Worried about my desert tortoise

Denise B

New Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2021
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
Phoenix
Hi, I’m Denise and I’m new to this forum. I have a 5 year old desert tortoise named Rowdy. We’ve been having some extreme temps here in Phoenix. He seemed to be handling it fine - active and eating in early morning, then in his burrow the rest of the day. He came out when the sun started to set and often slept outside in the corner of his pen, sometimes in his water dish. He did the same thing last summer, checked with vet and they said as long as he was eating and showed no signs of illness, he should be ok. Now I haven’t seen him in 5 days, so I’m very worried. Hoping he is estavating. Anyone else in Phx seeing this with their tort? Thank you!
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,515
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hi, I’m Denise and I’m new to this forum. I have a 5 year old desert tortoise named Rowdy. We’ve been having some extreme temps here in Phoenix. He seemed to be handling it fine - active and eating in early morning, then in his burrow the rest of the day. He came out when the sun started to set and often slept outside in the corner of his pen, sometimes in his water dish. He did the same thing last summer, checked with vet and they said as long as he was eating and showed no signs of illness, he should be ok. Now I haven’t seen him in 5 days, so I’m very worried. Hoping he is estavating. Anyone else in Phx seeing this with their tort? Thank you!
What sort of burrow is he in? Did he dig it, or did you make something? Can you put a thermometer probe in there next to where he rests during the day?

Daily soaks will help with the extreme heat. Spraying water on the food will help too. Do you feed spineless opuntia pads to him? You should. Great nutrition and a good source of water too.
 

Denise B

New Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2021
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
Phoenix
What sort of burrow is he in? Did he dig it, or did you make something? Can you put a thermometer probe in there next to where he rests during the day?

Daily soaks will help with the extreme heat. Spraying water on the food will help too. Do you feed spineless opuntia pads to him? You should. Great nutrition and a good source of water too.
His burrow is half of a trash can covered with lots of dirt. He’s in so deep, I really have no idea where he is. We reached in as far as our arm would allow but he’s deeper than that. His food has been plenty moist. I always leave water droplets on it so he gets some water. Do you have a good source for the spineless pads?
 

Jan A

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
1,339
Location (City and/or State)
Boulder, CO
His burrow is half of a trash can covered with lots of dirt. He’s in so deep, I really have no idea where he is. We reached in as far as our arm would allow but he’s deeper than that. His food has been plenty moist. I always leave water droplets on it so he gets some water. Do you have a good source for the spineless pads?
Any health food market like Sprouts, Whole Foods, even Walmart Super Stores sometimes or any hispanic food store. T hey may call it "nopales" in the vegetable sections. Also ask around at your neighbors if they have cuttings they can give you. Lots of Tortoise Forum members grow their own.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
40,533
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
You have tons of optunia cactus pads in AZ. Most people there, specially in the areas of horse farms, would love for them to be gone. Ask around if you don't have any of your own. Just take the spines off. I burn or scrape them off. You don't need to only buy the spineless ones.
Btw, I would try to get your tort out and make sure he's okay.
We had someone earlier this year have the same problrm as you seem to be having. They finally dug him out and he had passed.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
89,069
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Welcome to the Forum, Denise!

Hopefully there's nothing wrong with him and he's just estivating. However, here in Central California, we also have been having some pretty hot days. . . over two weeks worth of triple digits with a few of those days being up around 110F degrees. Yet each evening my desert tortoises were out and about looking for something to eat.

Can you shine a flashlight down into the burrow and see if he's ok? Flashlight then the handle of a rake or such and give him a tap to see if he moves. If he does move, then he's just waiting for the weather to cool down a bit.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,515
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
His burrow is half of a trash can covered with lots of dirt. He’s in so deep, I really have no idea where he is. We reached in as far as our arm would allow but he’s deeper than that. His food has been plenty moist. I always leave water droplets on it so he gets some water. Do you have a good source for the spineless pads?
Did he dig farther in himself? If yes, that is a good thing. Get a flashlight and check on him. Get a remote probed thermometer from Walmart or the hardware store and stick the probe down in there where he's resting, or close to it. You need to know the temperature down there.

