Yearling Testudo graeca ibera, "Ankara" locale

mark1

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if you use a cold frame type idea ,make sure the bottom of the enclosure is open completely to the natural ground ....... inside the cold frame the air temp can fluctuate on cold sunny days as much as 30-40 degrees when night falls , the ground will be warmer than the surrounding uncovered ground and will be more stable than the air inside the cold frame.......... turtles and tortoises use the ground to thermoregulate as much as they use the sun .....

the basis for a good hibernacula is to use the ground temperature ,and insulate it from the air temp ......... like putting them in a cooler ,not only should it hold heat , it should hold cold ......... stable temps is good , but from what i seen , "brumation" is an adaption for unstable fluctuating temps ........... temperate climates have seasons , i never seen a season change where temps were stable ........

imo , as to whether or not in your climate a tortoise such as t.graeca could safely hibernate . do destert tortoises occur naturally in your climate ?
here's 4months worth of ground temperatures (nov-feb) from edwards airforce base , i'm told desert tortoises are native to this area ?


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here's 4 months worth of ground temps(nov-feb) from death valley ,i'm told desert tortoises also occur there ?
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Just keep in mind to anyone reading and watching. You have to take into account your location compared to whoever you are listening too. Tweaks might need to be made for location reasons. This goes for species too.
VERY true!! Location should be taken into account when choosing a species AND how you plan to rear it. I talked myself out of a few that wouldn't have worked well for me.

I have the Asia Minor Tortoise, aka Ibera Greek, Testudo graeca ibera, and they are widely adaptable to weather extremes in both directions. They suit my climate, they're gorgeous, and personable and all were a factor in choosing this as the best tortoise for me.

BUT, not all tortoises or even subspecies are created equal!! Not all Greek Tortoises brumate or would be recommended to start outdoors. Some are actually very sensitive to cold and moisture like T. g. marokkensis and T. g. cyrenaica. The Greek Care Guide makes distinctions between hardy and sensitive subspecies, and shows a closed chamber unit labeled for rearing baby Greek tortoises, indicating not all get an outdoor enclosure.

The species in the Pre-brumation video are various Hermann's who also brumate naturally, but those I believe also have their own hardiness differences between subspecies. At the end it is mentioned Ibera operate in the same manner.
 

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if you use a cold frame type idea ,make sure the bottom of the enclosure is open completely to the natural ground ....... inside the cold frame the air temp can fluctuate on cold sunny days as much as 30-40 degrees when night falls , the ground will be warmer than the surrounding uncovered ground and will be more stable than the air inside the cold frame.......... turtles and tortoises use the ground to thermoregulate as much as they use the sun .....

the basis for a good hibernacula is to use the ground temperature ,and insulate it from the air temp ......... like putting them in a cooler ,not only should it hold heat , it should hold cold ......... stable temps is good , but from what i seen , "brumation" is an adaption for unstable fluctuating temps ........... temperate climates have seasons , i never seen a season change where temps were stable ........

imo , as to whether or not in your climate a tortoise such as t.graeca could safely hibernate . do destert tortoises occur naturally in your climate ?
here's 4months worth of ground temperatures (nov-feb) from edwards airforce base , i'm told desert tortoises are native to this area ?
here's 4 months worth of ground temps(nov-feb) from death valley ,i'm told desert tortoises also occur there ?
There are several differences between wild desert tortoises and housing a greek in a back yard. Yes, DTs do hibernate, but they are deep under ground in long burrows. I've read some of the burrows are 90 feet long and 30 feet deep. Ground temps in DT areas are around 80 in summer, and 50 in winter. Pretty stable outside of the transition from one to the other which typically takes around 6 weeks.

The problem is that one day winter desert daytime highs will be in the 30s, sometimes with snow on the ground and 15F degree nights, and two days later it can be in the 80s or 90s mid day. If you are 30 feet underground and ground temps are a consistent 50, this surface temperature fluctuation doesn't matter. If you are anywhere near the surface, this fluctuation is deadly to a brumating animal.

