Am I feeding too much? Baby Sulcata

Reptilony

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I am really surprised everyone is saying you can't over feed them. Most reptiles will eat as much as you can present to them, snakes for example would eat an unhealthy amount of mice if given the opportunity. Apparently I should give more food then? My tort would eat double what I put in there if I allowed it. I will try to do more soaks since many people recommend it. But please read my post as it is not a BABY. I need to make sure I am getting the right advice for my sulcata at her appropriate age.
Yes if it wants more feed more lol! As other member have said you can soak everyday untill you can't lift your tort!
 

Magz

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I am really surprised everyone is saying you can't over feed them. Most reptiles will eat as much as you can present to them, snakes for example would eat an unhealthy amount of mice if given the opportunity. Apparently I should give more food then? My tort would eat double what I put in there if I allowed it. I will try to do more soaks since many people reco mend it. But please read my post as it is not a BABY. I need to make sure I am getting the right advice for my sulcata at her appropriate age.

They will eat until they are full. Normally they would be grazing all day. I would feed yours 1 or 2 big handsful. If they start to leave some feed less.
 

TriciaStringer

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We have an almost two year old. We’ve had her just a few months. She was already pyramiding a little. I soak her once or twice a day. She is outside all day and comes inside at night into her closed chamber. You can’t soak too much. I’d still do it everyday. I do it right when she goes out in the morning. While she soaks I go around the yard clipping weeds and preparing all her food. I then soak her again right before she goes inside. This is the soak I usually skip if I’m going to only because sometimes it gets late before I go grab her.
 

TechnoCheese

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I am really surprised everyone is saying you can't over feed them. Most reptiles will eat as much as you can present to them, snakes for example would eat an unhealthy amount of mice if given the opportunity. Apparently I should give more food then? My tort would eat double what I put in there if I allowed it. I will try to do more soaks since many people recommend it. But please read my post as it is not a BABY. I need to make sure I am getting the right advice for my sulcata at her appropriate age.

In the wild, tortoises spend most of their time grazing. In captivity, they should also be allowed to graze. Snakes are not grazing animals, so they can be overfed. Think of tortoises like cows.

Tortoises are constantly growing and they need the energy to do it, so they really cannot be overfed.
 

DaneC020

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We have an almost two year old. We’ve had her just a few months. She was already pyramiding a little. I soak her once or twice a day. She is outside all day and comes inside at night into her closed chamber. You can’t soak too much. I’d still do it everyday. I do it right when she goes out in the morning. While she soaks I go around the yard clipping weeds and preparing all her food. I then soak her again right before she goes inside. This is the soak I usually skip if I’m going to only because sometimes it gets late before I go grab her.

I see you are also in Louisiana. You weren't concerned having a 2 year old Sulcata living outside? Some people have told me not to do it because they are too young at that point but I have a 15ftx15ft outside setup already built for him when he gets a little older. I would love to put him out there during the day so he has a more natural environment but I was worried he was too young and would get sick. Am I over worrying?
 

TriciaStringer

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I see you are also in Louisiana. You weren't concerned having a 2 year old Sulcata living outside? Some people have told me not to do it because they are too young at that point but I have a 15ftx15ft outside setup already built for him when he gets a little older. I would love to put him out there during the day so he has a more natural environment but I was worried he was too young and would get sick. Am I over worrying?
Our tortoise is 8 inches. They can live outside at 8-10 inches full time with a locked night box. I think I’m waiting until spring to put her out full time though plus we haven’t put her wooden door on her night box yet. She will have a heated night box for winter. The high humidity we have is great for her. I also provide cool hides for her to escape the heat. Where are you in LA?
 

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TriciaStringer

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I see you are also in Louisiana. You weren't concerned having a 2 year old Sulcata living outside? Some people have told me not to do it because they are too young at that point but I have a 15ftx15ft outside setup already built for him when he gets a little older. I would love to put him out there during the day so he has a more natural environment but I was worried he was too young and would get sick. Am I over worrying?
Here is one of her cooler hides.
 

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TriciaStringer

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I live in Gonzales, LA. How long do you think a 15ft by 15ft enclosure going to work out for me? I am thinking ill need to go bigger sooner than I think.
I’m in Denham Springs. It could last a couple of years. My enclosures aren’t big enough. We are beginning to fix our house to hopefully sell it and get more land. I saw someone say 40x40 is a starting point, but as large as you can is the way to go.
 

