Captive Desert Tortoise Shelter
The shelter serves an important function in protecting the tortoise from the extreme heat and dryness of the summer, and providing a place to hibernate in the winter. It is important that you build a shelter that is well-insulated. Insulation can be provided by adding soil to the top, sides and bottom of the shelter. In the wild, desert tortoises prefer snug shelter, and they like to wedge themselves into a corner near the back; don’t make the shelter too roomy.
The shelter should be in a high and dry spot, above the flood line or away from areas where water collects after rains. You can construct a flattened mound of dirt (8” high) to build or set the shelter on, which will protect the shelter from runoff. It is critical that the tortoise shelter stay completely dry during rains. A damp shelter will cause your tortoise to become susceptible to various respiratory ailments that require costly veterinarian treatment. These ailments, if left untreated, will most likely result in the death of your tortoise.
If you opt for a permanent shelter, the type of shelter you construct for your tortoise will depend on where you live, because of differing climatic conditions found throughout the state. Because of greater rainfall, and the increased likelihood of flooding, if you live in Phoenix or Tucson, the shelter you provide should be above ground.
Creating shelters in Phoenix, Prescott, and Tucson
If you live in Bullhead City, Kingman, Lake Havasu, or Yuma, the shelter should be dug below ground to offer the best thermal protection due to the extreme heat in these regions, and have an eave to keep rain from falling in it. However, it should still be built in a high area of your backyard enclosure to prevent flooding during heavy rain.
Creating shelters in Bullhead City, Lake Havasu, Kingman, and Yuma