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24/7 Outside Central Coast California?

GoGamora

New Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Central CA
I've been reading online for a couple of days, but the closest topic I could find was from Joe's Mum about blue slate and UK weather.

I am hoping one of the experienced members can set me straight here because the info is varied.

I knew that our Sulcata would get big, but I thought we would have a few years before that happened. Due to interior constraints--owning a shoebox in the Central Coast--it looks like I'll have to move our little 4-5" tort outside by the mid Summer. Now, fortunately I have a large backyard--for the area--and plenty of lawn, orchard, etc. space. However, what I don't have is warm weather. 55-65F most days, 75-78 some Summer weeks, 85-90 heat waves and then 50-37 lows depending on the season overnight.

I am committed to razing old structures and building new ones for this tortoise. So, what can I do for the tortoise to help it thrive in this coastal climate on a 24/7 outdoor basis by the time the tortoise is about 5-8lbs later this year?


🐢
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
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Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
1,993
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
Hi, and welcome to TFO!

I have never kept a sulcata, but I think your little one may still be too small for outside all the time. When others chime in, maybe they will have suggestions to help with the indoor space issue.

In the meantime, whether it be now or another year, sulcatas need a heated night box outside that they go in and out as they please by day, and get locked in by night.

This is a list of supplies you need to build one, and the link in the post takes you to a "how to build it" post. These were both written by a very experienced keeper/breeder on this forum..

Night box how to

I just typed up a list of the needed supplies to build a night box and thought I'd copy paste it here:

For sulcatas, I make the doors 26x16". This will fit all but the largest of large males for their entire life. If you end up with one of the giants, you will eventually have to make another box with a bigger door.

I don't use anything on the floors or walls. I put some dirt on the floor, and this makes clean up really easy. The floors in my sulcata boxes never rot. If ever they did, its easy to put a plywood patch over the rough spot and get another decade or more of use out of the box. If ever the patch were to rot, easy to replace the patch.

Cost for all the electric stuff (Heavy duty extension cord, latching plastic box, thermostat, heater, computer fan, etc...), insulation, sealant, paint and primer, hinges and latches, and all your lumber will run around $700-800.

For a 4x8' box, you'll need:

* 7 sheets of plywood. Do NOT use OSB or any other type of particle board. I use 11/32 thickness. This keeps the weight of the box down, and the insulation and sealant holds the heat in just fine.
* 4 sheets of rigid foam 1.5" insulation.
* Around 12-15 2x4s.
* 6-10 2x3s.
* 4 2x2s to frame the lid. Saves a lot of weight in these heavy lids...
* 5-6 tubes of GE Silicone I sealant.
* One gallon of Killz 2 primer.
* One gallon of Behr Premium Exterior Paint.
* I use "Deck Screws" from Home Depot. Super long lasting, strong, and you'll never pop the head off of one. Mostly 1 1/4" screws to attach the plywood to the framing, but also 3" screws for strength in the corners and when you attach the 2x4 to the back of the box that you'll attach the lid to with hinges. Not a bad idea to have 1 5/8 or 2" screws in case you strip the wood with one of the 1 1/4 screws in softer wood.
* I also get a couple of pressure treated 2x4s and cut three strips to size, to rest the box on and keep it off the ground.
* Spend the extra few bucks on the hot galvanized hinges for your doors. Its a pain in the arse to replace those if they rust due to pee or rain. Regular door hinges work fine for me for the back since they dry off after a rain and don't sit in water all the time.
* I use a plastic shoe box type thing to contain all my cords and thermostat and keep things a little neater, and to prevent the tortoises from getting tangled in the wires.
* I use coffee cup hanging hooks to route my wires and keep them out of tortoise reach.
* Use a medium or heavy duty extension cord. At least 14 gauge, if not 12. I think the thinner 16 gauge cords are too thin.
* Here is the thermostat I usually use: https://www.lllreptile.com/pro...00-watt-temperature-controller
* Here is the heater I typically use: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Optimus-...d=47821a26-852-1673f254fbdcb1&athena=true
* Here is the computer fan I usually use: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009DLW9RO/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

ENJOY!!! :D
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
46,385
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I don't have a good solution for you. You live in the wrong climate for this species. They should not live outside full time until they are at least 8-10 inches, and only when in a relatively warm climate after that. This is a giant species of tropical reptile. They need warmth 24/7/365. In non-coastal Southern CA, its warm and sunny most days and they can bask in the sun to warm up even on cooler winter days. In your climate, that won't be possible most of every year.

