want to start a small tort rescue

Travis-Ssg

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I was wanting to do a tortoise rescue type deal when i left Afghanistan forever. i wanted to rescue some of the larger breeds i seen abandoned and needing new home till i looked that wintering them, in Northeast AL might not be safe despite having a 30X60 barn with electricity an after reading issues keeping them together i don't know what to do.i saw so many Russians in need of a good home also. they live here in afghan land which is a lot like NE AL as far as winters an summers go. so down to it. i was wanting to build an outdoor pen about 20ft X30tf or larger with part of my wild pond as a water source in the pen. following questions are. 1. can they hibernate outside if i put them a dirt mound to dig into. 2 see they dont always get along together would a pen that size solve fighting or over mating. 3 how many could safely be kept in a pen that size, id like to adopt as many needing new homes as i safely for them i can i see so many people needing re home them. 4 suggestions to de parisite the pen before putting the little ones in it. i fear ticks on them. an fire ants. i have lots of land to grow tort foods if needed an am jsut trying to use the space between the house an pond. this is a project i want to start building ove the next 2 yrs before i even get torts for the pen. wild animals are not an issue near the site of the pen if its not a Deer, box turtle,(love box turtles miss mine) armadillos, or rabbit it doesn’t normally last long. Thanks for the help
 

tglazie

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Okay, this is a lot to unpack, so let's just start from the beginning. Russians are unbelievably aggressive animals, and in my personal experience with them (as well as my recounting of the numerous stories of others), they do not play nice, regardless of how much space you have. You could maybe keep a herd of four or five females in a space like that without them overgrazing and getting in each other's way too often. Unfortunately, this will depend upon the individuals in question. Some animals will be brutal monsters regardless of circumstance, incapable of living alongside others, costing you countless hours in providing aid and medical attention to the victims of their routine rampages. Now, with the males, forget about it. They will, with few exceptions, not get along, and you will ultimately have to maintain pens for separation, be it temporary or permanent (most likely the latter).

Now, this isn't even getting into the minutiae of the nature of adoption. If you open a rescue, you will be receiving a lot of sick and neglected animals that will require an exhaustive amount of attention. Some folks on the forum here have years of experience doing this, and if you're absolutely certain this time consuming endeavor is right for you, then I figure they will chime in at some point. But keep in mind that sickly animals, weakened by the neglect of their ignorant former keepers will not be able to live in a group setting. Animals in such a weakened, potentially contagious state require isolation as a matter of course. This can also result in astronomical veterinary costs, ones that you will be hard pressed to pay lest you have access to a revenue stream that is either sourced from independent wealth and/or donations, and from someone who has done a great deal of volunteer coordination with the local herp society, you will be looking at a hard road.

Now, the pond... don't let them near the pond. The pond is a drowning hazard. It could also harbor leeches or other parasites, and if it is sitting alongside a crowded tortoise pen, it could very easily become a vector for disease.

There are many other variables to consider, not the least of which is placement of trees and shelter, as well as how the tortoises will compete for said shelter. If you maintain the animals separately, as should be the case in my opinion, you will have to creatively landscape with shelter from the hot summer sun in mind.

In regards to hibernation, I cannot stress enough that the danger of rats and other predatory mammals make hibernation outdoors unacceptably risky. I've seen too many mauled tortoises to believe this method in any way acceptable. Hibernation is risky enough, given the risks of flooding, warm spells (which do happen in the south; I know they happen here in South Texas to the point that I could never hibernate outdoors), and deep freezes. This also doesn't allow for easy monitoring of the animals. When I fridge hibernate my tortoises in the winter, I can weigh them on a weekly basis, check on them to ensure they're not drying out or losing too much weight. There are so many advantages to fridge hibernation over outdoor hibernation that I, honestly, would never, ever, under any circumstances consider doing it otherwise.

Anywho, like I said, this is a lot to unpack, many other variables to consider. This is something about which you will have to think long and hard, about which you will have to research much more. Best of luck.

T.G.
 

Travis-Ssg

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ok thank you that helps more than you know. it has been a while since i have had turtles mostly Box an water no torts. not useing the pond is easy fix in design. for pen shade/sun is well balanced in the area i wanted to build a pen. all this helpful info is why i am here an this is not something i will jsut jump on i want ot learn as much as i can. even if i cant to a rescue i still want to get a cuple torts or box turtles again. i am already planting more foods for the local boxes on my land an will leave them out to do their thing. what can you sugest i do for if not do a rescue but to adopt the right type for the area i live in agian in NE AL. i want always what is best for the animal. bringing a cuple or small group indoors for winter to live is not an issue also i have one room that is heat/cool seprate from the rest of the house. thank you for your help again.
 

Yvonne G

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My advice is to have a large piece of property and divide it up into many, many tortoise pens/yards. Each new animal you bring in will have to be quarantined.

I have my own collection of turtles and tortoises, so my property has individual yards for my different species. Then I have smaller pens for the turtles and tortoises that people bring to me.

