Help, possible incorrect husbandry!

megnlong

New Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2022
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Haverhill, MA
Hello I have an almost 2 year old male sulcata tortoise. I got him when he was 8 months old and he was absolutely perfect. As he’s grown I’ve noticed his shell getting much darker and some mild pyramiding so I know I’m doing something wrong and I’d like to stop this in it’s tracks so he can live the best possible life. He currently lives in a zoo med 40 gallon front opening tank. His substrate is eco earth but I am switching it to Reptibark be a the eco earth is very messy and dusty so I fear that it could eventually cause a respiratory problem. He has a tunnel to hide in as a make shift burrow plus there are multiple fake plants that he can hide under for shade. His water dish is the zoo med reptile ramp bowl in the largest size so he can soak himself as needed, I need to get better at manually soaking him. For food I had originally tried zoomed grassland tortoise pellets but he wouldn’t eat them so I mistakenly started feeding mainly collard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, mustard greens and various tortoise safe veggies w/ reptivite multivitamin with d3 and zoomed dehydrated flower tortoise topper. I now understand that that was too nutrient dense and have since drastically lessened the amount of fresh greens, added in various dried grasses and hays and have added in pellets. Currently I am using zoomed grassland pellets mixed with flukers tortoise pellets since I can trick him into eating them due to their bright colors but I know they are not the best and I plan to phase them out as I get him used to eating the grass and grassland pellets. I have attached pictures of all the lights and food/supplements I give. Humidity is about 40% and the lights are on for about 12 hours a day. Please be brutally honest with me because I want this tortoise to live the best possible life and outlive me.
 

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mojo_1

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2023
Messages
870
Location (City and/or State)
Saint Clairsville OH
Hello I have an almost 2 year old male sulcata tortoise. I got him when he was 8 months old and he was absolutely perfect. As he’s grown I’ve noticed his shell getting much darker and some mild pyramiding so I know I’m doing something wrong and I’d like to stop this in it’s tracks so he can live the best possible life. He currently lives in a zoo med 40 gallon front opening tank. His substrate is eco earth but I am switching it to Reptibark be a the eco earth is very messy and dusty so I fear that it could eventually cause a respiratory problem. He has a tunnel to hide in as a make shift burrow plus there are multiple fake plants that he can hide under for shade. His water dish is the zoo med reptile ramp bowl in the largest size so he can soak himself as needed, I need to get better at manually soaking him. For food I had originally tried zoomed grassland tortoise pellets but he wouldn’t eat them so I mistakenly started feeding mainly collard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, mustard greens and various tortoise safe veggies w/ reptivite multivitamin with d3 and zoomed dehydrated flower tortoise topper. I now understand that that was too nutrient dense and have since drastically lessened the amount of fresh greens, added in various dried grasses and hays and have added in pellets. Currently I am using zoomed grassland pellets mixed with flukers tortoise pellets since I can trick him into eating them due to their bright colors but I know they are not the best and I plan to phase them out as I get him used to eating the grass and grassland pellets. I have attached pictures of all the lights and food/supplements I give. Humidity is about 40% and the lights are on for about 12 hours a day. Please be brutally honest with me because I want this tortoise to live the best possible life and outlive me.
I would not use the basking bulb you have if it's a mercury vapor bulb. Those are bad for tortoises.
 

megnlong

New Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2022
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Haverhill, MA
Hello I have an almost 2 year old male sulcata tortoise. I got him when he was 8 months old and he was absolutely perfect. As he’s grown I’ve noticed his shell getting much darker and some mild pyramiding so I know I’m doing something wrong and I’d like to stop this in it’s tracks so he can live the best possible life. He currently lives in a zoo med 40 gallon front opening tank. His substrate is eco earth but I am switching it to Reptibark be a the eco earth is very messy and dusty so I fear that it could eventually cause a respiratory problem. He has a tunnel to hide in as a make shift burrow plus there are multiple fake plants that he can hide under for shade. His water dish is the zoo med reptile ramp bowl in the largest size so he can soak himself as needed, I need to get better at manually soaking him. For food I had originally tried zoomed grassland tortoise pellets but he wouldn’t eat them so I mistakenly started feeding mainly collard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, mustard greens and various tortoise safe veggies w/ reptivite multivitamin with d3 and zoomed dehydrated flower tortoise topper. I now understand that that was too nutrient dense and have since drastically lessened the amount of fresh greens, added in various dried grasses and hays and have added in pellets. Currently I am using zoomed grassland pellets mixed with flukers tortoise pellets since I can trick him into eating them due to their bright colors but I know they are not the best and I plan to phase them out as I get him used to eating the grass and grassland pellets. I have attached pictures of all the lights and food/supplements I give. Humidity is about 40% and the lights are on for about 12 hours a day. Please be brutally honest with me because I want this tortoise to live the best possible life and outlive me.
 