Until your tortoise reaches a more appropriate size for outdoor living, you need a large indoor closed chamber. Once it does reach that bigger size, you'll need a large heated area for it to roam and go about its business. Many people in the frozen north convert a basement or use large insulated outdoor sheds. Due to the size of these animals and their propensity to walk and roam large areas, I don't find these solutions to be acceptable.

Sad to say it, but it doesn't sound to me like you are able to give this tortoise what it needs due to space and climate limitations.
 

maggie18fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
251
Location (City and/or State)
Corvallis Oregon
Hi and welcome...but you may not like what you hear here abt Sulcata living in not great weather. I am a native Californian, Sulcata keeper and transplanted Oregonian...I moved to Oregon 15 yrs ago. My tortoise patron and I paid several thousands of dollars to build a large heated and insulated shed, solid cedar fencing and a great pen. We used top of the line equipment, UVB lights, humidifier, heat etc. I researched and fed the best diet available, but still for 5-6 months at a time he would be forced to stay in. During that 'inside' time he paced the shed banging the walls loud enough my neighbors complained. He would poop in his water dish on purpose when he got mad at staying in. He cracked 3/4" plywood in his anger at being inside. I spent time with him, I taught him games, we napped together. I did everything I could do emotionally and physically to make Bob's life good. But honestly, in those months he had to be confined he was unhappy. he got big enough to go out in the snow, but still. He died in 2015.
I have 3 tortoises now, and 2 live in Bob's shed. Your tort is too small to spend much time outside in your weather. (I have family in Oceano and Pismo). I bonded with Bob in a way that was different. I absolutely loved him, and he me. But after all these years and having more Sulcata and looking back to Bob; I think that it is not fair for me to keep desert type tortoises in a colder climate. My Sulcata now are abt 50 lbs and 25 lbs. They are kept under the same conditions as Bob, only he went out in the snow and they are still too small for that. Knobby, the smaller one paces, and bangs and is distraught most days. He absolutely HATES being kept inside. He is stressed and unhappy. Big Sam, on the other hand, basks and sleeps thru the days. He eats good and is active enough and reasonably content. Or so it seems. Anyhow, I just wanted to relate my experience at Sulcata in crappy weather to give you something to think about. Here are pictures of Big Sams carapace. In October when they saw sun for the last time, Sam's carapace was exactly smooth and how it's supposed to be. Now look at was has happened in almost 4 months. That is with fresh UVB bulbs....in just 4 months. I don't think, in hind sight, that I would do it again. Damage to the tort visually, and possibly emotional too? Listen to what everyone has to say...pick what would suit you and your tort the best and do what you think is right...here's Sam...018.JPG026.JPG030.JPG
 

GoGamora

New Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Central CA
I don't have a good solution for you.

You live in the wrong climate for this species.

They should not live outside ... only when in a relatively warm climate after that.

They need warmth 24/7/365. In non-coastal Southern CA, its warm and sunny most days and they can bask in the sun to warm up even on cooler winter days.

In your climate, that won't be possible most of every year.

Many people in the frozen ... I don't find these solutions to be acceptable.

Sad to say it, but it doesn't sound to me like you are able to give this tortoise what it needs due to space and climate limitations.
I understand that you have been on this forum for quite some time and have lots of experience in your region. However, can you provide any source for the claim that a Sulcata—once grown—should not live outside with a full-time heated hide to come into and out of unless you live in a “warmer” climate?

