Sulcata or desert tortoise??

TinaT

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Aug 23, 2015
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Hi all! New here, we found this little guy crossing the hot asphalt in our neighborhood on Thursday and took him home. We have been trying to find his owners but no such luck. We would like to keep him if he goes unclaimed, as I've always wanted to raise a tortoise! I have been reading all that I can about tortoises since we rescued him on Thursday, because I want to raise him properly and make sure he has everything he needs to be happy and survive! We live in Las Vegas, Nevada and the first thing we did was look around to see if we needed to turn him in anywhere. Unfortunately as of January 2015 the local animal shelter is NOT accepting any more tortoises and the local tortoise sanctuary is closed, so our options are either keeping it or finding someone else who wants it.

First though, I need to know what KIND of tortoise we have! I've had people say it's a Sulcata, and I've also had people say they think it's a desert tortoise. I've looked around at pictures and I honestly can't see the difference! One of my friends said that this tortoise is still a baby. He measures 2.5in from front of shell to back.

I'd like to know what kind he is so that I can give him the proper environment and care that he needs! (I keep calling it a he, although I know you can't tell the sex until years from now. We're still choosing a gender neutral name too ;) )

Any ideas? Thank you so much.

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Team Gomberg

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It's not a Sulcata. The Sulcata tortoise has large "pointy" scales on the front legs. Now, when you Google Sulcata hatchling photos, you'll be able to identify that.

Wait for confirmation on the desert tort ID.

If you get to keep him, congrats! Torts are way cool pets :cool:
 

SarahChelonoidis

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Baby desert tortoise! What does his plastron (underside) look like? I can see an egg tooth still, but is his yolk scar healed up yet? He probably didn't hatch out that long ago. I don't know what Nevada laws are regarding taking desert tortoises from the wild, but someone here will know.
 

TinaT

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Aug 23, 2015
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My friend said his yolk scar is still there. We looked up the laws here and since we found him in a neighborhood and not the wild we are allowed to keep him (if we don't find his owners) :)

Now that I know he's probably a hatchling and not very old at all, it makes me feel better that he hasn't eaten that much. I talked to a friend who used to raise desert tortoises and she said the egg sack gives them nutrients while they are still in the burrow and might not eat greens right away. I was worried because he hasn't eaten much at all since last Thursday, but his eyes are bright and he's VERY active.
 

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Keith D.

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My friend said his yolk scar is still there. We looked up the laws here and since we found him in a neighborhood and not the wild we are allowed to keep him (if we don't find his owners) :)

Now that I know he's probably a hatchling and not very old at all, it makes me feel better that he hasn't eaten that much. I talked to a friend who used to raise desert tortoises and she said the egg sack gives them nutrients while they are still in the burrow and might not eat greens right away. I was worried because he hasn't eaten much at all since last Thursday, but his eyes are bright and he's VERY active.
Hiya Tina, I am almost 100% certain he/she is a desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) I also believe that even if it is found in a neighborhood it could still be a wild DT unless some one in the neighborhood is breeding DTs. You could go door to door (probably in a 1 to 2 block area) and ask if they have a breeding pair of DTs, a adult female DT that they just adopted and possibly layed eggs and just hatched or maybe they adopted the little guy and let him out in the yard and it escaped (this last one I doubt because Game & Fish won't let them go that young and it would be really irresponsible for a DT owner to let a baby go that young) or if someone is breeding a pair of DTs. But if you can't find the owner grats on the little DT. I would def keep him inside in a tank (people will say different sizes but I would probably use a 20gal long tank, no cover needed), I would use a MVB bulb and maybe even another UV florescent tube bulb and take him out daily for some sun for about a hour. I would use coco coir as a substrat , hand packed to 3 or 4 inch's deep and moistened thoroughly before putting unto the tank. I would use a plastic shoe box turned upside down with a hole cut out of one side, just big enough for him/her to get into it and I would layer the bottom with dampened sphagnum moss. I would soak him daily for about 20 min in tepid water and I would use some EVCO on his/her shell only up to 4 times a week after his/her soak (gently massage a little on, let sit for 5min then wipe it off) Since he/she is just a hatchling keeping him/her warm and humid is a def must. Keep his hot side around 92-98°F and his hide around 85°F . I donk know if you have kids or pets but if you do don't let them handle or be left alone with him/her, its just for his/her safety. Make sure he/she has a shallow water dish, I and most of us use terracotta flower basins. I also use the same thing for there food. I also place a nice flat rock under the MVB basking light so it acts like a belly warmer for good digestion and it helps keep the tank warm. Food now is a huge subject lol, there are lots of posts in here for that. Myself I would try to get him/her stuff like collard greens, Bermuda grass, grape leaves, mulberry tree leaves, pumpkin leaves, rose petals and I am sure there is more that others like Yvonne and Tom can add. Hope this helps a bit, grats again. Oh and welcome to TFO :)
 

Gillian M

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Hi, that is such a cute little tort! Take good care of him/her.

And a very warm welcome to the forum.
 

Tom

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You have a desert tortoise. If you follow most of the online advice that is floating around out there, your baby has about a 20-50% chance of survival. People keep them WAYYYYYYYY to dehydrated. I've raised dozens of them and mine have a 100% survival rate. Not only do mine all survive, they thrive. Just like so many other species, these need help to stay hydrated as babies in captivity.

I typed this up for russians, but I raise DTs identically.
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/

Here is another good one:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread...or-other-herbivorous-tortoise-species.107734/

You need to be housing this baby mostly indoors with daily excursion in a safe, secure outdoor enclosure for no more than an hour or two, followed by a daily soak on the way back in. Use a tall sided, opaque container and soak this baby for about 20-30 minutes every day for the first few months.

Please come back and ask for clarification or more explanation after reading.

And congratulations. You have a fine looking baby there.
 
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