Tortoise Habitat Advice

CeciliaCornwall

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Aug 11, 2019
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25
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Scottsdale, AZ
Hello all!

We live in sunny AZ and have two female desert tortoises. Which I realize now after reading the pinned thread is potentially not the greatest idea, but here we are. We will likely get a third to offset issues in the future. Our most pressing problem is habitat. We have a tortoise-proof backyard and have been letting them roam as they please, graze the grass, etc. This may have been a mistake, I’m not sure but we are open to recommendations on that. We built a habitat using cinder blocks with a plywood topper. We covered it in dirt. We made it as one habitat, but we made it with two sides so each tortoise could have her own side. They spent one night in their sides, then appeared to both want the same side. The younger one ran into the bigger one’s side one day and after that, neither would go in there again unless it was raining. Instead, they have dug a hole under an aloe vera plant and both insist on being completely smushed under it. We have tried filling the hole in to encourage them to use the house we built, but no luck. Upon reflection, the home we built was on a western wall facing east, and may just have been too hot. We took it down yesterday and are going to attempt rebuilding in a better location.

So, should we not allow them to have free range of the yard? Also, any ideas on how we can make a better home? Is it location? Did we make a mistake having two holes in one house? Should we dig up the aloe Vera so they can’t do that? Should we allow the aloe?

Finally, we have a lot of mosquitos and I’d like to spray garlic repellant on the plants/grass. If I do that, can/will the tortoises still eat the grass? Thanks!
 

Changa

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Oct 23, 2018
Messages
152
Location (City and/or State)
Ca
Hello all!

We live in sunny AZ and have two female desert tortoises. Which I realize now after reading the pinned thread is potentially not the greatest idea, but here we are. We will likely get a third to offset issues in the future. Our most pressing problem is habitat. We have a tortoise-proof backyard and have been letting them roam as they please, graze the grass, etc. This may have been a mistake, I’m not sure but we are open to recommendations on that. We built a habitat using cinder blocks with a plywood topper. We covered it in dirt. We made it as one habitat, but we made it with two sides so each tortoise could have her own side. They spent one night in their sides, then appeared to both want the same side. The younger one ran into the bigger one’s side one day and after that, neither would go in there again unless it was raining. Instead, they have dug a hole under an aloe vera plant and both insist on being completely smushed under it. We have tried filling the hole in to encourage them to use the house we built, but no luck. Upon reflection, the home we built was on a western wall facing east, and may just have been too hot. We took it down yesterday and are going to attempt rebuilding in a better location.

So, should we not allow them to have free range of the yard? Also, any ideas on how we can make a better home? Is it location? Did we make a mistake having two holes in one house? Should we dig up the aloe Vera so they can’t do that? Should we allow the aloe?

Finally, we have a lot of mosquitos and I’d like to spray garlic repellant on the plants/grass. If I do that, can/will the tortoises still eat the grass? Thanks!
Welcome‍♀
U have some good questions and I cant answer I am fairly new parent but the Veterans on this forum will come to suggest on what u can do, u wait and see
 

Yvonne G

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If there is no danger of kids playing ball in that yard and running into and over the tortoises, I see no reason not to let them have the whole yard. As to the shelter, once you have the new one dug and finished, hopefully in deep shade, then every night put them into it and block the entrance so they can't come out. After a few nights of doing this they should go in by themselves. I'm not familiar with the garlic spray. I'll see what my friend Google says about it.
 

Yvonne G

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I couldn't find anything about animals eating the sprayed plants, only that the actual spray on the animals isn't harmful.
 

Action

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Jun 10, 2019
Messages
212
Location (City and/or State)
Valley Springs, Ca.
Hello all!

We live in sunny AZ and have two female desert tortoises. Which I realize now after reading the pinned thread is potentially not the greatest idea, but here we are. We will likely get a third to offset issues in the future. Our most pressing problem is habitat. We have a tortoise-proof backyard and have been letting them roam as they please, graze the grass, etc. This may have been a mistake, I’m not sure but we are open to recommendations on that. We built a habitat using cinder blocks with a plywood topper. We covered it in dirt. We made it as one habitat, but we made it with two sides so each tortoise could have her own side. They spent one night in their sides, then appeared to both want the same side. The younger one ran into the bigger one’s side one day and after that, neither would go in there again unless it was raining. Instead, they have dug a hole under an aloe vera plant and both insist on being completely smushed under it. We have tried filling the hole in to encourage them to use the house we built, but no luck. Upon reflection, the home we built was on a western wall facing east, and may just have been too hot. We took it down yesterday and are going to attempt rebuilding in a better location.

So, should we not allow them to have free range of the yard? Also, any ideas on how we can make a better home? Is it location? Did we make a mistake having two holes in one house? Should we dig up the aloe Vera so they can’t do that? Should we allow the aloe?

Finally, we have a lot of mosquitos and I’d like to spray garlic repellant on the plants/grass. If I do that, can/will the tortoises still eat the grass? Thanks!

