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I'm the Beef Jerky Breeder!

Momma Ling

New Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Riverside, CA
Hello everyone!

We've had Leopard Tortoises, Bubba Ling and Dude A Ling for about 15 years. We were told they were both males. They have roamed around our yard happy and healthy with only minor issues over the years. In October of 2016, my husband came running in one morning yelling "Bubba's not a boy!" and that started our breeding adventure. We talked to the reptile experts who introduced us to these animals and they guided us on incubators and hatchlings. We incubated the eggs and only one hatched....of course named Hatch Ling, We still have him (possible female but we use male pronouns).

Bubba has laid eggs since late spring of 2017. We didn't expect to get many hatchlings after the first clutch only produced one, and ended up with about a 50% hatch rate from the 2017 clutches. We didn't want to sell or give them to the reptile stores because we were worried about he homes they would go to. Our main concern is that they are properly cared for. So we found people by word of mouth who would come learn about our successes and failures and would provide the proper inside AND outside environment for the animals. Outside is very important to us, I didn't want people who thought these were indoor/tank pets, they needed to know that they would need an outdoor environment.

Raising them last year was easy, we have two enclosures for the babies that are set up for optimal sun and protection from heat or cold:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003Q7GIYG/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

The babies spent a lot of time in the sun and getting exercise. All seemed healthy and thrived and as soon as we felt they were ready, we found them homes. This year has been too cold or too wet and the babies are inside more than out, so this group isn't getting as much exercise or sun.

I recently read the "Hatchling Failure Syndrome" article and I'm that breeder! Rabbit pellet and soaking a few times a week, I'm the Beef Jerky Maker!!! I've been sick since I found that article two days ago and have been working to remedy the situation. I was taught and in my experience, too much moisture leads to respiratory issues. That is how Bubba got her name, she had an infection and was blowing bubbles out her nose. I think last years hatchlings benefitted from all of the sun and that my have counteracted the lack of moisture in proper shell development. I looked at the inside environment as somewhere to be when it was too cold or wet to be outside and didn't know it needed to be humid. I made sure they had a warm side, a cool side and UVB lighting. That is the extent of my indoor set up.

I do feed them a wide variety of foods - "weeds" from my yard, lots of succulents, hibiscus leaves and flowers, a variety of grocery store greens and lettuces and thought they received enough moisture from the foods they ate and the few soakings a week. I also have an area with grass and Bubba and Dude are free to graze as they want but it's not their favorite. I recently learned about more optimal grasses from this forum and have ordered a variety. I will be ripping out all of the old grass and planting the recommended varieties when they arrive. I'm looking into Mazuri as well.

The saddest part of this whole story is I have "educated" people in the same way I was "educated" and now I feel horrible. The one thing I didn't want for these animals, improper care, is what I myself was doing from the beginning. I was just getting ready to spread the word that we have animals to place with the proper homes if they are willing to learn about their care and can meet their needs. I'm glad I found you first and now I will do better. That said, I have 20 animals that maybe I shouldn't place yet but i don't have space to raise that many at a time PROPERLY at the moment. Is there an educated, responsible breeder that is better adept at placing theses babies that would be willing to rescue them as I build the proper set up for future hatchlings? I'm not looking to sell them, I don't care about money, I want them properly cared for.

Please don't lecture or bash. I am willing to make changes to ensure the health of any animal that may hatch from my pair. I don't intend to separate Bubba and Dude, they have been together too long and they are family. If you know of a tortoise spay or neuter program I'd be interested in that ;) Breeding wasn't our goal but here we are and now we want to do it right. I would love any advice on finding proper homes for the babies I have now and even suggestions for better ways to find proper homes for any future hatchlings.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and any recommendations you may have. I am truly grateful that I found that article and I can be a better, although reluctant breeder.
 

Momma Ling

New Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Riverside, CA
Summer and winter enclosures. They each see sun a few hours a day. The winter enclosure with the white fence behind it can't be used if it is too hot out. The summer enclosure with the cinderblock does not get sun at all in winter so we can't use it during those months.

