New Sulcata owner and overwhelmed....

ybaker

New Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2020
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Cypress, TX
We got a Sulcata about a month ago. Kind of a random pet that my husband chose, but I absolutely LOVE Herman!!!! Even though he just stares at us, I can just see all the personality in him and can't wait til it all comes out. There are so many questions, that I don't even know where to start. First, some stats on Herman. My husband found the seller/breeder online. I didn't go with him to pick up Herman, so didn't ask the seller any questions - and likely wouldn't have known what questions to ask. I didn't know my husband was even thinking about a tortoise until the day he picked him up. The guy had several others available. He said they were about "2-4 years old". So - 1) we don't know how old Herman is. The seller said about 2, so we are going with that. He's about 3.5 pounds and probably about, eh, 9 inches long - maybe about the length of my foot. We weigh him weekly, but always forget to grab the tape measure. I don't know anything about how Herman was born or raised. From reading way too much online, he seems to have "some" pyramiding, but it doesn't look bad. Also, from reading way too much online, I have decided this forum will be my primary source of information for anything to do with Herman. Everything else is just so confusing - do this, no don't do that; feed them this, no don't feed them that, etc. This site has seemed fairly consistent in information - a gentleman named "Tom" is amazing!!! Anyway, I've always owned dogs and cats - I know what to feed them, I know what their needs are, etc. Tortoises - not so much. Oh, by the way, we live in Houston, TX - no problem with humidity and only about 3 months of weather below 50.

Like I said - so many questions.......I think I'll start with where he lives and normal behavior. We keep him in our backyard and let him roam around to explore. He has found a couple of favorite spots - in a corner on our patio and under a fire pit that we don't use. We are going to get him some sort of house - likely one of those igloo looking dog houses. My question - is that all he needs? Or, does he need some kind of enclosure? Or, is it up to me, and he can just roam and have a house? We started building an enclosure (pic below), but stopped, because I didn't know what to do next or if he even needed it. Food - we are sticking with the grass in the backyard for now until we learn more - with some cactus and romaine every so often.

Behavior - the first couple of days, he seemed to be very curious - walking around, checking the place out. Stopping every so often for some grass to eat. But, now, he just stays in his hiding spot. Most of the time, we have to get him out, put him in the yard before he starts walking around. He'll walk, find a good dining room and start eating. Then walk some more. Then, make it back to his hiding spot. He's skittish - sucks his head back in when we sit next to him - although, he does seem to be warming up to me - or maybe that's just my imagination. He poops somewhat normally/consistently - daily and it looks like dark lettuce wraps - normal, as far as I can tell. He pooped in his hiding spot the other day - is that normal? Again, I'm used to dogs, who typically don't poop where they sleep. He doesn't really seem sluggish - he can really move on the patio. And, put a bit of cactus in front of him - get out of the way. :) We try to just leave him alone - let him get used to the new place and us on his own. I know each tortoise is different and will have a different personality and a different "normal", but is the "hiding" normal? Is it just because he's in a new place?

So, those are my first 2 questions. I definitely have more, but I'll break those up into separate posts. :) Thanks so much for your help and for this site!!! It is a godsend!!

2020-06-15 19.16.08.jpg 2020-06-15 19.18.15 small.jpg 2020-06-16 18.51.03 small.jpg
 

method89

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
May 15, 2019
Messages
1,364
Location (City and/or State)
Malverne, NY
Hello and Welcome. Start by reading this care sheet. It will provide you with a lot of the answers you need.

 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
5,192
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
Hi! Welcome to the forum!

Read the care sheet that method89 linked for you first. Keep in mind that it is written for someone who has a hatchling, so you are beyond some of its info.

Don't buy an igloo. He will need a house, called a heated night box, so he has a warm place to sleep at night and in winter when he is bigger. The temperature he's in should never fall below 80°, day or night. If your nights are cooler than that right now, he should be coming inside to sleep.

I'm going to link several threads for you to read. He's little now, but it pays to look ahead to when he will weigh 150 lbs.





A very long food list:
Compiled by Tom: Good foods for tortoises are "chicories," types of lettuce that are likely to be on the far side of the more common floppy green heads of lettuce most people buy. Anything labeled as simply "chicory" is good, as are radiccio, frisee, escarole, and endive; you might even find something labeled as dandelions. You may find a bag of "Spring" or "Spicy" mix that is good, just check the label to be sure it has some of the chicories I just mentioned. The leaves (just the leaves) of turnips and radishes are also good, as are carrot tops. Collards, mustard greens, bok choy, and other dark, leafy greens are okay as well. If you have any kind of Mexican/hispanic market near you, they will sell cactus, labeled "nopales." Cactus is a great food to rotate in the diet, as it is high in calcium. You don't need to feed all of these at one time, just make sure your tortoise is getting access to different types of food. As you get more experienced, you can find the better types of food listed on the care sheets. Here are a whole bunch of non-grocery store suggestions. Mulberry leaves Grape vine leaves Hibiscus leaves African hibiscus leaves Blue hibiscus leaves Rose of Sharon leaves Rose leaves Geraniums Gazanias Nasturtium Lavatera Pansies Petunias Hostas Honeysuckle Cape honeysuckle Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc... Young spineless opuntia cactus pads Weeds: There are soooooooo many... Dandelion Mallow Filaree Smooth Sow thistle Prickly Sow thistle Milk thistle Goat head weed Cats ear Nettles Trefoil Wild onion Wild mustard Wild Garlic Clovers Broadleaf plantain Narrow leaf plantain Chick weed Hawksbit Hensbit Hawksbeard Other good stuff: "Testudo Seed Mix" from http://www.tortoisesupply.com/SeedMixes Pasture mixes or other seeds from http://www.groworganic.com/seeds.html Homegrown alfalfa Mazuri Tortoise Chow ZooMed Grassland Tortoise Food Ones that you can buy in every store: Arugula Lambs lettuce Chicory Kale Mustard greens Organic kohlrabi leafs Organic carrot leafs Organic radish leafs Dandelions Radiccio Their main diet should be broad leaf weeds, succulents and grasses. Store bought foods are okay, but not the best. Collards and dandelions are a good food, but neither should be used every day. Check out the plant ID section for lots of ideas on weeds to feed. You can get spineless opuntia cactus pads from most Mexican grocery stores, or grow them yourself. You can also easily grow grape leaves, african hibiscus, regular hibiscus (if it will survive in your area), and mulberry leaves. You can try red apple, ice plant, and jade plant too. Also look into Gazania, pansies, nasturtiums, carnations, geraniums and many others. At the grocery store, favor endive and escarole, but also use cilantro, carrot tops, mustard and turnip greens, bok choy, radiccio, swiss chard, watercress, parsley, all the lettuces, etc. Lots of variety is best. There are also tortoise "weed" seed mixes that you can grow. I like the "Testudo Mix" from Tortoisesupply.com. Buckwheat; cactus; vetch; Mohave aster; creosote bush; desert four o’clock; tacoma stans; bladderpod; globe mallow; goldenhead; burro weed; so many things!
 
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top