Feedback Please: Baby Sulcata

JenPen

New Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2023
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
Northern Illinois
Please give me the good, the bad, and the ugly feedback on my baby's current home.

So far I have not seen any health issues. I was told it was 7 months old in August, but I doubt that, it is small. I have had it for three full months now.

Current food: Dandelion, endive, escarole, orchard hay, meadow hay. (ordered grass seeds to grow my own so I can get out of the grocery store) ;)

UVB and Heat: I think the heat could be higher though. With infrared gun it is 82 in basking and 68 in cool side.

Behavior: It follows a very routine pattern of eat, bask, eat, bask, and puts itself to bed (in hide) at night. I see poop frequently in the enclosure, seems normal.

Humidity: Great humidity in the hide itself, I struggle with the rest of the enclosure. I spray two times a day and if you dig, it is moist but top layer is dry. I know I need to cover the top to maintain the moisture. Suggestions on how?

Bedding: Per the tips page I bought coconut coir and cypress mulch. Just did a full clean out and got rid of old bedding and replaced it (I had tiny flies??)

Okay bring on the feedback...

THANK YOU!!
IMG_2975.jpg IMG_2969.jpg IMG_2974.jpg
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
49,314
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Get the heat up ASAP or you will have a sick and dying baby. Never below 80, 85 is better day and night. Basking needs to be 95-100.
Humidity 80%.
Make it a closed chamber or you will be fighting heat and humidity the whole time.
Use a tube florescent for uvb and incandescent flood bulb for basking. Ceramic heat emitters for night heat.
 

Maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
8,025
Location (City and/or State)
PacificNorthWest
He needs a closed chamber to simulate the burrow he should be in. Too small and the lights are too far away to provide a basking platform of 85 to 95. A UVB bulb rays cannot go thru the screen. The hide is not big enuf to provide a varied temp inside that hide. You need to start all over...
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
49,314
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
You will always get those little flies. Best way to keep them away longer is to bake the substrate at 250-300 for about 3-4 hours.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
49,314
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
He needs a closed chamber to simulate the burrow he should be in. Too small and the lights are too far away to provide a basking platform of 85 to 95. A UVB bulb rays cannot go thru the screen. The hide is not big enuf to provide a varied temp inside that hide. You need to start all over...
Basking of 85-95? Recommended is usually 95-100. All over temps are 80-85.
Has it changed again?
 

Maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
8,025
Location (City and/or State)
PacificNorthWest
Basking of 85-95? Recommended is usually 95-100. All over temps are 80-85.
Has it changed again?
You are right...I have a bit of memory problems...AND...my tortoises are bigger and I seriously apologize...however, I am glad that Wellington has my back...lol
 

Attachments

  • 100_2964.JPG
    100_2964.JPG
    390.1 KB · Views: 2

Maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
8,025
Location (City and/or State)
PacificNorthWest
100_2964.JPG
You are right...I have a bit of memory problems...AND...my tortoises are bigger and I seriously apologize...however, I am glad that Wellington has my back...lol
 

EppsDynasty

Well-Known Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Oct 4, 2022
Messages
468
Location (City and/or State)
Canebrake Ca
You will always get those little flies. Best way to keep them away longer is to bake the substrate at 250-300 for about 3-4 hours.
In the snake keepers world I never used substrate that wasn't sterilized in the oven first. Just assumed tort keepers were doing the same. I still do this for my Tortoise substrates. If it's summer and you have alot to sterilize Trash bag sealed in the sun.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
49,314
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
In the snake keepers world I never used substrate that wasn't sterilized in the oven first. Just assumed tort keepers were doing the same. I still do this for my Tortoise substrates. If it's summer and you have alot to sterilize Trash bag sealed in the sun.
Unfortunately it's not shared as much as it should be and some well known members don't think it even works. When mine were little living in the house, I had those same bugs. Tried boiling and baking. Baking worked easier and held off getting the bugs. Can't remember if they ever came back, but if they did, it was a long time, at least a year.
 

EppsDynasty

Well-Known Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Oct 4, 2022
Messages
468
Location (City and/or State)
Canebrake Ca
Unfortunately it's not shared as much as it should be and some well known members don't think it even works. When mine were little living in the house, I had those same bugs. Tried boiling and baking. Baking worked easier and held off getting the bugs. Can't remember if they ever came back, but if they did, it was a long time, at least a year.
Sad ... This is a vital part of a healthy enclosure. How could you claim it was healthy for anything if it's not sterilized. MITES thats what the big deal for snakes is, haven't heard alot about them in this forum.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
93,377
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
A quick fix for the humidity problem is covering the top with aluminum foil.
Put Foil over the whole top, including the lights. If you leave the space around the lights not covered, it creates a chimney effect and you lose your heat out the chimney.

