Outdoor habitat questions.

Oldbro

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Below are pics of my torts enclosure. Its gotten warm in the Chicagoland are and would like input on his care when outside.
All input greatly appreciated.
 

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Maro2Bear

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Id say the one thing is that it just looks too small of an area with no grazing area. Is there more space that se arent seeing?
 

Tom

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Below are pics of my torts enclosure. Its gotten warm in the Chicagoland are and would like input on his care when outside.
All input greatly appreciated.
Here are my thoughts:
1. Its wonderful that you've made an outdoor enclosure for your tortoise.
2. I agree with Mark that it needs to be much larger. Somewhere around 1000 sq. ft. would work for another year or so.
3. The ramped water bowl is a flipping and drowning hazard. I would remove that ASAP and replace it with a large terra cotta plant saucer sunk into the ground.
4. The welded wire is likely to cause injury on the left side because the tort can see through it, and the wire on the right is likely to be climbed on due to that angle. They find very creative ways to escape and/or hurt themselves. I would switch that stuff to an opaque material like plywood.
 

wellington

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I agree with all the above and will add he needs a night time hide that he can be locked up in at night. Or bring him in every night.
 
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Oldbro

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Thanks for the info, He comes in every night. I wiill do the plywood walls. He grazes on weeds in the yard when Im out and watching him, will not touch the grass. I have to feed him foods I buy because of the neighborhood I live in, too many chemicals applied in the summer coming up.. He gets fed Timothy hay, dandelions, wheat grass, turnip greens. Various raw vegetables and Mazuri desert tortoise pellet’s.He eats any cuttlebone I throw in there. I’ll bury a larger shallow clay pot but he's bigger than the ramp water dish, can’t flip in.
He’s a “desert tortoise” but how much heat and sunlight can he safely tolerate. Don’t want to cook him accidentally.
I have him on pine bark indoors and Cypress bedding outdoors, any issues here?
 

Tom

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Thanks for the info, He comes in every night. I wiill do the plywood walls. He grazes on weeds in the yard when Im out and watching him, will not touch the grass. I have to feed him foods I buy because of the neighborhood I live in, too many chemicals applied in the summer coming up.. He gets fed Timothy hay, dandelions, wheat grass, turnip greens. Various raw vegetables and Mazuri desert tortoise pellet’s.He eats any cuttlebone I throw in there. I’ll bury a larger shallow clay pot but he's bigger than the ramp water dish, can’t flip in.
He’s a “desert tortoise” but how much heat and sunlight can he safely tolerate. Don’t want to cook him accidentally.
I have him on pine bark indoors and Cypress bedding outdoors, any issues here?
-Sulcatas are NOT a desert species. They come from forest edge areas and grassland areas in the wild. It takes a lot of annual rainfall to sustain Forrests and grasslands.
-Timothy hay is too stemmy and not good for smaller sulcatas. Orchard grass hay or Bermuda is better. I don't introduce hay until they are around 12 inches in length.
-Introduce grass by hand cutting it into smaller pieces and mixing that in with the other food daily. It will take time, but it is worth the effort.
-Mazuri doesn't make a "desert" tortoise pellet. They make the original 5M21, and the newer LS type. Which do you have? Both are good.
-If you must use grocery store greens, favor endive and escarole. Add in arugula, cilantro, and many more for occasional variety. Most veggies are not suitable sulcata foods. It will take a lengthy introductory period to introduce any new food, so don't give up if these new foods are refused a few times initially. Just like the grass, mix in small amounts with old favorites and gradually up the ratio of new to old foods over time.
-Spinless opuntia is another great addition to the diet. Mulberry leaves, rose of Sharon leaves and flowers, grape leaves, etc...
-During hot weather they need an underground retreat to avoid cooking. This species spend 95% of its life underground in the wild avoiding the daily hot African temperatures.
- Cypress mulch is fine for outside. By pine bark, do you mean fir bark, aka: orchid bark? Pine bark is not okay, but I can't say I've ever seen pine bark for sale. Orchid bark is the best indoor substrate.
 

Yvonne G

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Thanks for the info, He comes in every night. I wiill do the plywood walls. He grazes on weeds in the yard when Im out and watching him, will not touch the grass. I have to feed him foods I buy because of the neighborhood I live in, too many chemicals applied in the summer coming up.. He gets fed Timothy hay, dandelions, wheat grass, turnip greens. Various raw vegetables and Mazuri desert tortoise pellet’s.He eats any cuttlebone I throw in there. I’ll bury a larger shallow clay pot but he's bigger than the ramp water dish, can’t flip in.
He’s a “desert tortoise” but how much heat and sunlight can he safely tolerate. Don’t want to cook him accidentally.
I have him on pine bark indoors and Cypress bedding outdoors, any issues here?
When they're young like yours Sulcata are mostly interested in eating broad leaf weeds and plants. They start eating grasses and hay when they get a bit older. And actually, sulcata don't come from the desert. You find them in a transitional eco-region of semi-arid grasslands, scrub, and savannah in northern Africa. They spend the hot part of the day deep inside a burrow, so you want nice shady areas for him to get out of the hot sun.

Pine bark isn't one that is used for tortoises. Any of the aromatic oil woods aren't good substrate. You can use the cypress mulch outside too, or just leave it the existing soil that's already out there.
 

Oldbro

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Thanks again, I’m feeding Mazuri LS. He’s soaked everyday. What type shrubs are safe to shade a large area. Whenever one see nature docs on torts they are in very barren surroundings. If he stays hidden outdoors how does one maintain a UV exposure level. Is there a place I can order
edibles from? He’ll eat wheat grass cut up and mixed with the hay, greens and clover
mix I give daily. Put him in the grass and he searches for weeds, will not touch the lawn.
 

Tom

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Whenever one see nature docs on torts they are in very barren surroundings.
I suppose this depends on the species and the show, but I don't share your observation. Even desert tortoise footage shows them among vegetation and chaparral in the shows that I have seen. The sulcata book that I have called "The Crying Tortoise" shows them walking in a seasonal marsh with vegetation on their backs.

If he stays hidden outdoors how does one maintain a UV exposure level.
They don't need much UV exposure to do what they need to do. A few minutes a few times a week probably gets the job done. In the wild, and in captivity too in areas that are hot like their native range, they bask at the moth of their burrows in the morning to warm up, and then retreat underground to avoid the scorching heat of the day.

Is there a place I can order
edibles from?
@Kapidolo Farms has a great assortment of dry foods that you can mix in and add to your greens to add fiber, nutrition and variety. I use their stuff almost daily.

He’ll eat wheat grass cut up and mixed with the hay, greens and clover
mix I give daily. Put him in the grass and he searches for weeds, will not touch the lawn.
This will change in time. Most of them don't get ravenous for grass until they surpass that 12-14 inch mark.

What type shrubs are safe to shade a large area.
Fruitless mulberry trees, rose of Sharon, grape vines, etc... Most anything will need some sort of barrier around the base to protect it until it gets large enough to stand up to the abuse of a large tortoise.
 

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