This is one of my falconry fields on Dec. 24th:
IMG 0820
Here is me washing their feet off and cooling them after hunting:
IMG 0819 copy

Same field December 26th:
IMG 0830
IMG 0835
 

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There are several differences between wild desert tortoises and housing a greek in a back yard. Yes, DTs do hibernate, but they are deep under ground in long burrows. I've read some of the burrows are 90 feet long and 30 feet deep. Ground temps in DT areas are around 80 in summer, and 50 in winter. Pretty stable outside of the transition from one to the other which typically takes around 6 weeks.

The problem is that one day winter desert daytime highs will be in the 30s, sometimes with snow on the ground and 15F degree nights, and two days later it can be in the 80s or 90s mid day. If you are 30 feet underground and ground temps are a consistent 50, this surface temperature fluctuation doesn't matter. If you are anywhere near the surface, this fluctuation is deadly to a brumating animal.

It sounds like you are attributing this 'ground temperature' (80*, 50*) to the 30 ft depth of the burrow?

The 80* & 50* numbers are reasonable enough for the ground temperature at 4 inches; at 30 ft the temperature should be stable year round, only fluctuating by a few degrees. At 30 ft I'd expect it to be something like 60*-70* for Southern California.
 

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It sounds like you are attributing this 'ground temperature' (80*, 50*) to the 30 ft depth of the burrow?

The 80* & 50* numbers are reasonable enough for the ground temperature at 4 inches; at 30 ft the temperature should be stable year round, only fluctuating by a few degrees. At 30 ft I'd expect it to be something like 60*-70* for Southern California.
We had the U.S. Geological Service data posted on another thread. I can't remember the depth at which we see those annual temperatures, but I'll bet you could find it. I recall it being within 2 meters of the surface or something like that. @Markw84 probably knows where it is. I believe he was the original poster.

When I had my underground tortoise and tegu boxes, 50 in winter and 80 in summer were the temps every year at 3-4 feet deep where I am. While wild burrows may be deeper in some cases, most of the backyard burrows I've seen for DTs stay pretty shallow.
 

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If I understood you correctly, you acquired your 3 tortoises all at the same time? Do you have pictures of them as hatchlings, maybe all 3 together? I can't believe I'm the only one seeing something different here, So lets take this one step at a time. I've had tortoises for about 20 years now, but didn't find TFO until a few years ago, so I've done lots of things wrong. In spite of that, my tortoises are healthy.

By the way, I love your setup. I wish I could keep plants in my enclosures, but even my young one tramples them all to death, even the plant in a pot. Lucky for me, I have a few mature trees outside!

So please, may we see pictures of your babies when you first got them, and maybe at 6+ months?
 

mark1

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Tom , temperate climates around the world experience drastic weather swings, especially during season changes ........... the "sensitive" species mentioned here marokkensis and cyrenaica are from northern morocco and northern libya , lattitudes 34 and 32 ...... i have a hard time believing they don't brumate in morocco , their winter is described as cold and cloudy ..... the libyan ones experience a cool dry winter , definitely warmer than morocco winter , i'm sure it has to do with position on the ocean , much warmer water on the libyan coast , but libya still has a winter where temps are sub-optimal for any turtle or tortoise ........ people who classify climates classify both of those climate regions identical , a mix of temperate warm , sub tropical, dry and moist ..... exactly the same mix as southern california and arizona ...... it does snow in northern morocco , it actually has snowed in northern libya on occassion .......the marokkensis range is actually the same latitude as southern california ,positioned on the ocean at pretty much exactly the same surface water temps .............

it's not air temp that is influencing their hibernation ,it's ground temperature ...... as you know , it's not "hibernation" what they do it's brumation ........ the activity level of "hibernating" turtles is actually shocking to see ....... desert tortoises are known to be active during their winter "hibernation" , above ground on warm sunny days ......

i see how these russian tortoises brumate , it's exactly how eastern box turtles brumate ...... the freeze line where i live is around 3 feet ..... our ground is frozen solid for probably a month , month and half during winter ......an eastern box turtle cannot survive being completely frozen ,or being partially frozen for more than a day or so, i've never seen a box turtle dig deeper than 6" .............

