Is my baby sulcata sick?

Prenchpries

New Member
Joined
May 30, 2020
Messages
29
Location (City and/or State)
Metro Manila, Philippines
Hi everyone!

I acquired a baby sulcata named Ube (our native term for purple yam). He was born March 28, 2020 and is currently hovering between 43-48 grams. I’ve always fed him variety since we got him — hibiscus, water spinach, rose, grasses, trefoil, aloe, ferns, lettuce, etc — and give a sprinkle of Reptical w/o D3 once or twice a week. He doesn’t seem to like Mazuri. His enclosure is currently an open-top, medium-sized terracotta planter (diameter is about 20" which I know is too small), with several plants. Substrate is plain organic soil (no perlite or small rocks) with some sphagnum moss on top. My living room is somewhat like a greenhouse (lots of glass with not much ventilation) so temperatures are always 30-34C. I place the hygrometer inside his indoor enclosure and it usually reads between 65-80% (high 80-90% when it’s raining). I soak him 1-2x a day for 15-20 minutes at a time, he always has water & regularly tracks it, and I regularly mist his enclosures too. I take him out for sun every morning in his outdoor enclosure for 2 hours, sometimes more if noon isn’t too hot, but I always bring him in before dusk (he likes sleeping in his hide outside which usually measures 33-35C and 75-80% humidity). Now I just wanted to ask some questions since most information available is for temperate climates & not much info is available for baby sulcatas in the Philippine tropics.

1. I understand a closed chamber enclosure is the optimal way to raise babies. I’ve already ordered a tub (36x17x19 inches) and will make necessary adjustments to make this a closed chamber until he outgrows it. Given the natural humidity in my country, I think it would be easy to maintain 80-90% humidity in his closed chamber even without heating, since it’ll be indoors anyway, in a place with no AC & little ventilation. Does this make sense or am I being naive? I’ve reached this conclusion seeing how humid his outdoor hide can get, as well as our normal outdoor temps ranging 33-36C with 50-70% humidity.

2. I feel like my baby is too light for a 2-month old sulcata. He has never reached 50g while in my care, and I am worried he’s sick. When we first got him (on May 12th) and for the first couple of weeks, he was eating a lot. But it seems that his eating has decreased starting last week & he’s been slightly more lethargic. He used to be awake from 8-10AM & 2-4PM. Now he’s only awake in the morning then asleep the rest of the day. He doesn’t have the same appetite for food but he still poops & pees normally.
 
Last edited:

Prenchpries

New Member
Joined
May 30, 2020
Messages
29
Location (City and/or State)
Metro Manila, Philippines
3. I also noticed that his shell seems dry, compared to the beautiful shiny carapaces I see on here. Please have a look and do let me know what you think. I'm not sure if he was started dry, but when I got him from the "middleman" (aka my friend), he was definitely outdoors 24/7 with two other siblings for at least 2 days.

IMG_4616.jpg IMG_4662.jpg IMG_4661.jpg IMG_4617.jpg
 

nicoleann2214

Active Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2020
Messages
382
Location (City and/or State)
NY
3. I also noticed that his shell seems dry, compared to the beautiful shiny carapaces I see on here. Please have a look and do let me know what you think. I'm not sure if he was started dry, but when I got him from the "middleman" (aka my friend), he was definitely outdoors 24/7 with two other siblings for at least 2 days.

View attachment 296279 View attachment 296280 View attachment 296281 View attachment 296282
3. I also noticed that his shell seems dry, compared to the beautiful shiny carapaces I see on here. Please have a look and do let me know what you think. I'm not sure if he was started dry, but when I got him from the "middleman" (aka my friend), he was definitely outdoors 24/7 with two other siblings for at least 2 days.

View attachment 296279 View attachment 296280 View attachment 296281 View attachment 296282
i would get rid of the sphagnum moss, HES super cute. You can spray his shell with warm water for moisture, Ive been doing that with my sulcata and it’s helping :) @Tom can help you and has a lot of good information for sulcatas.
 

