Sulcata enclosure overhaul! Advice?

JamesR

New Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2024
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
WA
I would love some advice about my little sulcata. I am glad to have found this place and am in the process of an overhaul.
I know it is a lot but I’d like to film and edit a YouTube video based on the expertise of this forum, to get the message out there, so I’m attempting to craft the absolute ideal.
My Sully is a little over a year old and weighs just under a pound (430 grams).
One change I have made is that I now have a 2 foot by 6 foot inside enclosure rather than 2 x 3. I know that is not ideal but is it *okay* for now? Life events prevented me from moving to a larger location as planned, but if that’s completely not okay I could go to 4 foot by 6.
I am building a 10 x 10 outdoor enclosure to be ready this spring, I live in Washington so I’m not sure what minimum temperature to look for to be outdoors, as it will not be a full-time thing at this size. (Maybe even advice on how much time outside).
Diet is primarily a mix of yard grasses, Timothy hay (wetted and cut to an inch or less) , and Mazuri grassland (wetted). There is also a mix of Tortoise Table approved plants we grow and Kale.

I am not sensitive and any constructive criticism is welcome and appreciated!
(He/She is larger than the photo, it is an older photo)
PS. I have read Tom’s post, feel free to reiterate information though!
 

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EppsDynasty

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906
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Canebrake Ca
First are you going to use a heat mat and a house to allow him to self regulate heat/cold?
If not I would not allow him to STAY outside until the overnight lows are above 60. I am no expert (there are ones here) but I do not like allowing a Sully to get cold, anything below 60 is just far to cold for me. At 60 overnight it is usually not long in the morning for them to get "Warm." You mention an indoor (on the small side) enclosure, have you thought of supervised walks in larger areas? A 10x10 is a pretty small place for a 1 pound tort, you must realize they need to walk a whole bunch to be healthy. There are stories of how small spaces have killed torts here, especially sully's. Without hours of walking EVERYDAY you are asking for trouble. What about a 16x16, with bird netting over it to keep predators out (the flying kind)?
 

Megatron's Mom

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Oct 29, 2022
Messages
443
Location (City and/or State)
North Little Rock, Arkansas
I never took mine outside until it was 80 out. I'm in the process or making my outdoor enclosure and yard. Mine is just over a year old and about 3 1/2 lbs. Even though he is bigger I still will not get him out until it is consistently over 80. Then I will leave him outside permanently. I have made Tom's double door night box. It will have a heat panel and kanes heat mat. Mine is divided for two tortes and I will have double of the heat mat and heat panel. Plus because I'm paranoid I will also have the oil filled radiator, for just in case. If you do build Tom's outdoor enclosure it will allow you to get your little one outside a bit earlier in the year and maybe a bit longer before having to bring him back inside.
 

JamesR

New Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2024
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
WA
First are you going to use a heat mat and a house to allow him to self regulate heat/cold?
If not I would not allow him to STAY outside until the overnight lows are above 60. I am no expert (there are ones here) but I do not like allowing a Sully to get cold, anything below 60 is just far to cold for me. At 60 overnight it is usually not long in the morning for them to get "Warm." You mention an indoor (on the small side) enclosure, have you thought of supervised walks in larger areas? A 10x10 is a pretty small place for a 1 pound tort, you must realize they need to walk a whole bunch to be healthy. There are stories of how small spaces have killed torts here, especially sully's. Without hours of walking EVERYDAY you are asking for trouble. What about a 16x16, with bird netting over it to keep predators out (the flying kind)?
 

JamesR

New Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2024
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
WA
I do have a yard about 20x30 that is secure for dogs but not for tortoises, but he gets time there on warm days when my wife and I hang out outside. (Dogs are not present at the time if that’s not obvious lol). I think I’m able to do even a little bigger than 16x16, I found a better spot. And yes, I’ll have a warming house for sure outside.
 