i'm not telling anyone to hibernate their turtles and tortoises........ i can tell you what i'd do ....... as i said before i have only kept temperate species as an adult since around 2000 , so i've only hibernated these guys 20-22 times , not much ,but , i've probably hibernated an average of 15-20 a year , that'd be 300-400yrs of turtles , i've never had one die from hibernating outside ......... my opinion is if you keep them from getting frozen , your good ...... as far as running out of energy from waking up during hibernation , i've firsthand seen how long these guys can live without eating, and that'd be a sick one ... they require almost nothing in the way of food to survive ....these guys lose like 0 weight after hibernation , some of the water turtles actually come out heavier , and they are the most active , water is prone to rapid and huge temp swings ,when you drop 2 feet of snow (ice cubes) in a river or pond after a week of sunny 60-70degrees ,you get a huge quick temp change ....... folks think these guys spend their day foraging , i've read articles written by folks who just sat around and watched what these guys do during the active season , eating is like 1%, or something ridiculous like that, of what they do ..........

you can say , well you've never hibernated a temperate tortoise , and you'd be correct .......i only know what i think , i know what i've seen , and i know what i know ...... artificially hibernating water turtles is a lot of work and worry .... land hibernation , nothing to it , worry free......... JMO

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@Tom If you find it please share here. I thought I read the G. agassizii has a much shallower depth of closer to 3-4' for burrows and the ones native to Utah made the 30'+ tunnels. I would love to read your source.

@Donna Albu it would require a lot of effort to find photos of those exact timelines. What is it you notice or think you see? Yes, they were received at the same time, but are from different clutches.

If this is going where I think it is... Yes, there are differences in size. No, I don't think the smaller one is bullied. Tortoises don't grow at all the same rate. If I'm off base, please share your observations.
 

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Tom , temperate climates around the world experience drastic weather swings, especially during season changes ........... the "sensitive" species mentioned here marokkensis and cyrenaica are from northern morocco and northern libya , lattitudes 34 and 32 ...... i have a hard time believing they don't brumate in morocco , their winter is described as cold and cloudy ..... the libyan ones experience a cool dry winter , definitely warmer than morocco winter , i'm sure it has to do with position on the ocean , much warmer water on the libyan coast , but libya still has a winter where temps are sub-optimal for any turtle or tortoise ........ people who classify climates classify both of those climate regions identical , a mix of temperate warm , sub tropical, dry and moist ..... exactly the same mix as southern california and arizona ...... it does snow in northern morocco , it actually has snowed in northern libya on occassion .......the marokkensis range is actually the same latitude as southern california ,positioned on the ocean at pretty much exactly the same surface water temps .............

it's not air temp that is influencing their hibernation ,it's ground temperature ...... as you know , it's not "hibernation" what they do it's brumation ........ the activity level of "hibernating" turtles is actually shocking to see ....... desert tortoises are known to be active during their winter "hibernation" , above ground on warm sunny days ......

i see how these russian tortoises brumate , it's exactly how eastern box turtles brumate ...... the freeze line where i live is around 3 feet ..... our ground is frozen solid for probably a month , month and half during winter ......an eastern box turtle cannot survive being completely frozen ,or being partially frozen for more than a day or so, i've never seen a box turtle dig deeper than 6" .............

i'm not telling anyone to hibernate their turtles and tortoises........ i can tell you what i'd do ....... as i said before i have only kept temperate species as an adult since around 2000 , so i've only hibernated these guys 20-22 times , not much ,but , i've probably hibernated an average of 15-20 a year , that'd be 300-400yrs of turtles , i've never had one die from hibernating outside ......... my opinion is if you keep them from getting frozen , your good ...... as far as running out of energy from waking up during hibernation , i've firsthand seen how long these guys can live without eating, and that'd be a sick one ... they require almost nothing in the way of food to survive ....these guys lose like 0 weight after hibernation , some of the water turtles actually come out heavier , and they are the most active , water is prone to rapid and huge temp swings ,when you drop 2 feet of snow (ice cubes) in a river or pond after a week of sunny 60-70degrees ,you get a huge quick temp change ....... folks think these guys spend their day foraging , i've read articles written by folks who just sat around and watched what these guys do during the active season , eating is like 1%, or something ridiculous like that, of what they do ..........

