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Looking for some direction.

Discussion in 'General Tortoise Discussion' started by MichaelTortoise, Mar 7, 2018.

  1. MichaelTortoise

    MichaelTortoise New Member

    Mar 6, 2018
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    Los Angeles
    Hello. I don’t not have a tortoise yet. I am still doing my research on what’s the right fit for my family. I visited our local animal teaching zoo (moorpark) and asked the staff some questions.

    I have a few questions and hope you guys can help. Few questions I had were already answered.

    We are a family of 3.
    I have two boys 5 and 3 years old. We live in Los Angeles.
    We have a big yard and plenty of room for them to roam.
    I’d buy them a home and get a heating pad.

    1- I wanted to get a pair. I read other posts informing us that tortoises are happy alone. Also that the male would torture the female.
    My question is. If I really do end up wanting a pair. What’s the best way to do it?
    Should I get a larger female and smaller male? That way he is less likely to bug her?
    Or is this something I should avoid at all costs and just get the one?

    2- what type is best for us? I want something that get very large. I would like it to be friendly and social (I understand this isn’t a dog and won’t play catch with us).

    3- I have a nice yard. Lillie’s, hibiscus and some wild flowers. Will he destroy all of these even if I keep him well fed? I have a raised farming bed that I plan growing food for him. He can tear that apart. I have a grass area. Will he ruin my lawn?

    4- I want something a few year old so he can be 100% outside from day one. Is this ok or are there any benifits to getting a young one and having him grow with us?

    Please help me make the right choice.

    Thank you.
  2. TechnoCheese

    TechnoCheese Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2016
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    Lewisville, Texas
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    1- avoid at all costs, or get three or more. But even having a group is risky, because if one doesn’t get along in a group of three, you’re left in a pair and have to separate them all, and you have to be able to have extra enclosures to separate them each in if they can’t establish a pecking order. I would definitely just get one.
    2- Perhaps a sulcata?
    3- probably. Large tortoises have a tendency to trample everything in their paths, and eat everything you plant. They’re also quite strong, so you’ll need a very strong, deep fence. IMG_0209.jpg
    4- I think raising it from a baby would be more enjoyable, but you could definitely buy them grown.
    Welcome to the forum!
    CarolM likes this.
  3. Big Charlie

    Big Charlie Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2015
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    Don't get two! I think you should just get one.

    An older sulcata can live outdoors full time provided you give him a heated home for the cold weather. This home needs to be heated to about 80F. There are examples and instructions for building an appropriate heated box for a tortoise on the forum. A heating pad is not enough.

    Sulcatas are destructive. They don't go around things, they walk straight ahead wherever they want. Charlie has dragged heavy lawn furniture all over the yard.

    My sulcata is 18 1/2 years old and he has lived outdoors in my yard in California since he was 5. My lawn is mostly still intact. He eats it, but he can't eat fast enough to destroy it. We don't use any chemicals on it, and neither should you if your tortoise has access, and it doesn't look well-maintained. There are weeds and different types of grasses growing. If you just want a lawn so your kids can play on it and don't care what it looks like, then you would be okay, but if you want it to look beautiful, you can't let a large tortoise roam on it. Another consideration is that large sulcatas create a lot of poop. My lawn looks like a mine field, and they take a long time to break down.

    Charlie has destroyed a few plants but not many. Generally they are only at risk if they are small. My hibiscus tree was destroyed by gophers. Charlie has broken several sprinkler heads, but only in one place. It just happens to be a place he likes to walk, and he tried to fit between the sprinkler and a wall. The sprinkler lost the battle. This happened 3 or 4 times in the same spot, until we decided to relocate the sprinkler.

    We have wooden posts holding up a roof over the patio. Those are showing wear from him constantly rubbing against them.

    If your tortoise doesn't have a warm place to go in the winter and a cool place to go in the summer, he may decide to dig a burrow. These can be quite long as they never stop digging. One of Charlie's burrows went under the fence under the neighbor's property. Tortoise's don't come back up at the other end of the burrow, so I don't know how my neighbor knew, but he was mad enough to install a spite fence that had concrete sunk 3 feet into the ground to keep Charlie out. One of his other burrows went under our patio, turned and went under our bedroom. We had to fill that one in to prevent our house from collapsing. Ever since Charlie has had his heated night box, for the last several years, he hasn't attempted to dig another burrow. He has a shallow depression under a bush he likes to sit in during the summer.
    TechnoCheese likes this.
  4. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

    Sep 6, 2011
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    Chicago, Illinois, USA
    As already said, not a pair, specially a sulcata. As already said they will destroy most of your yard and eat the rest. They can dig huge tunnels in your yard. The next largest down from a sulcata is the leopards. You might want to consider the leopard instead as they are not destructive as the very large sulcata unless you really aren't as worried about your yard as it sounds, then one sulcata would be a nice addition. There are enough of them that you may be able to rescue one.
    TechnoCheese likes this.
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