigger. We are putting a wire cover on it, and I'm not sure when I'll be ready to have him out unattended. I've planted it with Sulcata seed mix and it should be ready for him this weekend.

As for indoors, I originally had Cecil in a 20 gallon tank, which has quickly become inadequate. This week, my husband built me a 3'x4' tortoise table. I mixed organic soil and coco coir as a substrate, and covered it lightly with cypress mulch. I'm using a tube UVB, which seems to be working fine, and I have a heat lamp, though not sure how necessary it is with our temps this week. I'm getting 80s on "cool side" and 90-100 on his basking slate. I also planted the table with Sulcata seed, so we'll see how that grows. I'm posting pics, but they kind of stink because my camera phone isn't great, and Cecil has burrowed in for a nap and made himself unavailable for more. The only question I have is that I don't have anything to break up "line of sight," but I'm also worried that he might flip himself on obstacles. Any thoughts?
 

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Yvonne G

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Hi Renee:

Welcome to the Tortoise Forum!!

It looks like you have pretty much figured it all out. Take a look through our archives and see how other members have made their tortoise habitat predator proof.

Sorry about your other tortoises. That's really a shame...especially that you daughter had to find it.
 

Lulu

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Thanks, I'm trying. I've studied this forum pretty carefully and was pretty overwhelmed in the beginning. Lots of different ideas and theories and lots of great information. My husband learned back when it was all about raising them dry, so that's been interesting. Luckily he's very respectful about new ideas in husbandry, so he's been very open to some of the things I've proposed that have been new to him. However, it does mean that I've been learning from scratch and some of the things I was doing at the beginning probably weren't the best. However, Cecil seems to be doing pretty well, so I'm relieved.

Thank you for the welcomes. This seems like a nice forum.
 

Momof4

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Welcome Renee! I'm in SD too! I don't have a tortoise yet but enjoy reading here everyday!
So sorry about the others:(
 

Jacqui

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:( Such a sad start, but glad your are moving on and moving up. Sounds like this is an entire family project, which I love so much to see. Glad you are here and are becoming less overwhelmed. :)
 

Angi

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Hi Renee :) I am in San Diego too, Ramona to be exact. My Boxies are in a covered dog run. It is made of chain link and predator proff I hope. What type of predators do you have? I would have thought torts that big would be safe. I am so sorry you daughter and the rest of the family went though such a heart breaking loss. It is amazing how sweet and personable torts are. I also have two CDTs that I need to build a safe enclosure for. We have a lot of predators here.
 

Lulu

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We had opossums at the old place but they never bothered the tortoises. We suspect that the tortoises here were killed by skunks. We have friends throughout San Diego that keep other animals, like chickens and pigeons, and they have had a lot of problems with skunks this year. I hate to be so graphic, but skunks kill by biting off heads, and that is how our tortoises were killed. It had to be something with a small head and jaw because the animal killed and ate from the front without damaging the shells. It also could have been an opossum or raccoon, but because of the experiences of our friends with other backyard animals and the kill pattern, skunks have been at the top of our list. We thought they would be safe too and now we know that even a small predator can take out a tortoise. Tortoises sleep in a very vulnerable position, with their heads and necks extended. We are in the La Mesa area, so far more urban than you are, Angi. Who woulda thought, right?

I have seriously considered a dog run and keep bringing it up to the hubby. He keeps shaking his head, but he is pretty good at being convinced. My worry about something like chicken wire is that I think a raccoon can get into it. A dog run would keep just about anything out, I would think. The trouble, eventually, would be keeping the sulcata in!
 

RV's mom

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welcome to the forum! so sorry for your previous loss (horrible and heartbreaking).

teri
 

Jacqui

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I think a lot of folks think the urban areas would be safer from predators, but usually it is the opposite. Out here in the country they have their more normal items to feed on, they thin humans are the enemy, and their numbers are kept down by both nature and hunters. In urban areas they lose the fear of man, have less then that can kill them, and less of their more natural diet so they learn that humans equal food.
 

Yvonne G

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One thing to remember: Go around every evening and make sure all the tortoises are inside their houses with the door shut or blocked. This will inhibit night marauders.
 

Lulu

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Jacqui, I agree, and I think part of the reason that we're having so many problems is that our city has transitioned to very secure and knock-over proof garbage cans. I think that the skunks used to get easy meals, and now they don't, so they're more likely to prey on our animals, whether it be tortoises or chickens.

Thanks, Yvonne. That's what we're now doing with the Russians. So far, so good.

Thanks, again, everyone, for the welcomes.
 

Lulu

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That looks nice, Jenn. We had a similar division of labor. The hubby built the table and outdoor pen for me and I did the substrate and planting, etc. I looked at your enclosure before for ideas when I was just lurking, and I'm sure I'll look again when we're ready to build the next enclosure. I think that will be by next summer, but hubby is not as convinced as I am that Cecil is gonna grow like a moose. I love Boulder's name, btw. So appropriate for a Sulcata.
 
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