you can say , well you've never hibernated a temperate tortoise , and you'd be correct .......i only know what i think , i know what i've seen , and i know what i know ...... artificially hibernating water turtles is a lot of work and worry .... land hibernation , nothing to it , worry free......... JMO

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Well thought out and well researched reply as usual Mark. The problem here isn't freezing. The problem here is that most days are far too warm, but intermixed with occasional cold days too. Nights are always cold, but "winter" days are frequently in the high 80s or low 90s. Its not consistently warm enough to stay up and function, but its too warm to brumate and stay down. For greeks and other Testudo that don't burrow, surface temps are what we are dealing with. My Russians never dug down more than about 6 inches. This was enough to protect them from a freezing night, but not enough to keep them cool on an 80 degree January day with the sun beating down on the ground all day.

Your climate gets cold and stays cold in winter. Same with Chris Leone in NJ. Not so here. Most of winter here is like summer in the more Northern part of the country.

We can argue this all day, but I have watched your threads and see how you do it, and I've seen your success at it. In practice, regardless of climate data and theories, what you do works consistently year after year. What I see here, in my climate, year after year is dead tortoises from people trying to do it outside. It is consistently too warm, and intermixed with inconsistent cold spells. Some hot days, some cold days, and always cold nights. When I made 4 foot deep housing for my tegus, it worked every year for me. They went down and stayed down like clockwork. When I did them on the surface, but dug in under a large fiberglass and concrete rock structure, with bedding to protect them from frost and the entrance covered with dirt, we had a week of warm weather in January, and they all woke up and started basking and walking around. The cold weather returned and even though they went back into their shelter, they did not dig in as they did at the onset of winter. They slept on the surface and I lost two of them on a freezing night.

Regardless of ground temps or air temps, outdoor brumation at or near the surface doesn't work here. I've been able to do it in sealed insulated night boxes for temperate species that can tolerate warmer brumation temps, but there are always days where I have to put ice bottle inside the box to keep it cool enough, and sometimes I have to prop the lid up a bit overnight to let cold air into the box in anticipation of another hot spell that lasts for days. But outside in an enclosure on the ground, it isn't safe to do here.
 

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Well thought out and well researched reply as usual Mark. The problem here isn't freezing. The problem here is that most days are far too warm, but intermixed with occasional cold days too. Nights are always cold, but "winter" days are frequently in the high 80s or low 90s. Its not consistently warm enough to stay up and function, but its too warm to brumate and stay down. For greeks and other Testudo that don't burrow, surface temps are what we are dealing with. My Russians never dug down more than about 6 inches. This was enough to protect them from a freezing night, but not enough to keep them cool on an 80 degree January day with the sun beating down on the ground all day.

Your climate gets cold and stays cold in winter. Same with Chris Leone in NJ. Not so here. Most of winter here is like summer in the more Northern part of the country.

We can argue this all day, but I have watched your threads and see how you do it, and I've seen your success at it. In practice, regardless of climate data and theories, what you do works consistently year after year. What I see here, in my climate, year after year is dead tortoises from people trying to do it outside. It is consistently too warm, and intermixed with inconsistent cold spells. Some hot days, some cold days, and always cold nights. When I made 4 foot deep housing for my tegus, it worked every year for me. They went down and stayed down like clockwork. When I did them on the surface, but dug in under a large fiberglass and concrete rock structure, with bedding to protect them from frost and the entrance covered with dirt, we had a week of warm weather in January, and they all woke up and started basking and walking around. The cold weather returned and even though they went back into their shelter, they did not dig in as they did at the onset of winter. They slept on the surface and I lost two of them on a freezing night.

