Galapagos Tortoises

Sesel

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Nice group~ :cool:
Curious about the injury of one of the Galapagos tortoises. Seems to be a big hole. Do you know how it happened or did you receive the tortoise that way?

:eek: are the Aldabras yours? How many are there and were you successful in breeding them? (Please share more :D)
 

Olddog

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Nice group~ :cool:
Curious about the injury of one of the Galapagos tortoises. Seems to be a big hole. Do you know how it happened or did you receive the tortoise that way?

:eek: are the Aldabras yours? How many are there and were you successful in breeding them? (Please share more :D)
The tortoise with a big light colored concave scuteless area on her left posterior shell had a crush injury to her shell years ago. She was crushed by part of a fallen tree. She is part of our group of deformed or damaged tortoises. We feed and care for them all.

There are only two Aldabras in our herd. We acquired them as young imports in the 90's so unsure of age. Not sure if he is old or mature enough to breed. Here are some photos of the two Aldabras from 2004 for comparison. Male first

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Female:
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As this is supposed to be Galapagos tortoise thread:
Morning Dip
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KevinGG

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Thanks

The Galapagos SSP is a "Yellow" SSP, therefore recommendations are non-binding so as private individuals we are not absolutely obligated to follow the AZA studbook keeper's recommnedations of "no private tortoise breeding". That said, we do have animals in on breeding loan as well as out on breeding loan.

From a personal perspective, our collection of large tortoises requires several acres of space, passionate care, and resources. I am getting older. Under the mentorship of Ramon Nogel and Greg Moss, our ability to breed has been demonstrated. Although many of the original Townsend imports to this country are male, expired, or no longer able to breed and some subspecies will go extinct in captivity, it is unlikely many individuals will be able provide what is needed to maintain herds in the future. Zoos have real space limitations. Animals have become a "cost center" and employees are often not present for the nighttime egg collection. There are dedicated zoological stewarts of these animals but there is also politics and limited resources.

One can argue that it may be irresponsible to produce many tortoises which will outlive the breeder, potentially attain weighs of 200 to 600 pounds, and put them in the hands of hobbyists. On the other hand, devoted tortoise breeders are probably the source of the passion, inovation and resources required to work with and ensure the future of the magnificent animals. I favor the latter.
I’m sorry I am just getting back to this thread. I appreciate your honesty. I also favor the latter, but cautiously and with much care to what homes they are placed in. It seems to be the norm to pump out animals with no guidance as to how they should be cared for. Simply, an address and payment for a turtle. I appreciate the work people like Chris Leone do to ensure people understand how to properly care for the animals he sells. It’s a dream, though now it seems cliche, to keep this species. I have the 1000 square foot winter barn and live right near a city named Santa Cruz in California, so it seems fitting. Thank you for sharing your amazing habitats and the incredible animals you care for. Very inspiring.
 

Olddog

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I’m sorry I am just getting back to this thread. I appreciate your honesty. I also favor the latter, but cautiously and with much care to what homes they are placed in. It seems to be the norm to pump out animals with no guidance as to how they should be cared for. Simply, an address and payment for a turtle. I appreciate the work people like Chris Leone do to ensure people understand how to properly care for the animals he sells. It’s a dream, though now it seems cliche, to keep this species. I have the 1000 square foot winter barn and live right near a city named Santa Cruz in California, so it seems fitting. Thank you for sharing your amazing habitats and the incredible animals you care for. Very inspiring.
Thank you. They are very special.
 

Olddog

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Galapagos Tortoises and hay

Our area remains very dry. Recently the local ranch supply received a fresh load of O&A hay from New Mexico. It does smell like grass. Although most of our tortoises usually ignore fresh hay, we thought they might make an exception due to sparse areas of quality grass. Many of the females would eat at least some hay, possibly due to peer pressure.

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When one gets close enough for photos, most, particularly the males, will leave the hay looking for goodies and not return to the hay.
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Olddog

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In reality, most of this batch of hay was untouched the following morning. Although the tortoises are the mammalian equivalent of hind gut fermenters similar to horses and their diet should consist primarily of grasses, it appears they would prefer to graze over a relatively large area for sparse fresh grass than to indulge in significant quantities of fresh hay.

There is a possibility they just a little spoiled and holding out for other supplements to their sparse pastures. There are other foods they enjoy:

Corn on the cob.
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The corn is usually better from another's mouth:

Apples are also edible.

Melon and produce are like candy.
 

Olddog

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Pond level falling, two slept in water.

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Little bulldozer had feed cart up on back handrail, caddy-wompus, and nearly overturned before interrupted. Who me?
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Olddog

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Rainey Season

Now that we have gone from drought to rain, tortoises are spending many of their evenings sleeping in shallow water, preferably in mud. Perhaps this is in part to reduce mosquito bites. Frequently they will spend part of the day in individual mud wallows but may congregate in the evening in shallow ponds. One group jockeying for position in late afternoon:
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Pasture Rotation

Rotating between non-contiguous pastures is something of a pain involving multiple trailer trips. The tortoises are bribed onto the trailer by means of a ramp of reinforced 4x8 sheet of plywood. In this case, a loaf of bread was utilized for motivation. After hosing, scrubbing, and lubricating, they are trailered several hundred feet to a different pasture. The "tailgate" can be used for the dismount. The trailer is then hosed and the process repeated. For the first day, Galaps rarely move more then 20-50 feet, sampling different plants. They appear to have different preferences after initial sampling of bahiagrass. The move is so stressful the Galaps typically wait 3-5 minutes before eating.

