Should I foster a sulcata to help an acquaintance and if so help with least worst options

Criscar

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Someone I know has apparently been keeping a 4 year old 50 lb sulcata on their apartment patio and is being threatened with eviction if they don’t rehome the tortoise by this weekend. I don’t want a sulcata, but am empathetic to the situation. I have a a number of animals in my care over the years, including ball pythons (for 30 years and counting) and a green iguana that I raised from a small hatching to full adult male living in 6x4x4 enclosure, so not unfamiliar with reptile care and larger herbivorous or long lived reptiles, just the particulars of tortoises.

If I agreed to foster the tortoise, I assume since I live in coastal Southern California that I don’t need to do much with regard to climate control, if anything with the marine layer in May and June it might be a tad cool but the sun usually comes out mid day. My yard has two sections I could theoretically easily fence off from one another. One is DG with 2 ft high wood raised beds for a vegetable garden (don’t care if he samples and eats the weeds, will try to keep nightshades out of reach if tortoises can’t eat those either), a couple trees and a blackberry trailing on the ground around the trees, and some patio furniture. The fencing is wrought iron on one side, some exposed areas of the side of the house, and a wooden plank fence plus I’d have to add a dog gate or something. I assume all of these would be at risk of damage? There is always some shade, parts get full sun from morning until about 2 pm then it’s all in shade. This area is about 300 sq ft but not much wide open space, more winding paths.

The other option is a larger open area with artificial turf, ringed by a low 12-18” stucco wall with narrow planter beds and then a wooden plank fence behind those, patio furniture a trampoline and also our house and the sliding door. At the this time of year the grass doesn’t get too hot but by July that could become an issue in the sunnier parts, but a large part is almost always in shade. I am very leery of the idea of potential holes in the middle of the artificial turf as this would cost at least hundreds of dollars to fix. This area is about 450 sq ft with a lot of open space.

Also, I have a 47 lb standard poodle who is curious but not aggressive toward prey animals (based on observed behavior toward our rabbits, birds and snakes). I would never leave them together unsupervised but the dog is going to need to go outside to use the bathroom and usually does this in the artificial turf area.

I assume it would be better to put it in the DG area and cross fingers he waits a bit before trying to burrow so I can try to figure something out in that regard? Or would the artificial turf be better? Or does the whole set up sound so unsuitable that I’d be better off just saying no, especially since I’m not interested in the very long term commitment?
 
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wellington

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Doesn't sound like you really have all it would take to foster him and for how long?
A heated hide needs to be built as they need to be in temps of 80 day and night, so you will have to keep in warm on those colder nights.
Fencing they can see thru they will try to go thru. No dog should be allowed near him.
Maybe @EppsDynasty can help the person out.
 

SinLA

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This is a really tough situation and good or you for offering to take him. I would, in any case, reach out to your local CTTC to see if they have any recommendations, though be wary of rescuers who really are just hoarders.

A sulcata kept on a balcony is horrible - i don't care how big that patio is, its too small and not appropriate. I also wonder if you would end up getting stuck with it longer than you would like and then it will become your problem to place (OR you could end up falling in love - most of us have).

Not all sulcatas are destructive beasts, but many are and they all certainly can be. NOt sure if being on a balcony its whole life means it never learned it can go through walls or what...

Just know that just b/c you are in CA that is still not the right weather for it. It does need access to an 80+ degree space. Now lots and lots of people don't do that, maybe this one never had that, but its not good care if they don't.

I would not do the artificial turf for fear of it eating.

But good on you for wanting to help. I hope you do

Agree about @EppsDynasty and @JoJosMom possibly being able to help out
 

Tom

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Someone I know has apparently been keeping a 4 year old 50 lb sulcata on their apartment patio and is being threatened with eviction if they don’t rehome the tortoise by this weekend. I don’t want a sulcata, but am empathetic to the situation. I have a a number of animals in my care over the years, including ball pythons (for 30 years and counting) and a green iguana that I raised from a small hatching to full adult male living in 6x4x4 enclosure, so not unfamiliar with reptile care and larger herbivorous or long lived reptiles, just the particulars of tortoises.

If I agreed to foster the tortoise, I assume since I live in coastal Southern California that I don’t need to do much with regard to climate control, if anything with the marine layer in May and June it might be a tad cool but the sun usually comes out mid day. My yard has two sections I could theoretically easily fence off from one another. One is DG with 2 ft high wood raised beds for a vegetable garden (don’t care if he samples and eats the weeds, will try to keep nightshades out of reach if tortoises can’t eat those either), a couple trees and a blackberry trailing on the ground around the trees, and some patio furniture. The fencing is wrought iron on one side, some exposed areas of the side of the house, and a wooden plank fence plus I’d have to add a dog gate or something. I assume all of these would be at risk of damage? There is always some shade, parts get full sun from morning until about 2 pm then it’s all in shade. This area is about 300 sq ft but not much wide open space, more winding paths.

