Texas Tortoise-given to me; wish to re-release

Brit G

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127
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Texas
Hello. I have a strange problem. While buying fencing material in Dallas, my dad came across a 4-5 inch Texas Tortoise that was "friendly." Maybe you can already see where this story is heading!

My dad said it was hanging out in the busy lumber yard, huddled behind some stacks of fencing. My dad apparently mentioned to the workers how many reptiles I have. The workers feared for the tort’s safety and gave my dad a cardboard box to take the tortoise home to me... my dad believed I would be thrilled, lol.

I immediately drove back to the lumberyard to return the tortoise. However, when I got there, no tort-safe area could be found. It is not an exaggeration to say the lumberyard was surrounded by nothing but junkyards and a busy street on two sides; concrete everywhere!

Now, I am in a bit of a tight spot! I have this protected tortoise species living at my house, and that is making me very, very nervous.

Until I could figure out what to do, I brought the tortoise back home (again, poor baby). For the time being, I have set it up in a spare 20 gallon long terrarium with a mesh lid.
I don't have a spare UVB fixture at this moment. Have been providing UVA using a domed lamp and an incandescent bulb, set on top of the mesh lid on one side. Hot side gets to ~87 F; cold side 75 F, (measured with an infrared heat thermometer). Gets down to ~70 F when lights are out at night. About 12 hours of light total.
On the cold side, provided a shallow bowl with tap water for it to soak in, which It actually does quite a bit.
It has not been interested in prickly pear pads or apple slices.
(Researched info on gopher tortoises because I could not find much on Texas Tortoises, specifically.)

The tort SEEMS otherwise healthy; active, bright-eyed, and bold, but seems to be slowing down (unless I am crazy). Surprisingly friendly, it will not stay in its shell when approached, though I have left it alone as much as possible other than cleaning the enclosure and taking it out for some sunlight on the porch once (I worry about MBD! If this goes on ANY longer, I will bite the bullet and purchase a mercury vapor UVB/UVA combo bulb to put in that dome lamp - a week or two seems too long to go without UVB).

I have had the tort for 5 days now - much, much longer than planned, due to finals and a death in my extended family. Now that the crazy has died down, need to decide what to do! Because it won't eat, I am especially concerned. It needs to be released/given to a rescue ASAP, before it becomes too weak or MBD can develop; plus, it is protected by law so I should not have the tort in the first place!


I have attempted to get a hold of the local wildlife rescue group - no luck. Will drive out there Monday so they can't avoid my messages and emails, lol. That is, IF the tort is still in my possession by then!

I was reading that their "range" could be up to 13 acres, but could not find a good place to deposit it nearby the original location. I also read that it is not advisable to release a tortoise to a new area, as it may be territory already claimed by another tortoise... or could be easy prey for cats/birds of that new area.

Due to my job as a vet tech near Dallas (where a love of reptiles is abundant!), I have seen absolutely heartbreaking MBD with my own eyes... it is my worst fear for my beardie and geckos. I fully understand the consequences of irresponsible/spontaneous exotic animal ownership.



All that being said - I need to figure out what is best for this tortoise. If it weren't a protected species, I would consider building it a large, safe outdoor enclosure.

Excuse me for rambling - I've been looking this up and noticed a trend of shaming or blaming people for picking up wild torts, and wanted to say I am NOT that type of person! I would not have picked the tortoise up myself, but since he's in my care, wish to be careful about where I release him.



Do you guys have any recommendations or tips? Would you guys still advise I drop that tort off exactly where he'd been picked up?

Do you know if I could somehow be registered as a guardian of a Texas Tortoise? My mother shares my love of reptiles and would be more than capable of caring for him in an outdoor enclosure here at our home near Dallas if anything ever happened to me. I need to leave Dallas in 3-4 years to go get my veterinary doctorate once I finish my bachelor’s, so it would have to be her decision as much as mine! I don't say that lightly - she is fully capable.


I would love to keep the tortoise for all of its very long life if it could somehow be legal to do so - anyone happen to know of a method?


If not, that is absolutely fine and I was hoping perhaps you fine tortoise folks had a suggestion for a tortoise sanctuary in Texas – I’d be willing to drive a long way/meet someone half way to reduce the stress on the tortoise. The local rescue has been hard to get a hold of, but will keep trying. I would hate to return the tortoise to an unsafe area, but may not have a choice if there is no other legal option.
 

Benjtort

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136
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Texas
Since you live in Texas I would take it to Texas fish and wildlife they will most likely take it in. If they say you can register it I would take this decision carefully.
 
