1. Welcome! Are you interested in tortoises? If so, we invite you to join our community! Our community is the #1 place for tortoise keepers to talk online. Once you join you'll be able to post messages, upload pictures of your tortoise and enclosure, and discuss any tortoise topic with other tortoise keepers. Get started today!

Multiple Desert Tortoise habitats

Discussion in 'North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus)' started by WIIV, Nov 22, 2017.

  1. WIIV

    WIIV New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2017
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    Arizona
    Hi all, we are newbies to this forum and to Tortoises. My daughter and I have started on a venture together with baby Sonoran Desert Tortoise hatchlings that we got from a friend with some experience. We've done a lot of research and we're really excited to join this community. Our question is;
    we want to have multiple habitats indoor and one outdoor habitat. From all the great information on this forum and other research we know the proper way to set up the habitats but our question is, would it be stressful for the hatchlings or even later as juvenile tortoises to be moving from Habitat to Habitat? We are on the outskirts of Phoenix Arizona. Thanks for any help!
  2. Yvonne G

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

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    74,885
    Likes Received:
    37,200
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Clovis, CA
    (These ads do not appear for registered members.)
    Hi, and welcome!

    Yes, it's stressful at first, but the soon get used to it.
  3. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    42,433
    Likes Received:
    20,408
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Southern California
    Hello and welcome!

    What a great project. I hope we get to see pics!

    The routine you describe of moving them in and out each day, is what I do for all hatchlings of all the species that I work with, including desert torts. Mine get used to this from day one, and I've seen no signs of stress or any issues. My general rule of thumb is one hour of sunshine per inch of tortoise, and I soak them on the way back in to rehydrate them after their time in the sun in our dry climates.

    Groups of juveniles are usually fine sharing space, but keep your eyes peeled for any signs of aggression like following, "cuddling", sleeping or resting face to face, sit on top of the food pile, etc… As they near maturity, be prepared to house them all separately. Males will mature much earlier than females and they don't play nicely.

    Also be aware that most of the care info you see for this species is misguided and wrong. Following the typical dry routine that is recommended frequently results in the death of the babies. A few common myths:
    • Soak once a week.
    • They get all the water they ned from their food.
    • They do "better" outside.
    • They should be housed outdoors full time at any age.
    • They need a dry substrate.
    • Humidity will make them sick since they are desert animals.
    • Feed every other day.
    I've had to rehab and rescue many of them over the years, and they benefit from some water and humidity just like every other species. Here are a couple of threads that explain how I raise them. The one thread is titled for russian tortoises, but care is identical. The only difference is that I offer fresh grass for the DTs and not the russians.
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/

    Some high points:
    • Soak them every day for around 30 minutes in warm water.
    • Don't leave them outside for more than an hour or two per day until they gain some size and mass.
    • Feed them as much as they want of the right foods (Weeds, leaves, flowers, etc…) every day.
    • Use a damp substrate. I find coco coir to work the best and they can dig into it.
    • Offer a humid hide for them to simulate the more humid hiding areas they would find in root balls and burrows in the wild.
    • They should have a shallow water bowl. Terra cotta plant saucers sunk into the substrate work best.
    Hope all this helps!
  4. WIIV

    WIIV New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2017
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    Arizona
    Thank you guys for your help. Thanks for the clarity with the information. Yes, we are finding a lot of contradicting information. Here's a picture of our hatchlings exterior habitat. We will get a chicken wire screen put up around it to keep the birds away before we bring them back out. The larger tortoises name is Ramblin Man, the smaller more yellow lighter tortoise is named Squirtle.

    20171122_151041.jpg
    DesertGirl and Tom like this.
  5. Grandpa Turtle 144

    Grandpa Turtle 144 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2013
    Messages:
    10,292
    Likes Received:
    7,610
    Trophy Points:
    113
  6. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    42,433
    Likes Received:
    20,408
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Southern California
    Awe mannnnn……. Who broke the shovel? :D :D :D

    If you only have two, I would make another outdoor enclosure. Groups are usually okay, but pairs are not. Especially if one is a little bigger than the other.
  7. WIIV

    WIIV New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2017
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    Arizona
    Ok. Even if they are from the same clutch?
  8. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    42,433
    Likes Received:
    20,408
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Southern California
    Correct. They don't care, or even know, if they are related or not. Each of them wants to be the only tortoise in the territory. Keeping them together stresses the submissive one the most, but the dominant one too. The submissive one wants to leave the territory, and the dominant is telling him/her to leave, but they are stuck, unable to leave due to the confines of the enclosure. It creates long term chronic stress for both of them even if overt, obvious fighting or mounting isn't occurring. Just the sight of each other across the enclosure is enough to do it.

    Do you know anyone who keeps chameleons? Chameleon keepers seem to really grasp this concept and are good at explaining it. In some cases, a chameleon will stress and die if it can even see another chameleon across the room in another enclosure. Our tortoise aren't quite that fragile, but many have died from a keepers failure to understand this concept and recognize a problem soon enough.
    TammyJ and Bambam1989 like this.
Similar Threads: Multiple Desert
Forum Title Date
North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus) Best things for California desert tortoise to eat from the grocery store. Wednesday at 5:46 AM
North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus) Sonoran Desert Tortoise Fused Toenails/Claws Sep 12, 2018
North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus) 60yo Sonoran Desert Tortoise Smearing Feces and Scratching Glass and Wood Sep 3, 2018
North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus) HELP - brand spanking new Desert Tortoise babies in Las Vegas Aug 17, 2018
North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus) Desert tortoise video Aug 17, 2018

Share This Page