Moving to Utah with Tortimer

JackieJax

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Hi everyone!

Is anyone from Utah or somewhere similar? I'm from Southern California and we have to move to Utah for work (Roy, Utah). I looked up the laws for keeping a Sulcata tortiose and it looks like I can only have one, but the paperwork I've found is for newly adopted tortioses. Actually here are my questions:
1) Are there any licenses I need to apply for to move a tortiose from one state to Utah?
2) What kind of home do you have set up during snow days?
3) Is there anything else I should know about the area? (I've been in snow twice in my life and I drove to it for a few hours)
 

Yvonne G

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The things you read pertaining to tortoises likely were referring to native desert tortoises, not sulcatas. There aren't any regulations pertaining to sulcatas. . . no license.

Your best bet is to build a large, well insulated shed for Tortimer. You can lock him in on really bad days and allow him out when/if the sun shines.

Do a search for then read about turtulas-len's sulcata, Walker, who lives in snowy Virginia.
 

JackieJax

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The things you read pertaining to tortoises likely were referring to native desert tortoises, not sulcatas. There aren't any regulations pertaining to sulcatas. . . no license.

Your best bet is to build a large, well insulated shed for Tortimer. You can lock him in on really bad days and allow him out when/if the sun shines.

Do a search for then read about turtulas-len's sulcata, Walker, who lives in snowy Virginia.

Awesome!!! Everything I was ready was all over the place... and yes... only saying desert tortioses without mentions of breeds. That makes me feel a lot better.

He's currently in an insulated and heated box (3 feet x 8 feet x 2 feet) with a latch door that I open up on warm days. I could build him a secondary heated shed to put his box into on colder days as well. Great idea!
 

zovick

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All respect to Yvonne, but UT is going to be a lot colder than where Tortulas-len lives in VA. I have lived in both MD and CO so feel reasonably well-qualified to comment on your question. I lived in both Colorado Springs and Crested Butte, CO and both of them are a good bit further south than Roy, UT. Unless the Great Salt Lake keeps that area warmer than I think, you should be ready for cold winter temperatures. In CO the night-time lows in winter were often near 0 even though the daytime temps might get up to 50 or so if the sun came out.

I kept sulcatas when I lived in CO and can tell you that the winters were a very difficult time to keep large sulcatas. They needed to be inside for months at a time in winter due to very cold temperatures and snow. Even with a heated outdoor house, it would be too cold for them to be out plus the ground is often covered with snow for weeks at a time, so they cannot really be kept outside safely in winter. You will need a very good sized indoor enclosure for your tortoise to be happy, and it will eat lots of food for which you will need to find a source.

This is probably not an opinion which will be well-received, but you might want to consider leaving the sulcata tortoise in CA where it can be happier and finding a smaller species which will be far less challenging to keep in UT.
 

JackieJax

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All respect to Yvonne, but UT is going to be a lot colder than where Tortulas-len lives in VA. I have lived in both MD and CO so feel reasonably well-qualified to comment on your question. I lived in both Colorado Springs and Crested Butte, CO and both of them are a good bit further south than Roy, UT. Unless the Great Salt Lake keeps that area warmer than I think, you should be ready for cold winter temperatures. In CO the night-time lows in winter were often near 0 even though the daytime temps might get up to 50 or so if the sun came out.

I kept sulcatas when I lived in CO and can tell you that the winters were a very difficult time to keep large sulcatas. They needed to be inside for months at a time in winter due to very cold temperatures and snow. Even with a heated outdoor house, it would be too cold for them to be out plus the ground is often covered with snow for weeks at a time, so they cannot really be kept outside safely in winter. You will need a very good sized indoor enclosure for your tortoise to be happy, and it will eat lots of food for which you will need to find a source.

This is probably not an opinion which will be well-received, but you might want to consider leaving the sulcata tortoise in CA where it can be happier and finding a smaller species which will be far less challenging to keep in UT.

Ooo so perhaps give him a dedicated room in the house during the cold months?

I took Tortimer as a rescue from an older couple who could no longer care for him. A tortiose as a pet wasnt fully a choice, but I made it happen (I'm a cat person, husband is a dog person... so Tortimer will be the only non-furry pet for us). I did consider him staying with family here, but alas... I dont think they'll take as good of care of him as us. So... family member for life.
 

zovick

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Ooo so perhaps give him a dedicated room in the house during the cold months?

I took Tortimer as a rescue from an older couple who could no longer care for him. A tortiose as a pet wasnt fully a choice, but I made it happen (I'm a cat person, husband is a dog person... so Tortimer will be the only non-furry pet for us). I did consider him staying with family here, but alas... I dont think they'll take as good of care of him as us. So... family member for life.
Well, you can't say I didn't warn you. My brother lived in Redlands for 40 years, and I can tell you the weather in UT will be nothing like what it is where you live in southern CA, especially in the winter, so be prepared.