I’m not here to question your personal experience or what you’ve enforced by way of advice if you are making the claim that the tortoise can’t live in a moderate 55-65 climate with year round heated enclosure access in a sunnier part of the region that almost never drops below winter temps of Phoenix, Vegas, Los Angeles, I become skeptical or at least optimistic.

The average winter months here are within a couple degrees difference of Los Angeles, and those days in full Sun produce surface temperatures in the 70s and 80s.

For example, in another post I had mentioned a man here who had 60 tortoises and many Sulcatas less than five miles from my home living and thriving on his property. The home was foreclosed and it created a huge adoption rush.

I see numerous people on here with massive tortoises living in the Midwest, NE, and PNW.

So, no offense, but if you could maybe point me to some literature or successful posts from members who have 24/7 outdoor adult sulcatas in similar or much worse climates, I’d appreciate it.

Thanks again!
 

GoGamora

New Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Central CA
Hi and welcome...but you may not like what you hear here abt Sulcata living in not great weather. I am a native Californian, Sulcata keeper and transplanted Oregonian...I moved to Oregon 15 yrs ago. My tortoise patron and I paid several thousands of dollars to build a large heated and insulated shed, solid cedar fencing and a great pen. We used top of the line equipment, UVB lights, humidifier, heat etc. I researched and fed the best diet available, but still for 5-6 months at a time he would be forced to stay in. During that 'inside' time he paced the shed banging the walls loud enough my neighbors complained. He would poop in his water dish on purpose when he got mad at staying in. He cracked 3/4" plywood in his anger at being inside. I spent time with him, I taught him games, we napped together. I did everything I could do emotionally and physically to make Bob's life good. But honestly, in those months he had to be confined he was unhappy. he got big enough to go out in the snow, but still. He died in 2015.
I have 3 tortoises now, and 2 live in Bob's shed. Your tort is too small to spend much time outside in your weather. (I have family in Oceano and Pismo). I bonded with Bob in a way that was different. I absolutely loved him, and he me. But after all these years and having more Sulcata and looking back to Bob; I think that it is not fair for me to keep desert type tortoises in a colder climate. My Sulcata now are abt 50 lbs and 25 lbs. They are kept under the same conditions as Bob, only he went out in the snow and they are still too small for that. Knobby, the smaller one paces, and bangs and is distraught most days. He absolutely HATES being kept inside. He is stressed and unhappy. Big Sam, on the other hand, basks and sleeps thru the days. He eats good and is active enough and reasonably content. Or so it seems. Anyhow, I just wanted to relate my experience at Sulcata in crappy weather to give you something to think about. Here are pictures of Big Sams carapace. In October when they saw sun for the last time, Sam's carapace was exactly smooth and how it's supposed to be. Now look at was has happened in almost 4 months. That is with fresh UVB bulbs....in just 4 months. I don't think, in hind sight, that I would do it again. Damage to the tort visually, and possibly emotional too? Listen to what everyone has to say...pick what would suit you and your tort the best and do what you think is right...here's Sam...
This is very sad and I’m really sorry that your tortoise had to go through all of that. Was there snow on the ground most of those four months or just too much rain? I’m trying to understand why he was locked up and not able to move between the heated exterior to soak up some internal temp and exterior to forage and catch some sun.

It’s my understanding that they are capable of storing heat the larger they are and will move back and forth between gradients to thermoregulate.

Fortunately, I live in the edge of the Salad Bowl of the world where we have no frost, little rain, a decent amount of Sun, but moderate temps that don’t exhibit extremes one way or the other.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
46,385
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I understand that you have been on this forum for quite some time and have lots of experience in your region. However, can you provide any source for the claim that a Sulcata—once grown—should not live outside with a full-time heated hide to come into and out of unless you live in a “warmer” climate?

I’m not here to question your personal experience or what you’ve enforced by way of advice if you are making the claim that the tortoise can’t live in a moderate 55-65 climate with year round heated enclosure access in a sunnier part of the region that almost never drops below winter temps of Phoenix, Vegas, Los Angeles, I become skeptical or at least optimistic.

The average winter months here are within a couple degrees difference of Los Angeles, and those days in full Sun produce surface temperatures in the 70s and 80s.

