Keeping Star Tortoises outside in South Florida

jvaldes55

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I have always loved Star Tortoises but have always been hesitant to get one due to the intense amount of humidity and rain we get in South Florida during the Summer months. I was wondering if there are any tips out there from people that keep them down here or are experienced in keeping them in high humidity that could put me at ease about keeping them. The key is that I would like to keep them out year round. I wouldn't mind building an insulated hut inside the pen for cold snaps or times that it is predicted to rain all week. The main problem is that south florida in the summer gets afternoon showers everyday. I just cant pretend to say I will have the time to move them in and out of the hut for each shower we get down here. I have seen in videos that Mark from turtle source keeps his tortoises in a pen that has a roof covering the whole enclosure except about a small slight (amount a foot) to allow sunlight in. This way the tortoise get some sun to bask but are not exposed in times of rain. What do you guys think about this set up? I would love to hear of creative ways South Floridians keep their star tortoises. Thanks!

Here is the link to that video with Mark from Turtle Source incase your interested
it shows the pen I am talking about approx. at 3:36 min.
 

Turtlepete

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No personal experience with stars, but I believe I've heard of others keeping them outdoors here year round. I think a LOT of the equation is creating the right environment. You don't want to stick them outside at ground level here. They'll get flooded. This works great with red foots; not so great with a more-arid species. I suspect if you built up a pen a good foot to offer great drainage and created a more suitable substrate/habitat for the species' needs, you might have better success. Something that drains out quickly and dries out well. As long as they aren't exposed to crazy amounts of ground humidity and moisture, I see no reason why rain should harm them as long as they can escape it.

Above is all speculation. I'd be very curious to hear what any keepers of stars down here in South FL have to say about it as well.
 

jvaldes55

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I agree @Turtlepete , I think the biggest issue to tackle is keeping the substrate dry after the rain. elevation is great for flooding, the only thing that would take some creative thinking and experience is the type of substrate. Maybe layering your substrate, by laying a foundation of pebbles first then adding another substrate on top to let water drain better. But what would be the top substrate? both Cypress mulch and dirt/sand mix tend to retain water at least for a while.
 

Turtlepete

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Personally, if I were to attempt it, I would use a sort of sand/dirt/crushed granite kind of mixture like Kelly @tortadise uses for some of his more arid species. Would definitely not go with cypress. Layering it is a good idea. Just need to make sure the substrate is loose enough to drain and doesn't become compact and let water pool.

Again, all speculation...
 

Merrick

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Also I hear Burmese stars do much better in humid environment than Indians or Shri Lankan but they are a lot more expensive
 

Tom

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Indian stars live through a hot rainy monsoon season every year in the wild. Somehow they survive it with out respiratory infection or shell rot...
 

Merrick

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Indian stars live through a hot rainy monsoon season every year in the wild. Somehow they survive it with out respiratory infection or shell rot...
Some may have shell rot or a respiratory infection just like some tortoises have parasites in the wild I mean most if not all
 

Tom

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Some may have shell rot or a respiratory infection just like some tortoises have parasites in the wild I mean most if not all

So your assertion is that most or all wild stars are walking around harboring shell rot and respiratory infections in their own natural environment?

I have not seen any field research demonstrating that. In fact the field research and pics I've seen showing normal healthy looking tortoise. I did not get to see plastron shots, but I saw no nasal discharge in any of the pics...
 

Merrick

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So your assertion is that most or all wild stars are walking around harboring shell rot and respiratory infections in their own natural environment?

I have not seen any field research demonstrating that. In fact the field research and pics I've seen showing normal healthy looking tortoise. I did not get to see plastron shots, but I saw no nasal discharge in any of the pics...
No I meant that most if not all wild tortoises have parasites. My statement was that because their is lack of research and that you have not seen many wild specimens that they just might have shell rot or a respiratory infection
 

Tom

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No I meant that most if not all wild tortoises have parasites. My statement was that because their is lack of research and that you have not seen many wild specimens that they just might have shell rot or a respiratory infection

Does it seem logical to you that the natural conditions in which a species has been evolving in for millions of years would make them sick?

It doesn't seem logical to me. Do you think this of every species, or just stars?

I think the problem we encounter here in North America is that at some times of the year it gets too cold, especially at night, and some people don't take the necessary steps (like setting up a proper, insulated and heated night box…) to insure that the environmental needs of their species are met. Many of the species we keep, like stars, live in very hot parts of the planet. Hotter than here in North America for more of the year.
 

Merrick

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Does it seem logical to you that the natural conditions in which a species has been evolving in for millions of years would make them sick?

It doesn't seem logical to me. Do you think this of every species, or just stars?

