Livingstone's care sheet.

Not open for further replies.


Active Member
10 Year Member!
Jul 18, 2009
Location (City and/or State)
Richmond, Va
My fiancee and I have been traveling all month, and in doing so have had to entrust the care of our beloved livingstone to other people.
The people, for notable mention, are my parents and our close family friends. Both pairs were coached by myself and my fiancee prior to us turning over care of livingstone... However, incase they forget the guiding words we imparted, we have created this care sheet which I wanted to share with the other sulcata owners on this forum.

For reference, livingstone is 1 year and 3 months old.

Taking Care of Livingstone

The Tortoise Table

• Lamps:
o Livingstone’s table is set up with timers that turn the day lamp (larger, light bulb sitting close to the center) and night lamp (smaller, angled, ceramic heater) on independently, at approx. twelve hour intervals.
o The sun lamp turns on at 7am and off at 6pm. The heat lamp turns on a few minutes after 6pm and turns off a few minutes before the sun lamp comes on.
o The timers will continue to work even if the electricity goes out. Both timers have an internal battery that saves the settings for up to 3 hours.
o Please confirm that the night lamp is off during the day by holding your hand several inches under it (do not touch the ceramic element, its HOT). If you find the night lamp on, please turn it off at the switch marked NIGHT.
• Food/Water:
o Take note of the location of the water dish and feeding area when you first survey the table. They shouldn’t be directly under either lamp or in her direct line of activity – around the perimeter.
o Liv’s water dish – Should be kept where it is to avoid being right under lamps, or in her line of activity. (She typically walks the perimeter a lot.) It should have just enough for her to have a bit of a drink – not overflowing.
o Liv’s placemat and doormat = The food tile and treading pad (so less substrate gets tracked into her food). These should be as clear of substrate – especially the long “hairs” from the coconut husk – as possible when her food gets put out. Shake out the mat gently, and set it back below where the tile will go. Then dust off the cut-off planter plate and put it on top – just so the high edge is nearest you and blocks out substrate on two sides of the tile.
• Humidity monitor (Hydrometer):
o Liv’s area should be between 70-80% humidity at all times. The hydrometer should lay on the substrate to give an accurate reading. If it gets down to 70, fill the spray bottle and spritz the area really well while she’s in the bath. (We keep the thermostat at 76/77 degrees, and it stays well regulated, so this shouldn’t be a problem.)

Bathing: Once a day, every morning before feeding

• Fill the yellow bath tub to the black line with luke warm water. (Like you would want for an infant – She just turned 1 in April. :)
• It is very important to make sure the water is not too hot; warm to human touch is good.
• Put the yellow tub on the floor – by the door in the sunlight is her favorite spot… I think.
• It’s best to pick her up when she is in the open and has time to adjust to you approaching. You can pick her up by the sides and/or underneath. She will squirm a little, but talk to her and she should relax. We usually try to dust off as much substrate on her feet as possible to keep it from being in the bath, but she doesn’t usually pick up too much.
• Place her gently in the tub, and, if you don’t mind, rinse her shell of a bit by putting a few handfuls of water over her back. Best not to go over head, she doesn’t like it much.
• Do not put her in the tub if she is withdrawn into her shell. It would be scary if somebody blindfolded me and put me in a pool.
• Place the white cutting board over the tub and let her sit for about 15 mins.
• Then, take her out and dry her lightly with the towel, and set her back in her area.

Feeding: Once a day, every morning sometime between 7 – 10am…ish

• We typically prepare her food while she is in the bath and put it down so it is there when she gets out of the bath. What a life, huh? 
• All food should be put on the ceramic tile, which should be kept on the cut-off planter plate, on top of the treading mat.
• Put in 4-8 leaves of dandelion, depending on the size. The leaves should be ripped in half if longer than about 4 inches, and set on the tile.
• Put 6 pellets of Mazuri (tortoise diet) in the small white saucer, and boil some water (kettle/microwave) and pour it over the Mazuri pellets until they float. Allow them to soften for about 5 minutes, or until it’s a porridge-like consistency. Drain.
• Put the Mazuri on top of the the greens. Then sprinkle either the Calcium or Vitamins on the Mazuri/leaf heap. Alternate days.

Normal Behavior

• Liv wakes up right before the sun lamp comes on. She will wander to the mouth of her den and rest under the warmth of the lamp.
• She is often waiting for food and a bath in the morning, and she’ll walk around, or dig and scratch, or just lay around in the sun.
• She basks under the sun lamp with her head and legs extended often, sometimes with her eyes closed, resting.
• If she gets a fright, she will pull in tight and/or retreat to her burrow; if she does this just let her come out on her own. Move slowly and gently around her if she gets scared. She can be wooed back out and should be encouraged but not harassed. Tortoises take things slow, you know. ;)
• Most of the day she will either walk around her enclosure and bask in the sun off and on. You will hear some scratching when she goes into her burrow; she’s just getting comfortable.
• If she doesn’t come out of her burrow to be bathed, it’s not a big deal. She can skip a bath. Just be sure she has plenty of fresh water, and put out her food. It shouldn’t happen more than one day in a row, though, as she’ll get too dry. (Sulcata’s are eating machines so her fear of the unknown will be overridden by the smell of Mazuri porridge.)


• If you find her on her back, IMMEDIATELY put her on her feet. She did this once when she was very small, but has not done it since. It is very dangerous for a tortoise to be on its back for long, even in captivity, because their lungs will slowly be crushed by their other organs, and they can suffocate internally.

Thank you for reading, feel free to copy and use. If you feel like I am doing something wrong then feel free to comment openly.

****Pretty good life for a tort.


Active Member
5 Year Member
Jul 21, 2009
Location (City and/or State)
Orange County, CA
Very thorough and specific- great! Reminds me of the 3 pages of instructions I gave my neighbor the first time she watched my dog for me ;)

I should start working on my care sheet for when I go on vacation in July. My old roommate is watching Nelson for a week. I'm already panicking :p

I would love to see pics of the placemat/doormat thing you're talking about!


New Member
5 Year Member
Jun 3, 2010
Location (City and/or State)
Thats a great idea, I'm leaving Tank with my mom while I go to Virginia Beach to see my daughter in a week. She has tortoise-set before but the care sheet is a great thing to have on hand. Thanks :)
Not open for further replies.