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Mixing species

Discussion in 'Debatable Topics' started by Raymo2477, Aug 1, 2015.

  1. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Oh, and I live in the city of Chicago.
  2. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I have been visiting The SD Zoo literally since I was an infant. I even posted a pic of me there with my dad a while back.

    I envisioned these tortoises either in the big oval that they are in, or one of the outside enclosures that are outside the individual smaller reptile houses.

    I would not mix russians and margies indoors or out in any size enclosure.
  3. Will

    Will Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Cool ,so your outdoor enclosures are still wholly available in the snow, the SD animals are outside in the area year round. Next time I go I'll take pictures or a walk around video.

    Either way, I am filling in for an image with a narrative that so far does NOT exist for the enclosure being talked about. Odds are Wellington your ginormous enclosure is mixed species, squirrels, mice, many species of birds, etc. so, when outside in a large enclosure it is mixed species no matter what. I once heard a person relate that their intel was that even a fly can be a vector between separated enclosures, inside or out, for a disease causing organism for which there is no cure.

    The history of the animals among a group of tortoises is as much or more informative than what a retail vet may find. Zoos' vets, at a really good zoo, and I would put forth that SDZ is globally among the top 5, are as well equipped to sort out and diagnose issues as is possible. They have post docs who will later in their career go on to run state and federal animal disease agencies. Those are relationships that last a lifetime. That the particular tortoises in that exhibit got that level of attention is unknown.

    I can further suggest that well above than simply 'on average' those animals at the zoo have a larger enclosure than the person who wants to mix a leopard with a redfoot in a 50 gallon size enclosure, with no known history and will likely never see a vet. That scenario, 50 gallons and greater diversity of origin both geographically and genetically, as well as likely the history of the individual tortoises narrated by a flipper will make for a more safe 'risk', NOT.

    Upon close inspection of the animals and the enclosure, and the inferred disparagement of the keeping at SDZ, I am surprised the OP did not relate the shell condition of the animals indicating a less than favorable diet, indicating that they are very highly likely captive bred animals as well.

    Would I mix species(?), animals that I have hatched out in one incubator side by side, yes - otherwise, no. I don't even keep adult unknown history animals together. other than for dating.

    In asking myself why do I care what anyone thinks about this particular exhibit at this particular zoo, I reflect on the bull feces sensationalism of how people look outward for other's practices, when not sharing their own. I can reflect on my own career working inside a zoo, and now other captive animal facilities, as well as how I keep animals at home. The zoo is not there to indicate to you how to take care of your pets, it is there to share the wonder of animal diversity, and if you don't 'get it' that many zoos make mistakes, but many do as good as it gets, and can't tell the difference then don't infer a disparagement, but ask a question, why might this be okay there, but not a best practice for me at home.

    I sure hope the same sensibility is not applied when you drive home from a NASCAR race.
  4. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Sadely no, enclosure not as big in the winter. However, I totally agree that Zoos do have the resources to handle any or most things that may pop up. I sadely don't have that big a wallet. As for my mixed species, with birds, etc, oh yea, birds, rabbits, skunks, coons, squirrels, deer, fox, coyote, I do have that all here. Just not mixed tortoise species, again, wallet not that big nor are my resources.
    For me, I always thought Zoos knew it all and it was all correct. Yes, we do need to take a step back and realize that when we learn more we can do more. I guess that has to be offered to Zoos to be allowed to make their mistakes and that they will do better when they know better. I think, at least for me, it's a step that I'm just learning pertains to "all" of us, pet owners, pet stores, breeders, Zoos, etc.
  5. keithsf

    keithsf Member

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    OK, so I'm sure all of the learned tort keepers will have a field day with this one, but I'm interested in others views, BASED UPON GENDER, SIZE, AND GENERALIZED SPECIES PERSONALITY TRAITS ONLY, which mixes might THEORETICALLY cohabitate (not breed) better? (e.g. male star tortoise with a female Herrmann's, etc.)

