?? Husbandry, enclosure, brumation

Rnasty

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I’ve been raising these three torts I got from an old couple that are friends with my parents who didn’t know you should not house DT’s together. I’ve since helped them create a barrier to split their enclosure, but I ended up with three hatchlings because they couldn’t handle taking care of them at their age.

From the first day I’ve tried to do my research and raise them as best I can, but there’s a lot of conflicting or outdated info out there. I want to fix flaws in my husbandry because I intend to have these the rest of my life.

Here are pictures of each one, They’re all 2 years old.
IMG 2858 IMG 2859 2
IMG 2860 3



They’re all beginning to pyramid, and I want to fix that immediately.

After reading information here I’ve definitely been using outdated enclosure practices. Open top, housing them together, dry substrate, a good amount of time is spent inside. I live near Fresno, CA so it’s very hot and dry in the summer. I’m able to keep them outside when the heat isn’t extreme.

I have two enclosures - one is an outdoor raised flower bed that has a burrow and has been planted with bermuda, fescue, and white flower clover. It has a burrow that goes about 6 -8 inches down that they can all fit in, it’s about as long as my forearm. Because I water the grass and clover, the burrow gets humid. The second enclosure is your basic open top tortoise table inside that all the info on here tells you not to use. I bring them inside when it gets too hot (like 103+ for weeks) because the burrow in the raised flower bed gets above 85 degrees. I’d love to keep them in an enclosure that was in the actual ground but my neighborhood is infested with gophers and I don’t want to find a chewed up tortoise. While they do spend a fair amount of time indoors, they get daily sunlight, usually a few hours earlier in the day when it’s cooler. When the weather isn’t too hot they’re outside all day.


My plan now is to create three separate enclosures and stack them on a shelf. Make them totally enclosed and control the humidity and temperature better. I’m not sure how I’ll do this without making it giant. Are there any low profile heat lamps? I don’t want to create a giant monstrosity. I'll be moving to an apartment within the year so I won't have access to outdoors that I'd like.

I’ve done very well with their diet I feel. It’s mostly bermuda, fescue, spurge, and white clover. I also feed dandelions and native weeds frequently. I supplement with appropriate greens from the store, mulberry, grape, and rose. They get soaked every couple of days and have access to water. I use vitamin and calcium supplements

One more question I have is if I should brumate. I’ve kept them up the previous 2 winters and I’m sure it isn’t the proper way as I’m using a open top table. The temp swings, low humidity, and drafts can’t be good for them. I’ve just kept them as warm as I can with heat lamps, provided UVB, and soaked them frequently. It’s worked so far but I don’t want to keep doing what isn’t optimal. I’ve been hoping to winter them in the garage, but I don’t want to make a mistake and lose one. That’s the point of this post. If I can’t overwinter them properly because I need to build new enclosures, isn't it only right to let them brumate in the garage?

Any advice is appreciated. I know I've made mistakes so far I just want to correct them
 

Yvonne G

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One of my favorites! I have two right now same age as yours. But one of mine is smaller than the other because, like you, I keep them together. This winter I plan on allowing them their first brumation, then in the Spring they will be set up individually.

Because of City street work that is going to affect my desert tortoise brumation area, I plan to make them a spot on the car port.

I put down plywood, then a rubber horse stall mat (Tractor Supply), then I made walls out of cinder blocks. You can make it as big as you need it. Next to the cinder block walls is rigid foam and next to that is plywood. I put a layer of orchid bark on the floor. For the cover I glued rigid foam to plywood and just lay it on top. I prop it open with a stick when I need to be in there.

If you want to come over sometime and help me find all the desert and Texas tortoises, and take a look at my brumation areas, give me a call at 298-7114 to work out a time.

The pyramiding is because they were kept too dry and under hot lights as babies.
 

Tom

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I’ve been raising these three torts I got from an old couple that are friends with my parents who didn’t know you should not house DT’s together. I’ve since helped them create a barrier to split their enclosure, but I ended up with three hatchlings because they couldn’t handle taking care of them at their age.

From the first day I’ve tried to do my research and raise them as best I can, but there’s a lot of conflicting or outdated info out there. I want to fix flaws in my husbandry because I intend to have these the rest of my life.

Here are pictures of each one, They’re all 2 years old.
View attachment 333535 View attachment 333536
View attachment 333537



They’re all beginning to pyramid, and I want to fix that immediately.

After reading information here I’ve definitely been using outdated enclosure practices. Open top, housing them together, dry substrate, a good amount of time is spent inside. I live near Fresno, CA so it’s very hot and dry in the summer. I’m able to keep them outside when the heat isn’t extreme.

I have two enclosures - one is an outdoor raised flower bed that has a burrow and has been planted with bermuda, fescue, and white flower clover. It has a burrow that goes about 6 -8 inches down that they can all fit in, it’s about as long as my forearm. Because I water the grass and clover, the burrow gets humid. The second enclosure is your basic open top tortoise table inside that all the info on here tells you not to use. I bring them inside when it gets too hot (like 103+ for weeks) because the burrow in the raised flower bed gets above 85 degrees. I’d love to keep them in an enclosure that was in the actual ground but my neighborhood is infested with gophers and I don’t want to find a chewed up tortoise. While they do spend a fair amount of time indoors, they get daily sunlight, usually a few hours earlier in the day when it’s cooler. When the weather isn’t too hot they’re outside all day.


My plan now is to create three separate enclosures and stack them on a shelf. Make them totally enclosed and control the humidity and temperature better. I’m not sure how I’ll do this without making it giant. Are there any low profile heat lamps? I don’t want to create a giant monstrosity. I'll be moving to an apartment within the year so I won't have access to outdoors that I'd like.