Build some bat houses.......they eat lots and lots of mosquitos. We have quite a few bats around here and almost no Mosquitos.
Jack
 

CeciliaCornwall

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Scottsdale, AZ
Thank you for the advice and the expert googling! We will try that and see. The original was not in the deep shade so that’s probably the problem. Do you think it’s better that they each have their own as opposed to one with two sections?
 

CeciliaCornwall

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Scottsdale, AZ
Build some bat houses.......they eat lots and lots of mosquitos. We have quite a few bats around here and almost no Mosquitos.
Jack
Yes! I’ve been wanting to do this! Thank you for the reminder. I was going to invest in a bat bnb. I used to see a lot of bats around here but not so many recently.
 

Yvonne G

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Thank you for the advice and the expert googling! We will try that and see. The original was not in the deep shade so that’s probably the problem. Do you think it’s better that they each have their own as opposed to one with two sections?
They're pretty finicky about where they think their shelter should be. If they both want to spend the night in the same general area then a divided shelter would work better. Or if they each go their separate ways in the evening, and if those "separate ways" are in good, shady locations, then individual shelters is better. You have to be the detective.
 

Yvonne G

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Build some bat houses.......they eat lots and lots of mosquitos. We have quite a few bats around here and almost no Mosquitos.
Jack
I would love that. Time to contact my friend Google again!
 

Action

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I need to build some myself.....not to much to it. Bats get kind of a bad rap.....there really not to bad.
Jack
 

CeciliaCornwall

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Location (City and/or State)
Scottsdale, AZ
They're pretty finicky about where they think their shelter should be. If they both want to spend the night in the same general area then a divided shelter would work better. Or if they each go their separate ways in the evening, and if those "separate ways" are in good, shady locations, then individual shelters is better. You have to be the detective.
Great advice! Do you think we should pull up the aloe Vera so they can’t get under there? The smaller one is pretty deep in there right now and the bigger one is in front of her blocking the only way out. As a human, it sounds terrible.
 

Yvonne G

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I don't allow my tortoises (desert and sulcata) to burrow. Thankfully none of them have ever offered to. But if they had, I was prepared to fill it back in and place something heavy over the spot to discourage any future digging.

I'm assuming that aloe is in full sun? So you can't make a shelter next to the aloe? It would be a shame to dig it up. . . it's edible. Try filling it back in, then place some bricks or a cinderblock over the filled in entrance.
 

CeciliaCornwall

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Location (City and/or State)
Scottsdale, AZ
I don't allow my tortoises (desert and sulcata) to burrow. Thankfully none of them have ever offered to. But if they had, I was prepared to fill it back in and place something heavy over the spot to discourage any future digging.

I'm assuming that aloe is in full sun? So you can't make a shelter next to the aloe? It would be a shame to dig it up. . . it's edible. Try filling it back in, then place some bricks or a cinderblock over the filled in entrance.
Yes, the aloe is in full sun, but there are two citrus trees next to it that I think could provide enough shade to make a happy spot. I’ll take a photo and see if you agree.
 

Grandpa Turtle 144

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If you don’t want bats put out hummingbird feeders ! Baby hummingbirds eat only mosquitoes! And AZ has a lot of hummingbirds .
And leave the aloe cause your torts will eat it and it’s more then likely the only humide area in the enclosure !
 

CeciliaCornwall

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Scottsdale, AZ
Ok here are the photos!

This one shows the aloe on the far left of the photo and the proposed new site on the right behind the citrus 3B84E180-4C1D-483C-8E7C-11A4B005A0DD.jpeg

This is where the original enclosure was, now destroyed. No shade at all! 04288282-424B-4320-9A8C-658E217C543C.jpeg

This is the proposed new site, behind the citrus on the right (or perhaps one behind each?) A6F5A30E-EAA0-4ADD-897E-58F6B4D03E44.jpeg

And this is for fun, a close up of the burrow under the aloe! 5BCD83D1-F36D-4694-9C3F-1E4D07C8A84D.jpeg
 

CeciliaCornwall

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Scottsdale, AZ
If you don’t want bats put out hummingbird feeders ! Baby hummingbirds eat only mosquitoes! And AZ has a lot of hummingbirds .
And leave the aloe cause your torts will eat it and it’s more then likely the only humide area in the enclosure !
We have the feeders out! I think we’ve just been overwhelmed with he mosquitos this year and the hummingbirds can’t keep up!
 

Lemonade

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Jun 25, 2014
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Hello all!

We live in sunny AZ and have two female desert tortoises. Which I realize now after reading the pinned thread is potentially not the greatest idea, but here we are. We will likely get a third to offset issues in the future.

I don't know of a reason keeping 2 females would be a problem, and I don't know why getting a 3rd would offset issues in the future. Sometimes tortoises don't get along, but I think it's usually when there are 2 males. Or 1 male and 1 female would be a problem.
 
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