    Everyone who wants to respond with: 'no don't ever do it' please re-read the above. I have no plans to do this - just idle Friday afternoon debate curiosity.
  6. Merrick

    Merrick Well-Known Member

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    Animals from the same environment i mean region of the world ie indotestudo and emys
  7. Alaskamike

    Alaskamike Well-Known Member

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    I am one who has decried the keeping practices or certain zoos of certain animals. That said, the inspection and certification / inspection processes they have to endure would have most of us out of the hobby in quick order.

    I totally get the biological risks of placing mixed species in a shared enclosure. Much like the risks of bullying or death with multiples of same species.

    It often comes down to risk tolerance , the degree of supervision and observation and space available. A zoo frequently has a staff vet - or many, as well as veterinary interns immediately available. I don't.

    When I've had friends who actually worked at a zoo , I learned to appreciate what they go through.
  8. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I get what you are asking here.

    Disease risk is just one factor that I consider in this sort of thing.

    Hybridization is another. I'm against it and will discourage it at every turn.

    Yet another big factor for me is behavioral compatibility, or the lack there of. Being that animal behavior has been my paid profession, hobby and passion since 1986, I am particularly aware and cognizant of the subtle intricacies that often take place. Mixing species from different continents or even different environments from the same continent is also not good for behavioral reasons.

    I don't intend to have any sort of "field day" with your question, but the "GENERALIZED SPECIES PERSONALITY TRAITS ONLY…" is a big reason why I am against mixing species under any circumstance.

    The only instance where I can see mixing species is if the animals in question are "disposable" to their owner, the owner acknowledges the substantial risk, and basically is okay with it if one or more of the tortoises in question don't survive the "experiment. Personally, I don't meet any of those criterion, so my species will be kept separated, and I will continue on with my attempts are reducing/preventing any cross contamination at my facilities.

    Your Friday afternoon debate has become my Tuesday afternoon debate. :)
  9. mrscruffy

    mrscruffy Active Member

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    Hi,

    I feel I should share my experience for the benefit of the community despite the disapproval of some members. Both elongated and impressa live in my garden which is not massive but around 100 square meters. Each species shows very little interest in the other, but a lot of interest in their own species. I once saw my male impressa approach a female elongated, head bob for a few minutes and then move off. The female elongated seemed slightly defensive initially but then continued eating and ignored the dejected male impressa. I have seen female elongated choose to cohabitate hides with the impressa, despite the impressa being larger. No ramming or aggression has been observed except between elongateds.
    The species live in the same range and I doubt they would hybridise. No sign of illness, indeed the health of most of them has improved since being in my care which probably has to do with becoming comfortable in the new environment, soaking and much better diet than in a hunters camp or the wild life market.

    Sorry if I upset anyone, I am not advocating mixing, but sharing my experience.

    Cheers
    Scruff
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  10. sullygirl85

    sullygirl85 Active Member

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    I have a question, I have combed the internet about it for weeks and cannot find an answer.......My son has a red foot tortoise, now as I read I know that certain species carry different types of diseases and if you get a new tortoise definitely the need to quarantine it initially is important. However, my question is, can you house a red foot with an indian star? I think that it is important to note, that my son's red foot is very young and only weighs about eh 60 grams last I checked. So I thought perhaps two babies would be better. I have no idea, hence he reason I ask the experts.
  11. leigti

    leigti Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    You should not house to tortoises together. They don't do well in pairs. And definitely not two of different species. Mixing the species is just asking for trouble. They can make each other sick.
  12. Killerrookie

    Killerrookie Well-Known Member

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    I don't think it's worth the risk to put two different species together. I don't think it matters how old or young the tortoise is to spread diseases. Plus they both eat different things and have different care requirements.
  13. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    What you and everyone reading must understand is that mixing species is not an automatic death sentence. It does not always result in death and sickness. The point is that sometimes it does result in sickness and death. If we were to randomly grab a few hundred tortoises and make 100 mixed species enclosures, some percentage of those enclosures would not experience major disease outbreaks or fighting. Do you know how to predict which ones will work and which ones won't? I don't. Do you know of a vet that can diagnose all the latest raging tortoises diseases on a live tortoise, even if money is no issue? I don't, and I know a lot of vets that do a lot of tortoise work.

