7 month old sulcata questions

samantha(:

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Hi my name is Samantha & I own a 7 month old sulcata tortoise named Bob! I've had him for about 4 months now & he is quite a character. He loves his weekly warm baths and his favorite treats are shredded carrots and cilantro. I have experience with several different reptile/amphibian species, but he is the first tortoise I have ever owned. I do have a few questions about his enclosure. I live in Illinois & it gets pretty cold here so I have to keep him indoors for about half of the year. I want to plant a few things in his indoor tank so he can enjoy fresh food during the cold months. I know sulcatas cant handle very much humidity so I'm concerned that watering any plants that I put in there may cause a respiratory infection. Any suggestions/comments/concerns? Also, here's a picture of him reaching for some food out of my hand :)
 

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dmmj

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high humidity is fine as long as he's kept warm as a matter of fact high humidity is beneficial to a tortoise in the early years helps prevent pyramiding. so as long as he's kept warm don't worry about the humidity.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Samantha, and welcome to the Forum!

I hope I don't offend you with my next comments about a couple things you've said that are either old info or wrong info. I only have your tortoise's best interest in mind and I don't mean to hurt your feelings.

Bob should be soaked daily for about 15 minutes. Especially if you don't see him actually drinking out of the waterer that is in his habitat.

Baby sulcatas hatch out during the monsoon season in Africa. They don't really come from the Sahara desert, but more of a savanna, or grassy plain. In order for a plain to be 'grassy' there has to be water to keep it alive. So a moist substrate and a humid environment is quite the norm for young sulcatas.

As long as you keep the enclosure warm enough - not ever any cooler than 80-85F during the day or 75F at night - a humid environment is beneficial, and he will not get a R.I.

Here is some good reading with current sulcata-keeping info:

http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/
 

samantha(:

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Hi Samantha, and welcome to the Forum!

I hope I don't offend you with my next comments about a couple things you've said that are either old info or wrong info. I only have your tortoise's best interest in mind and I don't mean to hurt your feelings.

Bob should be soaked daily for about 15 minutes. Especially if you don't see him actually drinking out of the waterer that is in his habitat.

Baby sulcatas hatch out during the monsoon season in Africa. They don't really come from the Sahara desert, but more of a savanna, or grassy plain. In order for a plain to be 'grassy' there has to be water to keep it alive. So a moist substrate and a humid environment is quite the norm for young sulcatas.

As long as you keep the enclosure warm enough - not ever any cooler than 80-85F during the day or 75F at night - a humid environment is beneficial, and he will not get a R.I.
Thank you for the feedback! I used to soak him daily, but his shell got dried out & he started losing his appetite, so I took him to the vet and she said that he had a minor upper respiratory because I was soaking him too often. She also said that high humidity/low temps could have caused it. I'm so torn about what I should & shouldn't do!
 

Yvonne G

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Well, she's correct...high humidity and LOW temperatures do cause a R.I. You must keep the temperature above 75F at night and in the 80's during the day.
 

Tom

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Thank you for the feedback! I used to soak him daily, but his shell got dried out & he started losing his appetite, so I took him to the vet and she said that he had a minor upper respiratory because I was soaking him too often. She also said that high humidity/low temps could have caused it. I'm so torn about what I should & shouldn't do!

Everything Yvonne told you is spot on.

Your vet is going off of old, incorrect info.

There are but two seasons in sulcata territory. "Hot and hotter." Babies hatch at the start of the rainy season. It is hot, humid, wet, rainy, and there are puddles, marshes and green growing food everywhere. What are you using for night heat? This is where most people go wrong. Temperate species like russian or greeks need a drop in night time temps. Tropical species should really be kept at 80 or above, especially when they are babies like yours.

For decades we have been treating this species wrong. We've been going of all the wrong info based on incorrect assumptions about their life in the wild. Here at TFO we've been trying to un-do this damage for years. Sounds like you found sources for the old out dated info and I hope we can help.

Please read those threads that Yvonne linked and this one too:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
 

samantha(:

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Everything Yvonne told you is spot on.

Your vet is going off of old, incorrect info.

There are but two seasons in sulcata territory. "Hot and hotter." Babies hatch at the start of the rainy season. It is hot, humid, wet, rainy, and there are puddles, marshes and green growing food everywhere. What are you using for night heat? This is where most people go wrong. Temperate species like russian or greeks need a drop in night time temps. Tropical species should really be kept at 80 or above, especially when they are babies like yours.

For decades we have been treating this species wrong. We've been going of all the wrong info based on incorrect assumptions about their life in the wild. Here at TFO we've been trying to un-do this damage for years. Sounds like you found sources for the old out dated info and I hope we can help.

Please read those threads that Yvonne linked and this one too:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
I really appreciate all the information, I just want the best for my baby! I use a 75 watt basking light with uvb during the day & then just shut it off at night. The temperature gets down to 68 at the LOWEST. I guess I should probably change that now.. what should I use for night heat?
 
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Sara G.

