Baby sulcata help

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Erick153

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Hello everyone. I am new to the forum, I signed up because I have been constantly searching info about sulcata tortoises since I began to care for a hatchling. Shes only a few months old and seems to be doind great other than the fact that I constantly find poop bulid upon her tail. I suspect that she may be blocked up. I have her in a 10 gallon tank with half aspen and half eco earth coconut substrate. Its not mixed, I have the coconut coir to keep some humidity but maybe shes been munching on it while Im not watching. I also have an enclosure for her outside where she will spend most of the day while the suns out so maybe she munches on things she shouldnt be although I do my best about keeping it free and clear of anything that might cause this sort of problem. I am worried because it seems that her shell is dipping in at the very back near the tail end. I will try to take some pictures and post them so you can all see what I mean. Thank you all for your time and any help will be greatly appreciated!
 

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SarahChelonoidis

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Do you soak her in water daily? That can help with constipation. What's her diet like? Adding foods with more moisture or slight laxative properties, like cactus pads or aloe, can also help. How large is the outdoor enclosure (and how much time does she spend there). If she's in the 10 gallon for the bulk of her time, she likely isn't getting enough exercise (that's a very small space for even a hatchling). Getting those legs moving seems to be helpful for moving material through their systems. Photos of what you describe would definitely help. You might be looking at a completely normal sulcata back end, or you might not.

P.S. your profile picture gives me the heebie-jeebies.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi, and welcome to the Forum!

Some babies seem to have a bit of a problem with poop build-up around the tail and back part of the shell. When you're doing the baby's daily soaks, just keep the area clean. The soaking will soften it and make it easy to pick off. Whatever you do, don't allow it to build up for more than a day.
 

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Hi and welcome from the Desert !
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Erick153

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Thank you all for your kind replies. Sarah, the out door enclosure is about 6x2 1/2. I have dogs and a pretty small yard so I could really fence of too much soace for her unfortunately. I had not been doing daily soaks since I would find her soaking in her water dish for a bit. I always let her soak for a while then use a moist towel when cleaning her tail. I do my best not to let it build up. Her diet consists of mainly spinach. I have gotten mustard greens for her, some garden greens that I got at work (I'm a cook btw) and she'll eat a lot of grass when we go to the park, which unfortunately isn't as often as I would like /: here are the pictures as promised. I included a picture of her poopy butt, it isnt as bad as I once was.. In regards to the shell, I am talking about the last two hexagons on the center ehich has a clear flat look to ut while the rest of her shell is nice and round. 20150929_090028.jpg 20150928_154750.jpg
 

SarahChelonoidis

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That's a very young baby. Keeping her warm and hydrated is your main priority. A larger indoor enclosure is also a very good idea.

I'd cut the spinach out of her diet. Have you read the diet suggestions in the care sheets here? There are lots of great greens to choose from.

Do you know how long she is soaking herself for? It won't hurt for you to give her a 20 min warm bath every day even if she is getting into her water dish. Little babies can dehydrate easily.
 

Erick153

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Here she is in her tank, sleeping in her food dish. And the outside enclosure. I haven't had
or her but I dont even know what kind of stuff she would like in there. 20150930_114340.jpg 20150930_113245.jpg
 

Erick153

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That's a very young baby. Keeping her warm and hydrated is your main priority. A larger indoor enclosure is also a very good idea.

I'd cut the spinach out of her diet. Have you read the diet suggestions in the care sheets here? There are lots of great greens to choose from.

Do you know how long she is soaking herself for? It won't hurt for you to give her a 20 min warm bath every day even if she is getting into her water dish. Little babies can dehydrate easily.
This is something I have noticed. I had read that a weekly soak would be good but not daily. Of course, she is very young and tiny. I will do this from now on. As far a dietary reccommendations, I looked into it amd found very conflicting info. One site said dark green leafy stuff others said strickly grass and no stuff like mustard greens (after I had bought a bunch) or beet tops, brussles etc. So I just went with what the guy who sold her to me said and stuck with dark leafy greens, grass and timothy hay but shes too small to eat that stuff yet.
 