The size of the enclosure is ok for now because the tortoise is small, but increase the size as he grows. Enrichment ideas include potted plants, a large rock he can't see around without walking around it, a small fence halfway across the middle. . . anything that makes him have to walk around to see the other side. For water, sink a plant saucer into the substrate.

As he grows you can buy another tub just like that one and cut out opposing ends, placing them together.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
63,006
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Please give me the good, the bad, and the ugly feedback on my baby's current home.

So far I have not seen any health issues. I was told it was 7 months old in August, but I doubt that, it is small. I have had it for three full months now.

Current food: Dandelion, endive, escarole, orchard hay, meadow hay. (ordered grass seeds to grow my own so I can get out of the grocery store) ;)

UVB and Heat: I think the heat could be higher though. With infrared gun it is 82 in basking and 68 in cool side.

Behavior: It follows a very routine pattern of eat, bask, eat, bask, and puts itself to bed (in hide) at night. I see poop frequently in the enclosure, seems normal.

Humidity: Great humidity in the hide itself, I struggle with the rest of the enclosure. I spray two times a day and if you dig, it is moist but top layer is dry. I know I need to cover the top to maintain the moisture. Suggestions on how?

Bedding: Per the tips page I bought coconut coir and cypress mulch. Just did a full clean out and got rid of old bedding and replaced it (I had tiny flies??)

Okay bring on the feedback...

THANK YOU!!
View attachment 363830 View attachment 363832 View attachment 363831
Its obvious you are trying, so please don't feel discouraged. Everyone goes through a learning process when doing anything new. We are here to offer help and support. If no one tells you what is wrong, you won't know what to fix. With that in mind, you have gotten great tips from everyone so far, but I like to put it all in my own words to go along with all the other good advice.

1. You will not be able to maintain the correct conditions in an open topped enclosure. You need something closed in. I prefer the regular expanded PVC closed chambers, but those take time to get and cost money. Some people have success enclosing a large tub or something similar inside a large portable greenhouse tent. Heating an open topped enclosure is like trying to heat your house in winter with no roof. The warm air will just drift up and out into the night sky. It can't work no matter how much heat you throw at it. You must contain the heat and humidity and reduce ventilation. Spraying with an open top does very little other than cool things through evaporation.
2. I only see two bulbs on top of your screen. Is that a heat lamp and a UV bulb? That type of UV bulb is not suitable.
Here is a breakdown of the four heating and lighting essentials:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. In most cases you'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night. Some people in colder climates or with larger enclosures will need multiple CHEs or RHPs to spread out enough heat.
  3. Ambient light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in LED bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In colder climates, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12% HO bulbs from Arcadia. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html A good UV bulb only needs to run for 2-3 hours mid day. You need the basking bulb and the ambient lighting to be on at least 12 hours a day.
3. This baby needs to be kept over 80 degrees day and night. 68 is much too cold. Basking area directly under the bulb needs to be around 95-100. The tortoise's immune system cannot function, and it cannot digest its food if it can't get warm enough. This needs to be remedied immediately. ASAP. Today. Put the whole cage in a bath room with a space heater if necessary until you can get things sorted out. It needs to feel like a hot summer day in there.

4. There is no need to mix different substrates, but also no harm in it. The bugs are normal. They are harmless detrivores working to clean the enclosure. They come from the surrounding environment and populate the wonderful warm area you've created for them. I just ignore them, but I'm certainly not trying to be rude to them... :)

5. Most of your diet items are good, but dry hay is for older larger sulcatas. I don't even start them on dry hay until they are more tan 12 inches, and sometimes not until 16 inches. Babies can't eat dry hay very well. Best to use real freshly sprouted soft grasses for them, or mix in soaked grass hay pellets or ZooMed pellets with the greens to add some fiber. Get some dried leaf options from tortoisesupply.com and kapidolofarms.com to add variety and nutrition to the greens. You can also get some Mazuri to mix in once or twice a week.

I hope this info helps. Questions are welcome.
 

