Past Meetings

 Welcome to the Ridgecrest Chapter of the California Turtle and Tortoise Club.

Ideally, this blog will summarize previous meetings and events for those unable to make it, and will provide reminders for upcoming events.

Check back here to find out what's going on at the club!

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Posted by Sue on November 3, 2018 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Meeting started at 7:30 p.m. with eleven attendees.

There were newcomers again at this month’s meeting, so everyone introduced themselves & mentioned if they had tortoises, wanted to adopt or needed more information on tortoises in general.

Important November Meeting Date & Time Change: We will combine our meeting with the Kerncrest Audubon Society on Thursday, November 8th at 7:00 p.m. at the Maturango Museum. We are fortunate to be able to hear a lecture from the Biologist from the China Lake Navy Base who will talk about tortoises & other wildlife.

Adoptions: Bob has adopted out all females held as of today. He took in a couple of males, four still on site.
A new attendee, Mr. Hudson, who has lived in the Ridgecrest area for 66 years, wanted to find out if anyone wanted to adopt any of his tortoises. He said he had about eleven tortoises -- four big females, three small ones & four hatchlings. He has owned one of his tortoises, named Snoopy, for 35 years. Bob said he will help adopt out his tortoises when they come out of brumation in the spring.

General meeting topics:  Membership renewals are due. Several members paid their renewal dues.
There are three tortoises now in the Maturango Museum enclosure. Bob took out a female that was sick, & unfortunately she died. Bob repaired burrow holes there, but the tortoises built another burrow. Bob is still feeding them, but they are not as active now.

An interesting fact is that temperatures affect the eggs. Within a certain warm temperature range, female tortoises develop; &, where it’s colder, male tortoises develop.

Bob is working on an informational kiosk. They need steel mounts. Someone suggested Skip Gorman could help, but to first talk to Peter Wiley.

Pamphlets were available for members and visitors.

Treasurer’s Report: The club has approximately $5,200 in its account.

The CTTC Executive Board meeting will be on Saturday 13th in Arcadia. A $2 million-dollar gift was given to the club to be divided among the chapters. Bob is on the investment committee. Most of the money is invested so it earns quite a bit in interest. Possible ways to use the money would be a small scholarship for Cerro Coso biology students. We are open for ideas. We've already recieved $1,500 for our club use. It will go toward the kiosks.

Power Point Presentation: “The Sulcata Tortoise (Geochelone sulcata) – and Other Exotics." Bob presented the program. Some exotics you should not buy, for example, are red-eared sliders. You can get them free. Some are released by owners & become pests. You cannot buy tortoises under 4” long.

Other turtles & tortoises mentioned: U.S. Box Turtles (Ornate) expand their range through flash floods. --- Eastern Box Turtles. --- Russian Tortoises have similarities to desert tortoises. They like to escape enclosures. --- Red-Footed Tortoises are popular. They are omnivorous. --- Pyramiding (a bumpy shell) means the tortoise does not have a good diet. --- Leopard Tortoises are from Africa. They don’t dig. They are vegetarian & have short legs. They like grasses, savannahs. --- Sulcatas are from Sahel (belt) Africa. The Sahel is about 3,400 miles long & 650 miles wide. They live wild in Texas, Arizona & California. They like their burrows where it is moist. They are known to brumate even though information on the internet says they do not. Here in Ridgecrest they may come up in the winter once a week for food. Importation of Sulcatas ended in 2000. ---

One example of building a tortoise fence is using grape stakes. Hammer the stakes vertically next to each other into the ground to make a solid fence.


Posted by Sue on September 13, 2018 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Meeting started at 7:30 p.m. with sixteen attendees. There were newcomers so everyone introduced themselves & mentioned if they had tortoises, were interested in adopting, or just interested in tortoises.

Items Available: Bob brought in several boxes of heat lamps donated to the club & available to anyone interested, bumper stickers reading “Let’s Talk Trash” which refers to removing trash from the wild tortoises’ environment, & flyers.

Treasurer’s Report: The club has approximately $5,000 in its account.

Ideas for using funds: Some funds are earmarked to repair the current sign at the tortoise enclosure at the museum.