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Benjtort

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I would hate to think of it but if it seems super tame and domesticated there could be illegal breeding going on
 

Benjtort

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I would hate to think of it but if it seems super tame and domesticated there could be illegal breeding going on
Evidence is that seems super unlikely that a tortoise would just be that friendly towards humans because they normally don’t encounter them. If it is eating food you gave him too that is also a hint
 

wellington

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This is a tight spot. It could be possible someone owned him and it got away. Seeing it's illegal to have them without a permit I would check CL and any pet lost and found. I wouldn't advertise him. Btw, I think all tortoises are kinda friendly. It's not like they can run off like a dog or bark/growl.
If there is no lost ad, then I would turn him in to the proper authorities where he/she will get proper care and be able to reproduce.
 

zovick

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Hello. I have a strange problem. While buying fencing material in Dallas, my dad came across a 4-5 inch Texas Tortoise that was "friendly." Maybe you can already see where this story is heading!

My dad said it was hanging out in the busy lumber yard, huddled behind some stacks of fencing. My dad apparently mentioned to the workers how many reptiles I have. The workers feared for the tort’s safety and gave my dad a cardboard box to take the tortoise home to me... my dad believed I would be thrilled, lol.

I immediately drove back to the lumberyard to return the tortoise. However, when I got there, no tort-safe area could be found. It is not an exaggeration to say the lumberyard was surrounded by nothing but junkyards and a busy street on two sides; concrete everywhere!

Now, I am in a bit of a tight spot! I have this protected tortoise species living at my house, and that is making me very, very nervous.

Until I could figure out what to do, I brought the tortoise back home (again, poor baby). For the time being, I have set it up in a spare 20 gallon long terrarium with a mesh lid.
I don't have a spare UVB fixture at this moment. Have been providing UVA using a domed lamp and an incandescent bulb, set on top of the mesh lid on one side. Hot side gets to ~87 F; cold side 75 F, (measured with an infrared heat thermometer). Gets down to ~70 F when lights are out at night. About 12 hours of light total.
On the cold side, provided a shallow bowl with tap water for it to soak in, which It actually does quite a bit.
It has not been interested in prickly pear pads or apple slices.
(Researched info on gopher tortoises because I could not find much on Texas Tortoises, specifically.)

The tort SEEMS otherwise healthy; active, bright-eyed, and bold, but seems to be slowing down (unless I am crazy). Surprisingly friendly, it will not stay in its shell when approached, though I have left it alone as much as possible other than cleaning the enclosure and taking it out for some sunlight on the porch once (I worry about MBD! If this goes on ANY longer, I will bite the bullet and purchase a mercury vapor UVB/UVA combo bulb to put in that dome lamp - a week or two seems too long to go without UVB).

I have had the tort for 5 days now - much, much longer than planned, due to finals and a death in my extended family. Now that the crazy has died down, need to decide what to do! Because it won't eat, I am especially concerned. It needs to be released/given to a rescue ASAP, before it becomes too weak or MBD can develop; plus, it is protected by law so I should not have the tort in the first place!


I have attempted to get a hold of the local wildlife rescue group - no luck. Will drive out there Monday so they can't avoid my messages and emails, lol. That is, IF the tort is still in my possession by then!

I was reading that their "range" could be up to 13 acres, but could not find a good place to deposit it nearby the original location. I also read that it is not advisable to release a tortoise to a new area, as it may be territory already claimed by another tortoise... or could be easy prey for cats/birds of that new area.

Due to my job as a vet tech near Dallas (where a love of reptiles is abundant!), I have seen absolutely heartbreaking MBD with my own eyes... it is my worst fear for my beardie and geckos. I fully understand the consequences of irresponsible/spontaneous exotic animal ownership.



All that being said - I need to figure out what is best for this tortoise. If it weren't a protected species, I would consider building it a large, safe outdoor enclosure.

Excuse me for rambling - I've been looking this up and noticed a trend of shaming or blaming people for picking up wild torts, and wanted to say I am NOT that type of person! I would not have picked the tortoise up myself, but since he's in my care, wish to be careful about where I release him.



Do you guys have any recommendations or tips? Would you guys still advise I drop that tort off exactly where he'd been picked up?

Do you know if I could somehow be registered as a guardian of a Texas Tortoise? My mother shares my love of reptiles and would be more than capable of caring for him in an outdoor enclosure here at our home near Dallas if anything ever happened to me. I need to leave Dallas in 3-4 years to go get my veterinary doctorate once I finish my bachelor’s, so it would have to be her decision as much as mine! I don't say that lightly - she is fully capable.


I would love to keep the tortoise for all of its very long life if it could somehow be legal to do so - anyone happen to know of a method?


If not, that is absolutely fine and I was hoping perhaps you fine tortoise folks had a suggestion for a tortoise sanctuary in Texas – I’d be willing to drive a long way/meet someone half way to reduce the stress on the tortoise. The local rescue has been hard to get a hold of, but will keep trying. I would hate to return the tortoise to an unsafe area, but may not have a choice if there is no other legal option.

The Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX has a rescue protocol for Texas Tortoises, and I believe they used to take in "found" Texas Tortoises like yours. It isn't near you, but if you contact them, they may be able to give you some guidance on what to do or maybe direct you to other Texas Tortoise rescue options closer to you.
 

Tom

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I think it is great that you are looking out for this tortoise and trying to do the best thing possible.

