New-to-us Sulcata - husbandry/enclosure question

jasonf150

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We have some questions about what is normal behavior for a sulcata tortoise. Ours is about 9 years old.

When we got him, the prevowner said that during the cold months tortoises pretty much just stay in their hide all day and do nothing. We were like OK and took him home. The first night I made him a more temporary home. I threw it together with the stuff I had in my backyard. For the first day or so he just stayed there doing nothing. Until we installed a red 150watt heat bulb that comes on overnight. The next couple days, he was off to the races. He wandered the entire backyard, checking things out. Since then, he pretty much stays in one place during the day, under this bush we have, and kinda digs under it a little. The other day, we built him a bigger more permanent home. That night, we put him in it, but he wandered over to where the old home was. So we put him back. Last night, we just left him under the bush.

I'm putting him back into his home each night to get him used to it. Should doing this until he starts going there on his own?
Is it true what the prevowner said about tortoises during winter?
Is it normal for him to be under a bush all day?
Is my hide too big? It's 4' wide and 6' deep (front to back).


newhouse.jpg
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Jason:

If I'm remembering correctly, you're in Phoenix, Arizona? I just took a look at your 7 day forecast and it says 70's/80's down to 40's/50's I think you need to have some night time heat for the tortoise. They don't hibernate and have to be kept warm in the winter. Can you put the new house where the old one was? If not, then just keep putting the tortoise in the new house every night, and keep running that light for him. He'll eventually get used to being in there. It's quite ok for him to come out and wander around if its cold, but then he should go back in under the light to warm back up. It sometimes takes a week or more to get your tortoise to go into his house at night. Just keep putting him in there every evening. You might even block the door so he can't come out until morning when you un-block the door.
 

mike taylor

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If its cold they need a place to stay warm. He should go into his warm hide then come out to graze. This morning it was 37 degrees but my hide was 84 degrees he was warm and toasty. Here is what I use .
 

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ascott

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What part of the world do you live in? What is the weather like? Some basic info here;

A Sulcata does not brumate/hibernate during the cold months as some other species do...while they can make it in cooler weather that is not the desirable set up long term...Is that 150 Watt bulb in that hide somewhere? It looks as though it is not tall enough for that....

here are some examples of what some folks do for outdoor sheds /huts for their sulcatas...

http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread-28662.html#axzz1qrGgYAo3

Would not necessarily opt for this if you are in an area that high and constant amounts of rain or prone to flash flooding as here in the high desert...

http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread-20527.html#axzz1qrGgYAo3

This is a good one for high rain areas or places where you can elevate it some from the ground level....

http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread-20710.html

Others who house these guys outdoors will be able to offer you up their ideas ...
 

Laura

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The hide/house is fine and perfect size for a rubber stall matt.. then place a Stanfield heat matt on top. There will be plenty of room to sit on it or off it.. his choice.
I would also take his water dish and sink it down in the ground. This way he can drink out of it better.. like a puddle.

When its cold.. I don't see mine every day.. they hide out in the warmth of the house..
 

Zamric

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I built a Bunker for WalkingRock. it is 4' wide 7' long and about 2' tall. During the winter months I put in a small Oil Filled Radiator for heat.

Here are some pics to get an Idea for larger Sulcatas... (he is 120 lbs and 13 years old)






 

jasonf150

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Yes, I'm in Phoenix, AZ. We moved his home because I wanted him in the dirt. When I made the quick home at first I didn't have time to clear the rocks away.

See a closeup below of how high the light is compared to his shell. Also, the light is at an angle, not pointing sideways as the pic suggests.

I will sink the water into the ground, that's a good idea.

I've seen homes with the Oil Filled Radiator in there for heat. I think I could do that. Do you have it on some sort of timer or thermostat?

Another question, we've been putting the bermuda grass hay down on the ground. Should I put that in some sort of tray for him? Or is on the ground OK? We gave him some apple the other day and it got pretty dirty being rolled in the dirt while he was eating it.

house3.jpg


house4.jpg
 

Zamric

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I don't have a thermostat on my Radiator. But it is a VERY small unit and has a built in High/Med/Low setting on it. On the High Setting it keeps his 52 CUFT of space at 65*-70* when the temps drop to freezing.
 

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