IMG_2031.jpg IMG_2030.jpg
 

TechnoCheese

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
3,827
Location (City and/or State)
Lewisville, Texas
Welcome to the forum!
Very happy that you have changed your ways, but your two tortoises still need to be separated. I assure you, they are not “family”. In fact, they don’t even have a concept of “family”, and are likely extremely stressed by each other’s presence. Things that look like affection, such as “cuddling”, “following”, sitting nose to nose, sharing hides, stepping on food, along with excessive mounting, are all signs of aggression and one tortoise trying to push, chase, and stress the other out of their territory. These tortoises are solitary animals that literally do not have a concept of love, friendship, or family, and they definitely need to be separated. It is especially stressful for the female, because the male will over breed her.
 

TechnoCheese

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
3,827
Location (City and/or State)
Lewisville, Texas

Momma Ling

New Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Riverside, CA
Welcome to the forum!
Very happy that you have changed your ways, but your two tortoises still need to be separated. I assure you, they are not “family”. In fact, they don’t even have a concept of “family”, and are likely extremely stressed by each other’s presence. Things that look like affection, such as “cuddling”, “following”, sitting nose to nose, sharing hides, stepping on food, along with excessive mounting, are all signs of aggression and one tortoise trying to push, chase, and stress the other out of their territory. These tortoises are solitary animals that literally do not have a concept of love, friendship, or family, and they definitely need to be separated. It is especially stressful for the female, because the male will over breed her.
Thank you for the welcome! By family, I meant that they are our family, each as an individual, not that they are family to each other. They each have their areas of the yard that they are usually in and they don't "bother" each other. They will go days without "socializing" with the other. They are fed separately and each have their own heated night enclosure. I have never seen any kind of aggression towards the other, I work form home and check on them frequently. She seems to seek him out more than he ever seeks her out. They do end up hanging out together enjoying a sunny spot occasionally and obviously they have been mating. If I ever notice any kind of aggression, chasing or any other behavior I'll take steps immediately to remedy the situation. Additionally, if the breeding and finding homes for the hatchlings becomes problematic, I'll find a solution then as well. I used to have a female cockatiel and almost lost her due to being egg bound a few times. I have a fear of egg laying animals becoming sick so I am hyper aware of Bubba and her health and behavior. But thank you for your concern.
 

Momma Ling

New Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Riverside, CA

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
83,900
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Hello everyone!

We've had Leopard Tortoises, Bubba Ling and Dude A Ling for about 15 years. We were told they were both males. They have roamed around our yard happy and healthy with only minor issues over the years. In October of 2016, my husband came running in one morning yelling "Bubba's not a boy!" and that started our breeding adventure. We talked to the reptile experts who introduced us to these animals and they guided us on incubators and hatchlings. We incubated the eggs and only one hatched....of course named Hatch Ling, We still have him (possible female but we use male pronouns).

Bubba has laid eggs since late spring of 2017. We didn't expect to get many hatchlings after the first clutch only produced one, and ended up with about a 50% hatch rate from the 2017 clutches. We didn't want to sell or give them to the reptile stores because we were worried about he homes they would go to. Our main concern is that they are properly cared for. So we found people by word of mouth who would come learn about our successes and failures and would provide the proper inside AND outside environment for the animals. Outside is very important to us, I didn't want people who thought these were indoor/tank pets, they needed to know that they would need an outdoor environment.

Raising them last year was easy, we have two enclosures for the babies that are set up for optimal sun and protection from heat or cold:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003Q7GIYG/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

The babies spent a lot of time in the sun and getting exercise. All seemed healthy and thrived and as soon as we felt they were ready, we found them homes. This year has been too cold or too wet and the babies are inside more than out, so this group isn't getting as much exercise or sun.