I think the problem we encounter here in North America is that at some times of the year it gets too cold, especially at night, and some people don't take the necessary steps (like setting up a proper, insulated and heated night box…) to insure that the environmental needs of their species are met. Many of the species we keep, like stars, live in very hot parts of the planet. Hotter than here in North America for more of the year.
I agree with the problem in North America. But I do think that the natural condition can make them sick. Nature can be unforgiving maybe they eat the wrong plant or get parasites or get some kind of infection. I have seen red foots I the wild with dry shells because they wonder into the dryer parts of Brazil
 

Tom

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I agree with the problem in North America. But I do think that the natural condition can make them sick. Nature can be unforgiving maybe they eat the wrong plant or get parasites or get some kind of infection. I have seen red foots I the wild with dry shells because they wonder into the dryer parts of Brazil

Okay.

What percentage of wild Indian stars do you guess are walking around out in the wild with shell rot and/or RI?

Anyone reading ever seen wild Indian stars in the wild? Anyone seen any studies that would lend some facts to this discussion?

@jaizei , the master of research and internet fact finding?
@Will , the man with lots of actual field experience?
@Neal , studier of all things star?
 

Merrick

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Honestly I have no idea how many I would guess though that it depends on the amount of rain and the tempature
 

Neal

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To addresd the op's question, there are several star keepers in FL that keep them outdoors year round successfully that I am aware of. If I were living there my main concern would be to keep them in an area with good drainage.

On the other topics here, I don't realky have anything academic to reference, just general info. Gathered.

Stars tolerate humidity very well. Variants from Sri Lanka come from a tropical climate after all. I've never come across any research noting wild specimens had shell rot or respiratory issues. That doesnt mean it doesnt happen, but I can't imagine it occurs with any notable frequency among wild population. Even during the monsoon, if it's anything like our season in AZ, I don't think it stays sopping wet long enough to cause any issue like shell rot.
 

IFartHearts

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i know a lot about different breeds of tortoise and i think it is a good idea to put your star tortoises out side however you need to be cautiosthe animals that will prey on your tortoise and that south Florida is very hot the weather could range from 72-100 and star tortoises could only stay in 70-90 degrees if it goes over the needed temperature your tortoise shell could rot and he could attract bug this is why in Carolina i keep my tortoise in a large dog play pen
 

SarahChelonoidis

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south Florida is very hot the weather could range from 72-100 and star tortoises could only stay in 70-90 degrees if it goes over the needed temperature your tortoise shell could rot and he could attract bug this is why in Carolina i keep my tortoise in a large dog play pen

Huh? Where did you get this information from?
 

Yvonne G

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i know a lot about different breeds of tortoise and i think it is a good idea to put your star tortoises out side however you need to be cautiosthe animals that will prey on your tortoise and that south Florida is very hot the weather could range from 72-100 and star tortoises could only stay in 70-90 degrees if it goes over the needed temperature your tortoise shell could rot and he could attract bug this is why in Carolina i keep my tortoise in a large dog play pen

Hm-m-m...unlike you, who knows a lot about the different "breeds" of tortoise, I know almost nothing about the star tortoise, however, I'm willing to bet the Florida climate is pretty much near the climate where star tortoises come from. And in their native land, star tortoises actually live outside! and not in dog kennels, but roaming the land, free. My only concern, would be like what Neal has said. Just be sure your star tortoise's habitat isn't swampy.
 

Kapidolo Farms

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Okay.

What percentage of wild Indian stars do you guess are walking around out in the wild with shell rot and/or RI?

Anyone reading ever seen wild Indian stars in the wild? Anyone seen any studies that would lend some facts to this discussion?

@jaizei , the master of research and internet fact finding?
@Will , the man with lots of actual field experience?
@Neal , studier of all things star?
I've not been there, but indeed many individual tortoises in the wild have one malady or another. What do captive do when sick, down or injured, they hide, so do the wild ones. For the life of me I can't find the actual article, but I did read that a group of leos were diabetic, they lived near some place that had an overabundance of a non native tree that produced fruit. I'm thinking I recall apricots. So what this may contribute to the conversation I don't know. But you don't have to look far to know there are ill animals in the wild, many populations of native terrestrial species in North America are ill, and it's make second page news. No secret.
 

xXtortoiseloverXx

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i got my Indian stars outside for 4 years,but i bring them in during winter ( 1 month lol) they are doing good,but make sure ur enclosure has good drainage and in somewhere that never get flooded,couple hides and some shades(Florida sun is no joke).
 

mchong9606

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I have just 1 star but he has been keep in a humid closed chamber for the last 3 years and the shell is fairly smooth and he feels like a heavy paper weight when you pick him up. Never had shell rot and never had a respiratory infection. Which leads me to believe that indeed stars enjoy and handle warm humidity quite well. Cool humidity I'm sure would be a different story.
 

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