Regardless of ground temps or air temps, outdoor brumation at or near the surface doesn't work here. I've been able to do it in sealed insulated night boxes for temperate species that can tolerate warmer brumation temps, but there are always days where I have to put ice bottle inside the box to keep it cool enough, and sometimes I have to prop the lid up a bit overnight to let cold air into the box in anticipation of another hot spell that lasts for days. But outside in an enclosure on the ground, it isn't safe to do here.
This is why I have said a couple times on this thread. Location needs to be taken into consideration. Same with species. To many members see a 4x8 minimum on a Russian thread and they think it's a minimum for any tortoise. They see fruit being fed on a RF thread and they think any tort can eat fruit. Same with housing outside as in this thread. Someone in CA can't always house the same way as someone in FL or NJ. Location and species have to be considered and adjustments made.
 
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This is why I have said a couple times on this thread. Location needs to be taken into consideration. Same with species. To many members see a 4x8 minimum on a Russian thread and they think it's a minimum for any tortoise. They see fruit being fed on a RF thread and they think any tort can eat fruit. Same with housing outside as in this thread. Someone in CA can't always house the same way as someone in FL or NJ. Location and species have to be considered and adjustments made.

Please refrain from coming back to say the same thing over and over. You are free to post a thread in the General section about how important it is to know the care for each person's specific species and location.

This is NOT a care guide. This is a thread about MY Greek tortoises and how I raise them, located in the Greek Tortoise section. The disclaimer that this is species and location specific has been noted multiple times within.

Time to move on.
 

mark1

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my point was air temp and ground temp , not freezing temps..... if the ground temp here mirrored the air temp everything here would have died .....the goal is to help control the ground temp the direction you want ... this is not new "research" by me ,it's just me finding stuff to put here i know is there , or stuff i have somewhere .........i been researching climates since i read pritchards first book , 70's???? where he identified these guys ranges , that was how you figured out to how keep them , redfoots , elongateds, twist necks , amazon yellow spotted , r.p.manni , r.p.pulcherrima, r.p.incisa malayan box turtles , chinese box turtles are a few i kept before the internet(for me)....... now it's just easier to get the information , and i've seen exactly how much different these guys can tolerate , without an issue .......

here's some temp ranges of desert tortoises and testudo graeca within their native range .....

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wellington

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Please refrain from coming back to say the same thing over and over. You are free to post a thread in the General section about how important it is to know the care for each person's specific species and location.

This is NOT a care guide. This is a thread about MY Greek tortoises and how I raise them, located in the Greek Tortoise section. The disclaimer that this is species and location specific has been noted multiple times within.

Time to move on.
This had nothing to do with you. This was regarding what Tom was saying in answer to mark1 and the difference in Tom's location to what mark1 is doing in his location. Why I quoted Tom's post! Besides I'm free to respond where I wish. This is a thread that many may read and without realizing this isn't for every location or species! As an active member since 2011 and moderator, I believe I seen many more mistakes and misunderstanding of care then you! That's why I am here, to help people understand what they are confused about!
 
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This had nothing to do with you. This was regarding what Tom was saying in answer to mark1 and the difference in Tom's location to what mark1 is doing in his location. Why I quoted Tom's post! Besides I'm free to respond where I wish. This is a thread that many may read and without realizing this isn't for every location or species! As an active member since 2011 and moderator, I believe I seen many more mistakes and misunderstanding of care then you! That's why I am here, to help people understand what they are confused about!
After it being said 4x by you, at least 3x by me, and then me again agreeing with you, I find it to be off topic and redundant. If someone is reading here, there is no room for misunderstanding that species and location are critical components in husbandry and there is no one-size-fits all, it's been clearly stated 8x.
 

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Tortoise Supply is located in Nevada which is arguably the closest anyone can get to my climate. They have raised babies outdoors also, though they also do indoors open tubs. Unfortunately Tyler has not written guides to be able to truly piece together how he raises his babies. I think he gave up trying to argue with people here, but that's just speculation. I do know that he doesn't use or advocate closed chambers for Testudo, it's posted on their website:

"We don't use the "closed chamber" method (keeping airflow very restricted to increase humidity to the point that clouds form in the enclosure). It is very risky if/when temperatures get below about 80, and mold, shell rot, and respiratory problems become a lot more common in those conditions. We keep them open top in the warm area, and enclosed, warm and humid within the hide (like they would be in the wild). They are free to choose the conditions, temperatures, and humidity levels they want within that setup."

