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Newbie here with Sulcata

Discussion in 'Sulcata tortoises' started by Donutsgranny, Oct 9, 2019.

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  1. Donutsgranny

    Donutsgranny New Member

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    My daughter has a sulcata tortoise who is about 7 or 8 years old now. He mostly lives indoors in a zoomed tortoise box. We have a dog kennel outdoors on a concrete slab with a resin dog house and a area for him to walk around outside of it. We have modified the dog house with a wood frame on 4 sides and insulation board behind it. We have cedar mulch covering the concrete. For now we are bringing him in at night still as my daughter is afraid of raccoons or something going after him. My plan is to get some hardware cloth to cover the top and eventually the sides of the chain link. I think that will keep him safe at night if we close the door meanwhile we can close a door on the dog house. I am thinking as the weather cools he will need some sort of heater in the dog house. I hope if he feels chilly he will go in, as I'd like to let him outdoors more at least during the day. Any suggestions for heating or if that will work. I will try and attach a picture of our outdoor setup for any suggestions. Thank you.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 9, 2019
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  2. Donutsgranny

    Donutsgranny New Member

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    We also let him out to just walk around while we are out there to keep an eye on him. I think at this point he would be happier living outdoors so that is our plan. We are in Louisiana so temperatures are usually on the warm side but this morning its 76 degrees. I have looked at pig mats but wonder if he would should dig it apart and they say you cannot put hay or mulch over it.
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  3. Ray--Opo

    Ray--Opo Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Welcome, yes at his age he should be outside fulltime. A lot of owners lock their torts in at night. So if a critter cant get in the house other than by the door opening. Just lock him in overnight. I wouldn't spend money on hardware cloth. Spend it on the enclosure and make the enclosure raccoon proof. Kane makes a mat that is heavy duty. I haven't heard of a sully destroying one yet. I wouldn't buy the Kane mat with the rehostat or thermostat. After market rehostat and thermostat are cheaper. Pics of your tort would be great. We love pics:)
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  4. Donutsgranny

    Donutsgranny New Member

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    You have any suggestions on our enclosure? I'm really clueless. My daughter bought this guy home when he was the size of a half dollar. I know he no longer likes being indoors but we want him safe and warm. That pictures I added are about all we have for him right now, but I'm happy to make any adjustments just don't know what. You think I should go ahead and just put that Kane mat on the resin floor of the dog house?, without anything else? See I'm clueless. This is donut checking things out as we were preparing his outdoor space.

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  5. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    The Kane heat mat can sit right on the floor of the dog house, but a little night box that you build would be better. Look at some of Tom's threads about how to build a night box. You'll have to make the walls of his outside enclosure taller sooner rather than later. He's going to be able to knock that fence down or climb right over it in no time. Here's where my sulcata lives: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/dudleys-rebuild.111350/

    I opted for a regular shed because I'm old and leaning into a short night shelter to clean it out is hard on my back.
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  6. Donutsgranny

    Donutsgranny New Member

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    Thank you. Look nice, maybe next year I can do something similar for now my setup will need to work. I guess I will get the kane mat and go from there.
    Thanks again. Yes it won't be long I plan now to add another plank height and to re-enforce it. I am putting som wire no dig fence around it for now basically from keeping my dog from jumping in. PS I'm old too
  7. TammyJ

    TammyJ Well-Known Member

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    I am old like it's going out of style.o_O
    Your place looks inviting to me and I am sure you will get it right for Donut. But I would agree that he needs to be completely protected from predators like raccoons and dogs. Opossums too if there are any!
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  8. Donna Albu

    Donna Albu Member 5 Year Member

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    How much does Donut weigh? Is that a recent picture? If Donut truly is 7 or 8 years old, he appears to be very small.
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  9. Donutsgranny

    Donutsgranny New Member

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    His shell is about 13-14 inches long and about 8 uncross and high. I don't know why he weighs, will have to check. Yes I think he is on the smaller side has always been a bit smaller than my friends tort. but only by about 2 inches. I think he has caught up to theirs who is a year older. He was hatched in Feb 2012 making him 7 years old. Maybe he is small as he has been too confined?
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  10. Donna Albu

    Donna Albu Member 5 Year Member

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    Actually, that's not too bad. Compared to the blades of grass, he looks much smaller. He is about half-way grown. They are not like fish, they don't grow to the space they're in. They are eating machines though, so you may not be feeding him enough? Once he gets used to being outside, he should graze all day, every day, and if there's not lots of grass, then you should also give him hay. Keep in mind that he will much prefer treats (just like a child) over a healthy diet, and they can be stubborn about it. So try feeding the hay in the morning, and maybe a bit of treat in mid afternoon? My new baby is currently 45 grams, up from 35 at birth, and he's 6 weeks old. He eats a huge pile of food every day. I make sure that he has enough so that there is always some food left in his dish every night. If he's cleaning his plate, then I up what he gets each day.