For example, in another post I had mentioned a man here who had 60 tortoises and many Sulcatas less than five miles from my home living and thriving on his property. The home was foreclosed and it created a huge adoption rush.

I see numerous people on here with massive tortoises living in the Midwest, NE, and PNW.

So, no offense, but if you could maybe point me to some literature or successful posts from members who have 24/7 outdoor adult sulcatas in similar or much worse climates, I’d appreciate it.

Thanks again!
Maggie said it best. Not much I could add to that. Confining a giant tortoise to a small heated area in a cold climate is not good for them in many ways.

In your original post you said "Central Coast" of CA. As I typed my answer to your question this morning, I was typing from a hotel in San Francisco. I was up there on business. Its cold there. Its always cold and clammy there near the coast, even much of the summer is cold up there. The extreme lows may be similar to Phoenix or L.A. but the central coast is seldom warm enough for a tropical tortoise to be outside. It just never gets warm. If you are farther inland, away from the cold clammy coast, then this is a different story, but your tortoise is still too small to be outside full time.

I say the same thing I said to you to the people living in the Midwest, NE and PNW. I don't have an answer for how to keep this species in a climate like that. I wouldn't do it unless I was stupid rich and could build a giant insulated barn with heated floors and then pay to heat it all year. I know of no one doing it that way. Its a touchy subject. People tend to get offended and defensive. I don't condemn anyone who chooses to do it, but I'm not comfortable with the compromises that need to be made, and I wouldn't do it. This very subject is a huge part of where I'm planning to retire when I leave Krazy Kalifornia and move to a state that is not so heavily controlled by criminals and idiots. Its got to be one of the southern states with good tortoise weather. AZ, TX, LA, FL... I wish we could take CA back from the Insane Clown Posse that has taken over here, but I don't see that happening in my lifetime.

And I don't mind you or anyone questioning the things I assert. Ask your questions. Allow me to explain further. More will be learned by all that way. I've learned a tremendous amount from "arguments" like this. Much information gets shared this way. If everyone just agreed all the time and we all thought the same way, this could just be a care sheet instead of a conversational forum.
 

maggie18fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
251
Location (City and/or State)
Corvallis Oregon
This is very sad and I’m really sorry that your tortoise had to go through all of that. Was there snow on the ground most of those four months or just too much rain? I’m trying to understand why he was locked up and not able to move between the heated exterior to soak up some internal temp and exterior to forage and catch some sun.

It’s my understanding that they are capable of storing heat the larger they are and will move back and forth between gradients to thermoregulate.

Fortunately, I live in the edge of the Salad Bowl of the world where we have no frost, little rain, a decent amount of Sun, but moderate temps that don’t exhibit extremes one way or the other.
I am sorry that I did not make myself more clear. I was talking about several tortoises over time. In my part of Oregon the sun DOES NOT shine for 7 months. Some snow, lots and lots and more than that of rain. Temps between freezing and 40 to 45 degrees on a nice day, cold wet fog. My tortoises have all the room I can provide, they have the best equipment possible, the best food, and, for cripes sake, they have me. But for animals that walk over 20 miles a day in the wild just to forage, a confined shed (no matter how big) and pens with forage without enough exercise or sun is just a bad combo. Seriously reconsider or get a Redfoot...Salinas or Castroville is not decent Sulcata country...imho
 

Maro2Bear

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 29, 2014
Messages
8,285
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
Greetings.

I was just wondering where specifically are you located in “Central CA”? I‘d agree with others that your lil Sully is still too small/young to go outside 24/7 this year, but depending on your care & good conditions, maybe next year, but for sure the year after. One thing you have going, I say based on time spent in Monterey area, is that you do have nice bright sunshine available all Winter. Access to a protected, sun shiny area will go a long way. So, Id say you have two years to plan ahead. A nice enclosure, coupled with a heated night box like @Tom has described here many times will help things. (Night box = 4 ft x 8ft insulated box, kane heat pad in the floor, radiant heat panel in ceiling all connected via controllable thermostat). (Doubly insulated as well).

