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Help Check if condition of baby sulcata is ok

Discussion in 'Sulcata tortoises' started by happy_mochi, Jan 14, 2019.

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  1. happy_mochi

    happy_mochi New Member

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    Hello! I am new to the forum and certainly very new to tortoise keeping! I have recently bought a baby sulcata this month during a reptile show. The sellers said it was a hatchling and that the babies hatched last August.

    I wanted to know if my new sulcata looks okay at the moment. I'm currently in the process of acquiring what's needed for its enclosure and food, thanks to the posts in this forum! By the way, I found my sulcata munching on some orchard moss so I have to take it all out -.-

    Here are some pictures. And I'm wondering what that white thingy in between its mouth is ^^'

    Thanks!

    20190112_165910.jpg 20190114_194753.jpg 20190112_171034.jpg 20190112_165910.jpg 20190114_194753.jpg 20190112_171034.jpg
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  2. Pure Tortoise Power

    Pure Tortoise Power Active Member

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    An adorable sully for sure! And looks like it's a poo eater as seen from the blackish ring around the mouth XD
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  3. LaLaP

    LaLaP Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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  4. happy_mochi

    happy_mochi New Member

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    Thank you! I've attached a pic of its enclosure. I put a layer of cypress mulch, then added a layer of pellettes on top of it. My sulcata likes to dig at the corners. Is that normal for its age? I mean, I know eventually it'll dig. I just worry that he'll reach the cypress mulch and start munching on it ^^'

    I also tried adding orchid moss inside his hide but he started eating it so I took it away. 20190120_174621.jpg
  5. happy_mochi

    happy_mochi New Member

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    Oh my gosh, poo eater! >< Haha, I saw it pooped on its food once ^^' I wonder if there's a way to prevent that in the future since I'm away most of the day XD
  6. LaLaP

    LaLaP Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    One of my tort pees and poos on his food. I guess it is a territorial act and just in their instincts. Gross!

    So I have some bad news for ya... those pellets are a bad choice for substrate. They are designed to suck up moisture so they are just drying out your little guy which can be fatal to a baby sulcata. Get that stuff out of there right away. Don't worry about him eating the Cyprus mulch. It's safe but not tasty. Check out that caresheet I posted above for other substrate options.

    The other thing I see is that your thermometer isn't measuring temps at your torts level and I'm not sure if that style of thermometer is very good for an enclosure. Most people here recommend a digital thermometer/hydrometer like the one made by accurite (google accurite temperature gauge).

    I also recommend a temperature gun for spot checking your basking area, soak water, cool areas, etc. they are about $12 at a hardware store and a super useful tool.

    Once you have the substrate sorted and a better temp/humidity gauge you'll want to focus on getting your humidity up by soaking the substrate. Baby sulcata really need the humidity to survive and keep a smooth, healthy shell. Many babies die from being kept too dry.

    Other thing about humidity... you'll find it a lot easier to keep humidity up if you have a closed top on the tank. Some people cover with tin foil or something similar. You can search the forum for "closed chamber" to see what other people have done.

    Last thing... the uvb rays from your light don't penetrate that mesh top. You'll want to cut a hole in the top and devise a way to hang the light.

    I know it sounds like a lot of stuff to change but it'll be worth it because you'll have a healthy tort that will outlive you!
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  7. LaLaP

    LaLaP Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Oh and yes digging is normal. Just wait til he's older and starts digging a hole to China in your yard!
  8. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Please take a look at these:
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/

    Most of the people breeding them don't start them right and they give terrible advice. Most of the pet supply places selling equipment for them sell you all the wrong stuff.

    Your tortoise should be much bigger for its age and it is already starting to pyramid. This means is has had the typical overly dry start. Hydration and humidity are going to be needed to save it.
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  9. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I don't think anyone mentioned the alfalfa pellets you have as substrate. You need to get rid of them and just go with the cypress mulch. Alfalfa pellets swell up and mold when you get them wet, and in order for your baby to grow a smooth shell, he needs a very moist substrate.
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  10. happy_mochi

    happy_mochi New Member

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    Thanks, everyone!