In an old post Tyler says:

"Some of the best looking, strongest babies I've ever had were the ones that hatched in their outdoor enclosures that I didn't find for a few months. They look absolutely perfect, and we are obviously in a hot, dry climate with essentially no humidity (less natural rainfall than almost any other city in the US). They don't die two months later from 'chronic dehydration.'"

It's not all about the location of the people I am listening to. Let's not forget the importance of what species the people I am listening to are actually breeding and rearing. I will defer to the Testudo breeders who overwhelmingly appear to have their own consensus that while humidity is important, a closed chamber is not the proper way to house this species.
Apologies for my extended absence from the Forum, I do want and try to get on here, but as was said, I get tired of arguing my beliefs against a few people that are set in their ways and disregard my direct experience in tortoise keeping, really don't have time to go back and fourth, but I'll try and outline a lot of it here. We work hard on our animals, we have a lot and produce a lot and gain a lot of experience quickly in this setting. I don't keep up with competitors because mostly it just doesn't matter to me what others are doing. Below is many of the care things we do, opinions I have, and thoughts in general.

In quickly breezing through this thread, I almost completely agree with everything @MotherofDragons has said. In the referenced post above, I stand by what I've said, and now several years later will add more detail specific to Greek tortoises.

I don't know how many greek tortoises Chris Leone produces in a year, I assume he doesn't publish those numbers and that's fine. He may or may not produce more than I do, but I don't know anyone else that does. I do know that this year we passed 100 babies (just greeks) about a month ago, and have hatched them almost every day since then. We had 5 greeks hatch yesterday in outdoor pens, including other testudo. Today, we found in the outdoor pens a marginated, a Southern Ibera greek, and a Caspian greek tortoise, all naturally hatched in Las Vegas (we post this stuff regularly to IG and Facebook, posted that Caspian a few hours ago). Our incubator is pretty much empty this time of year, but now is the outdoor baby season. I was going to do one final lap about 5 PM tonight and told my 10 year old "I'll bet you $5 I can go find one more baby out there somewhere." He wanted to make it a $10 bet, took my bet, and we did a lap again with my wife and after thinking we had not seen any more, he was asking to collect, and I spotted a baby Jordanian greek tucked up against a small plant. We have 7 subspecies of them here, housed in 7 separate enclosures. I have yet to collect on my bet.

We have definitely raised babies outdoors here all year in all testudo species besides Egyptians (don't have enough of those). We have missed countless wild hatched outdoor babies in the fall and found them in the early spring with no ill effects, no pyramiding, no issues. We bought a few greeks from Gary Bright probably 3-4 years ago and put them immediately into outdoor settings here. We had a raven trip a security camera and I watched the bird fly off with one of those babies, so I brought the other one home where we have a cover for it, and it's now about 5" length, played with it tonight a bit. It hasn't been indoors a day since I got it, and is completely smooth. I think it's comical that people try to point out "I think it has the start of some pyramiding" for a few reasons, mostly because I don't even see pyramiding in these same photos, but it's like they want to see that so they can tell you that you've somehow failed.