You can buy opuntia pads from any Mexican grocery store. Some Asian grocery stores sell them too. You can also oder them online both for feeding and for growing your own. There are probably several varieties growing near you that you could use. Also look for mulberry leaves and grape vine leaves near you. Lavatera flowers are also a favorite.
 

TammyJ

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
3,130
Location (City and/or State)
Jamaica
Hi, what's happening? Did you find him OK?
 

Denise B

New Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2021
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
Phoenix
Welcome to the Forum, Denise!

Hopefully there's nothing wrong with him and he's just estivating. However, here in Central California, we also have been having some pretty hot days. . . over two weeks worth of triple digits with a few of those days being up around 110F degrees. Yet each evening my desert tortoises were out and about looking for something to eat.

Can you shine a flashlight down into the burrow and see if he's ok? Flashlight then the handle of a rake or such and give him a tap to see if he moves. If he does move, then he's just waiting for the weather to cool down a bit.
Unfortunately the way he has dug his tunnel it turns so the beam of the flashlight can’t t reach him. The dirt is so hard there is no way to dig him out without risking injury. He seemed just fine until he stopped coming out so I’m hoping for the best. Thank you.
 

TammyJ

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
3,130
Location (City and/or State)
Jamaica
Unfortunately the way he has dug his tunnel it turns so the beam of the flashlight can’t t reach him. The dirt is so hard there is no way to dig him out without risking injury. He seemed just fine until he stopped coming out so I’m hoping for the best. Thank you.
If the dirt is very hard, he may be stuck in there.
If it was me and my tortoise I would just go ahead, soak the soil to make it easier and and then carefully dig him outta there. Just my opinion if it was me.
 

Denise B

New Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2021
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
Phoenix
If the dirt is very hard, he may be stuck in there.
If it was me and my tortoise I would just go ahead, soak the soil to make it easier and and then carefully dig him outta there. Just my opinion if it was me.
So I went digging last night and followed his tunnel as far as it went, about 6 feet, and could not find him. No evidence of escape. We just found him this morning outside his pen under a bush along with a big hole. We think he may have tunneled out in the opposite direction. He seems fine . Will give him a good soaking. Not sure what to do about the tunnel that we totally destroyed looking for him. Thank you to everyone for your responses and concern!
 

maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
5,186
Location (City and/or State)
PacificNorthWest
Welcome to the Forum, Denise!

Hopefully there's nothing wrong with him and he's just estivating. However, here in Central California, we also have been having some pretty hot days. . . over two weeks worth of triple digits with a few of those days being up around 110F degrees. Yet each evening my desert tortoises were out and about looking for something to eat.

Can you shine a flashlight down into the burrow and see if he's ok? Flashlight then the handle of a rake or such and give him a tap to see if he moves. If he does move, then he's just waiting for the weather to cool down a bit.
He's in a trash can with dirt Y. I agree with you, dig him out. I would NEVER go a day w/o seeing any of my tortoises...
 

maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
5,186
Location (City and/or State)
PacificNorthWest
Unfortunately the way he has dug his tunnel it turns so the beam of the flashlight can’t t reach him. The dirt is so hard there is no way to dig him out without risking injury. He seemed just fine until he stopped coming out so I’m hoping for the best. Thank you.
You say he's in a trash can, so how is there enuf room to not be felt?
 

maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
5,186
Location (City and/or State)
PacificNorthWest
So I went digging last night and followed his tunnel as far as it went, about 6 feet, and could not find him. No evidence of escape. We just found him this morning outside his pen under a bush along with a big hole. We think he may have tunneled out in the opposite direction. He seems fine . Will give him a good soaking. Not sure what to do about the tunnel that we totally destroyed looking for him. Thank you to everyone for your responses and concern!
Personally...I'd set him up in a way so he can always be caught or seen.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
89,069
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
You say he's in a trash can, so how is there enuf room to not be felt?
My picture of the "trash can" burrow was that the can is cut in half lengthwise and open on the bottom for digging??????

@Denise B : I'm so glad you've found him! Sounds like he dug himself a different burrow (". . . along with a big hole."), under the bush. They don't normally dig in an upward direction at the end of their burrows.
 

Denise B

New Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2021
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
Phoenix
To answer the question about the trash can, yes the bottom has been removed. It’s one of the recommendations on the fish and game website.
 
Top