Serenity Born Sept. 4, 1928
Serenity Born Sept. 4, 1928

It's not the Destination, It's the Journey

Update July 29,  2016 including new photos in photo gallery.

Welcome to the home of Fokkerdon and my Desert

Tortoises, a website dedicated to providing the latest, most accurate information available on the proper care of my shelled friends, - Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) - often referred to as Mojave Desert Tortoises, Sonoran Desert Tortoises and California Desert Tortoises.

The construction of this website began with my first "foundling" hatchling in Sept. 2000, at which time I discovered that the prevalent "captive" care suggestions for them went against all common sense. I began to investigate and compile the latest correct care information to counter the massive amount of outdated, often incorrect and sometimes hazardous information contained on the internet in regards to my favorite tortoise. Due to the fact that they live long and slow, as with humans, the effects of incorrect nutrition/care is often slow to become overtly evident, at which time it is often no longer correctable.

NOTE: Due to the fact that captive desert tortoises are kept in so many diverse environments, care must be taken to ensure that the necessary ingredients for their proper care be provided. In areas they are not native to this may require extra heating, lighting, provisions of water, specialized housing, dealing with foggy/cool coastal conditions, higher altitude cooler climates, etc. and I highly recommend joining a yahoo group such as the California Turtle and Tortoise Club (CTTC) maintains where you can ask questions specific to your area/condition http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/CTTC_Turtle_And_Tortoise_List/ is the link .

Please enjoy your visit, peruse the photos and writings.  If you have comments/suggestions, please feel free to write me at DesertTortoiseDon@gmail.com
Information on proper care is always changing, and I am more than willing to consider other opinions/evidences.

I make no claim that "my way" is the "only way", but I have gathered together sufficient scientific data and research during the last 20 years to assure that the methods and foods included on these pages will, more often than not, help your captive desert tortoise live a healthy, long life and most probably NOT have to deal with some of the more common "ills" of captive desert tortoises, namely:
MBD - Metabolic bone diseases, i.e.

"Pyramiding", which is actually fibrous osteodystrophy (juvenile osteoporosis), caused by high phosphorus/low calcium diets, as well as being kept in too dry conditions and receiving excessive food.

"Lumpy/sunken in carapace, soft shell" which is osteomalacia, caused by severe Vitamin D3 (generally lack of UVB rays) and calcium deficiencies.
Bladder stones, kidney stones, goiter, gout, hyperparathyroidism and renal insufficiencies, most often caused by diets of fruits, vegetables and other non-natural food diets, including many of the commercially prepared tortoise diets purchased from pet stores.

Keeping them in captivity requires more than just buying lettuce and sticking them in the back yard; proper care requires thinking about how they have and do exist healthy in natural habitat areas in the wild and doing our best to duplicate that in captivity. As a rule, most of us cannot exactly duplicate their environment, but we can make good efforts to maximize their care and health. Some small initial efforts to provide natural habitat and growing natural graze foods for diet will allow easily keeping a tortoise that has the same healthy attributes as those in the wild, who exist in environments that are very harsh, yet have managed to do so without "pyramiding", etc. for millions of years, including the last @ 80,000 years in the present harsh Mojave desert environment.

The Care Sheet link to the left is the one that is currently used by the Kern County Chapter of the California Turtle and Tortoise Club (CTTC).  The Plants and Foods is the current dietary information we also hand out in Bakersfield, Ca. with rescued torts via our adoption program.

Native Plant Diet Vs. Grocery Produce Diet examines the nutritional make-up of native plants vs. grocery produce items commonly fed. Explanations of possible (probable) health issues involving excessive use of grocery store produce are provided, as well as emphasis on the very few grocery items that at least meet the minimum recommended calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1. Bottom line is that if we look at and understand their life and diet in the wild, we can better provide for their life in captivity to allow them a healthier lifestyle.

High Pep Plants and Reasons Desert tortoises Need Them examines effects of potassium in desert tortoise diets and ways to minimize these effects.

Please visit often as tortoise care and research is an ongoing process;  as new/more information becomes available, updates will be posted.

Juvenile desert tortoise burrows, my back yard.

The Care Sheet link is active, containing a Basic Care Sheet.

It is constantly updated as new information becomes available.

Plants and Foods link contains the Suggested Feeding Guidelines sheet for Desert tortoises being distributed with permit tags in the Kern County Ca. area. (More updates forthcoming specifying Native plants the tortoises prefer over alien plants in their natural habitat, with emphasis on PEP (Potassium Excretion Potential plants) since we are finding they need more of these plants to properly void stores of harmful chemicals and digestive by-products).
The Photo Gallery is always under construction, containing photos of habitats (both indoor and outdoor), dietary food sources (plant photos - coming soon), and a section for general photos of Desert Tortoises.
Native Plant Diet Vs. Grocery Produce Diet examines the nutritional make-up of native plants vs. grocery produce items commonly fed. Explanations of possible (probable) health issues involving excessive use of grocery store produce are provided, as well as emphasis on the very few grocery items that at least meet the minimum recommended calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1. Bottom line is that if we look at and understand their life and diet in the wild, we can better provide for their life in captivity to allow them a healthier lifestyle.
High PEP Plants and Reasons Desert Tortoises need them examines the role and negative effects of excess potassium in desert tortoise diets. Excess potassium is implicated in bladderstone formation and often a result of feeding commercial grown grocery greens/veggies/fruits and many commercial diet preparations.
Please remember, there is NO ONE WAY to care for our friends; however, it is hoped that the information provided will assist keepers (both new and experienced) in providing a better environment for our shelled friends.
For questions, feedback, comments, etc. contact me at:

Don

May You Walk In Beauty

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E-mail: Deserttortoisedon@gmail.com

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