Since when is fast growth desirable? I mean, I understand that it's desirable because generally speaking, a larger tortoise is a more hardy tortoise (which any smart person would realize that it's now more predator-proof and should again immediately be put outdoors). There's a book called "Naturalistic Keeping and Breeding of Hermanns Tortoises" written by a guy (I think German) that is smarter than anyone in this forum about keeping, raising, breeding, and documenting in nature the normal behaviors, growth rates, diet items and everything of a wild tortoise. It blows the doors off of the crap that is repeated here day in and day out. He shows wild growth rates in detail of tortoises year after year, they are extremely slow. Their diet is extremely bland nutritionally. They are very social, and interact with other tortoises multiple times a day in the wild. These are all normal things, people! So we each, for ourselves, need to decide what our ultimate goal is. Those can be different, and that's fine, but natural growth rates are extremely slow in testudo species. Babies that I have raised outdoors do grow slowly. I'm not sure I see the problem with that other than smaller tortoises being more vulnerable to predators. I bought a dozen baby greeks from a breeder in Idaho probably in about 2010 and after a short time indoors (few months), they were outdoors ever since. That's my Caspian colony. They didn't produce for about a decade, but they're as hardy as tortoises get. They aren't pyramided at all.

Babies that we intend to keep and raise up are generally housed outdoors early. Babies that we intend to sell are kept indoors to keep them comfortable with artificial conditions, lights, etc. since that's where most of them end up after being sold.

We quit messing with the species that need high humidity like redfoots, cherryheads, elongateds, forstens, Burmese mountain tortoises. All of them will survive here, but they aren't happy here, and aren't fertile here, so we have gone back to the main focus being the testudo (with some pancakes, radiateds, stars, sulcatas, couple leopards, and a few other odds and ends that can handle the heat).

We still raise babies in open top enclosures and always have. I use bins from IKEA that are probably something like 30x20" and about 8" deep, foggy clear color for groups of babies. I use about a 2" deep substrate with coco coir mostly, usually with a handful of cypress mulch thrown in, often with leaf litter like magnolia on top. I dump about 1/3 gallon of water into the substrate probably average of twice a week. I use Reptisun 10.0 bulbs linear tubes running along the back of the enclosure, and I use a 60-65W spot bulb in the front corner. I make a salad every morning at 6 AM and feed all the babies, all species the same thing. They aggressively eat the first few hours of the day, and bury themselves a lot the rest of the day. That's what baby testudo do. We soak them probably an average of 4 times a week. They have some sort of hide whether that's a ceramic hide cave (ExoTerra make a few that I like), and occasionally we'll use a piece of 3" or 4" diameter PVC pipe cut in half the long way, about a foot long, for a little half circle cave. About half the babies like the hides, the other half just bury themselves. They have the option for whatever they want to do here. We don't see pyramiding here, zero, with any species. I just had 150+ babies of our own at a reptile show in Anaheim and Pomona, babies ranged from 1-4 months old for the most part, and zero pyramiding on any of them, on display for the world to see.

Of all these testudo, I have lost one this year, it was a baby marginated that hatched at probably 4 or 5 grams and didn't have a chance (normal is about 10-14g for many testudo species). We had a pair of twin hermanns that hatched in one egg and died as soon as they got the egg cracked (was posted about on social media the day that happened). I have a hermanns also probably about 6 grams that I'm watching now and kinda expecting it not to, but so far so good. Hundreds others with no issues.

I got some Burmese stars from Tom several months ago, and per his wishes, they are being kept in an enclosed chamber type enclosure, basically per his suggested routine. They are in the corner of my bedroom and I have a camera on them I can check in periodically if I want to. They've done great.

Another group I have in a similar setup was a dozen baby leopards that I had kept that way this year because leopards are sensitive to cool temps (75 is cool to a leopard) so I have heat on them, keeping them warm and high humidity. Interestingly, one of the more recent buyers of one of those leopards was struggling with it, had emailed me and run through care a bit. I didn't have a solution so I offered a return shipping label and a refund for it, maybe it got banged up in shipping, I don't know. Instead he had come on here and posted about it. He said that it had white urates and was told that white urates meant it was dehydrated, so he grasped on to that idea and said he was sent a dehydrated tortoise. This is a tortoise that hadn't been dry for 1 hour of its life, including in shipping. White urates indicating dehydration was certainly news to me, but whatever. He was then prompted to post a thread warning people not to buy from me because we send out dehydrated tortoises; again, whatever. He had a chance for an easy replacement or refund. I assume I could have corrected whatever the issue was with the tortoise but he didn't want to send it back. Leopards are a more fragile species than testudo for sure.