The other option is a larger open area with artificial turf, ringed by a low 12-18” stucco wall with narrow planter beds and then a wooden plank fence behind those, patio furniture a trampoline and also our house and the sliding door. At the this time of year the grass doesn’t get too hot but by July that could become an issue in the sunnier parts, but a large part is almost always in shade. I am very leery of the idea of potential holes in the middle of the artificial turf as this would cost at least hundreds of dollars to fix. This area is about 450 sq ft with a lot of open space.

Also, I have a 47 lb standard poodle who is curious but not aggressive toward prey animals (based on observed behavior toward our rabbits, birds and snakes). I would never leave them together unsupervised but the dog is going to need to go outside to use the bathroom and usually does this in the artificial turf area.

I assume it would be better to put it in the DG area and cross fingers he waits a bit before trying to burrow so I can try to figure something out in that regard? Or would the artificial turf be better? Or does the whole set up sound so unsuitable that I’d be better off just saying no, especially since I’m not interested in the very long term commitment?
I agree with the other posters here. It sounds like you don't have a suitable area.

DG is not safe. They will ingest some accidentally while eating or on purpose, and it can cause intestinal impaction.

Fake grass is a no go, because they will eat it and also damage it.

See through fencing is a no go as they will injure themselves trying to push through it.

A 50 pound sulcata needs somewhere around 2500 sq. feet. 50x50. I provide 1000 square feet for 8-10 inch juveniles.

The dog should never have access to the tortoise area for several reasons. They will both eat each others feces, and one might be aggressive toward the other. Dogs chew on tortoises. It happens all the time. Many people argue and say their dog shows no interest and would ever do that, and then one day it does. Just don't risk it. I have four standard poodles. If a big sulcata decided to ram their legs, it could do some serious damage. Sulcatas will often react to a sniffing animal by pulling their head in and reflexively ramming at the offender.

Your climate is not suitable for this tropical beast without some electrical help. With a heated shelter, the tortoise would be fine, but the nights are WAYYY too cold and the cold clammy overcast mornings are no good either. Here are two examples of what would be needed:

 

JoJosMom

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@Criscar Ok, so does the tortoise need to be rehomed? Or, does the tortoise just need a home until whenever they find a home? If it is the latter, someone can not be expected to take on the $1,000 cost for a house to be built, 2 kane mats and thats not including the enclosure. At a minimum the proper enclosure will be another $500 and then be expected to return the tortoise at any time in the future.

If this tortoise is in definite need then message me.......
 

EppsDynasty

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@Criscar Ok, so does the tortoise need to be rehomed? Or, does the tortoise just need a home until whenever they find a home? If it is the latter, someone can not be expected to take on the $1,000 cost for a house to be built, 2 kane mats and thats not including the enclosure. At a minimum the proper enclosure will be another $500 and then be expected to return the tortoise at any time in the future.

If this tortoise is in definite need then message me.......
Well maybe they have figured it out .... fingers crossed. I had my wife put this response in for 1 reason, We have run into this a lot. "Hey I want to keep my Tortoise (that I do not have all things needed to house properly) can anyone take him then give him back?" (after you buy all those things needed to house him properly). We LOVE helping torts and are dedicating our entire lives to accomplish THAT Goal, but we are not going to be a revolving door for owners that do not want to do what is needed on their own. I'm not saying this to knock this tort owner! When a tort owner doesn't and will not have whats needed why keep the tortoise, the tortoises well being is what we are here for. I SINCERELY hope that they have figured it out but as always we will be here when we are needed.
 

wellington

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Well maybe they have figured it out .... fingers crossed. I had my wife put this response in for 1 reason, We have run into this a lot. "Hey I want to keep my Tortoise (that I do not have all things needed to house properly) can anyone take him then give him back?" (after you buy all those things needed to house him properly). We LOVE helping torts and are dedicating our entire lives to accomplish THAT Goal, but we are not going to be a revolving door for owners that do not want to do what is needed on their own. I'm not saying this to knock this tort owner! When a tort owner doesn't and will not have whats needed why keep the tortoise, the tortoises well being is what we are here for. I SINCERELY hope that they have figured it out but as always we will be here when we are needed.
Absolutely and we, on the forum, would hope you wouldn't either. If they can't do it now, then they need to give it up and when or if they ever can do it right, that's when they can get another one.
If you wanted to help out in a situation where the person wants it back, then there should be a monthly boarding fee.
 

EppsDynasty

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Absolutely and we, on the forum, would hope you wouldn't either. If they can't do it now, then they need to give it up and when or if they ever can do it right, that's when they can get another one.
If you wanted to help out in a situation where the person wants it back, then there should be a monthly boarding fee.
Thank you for the understanding.
 

TammyJ

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Just so we can see the space, can you post some pictures of the natural area, not the fake grass one? Thanks.
 

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