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 February 12, 2019 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Meeting began at 7:30 pm with 14 people attending.

Treasurer's Report:  The Executive Board sent each chapter $1,000 for special projects. Our plan includes 3 informational kiosks placed around the Tortoise Enclosure at the Maturango Museum. We may work in tandem offering a possible project for an Eagle Scout as we did with the enclosure.

"Something Completely Different: Cheetahs"  President Bob Parker presented a program on his summer of 1972 in charge of the Cheetah Compund at Marine World, Africa USA in Redwood City. Interviewing for a photographer's assistant position, he was offered the position when he said he was earning his degree in wildlife biology. Highlights included not only facts, but stories about escapes, leaping into a passing tour boat - which led to collars and leashes for all, & individual personalities of each.
Following Bob's presentation, Lisa Lavelle showed pictures of her month volunteering at the Cheetah Conservation Fund center in Namibia, Africa in 1998. The CCF is a research & conservation center working with local farmers to educate on ways to discourage cheetahs from hunting down livestock, instead of trapping & shooting them. Cheetahs were targeted mainly because they are diurnal & visible compared to other predators. After, Ray Kelso mentioned to the group that he had a number of photos on display in the Maturango Museum's Sylvia Winslow gallery of animals taken on his African safari.

March Program: Pete Woodman, Biologist Consultant, will speak & demonstrate  assessing the health of desert tortoises in the wild. He introduces field techniques for the Desert Tortoise Council November Workshop held in Ridgecrest, designed for wildlife biologists, zoologists, natural resource & recreation specialists, wildlife & land managers, recreation specialists, persons dealing with the public, & teachers.

Meeting adjourned at 8:30 pm


Posted by Sue on January 23, 2019 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

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

Treasurer’s Report: The club currently has a total of $5,700 in its account.  Club members voted to reimburse the Parkers for veterinarian fees & postage.

Discussion: Many of us braved the heavy rains tonight to attend the meeting. Bob mentioned that the tortoises probably enjoy this rainy weather.

The Parkers & Montynne attended the quarterly Executive Board Meeting Saturday the 12th at the Arboretum in Arcadia. CTTC will be giving each chapter $1,000. The number of desert tortoises that all of the CTTC clubs are holding is down from last year, 248. There are 11 Russian tortoises & 3 Sulcatas. If anyone is interested in adopting any of these, please contact the clubs.

Please share ideas for programs with Bob. A possibility for an activity at one of our meetings might be for everyone to participate in a lecture with a specific topic. Also, we might invite local biologists Peter Woodman or Rachel W. to give a lecture & possibly a demonstration on measuring & assessing the health of tortoises in the wild. They conduct the Tortoise Survey Workshops, offered in November. Our club has provided tortoises for this workshop for several years, gaining health information on those we are holding for adoption at the time.

Concerning the tortoise enclosure at the museum, we would like to start a list of volunteers for those interested in feeding the tortoises in the summer. Also, we need to plant more shade for the tortoises. We might plant a desert willow. Bob went ahead & bought & planted some vegetation a Girl Scout troop had promised to acquire & plant, then were unable to follow through.

Returning! The Orange County & Chino Chapters are combining to host the “Live Turtle and Tortoise Show” on Sunday, August 25, 2019, located at the La Habra Community Center at 101 W. La Habra Blvd., La Habra, CA 90631. The past shows have been a fun & educational event on turtles & tortoises, & very well attended. There will be vendors/sellers of turtle & tortoise related items (Absolutely no live tortoises will be for sale). Our club has always attended with a table & willing hands to help with set-up, etc. Those that volunteer to help in advance will get a T-shirt. 

Program: “Our Desert Reptiles”: Bob presented a very interesting power point about mostly local lizards, snakes & tortoises. Some of the wildlife discussed were chuckwallas (largest lizards we have here), rattlesnakes, desert-banded geckos, scorpions, leopard lizards, zebra-tailed lizards, yellow-backed spiny lizards, side-blotched lizards, Southern Desert horned lizards (who appear fierce!), Great Basin whiptail lizards, gopher snakes, rosy boas, red racers & many types of tortoises. It was amazing to see slides of how many lizards appear illuminated under UV light!

Interesting myths have been told about snakes (there are no Mojave Reds). The Green Mojave’s name is just an indication of their color which can vary. Also, there are no 6-foot Mojave rattlesnakes. These snakes have a neurotoxic venom. Eighty percent of snakes are not venomous.

Biologists have discovered that tortoise eggs that develop in colder temperatures (78-87 degrees F) produce more male tortoises. When the weather is warmer (91-95.4 degrees F), then more females tend to be produced. How tortoises deal with the weather & brumation were also topics of the power point. 

Meeting adjourned at 8:30 pm


Posted by Sue on January 23, 2019 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Member Montynne & her family invited the club members to celebrate the holiday season at their beautiful home. Everyone brought snacks to share with drinks & hot dips provided.

We had lots of fun exchanging Secret Santa Christmas gifts surrounded by hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of gorgeous Christmas decorations, many animated & lit up! It was wonderful to relax and enjoy the holiday season with friends. We all are looking forward to the year ahead as we will be thinking about what we might be able to do to improve the lives of wild as well as captive tortoises.

Thanks to Montynne & her family!


Posted by Sue on January 23, 2019 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

The Club combined their October meeting with the Kerncrest Audubon Society's on their regularly scheduled meeting night Thursday, November 8th. Dr. Daniel Leavitt, a biologist for the Environmental Management Division at the China Lake Naval Base was the guest speaker.

Dr. Leavitt talked extensively on the wildlife & tortoises living on Base property. The power point presentation included pictures of ravens & their impact. An important piece of advice to help reduce the large population of ravens in this area is to verbally chase away the birds when they are feeding on garbage at dumpsters. Ravens are known to avoid those areas if they are scared away.

After the engaging lecture & answering questions from the audience, Dr. Leavitt gave us his email address for any more questions we might like to ask him. His email is: [email protected]

We enjoyed the opportunity to join with another group & hope to share in other programs in future.


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.


Upcoming Events

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Monday, Dec 14 at 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
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