    Donut is old enough that you should be able to tell what sex he/she is. If you take a couple of pictures from the ground level of his face and shell, and flip him over for a few seconds and a picture of his plastron (tummy!), then we can help you figure that out. Girls usually tend to be smaller than boys.

    When you're putting together the outside enclosure, keep in mind that they are great diggers and great escape artists. And they move quickly when they want to. We used a trencher to dig a trench as deep as the trencher would go (ended up being about 18 inches), then filled the trench with Quikcrete, poured and worked in the water, and used that as our foundation for a cemented block wall for our torts. Several of my neighbor's have reported their tort missing, but ours have never gotten out. Andi (female) was hatched in Aug 2003, Joey (male) in Aug 2004 and I was told that Bolt (male) who we adopted at 1 year was hatched in Florida in July 2008. Jackson Storm Lightning (TBD, but I'm hoping female) was hatched 8/29/2019, (my great-grandson named him - you might guess he's a Disney's Cars fan!)

    I will admit to probably going overboard when we moved them outside about 2008. They have an insulated house with thermopane windows, two ceramic heaters controlled by thermostats and plastic freezer flaps on their doors. The roof opens for cleaning, but is quite heavy, so it has Camaro hatch hydraulics. The walls are 3 cement blocks high, and around that we have a wire fence (4" square) to keep the dogs and coyotes out, and for a long time we had the wire fence fully covered with bird netting until all got too big for the local birds to pick up. We are planning on adding to their space over the winter wile it's not too hot to work outside. We also have our lawn area between the house and the pool closed in with 18" wrought iron fencing custom built so that the slats are about 1 1/2 inches apart so they can come in and mow. My friend's tell me they want to come back as one of my pets when they die. Thankfully I have a very talented son who can make almost anything!
  11. Donutsgranny

    Donutsgranny New Member

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    Personally I wish she hadn't gotten him but he is kinda cool and comes to his name. But I really thought she would have had her own place at this point. But we are committed to his care.
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  12. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    This is not true about fish either. Or alligators. Or turtles...
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  13. Donna Albu

    Donna Albu Member 5 Year Member

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    You can get a digital thermometer at Petsmart (or maybe Amazon?) that has a probe on a wire. You can put the digital part on the outside of the house and the probe inside at his level, and then you'll be able to read the temp inside of the doghouse from the outside. Try to put the digital read out out of the sun because eventually it ruins the face. We use a ceramic light socket with a metal shade (also PetSmart) with a ceramic heater screwed into the socket. It needs to hang about 6 inches above the top of his back. He'll park himself under there to get warm, and move away from it if it's too warm. Neither of these is terribly expensive and they do a great job. We have our heat emitters plugged into a thermostatic controller so it comes on when it is below the temperature you set it at and goes off when it gets over the high temp. That's a bit more pricey, but they last a long time. Ours are 10 years old now. We also put inexpensive ceramic tile on our cement flooring so it's pretty easy to keep clean (we hose it out), and the pee doesn't soak into the tile. We sealed the grout. What we didn't do, but will be doing this fall, is put one round of the ceramic tile on the bottom of the walls. They have scratched at the wallboard inside the house all the way through to the insulation.
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  14. shellcior

    shellcior Member

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    I have had the same Kane mat for 8 years and Tank is pushing 100lbs. He has never damaged it...but he has christened it with Tank poo/pee all of those years. I am thinking they should use him to advertise the resilience of these mats. lol.
  15. Ray--Opo

    Ray--Opo Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    If you want to go state of the art. You can get a thermostat that you can control and read the temp on your cellphone.
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  16. shellcior

    shellcior Member

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    Any that you can recommend or just heard of?
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  17. vladimir

    vladimir Well-Known Member

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  18. Ray--Opo

    Ray--Opo Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    It was a member here that had it. I just can't remember who. I will see if I can find one.
  19. Ray--Opo

    Ray--Opo Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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  20. vladimir

    vladimir Well-Known Member

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