JenPen

New Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2023
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
Northern Illinois
Put Foil over the whole top, including the lights. If you leave the space around the lights not covered, it creates a chimney effect and you lose your heat out the chimney.

The size of the enclosure is ok for now because the tortoise is small, but increase the size as he grows. Enrichment ideas include potted plants, a large rock he can't see around without walking around it, a small fence halfway across the middle. . . anything that makes him have to walk around to see the other side. For water, sink a plant saucer into the substrate.

As he grows you can buy another tub just like that one and cut out opposing ends, placing them together.
Yes thank you. I already have a second, bigger enclosure (I thought I would need it sooner :D) I have a saucer in the picture so good there but will work on the temperature and the covering today. And thank you for ideas for enrichment. Appreciate it.
 

EppsDynasty

Well-Known Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Oct 4, 2022
Messages
468
Location (City and/or State)
Canebrake Ca
Sounds like I have to start all over.

Thank you all for the feedback. I will get to work...
Another Tortoise Loving person. This is great news. You will be a Pro in no time and so will your little guy. I Wish You All the best. Another tort living a GREAT life, congrats.
 

JenPen

New Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2023
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
Northern Illinois
Its obvious you are trying, so please don't feel discouraged. Everyone goes through a learning process when doing anything new. We are here to offer help and support. If no one tells you what is wrong, you won't know what to fix. With that in mind, you have gotten great tips from everyone so far, but I like to put it all in my own words to go along with all the other good advice.

1. You will not be able to maintain the correct conditions in an open topped enclosure. You need something closed in. I prefer the regular expanded PVC closed chambers, but those take time to get and cost money. Some people have success enclosing a large tub or something similar inside a large portable greenhouse tent. Heating an open topped enclosure is like trying to heat your house in winter with no roof. The warm air will just drift up and out into the night sky. It can't work no matter how much heat you throw at it. You must contain the heat and humidity and reduce ventilation. Spraying with an open top does very little other than cool things through evaporation.
2. I only see two bulbs on top of your screen. Is that a heat lamp and a UV bulb? That type of UV bulb is not suitable.
Here is a breakdown of the four heating and lighting essentials:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. In most cases you'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night. Some people in colder climates or with larger enclosures will need multiple CHEs or RHPs to spread out enough heat.
  3. Ambient light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in LED bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In colder climates, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12% HO bulbs from Arcadia. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html A good UV bulb only needs to run for 2-3 hours mid day. You need the basking bulb and the ambient lighting to be on at least 12 hours a day.
3. This baby needs to be kept over 80 degrees day and night. 68 is much too cold. Basking area directly under the bulb needs to be around 95-100. The tortoise's immune system cannot function, and it cannot digest its food if it can't get warm enough. This needs to be remedied immediately. ASAP. Today. Put the whole cage in a bath room with a space heater if necessary until you can get things sorted out. It needs to feel like a hot summer day in there.

4. There is no need to mix different substrates, but also no harm in it. The bugs are normal. They are harmless detrivores working to clean the enclosure. They come from the surrounding environment and populate the wonderful warm area you've created for them. I just ignore them, but I'm certainly not trying to be rude to them... :)

5. Most of your diet items are good, but dry hay is for older larger sulcatas. I don't even start them on dry hay until they are more tan 12 inches, and sometimes not until 16 inches. Babies can't eat dry hay very well. Best to use real freshly sprouted soft grasses for them, or mix in soaked grass hay pellets or ZooMed pellets with the greens to add some fiber. Get some dried leaf options from tortoisesupply.com and kapidolofarms.com to add variety and nutrition to the greens. You can also get some Mazuri to mix in once or twice a week.

I hope this info helps. Questions are welcome.
THANK YOU!! When sizing a tortoise, are we going head to tail or side to side? I am guessing head to tail. I think the tent option will be the most realistic and I have seen some pictures of that so will move in that direction. You are correct that I only have two lights (the wrong UVB/basking). I need to correct both lights AND buy a night time heat one (not red). I ordered seeds for fresh grasses from Tortoise Supply yesterday but will look at Mazuri and dried leaves.

Thank you and everyone for the help.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tom

JenPen

New Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2023
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
Northern Illinois
Another Tortoise Loving person. This is great news. You will be a Pro in no time and so will your little guy. I Wish You All the best. Another tort living a GREAT life, congrats.
Thank you! I do LOVE them and want to do what is best by them. I have wanted this for a long time so don't want to do anything to jeopardize it.
 

New Posts

Top