to burrow or not to burrow...that is the ???

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Yvonne G

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As many of you know, I have a 100+lb sulcata named Dudley. I got him when he weighed about 35lbs, about 10 years ago. In all the time I've had him, he has never ever even started to dig a burrow.

So, today a guy came over with a "found" tortoise, and while we were standing in front of Dudley's pen talking, I noticed that Dudley has dirt on his back. On closer inspection, I found a slight scrape or indentation under the bush in his pen. I'm hoping that he was just tossing dirt up onto his back to cool off, but I'll bet he had decided a burrow under the bush might just be what he's been looking for. I've estimated him to be around 20 years old. Can you imagine starting a burrow at that age?
 

wellington

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Well, if they are anything like other living things, as we get older, our likes and dislikes changes and well, we now want something different. He must have thought the bush would make a nice little camouflage for a nice little cave entry. Just the thing he's been needing and finally got:p:D. Let's just hope he doesn't decide he needs to remodel the fence lines:(
 

Katherine

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emysemys said:
I've estimated him to be around 20 years old. Can you imagine starting a burrow at that age?

Yes absolutely. Hopefully he was just trying to cool down a bit, but my tortoises who do burrow will go 4 years with out scratching the ground and then one day I walk out to a tunnel. I wouldn't be shocked if a Sulcata of any age just woke up and felt like finding China. Hope yours just had a passing curious moment, let us know how it progresses : )
 

ascott

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Well...Yvonne if your ground can support a summer burrow I would let him...just have a great entrance block when it gets a bit later in the season....just an opinion :D

I have a CDT here that is just not content until I went ahead and let him dig his own burrow...once he did, his pacing stopped right away....now he just kicks the dirt around on and then back onto his half barrel hide for what seems like pure fun...lol :D
 

Tom

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There is something in the CA air right now...

Mine almost never try to burrow and in the last few days THREE of them have decided that a nice burrow would suit them just fine. My juvenile female went half way up the hill into the tall grass and weeds where I couldn't see what she was up to and got about two feet deep on her first day. I only found her because when I did the night box check before locking up for the night, she wasn't in there. Then Scooter my big male decided he wanted a burrow under the building that his pen is built around. Finally, Chewy went down to the bottom of the new section and started digging down under the wall... I thought she might be looking to lay eggs, but she's not due for another couple of weeks. I let her go for a while and she just kept going and going and going... At about two feet deep it was pretty obvious that she wasn't going to turn around and drop any eggs...

Anyhow, you are not alone...

This summer I intend to let them burrow if they want to. Anyone have any suggestion how to get them started where I want them to dig? I can't have them undermining walls and foundations...
 

Len B

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Walker was 13 before his first dig,it starts at the lean 2 type hide that is behind his house, he hasn't gone very far in the 3 years he has been using it during the warmer months. Hope your bush survives.
 

Katherine

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Tom said:
Anyone have any suggestion how to get them started where I want them to dig? I can't have them undermining walls and foundations...

Hahaha. You know them better than that! What fun would a burrow be if it were in a 'convenient for the caretaker' location?

Mine usually start abutting something, same with nesting, so I have put a bunch of logs in their enclosure but so far no dice on digging there... Maybe yours are more cooperative :)
 

bfmorris

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It's typical behaviour, they got a taste of heat and want to be sure they are prepared for more. You guys west of the mountains in So Cal can certainly let them burrow for the summer; it is the winter rains and lack of winter sun that are your main concern.

To incise a burrow in a specific spot, I hate to say it, but they must have no other shade choice than the spot you give them. You can begin a burrow by digging a wide trench with a back hoe or mini excavator or your self. The trench should head into the ground at a typical (steep) burrow angle and be pie shaped except for the last few feet, and it should go to a depth of at least three- four feet. Put a piece of plywood over the deep part and put the tortoise there mid day. The tortoise will begin his burrow there at the face of the trench as long as there is heat to drive him to it. The depth is because you want a good header over the entrance to help avoid collapse. Caliche soil is best.
 

ascott

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I know of no sure fire way that works each and every time to have them want to burrow where you would like...lol :D
 

bfmorris

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Perhaps I wasn't clear, weather conditions have to be uh, 'robust' to pinpoint burrow location. But it can be done as I outlined, if those conditions are present.
 

