Sam got a boo boo

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chairman

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My weather has been great the last couple weeks so I have been letting my hingebacks live in their outdoor enclosure 24/7. They've been thrilled to be out there- they even started eating spring mix for me! My 2 year old daughter decided she's the tortoise feeder, and after she fed my sulcata she brought the greens over to the hingebacks... they haven't eaten greens once in 8 years, but my daughter insisted they needed them, and they ate them. Who'd have thought.

Sunday night was supposed to get too cold for them, so they came in for the night and didn't get back out until late Monday afternoon. And sometime between 5 and 9 on Monday something attcked poor little Sam. The injury wasn't serious, just a little cut on the skin that runs along his hinge. (On a side note, that skin is well disguised! Looks just like the shell around it...) I cleaned it out well, disinfected it, added antibiotic ointment and a "waterproof" bandaid. He'll be fine, was eating and acting normal this morning.

My initial thought is that my dominant male somehow cut Sam with his shell, but when I went out to bring them in no one was in their favorite spot, so it leads me to believe that they were somehow disturbed. Well, more disturbed than my big male would make them... he's always trying to hump something, whether it be a tortoise or an appropriately shaped rock, and all the other torts seem really bored when he does. Also, it looks like the cut came from above, so maybe a small bird is to blame. Possibly a Robin, they occasionally hunt for worms in the hingeback's enclosure. The worst part is I have the chicken wire sitting in the shed, I just haven't had the time to install it yet. Guess I'll be making the time over the next couple nights. Stupid birds... I'm going to have to check out the legality of going after them with my pellet gun.
 

egyptiandan

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I think the chicken wire would be a good idea Mike. :) Though I'm thinking more mammal than a bird that bothered the tortoises. I have plenty of birds in my yard and none of them have ever bothered the tortoises.

Danny
 

Missy

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I had a black bird swoop down and try to flock Tank just a couple days ago. Good thing I was close by and shoowed the bird away. I too need to get his pen covered. I think I will get one of those fake owels and a rubber snake to scare the birds.
 

terracolson

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i use bird netting from home depot. its super cheap and easy to cut to size
 

chairman

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I really do wish I knew what caused the attack, because I'm sure that my wife would much prefer bird netting to chicken wire. It is prettier. I agree with Danny that non-raptor birds really don't make a lot of sense as tort predators, but the damage isn't consistent with an animal with a toothed jaw. The wound is two small, shallow marks a mm apart and doesn't have a matching mark (not even a scratch in the keratin) parallel or perpendicular to it. What animal attacks using only its top left (or right) canine without the aid of the rest of the jaw? That and my torts had some leftover mango and strawberries that I would assume that most of the likely suspects (opossum, raccoon) would have gone to town on before bothering with a tort. I suppose it could have been a cat pawing it, but the lack of additional scratches to the keratin don't make sense in that context. Occam's razor leads me to the curious bird... but chicken wire should deter d)all of the above.
 
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Scooter

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I'm glad Sam only got a small scratch and is doing ok. Also a picture of your daughter feeding the torts would be priceless! :D
 

Stephanie Logan

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I've seen birds flying around distractedly and scolding from the top of the fence when Taco is walking along the edge of the yard...I've no idea why they would see her as a threat (like she can climb into their nests and steal their eggs? :rolleyes: ), but it is consistent enough that I'm pretty sure she's the cause of the behavior. I've warned them about their fate if they dare to attack my torty.
 

chairman

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Sam has healed up quite nicely. He doesn't seem to be phased at all by what happened. The other day I "mowed" part of the yard with some landscaping scissors so I could provide a nice, new pile of grass/weeds for them to burrow in/climb on. He promptly started to eat it, clover flowers first! Sometimes I have to remind myself that my poor, defenseless little torts once shared living space with lions and were doing quite good for themselves before I got them.

As for my daughter, I'll have to see what I can find in the way of pictures.
 

chairman

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A bit of good and bad news. The good news is that I found out who my predator is; bad news is I have to eat my own words because it actually WAS my dominant male. I caught him abusing one of my females. Turns out that the wound was caused by his front leg scales, possibly claws, as he was trying to hold on to mount the other tort. Luckily my girl got off with barely a scratch, but the damage she did get was to that exact same spot on her hinge as my boy. Not sure why my male would have gotten it worse, but since the damage was only to one side I have to think that he was more vicious about grabbing on because he could only get one leg locked on. I quickly completed another enclosure adjustment and now my submissive male will live with my two girls while my dominant male will have to be by himself. It's too bad, too, because everyone was getting along so nicely in the indoor enclosure.

Now for the cuteness. I couldn't find any daughter with hingeback pics, but these'll work. Its my little girl helping keep an eye on my new tortoise before her temporary outdoor enclosure was complete. Er, the tortoise's outdoor enclosure, that is. Although, come to think of it, my daughter does seem to believe that the new tortoise shed is her new playhouse...
 

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chairman

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I am beginning to get rather mad at my big male, Simon. The female that he was harassing yesterday, who was barely scratched, had been flipped when I found him bothering her. I brought her inside for a soak and de-stress last night, but this morning she was dead. She must have flipped WAY earlier than I thought. Poor girl probably died of organ failure last night. At least the other two are safe now. I wish I'd gone with my gut and blamed Simon from the get-go.
 

Kristina

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Oh, Mike, I am so, so sorry :( That is just terrible. Don't beat yourself up too much about it, and don't get too mad at Simon - he didn't do it with any maliciousness in his heart. They just don't rationalize or feel they way we do. He was just doing what instinct told him to do. But I am deeply sorry for your loss :( I know how upset I would be.

I am going to have to keep a close eye on my new male, his mate was found flipped and dead under the heat lamp, which is why he was put up for sale. I don't know if he did it or if it was just an accident, but if he gets too out of control, I am going to have to keep him separate.

Your daughter is beautiful, I love seeing up and coming tortoise lovers.
 

Jacqui

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What a horrible thing to have happen, especially when your just getting them going. :( Don't beat yourself up about it, it's a part of nature and you can't read crystal balls (can you?:p). It's a learning time and your high cost education has been passed onto all of us, so may be you have unknowingly saved another tortoise.

To the good stuff...your daughter is a cutie!! Nice to see them starting young appreciating the shells. :cool:
 
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Scooter

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I'm very sorry to hear this.

Your daughter is very cute and is already holding that tort like a pro!
 

chairman

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I'm not beating myself up too bad, just enough to make myself pay better attention going forward. The ironic part is that my husbandry now is soooo much better than it was when I got my first one.

As for my daughter, yeah, I'm really proud of how she handles the tortoises. She's constantly asking about them, wanting to go check on them, telling guests about them. We have a whole bunch of little tortoise rituals we go through. Hopefully it all sticks with her.
 
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