Total Newbie but enthusiastic!

Mamadee

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Good morning.
I am a total newbie who is interested in rescuing an older Tortoise for an outdoor habitat yet to be built. I am 58 so I figured since tortoise live for so long I should get an older one to match my expected life span. I am a volunteer for Pug Rescue of Florida so I firmly in adopt, don't shop.

I live on a quarter acre in Jacksonville, FL. I do have a swimming pool that I have turned into an 18,000 gallon water habitat about 2 years ago. It's full of plants, a 10 foot Cyrpress Tree, lots of frogs, about 50 gold fish who started out as the 28 cents variety from a petstore but are now bigger than my hand and countless mosquito fish who keep the bugs from eating my water lilies and lotus. My pond is my happy place so between the four dogs using part of the yard and the pond I do spend a lot of time in the backyard.

There is a Tortoise Rescue in Florida who will come and do a home inspection when you put in your adoption application but their website is not really specific on what they are looking for in the way of the habitat, only that pools must be barriered to prevent drownings. So I asked the American Tortoise Rescue Facebook page about where I could go to find out how to create a good habitat for my future tortoise and was referred here. I have been peeking at a few of the outdoor habitat threads and already have tons of ideas running through my head. I would love to hear some of the lessons learned by those who have gone before me on this tortoise path.

I appreciate any mentoring that this group can provide and promise to keep you posted on my progress of rescuing a tortoise!
 

Grandpa Turtle 144

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Hello and welcome to the TFO from AZ . It's great to have another member that don't think 1955 is a tire size ! But I'm confused are you thinking of a turtle or tort ? Cause the two worse things for a tort is dogs and pools !
 

HLogic

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Do you have a particular species or 'type' of tortoise you are considering to adopt? That would be helpful in forming suggestions for the habitat requirements for your intended acquisition.
 

phebe121

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Well if you fence a part of the yeard just for the tort all depends on how big oftort you get so they cant getbto the pool and thedog cant get to the tort.each tort has diffrent needs so to find out what you have to do you need to pick a tort you want to adopt and build them an enclosure to fit there needs .of course water,and food ,a place to be kept when its cold,lights ,vitamins
 

Yvonne G

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Jacqui

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Hi and welcome! I would love to see what you have done so far. I love outdoor enclosures.
 

Tidgy's Dad

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We all want to see your fantastic sounding pond! photos please.
And welcome to the forum.
You've made a wise choice in coming here.
 

Mamadee

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Here is a picture of the pond taken last fall which means the pond was about a year old. When I built the pond I thought about turtles but I actually still swim in the pond as I take care of the plants. I saw a picture of a turtle bite and thought better of putting something in the pond that could a) bite me and b) eat my gold fish and mosquito fish.

Since the first picture was taken I have installed a fence to keep the dogs corralled during potty time. I have one that it totally blind so it's for their safety too. My plans are to put a small stone wall or rail road tie wall around the tortoise enclosure to keep it away from the pond.

The third picture is the section I hope to use for a tortoise habitat. It is shaded by a huge oak tree in the neighbor's yard and has a legustrum tree in my yard. It is probably 20ft by 20ft area shaped like a triangle before it gets out into the lawn, which I am not adverse to putting in the habitat too if it's beneficial to the tortoise..

The last picture is of my fishes!

I am open to suggestions on a tortoise species that is good for a newbie. When I said newbie I meant it! I have a fellow pug rescue friend who has a tortoise that plays with her pugs. Are dogs really bad for all tortoises?

IMG_0603.JPG 011e138668a53ec247b2fd6712469aca3996364a92.jpg 020.JPG 008.JPG
 
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Tidgy's Dad

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Wow! The pool is really wonderful! And the rest of the garden too.
Check out the beginners section here and the outdoor enclosures for ideas of what you need.
I have been told Russians and Red Foots are great first tortoises, but I have a greek who is beautiful and not too much of a problem!
Bless her.
Everyone will have different ideas on this I'm sure!
Again, if you read the care sheets on each type of tortoise, you will get a good idea of the needs of each one, summer and winter etc.
 

Mamadee

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Wow! The pool is really wonderful! And the rest of the garden too.
Check out the beginners section here and the outdoor enclosures for ideas of what you need.
I have been told Russians and Red Foots are great first tortoises, but I have a greek who is beautiful and not too much of a problem!
Bless her.
Everyone will have different ideas on this I'm sure!
Again, if you read the care sheets on each type of tortoise, you will get a good idea of the needs of each one, summer and winter etc.

Thank you so much Tidgy's Dad. I have seen Russians in the petstores and they are awesome! Since I am rescuing maybe that will work in my favor since people get Tortoises at petstores impulsively and then need to rehome them. I am not familiar with Red Foots so I will research those as well.
 

bouaboua

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WOW! ! !!

What a beautiful pool. Welcome to the forum. Good to have you here! ! !
 

Mamadee

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Hello again everyone. Well today I got a call from a fellow Pug Rescue volunteer in Orlando and her husband has reached his breaking point with their Sulcata tortoise, Mr. Turtle. He has tried to dig one too many basements in Florida. She has had him for 14 years and got him when he was about 6 inches big. He knows his name and comes running when called or shown a bowl of any type. He likes his neck scratched once he gets to know you. He's over 2 ft big now and weighs 40 pounds. He long ago out grew the enclosure she had for him so he just roams her entire back yard. He is arriving in Jacksonville either the 24th or 26th so I have a lot to get done in a very short time frame on a limited budget!

She uses 12x12 concrete slabs, which I have seen in some of the Ideas for outdoor enclosures pictures on this forum, to deter him from digging around the base of her house. She says he has never dug into a neighbor's yard but 2 out of the 4 adjoining yards to my house have pools so I will be putting those around the fence line as well. She says a 6 inch barrier around the pond should be sufficient to keep him from wandering into it. I think a foot high would be more like it. I see double stacked block on many of the enclosure pictures. Can you recommend a type of block that he could push over and how high would you build the pond barrier?