Suggestions included using funds for additional & more permanent informational signs. Bob has prepared some wording for those signs & will continue. Square Print was suggested for preparing the signs.

Brochures & flyers specific to the Ridgecrest Chapter have already been printed & placed several places for interested parties to pick up.

Other suggestions for future spending might be to put signs outside of Ridgecrest asking people to beware of tortoises & not to pick them up (unless in danger on the road) with a saying such as “Unlawful to Pick Up Tortoises”, perhaps near Garlock, etc. There are signs already displaying “Tortoise Crossing”. Permission to post signs will have to be researched, probably starting with CalTrans.

Possibly a small scholarship (yearly?) to a continuing or transfering Cerro Coso student majoring in biological studies.

The Club subsidized, along with other donors, the Eagle Scout’s project constructing the tortoise enclosure at the museum. There are three or four tortoises in the enclosure right now. Other projects could be looked into for sponsoring.

General meeting topics:

President Bob Parker brought in a Red-Footed tortoise (with red spots) & a Leopard tortoise (4-5 years old) to the meeting. They had fun walking around the room! The red-footed tortoise is up for adoption, but the leopard tortoise will continue to be taken to outreach programs to the delight of students in the local classrooms.

The Leopard tortoise is originally from Africa. It is the fourth or fifth largest exotic tortoise in the world. If you want a leopard tortoise, it is a good idea to check tortoise clubs first for adoptions. At a pet store, a Leopard tortoise might cost $200 or more.

Bob talked about appropriate tortoise habitats and what to feed them. Aquariums are not suitable for tortoises. There is not enough air circulation. 

It’s good if the tortoise cannot see through a fence in a proper enclosure as they like to escape. Russian tortoises seem to disappear in the enclosures & then suddenly show up sometimes months later.

Some good options for supplement feeding are collard greens, kale, dandelion greens, clover, & Bermuda grass. Romaine is okay if the tortoise needs more water in its diet. Do not feed most tortoises cat or dog food which is too high in animal protein.

In contrast the Red-Footed tortoise does eat animal protein. So one needs to be careful about information on tortoise care read on the internet.

Ravens:  A number of years ago a survey was conducted to find out how many ravens were in the area.  About 40 ravens were found. The last Christmas bird count conducted by local Audubon birders, noted over 400 ravens in the area. Ravens are on the list of migratory birds even though they don't migrate, & they are a native species in California. It would be beneficial to figure out how to keep the raven numbers down because they eat baby tortoises, lizards, & are pests at the pistachio orchards.

Bob mentioned that on YouTube Tim Shields, a Tortoise Biologist discusses his invention to discourage ravens. Tim lives in Alaska in the winter & the desert in summer. He has developed a green laser to point at the ravens, terrifying them. They fly away prompting the rest of the group of ravens to fly away also. And, those ravens do not return to the same place.

Another invention is a fake baby tortoise that comes apart when a raven tries to catch it. This startles the ravens & they fly away.

Ideas for Future Lecturers: Please submit ideas for future lecturers. Possibly, the Kern Crest Audubon would be willing to combine with our Club for a lecture. The Audubon society meets on the second or third Thursday of the month.

Events: The Ridgecrest Petroglyph Festival: is November 3-4. The Club will once again be represented by Bob Parker giving a program at the museum titled “Reptiles of Indian Wells Valley”. The Ridgecrest Snake Hunters Club will also be there. 

Adjourned 8:25 p.m.


Posted by Sue on September 9, 2018 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Another informal meeting at Leroy Jackson Park at 6 p.m. with six people attending.

We had a visitor drive all the way from Bishop to join the club & share her questions & comments on her tortoise.  She left early to head back north so:

We adjourned at 6:50 p.m.


Posted by Sue on September 9, 2018 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

An informal meeting was held in Leroy Jackson Park at 6 p.m. with seven people attending.

We had three new people. One already had a tortoise & asked a number of questions on care & feeding. She joined the club.  Another visitor was interested in adopting & joining as well.

Adjourned at 7 p.m.


Posted by Sue on September 9, 2018 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The meeting started at 7:35 p.m. with thirteen people in attendance.