Good Luck
 

Turtulas-Len

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5 Year Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2010
Messages
3,698
Location (City and/or State)
Southern Md - Northern Neck Va
In 1996 I went to the Orlando Reptile Show to get a Black Mountain Tortoise and while there I also picked up a hatchling Sulcata. I knew he was going to get big (and he has). I live near Washington DC where we can have extremely unpredictable winter weather. He lives outside all year and comes out of his house nearly everyday to get some exercise and eat and he also drinks water every couple days but not every day. He has an 8 ft x 8 ft very well insulated house.Picture.jpgThe heat sources are a 3x4 ft Stanfield heat mat a 150 watt CHE and a electric oil filled heater. I don't use thermostats I use rheostats and have them adjusted so he gets a higher inside temperature during the day than at night. His door stays open 24 hours a day unless we are expecting blizzard type conditions. I built this house in 2008 and he has lived in it since then. Today he came out about 4:30 pm Picture 002.jpg Counting the mazuri I give him about 4 pounds of food and he also grazes on the grass and the leaves that fell last fall from the maple and mulberry trees. Picture 005.jpgAfter grazing for a while he goes back and eats more of what i put out for him.Picture 007.jpgAfter he finishes the mazuri he heads back in for the night.Picture 009.a.jpg He did all this today with the temps in the upper 30s F. I got a weight on him a few weeks ago and he is 135 pounds and he is healthy, happy and content. I see no reason that you can't do it where you live,
 

GoGamora

New Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Central CA
In 1996 I went to the Orlando Reptile Show to get a Black Mountain Tortoise and while there I also picked up a hatchling Sulcata. I knew he was going to get big (and he has). I live near Washington DC where we can have extremely unpredictable winter weather. He lives outside all year and comes out of his house nearly everyday to get some exercise and eat and he also drinks water every couple days but not every day. He has an 8 ft x 8 ft very well insulated house.View attachment 286228The heat sources are a 3x4 ft Stanfield heat mat a 150 watt CHE and a electric oil filled heater. I don't use thermostats I use rheostats and have them adjusted so he gets a higher inside temperature during the day than at night. His door stays open 24 hours a day unless we are expecting blizzard type conditions. I built this house in 2008 and he has lived in it since then. Today he came out about 4:30 pm View attachment 286230 Counting the mazuri I give him about 4 pounds of food and he also grazes on the grass and the leaves that fell last fall from the maple and mulberry trees. View attachment 286233After grazing for a while he goes back and eats more of what i put out for him.View attachment 286234After he finishes the mazuri he heads back in for the night.View attachment 286235 He did all this today with the temps in the upper 30s F. I got a weight on him a few weeks ago and he is 135 pounds and he is healthy, happy and content. I see no reason that you can't do it where you live,
this is awesome thanks for sharing!
 

maggie18fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
251
Location (City and/or State)
Corvallis Oregon
In 1996 I went to the Orlando Reptile Show to get a Black Mountain Tortoise and while there I also picked up a hatchling Sulcata. I knew he was going to get big (and he has). I live near Washington DC where we can have extremely unpredictable winter weather. He lives outside all year and comes out of his house nearly everyday to get some exercise and eat and he also drinks water every couple days but not every day. He has an 8 ft x 8 ft very well insulated house.View attachment 286228The heat sources are a 3x4 ft Stanfield heat mat a 150 watt CHE and a electric oil filled heater. I don't use thermostats I use rheostats and have them adjusted so he gets a higher inside temperature during the day than at night. His door stays open 24 hours a day unless we are expecting blizzard type conditions. I built this house in 2008 and he has lived in it since then. Today he came out about 4:30 pm View attachment 286230 Counting the mazuri I give him about 4 pounds of food and he also grazes on the grass and the leaves that fell last fall from the maple and mulberry trees. View attachment 286233After grazing for a while he goes back and eats more of what i put out for him.View attachment 286234After he finishes the mazuri he heads back in for the night.View attachment 286235 He did all this today with the temps in the upper 30s F. I got a weight on him a few weeks ago and he is 135 pounds and he is healthy, happy and content. I see no reason that you can't do it where you live,
He is a beautiful tortoise Len....
 