I need to build him a house and found the forums here very helpful. It gets a lot colder here in the winter than it does in Orlando. There is power in the back yard so heat lamps and even a small heater won't be an problem. She says many people use the plastic igloo dog houses. Kinda like the flip top boxes I saw on the forums here for cleaning purposes. How warm should the inside of his house be in the winter?

Reading on Wikipedia I am now also concerned about the huge azalea bushes that run the length of the back of the house. Those are toxic to tortoise. I think I need to barrier those as well or do I need to have them removed? I would hate to see them go unless it was entirely necessary. Also I have my yard sprayed for fleas and other bugs and weeds once a month. The spray guy tells me to keep the dogs off of it until it drys, about an hour later. But they don't eat the grass. Mr. Turtle will. I should stop the yard spraying right? Linda's husband uses diagenous earth to keep the fleas down at their house.

Reading on the forums here and in Wikipedia there are a lot of discrepancies in what she told me about how she raised Mr. Turtle and recommended guidelines. She doesn't provide him any water. Sounds like I should. She doesn't provide any hay either. He just grazes in her yard like a cow. Sounds like I should. Every couple of weeks she gives him a treat which will be a handful of strawberries (his favorite) or a cut up apple or a quarter cup of dog food or leavings from any greens or vegetables she is cleaning. He loves broccolli. Sounds like the dog food has too much protein and the fruit too much sugar. What do y'all give your tortoises as treats and how often? What is the best type of hay to get and how much should I keep on hand?

Mr. Turtle usually feels his oats in the spring, so to speak. He will try to mate with everything and anything that has a mound shape to it. I assume you don't neuter tortoises because of the shell protecting his male bits. But I thought I would ask. Can you neuter a tortoise? He has never seen a vet. I saw we have three here in Jacksonville that see tortoises from the information here on the forum. How often do y'all do vet checks? He really doesn't like to be moved so taking him to the vet will be interesting, especially since he seems to poop immediately in cars. Linda is bringing him to me in a huge plastic tub so hopefully I can keep that for future transport needs. Wouldn't you know it I just gave one full of clothes to the City Rescue Mission.

Mr.Turtle has at least another 40 years to live. He's really younger than I was looking to rescue since I am 58. But if I don't take him he's going to a Tortoise Rescue so I want him. I also know he gets along with pugs which is important to me. He ignores them. New fosters bark at him for a few days and then settle in. What plans have you older folks made for your pet tortoise when you are too old to care for them or you pass on? My kids live in an apartment and in no way would want Mr. Turtle.

That's all the information I have found out so far. I have attached a picture of Mr. Turtle. You can see he likes to dig because there is dirt all over him! Any suggestions, encouragements or warnings are all weclome. Still a total newbie but about to have my baptism of fire! I can't wait!
 

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Mamadee

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Just did some pricing on the 12x12 concrete slabs, $1.64 each including tax. Also priced the retaining wall blocks, $1.90 each including tax. Concrete blocks are only $1.47 each but UGLY around my beautiful pond. In consideration of my immediate budget and the azalea bushes, if I were NOT to give Mr. Turtle the entire back yard to roam in, what is the size of enclosure that would be adequate for his needs for the next several years in square footage? Would this much yard as shown in the picture be enough for him to graze on without killing the whole lawn? I am thinking his house would go in the corner, i.e. upper right side of the picture, in the mulch bed as it is shaded all the time by the tree and a huge oak tree next door.

PS: The stones are my outdoor Medicine Wheel stones. Linda says Mr. Turtle won't bother them.
 

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Lyn W

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Hi Mamadee, welcome - from another 'mature' adoptive parent! I have jokingly told my nephew and nieces that the tortoise gets the inheritance in trust, so who ever takes the tortoise after I'm gone, gets the dough for as long as the tortoise lives - then the remainder gets shared between all the others (just an incentive to make sure they look after it properly and keep the cash). I haven't put this in writing yet but there is a lot of truth about what I plan to do in that. I am hoping to be around for quite a while yet but there will probably come a time when the tortoise will be faster than me!! LOL

There are some lovely people on here who have really helped me with my new addition and I'm sure you and Mr Turtle will benefit greatly from the advice of experienced keepers and up to date caresheets.

He looks a lovely tortoise (strangely called Mr Turtle) and I wish you all the best with him.
 

Mamadee

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Thank you Lyn. Mr. Turtle is a weird name for a tortoise, I agree. So wierd the first question I asked my friend was "Does he know his name?" thinking I would change it to at least Mr.T., flashback to the 70's . Yuppers, he knows his name and responds immmediately to it. As a dog rescuer I have the firm belief that you don't change an animal's name when you adopt if you are aware of it and they know it. When they are ripped out of their home and sent off to a strange new place it's the only thing that they take with them most of the time. Very rarely does a surrendered dog come with any toys, a bed or a favorite blanket. Linda is warning me he is not going to like this move. She says tortoises do not like change one bit as a species. So anything I can do to smooth the transition I want to do. So Mr. Turtle will just have to continue with this identity crisis because I will not take his name that he knows from him.
 

Mamadee

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Another newbie question. When building one of the flip top houses, how much clearance should there be for headroom, including future growth?
 

Lyn W

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Quite agree Mamadee and have similar problem with name, When I first got my tort I called him Mr T because he was so strong, then a few weeks later a vet told me he was a she, so I changed it to Lola - now it looks as if she is a he after all judging the 'bits' he's been flashing, but he is still called Lola at the moment - it's a bit like the KInk's song really!
 

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