Feeding baby Sulcata

paulus

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Joined
Dec 24, 2021
Messages
9
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Houston, TX
I have a baby Sulcata ~7 months old. It has 68mm shell's length, 81gr weight.

My problem is it doesn't eat anything except Mazuri Tortoise Diet. When I got it in age 1 or 2 month it ate only Romaine lettuce. I have been trying to switch his habits to grass since February, no way. It started eat Mazuri Diet and ..... stopped eating even Romaine lettuce. I tried to mix Mazuri with grass, wheat grass, timothy hey, orchard hey, grassland tortoise food (eat just a tiny peace and go away). I cut grass or hey by scissors to very small pieces and mix with Mazuri, it almost not eat. The same problem if I add calcium to Mazuri, it doesn't eat. I smoked my baby every morning in water with calcium, it seems it works for now, it have strong shell.
My set up is terrarium 36x18x18, tube 24'' UVB 10.0, distance to shell 13'', basket lamp 75W (15'' to surface) and ceramic heater 100W. Temperature daily (14 hours a day) 105-110, opposite side 90-95. During a day basket lamp and ceramic heater work together (thermostat switch off ceramic heater when temperature over 110 and switch it on when temperature lower then 96). At night ceramic heater works only, temperature 90-95 in basket area, 80-85 in opposite area. Humidity always 70%-80%
Timberline Top Soil on the ground, about 3'' height
I have no idea what else I can do to improve set up. Just an idea, may be it lack of oxygen inside because my terrarium fully closed to take high humidity?

May be problem with food. Could you describe very detailed step by step how do you make yours baby Sulcata eat grass? Do you cut grass to small (very small?) pieces or offer leaves? Do you provide different types of food at the same time or give them just one type of food per day? How long do you wait baby to eat before propose another type of food? As many details as you can pleeeeeaaase!

Thank you for your help!
 

SasquatchTortoise

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Dec 26, 2020
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Forth Worth, Texas
Does he get soaks?
during the day, he needs a little cooler temperatures and a place to escape the heat (look at Tom’s guide for more specific care)
he may also be happier in a little larger enclosure, but don’t worry about it too much as they should move outside more with time
as for food, you can try mixing in tiny pieces of greens ( dandelion is a favorite with mine) and slowly increase the quantity. Hay is pretty tough For a young sulcata to eat.
 

MenagerieGrl

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Yes, I believe young Sulcatas should not be eating hay, that is for later on. Green veggies & weeds, I believe are recommended. Top soil is NOT recommended for torts typically Coir or Fine Orchid Bark is the preferred substrate.
So regarding the Mono food source . . Begin by mixing lil bits of other foods along with the pellets that she/he is eating. Make it so they have to nibble on the other stuff to get to the food they prefer. And take your time, you don't want to starve your tort, but a hungry tort will eat things they typically do not prefer...
 

Tom

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I have a baby Sulcata ~7 months old. It has 68mm shell's length, 81gr weight.

My problem is it doesn't eat anything except Mazuri Tortoise Diet. When I got it in age 1 or 2 month it ate only Romaine lettuce. I have been trying to switch his habits to grass since February, no way. It started eat Mazuri Diet and ..... stopped eating even Romaine lettuce. I tried to mix Mazuri with grass, wheat grass, timothy hey, orchard hey, grassland tortoise food (eat just a tiny peace and go away). I cut grass or hey by scissors to very small pieces and mix with Mazuri, it almost not eat. The same problem if I add calcium to Mazuri, it doesn't eat. I smoked my baby every morning in water with calcium, it seems it works for now, it have strong shell.
My set up is terrarium 36x18x18, tube 24'' UVB 10.0, distance to shell 13'', basket lamp 75W (15'' to surface) and ceramic heater 100W. Temperature daily (14 hours a day) 105-110, opposite side 90-95. During a day basket lamp and ceramic heater work together (thermostat switch off ceramic heater when temperature over 110 and switch it on when temperature lower then 96). At night ceramic heater works only, temperature 90-95 in basket area, 80-85 in opposite area. Humidity always 70%-80%
Timberline Top Soil on the ground, about 3'' height
I have no idea what else I can do to improve set up. Just an idea, may be it lack of oxygen inside because my terrarium fully closed to take high humidity?

May be problem with food. Could you describe very detailed step by step how do you make yours baby Sulcata eat grass? Do you cut grass to small (very small?) pieces or offer leaves? Do you provide different types of food at the same time or give them just one type of food per day? How long do you wait baby to eat before propose another type of food? As many details as you can pleeeeeaaase!

Thank you for your help!
Here is what I see that needs adjusting:
-Basking temp is too high. Should be 95-100 directly under the lamp.
-Thermostat on the CHE should be set to 80. Temp in the enclosure should not drop below 80 day or night.
-Your enclosure is too small. Minimum 2x4 feet for a baby.
-Soil should never be used as substrate. It is made from composted yard waste and it could be toxic. Use fine grade orchid bark instead and keep it damp.
-81 grams at 7 months old indicates a problem.

Here is the correct care info:

There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  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.
Once you get all these things corrected, then we can begin work on the food. If your tortoise won't eat with calcium on the food, then you are trying to use too much. Likewise when trying to introduce any new food. Start with tiny amounts mixed in with the Mazuri. Hardly any at all, and add more over a period of weeks. I would soak daily and stop feeding Mazuri altogether. Your tortoise won't starve itself.
 
