Help! Inherited a Sulcata. Small for age and hasn't eaten

AliciaOro

New Member
Joined
May 15, 2022
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Lynwood
Hi,

So we are brand new Sulcata owners as of 24/48 hours ago. The previous owners had her for 1.5 to 2 years and kept in a 10 gallon tank with a red sun light. Feed mainly lettuce. This tortoise weighs about.maybe 3 pounds.

We were able to get her crawling around outside for a little. However main issues are

1. Back legs are not holding up. She mainly crawls using front legs and kicks with the back.

2. Has pooped but has not eaten anything. But has also taken a huge gulp of water

3. As mentioned severally underweight

So far we have cleaned out the 10 gallon and added local dirt to it for burrowing fun.
We have also gotten nutrient dense food pellets (but she refuses to eat them) as well as a calcium that we will be putting with the water.

We have also gotten a UVB/UVA bulb for night time. We are super aware that she cannot stay in the 10lb tank and are trying to figure out a spot outside.

Main thing is we want her to eat and get back on a balanced diet to get some weight on. And we need to figure out about the back legs if they are still usable or if we have to build a rolling chair.

Any information would be very helpful!
 

Ink

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jun 10, 2016
Messages
1,651
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
@Tom or @Yvonne G should be able to help. Can you please send pictures of the tortoise and the current enclosure. I understand that you are going to upgrade. Thank you for helping the tortoise
 

AliciaOro

New Member
Joined
May 15, 2022
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Lynwood
Here is how the enclosure looked previously.
 

Attachments

  • 20220515_010139.jpg
    20220515_010139.jpg
    1.4 MB · Views: 9
  • 20220515_010439.jpg
    20220515_010439.jpg
    1.5 MB · Views: 11
  • Like
Reactions: Ink

AliciaOro

New Member
Joined
May 15, 2022
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Lynwood
And here is after we cleaned and added in more dirt and some small rocks for obstacles
 

Attachments

  • 20220515_123729.jpg
    20220515_123729.jpg
    1.6 MB · Views: 8
  • 20220515_123736.jpg
    20220515_123736.jpg
    1.4 MB · Views: 10
  • 20220515_130706.jpg
    20220515_130706.jpg
    1.7 MB · Views: 8
  • Like
Reactions: Ink

TammyJ

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
3,980
Location (City and/or State)
Jamaica
Thanks for caring for this poor little tortoise. You will soon get some valuable help.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ink

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
91,034
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
The tortoise is suffering from metabolic bone disease, which is quite painful. He needs calcium rich foods along with real sunshine. The flat profile tells me he's just one step away from death. His bones and shell are soft and not strong enough to hold him up. You have a labor intensive job ahead of you.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tom

AliciaOro

New Member
Joined
May 15, 2022
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Lynwood
The tortoise is suffering from metabolic bone disease, which is quite painful. He needs calcium rich foods along with real sunshine. The flat profile tells me he's just one step away from death. His bones and shell are soft and not strong enough to hold him up. You have a labor intensive job ahead of you.
Thank you for the information
 

AliciaOro

New Member
Joined
May 15, 2022
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Lynwood
We haven't been able to get the poor thing to eat. How is the best way to get some calcium nutrients and food into them?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,589
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Its a tough call, but when they are this far gone and in this bad of shape, sometime humane euthanasia is the kindest thing to do.

The previous owners should be severely castigated. This is atrocious and so easy to prevent. This is animal cruelty and neglect and they should be cited and charged.
 

TammyJ

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
3,980
Location (City and/or State)
Jamaica
Thank you for the information
Hey. Don't be too down. It may be that your tortoise has a chance to survive despite his sad condition. There is a lot that you can do for him to make him more comfortable anyway. I am sure you will get more advice and help soon. I am not an expert but others here are, like Yvonne and Tom. Please don't give up if you are really willing to try to help him even in this state.
 

AliciaOro

New Member
Joined
May 15, 2022
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Lynwood
they have been more active and probay more in the sun then ever before.

So far we have access to normal grass and some pellets that we picked up. Orange and very soft. But I can't remember the name of them sorry. We also have some calcium that we can put in the water as they do seem to drink so that can be started asap.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,589
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
they have been more active and probay more in the sun then ever before.

So far we have access to normal grass and some pellets that we picked up. Orange and very soft. But I can't remember the name of them sorry. We also have some calcium that we can put in the water as they do seem to drink so that can be started asap.
They? There is more than one?
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
91,034
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Since he knows lettuce is food, and he's sure you're trying to get him to eat 'non food,' you have to trick him. Put lettuce into the blender and make slushy juice out of it. Then cut up your good greens into tiny pieces and mix it up real good into the slush. Hopefully you can make him think it's lettuce.

Don't go overboard sprinkling calcium powder on the food. A lot of tortoises won't eat if they smell the powder.

We're all pulling for you. I hope you can get him turned around.
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
5,402
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
Here is the care sheet for sulcata. Try to follow it as closely as possible re' heating, lighting, feeding.

He also needs to be soaked in warm water at least daily. The reason his shell is bumpy is because he has been kept way too dry. The humidity in his enclosure needs to be at least 80% .

Do you know for how long he hasn't eaten? If it hasn't been long, you could try to entice him with cucumber or watermelon. There is also a pellet food called Mazuri that most torts love. You want to be sure to get the 5M21 variety. You do not want the LS variety. LS is safe, but lots of torts don't like the taste of it. I can't get on Amazon right now, but if you search for Mazuri 5M21 it should come up.

Here's the care sheet, and some other info. You need to buy some equipment, and hopefully you can get the proper stuff the first time around.


4 elements of heating: By Tom
There are four elements to heating and lighting:

Basking bulb. I use 65 watt floods from the hardware store. I run them on a timer 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.

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. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT.

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.

UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.htm

Problem with MVB, by Tom
Problems with MVBs:
1. They run too hot for a closed chamber, which is what you should be using.
2. They cause too much carapace desiccation which causes pyramiding.
3. They are fragile and break easily.
4. They are temperamental sometimes and shut themselves off for 20 minutes at a time.
5. They are expensive.
6. Their UV output runs from one extreme to the other. Some produce way too much UV, and other produce none at all after two or three months.
 

AliciaOro

New Member
Joined
May 15, 2022
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Lynwood
This is so very helpful and I am reading over it now. We did give him a little bath today and while we see it's recommended every 3 days since he does seem to need it we are thinking of doing it again tomorrow.

I have attached the pellets that we got for him since we get that colorful is something that draws them. I cut up a whole bunch of grass so he doesn't have to fight it. 20220515 174400
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
5,402
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
This is so very helpful and I am reading over it now. We did give him a little bath today and while we see it's recommended every 3 days since he does seem to need it we are thinking of doing it again tomorrow.

I have attached the pellets that we got for him since we get that colorful is something that draws them. I cut up a whole bunch of grass so he doesn't have to fight it.
I don't know anything about those pellets, but it's true that color attracts them. If you have safe flowers in your yard, he might try them out. Dandelions are delicious to most torts, and usually easy to find. And most homeowners are happy for you to pull them! :) Just be sure no chemicals have been used in the yard...bug sprays especially. If you have flowers available, this site is good for finding out if they are safe.

 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
5,402
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
Another idea...When you soak him, he may drink from the soak water. Try putting some babyfood veggies into the water. If he drinks, he's taking in nutrition. I wouldn't worry about what kind of veggie it is. At this point he needs anything he'll take.
You can also add some unflavored Pedialyte to the water. It helps to get the salts in his body in proper proportion to each other.
 
Top