Yes, the dedicated room is probably an option, but the tortoise will very likely ruin the walls and the floor with its seemingly endless circumnavigation of the room and clawing into the corners.

I believe there are rescues for sulcata tortoises which would help you find a home for the tortoise. Maybe Yvonne or her sister would take it.
 

maggie3fan

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I was an OTR truck driver and over the years I drove for 3 different companies based outa SLC. I love Utah. I keep larger Sulcata in the PNW. Over the years I have pretty much come to the conclusion that it is very hard on an animal like Sulcata inside more than out. In Oregon rain, ice and snow I let my Sulcata over the years to come and go when they please. If THEY decided they don't like it out that day, so they come in warm up and hang out sleeping under a warm light. Keep them in without giving them the choice and I can hear them beating on the doggie doors clear in the house.
Here is my Sulcata shed with 2 tortoises inside. And a tort table full of cactus. It is heated and has insulation in the walls, ceiling and floor. It gets freezing and icy here and the shed stays at 85 to 90 degrees. Has sleeping boxes and Kane mats. The shed is 20'x12', not really big enuf, but it's a good place for Sulcata
100 4084
 

maggie3fan

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Well, you can't say I didn't warn you. My brother lived in Redlands for 40 years, and I can tell you the weather in UT will be nothing like what it is where you live in southern CA, especially in the winter, so be prepared.

Yes, the dedicated room is probably an option, but the tortoise will very likely ruin the walls and the floor with its seemingly endless circumnavigation of the room and clawing into the corners.

I believe there are rescues for sulcata tortoises which would help you find a home for the tortoise. Maybe Yvonne or her sister would take it.
I am always up for taking a Sulcata. But Corvallis is about as cold as Roy. It wouldn't be better for him.
 

JackieJax

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I was an OTR truck driver and over the years I drove for 3 different companies based outa SLC. I love Utah. I keep larger Sulcata in the PNW. Over the years I have pretty much come to the conclusion that it is very hard on an animal like Sulcata inside more than out. In Oregon rain, ice and snow I let my Sulcata over the years to come and go when they please. If THEY decided they don't like it out that day, so they come in warm up and hang out sleeping under a warm light. Keep them in without giving them the choice and I can hear them beating on the doggie doors clear in the house.
Here is my Sulcata shed with 2 tortoises inside. And a tort table full of cactus. It is heated and has insulation in the walls, ceiling and floor. It gets freezing and icy here and the shed stays at 85 to 90 degrees. Has sleeping boxes and Kane mats. The shed is 20'x12', not really big enuf, but it's a good place for Sulcata
View attachment 315040
Currently his night box is how I described and in the mornings I open his latch (I close it once he goes back in in the early evening) so he can come in and go into the yard when he wants with the doggie doors that go through the garage and house, which he's used when it was hot. He's kind of weird based on what I've read in these threads... he seems to enjoy being around 65-80 degrees, instead of 90+. Not sure if that's common. He used to be forced to hibernate in his previous care. So we were planning on doing the same in our new house where we'd have a heated room with doggie doors he could choose to go in and out of. But now I'm starting to feel bad for wanting to keep him as part of our family after reading these posts. So because rescues aren't an option, since we will move back to California once the contract is up (we're renting out our house while we're in Utah) I'm thinking about paying a friend to do some long term boarding if possible. (Just need to find one with a good and fenced in yard heh)
 

maggie3fan

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Currently his night box is how I described and in the mornings I open his latch (I close it once he goes back in in the early evening) so he can come in and go into the yard when he wants with the doggie doors that go through the garage and house, which he's used when it was hot. He's kind of weird based on what I've read in these threads... he seems to enjoy being around 65-80 degrees, instead of 90+. Not sure if that's common. He used to be forced to hibernate in his previous care. So we were planning on doing the same in our new house where we'd have a heated room with doggie doors he could choose to go in and out of. But now I'm starting to feel bad for wanting to keep him as part of our family after reading these posts. So because rescues aren't an option, since we will move back to California once the contract is up (we're renting out our house while we're in Utah) I'm thinking about paying a friend to do some long term boarding if possible. (Just need to find one with a good and fenced in yard heh)
Sulcata do not hibernate. You can force all you want to, but they do not hibernate in the wild, so they just get sick. Their insides have to be 85 or higher to digest their food. If they are too cold (less than 80) there's not digestion. Not enuf exercise, no digestion and ya get sick tortoises
 