To release this tortoise back into the wild is a very dangerous risk to the tortoises that already live n that area, and to this individual tortoise too. I wish it were that simple.

Sounds like your basking area needs to be warmer and you shouldn't need indoor UV if you are taking the tortoise out for direct sunshine a few times a week.

Care for this species is similar to care for russian and CA desert tortoises. A little more dampness and humidity will be helpful for a TX tort. Here are some threads to help give you some general guidelines:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
 

Brit G

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Thank you all! I have already started implementing some changes to the setup that I hope will help it.

Anyone know if eco earth would be suitable? If it is mentioned in the care guide provided above, I apologize. Will read it tonight when I get home.
I'd be able to keep the eco earth damp (but not too damp, just enough to clump in my hand is what I was reading). I ask bc I saw conflicting info about whether it is safe. Probably not "ideal," but it may be much better than newspaper substrate. Poor baby. Wish it were being pampered at a rescue right now!
 

wellington

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Thank you all! I have already started implementing some changes to the setup that I hope will help it.

Anyone know if eco earth would be suitable? If it is mentioned in the care guide provided above, I apologize. Will read it tonight when I get home.
I'd be able to keep the eco earth damp (but not too damp, just enough to clump in my hand is what I was reading). I ask bc I saw conflicting info about whether it is safe. Probably not "ideal," but it may be much better than newspaper substrate. Poor baby. Wish it were being pampered at a rescue right now!
Coconut coir is very safe. Orchid bark is fine too.
 

Brit G

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Also, it still will not eat. Tried prickly pear pads, radishes, apple, all chopped up well. Even tried propping up a whole cactus pad to imitate a true cactus lol... it seemed to have those little annoying spikes stuck in its shoulder, so I do believe it was eating them "in the wild."

Trying chopped up raw baby carrots, zucchini, and broccoli, as well as mustard greens. No interest so far.

Cannot say I blame it for being too stressed to eat... any tips?

I bought a better dome lamp, one that has metal interior for better heat direction and its little basking platform is now getting up to 95, last time I checked.
 

orv

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Just to stimulate his appetite, you might try some leafy greens, such as local weeds such as dandilion. You might even try some store bought greens such as Spring mix. It sounds to me as if you, with the assistance of your mom, would make life-long friends with this tortoise. I just hope that there's a way to do it leagally. I'd love to see some pictures.
 

Brit G

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"He" is very cute and zippy... hard to catch him being still! Have decided to follow my greek god trend and call "him" Eros, since he's seemed to have caught my heart...

(stuck in a pic of my boy Ares with his favorite treat, no sugar added applesauce - no clue why it looks like i gave him so much applesauce in the pic; it was less than a fourth cup,lol)
20180502_134239.jpg 20180501_125442.jpg 20180430_142516.jpg 20180430_200631.jpg
 

orv

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"He" is very cute and zippy... hard to catch him being still! Have decided to follow my greek god trend and call "him" Eros, since he's seemed to have caught my heart...

(stuck in a pic of my boy Ares with his favorite treat, no sugar added applesauce - no clue why it looks like i gave him so much applesauce in the pic; it was less than a fourth cup,lol)
View attachment 237834 View attachment 237837 View attachment 237835 View attachment 237838
A beautiful young tortoise. I hope that you can get him eating soon. Have you tried warm soaks?
 

Tom

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They won't eat if they are too cold. Get the basking temp near 100 for a few days, and you might see some improvement.

They are broad leaf weed eaters. They don't eat veggies and fruits and he probably doesn't recognize those as food. You need the right types of weeds, and possibly some leafy greens from the store if he won't go for the weeds.

Daily warm soaks will help get things moving in the GI tract too and also keep him hydrated while he's not eating much.
 

Brit G

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A beautiful young tortoise. I hope that you can get him eating soon. Have you tried warm soaks?
I have not. Imagine it is pretty much the same concept as beardie soaks - lukewarm tap water, for about 20 minutes?
 

Brit G

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They won't eat if they are too cold. Get the basking temp near 100 for a few days, and you might see some improvement.

They are broad leaf weed eaters. They don't eat veggies and fruits and he probably doesn't recognize those as food. You need the right types of weeds, and possibly some leafy greens from the store if he won't go for the weeds.

Daily warm soaks will help get things moving in the GI tract too and also keep him hydrated while he's not eating much.

Hmm, that is too bad. There aren't any weeds nearby that I can be sure are pesticide-free. I doubt any gardening stores will sell any.
 

orv

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Hmm, that is too bad. There aren't any weeds nearby that I can be sure are pesticide-free. I doubt any gardening stores will sell any.
If necessary, Spring Mix from the grocery might be delicious to him.
 

daniellenc

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Weeds in places that aren’t landscaped should be safe. Spring mix, collard greens, endive, radicchio, escarole, dandelion greens, and many other store bought greens are also an option. If he’s warm enough his appetite will kick in soon enough
 
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