So I’m getting two baby tortoises and I am pretty excited about it! The tortoises are hatchlings so they’re pretty tiny. The both of them will be able to fit in my hand. Photos to come soon, but I won’t get them until Tuesday. I will also have to apply for the necessary permits to be a good and responsible Tortoise mom with the department of fish and game. Since the California Desert Tortoise is a protected species the little guys will be tagged and registered with the state of California.
Part of being a good pet owner is providing your critter with appropriate animal enrichment. In the wild they would get a wide variety of flora to munch on, dirt to dig in, shelter, and would eventually find a place to hibernate for the colder months in the desert. Since these two fellas (or ladies) will be captive, I have to provide the appropriate housing. Being me… I am not a big fan of ugly stuff. If my tortoises want animal enrichment- they better enjoy it to the theme of Frank Lloyd Wright! I Imagineered this little mockup in Photoshop so that I can prepare for making a fashionable tortoise box this weekend. The new family additions will have a spacious sandbox with some turf, a few edible plants, themed food dishes and a shelter/hibernation box inspired by a famous architectural style of Frank Lloyd Wright.
I’ll have my work cut out for me. I not only have build a box, model a modernist home, make fake trees and pick up reptile sand- I have to line the box in plastic for easy cleaning, and rig a heat lamp into the little building I’m creating. No straight heat lamp for this household. Party on little dudes.
Here is some cool info on the tortoises!
The California desert tortoise is a native species here. I grew up in the Mojave desert in California and later moved to Lake Havasu City Arizona. While turtles were not common they would sometimes make an appearance on hikes. More than likely you’d find a hollowed out shell. Some predation had taken place at some point when the turtle was still small and vulnerable. They are a threatened species, but a species that has made some progress! They have made it off of the endangered list and are now listed as “vulnerable.” Progress is progress right!
This particular species grows very slowly and unlike their Galapagos brethren don’t get massive. They remain rather petite by tortoise standards ranging from a foot to a foot and a half. They can live up to 80 years in captivity. They’er a neat little species that burros and can survive in climates of up to 140 degrees fahrenheit. That’s pretty dang hot. I think the worst it ever got in the desert when I was a kid was 132. I’d imagine these guys would hang out in their burrow until it cooled off to a balmy 117 at night. Rough life, but they’re adapted perfectly to it! They can store up to 40% of their weight in their bladder. Imagine going to life constantly having to pee… but if you did it means dehydration. Weird.