GoGamora

New Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Central CA
Greetings.

I was just wondering where specifically are you located in “Central CA”? I‘d agree with others that your lil Sully is still too small/young to go outside 24/7 this year, but depending on your care & good conditions, maybe next year, but for sure the year after. One thing you have going, I say based on time spent in Monterey area, is that you do have nice bright sunshine available all Winter. Access to a protected, sun shiny area will go a long way. So, Id say you have two years to plan ahead. A nice enclosure, coupled with a heated night box like @Tom has described here many times will help things. (Night box = 4 ft x 8ft insulated box, kane heat pad in the floor, radiant heat panel in ceiling all connected via controllable thermostat). (Doubly insulated as well).

Good Luck
Thanks, I live closer to the coast. The plan is to do the heated box and sort out the yard/orchard. I’m more concerned with raccoons than anything so size—before going outdoors—is a major concern.
 

Blackdog1714

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2018
Messages
1,513
Location (City and/or State)
Richmond, VA
For me in RICHMOND I planned inside care over outside since we get so many seasons here. I feel we experience about 11-14 seasons a year with how each time of the year see-saws and pinballs! Fortunately I have a basement (think dungeon) and can accommodate them. I am cleaning out all of the crap I have accumulated down there over the years. I just have to watch myself because of the overload of cute tortoise babies on here.
 

Markw84

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
3,473
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
I understand that you have been on this forum for quite some time and have lots of experience in your region. However, can you provide any source for the claim that a Sulcata—once grown—should not live outside with a full-time heated hide to come into and out of unless you live in a “warmer” climate?

I’m not here to question your personal experience or what you’ve enforced by way of advice if you are making the claim that the tortoise can’t live in a moderate 55-65 climate with year round heated enclosure access in a sunnier part of the region that almost never drops below winter temps of Phoenix, Vegas, Los Angeles, I become skeptical or at least optimistic.

The average winter months here are within a couple degrees difference of Los Angeles, and those days in full Sun produce surface temperatures in the 70s and 80s.

For example, in another post I had mentioned a man here who had 60 tortoises and many Sulcatas less than five miles from my home living and thriving on his property. The home was foreclosed and it created a huge adoption rush.

I see numerous people on here with massive tortoises living in the Midwest, NE, and PNW.

So, no offense, but if you could maybe point me to some literature or successful posts from members who have 24/7 outdoor adult sulcatas in similar or much worse climates, I’d appreciate it.

Thanks again!
I lived for many years along the coast near Monterey. I chose not to have a sulcata there. I think a point that is being missed is not just how cold it may get in winter, but just as important, how hot does it get in the prime time of year for the tortoise. Sulcatas thrive in weather that is 85°-90° in the shade. Even 3-4 months of that gives them a great season to really thrive and develop health and immune defenses. An area that never see temperatures like that give the tortoise no chance to really live as it should. Warming up in a night box and venturing out in cool weather to graze and browse is well tolerated for a part of the year. But if that is the WHOLE year, the tortoise never has a chance to really live!
 
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Myakoda

New Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
16
Location (City and/or State)
AZ.
I don't have a good solution for you. You live in the wrong climate for this species. They should not live outside full time until they are at least 8-10 inches, and only when in a relatively warm climate after that. This is a giant species of tropical reptile. They need warmth 24/7/365. In non-coastal Southern CA, its warm and sunny most days and they can bask in the sun to warm up even on cooler winter days. In your climate, that won't be possible most of every year.

Until your tortoise reaches a more appropriate size for outdoor living, you need a large indoor closed chamber. Once it does reach that bigger size, you'll need a large heated area for it to roam and go about its business. Many people in the frozen north convert a basement or use large insulated outdoor sheds. Due to the size of these animals and their propensity to walk and roam large areas, I don't find these solutions to be acceptable.