On April 21st Kernville will host the Kern River Bio-Regional Festival. Our club is taking some tortoises. The Desert Tortoise Council will be there as well.

On April 28th, the Base will offer a Community Day. Our group’s tortoises will be there, as well as a 100+ lb. Sulcata tortoise wandering on a leash for petting & feeding by visitors.

Cal City also has their yearly Tortoise Day Festival on the 28th. Our club usually joins the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee there, but will not attend this year.

Six tortoises were adopted out. We took in one tortoise which is available for adoption.

A newcomer to the meeting told us about the tortoise they have had for one year so far.

Registering tortoises & placing stickers on them was discussed. Fish & Wildlife requires registering even baby tortoises. It was suggested to use a Sharpie to write the number on the shell if the tag is too big.

In June, our meeting will be in the park.

Finances are good. Executive Board voted to give us $1,500.

Guest Lecturer: “Turtle and Tortoise Rehabilitation” by Karen Berry.

Karen deals with tortoises from the San Fernando Valley all the way to Burbank, Ventura, & Los Angeles. She lives in Ventura County in Thousand Oaks. Karen will send out flyers for an event, a raffle, to raise money. In addition, there is a gift shop to help raise funds. They have 15 hatchlings.

Karen delighted us by bringing two of her tortoises to our meeting. One tortoise named “Leftie” has no front right leg as it was amputated. Leftie weighs about 16 ½ pounds. The second tortoise Karen brought was named “Speed Bump”. He scooted around on a custom-made skateboard!  He was injured when driven over, but had the will to live. Disabled tortoises can be strong. Homemade rollers & skateboards encourages the tortoises to move their muscles thereby helping them strengthen & revive.

Karen told us about surgical rehabilitation, post-surgical problems & creative solutions, major injury & rehabilitation. Sometimes, homemade bandages are made using epoxy & fiberglass cloth. You don’t want flies to plant maggots on open cuts or cracks.

We were shown slides of various tortoises kept in poor conditions & suffering. Some Sulcatas had been dumped at a Thrift Store where there was poor dirt & living conditions. American Tortoise Rescue Hospice Care provides beak & nail trimming, introduction to natural food & sunlight.

One situation that Karen investigated was in a school that had tortoises & box turtles as pets. They did not have ideal living conditions. These oversights are not limited to land turtles & tortoises, but also aquatic turtles can suffer in poor conditions. It is a fallacy that a turtle will grow in relation to the size of the tank. There is a lot of ignorance about the care of tortoises & turtles. Long term/intensive rehabilitation is provided to many.

These are a few examples of why to support a CTTC adoption team. Donations to the CTTC help to support amazing stories like the ones Karen presented. Turtles & tortoises often have demonstrated a strong will to live. Volunteering on an adoption team can be very rewarding.

Dandelions & grape leaves are good sources of food for tortoises.

Desert tortoises seem to know when there is something wrong with another tortoise.

Meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.


Posted by Sue on September 9, 2018 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

The meeting started at 7:30 p.m. with seven people were in attendance.

On Saturday, January 13th, there will be the Executive Board meeting.

Guest Lecturer: Heather Ponek, “All About What to Feed Your Desert Tortoise, Gopherus agasszaii and Beyond”

Heather is the President of the CTTC in Bakersfield. She has a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science (?) & is a certified Seed Technologist. She studies grasses & a variety of plants with an expansive knowledge of the scientific names for seeds.

What to feed desert tortoises? 1. Grass, 2. Grass, AND, 3. Grass.

There are 2,450 native plants species in the California desert. Poaceae is the grass family. Digitaria is fringe grass. It takes three weeks for a tortoise to digest.

Good examples of food for tortoises are mallow, mulberry leaves, & clover. There are 150 to 200 different species to eat. There is too much water in kale. Taraxacum is the dandelion. You can leave out broken up cuttlebones for your tortoise. Also, you can give them eggshells, but boil first. Tortoises also need sunshine.

