Why do so many folks make enclosures so barren???

Markw84

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I really don't understand why most all the pictures I see of tortoise enclosures (including zoos) have the enclosure so barren. No plants. A tortoise in the wild would never choose to live in any area without plenty of plant cover. Yet, barren enclosures are the rule. And then folks wonder why their tortoise is so intent on getting out, or just sits in a corner and becomes inactive.

Let's make a campaign to change people's vision of how tortoises live and make plants a necessary part of any enclosure - inside or outside!!!

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turtlesteve

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I think it’s because it’s a constant maintenance battle, and because the zoos want them to be seen. Indoors is the hardest - the tortoises are determined to make them barren by eating or bulldozing, so it either requires constant replanting or you give up and use fake plants.
 

ZenHerper

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Zoos do it because it makes it easier to see the animals. But. Not very healthful, and not conducive to the full range of natural behaviors.

I think the bad habit hit a high point in commercial trade when chain pet stores proliferated. Merchandising became more important than in-store keeping, then customers were coached to provide identical, bare set ups. I recall a great deal of enthusiasm for naturalistic set ups in the 70s-90s at my local mom-and-pop pet stores where shop owners kept part of their collections on site.

I feel for people who struggle with the landscaping aspect...not all plants respond the way we want them to. I can't raise Pothos to save my life. (I know. But I just can't.) Spider plant - can't stop them from growing. lol Prayer plant, Aglaonema, African Violet all happy with my techniques. You just have to try what interests you and refine. If your plants can do well, your reptiles can thrive.

Acclimation goes so much better when critters can watch the household's happenings from a secure, undisclosed location. You have to go the extra step to locate and physically retrieve animals daily to check on their condition, but isn't that the genuine interaction people want?

It's work. It's love. It's worth the effort.
 

wellington

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I think a lot of it is the info on store bought plants when I first joined was you had to wait months before you could use them. Now that info seems to have changed, same with fertilizers. Years ago it was a NO, plants can't have any fertilizers. Now I have read they are find as long as this or that isn't used as the fertilizer.
Another reason, they are hard to keep alive in an indoor enclosure. Most enclosures are too small, daily fight getting people to go bigger. They are also either eaten, trampled or just die out from the heat and/or humidity. Most don't have endless money to keep buying more.
Outside enclosures much easier to add plants, trees, bushes or even let the weeds grow overly tall.
 

Markw84

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My feeling is just as we have to learn how to identify weeds, maintain humidity and the correct temperatures, we need to learn how to provide the proper cover and environment. IF you can't grow a pothos in an indoor enclosure, that is telling me something about how proper the conditions are for the tortoise. Most enclosures are extremely under illuminated in my opinion. Just as good lighting helps a plant grow, it helps a tortoise who has better vision than we do. Its health and well-being are very much affected by the lighting.

Indoors when a tortoise gets large enough to destroy plants, we can hang the plants and use big pots. Bigger tortoises should be outdoors by then. Outdoors there are plants we can establish that the tortoise cannot destroy. The rosemary bushes you see in the picture I posted in the first post was a favorite resting spot for my 200+ lb sulcata when I had him in this enclosure. I protect rose of sharon and lavatera and opuntia until the trunks are strong enough to withstand the size of tortoise in the enclosure. I find plants the tortoise will not choose to eat like the carex sedges in the picture that is perfect cover and humidity keepers, or society garlic. Instead of finding excuses of why I cannot provide a natural cover, I choose to learn how to do it. I encourage others to as well.

Zoos we say need to keep the animals visible. That is outdated thinking. Just as barren enclosures is outdated thinking. The last zoos I visited - the lions, tigers, gorillas, gibbons, fox, bears, were often almost impossible to see at times as they were hiding in the natural cover provided. But when it came to the tortoises - they need to be sure people can see them??? I find the tortoises much more interesting when semi hiding in a natural setting. Coming out to feed at will just as the other animals who are given natural cover. I find the tortoises behave much differently when given an environment they truly feel natural in. I find the zoos much more interesting that have adopted the much more naturalistic setting for all their animals - even though hard to see at times. I like a chimp hiding in the bush and playing around the trees instead of pacing back and forth in front of the bars of a barren cell.
 

MarginatedMooney

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I've got some pothos currently that I'm waiting to put in my marginated's indoor enclosure because of pesticides. I've been tempted to get some fake plants in the meantime but I'm worried he'll try to eat them. So right now, his indoor enclosure is barren unfortunately. I do have plants in his outdoor enclosure.
 

TeamZissou

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I've got some pothos currently that I'm waiting to put in my marginated's indoor enclosure because of pesticides. I've been tempted to get some fake plants in the meantime but I'm worried he'll try to eat them. So right now, his indoor enclosure is barren unfortunately. I do have plants in his outdoor enclosure.

