Help? Sulcata found in the desert

TessS

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Oro Valley
Hello. My husband was out hunting this weekend and happened upon an adult sulcata in the desert of AZ. (Maybe 45-50 lbs? 2 feet wide) His brother also came across him in the same area when he had been scouting earlier that week. The tortoise is very friendly and came right up to them and devoured the lettuce they offered him. (Yeah, they had lettuce... their hunting expeditions are more like extravagant buffets... but I digress. ) Obviously, the tortoise was dumped because, well, sulcatas aren't native to the Arizona desert. Hubs asked if I cared if he brought him home (we live in Tucson). I said sure? Now, I'm wondering where we're going to house him. We have a patch of grass with sprinklers that is about 70 feet by 10 feet. It's on top of retaining wall so that would help solve most of the burrowing issue. I'm assuming the grass would be okay for him to eat? And from what I've read, the sprinklers are fine. We could also turn some of the grass into the muddy area that I've read they need. I know he'll need a hut of some kind. I've read the no-nos regarding food, but how often would he need to be fed if he has access to grass all day? How much? There are three tree wells in the area with lemon and lime trees that are still young so the fruit they bear is minimal and easily picked before falling on the ground. I know we'll need to add some big rocks and maybe a log (not so easy to find in the desert...) How big is the water dish he'll need? What am I missing that we need to do?
 

MPRC

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2015
Messages
3,090
Location (City and/or State)
Oregon
Show us pictures, we definitely want to see! Regarding Sullys, they are walking bulldozers and they will use every inch of space you give them. For a water dish if you can provide something he can walk into they sometimes like a soak. I use water heater drip pans from the hardware store for my reds, or a kiddie pool with the edge cut down so they can walk in and out.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
90,749
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Hi, and welcome!

Your new sulcata will also need a heated shed. They come from an area where it never gets cold. So if you have many nights that dip down under 70F, he'll need to have a heated shelter to retreat into.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,167
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hello. My husband was out hunting this weekend and happened upon an adult sulcata in the desert of AZ. (Maybe 45-50 lbs? 2 feet wide) His brother also came across him in the same area when he had been scouting earlier that week. The tortoise is very friendly and came right up to them and devoured the lettuce they offered him. (Yeah, they had lettuce... their hunting expeditions are more like extravagant buffets... but I digress. ) Obviously, the tortoise was dumped because, well, sulcatas aren't native to the Arizona desert. Hubs asked if I cared if he brought him home (we live in Tucson). I said sure? Now, I'm wondering where we're going to house him. We have a patch of grass with sprinklers that is about 70 feet by 10 feet. It's on top of retaining wall so that would help solve most of the burrowing issue. I'm assuming the grass would be okay for him to eat? And from what I've read, the sprinklers are fine. We could also turn some of the grass into the muddy area that I've read they need. I know he'll need a hut of some kind. I've read the no-nos regarding food, but how often would he need to be fed if he has access to grass all day? How much? There are three tree wells in the area with lemon and lime trees that are still young so the fruit they bear is minimal and easily picked before falling on the ground. I know we'll need to add some big rocks and maybe a log (not so easy to find in the desert...) How big is the water dish he'll need? What am I missing that we need to do?
That area is a bit too small for a tortoise that size.

The grass area will quickly be turned into barren dirt.

How old is that grass? Was it sod originally? If yes, you will run into entanglements with the plastic netting. If it is new sod, less than a year old, it will be full of toxic yard chemicals.

Horse hay can serve as the primary diet. Orchard grass hay is best, Bermuda or teff is fine too. Don't use Timothy. Too stemmy.

Your tortoise needs a burrow for your long hot summers, and a heated shelter for the cold winter nights. Like this:

Questions are welcome.
 

TessS

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Oro Valley
Thanks so much for your replies.

It was cold last night, so this morning when my husband returned to where the tortoise had previously been, it was nowhere to be found. He waited until noon, after they'd packed up and when it was warm, and went back, to no avail. He said he looked for 30 minutes and then threw in the towel and came home.

We talked about going back next weekend and looking again. It's a two hour drive, so... not sure what we're going to do. Part of me thinks maybe I should just leave him alone, he seems to be doing fine where he is. But the other part--the part that knows that's not where he started, thinks getting him is the right thing to do. I don't know.

Anyway! Thanks again.
 

TaylorTortoise

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Mar 24, 2020
Messages
1,465
Location (City and/or State)
Abington
Thanks so much for your replies.

It was cold last night, so this morning when my husband returned to where the tortoise had previously been, it was nowhere to be found. He waited until noon, after they'd packed up and when it was warm, and went back, to no avail. He said he looked for 30 minutes and then threw in the towel and came home.