Last edited:

paulus

New Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2021
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
Houston, TX
Does he get soaks?

Thank you for your answer. I soak him with calcium every day right inside terrarium to keep water 95F. This is only way I can (as I hope) give him calcium.

Here is what I see that needs adjusting:

Thank you for your response. I changed everything except enclosure size yet. Will be able to increase his space soon. Now he spend more time under basking lamp. He eat ~2 pieces of Mazuri Diet and tiny amount of Grassland Tortoise food. Totally ignores all green colored food. When I mixed Mazuri with small amount of grass or Grassland Food he eats much less, may be half peace per day.
 

ryan57

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 8, 2022
Messages
349
Location (City and/or State)
PA
I have a baby Sulcata ~7 months old. It has 68mm shell's length, 81gr weight.

My problem is it doesn't eat anything except Mazuri Tortoise Diet. When I got it in age 1 or 2 month it ate only Romaine lettuce. I have been trying to switch his habits to grass since February, no way. It started eat Mazuri Diet and ..... stopped eating even Romaine lettuce. I tried to mix Mazuri with grass, wheat grass, timothy hey, orchard hey, grassland tortoise food (eat just a tiny peace and go away). I cut grass or hey by scissors to very small pieces and mix with Mazuri, it almost not eat. The same problem if I add calcium to Mazuri, it doesn't eat. I smoked my baby every morning in water with calcium, it seems it works for now, it have strong shell.
My set up is terrarium 36x18x18, tube 24'' UVB 10.0, distance to shell 13'', basket lamp 75W (15'' to surface) and ceramic heater 100W. Temperature daily (14 hours a day) 105-110, opposite side 90-95. During a day basket lamp and ceramic heater work together (thermostat switch off ceramic heater when temperature over 110 and switch it on when temperature lower then 96). At night ceramic heater works only, temperature 90-95 in basket area, 80-85 in opposite area. Humidity always 70%-80%
Timberline Top Soil on the ground, about 3'' height
I have no idea what else I can do to improve set up. Just an idea, may be it lack of oxygen inside because my terrarium fully closed to take high humidity?

May be problem with food. Could you describe very detailed step by step how do you make yours baby Sulcata eat grass? Do you cut grass to small (very small?) pieces or offer leaves? Do you provide different types of food at the same time or give them just one type of food per day? How long do you wait baby to eat before propose another type of food? As many details as you can pleeeeeaaase!

Thank you for your help!
Too hot. I had the same issue for 2 days recently ( a few months ago) when they are too hot they don’t eat. It’s not being picky.

I keep my cre on now all the time for a constant 84 and your humidity seems right on target.

Now the food. I’ve had success with making a variety ‘salad’ in a container and then mixing in moistened mazuri (2% body weight) made fresh daily into it or on top. Also, because yard grass and weeds shrivel up if they sit out I chop those greens up with scissors very small (some clover, lots of grass, dandelion, etc) daily and mix to the endive, escarole, squash greens, etc. whatever is around that ends up in the salad.
 

Boo628

Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2018
Messages
83
Location (City and/or State)
California
If u can try putting him outside in the sun. To me I think the sun is better than the uvb light. I had a little one that wouldn't move or eat, put him in the sun n he started stretching out basking. So maybe it'll help
I have a baby Sulcata ~7 months old. It has 68mm shell's length, 81gr weight.

My problem is it doesn't eat anything except Mazuri Tortoise Diet. When I got it in age 1 or 2 month it ate only Romaine lettuce. I have been trying to switch his habits to grass since February, no way. It started eat Mazuri Diet and ..... stopped eating even Romaine lettuce. I tried to mix Mazuri with grass, wheat grass, timothy hey, orchard hey, grassland tortoise food (eat just a tiny peace and go away). I cut grass or hey by scissors to very small pieces and mix with Mazuri, it almost not eat. The same problem if I add calcium to Mazuri, it doesn't eat. I smoked my baby every morning in water with calcium, it seems it works for now, it have strong shell.
My set up is terrarium 36x18x18, tube 24'' UVB 10.0, distance to shell 13'', basket lamp 75W (15'' to surface) and ceramic heater 100W. Temperature daily (14 hours a day) 105-110, opposite side 90-95. During a day basket lamp and ceramic heater work together (thermostat switch off ceramic heater when temperature over 110 and switch it on when temperature lower then 96). At night ceramic heater works only, temperature 90-95 in basket area, 80-85 in opposite area. Humidity always 70%-80%
Timberline Top Soil on the ground, about 3'' height
I have no idea what else I can do to improve set up. Just an idea, may be it lack of oxygen inside because my terrarium fully closed to take high humidity?

May be problem with food. Could you describe very detailed step by step how do you make yours baby Sulcata eat grass? Do you cut grass to small (very small?) pieces or offer leaves? Do you provide different types of food at the same time or give them just one type of food per day? How long do you wait baby to eat before propose another type of food? As many details as you can pleeeeeaaase!

Thank you for your help!
Try putting him outside in the sun. I think the sun is better than uvb light. He might start eating cuz that's what I did. 10 mins in the sun n he was up n eating.
 

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