    Unfortunately, the breeder and the pet store did tell me info contrary to what you all are saying. Not knowing anything at all about my sulcata, I followed them. I started doing research as soon as possible and that is how I ended up here. I appreciate all the help and will follow your advices as soon as possible. I've also come across Tom's links a lot and it's very helpful, thanks! I'm going to read through it until I know it by heart!

    I'll be getting the proper equipment this week. As for the tank, it'll be temporary. I'll get a bigger one soon. In the meantime, I'll turn it into a "closed chamber." I've seen the posts, very neat!

    Questions:
    1) Will the little pyramid go away? Is it the bumpy line forming at the center of its carapace? The seller told me that my sulcata doesn't need humidity because they grow in Africa. I know the answer to that now.
    2) Based on my readings, pretty sure I need more than one thermometer, right?
    3) How big should my sulcata be for his age?
    4) Also - how do you guys maintain the temperature of the water while soaking the sulcata? Is it okay to position the container used for soaking under the heating lamp?

    I cleaned the tank and got rid of the pellets! Using cypress mulch now.
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  11. LaLaP

    LaLaP Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Looks like your on the right track!

    1) If you get the humidity sorted he'll stop pyramiding so what has already begun will be barely noticeable when he's older. The bumpy line at the center is a normal ridge. Pyramiding is the groove that is forming around each scute. Over time the center of each scute will be pushed higher and the groove will widen forming a pyramid.
    2) If you get one digital thermometer and one temp gun that ought to do it. Measure basking temp with gun and put the thermometer closer to the cool end.
    3) All torts grow at different rates so it's hard to say how big. Just bigger. Maybe someone else could be more helpful on this one.. sorry :/
    4) Putting the soaking container under the basking light is one good way to keep the water warm. Just keep checking it with temp gun. Personally I soak in my bathroom sink so when my tort poops I just open the drain stopper a bit and the poop goes down and then I can add warm water (I fill a cup first and check it with temp gun). So there are different ways to do it.

    Hope that helps :)
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  12. Ray--Opo

    Ray--Opo Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Hello and welcome. When Opo was small I would put the tub I used for soaking on top of a large athletic soak full dry rice. Microwave the sock to the proper temp so you don't overheat the water. It would last for 1/2 hr. Now that Opo is bigger I just monitor the water and take some away and add warmer water.
    Opo was a poop eater also. Opo generally pooped while eating the morning meal. So I would wait and clean it up before Opo getting it. After awhile Opo quit eating it. But now outside Opo will hunt down either cat, raccoon and rabbit poop. When I see him smelling the ground and moving like he is on a mission with nose down. I know Opo is on a sent trail.
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  13. Ray--Opo

    Ray--Opo Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Scent Ray not sent:p:p:p
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  14. happy_mochi

    happy_mochi New Member

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    Thank you very much! This has helped me a lot! :):<3:

    Another thing, sometimes I notice that my sulcata "clicks" his mouth. Not sure how to describe it. It's like he's eating or munching but he's not. He just opens and closes his mouth. He also seemed to have fallen asleep whilst I was soaking him just now. Or maybe he's just resting~
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  15. LaLaP

    LaLaP Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    One of my torts used to make that clicking sound. He doesn't do it often now. I honestly don't know what it is or why they do it. Nothing to worry about though. Same with falling asleep bathing... just means it feels nice and warm! Just be sure he doesn't go under and drown! These funny behaviors are what make having a tort fun! They're often up to something strange :)
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  16. happy_mochi

    happy_mochi New Member

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    I checked out closed chamber and I managed to transform mine into one two days ago. I covered the screen with foil and cut out holes for the lamps. Last night, when I got home, I saw poop and stuff on his water dish. It looks like he took a bath all by himself. Do they do that? This is the first time he's ever pooped on the water dish. He never touched the water since I got him, always going around the water dish and seems to avoid it at all cost, haha. I have more time to observe him on the weekends so hopefully I get to see this activity. If he decides to soak himself and poop, do I need to soak him again the same day?
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  17. Ray--Opo

    Ray--Opo Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Well you never know how long he soaked for. And yes some do use the water dish to soak.
    Opo just uses it to track substrate into the dish. If you can afford 50 bucks. Buy a monitoring cam so you can keep a eye on him at all times with your phone wherever you are. The problem with that you might not get any work done. LOL
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