Transitioning 4 year old desert tortoise

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KellysTort

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I have just been approved to adopt a desert tortoise. I think he/she will be approximately 4 years old. The tortoise has spent his days outside (Thousand Oaks area) and nights indoors. I live in Agoura Hills (45 minutes NW of Los Angeles). I have built a 4'x8' predator-safe outdoor enclosure. I'm wondering if I need to transition slowly to the outdoors overnight or can I immediately let the tortoise stay outside? I have build him a dirt/rock burrow (which I'm sure he will alter) and provided a little wood structure/burrow. I'm also wondering if there will be any issues of him being alone? He is currently with 5 of his clutch mates, and has been with them his whole life. Oh, and he has hibernated safely every year of his life. Help for this newbie, please! Thank you.
 

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Yvonne G

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Hi Kellystort:

Welcome to the Tortoise Forum!!

Is your name Kelly?

That's a nice little habitat you've built for your tortoise. Do you have any night time predators like opossum, skunk, coyote, etc? It would be pretty easy for them to tip up a corner of the habitat and get inside. If so, I would still bring the tortoise inside for the night. Just bring him in and place him in a cardboard box and put him out in the a.m.
 

KellysTort

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there is no way an elephant could lift this thing. It took 4 grown men to lift and place it. Plus, all my research suggests that they should be outside if at all possible.
 

ascott

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Welcome to the Forum :D and we LOVE PICS :p

I know you are new to the forum so will share with you :p Yvonne has a great love for this species and she has housed and hosted many...she has variety of enclosures and so she offers experienced words when she asked about your predator line up and why...

Let me say I am sure a four year old DT is not going to move that box...nor do I think a variety of pesky critters will simply stroll up and lift your enclosure..however I do know that if you can't move a barrier then dig under it and or make a dig out just enough to gain access...this my friend is what you will want to assure can not happen...as you have a little tort and that tort will have the desire to burrow and dig in (usually along enclosure edges and walls) to hide..this is a natural instinct you can't change....

I would also like to know where the tort has been brumate each of the four years? Inside in a controlled environment or outside in the earth? This will also make up part of what decides for you how to handle him during the evenings until he is a bit older and hardier.....
 

KellysTort

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he hibernated in a cool garage in a box. he has hibernated each winter of his short life.
 

ascott

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That is very cool....since he has brumated indoors I would have him out during the day and in at night until your night temps are consistently good...55+. :D and this is just my feelings based on what I would do :D
 

KellysTort

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Ok, thank you, that sounds like good advice. Do you have any thoughts on removing him from his 5 clutch mates that he has been with since birth? The CA adoption chapter has offered me 2 tortoises, but I'm hesitating due to having to separate them soon, and then having to have 2 different enclosures or 2 different areas of my yard for each. Any thoughts?
 

Yvonne G

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I would take two. They seem to do better when there's more than one when they are young. It seems to help when there's competition for the food. Also, you may never need to separate them. Desert tortoises are pretty mellow. They just may live together happily the rest of their lives. But then again, you always have to allow for the fact that maybe they won't get along forever.
 
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Maggie Cummings

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If you keep him in that enclosure he will have it eaten down very soon. Can't he have the run of your yard. Part of being outside is being able to graze all day...
 

Tom

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Hello and welcome. I think you are close enough to where they grew up that there should not be an issue with adjusting to the climate. Here are my thoughts:
1. I would still have an indoor enclosure available for cold days and cold nights. Sure they can probably survive just living outside, but why?
2. I would only get one. Or three or more. Pairs can be problematic, even though Yvonne is correct (as usual) that it is less of an issue when they are young. I would not worry about separating them. This is the natural way of things for a tortoise. Actually having five of them together for four years is very un-natural. Be aware that tortoises usually take a while to adjust to change. Moving to an entirely new are is stressful and there will be an adjustment period.
3. Location of your enclosure. How are they housed now? Where is their enclosure in relation to the sun? How much sun will that enclosure get on a daily basis? That lush greenery and fencing will put it in the shade pretty early in the day depending on where in the yard it sits.
4. I have two issues with your enclosure:
4a. It is too small. 4x8 is okay for a hatchling, but too small for a growing four year old. They need more ability to move around for sun or shade or cover or humidity gradients than a small space will allow, especially if you wish to leave him out there full time.
4b. Those sides are too tall. They will create too much shade on cool days and they will block too much ventilation hot day. It will be like a hot box when the summer sun is beating straight down into that box at noon. It will be like a fridge until mid-day on a cool spring time morning until the sun gets high enough to reach the ground in there. Here is a modular idea that has been working well for me. They won't be able to dig out in one day, so you just have to watch it. Some of them don't dig at all until they are older anyway.http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread...ut-Safe-Outdoor-Baby-Enclosures#axzz1bv5qbbcz

Here is another idea that might appeal to you. Gives them the safety and temperature stability of a real burrow, but with out all the risks.
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread-Daisy-s-New-Enclosure#axzz1bv5qbbcz

If you are anything like the rest of us, you will constantly tweak, adjust and improve things as you go along. We are all still learning after decades at it. :D Hope some of this helps you.
 

KellysTort

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Thank you so much for your response. Wow, this is a lot of information. I actually had the enclosure built based on the specs I was given by the adoption chapter. Down the road, when he's big enough, he will have my full yard. Oh, and he will have lots of time in the yard now as long as he's supervised. I'm going to have to see where the sun hits this summer, but I think this particular area with have a combination of sun and shade. I do plan on providing some additional shade during the summer. I actually got my tortoise today, and he's quite big for his age. He's approximately 2 years old and he's about six inches long (shell only).
 

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ascott

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I would say if you have the space for two eventual enclosures then why not take a couple of them....and since they are still young there is no way to know for certain their sex... two males will absolutely battle...and if you have two females they are much much more mellow...now the bad thing would be if the two you take turn out to be male/female pair---the male will harass the female wanting sex--then there is the issue of captive offspring which is not desirable...and should be avoided...you say you are in California--and when you permit your CDT you will find that it is prohibited to house male/females together... captive bred and born CDTs are not the desired outcome---to host a CDT is to provide a safe and comfortable place for the displaced tortoise to live out the rest of its life and not for the purpose of breeding....:D
 

KellysTort

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Thank you Angela. I ended up getting one. I think his photo should be posted on this threat. He's quite a looker. ;)
 

Katherine

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KellysTort said:
I ended up getting one. I think his photo should be posted on this threat. He's quite a looker. ;)

Congratulations! What a beautiful tortoise! I hope you guys have a wonderful time getting to know eachother : )
 
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