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Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
63,814
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hello I have an almost 2 year old male sulcata tortoise. I got him when he was 8 months old and he was absolutely perfect. As he’s grown I’ve noticed his shell getting much darker and some mild pyramiding so I know I’m doing something wrong and I’d like to stop this in it’s tracks so he can live the best possible life. He currently lives in a zoo med 40 gallon front opening tank. His substrate is eco earth but I am switching it to Reptibark be a the eco earth is very messy and dusty so I fear that it could eventually cause a respiratory problem. He has a tunnel to hide in as a make shift burrow plus there are multiple fake plants that he can hide under for shade. His water dish is the zoo med reptile ramp bowl in the largest size so he can soak himself as needed, I need to get better at manually soaking him. For food I had originally tried zoomed grassland tortoise pellets but he wouldn’t eat them so I mistakenly started feeding mainly collard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, mustard greens and various tortoise safe veggies w/ reptivite multivitamin with d3 and zoomed dehydrated flower tortoise topper. I now understand that that was too nutrient dense and have since drastically lessened the amount of fresh greens, added in various dried grasses and hays and have added in pellets. Currently I am using zoomed grassland pellets mixed with flukers tortoise pellets since I can trick him into eating them due to their bright colors but I know they are not the best and I plan to phase them out as I get him used to eating the grass and grassland pellets. I have attached pictures of all the lights and food/supplements I give. Humidity is about 40% and the lights are on for about 12 hours a day. Please be brutally honest with me because I want this tortoise to live the best possible life and outlive me.
Okay. Brutal honesty, BUT, brutal honesty with the intention of helping you understand what is wrong and how to fix it. I see you joined the forum more than two years ago, but it looks like we failed to give you much good advice back then. Still, I'm surprised you didn't pick up the right info along the way.

It appears you got your tortoise care info from the internet. YT or FB? Or both? Most of the care info out in the world is all wrong. I'm going to list the problems you've shown us and then link the correct care and feeding info for you to read through at your leisure.
1. 40 gallons is too small for a baby. At two year old, your torts is way too large for that size tank. Your tortoise needs a large 4x8 foot closed chamber, and I have o idea what you are going to do with it once it outgrows that in MA.
2. Your tortoise is very undersized for its age, and that is due to the incorrect care it has received.
3. That type of tank is not suitable for tortoises. It is much too small for any adult, and much to open and ventilated for any baby. Babies need higher humidity which simulates the humid hiding places they utilize in the wild. Dry conditions are bad for babies. 40% humidity is WAYYYYY too low, and the dust from the overly dry substrate is really bad for them too. Tortoise substrate must be kept lightly damp. Dry substrate isn't good for any tortoise species.
4. Spot bulbs cause pyramiding. You need a flood type bulb. Just a regular one from the hardware store. Not a reptile one.
5. Those ramped water bowls are great for snakes and lizards, but they are literally death traps for tortoises. Remove that right away.
6. Fake plants will be eaten and are likely to cause impaction. I wouldn't use those.
7. No tortoise eats the ZooMed pellets right off the bat. You have to slowly introduce it by soaking tiny amounts and mixing that in with chopped up favorite greens. Over time you can add more and more of the soaked pellets, but it takes weeks or months.
8. The grocery store greens are NOT too nutrient dense. That is totally old wrong info from the internet. Its pure absurdity. Pyramiding is caused by growth in conditions that are too dry. It is NOT caused by food.
9. Hay is for adult tortoises. Hay is not good for little babies like yours. Don't introduce dry hay until your tortoise is over 12 inches.
10. The best foods for your tortoise are weeds, grasses and leaves of the right types.
Read this thread at least twice. Then read the Sulcata are sheet at the bottom at least twice. All the correct housing, feeding and humidity info is here. Questions are welcome:

I don't know how you fell through the cracks 2 years ago, but I am sorry about that. I hope you'll let us help you now.
 

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