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

Chubbs the tegu

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May 9, 2019
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Ma
I think the problem is its not easy to find mature plants to put into the enclosure(outdoors). So it takes a bit of time for all the plants to fill in the enclosure. The rosemary bush is great! But how long did it take to get that large? At least a couple years. I just planted a few ornamental grasses and couple lavender plants along with some other shrubby plants inside my enclosure but they will take a while to make it a jungle.
 

Laura W

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Nov 30, 2020
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We live in the desert and have water restrictions. Our cemeteries don't even have grass. We have trees and miniature cluster palms, Agaves, rosemary but other than that, everything takes a lot of water and he rips out anything planted.
 

Karen Covill

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Here's my outside pen - still in progress but coming along nicely. Since the nights have been almost as hot as the days (and while that continues), they spent their first night outside. They even ate in that enclosure - and ate very well.
 

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Tom

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Here is why:

Indoors, they trample or eat anything they have access to. Anything potted seems to slowly die. I don't know why, and years of research, experimentation, and attempts have failed. We can't just go buy more because by law decorative plants sold in stores are grown with toxic systemic pesticides. So we have to find a safe source of parent plants, put cuttings in pots, put them in our enclosures, and then the tortoises eat anything they can reach, while the stuff they can't reach seems to die off over time for reasons unknown. I LOVE the look of heavily planted enclosures and totally understand the benefits, but despite repeated concerted effort, I usually fail at every attempt. Further, I've never been able to use any type of fake plant because the tortoises eat them. So instead of nice looking plants, I provide the cover and shelter they need with plastic shelters that don't die, rot, and can't be eaten or trampled.

Outdoors we have the same problem with systemic pesticides in any new store bough plant. We have to grow from seed or cutting. My attempts at both usually fail despite buying all the right product and following directions from a host of plant professionals, as well as youtube research. Then we have the problems of gophers, rabbits, ground squirrels, chipmunks, rats, birds, a wide range of insects, and the tortoises themselves all destroying whatever work we put in. I have planted 100s of plants outdoors in tortoise pens. Few survive despite great effort. There is a whole laundry list of reasons why they die, and sometimes they die for no apparent reason. It seems that in some parts go the country, all variety of plants thrive and grow at least seasonally. Not so much where I am.

I'm not giving up. I continue to try and try again, but it is a constant frustrating battle that I usually lose. It takes daily constant thought and effort to keep any plant alive here. I work for weeks to get plants going and a single gopher will show up and destroy them in a day with no warming. I then kill the gopher, once its presence is known, but more and more keep coming. I killed 44 of them last year. I just spent $300 on a new type of trap to try out, but I can't trap them until I know they are there, and by then the damage is already done, and other gophers now have a path to follow in.

Its just not that easy.
 

SoCalGreek

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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.
Get ones with large leaves. It’s much harder to rip out/off the big fake ones.
 

queen koopa

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Aug 22, 2018
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741
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Las Vegas Nevada
Here is why:

Indoors, they trample or eat anything they have access to. Anything potted seems to slowly die. I don't know why, and years of research, experimentation, and attempts have failed. We can't just go buy more because by law decorative plants sold in stores are grown with toxic systemic pesticides. So we have to find a safe source of parent plants, put cuttings in pots, put them in our enclosures, and then the tortoises eat anything they can reach, while the stuff they can't reach seems to die off over time for reasons unknown. I LOVE the look of heavily planted enclosures and totally understand the benefits, but despite repeated concerted effort, I usually fail at every attempt. Further, I've never been able to use any type of fake plant because the tortoises eat them. So instead of nice looking plants, I provide the cover and shelter they need with plastic shelters that don't die, rot, and can't be eaten or trampled.

Outdoors we have the same problem with systemic pesticides in any new store bough plant. We have to grow from seed or cutting. My attempts at both usually fail despite buying all the right product and following directions from a host of plant professionals, as well as youtube research. Then we have the problems of gophers, rabbits, ground squirrels, chipmunks, rats, birds, a wide range of insects, and the tortoises themselves all destroying whatever work we put in. I have planted 100s of plants outdoors in tortoise pens. Few survive despite great effort. There is a whole laundry list of reasons why they die, and sometimes they die for no apparent reason. It seems that in some parts go the country, all variety of plants thrive and grow at least seasonally. Not so much where I am.

I'm not giving up. I continue to try and try again, but it is a constant frustrating battle that I usually lose. It takes daily constant thought and effort to keep any plant alive here. I work for weeks to get plants going and a single gopher will show up and destroy them in a day with no warming. I then kill the gopher, once its presence is known, but more and more keep coming. I killed 44 of them last year. I just spent $300 on a new type of trap to try out, but I can't trap them until I know they are there, and by then the damage is already done, and other gophers now have a path to follow in.

Its just not that easy.
44! Holy crap!
 

maggie3fan

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I don't worry about having cover for my only Sulcata. While I do have a very green thumb, I concentrate on growing graze pasture grass and weeds I don't know the name of, and I am on a very small piece of land but I have around 25-30 Rose of Sharon trees and 3 grape vines, growing pumpkins and zucchini for her.
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Yvonne G

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It works best if you can build your tortoise yard in an already planted area. It takes a lot longer and is much harder for the tortoises to wreck mature and already growing plants and grass. Dudley's been in this yard for about 20 years and the grass, lilac and pineapple guava are still alive.
 

Yvonne G

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Oops - The pictures aren't in this Kindle. Oh well. you've all seen them before anyway.
 

queen koopa

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Aug 22, 2018
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Location (City and/or State)
Las Vegas Nevada
I don't worry about having cover for my only Sulcata. While I do have a very green thumb, I concentrate on growing graze pasture grass and weeds I don't know the name of, and I am on a very small piece of land but I have around 25-30 Rose of Sharon trees and 3 grape vines, growing pumpkins and zucchini for her.
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These are great. After reading yours and Toms posts about the Rose of Sharon and Lavatera I got some rose mallow seeds. I germinated a few indoors last year but they were not strong and died when I put them outside - fail. Then I made a cinder block garden bed inside koopas enclosure for shade and foods, got 3 germinations and they burned out within a week or 2. Here in Nevada it is windy like 5 days a week and and 3 of them the wind is close to 20mph. The amount of water needed to keep moist soil is ridiculous here almost all my beds have lattice over them or deep pots. So since that was a fail I said F it and put 3 opuntia cactus pads instead. I know those will grow!! Can’t have enough of them either. Reading Marks original post I may transplant a rosemary into the enclosure or society garlic. Guess those are not appealing to Sulcata!
 

Neal

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A big problem for me is that lush foliage creates a major pest problem. Cricket populations would explode if I had excess ground cover from plants. As in, I really like using fountain grass for tortoise enclosures, but no way to maintain those thin enough that they would greatly benefit the tortoises and reduce the cricket infestation they create.

In my area, more crickets leads to more scorpions and black widows. There's some risk to the tortoises, but a greater risk to my kids. My solution is to plant more trees or shrubs that don't have excess ground cover. So far its worked out well, but I do think my tortoises would prefer places that they can wedge themselves into and feel secure.
 
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