Help! Tortoise babies, now what?

Nile crocodiles, terrapins, tortoises and turtles.

View gallery

Help! Tortoise babies, now what?

Postby Mom » Thu Feb 25, 2016 4:54 pm

Hi all

Some tortoises hatched in our garden - the parents used to roam around here, but we relocated them to a friend's game farm where we felt they would be better off. Then, 3 days ago, we stumbled across a little one ... And then another yesterday. Unfortunately the dogs also found one and killed it, which was very distressing. There may be more but they are so small & I cannot find an obvious nesting site so I am trying to keep the dogs out of the area for now. I have removed the surviving babies and I'm keeping them indoors, but I have no idea if I'm doing the right thing. I have set up a shallow container with dry moss and sand as per some instructions from some website, and have given them a soak in shallow water. My main questions are:
1). Identification - I always believed the parents to be leopard tortoises but am really not sure... Is it critical to identify them correctly to provide the proper diet?
2) they are not eating - I have provided them with grass and a selection of plants that I know the parents used to favour in my garden, but they show no interest. In fact, the only thing they are interested in is trying to get out of their container... They spend hours in the corners on their hind legs, pushing up trying to get out.
Any advice would be appreciated
Mom
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2016 4:11 pm

Re: Help! Tortoise babies, now what?

Postby Ales » Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:24 pm

They're most likely leopard tortoises as you say.
Leopard tortoises are the only species to lay more than three eggs in a clutch so if you've found a few babies they're definitely leopard tortoises.

They are naturally grass eaters but also feed on certain leaves and succulents (like aloes).

If your babies have recently hatched then their stomachs are still full of yolk, which is why they're not eating yet. The yolk feeds them for the first week or two of their lives.

As hatchlings they prefer to eat small plants, and as they age they turn more to eating the grasses. I feed my hatchlings mostly garden weeds, all the small soft weeds that grow in my vegetable garden. They will also enjoy grated veggies like carrots and beans.

They do much better living outdoors in sunlight than they do indoors. If you could build some kind of outside area for them, covered so birds can't get in, that would be best. Possibly take loose bricks and construct a wall in a 1mx1m square covered with a piece of fencing/mesh. Loose soil is dangerous for them because if they flip over they can't get back around, so make sure to put their 'area' on grass or solid soil.

Is there any chance that you know where the parents originated from?
What a world....
Ales
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 488
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:12 pm
Location: Joburg

Re: Help! Tortoise babies, now what?

Postby Mom » Fri Feb 26, 2016 8:00 am

Thank you for the reply, it is quite a relief to get an answer... hopefully they will start eating soon.
You are right, I don't want to keep them indoors. I have an unused, enclosed (to keep monkeys out) vegetable patch, I think I will spend the weekend converting it to a suitable space for them... maybe plant some veggies and sow some grass seeds.
The parents are a bit of a long story. The male came to us via a friend who had him in their garden.. origins unknown. He roamed around our (quite large) garden freely, sometimes disappearing for weeks, then suddenly popping out again (it's a bit of a jungle out there). The female literally came wondering up the road one day and tried to get through the gate. We were very happy to find a mate for him from, what seemed to be the same breed - but it was strange because Leopard tortoises are not exactly from this area (tropical Natal north coast), so she must have escaped from someone's garden. (I subsequently heard that some new neighbors found her when they moved in and "opened the gate to let her leave, because they did not want to keep her in captivity"...) anyway, our male was VERY HAPPY. Mating started almost immediately. She did produce some eggs, left lying on the ground, but they were all soft and shriveled up within a day. I assumed this meant that she was short on calcium, so I did supplement her diet with some green vegetables. Other than that they pretty much foraged for themselves in the garden and compost heap, where we dispose the vegetable scraps from the kombuis. Strangely, the female drank a lot of water, but I never saw the male drink ..
Anyway, she was quite large, and after living with us for a year I started to feel that she actually needed more space, so we re-located them to a friends farm.

I have attached a picture, perhaps you can confirm what type of tortoise it is?
IMG_0339.JPG
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Mom
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2016 4:11 pm

Re: Help! Tortoise babies, now what?

Postby Ales » Fri Feb 26, 2016 9:52 am

The vegetable patch will be perfect for them, something to sleep under and a very shallow water bowl is all they need. Considering you're in Natal with that humidity, try to keep their environment quite dry. Make sure they have lots of sun etc..
I'd put a toy snake or two next to the veggie garden to keep the monkeys away.

She must have been in quite an unhealthy state when she laid those soft eggs. luckily these babies are proof that you managed to get her back to good health. I received a female that was too weak to dig a hole so she also just laid them on the ground, she was being fed only lettuce and carrot tops.

Yep that's a leopard tortoise, they're very strong little things so they should do well.
What a world....
Ales
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 488
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:12 pm
Location: Joburg

Re: Help! Tortoise babies, now what?

Postby Mom » Sat Feb 27, 2016 6:57 am

Thank you for the help, I will probably have more questions in time. Much appreciated!
Mom
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2016 4:11 pm

Re: Help! Tortoise babies, now what?

Postby Gordvisr » Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:40 am

congrats on the new babies. how are they doing , they started eating yet ?
Gordvisr
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:20 pm


Return to Indigenous chelonians and crocodilians

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron