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Rescued an African Spurred Tortoise- please help

Discussion in 'Sulcata tortoises' started by Clorenzo85, Feb 4, 2019.

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  1. Clorenzo85

    Clorenzo85 Member

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    Hi, we picked up Donatello from his previous owner only a couple of days ago. His owner allowed us to keep his tank. Donatello was kept in his tank all his life, with the occasional (vary rare) unsupervised outings. When I first saw Donatello, he was walking against his small glass tank. I knew then that I needed to take him in and give him a better life. I have three dogs, so it took me a few months to finally take the plunge. I knew nothing about reptiles, but I was motivated to learn as seeing him in that condition depressed me. Our first night with him, we added a shoe box in his tank since I read that they like to go into their caves to cool down. The next day, we bought several things that we learned he needed. Of course, our goal was to create a safe space for him to roam around, while keeping our dogs in mind. The more I learn about these amazing animals, the more I realize that he has suffered a hole lot in his life time. Please help me improve his quality of life. Doing the best I can to read up on what his needs are. Thank you in advance for your advice!

    Since he was kept in an empty glass tank for all of his life, with no lamps to regulate the temperature, or given proper nutrition, he suffers from pyramiding. He is only 2 lbs and I think his age is 12 or 13 years old. I've read that the basking temp should be at around 100 but I'm now unsure if this would be the case for a little guy like Donatello. I guess my question is, what is the proper basking temperature for a 2lb, possibly 12 year old sulcata tortoise?

    First night with us: Below you'll see the tank that his previous owner gave us, with old lettuce and all. We added the shoe box just for him to have a place to chill through the night. IMG_3340.JPG

    Day 2: We improved his space somewhat. IMG_5133.jpg



    Day 3: This is what we created for him to be able to roam around. He occasionally walks around but very very little. I can't wait to see what he'll be like once he trusts his environment.
    IMG_5132.jpg

    I am learning something new everyday. This is only temporary.
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  2. vladimir

    vladimir Well-Known Member

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    Oh my. You are doing an amazing thing taking in poor Donatello. I can't believe he was kept all his life in that glass enclosure [emoji45]

    Basking temps should be between 95-100F with enough room for him to move in and out of the hot area as needed.

    Thank you for helping little Donatello. I'm sure others will be along soon with more advice
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  3. EllieMay

    EllieMay Well-Known Member

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    If you can, get you some 2x10x10 lumber and build him a frame just so he knows the space you created is all his. It will give him a sense of security and add a level of safety as well... also, provide him a shallow water dish that he can climb in, soak, and drink at will... a Terra Cotta Plant saucer from Walmart works great! I’m so glad to see that you’ve got him and he has good years ahead! Congrats!
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  4. TriciaStringer

    TriciaStringer Well-Known Member

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    What a sad life Donatello has had! I’m sure you will do everything in your power to help him. I know you can’t wait until warmer temps arrive so he can enjoy being outside. He is going to love it.
    Tortoises are survivors and Donatello is proof. It’s just terrible he had to go through such horrible conditions for that long.
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  5. TriciaStringer

    TriciaStringer Well-Known Member

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    One thing you need to start doing immediately is warm soaks. He needs hydration. Keep the water warm and soak him a couple times a day for at least 30 minutes each. It’s normal for them to poop in the water. Just change it out with warm water again. Also, see if you can find some Mazuri, the original. He needs a lot of the nutrients he has been missing and the Mazuri will help. You’ll want to soak it in a little water to soften the pellets. I’d give him 2-4 pellets on top of his favorite food. I’m sure he was raised just on lettuce which doesn’t give much nutrition. This time of year of may be difficult to find weeds and fresh grass for him. Try and find a Hispanic market. They sell opuntia cactus (nopales). That would be great for him. I can find dandelion at Whole Foods in my area. Maybe you can too. Slowly introduce new things with his old favorites and add more of the good over time until the lettuce is gone.
    Do you have a way to make it at least 80° on the floor where he stays?
    Make sure you read all the important articles in the sulcata section.

    I’m sorry this is so much and I know you still need to do so much more but thank you for helping this precious animal.
  6. TriciaStringer

    TriciaStringer Well-Known Member

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    Pots of wheat grass sold at pet stores are great to add to his food. You can buy a few and just snip off some over his food. They will keep growing. I’m not great at keeping them growing but you may have a green thumb.
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  7. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Hello and welcome. I'm just north of you in SCV...

    All of this applies:
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/

    One primary concept to understand is that this tortoise comes from a tropical area and they need warm temps day and night, year round. Cold SoCal nights will make it sick. Room temp inside a house is not warm enough. Down on the floor is even colder. They need it no lower than 80-85 day and night. Once spring returns, you can Mae a proper outdoor enclosure, fenced from the dogs, and build a proper heated night house for this guy. Then, he can live outside full time. Here is an example: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/another-night-box-thread.88966/#post-828952

    This tortoise needs a basking area, but it needs to be about 95-100 at tortoise shell height. Put a brick on its side directly under the basking bulb and let it cook for an hour or two. Then get a digital thermometer from Lowes, Walmart or Home Depot and put it directly under the bulb on top of the brick. You want it to creep up to 95ish. If its too hot, use a lower wattage bulb, raise it up, or install a dimmer so you can dial it down a little.

    Another thing to know is that pet stores have no idea how to properly care for tortoises and they will sell you the wrong stuff and give you bad advice. Most vets too. Along these lines, most of what you read on the internet and in books is wrong too. It took me, and many others, decades to figure this out. The old care advice is based on incorrect assumption of how they live in the wild, and some of it is based on other species with different temperature needs. Then you run in to people that will say: "I've done it this way for years and he's fine..." The people you got him from might say that. How bad could it be, right? He's still alive and look how much he's grown over the years...

    Right now is our prime weed season. There is a ton of free food growing all around you. If you aren't sure what is good, or if its from a safe source, you can shoot across the 210/118 over to Sunland produce and get some cheap endive and escarole. I'll set you up with a bunch of free opuntia pads. Some for planting and some for eating, if you want. I can point out some weeds too. Look up mallow. Its a good one and its all over the place.

    Please come back and ask all your questions. We like talking torts here.
  8. Ray--Opo

    Ray--Opo Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Wow thank you for your compassion. Your sully deserves a royal treatment. I am sure you will be a great keeper.
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  9. Big Charlie

    Big Charlie Well-Known Member

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    Kudos to you for rescuing Donatello. He looks like he suffers from MBD. He may have difficulty walking. Use the daily soaks to encourage him to exercise. Make it deep enough that he has to move his legs.
  10. Clorenzo85

    Clorenzo85 Member

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    Thank you so much for your response. We love this little guy so much already. Has taught me so much. Can’t wait to see his progress.
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  11. Clorenzo85

    Clorenzo85 Member

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    Yes, this makes sense. He walks for only short periods and then his legs give up. But he’s trying.
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  12. Clorenzo85

    Clorenzo85 Member

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    Thank you so much! Donatello is now getting all of the love that he deserves:))
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  13. Clorenzo85

    Clorenzo85 Member

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    Wow! Thank you so much for all of this info. So much to learn! Right now I’m shopping around for a long UV light and cover. We went to a reptile store near Victory and Reseda and I wanted to cry from seeing how all of these animals are kept. I almost didn’t feel right asking questions there. But I did learn that we need a longer UV light to cover a larger portion of where we are keeping Donatello since that tank is only temporary.
    Once I get home, I’ll re read everything that you wrote and ask more questions. It makes me so sad to know that Donatello is about 13 years old and only 2 lbs. we’re trying our best to give him a larger space inside and a safe space outside since we have coyotes on our compound.
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  14. Clorenzo85

    Clorenzo85 Member

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    Thank you!
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  15. Clorenzo85

    Clorenzo85 Member

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  16. Clorenzo85

    Clorenzo85 Member

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    Took him out today since it stopped raining. The most active that I’ve seen him since we brought him home.
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  17. TriciaStringer

    TriciaStringer Well-Known Member

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    I bet he loved it!
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  18. Clorenzo85

    Clorenzo85 Member

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    He looked so interested. Was walking and eating the grass. I was just sitting there staring lol. How do I post pics to my original post? Do I have to start a new thread or can I update this one?
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  19. EllieMay

    EllieMay Well-Known Member

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    Are you using a pc or smart device? App or browser? (I really want to see the pics) lol
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  20. Clorenzo85

    Clorenzo85 Member

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