EppsDynasty

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Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Oct 4, 2022
Messages
906
Location (City and/or State)
Canebrake Ca
I do have a yard about 20x30 that is secure for dogs but not for tortoises, but he gets time there on warm days when my wife and I hang out outside. (Dogs are not present at the time if that’s not obvious lol). I think I’m able to do even a little bigger than 16x16, I found a better spot. And yes, I’ll have a warming house for sure outside.
Sounds great keep us updated. I'm sure there are many here that would love to see how you do it.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
63,640
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
First are you going to use a heat mat and a house to allow him to self regulate heat/cold?
If not I would not allow him to STAY outside until the overnight lows are above 60. I am no expert (there are ones here) but I do not like allowing a Sully to get cold, anything below 60 is just far to cold for me. At 60 overnight it is usually not long in the morning for them to get "Warm." You mention an indoor (on the small side) enclosure, have you thought of supervised walks in larger areas? A 10x10 is a pretty small place for a 1 pound tort, you must realize they need to walk a whole bunch to be healthy. There are stories of how small spaces have killed torts here, especially sully's. Without hours of walking EVERYDAY you are asking for trouble. What about a 16x16, with bird netting over it to keep predators out (the flying kind)?
A Sulcata should not drop below 80 at night any time of the year, especially to a 430 gram baby, but not adults either. 60 is way too cold. That is for temperate species, not tropical species. The ground temps where they come from are 80-85 all year. They liv 95% of their lives underground in the wild. If they survive the cold night temps and it doesn't make them sick, it wreaks havoc on the warmth loving flora and fauna in their gut.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
63,640
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I would love some advice about my little sulcata. I am glad to have found this place and am in the process of an overhaul.
I know it is a lot but I’d like to film and edit a YouTube video based on the expertise of this forum, to get the message out there, so I’m attempting to craft the absolute ideal.
My Sully is a little over a year old and weighs just under a pound (430 grams).
One change I have made is that I now have a 2 foot by 6 foot inside enclosure rather than 2 x 3. I know that is not ideal but is it *okay* for now? Life events prevented me from moving to a larger location as planned, but if that’s completely not okay I could go to 4 foot by 6.
I am building a 10 x 10 outdoor enclosure to be ready this spring, I live in Washington so I’m not sure what minimum temperature to look for to be outdoors, as it will not be a full-time thing at this size. (Maybe even advice on how much time outside).
Diet is primarily a mix of yard grasses, Timothy hay (wetted and cut to an inch or less) , and Mazuri grassland (wetted). There is also a mix of Tortoise Table approved plants we grow and Kale.

I am not sensitive and any constructive criticism is welcome and appreciated!
(He/She is larger than the photo, it is an older photo)
PS. I have read Tom’s post, feel free to reiterate information though!
4x6 inside would be better, but even the is only going to be good for another few months with normal growth. Go as large as you can outside.

Timothy hay is too stemmy. Orchard grass hay or Bermuda hay is better, but not needed if you have grasses and weeds. Hay is for larger sulcatas. I don't introduce it until they are around 12 inches or more.

Mazuri is one food, and its good, but "grassland" food is made by ZooMed. The ZooMed grassland tortoise food is also good. I like to feed them both of these as supplemental foods in addition to all the weeds, leaves and grasses.

I wouldn't use much kale. There are better things from the grocery store like escarole and endive. Cilantro, dandelion greens, collards, and the lettuces are good if you are mixing in ZooMed or chopped rehydrated hay.
 

JamesR

New Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2024
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
WA
4x6 inside would be better, but even the is only going to be good for another few months with normal growth. Go as large as you can outside.

Timothy hay is too stemmy. Orchard grass hay or Bermuda hay is better, but not needed if you have grasses and weeds. Hay is for larger sulcatas. I don't introduce it until they are around 12 inches or more.

Mazuri is one food, and its good, but "grassland" food is made by ZooMed. The ZooMed grassland tortoise food is also good. I like to feed them both of these as supplemental foods in addition to all the weeds, leaves and grasses.

I wouldn't use much kale. There are better things from the grocery store like escarole and endive. Cilantro, dandelion greens, collards, and the lettuces are good if you are mixing in ZooMed or chopped rehydrated hay.
I do actually use Mazuri but used to use ZooMed lol. I'll cut Kale out too. Its getting warmer so he's outside way more and loving it!
 
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