Sulcata Burrows

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wellington

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That sounds so cool. I like that they are able to do that with you. However, that's the reason I couldn't get one:(. If you ever get the chance to take pics of their tunnel/cave we would love to see them. Even if you can only get a few feet. You might want to invest in one of those snake cameras that plumbers, etc uses. I think you can get some okay ones for a fair price. Did your friend say if it smelled down there? Curious if they poo and pee down there, or if they keep it clean. Thanks for the update :)
 

TortoiseBoy1999

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Tom said:
We finally had a cooler day today, only 90ish, and they all came up. It is a tight squeeze. There was not room to turn around for a person. I went down head first. The burrow goes down about 8' and then curves to the right. Its a pretty steep constant angle of around 45 degrees until the last few feet, where it levels out and gets wide enough for two of them to be side by side and possibly turn around. I only went about half way down and then was able to toss a weighted line the rest of the way. We then marked where the line broke the surface and measured the line once I came back up. It is just over 15' from the surface to the farthest point in.

I took my camera and temp gun down in a baggie, but I didn't want to take my camera out because there was so much powdery loose dirt. I did pull the temp gun out. I was about 6-8' down and everywhere I pointed it the temps were from 73.9 to 74.1. I didn't take a humidity gauge down, but it feels and looks pretty damp. Not wet, but damp.

My coworker decided he wanted to have a go, so down he went. He is around six feet tall and "bean pole" would be a generous assessment of his physique. Mr. Gung Ho went all the way in, all the way down to the bottom. Once he was all the way down and almost able to reach the back wall, we could no longer see his feet when looking down into the tunnel from the surface. You could barely hear his voice even when shouting too.

They don't seem to be excavating much anymore. They were constantly working on it for the first few days, but after that, they seem pretty satisfied with their work and are now just using it.

WooooooW that sounds so fun!!!!!!!
 

Tom

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wellington said:
That sounds so cool. I like that they are able to do that with you. However, that's the reason I couldn't get one:(. If you ever get the chance to take pics of their tunnel/cave we would love to see them. Even if you can only get a few feet. You might want to invest in one of those snake cameras that plumbers, etc uses. I think you can get some okay ones for a fair price. Did your friend say if it smelled down there? Curious if they poo and pee down there, or if they keep it clean. Thanks for the update :)

It's still pretty clean down there. Probably because it's such a new burrow. When I was in RVs burrow there was some poop, but it really didn't smell at all. Everything gets covered with dirt and sulcata poo really doesn't have all that much smell to begin with.

There are some pics in the first post of this thread, but cameras just don't seem to be able to capture it well. It all looks like dirt, but there is not much scale or depth to a two dimensional photo. When you look at the pics, you just have to imagine a hole the diameter of a man's torso that goes down into the ground for 15'.
 

acrantophis

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Very cool! When I first joined this site I found pics of RVs tunnel/burrow. So impressive!
 

tczar

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silo has burrowed for the last three summers, right now in the heat of summer she only comes out between 6-7 pm and eats for half a hour to a hour. Seems content, when she first starts coming out, she will sit in the opening 'her porch" for up to thirty minutes. She cleans out the opening nightly. Still no sign of "wilson", the volleyball that rolled into her burrow last week.
 

bfmorris

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Here are a couple of sulcata burrows that I began with the method I described in another thread.

I lowered bleach bottles into the trench for scale comparison purposes.
 

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Tom

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Thanks for the pics B. It's much easier to "visualize" with a visual aid... :)

That is pretty much how I started this burrow just on a much smaller scale. What I like better about your way, is that they seem to burrow on a more horizontal plain, whereas mine went downward at a pretty steep angle.

Is there an optimal direction for the opening to face? Morning sun or afternoon?

How much of the year do yours get to use their burrows?

How does that design work in heavy rain?
 

bfmorris

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Tom said:
Thanks for the pics B. It's much easier to "visualize" with a visual aid... :)

That is pretty much how I started this burrow just on a much smaller scale. What I like better about your way, is that they seem to burrow on a more horizontal plain, whereas mine went downward at a pretty steep angle.

Don't let my way fool you, the tortoises' burrows descends just as steeply as usual from the point at the face of the trench.




Is there an optimal direction for the opening to face? Morning sun or afternoon?


My openings face south

How much of the year do yours get to use their burrows?

All year around.


How does that design work in heavy rain?


No problems. If you study the photos closely, you'll see the upper layer of usual sandy desert soil, then the layer of caliche that contains the burrows, which is mostly impervious to rainfall. The caliche is about 16' thick and very hard.
 

Tom

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Thanks BF. Study them I will.

Where I am, the underground temps hover around 50 throughout winter with temps near freezing above ground most nights. Are underground temps warmer where you are?

I know they live underground year round in parts of AZ, but it's quite a bit cooler here for most of winter.
 

bfmorris

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Tom said:
Thanks BF. Study them I will.

Where I am, the underground temps hover around 50 throughout winter with temps near freezing above ground most nights. Are underground temps warmer where you are?

I know they live underground year round in parts of AZ, but it's quite a bit cooler here for most of winter.

Tom, ground temps about 60 in winter.
 

Dizisdalife

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I wish I had the room to let my tortoise burrow like this. The above ground night box, although functional, doesn't seem natural when compared to a burrow. Twenty-five years ago, with much more property, I had desert tortoises that burrowed every summer. The entrance was always facing south and a bit toward the east.
 

mary t

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Dizisdalife said:
I wish I had the room to let my tortoise burrow like this. The above ground night box, although functional, doesn't seem natural when compared to a burrow. Twenty-five years ago, with much more property, I had desert tortoises that burrowed every summer. The entrance was always facing south and a bit toward the east.

I agree, but I did add a few bags of organic soil to mines night house- ( per Toms wonderful advice) and he loves it. Digs himself a bowl and hunkers down..
 
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