Prenchpries

New Member
Joined
May 30, 2020
Messages
29
Location (City and/or State)
Metro Manila, Philippines
i would get rid of the sphagnum moss, HES super cute. You can spray his shell with warm water for moisture, Ive been doing that with my sulcata and it’s helping :) @Tom can help you and has a lot of good information for sulcatas.
Hi! I appreciate your answer :) I did see that @Tom mentioned impaction is possible with sphagnum, is this true? I think he removed that part in his Care Sheet 2.0, but in any case, I ordered reptibark and will try out that substrate when I move him into the bigger tub this week. I was thinking organic soil as the underbed (also so I can transplant some of the original plants in his current enclosure), and then reptibark on top of that.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
48,940
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Follow this care sheet. It doesn't matter where in the world you are.

Problems I see in your enclosure:
  • Its much too small. The new one you are planning is too small also. Go big!
  • Soil should never be used as a substrate. It is made from composted yard waste and there is no way to know what is in it.
  • Sphagnum moss is an impaction hazard and they all eat it. Remove that ASAP.
  • Some ferns are toxic. I wouldn't feed ferns.
  • An hour or two of outside time is good. All day outside is too much. Climate doesn't matter for this.
  • 30-34 is good for an ambient temperature, but they still need a basking area around 36-37 directly under the bulb.
  • Your enclosure doesn't drop below 30 in the middle of the coldest of cold nights there? If it truly truly stays above 27 C, even with evaporative cooling, then you don't need night heat. I think you probably need night heat. Are you using a digital thermometer sitting near where the tortoise sleeps to assess the over night low?
  • The shell does look a bit dry. 50-70% humidity is too low. It should be 80-90% all the time with a humid hide that is warm and 100% humid.
  • Keep mixing in small amounts of the Mazuri periodically. It takes tortoises time to get used to any new food and Mazuri is a good way to ensure balanced nutrition. Which type of Mazuri have you got? LS or the original 5M21 type? They usually like the original type better.
Start with these things and read the care sheet to see if any other changes ned to be made. Your questions and comments are welcome. Feel free to ask for more explanation about any of this.
 

Prenchpries

New Member
Joined
May 30, 2020
Messages
29
Location (City and/or State)
Metro Manila, Philippines
Follow this care sheet. It doesn't matter where in the world you are.

Problems I see in your enclosure:
  • Its much too small. The new one you are planning is too small also. Go big!
  • Soil should never be used as a substrate. It is made from composted yard waste and there is no way to know what is in it.
  • Sphagnum moss is an impaction hazard and they all eat it. Remove that ASAP.
  • Some ferns are toxic. I wouldn't feed ferns.
  • An hour or two of outside time is good. All day outside is too much. Climate doesn't matter for this.
  • 30-34 is good for an ambient temperature, but they still need a basking area around 36-37 directly under the bulb.
  • Your enclosure doesn't drop below 30 in the middle of the coldest of cold nights there? If it truly truly stays above 27 C, even with evaporative cooling, then you don't need night heat. I think you probably need night heat. Are you using a digital thermometer sitting near where the tortoise sleeps to assess the over night low?
  • The shell does look a bit dry. 50-70% humidity is too low. It should be 80-90% all the time with a humid hide that is warm and 100% humid.
  • Keep mixing in small amounts of the Mazuri periodically. It takes tortoises time to get used to any new food and Mazuri is a good way to ensure balanced nutrition. Which type of Mazuri have you got? LS or the original 5M21 type? They usually like the original type better.
Start with these things and read the care sheet to see if any other changes ned to be made. Your questions and comments are welcome. Feel free to ask for more explanation about any of this.

Hi Tom! Thanks for the response. Gotcha re: enclosure size and substrate. I need some time to build a bigger enclosure, but definitely it's on the priority list. I'm hoping the tub will be much better in the meantime vs. the current planter.