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Hiya Erick, welcome to TFO. Your sulcata isn't looking to hot. If I were you I would get a much larger tank, use either orchid bark or coco coir as a single substrate, use 2 terracotta plant basins, one for food one for water. Make the tank a closed chamber, use a 65watt incandescent flood light for his hot spot and a heat emitter. Keep his ambient temps 85°F and higher both day and night. Use a hide made from a Rubbermaid tote turned upside down with a hole just big enough for him to get in and out of on a long side. Keep the humidity high, like 85% or more, just make sure night temps do not go lower then 85°F Also stop feeding him mainly spinach, get him grass, weeds, collard greens, grape leaves, mulberry tree leaves, squash leaves, flowers and fruit and most of all just make sure you give him a big mix of different things to eat. Calcium +D3 and multivitamins (give calcium 2 days a week and multivitamins two days a week on separate days. So I give calcium Mon & Thurs, and multivitamins Tues & Friday). Since you see I didnt mention a UVB bulb, get you little guy outside at least 4 times a week for 30min or so to soak up some sun, if you live in a area that gets poor weather then you will need to work in a tube bulb type UVB light (24" or 30"). Also soak him daily in water around 95°F to 100°F for 30min to a hour. My routine is sun, soak and then feed after soaking is done all in the morning around 9am or 10am depending on how warm it is outside. Also going to the park or other local areas can be a bit tricky due to you don't know if they use pesticides or herbicides on the grass or not. I would just go to Walmart and purchase a bag of Bermuda grass seed, fescue grass seed and if your lucky to find it St. Augustine grass seed (also known as Kentucky blue grass) and just plant a nice area in your yard and a few pots of it to cut from and to let your little guy forage through when he is getting sun. Oh and with your dogs, maybe put them inside while he gets sun, dogs and torts never are a good combo unless you have huge torts and still you need to be constantly watching. Also always keep you eye on your tort while he is outside, never know when a hungry predictor will spy him. If I forgot something I am sure @Tom or one of our other members will fill you in. Good luck and happy torting my friend.
P.S. never let your other herps interact with each other, 1. It can lead to cross contamination of bacteria and possible parrisites and 2. It can stress out your tort.
 
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Erick153

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Erick, be careful with that aluminum foil food dish. Tortoises are kinda clumsy when they eat and biting off a piece of foil wouldn't be very good.
Ok thanks! I will definitely go and buy her an adequate dish. I made sure to fold up the edges and fold it over on itself several times so there wouldn't be any flimsey spots that she could bite off.
 

Erick153

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Hiya Stick, welcome to TFO. Your sulcata isn't looking to hot. If I were you I would get a much larger tank, use either orchid bark or coco coir as a single substrate, use 2 terracotta plant basins, one for food one for water. Make the tank a closed chamber, use a 65watt incandescent flood light for his hot spot and a heat emitter. Keep his ambient temps 85°F and higher both day and night. Use a hide made from a Rubbermaid tote turned upside down with a hole just big enough for him to get in and out of on a long side. Keep the humidity high, like 85% or more, just make sure night temps do not go lower then 85°F Also stop feeding him mainly spinach, get him grass, weeds, collard greens, grape leaves, mulberry tree leaves, squash leaves, flowers and fruit and most of all just make sure you give him a big mix of different things to eat. Calcium +D3 and multivitamins (give calcium 2 days a week and multivitamins two days a week on separate days. So I give calcium Mon & Thurs, and multivitamins Tues & Friday). Since you see I didnt mention a UVB bulb, get you little guy outside at least 4 times a week for 30min or so to soak up some sun, if you live in a area that gets poor weather then you will need to work in a tube bulb type UVB light (24" or 30"). Also soak him daily in water around 95°F to 100°F for 30min to a hour. My routine is sun, soak and then feed after soaking is done all in the morning around 9am or 10am depending on how warm it is outside. Also going to the park or other local areas can be a bit tricky due to you don't know if they use pesticides or herbicides on the grass or not. I would just go to Walmart and purchase a bag of Bermuda grass seed, fescue grass seed and if your lucky to find it St. Augustine grass seed (also known as Kentucky blue grass) and just plant a nice area in your yard and a few pots of it to cut from and to let your little guy forage through when he is getting sun. Oh and with your dogs, maybe put them inside while he gets sun, dogs and torts never are a good combo unless you have huge torts and still you need to be constantly watching. Also always keep you eye on your tort while he is outside, never know when a hungry predictor will spy him. If I forgot something I am sure @Tom or one of our other members will fill you in. Good luck and happy torting my friend.
Thank you! Thats a lot of info, a bit overwhelming to be honest. The guy at the pet store said they are a very low maintenance pet so I guess he kind of suckered me into something I wasn't expecting. I will definitely be coming back to this Post until I get her set up right. I kind of got her on impulse and so I am completely unprepaired, but I love this little girl and I really want to provide a great life for her.
 

Keith D.

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Thank you! Thats a lot of info, a bit overwhelming to be honest. The guy at the pet store said they are a very low maintenance pet so I guess he kind of suckered me into something I wasn't expecting. I will definitely be coming back to this Post until I get her set up right. I kind of got her on impulse and so I am completely unprepaired, but I love this little girl and I really want to provide a great life for her.
:) I am glad to hear you are willing to do right by your tort. You have other herps, so you already know there is not such thing as low maintenance.
 

