Tag Archives: Red-foot Tortoise

A new tortoise pen

30 Apr

Here’s a quick photo summary of the tortoise pen I built yesterday.

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I used 2″ x 10″ boards.

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I used 2″x 4″s for the top. I stapled the wire to the bottom of the boards. The white plastic ties are only there because I used the wire that I had, which was in two pieces, instead of buying a single piece. Cheap cheap cheap, that’s me.

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Two hinges on the back.

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A latch on the front. I probably don’t need to lock it. I’m not aware of any turtle thieves running around but, my Red-foot Tortoise is worth $200 and if she were taken it would likely be bad for her.

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Now we’re getting fancy. A handle on the front. Cost me $1.99

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I bought a bag of Cypress Mulch (three bucks) and the sun came out for an hour so…

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…the tortoises got to come out to eat and sunbathe. I get these organic dandelions from my neighbors yard (thanks NW). He says he grows them just for me!

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But it’s still too chilly in Iowa so I took them indoors for the rainy days to come. If this Red-foot keeps growing I’ll be building a bigger pen before too long.

The important point to make is this: If you have a tortoise try to take it outside when you can. Even if you have UV lights, I believe nothing is like the real thing. A sluggish tortoise will totally perk up when exposed to natural sunshine. Even a few hours per week will do wonders. Same for some popular lizards, like Iguanas and Bearded Dragons. Remember to provide shade and water if it’s hot outside. My Red-eared Sliders spend the summer in a pond but if you can get yours out in a swimming pool (not a chlorinated pool for humans, I mean a small kiddie pool) once in a while they will love it.

One more thought. My previous tortoise pen had wire buried underneath the entire thing to prevent burrowing out. I never saw any indication that mine were ever close to digging all the way out. Therefore, I did not add wire to this set-up. So consider that, depending on your tortoise. All tortoises dig and burrow. Mine nestle in the mulch and then only dig down an inch or so. They are lazy, even by tortoise standards.

No turtle babies for 2014

2 Jan

I’ll get right to the fact that no turtle eggs hatched for me in 2014. I realize now what I did wrong so let’s skim over my stupidity as quickly as possible and move on to other topics that showcase my brilliance.

CAM03109This looks pretty good, right? The eggs are in the shoebox-sized plastic tub covered by Coir (coconut-fiber), and vermiculite. Under that is a bed of sand. Under the little tub is another bed of sand, maybe 3 inches (8 cm) deep. Under the bigger tub is a heating pad, the kind you would use if you were sick or cold. I set the pad on the lowest setting. I wanted even distribution of the heat on to the eggs so they would incubate at 80-85F. (27-30 C).

I then placed the plastic cover that came with the big tub over the whole thing. I didn’t fit it on tight. I left it a bit loose so there would be some circulation of fresh air to avoid mold.

Every few days I would open the lid and spray water over the eggs and sand.

The only glitch along the way was the time we had a power outage and the heater kicked off. I didn’t realize it for nearly a week. The temperature went below 70F (21C). I don’t think that caused a problem, though. It seems to me that in the wild turtle eggs could easily get colder than that and still hatch as long as the temperature eventually heated up. The incubation would just last longer.

When the time to hatch was getting near I checked the eggs. They were shriveled and dry. I was shocked. I thought I had kept them hydrated but then I realized that I had too much sand draining the moisture away. Even though the eggs were covered by Coir and vermiculite, they actually were sitting on sand that pulled moisture away.

This happened to two clutches of eggs. The mother turtle laid two sets of eggs in a very short time, only weeks apart, so both clutches were in the incubator together.

Here are the parent turtles (Red-eared sliders) in the pond.

Here are the parent turtles (Red-eared sliders) in the pond.

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After a hard rain it’s a good time to watch for the female turtle emerging from the pond to lay her eggs.

I carefully dug the eggs out of the wet ground. If you don;t see the turtle lay her eggs you will never find the nest, I promise.

I carefully dug the eggs out of the wet ground. If you don’t see the turtle lay her eggs you will never find the nest, I promise.

This is the second clutch of the summer. There were 7 eggs in the first nest and six in this one.

This is the second clutch of the summer. There were 7 eggs in the first nest and six in this one.

If you’ve gotten this far you must be a turtle lover! Here are a few other turtle pictures just for fun.

Here's old Peggy, a Central American Wood Turtle, finding a worm in her salad. I've had her almost 25 years!

Here’s old Peggy, a Central American Wood Turtle, finding a worm in her salad. I’ve had her almost 25 years!

Does this look like turtle food?

Does this look like turtle food?

After the Hibiscus flower begins to wilt my Red-foot Tortoise gets a treat.

After the Hibiscus flower begins to wilt my Red-foot Tortoise gets a treat.

I picked up this Western Painted turtle while at a local park.

I picked up this Western Painted turtle while at a local park. I released her quickly, but not quick enough.

I never had this happen before. She peed. A lot.

I never had this happen before. She peed.                    A  lot.

 

 

 

 

Random thoughts, a post for those of us with no attention span whatsoever

1 May
My son gave me some candy called a Swedish Fish. Yummy! Are they made in Sweden?

My son gave me some candy called a Swedish Fish. Yummy! In America the Swedish Fish are made in Canada 😦

Treat your fish once in awhile. Here's a bowl of peas, brine shrimp and cocktail shrimp.

