Introducing Shmortoise the tortoise

Kayla Moody

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Joined
Sep 26, 2018
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Location (City and/or State)
Torrance, California
Hello everyone,
My name is Kayla, I love in Los Angeles with my surprise tortoise and 2 tortoise-loving cats. I jokingly named my tort "Shmortoise" because she just showed up one day and I truly assumed we'd find her original owners, but 4 months later and we're still together.

I'm obsessed. She lives in my backyard that I've completely turned into Shmort land for her. She has a large burrow and a few hides, plenty of safe plants and weeds to graze, and lots of room to explore. And the cats love to sun bathe with her. She has a lot of personality and I'm so grateful she walked into my life!

I've joined the forum to get general advice, but especially for advice on how to keep her over the winter in Los Angeles. Looking forward to getting to know this forum and its members. Thanks!

Kayla and Shmort
(I've attached some pictures of Shmortoise. In one her shell is freshly scratched up from trying to dig under the cinder blocks that support my deck. She can't get under there anymore!)

20180712_095029.jpg 20180917_110229.jpg 20180917_110442.jpg
 

wellington

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Hello and Welcome. Your very cute Russian needs an enclosure that s/he can not exscape. They are great diggers and climbers. If you didn't prepare an enclosure just for him/her, you too will eventually lose him.
S/he is also a hibernating tortoise when temps get too low. I'm not familiar with your winter temps. Seeing you haven't had him for a winter or long yet, you would be better housing him inside during cold months and keeps my him awake this first winter with you. You could let him go outside on days that are nice and warm.
@Tom had/has Russians and should know your temps much better and can help more for your area.
 

Kayla Moody

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Sep 26, 2018
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Torrance, California
My yard is fully secure with deep cinder block walls on 3 sides and a solid, wooden fence on concrete. The deck, where I assume is where you think she can escape, is just a small octagon around our covered hot tub. I check on her several times a day and and setting up a motion sensor camera in the back so I can check on her remotely as well.

I have an appointment with an exotic animal veterinarian that will tell me if she weighs enough to brumate in my garage this winter or if I should overwintering her indoors.

I'm leaning toward overwintering her as I don't know her history and I can't imagine not hanging out with her for months.

But now I'm confused, I was told she was a desert tortoise. Please confirm?
 

Minority2

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Tortoise Hell
My yard is fully secure with deep cinder block walls on 3 sides and a solid, wooden fence on concrete. The deck, where I assume is where you think she can escape, is just a small octagon around our covered hot tub. I check on her several times a day and and setting up a motion sensor camera in the back so I can check on her remotely as well.

I have an appointment with an exotic animal veterinarian that will tell me if she weighs enough to brumate in my garage this winter or if I should overwintering her indoors.

I'm leaning toward overwintering her as I don't know her history and I can't imagine not hanging out with her for months.

But now I'm confused, I was told she was a desert tortoise. Please confirm?

Looks like an adult Russian tortoise with some pyramiding to me. The previous owners may have housed this tortoise in drier conditions than generally recommended. Is she about 5-6 inches?

Here is a good care sheet on Russian tortoises:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
 
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Tom

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Hi Kayla. Your'e in my old neighborhood! I grew up there.

You have a Russian tortoise. Here is the care info:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698

Our climate is not consistently cold enough and it is not safe to allow your tortoise to hibernate outside. You'll have to decide if you want to fridge hibernate her, or bring her inside into a large enclosure and keep her up all winter. You can bring her in and set her up for cold rainy days and nights, but then still use the outdoor enclosure for our typical warm sunny winter days. Alternatively, you can try to set up something like this and see if the tortoise will stay awake with the shorter days. They usually won't.
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/semi-underground-russian-box.98590/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/heating-an-outdoor-russian-night-box.116180/#post-1077261


If you want to read about hibernation, try this one. I lay it all out around post #19: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/looking-for-an-rt-hibernation-mentor.128790/

Feel free to ask lots of questions! :)
 

Toddrickfl1

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My yard is fully secure with deep cinder block walls on 3 sides and a solid, wooden fence on concrete. The deck, where I assume is where you think she can escape, is just a small octagon around our covered hot tub. I check on her several times a day and and setting up a motion sensor camera in the back so I can check on her remotely as well.

I have an appointment with an exotic animal veterinarian that will tell me if she weighs enough to brumate in my garage this winter or if I should overwintering her indoors.

I'm leaning toward overwintering her as I don't know her history and I can't imagine not hanging out with her for months.

But now I'm confused, I was told she was a desert tortoise. Please confirm?
Definately a Russian Tortoise
 

Yvonne G

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Welcome!

I allow my Russians to hibernate (actually called 'brumation') here in Central California. I place them in a secure cinderblock enclosure with a plywood lid, and stuff the enclosure with shredded newspaper and dried leaves. They burrow down into the leaves and don't get antsy until about the end of February or early March, at which time I put them back outside. Prior to brumation, they stop eating on their own for about 2 weeks, and I'll soak them to make sure they're well hydrated.
 

Kayla Moody

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Joined
Sep 26, 2018
Messages
3
Location (City and/or State)
Torrance, California
Thanks for the tips, guys. I do actually have a large catering refrigerator in my garage that we don't use, so that is an option. But I think I'll try to set up an overwintering habitat in my garage if I can. I need to figure out how big to make it, she's used to having lots of space with a lot of obstacles and places to climb and burrow. I don't want her to get bored. I'll go peruse the message boards to get some indoor habitat tips.

Thanks again for the warm welcome!
 
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