Never give meat or tofu to tortoises. No cat food or dog food, either. Avoid palm trees, oleander, chinaberry, tree tobacco, toadstools & others. Berries, in general, are toxic. No tomato plants. On the CTTC website & our club’s site you can find out how toxic certain plants are to tortoises.

Occasionally, it is okay to feed them a strawberry or some zucchini as a treat.

Dr. Decker at Crestwood Animal Hospital in Ridgecrest can treat ill tortoises.

Websites: Arizona AZGFD; CTTC; www.reptilechannel; Agriculture & Natural Resources; University of California Tortoise Group Organization

Heather brought a very special collection of her seed packets collection for us to look at. She told us there exists an important seed bank collection for the future of the world’s food production after we admired the neatly, filed seed envelopes in the boxes. Thank you to Heather and her husband for traveling so far on such a very stormy, rainy night!

Other news: Mark and Chris brought in the x-rays of their tortoise’s ½ inch bladder stone! The bladder stone looks cloudy in an x-ray. Eggs would look clear. Their tortoise passed the one she had.

Meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.


Posted by Sue on April 3, 2018 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (1)

The meeting started at 7:30 p.m. with seven people in attendance.


President Bob Parker is meeting a person from Cal City at Jawbone to pick up a tortoise that can no longer be cared for there.
A new member asked how we make money for the club - sales of T-shirts, Hoodies, glassware & tote bags, donations. --- The club helped sponsor the Maturango Museum’s tortoise enclosure. It was suggested that some of our money be used for shade covers for the enclosure.
Next month’s program will have Karen Berry as a guest lecturer on rehabilitation of injured tortoises.
Saturday, April 21st, is the Bi-Regional Festival at Kernville Park in the Kern River Valley. Bob has plans to take a few tortoises to the festival.
The Ridgecrest Wildflower Festival will be the first week of April at the Museum.


Bob presented the powerpoint called “Creating a Tortoise Habitat” by Kathy Utiger from the Las Vegas group.

Topics: Habitat needs

Tortoise burrows -- tortoises are in their burrows 95% of the time, they are cold-blooded
Burrow styles (in Las Vegas) -- underground, aboveground
Indian Dwelling
Water dish styles
Plants for browsing -- outdoor plants or may use Megadiet
Removable gate barrier – most tortoises escape through open gates
Examples of members’ tortoise habitats.

Don’t feed tortoises any supplemental food right now in the Spring unless very active; food can rot in their stomachs. If the tortoises are just sunning themselves, don’t supplement feed. They can eat the natural grasses.

Globe mallow is a pretty good plant. They also like pansies, Mexican evening primrose, verbena, zinnias & hollyhocks. Tortoises like to eat bean sprouts & cactus pads.

An idea is to tip pots of plants onto their sides in the enclosure when you would like them to eat the plants you have grown for them.

Desert willow with the purple blossoms is something they like at the museum.

Sticks arranged in a certain fashion helps collect blowing brush & encourages plants to grow around them in a tortoise enclosure like at the museum.

Q-tip barrier in front of a tortoise burrow opening is a good way to find out when the tortoise has emerged.

Thank you to the Tortoise Group of Las Vegas for this powerpoint.

Meeting adjourned 8:25 pm.


Posted by Sue on November 14, 2017 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (0)

The meeting started at 7:32 with 8 attendees.


Bob is a member of the Investment Committee that is working on the management & distribution of monies that was willed to the club 2 years ago. Each chapter should receive about $1500 per year. Other disbursements to certain charities are brought before the board to be voted on.

Bob's talk on Reptiles at the museum during the Petroglyph Festival was very well attended.  Some members of the Snake Hunters Club were also in attendance to help with questions about the realia & live specimens. 

The Desert Tortoise Workshop last weekend went well & the tortoises that the club provided "performed" (as in put up with the poking & prodding) well. They were happy to return home & take up winter residence in their burrows. Bob said attending the workshop is worthwhile. Those there are well versed in assessing the health of the tortoises.

Sue reported that the 4th quarterly report & the report for the fiscal year was submitted & dues were paid for the full year.