Fake plants would be better than nothing. My Greek tortoise has never tried to eat plastic plants from Hobby Lobby. I imagine it would be the same with your Marginated. My theory is that they don't smell like anything to the tortoises.
 

MarginatedMooney

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Fake plants would be better than nothing. My Greek tortoise has never tried to eat plastic plants from Hobby Lobby. I imagine it would be the same with your Marginated. My theory is that they don't smell like anything to the tortoises.
Thanks! I'll have to go to Hobby Lobby then and get some plastic plants. I would prefer to have some sort of plants, even if they're fake and I'm sure my tortoise would too. I just need to convince my wife that he won't try to eat them because she is also worried about that.
 

maggie3fan

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I generally keep my tort tables bare, but the tortoises are put out daily. Or the bigger older torts come and go thru doggie doors.
Here's an example of a box turtle, they need cover just like tortoises do, but in a different way. My box turtles are put outside on days they can be outside. This is a habitat for a 3 toed box turtle. He hides in the water, and his carapace is the same color as the water he's hiding in.Most chelonia want overhead protection.
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He's 6 yrs got him in Texas
100_7775.JPG
 

Jacqui

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Zoos do it because it makes it easier to see the animals. But. Not very healthful, and not conducive to the full range of natural behaviors.

I think the bad habit hit a high point in commercial trade when chain pet stores proliferated. Merchandising became more important than in-store keeping, then customers were coached to provide identical, bare set ups. I recall a great deal of enthusiasm for naturalistic set ups in the 70s-90s at my local mom-and-pop pet stores where shop owners kept part of their collections on site.

I feel for people who struggle with the landscaping aspect...not all plants respond the way we want them to. I can't raise Pothos to save my life. (I know. But I just can't.) Spider plant - can't stop them from growing. lol Prayer plant, Aglaonema, African Violet all happy with my techniques. You just have to try what interests you and refine. If your plants can do well, your reptiles can thrive.

Acclimation goes so much better when critters can watch the household's happenings from a secure, undisclosed location. You have to go the extra step to locate and physically retrieve animals daily to check on their condition, but isn't that the genuine interaction people want?

It's work. It's love. It's worth the effort.

Lol you and I seem to have opposite plant growing abilities.
 

Jacqui

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I too, have always hated bare enclosures. To me, the biggest and best part of being a tortoise care taker, is having as large and as natural an enclosure as possible. Some plants grow well, some get replaced like clock work. It's learning which animal likes eating what. I remember years back having gotten two hosta plants. One I just absolutely loved. Decided to put it in my ornate box turtles enclosure. Before I finished planting the second one in another enclosure, those darn box turtles had consumed the entire beautiful hosta. Lol Lesson learned.
 

wellington

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I too, have always hated bare enclosures. To me, the biggest and best part of being a tortoise care taker, is having as large and as natural an enclosure as possible. Some plants grow well, some get replaced like clock work. It's learning which animal likes eating what. I remember years back having gotten two hosta plants. One I just absolutely loved. Decided to put it in my ornate box turtles enclosure. Before I finished planting the second one in another enclosure, those darn box turtles had consumed the entire beautiful hosta. Lol Lesson learned.
Sounds similar to a horse I had as a kid. My dad was planting tiny pine trees along the horse fence. As he was moving along planting each one. The horse was going behind him and pulling them up.
The horse won, my dad gave up.
 

Jacqui

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Sounds similar to a horse I had as a kid. My dad was planting tiny pine trees along the horse fence. As he was moving along planting each one. The horse was going behind him and pulling them up.
The horse won, my dad gave up.

That's more like my springer, Shane, only it was rose bushes.
 

SarahJoy

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My leopard has an old group of hostas in his enclosure and hides among them all the time.
My sulcata destroys them. I even put them with a rock barrier where he can't see (but he smelled them) and he bulldozed. I have to do pastures; close one then open a fresh spot, though he hates it and paces until it is alll opened up again. Torts.... gotta love 'em!
 

S2G

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I've wondered this myself. My temp table is bare & its ugly. When I get finished with the permanent I'm doing a compressed cork wall with vines, some spider type plants, & natural type terrain. I understand they trample things, but I don't find it an issue with hardy plants.
 

ZenHerper

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I've wondered this myself. My temp table is bare & its ugly. When I get finished with the permanent I'm doing a compressed cork wall with vines, some spider type plants, & natural type terrain. I understand they trample things, but I don't find it an issue with hardy plants.
Hanging planters work very well.

Use sturdy pots for on-the-ground plants and bury them part way down. For plants that need good drainage and root aeration: cut out the bottom of the pot. With tortoises and turtle species that walk a lot, landscape the center of the habitat and leave a walking tract on the perimeter.
 
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