Do sulcatas need water bowls?

Nickolas

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Hi, I researched for about 4 months before getting a baby sulcata tortoise. I got them from someone on Craigslist. He seemed to know what he was talking about...he said that he breeds them and has 47 more available. He also said that many people make the mistake of giving them a water bowl in their enclosure. He said that they will lay in it and it will cause shell rot. At first, I did not follow his instructions and gave it a shallow water dish. It did lay in it for about an hour before I removed it from the enclosure. Since then, I have been soaking it once a day for 30 min. I think that it may have been laying in the water dish because the guy said that he soaks them once every Sunday for 45 min. I think once it gets rehydrated, it will no longer lay in the water dish. Please let me know your thoughts, thank you.
 

method89

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your breeder is 100% incorrect. ALL tortoises need water available to them at all times. All captive tortoises need to be soaked. Read the care sheets for Sulcatas found on this forum. They will tell you the best way to care for your tort
 

BlakeElDorado

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Put the water dish back in.... as long as the other substrate is dry he’ll be fine. Hydration is a much bigger threat to a young tort than shell rot. Good luck, ps... most people on these pages have made mistakes and been successful so read read read. Make sure your baby gets real sun (At times), and make sure you get him going on the right diet. The stupid proof option is lightly soaked mazuri pellets and intro dandelion (every grocery store sells). Then when he gets bigger start introducing a larger variety.

best luck.

P.S. Feel free to post a pic of your tort and his enclosure! We can help more with pics. Also, if you can increase the humidity in his enclosure that should help with pyramiding.

My guy Tobi says hi!
 

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Nickolas

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I have spineless prickly pair cactus on the way. For today they snacked on grass, clover, and plantain. I had them out in the sun for about two hours altogether today while they munched on greens. The breeder said that the tortoise that is 4 inches is about a year old. That is way too small, isn't it!?!
 

BlakeElDorado

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I have spineless prickly pair cactus on the way. For today they snacked on grass, clover, and plantain. I had them out in the sun for about two hours altogether today while they munched on greens. The breeder said that the tortoise that is 4 inches is about a year old. That is way too small, isn't it!?!
That’s not right... can you post pics
 

wellington

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Put the water dish back in.... as long as the other substrate is dry he’ll be fine. Hydration is a much bigger threat to a young tort than shell rot. Good luck, ps... most people on these pages have made mistakes and been successful so read read read. Make sure your baby gets real sun (At times), and make sure you get him going on the right diet. The stupid proof option is lightly soaked mazuri pellets and intro dandelion (every grocery store sells). Then when he gets bigger start introducing a larger variety.

best luck.

P.S. Feel free to post a pic of your tort and his enclosure! We can help more with pics. Also, if you can increase the humidity in his enclosure that should help with pyramiding.

My guy Tobi says hi!
Actually it won't matter if the substrate is wet, in fact it should be for a sulcata. The humidity needs to be 80% with temps no lower the 80. Sulcata and leopards can live fine in swampy conditions and not get shell rot. Some species can't.
 

wellington

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Sadly your breeder knows very little. Get your sulcata set up with the closed chamber asap. It's likely he was started out hot and dry and that's not a good way to be started.
 

Nickolas

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I think I made a mistake getting them from him...he was very stubborn about splitting them up. It was 225 for both. Overall they seem healthy except for their size and supposed age.
 

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BlakeElDorado

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Actually it won't matter if the substrate is wet, in fact it should be for a sulcata. The humidity needs to be 80% with temps no lower the 80. Sulcata and leopards can live fine in swampy conditions and not get shell rot. Some species can't.
Agree with the high humidity but disagree with shell rot. My big guy got a bit too wet last winter... (he was stubborn about where he wanted to lounge during the winter months) and got a small spot of shell rot, which I quickly dealt with.
 

Tom

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Hi @Nickolas Welcome to the forum.

Unfortunately you found one of the many breeders who is still living in the dark ages of tortoises care. Everything he told you was wrong, they should never live in pairs, and he over charged you on top of it all. I charge $60 each for my well started hatching sulcatas and I think I'm on the high end.

Sulcatas do not get shell rot, but most of the babies hatched every year do die of dehydration because of things like what your breeder told you.

Here is the correct care info. Please share it with the breeder. He may dismiss you, but that's okay. It will plant a seed and he will keep hearing it over and over.

Here is what can happen when they are started too dry so that you know what to watch out for:

4 inches would be a little on the small side for a 12 month old sulcata, but not terrible.
 

BlakeElDorado

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I think I made a mistake getting them from him...he was very stubborn about splitting them up. It was 225 for both. Overall they seem healthy except for their size and supposed age.
Price sounds about market and shells look pretty good! He might be a middle man/aka not have a clue about the torts and be selling for someone else... you never know.
 

Tom

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Agree with the high humidity but disagree with shell rot. My big guy got a bit too wet last winter... (he was stubborn about where he wanted to lounge during the winter months) and got a small spot of shell rot, which I quickly dealt with.
Do you have pictures? That would be the first case of shell rot on a sulcata I've ever seen? Was it laying in poopy water in a cold night box?

For babies, the substrate needs to be damp, but not wet. They will not get shell rot from damp substrate.
 

Nickolas

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Until tomorrow, they are in a temporary enclosure. It is very basic, but they are able to adjust their body temperature easily. I have moist coco coir in the bin with a water dish and a heat pad underneath. I know that they need WAY more than that, but I have a very nice tortoise table in the making right now. The low temp is about 74 and the high is around 82 because there is no basking or uvb light yet. It is in a very quite location in the house and they are not shy of people. I figured they could burrow until the hides came in the mail.
 

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BlakeElDorado

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Do you have pictures? That would be the first case of shell rot on a sulcata I've ever seen? Was it laying in poopy water in a cold night box?

For babies, the substrate needs to be damp, but not wet. They will not get shell rot from damp substrate.
I can try to snap a pic in the day or so. He was 4 and about 17 inches when it happened. The shell got soft in a spot about the size of a quarter. I spent about a month keeping him dry (the spot, still made water readily available 24/7), and ended up using a two stage polymer glue to seal it after it had dried/been cleaned up and had hardened.

He has heat avail to him if he gets cold but had decided last fall that he was determined to sleep in the backyard in his “spot”...that was too wet for my taste.

Not a single health issue since and he’s been super happy and his shell has been great. He lives outside nearly year round (we get a few days a year that make me nervous and I move him inside during those times. Average temp here is 70-110 year round.
 

BlakeElDorado

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Do you have pictures? That would be the first case of shell rot on a sulcata I've ever seen? Was it laying in poopy water in a cold night box?

For babies, the substrate needs to be damp, but not wet. They will not get shell rot from damp substrate.
So... he was covered in dirt so I had to spray him down to get ANY shot... but tried to make it clear. Sorry it’s not the best pic 🤦🏼‍♂️ 1CD85C63-297E-4417-A4B1-BEAE5D08514A.jpeg
 

SKOLsuper

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Hi, I researched for about 4 months before getting a baby sulcata tortoise. I got them from someone on Craigslist. He seemed to know what he was talking about...he said that he breeds them and has 47 more available. He also said that many people make the mistake of giving them a water bowl in their enclosure. He said that they will lay in it and it will cause shell rot. At first, I did not follow his instructions and gave it a shallow water dish. It did lay in it for about an hour before I removed it from the enclosure. Since then, I have been soaking it once a day for 30 min. I think that it may have been laying in the water dish because the guy said that he soaks them once every Sunday for 45 min. I think once it gets rehydrated, it will no longer lay in the water dish. Please let me know your thoughts, thank you.
Hi they need water all the time
 
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