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I think that's too cold. Most tort owners use a ceramic heat emitter (CHE) at night. They produce no light at all, just heat. They're awesome and when hooked up to a thermostat it will regulate the proper temperature you set it at.
 

samantha(:

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I think that's too cold. Most tort owners use a ceramic heat emitter (CHE) at night. They produce no light at all, just heat. They're awesome and when hooked up to a thermostat it will regulate the proper temperature you set it at.
I will definitely try it out, thank you
 

Tom

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I really appreciate all the information, I just want the best for my baby! I use a 75 watt basking light with uvb during the day & then just shut it off at night. The temperature gets down to 68 at the LOWEST. I guess I should probably change that now.. what should I use for night heat?

The wattage of your bulb doesn't matter. What matters is the temperatures under and around the bulb.

68 is way too cold at night for a baby sulcata. I'm not surprised that you had a problem, I'm surprised that you haven't had more problems. I hope you don't feel like I'm picking on you. I'm saying these things with a helpful tone and the intention of letting you know what needs to change. Like Sara suggested, a CHE set on a thermostat will maintain your ambient where you want it day and night. I like to keep this tropical species no lower than 80 at night.

While we are at it, what type of UV bulb are you using? The cfl types can burn their eyes and they should not be used or sold. Just want to make sure you didn't get sold one of those.
 

samantha(:

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The wattage of your bulb doesn't matter. What matters is the temperatures under and around the bulb.

68 is way too cold at night for a baby sulcata. I'm not surprised that you had a problem, I'm surprised that you haven't had more problems. I hope you don't feel like I'm picking on you. I'm saying these things with a helpful tone and the intention of letting you know what needs to change. Like Sara suggested, a CHE set on a thermostat will maintain your ambient where you want it day and night. I like to keep this tropical species no lower than 80 at night.

While we are at it, what type of UV bulb are you using? The cfl types can burn their eyes and they should not be used or sold. Just want to make sure you didn't get sold one of those.
I honestly appreciate this so much, I just want the best for my tortoise. This is a picture of the exact bulb I'm using
 

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Tom

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I honestly appreciate this so much, I just want the best for my tortoise. This is a picture of the exact bulb I'm using

Those bulbs are fine, but you can save money by buying a regular flood bulb from the hardware store when that one burns out.

Your tortoise needs UVB. It can get this from the sun, or it can get it from the right bulb used the right way. The bulb you are using offers no UVB. Does your tortoise get real direct access to sunshine on a regular basis? If yes, then all you need to do is add some night heat. If not you need a UVB bulb ASAP, and we'll help you get the right one, and use it the right way.

All of this is explained in more detail in the links that Yvonne posted for you earlier today.
 

samantha(:

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Those bulbs are fine, but you can save money by buying a regular flood bulb from the hardware store when that one burns out.

Your tortoise needs UVB. It can get this from the sun, or it can get it from the right bulb used the right way. The bulb you are using offers no UVB. Does your tortoise get real direct access to sunshine on a regular basis? If yes, then all you need to do is add some night heat. If not you need a UVB bulb ASAP, and we'll help you get the right one, and use it the right way.

All of this is explained in more detail in the links that Yvonne posted for you earlier today.
He only gets to go outside when it's warm enough & that's not year round in Illinois. I don't have a uvb bulb for him, so I will get him one since he doesn't get direct sunlight daily
 

Tom

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He only gets to go outside when it's warm enough & that's not year round in Illinois. I don't have a uvb bulb for him, so I will get him one since he doesn't get direct sunlight daily

You can add a regular 10.0 tube to your existing set up fairly easily. Get one at least half as long as the enclosure. This type of bulb must be mounted no more than about 10" from the top of the tortoise for it to work. If that is not practical for your situation, they make other bulbs that are stronger and work from farther away. Let us know...
 

samantha(:

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You can add a regular 10.0 tube to your existing set up fairly easily. Get one at least half as long as the enclosure. This type of bulb must be mounted no more than about 10" from the top of the tortoise for it to work. If that is not practical for your situation, they make other bulbs that are stronger and work from farther away. Let us know...
I went to the store today & got a new uvb light & a CHE. I also planted some cilantro and dandelion in his cage, he'll definitely enjoy that. Thank you for all of the help, I'm sure Bob will be a lot happier now!
 

Tom

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I went to the store today & got a new uvb light & a CHE. I also planted some cilantro and dandelion in his cage, he'll definitely enjoy that. Thank you for all of the help, I'm sure Bob will be a lot happier now!

I'm always paranoid that the pet shops will talk people into one of their cfl florescent UV bulbs, and those can burn your tortoises eyes. So please forgive my nosy-ness… Which UV bulb did you get?
 

samantha(:

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I'm always paranoid that the pet shops will talk people into one of their cfl florescent UV bulbs, and those can burn your tortoises eyes. So please forgive my nosy-ness… Which UV bulb did you get?
I thought that fluorescent bulbs have been proven not to be damaging to the eyes contrary to beliefs before, but I still didn't get that kind because I heard that they don't work as well anyway.
 
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