Sulcata burrow question

Tracee

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5 Year Member
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Oct 15, 2014
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Phoenix, AZ
I recently had to cave in & cover my female sulcatas burrow. I started a new one for her 48hrs ago. She has yet to wander in & stay. I caved her old one in for safety reasons due to new neighbors who have a water line from their sprinkler that is broken. It saturated the dirt in & all around her old burrow. Her burrow went under my fence line directly under their yard. She is 9 & has had that burrow for 6yrs. My concern is she is outdoor 24/7. With colder temps at night approaching here in Phoenix Az come Nov. I'm worried this has stressed her & am hoping she will acclimate soon & naturally start digging to burrow more. Is it normal for them to pace & not venture into a freshly built burrow? The one i started is not near my neighbors & I's fence line any longer. I dug it down about 2 to 3 ft with a cover to give it a den like feel. I've owned both my tortoises since hatchlings. They are separated due to one being a female & the other a male. I have a huge yard & they each get plenty of weeds grass & vegetation. They both are super healthy. I'm just concerned that since I caved in her burrow she is stressed out. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you kindly.
 

Ray--Opo

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Do they stay in their burrows for the winter?
 

Tom

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I recently had to cave in & cover my female sulcatas burrow. I started a new one for her 48hrs ago. She has yet to wander in & stay. I caved her old one in for safety reasons due to new neighbors who have a water line from their sprinkler that is broken. It saturated the dirt in & all around her old burrow. Her burrow went under my fence line directly under their yard. She is 9 & has had that burrow for 6yrs. My concern is she is outdoor 24/7. With colder temps at night approaching here in Phoenix Az come Nov. I'm worried this has stressed her & am hoping she will acclimate soon & naturally start digging to burrow more. Is it normal for them to pace & not venture into a freshly built burrow? The one i started is not near my neighbors & I's fence line any longer. I dug it down about 2 to 3 ft with a cover to give it a den like feel. I've owned both my tortoises since hatchlings. They are separated due to one being a female & the other a male. I have a huge yard & they each get plenty of weeds grass & vegetation. They both are super healthy. I'm just concerned that since I caved in her burrow she is stressed out. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you kindly.
Your tortoise needs a temperature controlled night box. Its too cold in winter for them to be in burrows. Where they come from ground temps are 80-85 all year and temps are similar to a phoenix summer all year. I do realize that many people in the Phoenix area keep them that way and some of them survive, but some don't. This species Neds to be kept at 80 at night. Look up the US Geological survey and find your winter ground temps. Significantly colder than 80.

You are right to be concerned as cold nights will make them sick, but another burrow is not the answer. Here are two night box examples:


Burrows are great for hot summers. Essential in my opinion. But I block my burrows off in fall and make them sleep in their heated shelters. This transition happens seamlessly every year. Open the burrow in spring time and close it off in the fall.
 

queen koopa

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Joined
Aug 22, 2018
Messages
754
Location (City and/or State)
Las Vegas Nevada
I recently had to cave in & cover my female sulcatas burrow. I started a new one for her 48hrs ago. She has yet to wander in & stay. I caved her old one in for safety reasons due to new neighbors who have a water line from their sprinkler that is broken. It saturated the dirt in & all around her old burrow. Her burrow went under my fence line directly under their yard. She is 9 & has had that burrow for 6yrs. My concern is she is outdoor 24/7. With colder temps at night approaching here in Phoenix Az come Nov. I'm worried this has stressed her & am hoping she will acclimate soon & naturally start digging to burrow more. Is it normal for them to pace & not venture into a freshly built burrow? The one i started is not near my neighbors & I's fence line any longer. I dug it down about 2 to 3 ft with a cover to give it a den like feel. I've owned both my tortoises since hatchlings. They are separated due to one being a female & the other a male. I have a huge yard & they each get plenty of weeds grass & vegetation. They both are super healthy. I'm just concerned that since I caved in her burrow she is stressed out. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you kindly.
Your burrow was working for 6 years and tortoise was very acclimated to it, I feel the tort will be “off” for a while and might not do things that are in its best interest. Pacing is normal due to the loss of her home.

Your man made burrow is most likely not comparable to hers. It’s a hole with a cover yeah? If it were that easy to house a Sulcata this forum would not exist. My Sulcatas burrow (Las Vegas NV) goes down 3 feet, back 3 more feet, then hooks a right and you cannot see it or where else it goes. I closed her burrow off Oct 1st, when ground temps started getting into the low 60s at night. She had no problem going back into her shed, but she has had the shed since day 1 (shes 8, got her at 5). She dug this burrow in the summer, took her about a month and she was always working on it. Its now the end of October and its getting cold and your tort may not have the energy to dig another suitable burrow??

I would now build a night box and make it as appealing as you can. The box will be permanent and you can always return her to it in the event of cave in or winter.

hope this helps!
 

Tracee

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5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2014
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Location (City and/or State)
Phoenix, AZ
Thank you all so very much. I will be heading to HD to get the supplies needed today. Kinda figured we'd have to go that route. It's always nice to get extra input & pictures of the homes made for winter time from others who care about their torts well being as much as I do. I appreciate each of you. Have a beautiful day.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Location (City and/or State)
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Thank you all so very much. I will be heading to HD to get the supplies needed today. Kinda figured we'd have to go that route. It's always nice to get extra input & pictures of the homes made for winter time from others who care about their torts well being as much as I do. I appreciate each of you. Have a beautiful day.
Here are a couple more threads to help out:


Please feel free to ask questions. Happy to help.
 

Ray--Opo

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5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Oct 14, 2017
Messages
7,285
Location (City and/or State)
Palm Bay Fl
Thank you all so very much. I will be heading to HD to get the supplies needed today. Kinda figured we'd have to go that route. It's always nice to get extra input & pictures of the homes made for winter time from others who care about their torts well being as much as I do. I appreciate each of you. Have a beautiful day.
We just had a thread from a new member from Arizona. Like you I think she had her sully for 6 years. Always borrowed in the winter. After explaining the problems she was having. It ended up with the tort having frozen eye and some of the other symptoms sounded like the tort might not make it. Not sure what area she was in, but I think you're the right track building a nightbox.
 

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