Katherine

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bfmorris said:
It's typical behaviour, they got a taste of heat and want to be sure they are prepared for more. You guys west of the mountains in So Cal can certainly let them burrow for the summer; it is the winter rains and lack of winter sun that are your main concern.

To incise a burrow in a specific spot, I hate to say it, but they must have no other shade choice than the spot you give them. You can begin a burrow by digging a wide trench with a back hoe or mini excavator or your self. The trench should head into the ground at a typical (steep) burrow angle and be pie shaped except for the last few feet, and it should go to a depth of at least three- four feet. Put a piece of plywood over the deep part and put the tortoise there mid day. The tortoise will begin his burrow there at the face of the trench as long as there is heat to drive him to it. The depth is because you want a good header over the entrance to help avoid collapse. Caliche soil is best.

Just curious if you use this technique to redirect a Sulcata who has begun a burrow in a less than desirable a location, or if you just encourage them to burrow by providing them with a "starter home?" I personally do not particularly mind if mine burrow, I truly enjoy seeing them engage their natural instincts, but I don't know if I would encourage it in a Sulcata that isn't otherwise burrowing.
 

bfmorris

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katherine said:
Just curious if you use this technique to redirect a Sulcata who has begun a burrow in a less than desirable a location, or if you just encourage them to burrow by providing them with a "starter home?"

No and no, I do it if I open a new pen.
 

ascott

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Bfmorris....no, the procedure you outlined that works for sulcata in all of your experience was absolutely 100% clearly explained....I got what you are saying :D

I on the other hand have CDTs and when they set their mind to it they will dig where they elect to....example here...I use to begin a starter dig for them...and they absolutely would in the heat of the day take advantage of the starter spot by sitting in the shade for a bit then venturing out to their desirable spot and work on digging for awhile then shuffle back to the nicely placed shade starter spot to cool a bit out of the sun then they venture off back to work on their spot...and this goes on all day until evening begins to arrive and then it is a couple hours of straight work and they have a great cool self dug...self selected spot...burrow...along with an additional shallow hide courtesy of their human host....lol...so I guess there are many variables to be expected and many that are just an amusing surprise.....:D

So...like I shared, I know of no sure fire way to make a tort dig where you want....lol
 

bfmorris

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ascott said:
So...like I shared, I know of no sure fire way to make a tort dig where you want....lol


This is the sulcata forum, and my method will work if exactly as I spelled out, in the conditions, I spelled out. For sulcata tortoises.
 

ascott

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Actually I am aware the tortoise species Yvonne is referring to is a sulcata and thank you for pointing out to me what section of the Tortoise Forum the thread is in....just incase I had not realized :D

I also said that I totally understood your direction, step by step, on how you achieve a desirable burrow location with the sulcata you have performed your method with....again :D....I simply made the reference to the CDTs here acting completely like a "tortoise" by the likelihood that they may still find a way to do what they do which is be tenacious in obtaining "their" goal despite our efforts....that was it. So if I have caused any confusion regarding referencing a CDT simply as an example, wow...apologies....:D
 

marinaresident

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One of my yearlings (Murrieta) loves to burrow whereas the other one (Hemet) has no interest in burrowing...:)
 

Baoh

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My male has not dug as of yet. My subadult females have not taken an interest, either. My two adult females work on a single burrow they started beneath a medium-sized fir tree. It is a convenient location for me, as the tree is more or less in the center of the yard.
 

Roxie

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Frank burrows. I don't think I'll ever be able to stop him. His "burrow" started as a Rubbermaid hide placed where Frank likes to sleep. He just loves to dig, so he gradually made a little crater area. It is in the corner of my yard and we block it so that he can't dig out.
 
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