If someone finds a tortoise, you have to keep that tortoise separate while you search for the owner. You place ads in the paper and on craigslist and in the meantime, the tortoise stays by himself.

If someone turns in a tortoise they don't want anymore, and it's one you want to keep rather than adopt out, you have to keep it in quarantine for about 3 months to make sure it isn't carrying any pathogens that might make your own tortoises sick. And a word of advice - you can't keep them all. There just isn't enough room at the inn. You'll soon realize that there are an awful lot of turtles and tortoises that people don't want anymore...especially the large male sulcatas. If someone brings you a tortoise and you want to find a new home for it, you'll have to keep it separate while you are looking for that new home.

And then there are the sick ones. I get quite a few of those too. Unless you have an arrangement with a local vet whereby he only charges you for supplies and not his labor, it can get quite costly trying to nurse ill or injured tortoises back to health.

And what are you going to do with all those red ear sliders that come your way? People are finding them on the streets daily. They're worse than feral cats. Unless you have a very large pond, or know someone who will take them all, you will soon become overrun with them.

You are thinking about taking on a worthy endeavor, but give it a lot of thought. It is very time consuming and you need a lot of space. And it can become quite costly.
 

Travis-Ssg

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thank you also for the good advice. space i got lots of about 15 acres and a 30ft X 60Ft barn with power. the issue is weather. i live so far north in AL. the vet supplies are easy my vet is pretty cool. i still have about 2 more years working over seas that is why i am thankful for the help from you all. i will not do anything that would harm the animals further even if that means i can not do a rescue. it may just mean i adopt a few that i can an keep them the best i can an make sure they are always taken care of. again thank you all for your help.
 

wellington

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I have no experience with rescue/adoptions. I just wanted to say that it sounds like you have the room inside and out. Also sounds like you have a vet that will work with you. I think if you have the dollars to do this, you should give it a try. Set up pens as Yvonne mentioned inside and out. Make sure they are escape proof for the little ones like Russians, but also the large ones like the sulcatas. Get a good filter for your pond incase all the RES Yvonne mentioned gets dumped on you and get prepared to except the unwanted. I guess, if it doesn't work out or you get too over loaded, you can stop taking new ones in and just enjoy the ones you already have. Good luck and your starting out right by researching so far in advance.
 

wellington

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Oh and you don't have to brumate/hibernate any of the brumating species if you don't want too. Shouldn't be done the first year you receive one anyway.
 

Travis-Ssg

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if i do get were i can do this i would start by trying to rehome animals i see here in forums or if i meet people while i am out, at 1st to get a feel an not to overwhelm my self. i am still trying to afford a tractor to upkeep my land after i get that i can farm a small plot to grow tort foods. most people were i live release their turtles into the lake i have found so getitng any RES will be a non issue as much however my pond is going to be dug out more, we belive there is a spring under it. steady income will be my only issue. my wifes pay mostly goes to our philipines family an mine goes to our US bills. i belive pens building is not an issue i have most materials on hand. in the last 3 months i have viewed over 3000 pens an have a good idea what works best for up to a 150lbs animals. you alls help here an reserch has been a key to most eveything so far. my 1st plan was to tryan take in about 6 sulcatas maximum till after reading more here that they are not group friendly. i am planning to try an visit a rescue in TX an AZ before building starts.i will be happy if i can save an keep just a cuple i know in the end i cant save them all.
 

tglazie

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You appear to be approaching this matter wisely. You're right to consider starting small, then ramping things up as you go. Start by getting a few animals, either through adoption or via purchase from someone (at the moment, there is no shortage of Russians, which is a shame given I doubt such could be said of their wild populations). Going into this headfirst and acquiring too many animals too quickly is a recipe for disaster. Trust me, having worked with STHS as their "designated turtle person" ended with me getting completely burned out trying to balance college, a job, and a herd of thirty animals with limited resources. Now, I've since shied away from keeping an eclectic mix of beasts and have chosen to focus only on Marginated tortoises. This change, for me personally, has made all the difference.

Something you may wish to consider doing is breeding Russians, given that I feel more people need to breed that species to ensure that when the wild resources have been completely decimated, that folks can still enjoy these wonderful beasts. It's just a thought.

T.G.
 

Travis-Ssg

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due to my climate russians might be the best for me, however i dont belive breeding is somthing i want to take up. i dont want to add to the number without homes to go to. i understand lack of wild numbers for all my years here in afghanistan i have never seen 1 russian tort, but if the locals treat them the way i see them do most things here i can only imagine a found tort would not be longed lived here. the pen size i am looking at can easly be broken into sizable parts so each can have their own home. and they are small enought to bring inside to winter in my tornado shelter which is climate controlled from the rest of the house. i biggest fear is ticks an fireants an how to prep the pens. thank you for your insite on this also.
 

Tidgy's Dad

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Glad to see you thinking and planning and taking this so seriously.
Good luck to you in your future endeavours, i'm sure you'll make a success of whatever you decide.
 

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