Tom

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The goal here is to help you and your tortoise. This is not an attack or insult in any way, but I have to point out a few things in order to help you. I don't want you to feel as if I'm being mean here…

The world is full of misinformation on this species. Few info sources understand where they come from or how they live in the wild and the common care info that has been in use for 30 years is based on incorrect assumptions that have been repeated for generations. It was wrong 30 years ago and its still wrong today. These babies hatch during the African rainy season. Its rainy, wet, humid, hot and there are puddles, marshes and green growing food and cover everywhere. THIS is what we need to be simulating in our North American enclosures. They are NOT a desert species. Once a week soaks in a dry enclosure is a death sentence for many of them.

In reading what you've written here on this thread, I made a mental not of each thing I wanted to point out to you. Here is the list:
1. A 10 gallon is much too small. You need at least a 40 and a 100, or a tub similarly sized, would serve your tortoise much better. Please read this for the right info on care, set ups and feeding: http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/
2. Aspen is no good and you can't have a dry substrate next to a damp substrate without mold and mildew issues. Coir is okay, but I find it to be too messy for this species. Orchid bark works best.
3. Babies should only go outside for an hour or two a day at most, and be soaked on the way back in. Leaving babies outside all day, regardless of climate and weather, is not good for them. They do better when kept mostly indoors. In two and a half decades of raising babies sulcatas, I still do not have a solid explanation for this, but I have observed the results of both ways literally hundreds of times.
4. What comes out of your tortoises butt, is a direct result of what goes in its mouth. You are feeding this tortoise the wrong foods. Sorry. I know that sounds kinda harsh, but you've got to know what is going on in order to fix it. Spinach is okay once in while, but not as a regular food item. Its too high in oxalates and it binds with calcium, making it unavailable to the tortoises body. Here is the right way to feed them:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/
5. You should not be letting your tortoise eat or run around at any park. First of all, if you keep doing this, you will eventually lose her. Secondly, parks sprays and use toxic chemicals all over the place, even if they tell you they don't. They do and the people that work for them do it, sometimes without the knowledge or consent of the management. Read this: http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
6. Hay is a great food… for older, bigger sulcatas. Not so much for babies.
7. These tortoises are pretty low maintenance as long as you set them up right. Set your heating and lighting on timers. Give them a pile of food once or twice a day. Soak daily for the first few months. Dump rinse and refill the water daily… That's about it.

Please feel free to ask lots of questions. The better you understand these concepts, the healthier your tortoise will be. :)
 

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Erick.
One possible fix as far as space goes is a type of Rubbermaid / plastic container. Fish tanks can work well - but a large one is very expensive.

The floor space is all the tortoise has to enjoy , so the larger the better.

Another option is to find an old bookcase , take out the shelves and lay it on its back. I found one at the Salvation Army Store once for $20. I put a piece of plexiglass over the top and hung my light and CHE inside on a bar. This made it possible to keep humidity and warmth in there

I do find that keeping a tortoise can be easy. But the initial proper healthy set up is not.

A tortoise like this could be your pet for an entire lifetime So proper care and a good start in life is well worth the effort. With just a little inventiveness and knowledge it is doable Don't get discouraged. Anything worth doing takes effort :).

Good fortune with him
 

Jodie

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Hello, you have received some great advice here. I was a pet store victim as well. They actually told me my leopard tortoise would thrive on neglect. It was very discouraging when I got here, and realized how wrong that is. My tortoises health and well vbeing is so much better after taking the time to learn to care for him properly. They deserve the proper care, and the advice you have received will greatly increase your chances of keeping this baby alive, if you follow it.
 

Erick153

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Hey all, thanks again for sharing so much knowledge!! It is veey frustruating and angering that I was not told all of this before taking her home with me I was basically told the same as Jodie and I now see this guy was just trying to make a quick buck :mad:
As for Ayana, she is still alive, although she seems pretty unhappy so I will dedicate my entire time this week to getting her properly set up. I had been working and going to school since Tuesday but now that I have the time I will get on it right after I am done with this message. First on the list is getting her the right food for her tummy! After that I will work on setting up her terrarium to emulate her natural environment. I had now idea they were born during the wet season in Africa!! Thats what pisses me off the most! I can now understand why she seems so sad :( I am currently in the process of making a bigger enclosure for her older sister Luna and she will get the 40 gallon luna is currently in. Any siggestions on where I could find orchid bark? I dont think I've ever seen it at the local petsmart/petco. Then again I've never looked for it -__- also, other than walmart or home depot, where can I get a steady supply of grass and her other favorite foods? Winter in upon us here in Santa Fe NM and any grass I plant will surely die fairly quickly. Thanks again everyone I appreciate all of your kind responses and dont worry Tom, I am not offended at all. I understand that you have good intentions and I was improperly caring for this beautiful baby. I will check back in later after I get her all situated.
 

Erick153

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Hey everyone. I have purchased so.e bermuda grass seed. I am wondering what I can feed her while the grass grows. I bought a couple of cucumbers as I have heard. They like to snack. On that. Also I may pick up some pumpkin or canned pumpkin and squash to varie her diet while I get some good grass. Is this ok?
 
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