But it hasn't been easy on him. He went from having free range over a fairly large backyard with a patch of grass to having his own smaller, desert environment. It should be better for him though: a full grown Palo Verde tree, dirt instead of gravel, cactus, and the risk of being hit by a stray golf ball is MUCH smaller.
So, first thing Dan and I did was build him a new house. Combine some cinder blocks, particle board, and a whole bunch of dirt and you have instant tortoise house. With the drainage in the enclosure, we could only really build it in one spot.
The next step was adding in some more plants. The advantage of Turtle's patch of grass was that if I ever forgot to feed him, he had a back up food source. So I printed a list of safe plants for him to eat and headed to the nursery.
I've planted three batches of plants. First batch: desert mallow, parsley, and a bunch of petunias. I thought that they would make good back-up plants. He wouldn't have to eat them as long as I remembered to feed him every day. I was sooooo wrong. The day after planting them, I came home from work and my petunias looked like they had wilted away. After closer examination, I realized all the leaves had little half moons missing from them. Turtle had gnawed on every single leaf of my petunias. And the parsley. The parsley has kind of rebounded but only one of my original six petunias kind of remains.
|My poor surviving petunia|
Second batch: a mulberry bush, a hibiscus bush, more petunias, and some cilantro.
This time I had more knowledge of what Turtle likes to eat so I thought I was prepared. He wouldn't be able to eat enough of the tall mulberry and hibiscus bushes to kill them. I tracked his footprints through the area and knew the places I thought he might miss them. I grabbed an extra cinder block and thought if I planted some of the petunias higher, he wouldn't be able to get them. Well, as you can see, he ate almost every low leaf off the hibiscus. He found all the low petunias and, while they are still alive, they are worse for wear. The worst of it was the cilantro. He ate ALL of it. I found him the next day sitting on top of the several stems that remained. The only survivors were the mulberry bush (which actually has berries, who knew?) and the cinder block petunias.
Third batch: another hibiscus, parsley, kale, cassia, mallow, cilantro, and mint.
|My remaining kale and cilantro|
I really thought I would nail it this time. He doesn't like to eat the plants with the desert leaves as much so I put them at ground level. I bought smaller cinder blocks so he might be able to nibble at the tastier ones without killing them. I don't know if he's a gymnast or something, but the kale is just gone. GONE! Dan thinks it's a ground squirrel but I know Turtle and I bet he could get it if he wanted.
If I manage to catch a picture of Turtle enjoying his new home, this'll be the first place I post it.