queen koopa

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Currently his night box is how I described and in the mornings I open his latch (I close it once he goes back in in the early evening) so he can come in and go into the yard when he wants with the doggie doors that go through the garage and house, which he's used when it was hot. He's kind of weird based on what I've read in these threads... he seems to enjoy being around 65-80 degrees, instead of 90+. Not sure if that's common. He used to be forced to hibernate in his previous care. So we were planning on doing the same in our new house where we'd have a heated room with doggie doors he could choose to go in and out of. But now I'm starting to feel bad for wanting to keep him as part of our family after reading these posts. So because rescues aren't an option, since we will move back to California once the contract is up (we're renting out our house while we're in Utah) I'm thinking about paying a friend to do some long term boarding if possible. (Just need to find one with a good and fenced in yard heh)
Sulcatas do no hibernate so I can only image the previous owner was freezing and starving the tortoise to achieve little to no energy or movement from the tortoise. In other words “sick” like Maggie said. Temporary boarding may be good idea until you get your set up. Since the Utah weather is extreme you will need the large shed with THE best insulation, and secure doors along with your yard. There is a post recently by a member who moved from CA
to Utah. Their 65 pound Sulcata escaped the shed on a snow falling night and she found the tortoise covered in snow dead the next morning ??. Was very sad, I feel for that owner. But that post prompted me buy a digital wifi temp stick so I can be alarmed if her temps drop due to power failure. The temp stick did not work had to return it... so I have lights on the exterior of the shed now to indicate power is running and a stupid loud alarm. We have somewhat mild temperatures, nights will get to 38-40 degrees and we do have some killer winds. My shed would not be sufficient for a colder area.

A kick a** night box inside a heated insulated shed would be the best. Or re-homing.
 

zovick

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Currently his night box is how I described and in the mornings I open his latch (I close it once he goes back in in the early evening) so he can come in and go into the yard when he wants with the doggie doors that go through the garage and house, which he's used when it was hot. He's kind of weird based on what I've read in these threads... he seems to enjoy being around 65-80 degrees, instead of 90+. Not sure if that's common. He used to be forced to hibernate in his previous care. So we were planning on doing the same in our new house where we'd have a heated room with doggie doors he could choose to go in and out of. But now I'm starting to feel bad for wanting to keep him as part of our family after reading these posts. So because rescues aren't an option, since we will move back to California once the contract is up (we're renting out our house while we're in Utah) I'm thinking about paying a friend to do some long term boarding if possible. (Just need to find one with a good and fenced in yard heh)
Are you renting the house in which you will live in Utah? You would definitely not want to keep the tortoise in a dedicated room in a rented house unless there is a basement where you could keep it where the potential damage would be less detrimental to the home's value. The landlord would most likely not appreciate tortoise scratches on the floors and walls of a normal room and would no doubt charge you for them accordingly. If you are buying the house in Utah, then it's obviously your prerogative to let the tortoise damage it.

How big is this tortoise and how much does it weigh? It looks fairly good sized (maybe 12" to 15") in your picture, but there is nothing in it for scale.

Your idea of finding a friend in CA to keep the tortoise for you until your return sounds like a very good alternative to taking a good sized sulcata to northern Utah. Maybe you could offer to pay someone from the TFO "room and board" for the tortoise to help cover the expenses of housing and feeding it until your return.
 

JackieJax

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Sulcata do not hibernate. You can force all you want to, but they do not hibernate in the wild, so they just get sick. Their insides have to be 85 or higher to digest their food. If they are too cold (less than 80) there's not digestion. Not enuf exercise, no digestion and ya get sick tortoises
Whoa whoa whoa... Im not forcing him to hibernate. His last owners did... which is why he's in my care.
 

JackieJax

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Are you renting the house in which you will live in Utah? You would definitely not want to keep the tortoise in a dedicated room in a rented house unless there is a basement where you could keep it where the potential damage would be less detrimental to the home's value. The landlord would most likely not appreciate tortoise scratches on the floors and walls of a normal room and would no doubt charge you for them accordingly. If you are buying the house in Utah, then it's obviously your prerogative to let the tortoise damage it.

How big is this tortoise and how much does it weigh? It looks fairly good sized (maybe 12" to 15") in your picture, but there is nothing in it for scale.

Your idea of finding a friend in CA to keep the tortoise for you until your return sounds like a very good alternative to taking a good sized sulcata to northern Utah. Maybe you could offer to pay someone from the TFO "room and board" for the tortoise to help cover the expenses of housing and feeding it until your return.

We're buying for sure. We wanted to me able to add an enclosed and heated Catio for the cats. And add heated floors. I dont do well under 60°, so we have to make sure we make the house is a decent habitat for me too. I'm basically a reptile myself.

In another forum, I saw that someone lined a large shed in concrete and filled it with coconut substrate, some heat lamps, and heated floors in a different section. Like a tortiose back house. I was considering that as well.

But yeah... Im currently talking to one of my friends about whether or not she wanted to rent our house and give her a break in rent by caring for him and feeding the stray cats. Hoping she says yes.
 
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