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Choose Another Corner!

Three tortoises settling into a corner of a room in a house.

I live in a good-sized house. It has four bedrooms and two large living room areas with many corners. Having corners is very important to my family. This makes more sense when you know that most of my family members are reptiles: lizards, turtles, and tortoises.

Free to Roam (and Fight)

The tortoises are free-roaming. In the spring, the desert species go outside until temperatures drop before winter. Then I bring them indoors. I put cardboard boxes in corners and indentations. Usually, within a week, each has chosen which box they want to brumate in. They often return to the location they brumated in the previous year. Mammals hibernate, reptiles brumate.

However, this winter was a bit different. For one thing, the temperatures kept going up and then down. I brought them in when the nighttime temperatures reached the 50s. However, they didn’t settle down for their brumation. No, they wandered around, testing corners and boxes, shoving each other aside. Nobody returned to their usual brumation spot.

Two of Elaine's tortoises checking out an empty cardboard box set laying on it's side.

Instead, they chased each other, sometimes fighting, biting, and pushing!

For basking, they would gather together under the suspended heat lamp. Somedays, they arranged nicely, allowing all to have some heat. On other days, they climbed on top of each other. It was not a problem when a smaller tortoise climbed to the top. However, I was concerned when the 50-lb tortoise climbed over the 2-lb tortoise.

A group of tortoises and turtles, the largest tortoise of the group is beginning to climb over a smaller one.

This year, they had the addition of multiple dog beds. The beds are short enough for the tortoises to crawl over and into. With their soft edges, they are certainly worthy of consideration for a place to hide one’s head for the winter. 

A tortoise testing out a dog bed.

Cantata won’t settle in for more than a day. Now, my walls are covered with cardboard boxes. She is a spur-thighed tortoise with spurs on her arms capable of digging through the walls. I’m using big boxes. She seems to enjoy cramming her 100-lb body into a slightly too-small box. She busts out the sides, but that’s part of the fun. Hey, if it keeps her spurs away from my walls, I’m happy to keep replacing boxes that she can burst out of.

Cantata the tortoise trying to crawl into a box half her size.

For Saurian’s sake, choose another corner! 

Find more exciting facts about lizards, turtles, tortoises, and more in my educational workbooks!

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