Sad to say it, but it doesn't sound to me like you are able to give this tortoise what it needs due to space and climate limitations.
Hi Tom, I learn something new a few times a day everyday regarding Sulcata's. I'm obsessed about giving baby Myakoda the best care I can. I never thought we'd find a hatchling in the street, it's a miricle she wasn't run over. I feel we found her for a reason. X Ray--OPO and you have given me some great advise. X Ray-- OPO has been really patient lol, hope i'm not unnerving him. We're working on bringing her humidity levels up, now they are at 60+ we will get them higher. We will be getting a large outside tub with organic cocnut soil, and reptibark mixed, as well when we change her indoor substrate, we will be doing the same. The outside tub will have a thin screen on top, then half the tub in the sun, the other in the shade. Of course water, and moist substrate. If you have any suggestions, that would be awesome! We'll do this as often, and as many hours as we can. She's being soaked everyday, her teranium sprayed all the time, and her log soaked. However, you said above Sulcata's are Tropical forest species. I was under the impression they are from enviroments such as, the Sahara Desert and the Sahel, a transitional ecoregion of semiarid grasslands, savannas, and thorn shrublands found in the countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Somalia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, etc...? So just curious, being there's so much conflicting info out there. Thank you, obsessed Torty Mommy.
 

Myakoda

New Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
16
Location (City and/or State)
AZ.
In 1996 I went to the Orlando Reptile Show to get a Black Mountain Tortoise and while there I also picked up a hatchling Sulcata. I knew he was going to get big (and he has). I live near Washington DC where we can have extremely unpredictable winter weather. He lives outside all year and comes out of his house nearly everyday to get some exercise and eat and he also drinks water every couple days but not every day. He has an 8 ft x 8 ft very well insulated house.View attachment 286228The heat sources are a 3x4 ft Stanfield heat mat a 150 watt CHE and a electric oil filled heater. I don't use thermostats I use rheostats and have them adjusted so he gets a higher inside temperature during the day than at night. His door stays open 24 hours a day unless we are expecting blizzard type conditions. I built this house in 2008 and he has lived in it since then. Today he came out about 4:30 pm View attachment 286230 Counting the mazuri I give him about 4 pounds of food and he also grazes on the grass and the leaves that fell last fall from the maple and mulberry trees. View attachment 286233After grazing for a while he goes back and eats more of what i put out for him.View attachment 286234After he finishes the mazuri he heads back in for the night.View attachment 286235 He did all this today with the temps in the upper 30s F. I got a weight on him a few weeks ago and he is 135 pounds and he is healthy, happy and content. I see no reason that you can't do it where you live,
He's beautiful! Nice smooth shell, inspiring indeed. When he was a baby, did you have him inside until a certain age? Also, I'm curious to know what kind of indoor housing, hide spots etc..and the foods you fed him. Thank you. :)
 

Maro2Bear

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 29, 2014
Messages
8,285
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
I lived for many years along the coast near Monterey. I chose not to have a sulcata there. I think a point that is being missed is not just how cold it may get in winter, but just as important, how hot does it get in the prime time of year for the tortoise. Sulcatas thrive in weather that is 85°-90° in the shade. Even 3-4 months of that gives them a great season to really thrive and develop health and immune defenses. An area that never see temperatures like that give the tortoise no chance to really live as it should. Warming up in a night box and venturing out in cool weather to graze and browse is well tolerated for a part of the year. But if that is the WHOLE year, the tortoise never has a chance to really live!
Good point regarding the Monterey area. For the years I lived there, I only recall it getting “hot” for one week. No one had a/c in their homes or our office space! (Not humid either)
 

Blackdog1714

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2018
Messages
1,513
Location (City and/or State)
Richmond, VA
I was at the Tampa Zoo last year and learned via the TV SHow The Secret's Of The Zoo that one of their Aldabra's male died over the winter. This discussion brings this to mind because of the over winter temp changes in Florida and could this have contributed. I have no idea if a necropsy was done and no idea if an actual cause was found, but for a tort that is designed for a consistently warm - hot climate any cold could be dangerous.
 

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