For the ferns, it's just Boston Fern that I give actually, but yeah better to be safe :)

Temps - Ok got it. For the night time temps, it's summer now that I got him so nights are a stable 30-31C but when it's the BER months, I might have to get a CHE. :) Thankfully, the way my house was built has caused a greenhouse effect inside the room where he stays, and at night when all windows are closed, it kinda acts like a closed chamber too. Just checked now, his humidity is at 91% now at 11PM. I use a digital thermo-hygro to measure temp & humidity, it is located inside his enclosure, right outside his humid hide (not sure if you can see it's on top of his terracota hide, it was raining that day so 99% humidity).

Humidity - Got it. I'll try to achieve the 80-90% ambient humidity in his closed chamber first without a CHE this summer, will see if I need one during colder months. His closed chamber will still be indoors, in the room where the greenhouse effect feels real! :)

Mazuri - Got the 5M21.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
48,940
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
@Tom So, would you say my baby tort looks fine ish? Even if he hasn’t reached 50g at two months?
It looks okay in the picture. Unless there is a problem, you should be passing that 50 gram mark in the next couple of weeks.
 

Prenchpries

New Member
Joined
May 30, 2020
Messages
29
Location (City and/or State)
Metro Manila, Philippines
Soaking water should be a little deeper. Water should come about halfway up the shell, but no so much that they have to hold their head up to breathe.
Hello! Thank you for the response. :) I actually add warm water every few min and it gets to that about that level; because the water seems to become room temp pretty quickly. Do you encounter this?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
48,940
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California


Hello! Thank you for the response. :) I actually add warm water every few min and it gets to that about that level; because the water seems to become room temp pretty quickly. Do you encounter this?
Soak somewhere warm. You can put the soaking tub inside the enclosure near the heat source, or do it in a warm room. However you do it, check the water temp early and often. You don't want it getting too cold or too hot.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
48,940
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Thanks for this! :)
I'm lucky that I have a warm reptile room to soak all my babies in, but for a time, I had lots of tortoises in 4x8' closed chambers in my garage. In winter, temps could drop as low as 55 in the garage. The cages were insulated and held the correct temperatures with no problem, but I had to put the soaking tubs inside the heated enclosures during winter. In summer, I would soak them outside in the shade on a hot day. Even on a 100 degree day, evaporative cooling kept the soak water cool enough, but I monitored that closely.
 

Prenchpries

New Member
Joined
May 30, 2020
Messages
29
Location (City and/or State)
Metro Manila, Philippines
I'm lucky that I have a warm reptile room to soak all my babies in, but for a time, I had lots of tortoises in 4x8' closed chambers in my garage. In winter, temps could drop as low as 55 in the garage. The cages were insulated and held the correct temperatures with no problem, but I had to put the soaking tubs inside the heated enclosures during winter. In summer, I would soak them outside in the shade on a hot day. Even on a 100 degree day, evaporative cooling kept the soak water cool enough, but I monitored that closely.
Just to update... it’s been 2 days since he ate. He pooped two normal-looking pellets yesterday but I didn’t see him eat. He didn’t move AT ALL today. And I’m not sure but his right eye seems to have difficulty opening? Sending photos for reference.

The only thing we did differently is move him into a room that is around 32-35C ambient at all times. Is this too high? While we’re fixing his bigger tub, we brought in his outdoor enclosure permanently & moved him there from the planter so he would have A bit more space.
 

Attachments

maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
1,574
Location (City and/or State)
Corvallis Oregon
Sending more photos... hopefully you guys can let me know if you think anything is wrong with his shut eye? :(

Thank you in advance!
I don't see where you say what type of lights he has??? Did I miss that? I'd start adding Gerber strained carrot in his soaking water...He will soak up some vitamin A that way...it might help...also is he on a regular light schedule? you know...daylight and night time?
 

Prenchpries

New Member
Joined
May 30, 2020
Messages
29
Location (City and/or State)
Metro Manila, Philippines
Hi! :) No basking light yet as Tom mentioned BUT since he is indoors & by a window, there’s natural light during day (and I turn on room lights in case), at night lights are off.

I also take him out Everyday for natural UV.
 

New Posts

Top