For Those Who Have a Young Sulcata...

Liz.C

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Thank you so much for this info. I am brand new in this. I have a month old and I've had SOO much varied advice. This makes sense. So? I introduce the grass. If she never eats it, preferring the dandelion greens etc when do I or should I offer only grass? Will she eat it if hungry enough? Plus, she already hates me even though I don't handle her except for her daily soak. Will this make her trust me less? Thanks ahead of time for any advice.
Liz
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Thank you so much for this info. I am brand new in this. I have a month old and I've had SOO much varied advice. This makes sense. So? I introduce the grass. If she never eats it, preferring the dandelion greens etc when do I or should I offer only grass? Will she eat it if hungry enough? Plus, she already hates me even though I don't handle her except for her daily soak. Will this make her trust me less? Thanks ahead of time for any advice.
Liz
All babies are scaredy cats. It takes them until about 3 years old before they stop acting like you are a predator.

To introduce grass to a baby that has never had it, you need tender, freshly sprouted grasses. Old mature grass is too tough for babies. The sprouted wheat grass sold at pet stores ad some grocery stores works great. Chop off some small pieces onto your pile of greens and mix it all in. It will stick better if you wet the greens first. Start with hardly any grass and gradually add more as tome passes and the tortoise gets used to it.
 

ElliMae

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Hagerstown
Over and over I type up and answer diet questions and try to get people feeding the right stuff, but I find that the "norm" is grocery store food. Grocery store food is expensive, a hassle to obtain, and very low on the list of what is best for sulcatas.

These tortoises are GRASS eaters. From the moment they hatch, until the day they die, grass should be a large part of their diet. Spring mix, romaine, kale and other greens are okay as a small part of a varied diet, but should not be the bulk of the diet. If someone must feed grocery store foods, the pile should be sprinkled with grass clippings or "Salad Style". For those who like the convenience of pre-packaged, easy to handle stuff, "Salad Style" is basically finely blended up grass hay that can be sprinkled over any other food to add bulk and fiber. I got my "Salad Style" from Tyler at tortoisesupply.com.

For those that have a lawn, or access to one: Get a tub, get some scissors, get down on your knees, and go to work! It is so EASY to cut a few handfuls of fresh, green, tender, young grass, and dramatically improve your baby sulcatas diet. Any kind of grass will work. Finely chop it for little tortoises and sprinkle it all over the other food, or feed it by itself in a pile. Do be careful about lawn chemicals and pesticides. If you have a gardener, or its not your lawn, use extreme caution. Live in a condo or apartment complex? Don't do it. Not worth the risk, no matter what they tell you. Just grow your own grass in pots on your patio or window sills. Friends, family and neighbors might be able to help you out here.

For those who still just love the grocery store: Most stores are now selling little plastic pots of live, freshly sprouted, organic wheat grass. You can find it at many pet stores too. This is a great way to add grass to the diet of a young sulcata. Get your scissors, hold the pot over the food pile and chop away. Water it and keep the pot in a window sill, and in a few days, you'll have more. You might need several pots as your baby grows, or you can buy seed from one of our site sponsors (Thank you Carolina Pet Supply) and sprout even bigger trays of it yourself.

Some of you may find that your "grass eating" tortoise wants nothing to do with eating grass. This should surprise no one, since most breeders and most keepers never even attempt to feed actual grass to their grass eating tortoise babies. So sad! I can tell you from first hand experience with literally HUNDREDS of babies, they WILL eat it. It may take a month or more to slowly introduce it, but PLEASE, slowly introduce it.

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

Other good stuff:
"Testudo Seed Mix" from http://www.tortoisesupply.com/SeedMixes
Pasture mixes or other seeds from http://www.groworganic.com/seeds.html
Homegrown alfalfa
Mazuri Tortoise Chow
ZooMed Grassland Tortoise Food


When sulcatas get a little older and bigger, usually around 10-12" for me, they will start munching on plain, dry grass hay, all on their own. I like orchard grass hay the best for this, but I also used bermuda grass hay for years too. When they hit this stage, life gets MUCH easier. Just make sure you have drinking water readily available when they start eating hay, and consider soaking regularly if you are not 100% sure your tortoise is drinking enough, or if you live in a really dry area, like me.

I live in a desert and yet there is still green stuff all around me. I beg you to take a walk and learn about all the green stuff around you, INSTEAD of driving to the store again. Instead of a trip to the grocery store, take a trip to a local nursery for some weed IDs, and tips on growing your own stuff. What could be better than stepping out into your backyard and collecting all the free, healthy tortoise food you can carry? Think of the gas savings! Anyone who is a tortoise keeper, ought to be somewhat of a gardener too.

I beg of you... PLEASE stop the grocery store MADNESS!!! :D
My baby is 6 months old and he loves him some plain old yard grass and timmy hay, and I have ordered him some prickly pear pads for a yummy treat. He likes it, but still loves his yard grass the best ?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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My baby is 6 months old and he loves him some plain old yard grass and timmy hay, and I have ordered him some prickly pear pads for a yummy treat. He likes it, but still loves his yard grass the best ?
That sounds good, but I'd skip the dry hay for a little baby. Hay is for larger adults. I don't start dry hay until they are around 12 inches. When that time comes, orchard grass, Bermuda or teff works better than Timothy hay. Timothy is too stemmy. Large adults can eat it, but I still prefer the other ones.
 

ElliMae

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Nov 5, 2021
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Hagerstown
That sounds good, but I'd skip the dry hay for a little baby. Hay is for larger adults. I don't start dry hay until they are around 12 inches. When that time comes, orchard grass, Bermuda or teff works better than Timothy hay. Timothy is too stemmy. Large adults can eat it, but I still prefer the other ones.
Good to know..It IS really stemmy! I have been cutting it with scissors and wetting it to help enable him to eat it. I also have some pellets that have hay and grass ground up in them, so I crush n wet those as well with some dried hibiscus petals here and there.
 
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