I recently read the "Hatchling Failure Syndrome" article and I'm that breeder! Rabbit pellet and soaking a few times a week, I'm the Beef Jerky Maker!!! I've been sick since I found that article two days ago and have been working to remedy the situation. I was taught and in my experience, too much moisture leads to respiratory issues. That is how Bubba got her name, she had an infection and was blowing bubbles out her nose. I think last years hatchlings benefitted from all of the sun and that my have counteracted the lack of moisture in proper shell development. I looked at the inside environment as somewhere to be when it was too cold or wet to be outside and didn't know it needed to be humid. I made sure they had a warm side, a cool side and UVB lighting. That is the extent of my indoor set up.

I do feed them a wide variety of foods - "weeds" from my yard, lots of succulents, hibiscus leaves and flowers, a variety of grocery store greens and lettuces and thought they received enough moisture from the foods they ate and the few soakings a week. I also have an area with grass and Bubba and Dude are free to graze as they want but it's not their favorite. I recently learned about more optimal grasses from this forum and have ordered a variety. I will be ripping out all of the old grass and planting the recommended varieties when they arrive. I'm looking into Mazuri as well.

The saddest part of this whole story is I have "educated" people in the same way I was "educated" and now I feel horrible. The one thing I didn't want for these animals, improper care, is what I myself was doing from the beginning. I was just getting ready to spread the word that we have animals to place with the proper homes if they are willing to learn about their care and can meet their needs. I'm glad I found you first and now I will do better. That said, I have 20 animals that maybe I shouldn't place yet but i don't have space to raise that many at a time PROPERLY at the moment. Is there an educated, responsible breeder that is better adept at placing theses babies that would be willing to rescue them as I build the proper set up for future hatchlings? I'm not looking to sell them, I don't care about money, I want them properly cared for.

Please don't lecture or bash. I am willing to make changes to ensure the health of any animal that may hatch from my pair. I don't intend to separate Bubba and Dude, they have been together too long and they are family. If you know of a tortoise spay or neuter program I'd be interested in that ;) Breeding wasn't our goal but here we are and now we want to do it right. I would love any advice on finding proper homes for the babies I have now and even suggestions for better ways to find proper homes for any future hatchlings.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and any recommendations you may have. I am truly grateful that I found that article and I can be a better, although reluctant breeder.
I'm not sure if this is something @Will would be interested in or not, but I've sent him an alert. He's in the San Diego area.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
47,315
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hello and welcome!

Don't be too hard on yourself. You've had nothing but the best of intentions, and you did your best to follow what the majority of tortoise keepers have been advocating for decades. I used to do it all that way too. It took me almost 20 years to figure this all out. Nobody is born knowing this stuff. Your tortoises are lucky to have you!

I'm glad you've found us and want you to know that all your questions and conversation is welcome.

Here is a thread on incubation and starting hatchlings, that you might not have found yet:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-incubate-eggs-and-start-hatchlings.124266/
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
2,071
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
Hello, and welcome!

I admire you! It took courage to join a new forum and tell your story. You have admitted your mistakes, and shown willingness to change.

At heart, you're a great tort mom, and I am really glad you are here! [emoji2]
 

TammyJ

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
2,870
Location (City and/or State)
Jamaica
Welcome! Wonderful tortoises, I especially love the bright patterns on the babies shells. Let us know how your re-homing plan goes.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
37,727
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Hello and Welcome. Agree with the rest. Your not alone in doing things wrong. Thankfully now that you know better your willing to do better. We get a lot that still wants to argue the results that has been accomplished with all the new and better knowledge.
 

MPappagallo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 8, 2019
Messages
369
Location (City and/or State)
Myrtle Beach, SC
Welcome! Great story...and all of your torts are beautiful! I have always called my brother "Bubba", so your story gave me a laugh! LOL
 

dmmj

The member formerly known as captain awesome
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Aug 15, 2008
Messages
19,752
Location (City and/or State)
CA
Welcome enjoyed your story. I also did things wrong for years. We learned from others before the net. No need to beat yourself up, everyone makes mistakes. Hope you enjoy the forum.
 

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