Tom

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Yes, I have read the care sheets but they don't specify at what age you reduce the soaking. Is 1.5 years old still considered a baby? I thought I also read that over feeding them causes them to grow too quickly and could also cause pyramiding? I will increase my soaks to daily then to try to help. But the amount of food I am feeding doesn't see overkill? I will read the care sheet again in case I forgot something since I read it when I first found this forum.

Hi Dane! There is a lot of incorrect info floating around out in the world. Old outdated stuff that wasn't correct 30 years ago and it still isn't correct today. A lot of that stuff was based on incorrect assumptions of how they live in the wild ad what they need in captivity. Most of the tortoise world has still not figured this out. I want to break down some of your questions and answer in my own words. All the other advice on your thread here is good too, but I like to say it in my own way.

Your tortoises are very small for their age. This means that even thought the breeder may have loved the tortoises, she wasn't following the correct care advice.

Pyramiding is caused by growth in conditions that are too dry. We used to blame it on all sorts of things like too much food, wrong food, fast growth, lack of calcium or UV, etc… All of that was wrong. They pyramid because we house them in open topped enclosures that are simply too dry. This is not a desert species. They hatch during the monsoon season when its wet, hot and very humid over there.

How much to feed? As much as the tortoise wants of the right foods. Grocery store greens and spring mix are not the right foods.

I like to feed Mazuri once or twice a week. Its a good supplement to an otherwise high fiber, grassy, weedy diet, but I prefer to feed mostly real foods.

For soaking: I like to soak them daily until they reach about 100 grams. After that I start skipping a day now and then. By 1000 grams, I think 2 or 3 times a week is enough. For well started babies, this is about a year. For dry started, slower growing babies, it can take 2-3 years, or more, to reach 1000 grams. Its about size, not age. Because they can grow at vastly different rates and for a wide variety of reasons, age doesn't matter for much of anything.

From the way you've worded things, it appears you've been reading a mix of both new and old info. I hope we can help get you on the right track.
 
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DaneC020

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Hi Dane! There is a lot of incorrect info floating around out in the world. Old outdated stuff that wasn't correct 30 years ago and it still isn't correct today. A lot of that stuff was based on incorrect assumptions of how they live in the wild ad what they need in captivity. Most of the tortoise world has still not figured this out. I want to break down some of your questions and answer in my own words. All the other advice on your thread here is good too, but I like to say it in my own way.

Your tortoises are very small for their age. This means that even thought the breeder may have loved the tortoises, she wasn't following the correct care advice.

Pyramiding is caused by growth in conditions that are too dry. We used to blame it on all sorts of things like too much food, wrong food, fast growth, lack of calcium or UV, etc… All of that was wrong. They pyramid because we house them in open topped enclosures that are simply too dry. This is not a desert species. They hatch during the monsoon season when its wet, hot and very humid over there.

How much to feed? As much as the tortoise wants of the right foods. Grocery store greens and spring mix are not the right foods.

I like to feed Mazuri once or twice a week. Its a good supplement to an otherwise high fiber, grassy, weedy diet, but I prefer to feed mostly real foods.

For soaking: I like to soak them daily until they reach about 100 grams. After that I start skipping a day now and then. By 1000 grams, I think 2 or 3 times a week is enough. For well started babies, this is about a year. For dry started, slower growing babies, it can take 2-3 years, or more, to reach 1000 grams. Its about size, not age. Because they can grow at vastly different rates and for a wide variety of reasons, age doesn't matter for much of anything.

From the way you've worded things, it appears you've been reading a mix of both new and old info. I hope we can help get you on the right track.

Thanks for the info. Size is kind of impossible to tell from the pictures so I weighed him for you and he is 172g. His shell length is about 5 inches and as for age I really am not sure how old he really is, just a round about age. I think the breeder told me her babies were about 9 months old or a year old, I can't remember. I have had the turtle for 4 months. When I first got him the turtle only weighed less than 52g which was why I was a little concerned on over feeding because the amount of weight he gained. So I guess the growth rate is 30g a month, is this too low?

Also, did you think there were signs of early pyramiding in the picture of the two torts? As for the breeder she was really caring and knowledgeable. Every baby was eating like pigs and she was not selling to anybody but only those who seemed they would care for the animals. She told me a list of things I could feed but there is just so much and I am not familiar with all the weeds and plants since I know nothing about plants. Mostly afraid of poisoning the poor guy with the wrong one. She did grow her own Rye so I have also done that and feed that daily with the muzuri and every now and then I will put the tray in his cage for him to munch down. She houses them outside with a caged top to prevent animals or birds from messing with them and pulls them in at night. Our humidity is quite high so I wouldn't considered them dry raised, at least until it got to me. I do mist often though so not too dry. :(

Thanks for the extra info!
Dane
 

Tom

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Thanks for the info. Size is kind of impossible to tell from the pictures so I weighed him for you and he is 172g. His shell length is about 5 inches and as for age I really am not sure how old he really is, just a round about age. I think the breeder told me her babies were about 9 months old or a year old, I can't remember. I have had the turtle for 4 months. When I first got him the turtle only weighed less than 52g which was why I was a little concerned on over feeding because the amount of weight he gained. So I guess the growth rate is 30g a month, is this too low?