We talked about going back next weekend and looking again. It's a two hour drive, so... not sure what we're going to do. Part of me thinks maybe I should just leave him alone, he seems to be doing fine where he is. But the other part--the part that knows that's not where he started, thinks getting him is the right thing to do. I don't know.

Anyway! Thanks again.
Tortoises travel long distances, hence the reason they need a large amt of space. He probably has wandered out far by now. I assumed him/ his buddies kept the Sulcata captive at the cabin or wherever they were staying. Definitely wouldn’t have expected the tort to stay in the place your husband found him without secluding the tortoise from other areas.
 

TessS

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Oro Valley
He was in the same area when my brother-in-law was scouting last week, and they found a lot of his poop nearby, so they think he's hanging around there.

They were on a hunt when they came across him, so no, they didn't contain him. (I guess he's as big as a tire.) Besides, hubs couldn't check with me about it until he got back to cell service.

Thanks again for your help!
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
90,749
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Thanks so much for your replies.

It was cold last night, so this morning when my husband returned to where the tortoise had previously been, it was nowhere to be found. He waited until noon, after they'd packed up and when it was warm, and went back, to no avail. He said he looked for 30 minutes and then threw in the towel and came home.

We talked about going back next weekend and looking again. It's a two hour drive, so... not sure what we're going to do. Part of me thinks maybe I should just leave him alone, he seems to be doing fine where he is. But the other part--the part that knows that's not where he started, thinks getting him is the right thing to do. I don't know.

Anyway! Thanks again.
It would have been the right thing to do. The current way of thinking is that exotic tortoises like sulcatas that have been released in the desert are the reason there's a rash of sick desert tortoises (Upper Respiratory Tract Disease URDS).
 

jsheffield

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 29, 2018
Messages
2,690
Location (City and/or State)
Westmoreland, NH
I live with a Russian that was found emerging from a park in the springtime, covered in mud and muck... I like to think that she overwintered in the park after escaping from her previous home (where she was forced to iron prints on knock-off Batman t-shirts and assemble Nikes for pennies a day)...

I hope this sulcata can find a warm place to live before winter....

Jamie
 

Hippytort

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2012
Messages
102
Location (City and/or State)
Southern CA
I live with a Russian that was found emerging from a park in the springtime, covered in mud and muck... I like to think that she overwintered in the park after escaping from her previous home (where she was forced to iron prints on knock-off Batman t-shirts and assemble Nikes for pennies a day)...

I hope this sulcata can find a warm place to live before winter....

Jamie
Hay, That's my X-wife! You can have her. LMAO

sorry. I know...bad joke. lol
 

Marshmellow

New Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Michigan
Tortoises travel long distances, hence the reason they need a large amt of space. He probably has wandered out far by now. I assumed him/ his buddies kept the Sulcata captive at the cabin or wherever they were staying. Definitely wouldn’t have expected the tort to stay in the place your husband found him without secluding the tortoise from other areas.
I hope you can find him and give him a home, it gets cold in the dessert at night and it needs food, water and shelter. Someone dumped this poor thing, at that size it has to be over 10 years old
 

TessS

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Oro Valley
Is it possible that he/she wasn't released there, but escaped from someone. I would check with the nearest home's nearby to see if anyone is missing their tortoise.
They can travel a long way. Someone may be missing the poor guy!
No... this is in the middle of nowhere. Very desolate.
 

TessS

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Oro Valley
**Update**
Hubs and I went back to look for him today. Found him immediately within 20 yards of where he was last weekend and the week before.

Meet Sullivan Reginald Rothschild III
He was going to just be Sully, then we priced his pen and decided for the amount of money we're going to drop tomorrow at Home Depot, he needed a more aristocratic name. :)
 

Attachments

  • Sully.jpeg
    Sully.jpeg
    153.8 KB · Views: 50
  • Sully2.jpeg
    Sully2.jpeg
    183.2 KB · Views: 51
  • Sully3.jpeg
    Sully3.jpeg
    131.3 KB · Views: 52

TessS

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Oro Valley
Tortoises travel long distances, hence the reason they need a large amt of space. He probably has wandered out far by now. I assumed him/ his buddies kept the Sulcata captive at the cabin or wherever they were staying. Definitely wouldn’t have expected the tort to stay in the place your husband found him without secluding the tortoise from other areas.
Immediately found him today. :) Hubs said, "we're coming up to where he was, be on the lookout..." and I said, "Is that him?" as I pointed to him on the side of the wash.
 

New Posts

Top