On the winter temps being suitable for them, and just from my experience, we keep all testudo outdoors in the winter besides Egyptians, because my Egyptians like to lay eggs November through January, so we bring them in. All others are outdoors. We are normally in the mid 20s on a cold winter night here. A normal winter day high temp here is probably around 55-65 average. They are buried with about 0 to 4 inches of dirt over their shells and do fine that way, we lose zero animals in the winter (we sadly lose more in the heat from them occasionally flipping over in a hot area). Our previous location was at a higher elevation out of town that got down into the 15 degree range on a cold night. All the same tortoises over-wintereed there. There are many wild desert tortoises in this same area, but the deserts will be in a burrow, where testudo would generally just be buried in the dirt without an open burrow to come and go like a DT does. I know of people in Salt Lake that leave testudo outdoors all year, and they are significantly colder than we are here. I would think that many of these like Ibera greeks could be kept outdoors in the majority of the US, certainly as adults. I get that babies might be fragile a year or three right off the bat. I was under the impression that Garden State keeps many of his outdoors in NJ, but might be wrong on that?

Anything else I can do to help or clarify the way we raise these to anyone, feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected]. We post every few days with lost of good stuff on IG (@tortoisesupply) as well as Facebook at TortoiseSupply.com. This weekend we have a reptile expo here in Las Vegas if anyone local wants to swing by and say hi!
 
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@TylerStewart Thank you for chiming in and giving us more info in such detail!! I really appreciate it! I have nothing but respect for your first-hand experience and success with Testudo tortoises. I will be following your content elsewhere closely (the buxtoni baby was super cute!), I am especially interested in your T. g. marokkensis you imported last year and how they progress for you.

I had a feeling that there might be some outdoor rearing of babies going on in addition to your indoor open-top nursery bins based off the content you've put out in the past. Thank you for clarifying. I think it speaks volumes that you raise babies you intend to keep for yourselves outdoors from early on.

I agree with your sentiment that some people are looking for, and in some cases outright imagine, pyramiding on every tortoise. Maybe it's a case of 'you find what you are looking for.' It definitely comes off like fear-mongering by a few. Certainly many do have pyramided tortoises, but sometimes the comments are way out of left field and the tortoise is fine. It is why I mentioned a tunnel-vision mentality focused on pyramiding. I recently spoke to one of your customers who posted here and they were immediately told their tortoise was pyramiding and needed to be put in a closed chamber. Their baby was perfectly smooth. The owner indicated they spent a lot of time emailing with you about the setup so I told them to trust your advice, not second-guess themselves. I can only imagine how frustrating situations like that (and the case of the little Leopard baby) are on your end. Even if there is the slightest amount of pyramiding on mine, which for the record many have said they do not see (some only in PM because they were not willing to say so publicly), I am confident that I am doing the best for them and they are thriving. I have decided to soak more diligently a few times a week as it's a hot summer, but I am still not finding it necessary to do it daily. I will be taking my own advice, and not second-guess myself.

I definitely still need to get my hands on that book! I know some would say it is irrelevant to captive keeping, but I disagree. I think it is the absence of understanding things like microclimates previously (when looking at generic climate numbers and a picture of a natural habitat) that was the missing link in the "old" info that failed many tortoises. This Microclimates article written by Tyler is an invaluable introduction to microclimates. There is much more behind the scenes that must be well-thought-out to be successful at naturalistic keeping. It is more than just an enclosure that is outdoors. A knowledge of your specific climate, microclimates, sun trajectory year-round, substrates, drainage, shade, use of deciduous vs. evergreen plants, etc. can play large roles in how well your tortoises do outside.

Thanks again for sticking your neck out and chiming in! I will be keeping a record of your husbandry notes. Sadly, there are multiple members I've identified as outdoor rearing/open-top advocates with lots of knowledge that don't post often or anymore at all. Those people have provided evidence in the past of their successes and it has never been enough to sway made-up minds, clearly a futile endeavor. I totally get it. Luckily at least we can go through past threads to dig up some of that precious information.
 
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