soon to be new owner of a sulcata

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johnnysd

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ever since my brother left me in charge of his hermmanns tortoise. i've been bit by the tortoise "bug" i am about to be the proud new owner of a 2 1/2 year old sulcata. He's about 8" long. i've been doing a lot of reading on this forum so as to prepare myself.
i think i have the basics down, please feel free to let me know if i'm missing something.
a large grassy yard to graze. a diet consisting of leafy greens and grass. a shelter at night.
but i'm a little confused about the right temp. i live in southern california. and right now its hot i mean 88-90 hot. but at night it is dramatically cooler. i've read some posts where it says i should keep hanging heater in the turtle house to keep the temp at 85. does the temp really need to be 85 at night or did i misunderstand something. i'm pretty new at this so any advice would be appreciated. also some say to feed mitzuri. while others say its ok. some say only feed grass and weeds and never fruit while others say its ok. i must admit i'm, a little overwhelmed by all the info.
i almost forgot. what about humidity. what do i do about humidity if i keep him out doors. i mean southern california is not too humid
 

Tom

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All of your questions dip into the realm of opinion and different people do it successfully many different ways. It also depends, to a degree, where you live. The advice/opinions for coastal San Diego might be totally different than it would be for Palmdale, even thought they are both in "Southern CA". Now, on to your questions and my opinions...

Large grassy yard sounds great, but do make sure its tortoise proof. I like to have a specific "enclosure" area vs. just loose in the whole yard. They seem to have an uncanny knack for finding ways to escape or get in to trouble. Your diet concept sounds good too. About the fruit: A little is not going to kill them. Its not toxic. Its just not very good for them and it takes up valuable space from the things that ARE good for them. Best to just skip it. I feed Mazuri twice a week and thinks its very beneficial.

Yes, a heated house for night and cold days. In the winter I keep my night house 80-85 since they won't be able to warm up much some days. In the summer, I keep it 70ish, or just off altogether, since they will be getting plenty warm all day every day. You can heat it with a heat mat, a CHE or a red or black bulb, but do use a thermostat.

Once they are over 8", it is my opinion that humidity no longer matters. The pattern of growth is set and they all start to smooth out after that size, no matter what you do. Do keep him well hydrated with a shallow water "dish" of some sort and there is no harm in spraying the shell a couple of times a day. I still soak and spray my 50-70 pound adults.
 

johnnysd

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Tom said:
All of your questions dip into the realm of opinion and different people do it successfully many different ways. It also depends, to a degree, where you live. The advice/opinions for coastal San Diego might be totally different than it would be for Palmdale, even thought they are both in "Southern CA". Now, on to your questions and my opinions...

Large grassy yard sounds great, but do make sure its tortoise proof. I like to have a specific "enclosure" area vs. just loose in the whole yard. They seem to have an uncanny knack for finding ways to escape or get in to trouble. Your diet concept sounds good too. About the fruit: A little is not going to kill them. Its not toxic. Its just not very good for them and it takes up valuable space from the things that ARE good for them. Best to just skip it. I feed Mazuri twice a week and thinks its very beneficial.

Yes, a heated house for night and cold days. In the winter I keep my night house 80-85 since they won't be able to warm up much some days. In the summer, I keep it 70ish, or just off altogether, since they will be getting plenty warm all day every day. You can heat it with a heat mat, a CHE or a red or black bulb, but do use a thermostat.

Once they are over 8", it is my opinion that humidity no longer matters. The pattern of growth is set and they all start to smooth out after that size, no matter what you do. Do keep him well hydrated with a shallow water "dish" of some sort and there is no harm in spraying the shell a couple of times a day. I still soak and spray my 50-70 pound adults.
thanks for the quick reply tom, i live near LA so we're practically neighbors. what type of shelter should i use? like i said he's 8" i read that some people will use either a dog house or rubbermaid sheds. which one do you use? do you have any pictures? where do i purchase these heat mats you mentioned. i don't think i have too much to worry about it right now with summer coming, but i want to get ready for fall and winter. as of right now i guess he has full range of the yard. so i guess you think i should section off a part the yard?
 

DeanS

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Since he'll be spending the majority of the day outdoors, I would recommend picking up an extra large sterilite container and cover the bottom with about 2 inches of soaked/drained coco coir. Put a piece of flagstone at one end. Point a Ceramic Heat Emitter down on the stone and add water to the coco coir every few days. You won't need anything too elaborate for the summer and early fall and this will allow you time to build a winter/night house:tort:

BTW, are you down in San Diego or up near Escondido or some point in between?
 

johnnysd

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DeanS said:
Since he'll be spending the majority of the day outdoors, I would recommend picking up an extra large sterilite container and cover the bottom with about 2 inches of soaked/drained coco coir. Put a piece of flagstone at one end. Point a Ceramic Heat Emitter down on the stone and add water to the coco coir every few days. You won't need anything too elaborate for the summer and early fall and this will allow you time to build a winter/night house:tort:

BTW, are you down in San Diego or up near Escondido or some point in between?
hi dean, thanks for the info. when you say to buy an extra large sterilite container. do you also mean that i should cut an opening on the sides so he can go in an out? and where do i purchase this coco coir you're talking about and what is it?
 

HankC13

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Congrats johnny! I just got my first a few days ago. Hes way smaller, but im using a heating bulb for the cool night time temps. Good luck to you and your socal sulcata!
 
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