Also, did you think there were signs of early pyramiding in the picture of the two torts? As for the breeder she was really caring and knowledgeable. Every baby was eating like pigs and she was not selling to anybody but only those who seemed they would care for the animals. She told me a list of things I could feed but there is just so much and I am not familiar with all the weeds and plants since I know nothing about plants. Mostly afraid of poisoning the poor guy with the wrong one. She did grow her own Rye so I have also done that and feed that daily with the muzuri and every now and then I will put the tray in his cage for him to munch down. She houses them outside with a caged top to prevent animals or birds from messing with them and pulls them in at night. Our humidity is quite high so I wouldn't considered them dry raised, at least until it got to me. I do mist often though so not too dry. :(

Thanks for the extra info!
Dane

52 grams for a 9-12 month old is tiny. Mine hatch at 35-40 grams. By one year they typically reach 800-1000 grams.

Hard to calculate an average growth rate per month because it greatly accelerates as they gain size, and because they all grow at such different rates and for a wide variety of reasons.

When kept mostly indoors, as babies should be, the humidity is always too low in an open topped enclosure. AC, central heating, heat lamps and dry substrate all rob moisture from the air, so even if its swampy outside, the indoor enclosure will still be too dry. Misting does little to help this. They need a closed chamber to contain the warm moist air. If the breeder was keeping them mostly outdoors, they would explain why they hardly grew for a year. Outside all day is not good for babies.

Learn from that list she gee you. Your tortoises health and well being depend on the correct diet. Plus those weeds, grasses, leaves and flowers are easy to come by and FREE!!! I didn't used to know plants at all either. I learned because of the tortoises. I hope you will too. :)
 

ColaCarbonaria

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I downloaded the app, Picture This. You just take a pic and it will help you identify the plant. Works good and then can look it up on TTT or just ask on one of the ID threads here on forum. It’s a free app btw.
 

karenbrams

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I recently visited the Turtle Conservancy in Ojai and one thing I learned is dandelions should be a staple. They're high in calcium and other important nutrients. You can find them at most grocery stores, especially international markets. As others have mentioned grasses, weeds and flowers are best for tortoises and should make up most of their diet. I have grasses, grape vines, gazanias, geraniums and clover growing in my enclosures. I supplement with dandelions, cactus, mulberry leaves, hibiscus and of course Mazuri pellets. I rarely feed them romaine lettuce or anything else from the grocery store.
I just started breeding and had my first leopard hatch 6 days ago. What is best to feed a brand new hatchling? Same as older hatchlings but sticking to softer easy to chew greens? Should they start eating Mazuri right away?
 

kaycov

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I have an open-top tank as well, but I have a humidifier (fogger), and I cover the top with a towel. Humidity in my tank is always 80% or better. Sometimes, the guys burrow right under the hose output. I soak every, single night for about 30 minutes, and they have a "pond" in the tank which they totally ignore. LOL
 

ShirleyTX

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@DaneC020 I, too, thought is possible to overfeed, especially overfeeding with "wrong" food--for instance, feeding too much pellet. I thought overfeeding the wrong stuff could cause overweight, or strain on digestive organs, or force growth beyond a natural state. A couple of posters mentioned finding weeds for sulcatas. But I thought sulcatas ate 80% grass; it's the Mediterranean species that eat weeds, isn't it? Anyway, I'm glad to see your question and I'm going to follow for sure!
 

Maro2Bear

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Greetings...

Yes, Sullys eat a lot of grass, but many other beneficial weeds and flowers are good for them as well as part of a balanced diet. From @Tom ’s Sulcata care sheet, there are a ton of other good things (besides grass) to supplement.

Other items that are good for babies and young sulcatas:
Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Geraniums
Gazanias
Lavatera
Pansies
Petunias
Hostas
Honeysuckle
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

Weeds:
There are soooooooo many...
Dandelion
Mallow
Filaree
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Nettles
Trefoil
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Clovers
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed
Hawksbit
Hensbit
Hawksbeard
 
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