Mark presented a program on the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, CO, a northwest suburb of Denver. The pavilion opened in 1995 & consists of a 7,000 square foot rain forest. He kept it light by often changing who the REAL STAR of the place was - the Butterflies? the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach? the Octopus? or maybe Sunshine the South American Red-Footed Tortoise. He had video featuring Dave giving talks about the various "stars".  The presentation ended with the family tortoises & one's attempted escape over the wall, as well as young Charlize's confrontation with & eliminationan of an enclosure invading cat.

Upcoming Programs:

The December meeting will be a Christmas party possibly at Montynne's.  Details TBA.

In January, Heather from the Kern club in Bakersfield has agreed to come & give a talk about what they do.  Karen, a member of the Foothills chapter has also agreed to come & speak.

Meeting was adjourned at 8:32 p.m.


Posted by Sue on November 14, 2017 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The meeting started at 7:30 p.m. with eight people in attendance.


The club has about $3500 in the bank. One suggestion for using these funds would be to improve or replace the sign at the Tortoise Enclosure at the Maturango Museum. The sign is deteriorating. A second suggestion would be to produce a brochure on Desert Tortoises. The club donated 2 tall glass mugs with a tortoise etched on each for the Maturango Museum’s silent auction. Some members personally donated items to make it into a Root Beer Float themed basket.


President Bob Parker presented a power point named “29 Palms – Marine Corp Base”. The first part was a film about relocating tortoises to the Barstow area. Tortoises were put into containers that were securely attached to the outside of a helicopter. Peter Woodman, in charge of the move, helped with the transport of over 1,000 tortoises. A lot of paperwork was involved, with proper health assessments needing to be recorded for each tortoise. The assessments included fixing transmitters on many of the tortoises (smaller batteries & transmitters than before), measuring & weighing the tortoises, taking blood samples & giving the tortoises water.

The second part of the presentation was about “Brumation (Hibernation)”. There are different kinds of burrows: underground ones, artificial above-ground burrows, & indoor artificial burrows. Temperatures should be from 42 degrees up to 55 degrees. Burrows should be positioned correctly to avoid flooding. Tortoises usually build a ridge of dirt around the entrances to their burrows. Leaves may be placed over the entrance to protect the tortoise from drafts but still enable an air flow.

More information was presented about hibernation boxes, fences, & enclosures. Newspapers are not recommended for indoor hibernation boxes but straw is good (not hay). A good practice is to let leaves pile up on top of outdoor enclosures or burrows in the winter. Tortoises do not need to be checked on as much here in the desert if they are outside as opposed to other regions.

Websites: http/www.tortoisetrust.org/articles   &   https/tortoise.org/general/descare.html

Upcoming events:

Bob Parker will give a presentation on Reptiles of the area (including the Desert Tortoise) at 2 p.m. at the Maturango Museum on the 4th of November as part of the Petroglyph Festival.

The Desert Tortoise Council Workshop is in the second weekend of November in Ridgecrest. Our club will provide several desert tortoises for the field work where attendees assess the health & condition of the animals. People may audit this event which takes place over two days.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.


Posted by Sue on September 21, 2017 at 11:10 PM Comments comments (0)

The meeting began at 7:30 pm with 10 members, 2 new members, & an out of town visitor hoping to see live tortoises.

Members were encouraged to bring in their tortoises, desert as well as exotic to share with everyone. Bob brought in a Desert, Sulcatta, Leopard, & Russian.  Montynne also brought in 2 Box Turtles. Other members shared photos of their tortoises as well as stories.


Bob answered many general questions about the various tortoises, & touched on food, burrows, brumation, & tagging.

The club bylaws were discussed & voted on, unanimously passing.
Nominations for new officers were asked for....it looks like those currently in office will remain there.
Everyone was reminded that it was time for membership renewal.
Bob mentioned that the dedication sign put up by the scouts at the Tortoise Enclosure was deteriorating. The club will be adding signage soon & will look for better lamination for the existing sign.

Treasurer Sue brought up the idea of the club donating 2 of their tall glass mugs to the Museum's silent auction along with other items to make a root beer float themed basket. Everyone voted for the donation.

Possible programs & speakers were discussed with a few possibilities. 

Meeting adjourned at 8:28 pm.


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