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What to expect with a male desert tortoise

Discussion in 'North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus)' started by animateash, Apr 27, 2017.

  1. animateash

    animateash New Member

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    We are new the the tortoise scene. We are preparing to adopt a CA desert tortoise with the help of our local fish and game/ tortoise society. I had initially applied for a 60yr old female I saw advertised, but the tortoise society said they had many other candidates in more dire need of an improved living situation than that particular one. I did stress to all parties involved I was leaning toward a female tortoise, to avoid dealing with any male aggression (or humping of objects in the yard). Having raised a male parrot and gone through the hell of a confused, upset, single male bird, I figured a female might be easier for us as first timers.
    Today I asked if the tortoise society had any particular candidate in mind for me yet. I was sent a very charming photo of a tortoise who is male, 50yrs old.
    So, I'm hesitant. I want to believe the tortoise group has been matching people for a while and they know who would be good for who, despite multiple mentions of me thinking of going with a female. I have been assured these tortoises are super personable and there won't be any male aggression issues, but I can't seem to find any definitive info online as to whether his urge to get frisky may result in other behaviors (digging, wanting to escape to "find love", etc), or how strong these urges may be at 50.
    Does anyone have any insights for a first time desert tortoise owner, potentially getting a male? Things you wish you had known before you got yours? Am I totally backwards and males are easier?? This guy looks like a sweetheart, but I want to be responsible by making sure I'm prepared for the behaviors to come.
  2. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    Hi and welcome!

    Male desert tortoises can be wonderful pets. They are not male aggressive and don't hump the lawn furniture. He may try to dig a burrow, but then, so would a female. Tortoises want to be alone, so he's not going to be lonely and wanting a mate. He'll be fine on his own with just you, the food god/goddess.
    Ciri and Kenno like this.
  3. Grandpa Turtle 144

    Grandpa Turtle 144 Well-Known Member

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  4. Arnold_rules

    Arnold_rules Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Based on experience, I would totally agree with Yvonne's assessment. I have had a male in our family for 40 plus years and has been great companion. No aggression and no "slow dancing" with any lawn ornaments. He has been great and does definitely worship the food god that visits at least once a day. All gopher/desert tortoises will dig because their natural home is underground dens, but if you provide him a satisfactory underground home already made, then he won't dig his own. I would not hesitate in adopting him, they are great pets and companions to the food gods.
    Grandpa Turtle 144 and Kenno like this.
  5. animateash

    animateash New Member

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    Wonderful to hear! Thanks for the vote of confidence.
  6. animateash

    animateash New Member

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    Good to hear! I must admit I was concerned about the "slow dancing". My parrot would go for anything that was the same green as him; a pair of slippers, a piece of furniture, whatever.

    We plan to have a tortoise house built. The fish and game guy who inspected my yard knows a man who builds them. Looks like a long, low dog house with a wide door, and raised up off the ground. It has a nice latching door for night time and little screened ports for ventilation. I was told as long as we direct the tortoise to this home for bedtime for the first week or two, eventually he will learn that is where he should tuck himself in.

    The dirt in our yard is mostly very tough clay. Would it be a good idea to provide a loose pile of mulch or fill dirt as a designated dig/ play area? I'd like to think it would be attractive and would provide a controlled digging area, but I do hear these guys kinda do what they please.
    Kenno likes this.
  7. Belinda charpentier

    Belinda charpentier New Member

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    Cool, at least they answered and you have a possibility. I'm near Houston and emailed the local group and they never responded. Nothing, notta.
  8. Grandpa Turtle 144

    Grandpa Turtle 144 Well-Known Member

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    And we welcome new comers too!
  9. Belinda charpentier

    Belinda charpentier New Member

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  10. orv

    orv Member

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    I have dealt with a male CDT since the mid 1950's and more recently a female CDT. Both genders make wonderful friends. I would state that the male is more inquisitive by nature, but aggression against their humans is non-existent. The male will show head bobbing and pushing to gain the interest of a female. California Desert Tortoises are not prolific diggers (as Sulcatas certainly are), although they will dig burrows to spend the winters in as well as to keep the Summer's heat away. California Desert Tortoises make wonderful friends. Not that I didn't sat "pets", as we are merely their caregivers. They request our respect by not being petted or picked up without need for care. They will certainly learn to come when they know food is being brought and the intricacies of their lives are fascinating to watch. Either gender will make a wonderful member of your family.
    Yelloweyed likes this.
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