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Olddog

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Tuscon Kid - Pasture Rotation

Tuscon is a large male love-sponge (Chelonoidis nigra guntheri/vicini) originally from the La Cazuela region of Isabella. He would much rather have his neck rubbed than eat. One has to ignore him when feeding treats or his fellow enclosure occupant devours the groceries. When he hears you he will typically erect his neck for attention and rubbing. If successful in capturing your attention, he stands for the full treatment. He is generally not very food motivated. We had several boxes of string beans as well as melon which was utilized to motivate Tuscon on the long walk to the trailer. Tuscon weighed in excess of 500 pounds years ago. He takes things slowly and steadily (unless distracted). Tuscon calmly climbed up the ramp to the trailer. He continued to eat in the trailer, completed his bath, and rather ungracefully exited the trailer by means of the small and flimsy tailgate. He is the only large male moved to the separate pasture area. His calm behavior is very much in contrast to that of some of the younger males transferred. Some of the younger males act like poorly behaved teenagers full of hormones. They are upset at being confined to the trailer even for a few minutes, go busting out, and bulldoze the first set of shrubs they find. These sub and young adults tend to get over their temper tantrum in 3-5 minutes and may choose to initially eat low hanging leaves rather than grass.

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Tuscon Kid

 

Olddog

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~ Can you share the size of your pastures?
Surely

The non-contigious pasture to which part of the herd is being transferred is part wooded and part open grass that was lightly fertizied prior to the rains. It is an irregular shape but is approximately 139,500 square feet or 3.2 acres. There is no irrigation or winter shelters for this pasture. It will likely not be able to supply enough forage for the group. Likely may have to open the gate to a second pasture which currently contains many fallen trees and brush piles following Irma. it will require cleaning and removal of any toxic weeds prior to use. If the herd does not mow the pasture areas down pretty far, I may have difficulty finding all as they start digging in. They are expert in burrowing into brush piles.

The permanent enclosures desparately need reworking. They total approximaely 363,000+ square feet or about 8 1/3 acre. This space is cross fenced with multiple yards and 6 heated winter houses, each serving two or more enclosures. Two of these winter enclosures are insulated 40 foot truck refrigerator bodies. As the tortoises have grown, the current heated areas have become inadequate and additional wiring has been run for expansion. Over the past 20 plus years, the trees have grown in the once open areas. Irma has partially rectified same, falling ancient oaks and pines, taking out smaller trees.

We are rotating two groups of tortoises to contigious yards without enclosures. As tortoise yards are vacated, additional downed trees will be removed and areas reseeded. As the area has not been fertilized in many years,the soil is quite poor and will require at least minimal fertilizer. It would be nice to install irrigation in the winter enclosures as well. Currently there is a burn ban but anticipate it will be lifted soon. This will allow us to dispose of many of the dead trees and brush piles not taken care of previously. Hopefully efforts will result in lush pastures by fall. It is unlikely time will permit removing too much of the overgrown shade trees this year. Ideally the areas near the winter houses would be bright and open for cool weather basking, however this is not always the case. Ideally this will be rectified, but perhaps not this year.

There is also a wire enclosed areas and heated boxes for a group of 3 yr-olds and another wire enclosed area for some that are older but likely not big enough for open yards.

Hope this rather convoluted explanation makes sense.
 

Olddog

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Pasture Rotation

Each morning while it is relatively cool, groups of tortoises have be transferred to summer pasture. The Tuscon Kid (pictured previously) was moved 3 days ago. He has learned where the trailer unloads and now presents himself for love and adoration. When his neck is rubbed he holds himself erect in a trance-like state lasting for several minutes.
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This trance-like state is not permanent. When he finds you are working with another tortoise, he steps in demanding your attention. He does not hesitate to gently step on or over tortoises which may be in his way. He can keep it somewhat challenging. Will probbly unload the last group tomorrow in a different spot.

It was amusing to witness a couple of recently unloaded younger males rise to challange and "face off" with Tuscon. The tortoise with the higher head elevation wins. They withdrew.
 

KevinGG

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Tuscon Kid - Pasture Rotation

Tuscon is a large male love-sponge (Chelonoidis nigra guntheri/vicini) originally from the La Cazuela region of Isabella. He would much rather have his neck rubbed than eat. One has to ignore him when feeding treats or his fellow enclosure occupant devours the groceries. When he hears you he will typically erect his neck for attention and rubbing. If successful in capturing your attention, he stands for the full treatment. He is generally not very food motivated. We had several boxes of string beans as well as melon which was utilized to motivate Tuscon on the long walk to the trailer. Tuscon weighed in excess of 500 pounds years ago. He takes things slowly and steadily (unless distracted). Tuscon calmly climbed up the ramp to the trailer. He continued to eat in the trailer, completed his bath, and rather ungracefully exited the trailer by means of the small and flimsy tailgate. He is the only large male moved to the separate pasture area. His calm behavior is very much in contrast to that of some of the younger males transferred. Some of the younger males act like poorly behaved teenagers full of hormones. They are upset at being confined to the trailer even for a few minutes, go busting out, and bulldoze the first set of shrubs they find. These sub and young adults tend to get over their temper tantrum in 3-5 minutes and may choose to initially eat low hanging leaves rather than grass.

View attachment 240875

Tuscon Kid

That’s really great.
 

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