    This being the case, it is a huge gamble to mix species. Some people are willing to take that chance. I used to be one of them. You know what changes people's minds? When they have a disease outbreak that results in a bunch of their tortoises dying. Some people are smart enough to learn this lesson from watching someone else go through this issue. Others have to learn the hard way. For people who have been around long enough, and seen enough, they realize that a person can only play russian roulette so many times before they eventually lose.

    The goal is to help as many people as possible to not have to learn this lesson the hard way.
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  14. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    1. Species should not be mixed, both for disease potential reasons and behavioral reasons.
    2. Tortoises should not be kept in pairs.
    3. Quarantine of new animals is important.
    4. RFs and Indian stars have different feeding and care necessities.

    Both of these are awesome species, but they should each be housed in their own enclosures.
    Lyn W likes this.
  15. ohio

    ohio Active Member

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    Got the fact that we don't mix species, but i was reading that there are many "sub-species" with in one species. So my question is for example i have Russians and was looking through the subspecies of the Russians and had a very hard time telling them apart. So if I can't tell them apart is it OK to house them together? Their range is pretty large in the wild. Same with my Hermanns, I can tell east from west, but the eastern range is very diverse.
  16. Yvonne G

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

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    In my opinion, it's too late now to worry about intermixing the different sub species of Russian tortoises. None of us here in the States realized there even were subspecies, so what we have now is a bunch of 'mutts.'

    When I learned that there were sub species, I asked a very knowledgeable tortoise person (Egyptiandan) to I.D. the Russians in my care, and I kept all one subspecies and adopted out all the others. So I'm pretty sure I have 1.3 Kazbecistan (spelling???).

    If you don't plan on allowing them to breed, it really doesn't make any difference.
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  17. ohio

    ohio Active Member

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    Well thank you for your input, but was hoping that one day they may pro-crate because i thought it was hard to breed Russians with a high success rate. maybe helping stop the WC imports. Once i get them out of hibernation someone might be able to tell me the sub-species. Unfortunately I have rescued all my from craigslist. (a big no no) I have always rescued dogs and cats that i have ever owned, never bought, so i figured i might as well rescue these guys. What i found is that most people selling on craigslist bought the tortoise on a whim and once they realized the commitment they get ride of them (most cases improper husbandry and diet lack of knowledge on even sexing) i know i can give them some stability for hopefully the next 50 years or so. From what i gathered most were bought at petsmart/petco. And they get to spent their summers outside in natural sunlight.
  18. Robert Hutchens

    Robert Hutchens New Member

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    I'm new here and found this conversation to be very interesting. I know this topic has died down but from my experience. Working with over 30 species of tortoise and keeping some myself. The best scenario for keeping multiple species in one enclosure is if there hatchlings from the same facility that would naturally coexist sometimes in the wild. For example elongated and mountain tortoises and leopard and let's say a tent tortoise. Other than that don't ever try it. It's not fair to the animals.
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  19. Grandpa Turtle 144

    Grandpa Turtle 144 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi Robert
    ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1501171110.267161.jpg
  20. SGT Fish

    SGT Fish Active Member

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    just an observation to add to the list. I often let my Russian and box turtle roam around in my sulcata enclosure. I know, I'm a horrible human being and shell keeper. But I have been very surprised by how the sulcata and the smaller torts don't even know each other are there. they completely ignore each other. However, the box turtle does try to mate with a male Russian, and he get aggressive. But the sulcata walks around like he is all alone, and the Russian isn't scared of the sulcata one bit, and will try to eat from the same plate
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