I’ve done very well with their diet I feel. It’s mostly bermuda, fescue, spurge, and white clover. I also feed dandelions and native weeds frequently. I supplement with appropriate greens from the store, mulberry, grape, and rose. They get soaked every couple of days and have access to water. I use vitamin and calcium supplements

One more question I have is if I should brumate. I’ve kept them up the previous 2 winters and I’m sure it isn’t the proper way as I’m using a open top table. The temp swings, low humidity, and drafts can’t be good for them. I’ve just kept them as warm as I can with heat lamps, provided UVB, and soaked them frequently. It’s worked so far but I don’t want to keep doing what isn’t optimal. I’ve been hoping to winter them in the garage, but I don’t want to make a mistake and lose one. That’s the point of this post. If I can’t overwinter them properly because I need to build new enclosures, isn't it only right to let them brumate in the garage?

Any advice is appreciated. I know I've made mistakes so far I just want to correct them
You've done very well. The pyramiding is minimal. The diet you are offering sounds perfect.

Here is the current and correct care info:

If you want to hibernate them, here is info on that. I explain the process in post number 19, in case you want to skip the rest:

Questions and conversation are welcome.
 

Rnasty

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fresno
Thanks for the replies! I appreciate the info about hibernation.

I guess my main question is if there is a way to heat an enclosure while keeping it low profile. I'd like to make a large shelf with 3 enclosures, 1 for each, but I don't want it to be massive. Are there any low profile bulbs you know of to heat things?

Once I get that built I can manage things and hit the ground running in the spring.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Thanks for the replies! I appreciate the info about hibernation.

I guess my main question is if there is a way to heat an enclosure while keeping it low profile. I'd like to make a large shelf with 3 enclosures, 1 for each, but I don't want it to be massive. Are there any low profile bulbs you know of to heat things?

Once I get that built I can manage things and hit the ground running in the spring.
I had a rack system like that for a time. I abandoned it for closed chamber enclosures that could be stacked. Seen here:

I just used 45 or 65 watt flood bulbs in my rack enclosures. You could also run a rheostat on each to control the temp.

I think a trio would be fine together in one large enclosure. I wouldn't do a pair, but a trio of juveniles should be okay until the male hormones start to kick in.
 

Rnasty

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Joined
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Messages
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fresno
I had a rack system like that for a time. I abandoned it for closed chamber enclosures that could be stacked. Seen here:

I just used 45 or 65 watt flood bulbs in my rack enclosures. You could also run a rheostat on each to control the temp.

I think a trio would be fine together in one large enclosure. I wouldn't do a pair, but a trio of juveniles should be okay until the male hormones start to kick in.


Oh awesome, I'm just going to make a single enclosure then and copy that design. Helps so much on space.

How does having three in one enclosure work but two doesn't? I'm guessing any aggression gets spread around. I've noticed two instances of aggression with these guys in two years, but as soon as I added visual barriers it stopped. Oddly, they always pick to sleep in the same burrow together even though there are three available.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Location (City and/or State)
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Oh awesome, I'm just going to make a single enclosure then and copy that design. Helps so much on space.

How does having three in one enclosure work but two doesn't? I'm guessing any aggression gets spread around. I've noticed two instances of aggression with these guys in two years, but as soon as I added visual barriers it stopped. Oddly, they always pick to sleep in the same burrow together even though there are three available.
With just two it is very personal. With three or more, there is enough going on that its not a problem. Pair dynamics are totally different than group dynamics.
 

Rnasty

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Messages
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fresno
With just two it is very personal. With three or more, there is enough going on that its not a problem. Pair dynamics are totally different than group dynamics.
Well that works perfect. I plan on building my own enclosure now out of PVC and following some of the models I've found on here. At what age do the desert tortoises no longer need a vivarium? I'm trying to plan long term for moving them outside permanently.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
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10 Year Member!
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Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Thanks for the replies! I appreciate the info about hibernation.

I guess my main question is if there is a way to heat an enclosure while keeping it low profile. I'd like to make a large shelf with 3 enclosures, 1 for each, but I don't want it to be massive. Are there any low profile bulbs you know of to heat things?

Once I get that built I can manage things and hit the ground running in the spring.
If you're going to allow brumation, you don't want to heat the enclosure.

Here's a picture of my shelves:

Vision cages e

This is in a dedicated reptile room, so I'm not too worried if it matches 'my decor.' You can get the shelves at any home improvement store. For the lights, I use tube type fluorescent UVB bulbs that I bought at lightyourreptiles.com. They are pretty low profile.
 

Rnasty

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Joined
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Messages
11
Location (City and/or State)
fresno
T
If you're going to allow brumation, you don't want to heat the enclosure.

Here's a picture of my shelves:

View attachment 333745

This is in a dedicated reptile room, so I'm not too worried if it matches 'my decor.' You can get the shelves at any home improvement store. For the lights, I use tube type fluorescent UVB bulbs that I bought at lightyourreptiles.com. They are pretty low profile.

Awesome! For the winter I'm going to keep them in the garage, Fresno CA has temp ranges that allow for that. I'll be using the winter time to build their new enclosure. I'd love to keep them up as it gives me more peace of mind, but given that I can't properly keep them indoors this winter I think it's only best to let them do what they do naturally.

I'm thinking of making a 60"x48"x24" enclosure they will fit in for 2-3 years, then moving them outdoors when we buy a house.
 

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