Treat your fish once in awhile. Here’s a bowl of peas, brine shrimp and cocktail shrimp.

Her'es an extra piece of pond liner that I gave to a friend who might make a pond this year...or next.

Here’s an extra piece of pond liner that I gave to a friend who might make a pond this year…or next.

My wife and i lined this planter with strips of pond liner. The planter dries out too fast. Water can drain out between the strips but hopefully not too fast.

My wife and I lined this planter with strips of pond liner. The planter always dries out too fast. Now, water can drain between the strips but hopefully not too fast.

All done, waiting for Spring!

All done, waiting for Spring!

A few weeks ago, the last bit of snow in the yard.

A few weeks ago, the last bit of snow in the yard.

Spring comes, then it snows again.

Spring comes, then it snows again.

...so feed the birds!!

…so feed the birds!!

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Finally the rains came, and the ponds filled with worms!! i have netted hundreds of worms form the pond. Great fish food, especially for Catfish and Cichlids. If you poison your yard, don't feed the worms to your fish.

Finally the rains came, and the ponds filled with worms!! I have netted hundreds of worms from the pond. Great fish food, especially for Catfish and Cichlids. If you poison your yard, don’t feed the worms to your fish.

Our Golden Retriever hears someone has just gotten home.

Our Golden Retriever hears someone outside.

A few warm days and we think Spring is finally here. We have been fooled 4 or 5 times so far.

A few warm days and we think Spring is finally here. We have been fooled 4 or 5 times.

The Chinese Curly Willow has made it through Winter!!

The Chinese Curly Willow has made it through Winter!!

Too much Caulerpa in the Saltwater tank.

Too much Caulerpa in the Saltwater tank.

I took some to a fish auction.

I took some to a fish auction.

I bought afish tank at the auction, and some plants but my favorite purchase was astack of this magazine from 1969 to 1971. Practical Fishkeeping!!

I bought a fish tank at the auction, and some plants, but my favorite purchase was a stack of this magazine from 1969 to 1971. Practical Fishkeeping!!

Winter is returning tonight , for the fifth time this Spring. My brother sent me this pic of the turtles in Missouri. But it will be cold down there, too. A strange year so far.

Winter is returning tonight, for the fifth time this Spring. My brother sent me this pic of the turtles in Missouri. But it’s getting  cold down there, too. A strange year so far.

A view of Red Swordtails and young Angelfish from above.

A view of Red Swordtails and young Angelfish from above.

A Spring salad today and the snow is coming again.

A Spring salad today and the snow is coming again.

This old girl, who I've had for 23 years , enjoyed the day as well.

This old girl, who I’ve had for 23 years , enjoyed the day as well.

Stories from a Turtle’s Shell

21 Jan

Last month I was given a family treasure. Well, in MY mind it is a family treasure.

Here is a little turtle shell that once sat in my Grandmother’s curio cabinet. Way back in the 1960’s I used to look at it and admire it. I wished I had that little turtle shell. I really wished I had the baby turtle.

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Where did it come from? What happened to the poor thing?  The shell is only two inches long. It’s the shell of a Western Painted Turtle. This little turtle probably hatched one Summer and would have been this size by Autumn. And then…I’ll never know.

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My relatives have a cabin along the Wapsipinicon River in Iowa. Very probably this little turtle was born on that river. There are lots of Western Painted Turtles there now.

How’s this for a cosmic thought:  His relatives are living there now. Painted Turtles can live 40 years. Maybe one of his brothers or sisters is still there, and right now is lying under the mud, waiting for Spring. I hope so.

I have had a Central American Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys pulcherimma) since 1990. That’s almost 23 years! She looked old when I got her. If she was 20 years old when I got her she would be 43 now. Again, I can never know the truth.
But look at this, she is missing a foot!
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Her foot was gone when I got her. I’ve always wondered what happened to her foot? I think a predator bit it off!!! These turtles live in Mexico and Central America. Maybe a Jaguar grabbed her!
She also has a big scar on the back end of her shell. A fang mark from the Jaguar!
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I bet the Jaguar figured he was going to eat my turtle but No! She turned around and bit him on the nose! The Jaguar screamed and ran off and then… well, maybe I don’t know for sure.
I have also had a Red-foot Tortoise for 3 years. She (you can tell it’s a she by her stubby little tail) has a shell deformity called “pyramiding”. The shell is not evenly rounded but has peaks and valleys.
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Her shell looked like this when I got her. As she gets older maybe it will look less
pyramided as she gets a better diet and more sunshine.
There is a ton of information about pyramiding in tortoises. One website says pyramiding is caused by:

too much protein
too little calcium
too much phosphorous (a poor calcium :phosphorous ratio)
not enough D3

However there are some less obvious, though equally important factors involved

lack of exercise
hydration status
grain based diets
lack of fiber
too much food

So my Red-foot probably got the wrong diet, too much protein, when she was young. It’s easy to think they like fruits and worms like our native American Box Turtles but Red-foots like to graze on weeds. They eat a lot of roughage like a cow!

Tortoise and Turtles taste Tomatoes

8 Aug

Here’s one way to get rid of those extra Cherry Tomatoes you have.

My Red-foot Tortoise has a mouthful.


Chomp!





How embarrassing. She fell over backwards while reaching for the tomatoes.