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I have two new baby desert tortoises

Discussion in 'Tortoise FAQs - New and need help?' started by Yvonne G, Apr 28, 2013.

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  1. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

    Jan 23, 2008
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    Clovis, CA
    Ericka tells us her story:


    I was given 2 hatching california desert tortoise's in january, they where about a month old when i got them. They where about the size of a quarter and they where the only ones that survived. I was told to keep them in a repitile aquarium with the fake cloth grass stuff (dont know what its called) and some timothy hay for bedding with a shallow water dish and to feed them spring mix. I've also been giving them some weeds and dandylions They also havr a very expensive light I think its heat&Uvb. One has been growing very fast and is active the other is growing much slower but is pretty active.

    Ok... so thats the history now here are my guestions... I've noticed that they pace around a lot and are constantly trying to climb out or borrow under its sad watching them struggle. I was told not to put and dirt/bark in because it can hurt them but I feel like they would be more comfortable. I was told to not give them a "house" cause they will hide out too much. After reading other threads I get the impression that they need a "house" with a humid bedding and a much bigger enclosure. Any help will be greatly appreciated, I just want to do it right since they are so little and fragile.

    Shelly & Chompers mama

    P.s, excuse the typos its hard on my tablet lol

    And Tom replied:

    Hello and welcome. I would suggest:
    1. As large of an enclosure as you can find. Cement mixing tubs or large plastic tubs work well.
    2. ** A separate enclosure for each one. These are solitary, territorial animals. The behavioral dynamics of a pair means one will almost always suffer.
    3. Some real substrate. Coco coir, orchid bark, peat, regular clean yard dirt, planting soil if you can find some with no additives. Unlike Jacqui I recommend against any sand, especially with this species, as they are very prone to intestinal sand impactions. More so than other species.
    4. Soak these babies in a tub of shallow warm water every day for the next 6-12 months. After that you can start skipping occasional days. Once they get some size and age on them, you can begin to taper off and soak less and less as they near adulthood.
    5. Offer a humid hide. This will help keep them hydrated, and also help their shells develop and grow properly.
    6. Your diet sounds okay so far, but try for a wider variety of weeds and some leaves like mulberry, rose, hibiscus and grape vine leaves. Also add some occasional spineless opuntia pads. For grocery store foods, try some endive and escarole, in addition to all the other stuff.
    7. Make a safe outdoor enclosure for these guys. There are lots of ideas for how to do this safely in my signature. Just click and read. It can be as simple as a big plastic kiddie pool from WalMart. If you can get them outside in the sunshine just for an hour or so two or three times a week, you won't need any of those indoor artificial UV bulbs. All you'll need is a warm bulb for basking indoors. In my opinion Desert Tortoises, more than other species, seem to really NEED sunshine and exercise in a large outdoor enclosure. Best case in my opinion would be to section off a weedy portion of your backyard, make a cinder block rectangle, and then make a wire cover with a 2x4 frame. There is a whole threads on this in my signature. Then you can buy some seed mix, water a portion of the enclosure, and your tortoises can graze "naturally", while getting some much need sun in a safe environment. Just click the links in my signature for a detailed "How To..." thread with pics and demonstrations. For seed mix, my friends Tyler and Sarah at tortoisesupply.com have an excellent "Testudo Seed Mix". I use it for all my species, including DTs.

    Hope this all helps. Come back with lots of questions for us.
    Some lessons I learned the hard way, so you don't have to:

    **Note from Yvonne: While this is very good information, it has been my experience that baby desert tortoises seem to do better in pairs the first year of their life. It stimulates their eating when there is competition for the food. So, singly or in pairs, its really up to you...but if you notice that one isn't eating or stays hidden a lot, then you need to separate them.
    XxRockyxX likes this.
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