Henry_andres

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Hi my name is Henry my friend bought a sulcata tortoise about 2 years ago he moved away and decided to give him to me his name is Carlos. I don’t know too much about him so I have been reading constantly about how to raise him. I have been feeding him all the greens I can buy going from lettuce, kale, arugula, spinach, some vegetables like cucumber, carrots, and other. I have a glass enclosure with a fluorescent tube for uvb it’s a 18watt T8 I also have a basking bulb I can’t remember the watt or the name of the bulb but his basking spot is 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I just recently got a heat bulb on a thermostat for night time and to keep the cage at a stable temperature. I soak him at least once a week but he has a big water bowl with sphagnum moss to help keep the humidity up. I’m worried because everything I read online says he’s supposed to be much bigger. Also I think he is pyramiding my friend wasn’t the best with him at all. His shell is very soft as well. His eyes seem somewhat okay I don’t know much so I could be wrong. What can I do to correct this and is my cage and set up okay? Please help thank you!
 

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Henry_andres

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Also forgot to mention his substrate is mostly eco earth the top layer is wood chips just to help him walk a bit. But under is eco earth to help keep humidity. He is active he comes out and walks around all the time he gets in his water bowl sometimes not a lot he will also eat anything I put in front of him.
 

SinLA

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Maggie3fan

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Lord almighty!!! You are so right, there is pyramiding, he is too dry, he needs about 85% humidity and 80 to 85 degrees. He needs fine grade orchid bark, kept moist. please get started by reading the link. You need something like this...it is a mini greenhouse put on to a tortoise table. I can control the entire habitat easilyDSCN1708.JPG
Read this then ask questions...welcome
 

Tom

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Also forgot to mention his substrate is mostly eco earth the top layer is wood chips just to help him walk a bit. But under is eco earth to help keep humidity. He is active he comes out and walks around all the time he gets in his water bowl sometimes not a lot he will also eat anything I put in front of him.
All the info you've been finding elsewhere will be mixed at best, but most of it is old and wrong. Vets, breeders, pet shops, YT, FB, all wrong. The info that SinLA and Maggie posted is the correct care info and will get you going the right way.

Here are my immediate tips:
1. Get rid of the ramped water bowl and the moss, ASAP. Both are deadly tortoise hazards.
2. Soak daily. Every day for 30-40 minutes. Once a week is not enough. Keep the water warm for the entire soak.
3. Get out of the grocery store. Feed weeds, leaves, flowers, succulents, tender freshly sprouted grasses, and add lots of supplemental foods. There is more on this in the care sheets.
4. Get out of the pet store and into the hardware store for tortoise supplies.
5. The T8 bulb is useless. Get an Arcadia ProT5 Kit for indoor UV, and better yet, get this tortoise some real summer sunshine in a safe enclosure that is secure and has deep shade over at least half of it. Be VERY careful not to let your tortoise over heat. They can die in minutes in full sun on a hot summer day. We want to provide "access" to sunshine, not full sunshine with no way to get out of it. 2-3 hours a day will be just about right for this little one.
6. Be sure you are using a calcium supplement with D3 for this little one. A little pinch twice a week should do it, and I would offer cuttlebone as well.
 
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Henry_andres

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Louisville Kentucky
All the info you've been finding elsewhere will be mixed at best, but most of it is old and wrong. Vets, breeders, pet shops, YT, FB, all wrong. The info that SinLA and Maggie posted is the correct care info and will get you going the right way.

Here are my immediate tips:
1. Get rid of the ramped water bowl and the moss, ASAP. Both are deadly tortoise hazards.
2. Soak daily. Every day for 30-40 minutes. Once a week is not enough. Keep the water warm for the entire soak.
3. Get out of the grocery store. Feed weeds, leaves, flowers, succulents, tender freshly sprouted grasses, and add lots of supplemental foods. There is more on this in the care sheets.
4. Get out of the pet store and into the hardware store for tortoise supplies.
5. The T8 bulb is useless. Get an Arcadia ProT5 Kit for indoor UV, and better yet, get this tortoise some real summer sunshine in a safe enclosure that is secure and has deep shade over at least half of it. Be VERY careful not to let your tortoise over heat. They can die in minutes in full sun on a hot summer day. We want to provide "access" to sunshine, not full sunshine with no way to get out of it. 2-3 hours a day will be just about right for this little one.
6. Be sure you are using a calcium supplement with D3 for this little one. A little inch twice a week should do it, and I would offer cuttlebone as well.
Okay awesome thank you I will get on that asap. About the food where would I find some of things you listened is it okay to get some from outside and pick them myself? I don’t want to give him something that might be toxic or kill him but it sounds like he is in terrible shape. I feel awful thank you for the help I’ll definitely keep asking questions as they pop up.
 

Henry_andres

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Lord almighty!!! You are so right, there is pyramiding, he is too dry, he needs about 85% humidity and 80 to 85 degrees. He needs fine grade orchid bark, kept moist. please get started by reading the link. You need something like this...it is a mini greenhouse put on to a tortoise table. I can control the entire habitat easilyView attachment 359199
Read this then ask questions...welcome
The water dish is gone! Thank you for helping me! My dad is actually a carpenter and I told him what I need and we’re gonna start on it asap. I looked up a couple models online most have an open which In the guide says no. So I was gonna take Tom’s set up and basically make 1 big enclosed set up. I’m gonna try to make it as big as possible cause I know once I get him on track he is gonna grow fast. But I’m gonna have everything his guide mentions.
 

wellington

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The food you need to find will be outside. Take it from places you know has not been sprayed with chemicals. Mulberry leaf, hibiscus leaf and flower, optunia cactus pads, dandelion leaf, rose of Sharon leaf and flower, grass, dandelion and cactus, to name a few. You can find dandelion and the cactus pads in some grocery stores.
You can add some grocery greens that you have been feeding to the better stuff you need to get.
Mazuri tortoise food from pet stores is also good to feed.
Try to add as much weeds and flowers, etc as possible and feed enough daily that he can graze off and on all day.
 

Henry_andres

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The food you need to find will be outside. Take it from places you know has not been sprayed with chemicals. Mulberry leaf, hibiscus leaf and flower, optunia cactus pads, dandelion leaf, rose of Sharon leaf and flower, grass, dandelion and cactus, to name a few. You can find dandelion and the cactus pads in some grocery stores.
You can add some grocery greens that you have been feeding to the better stuff you need to get.
Mazuri tortoise food from pet stores is also good to feed.
Try to add as much weeds and flowers, etc as possible and feed enough daily that he can graze off and on all day.
Awesome thank you so much I will get on this asap. Also with the UV lighting is very confusing to me. I see the T5 kit but what bulb do I need to buy? I understand it depends on my set up but still I see a bunch of desert ones and others it’s very confusing. I’m seeing some for 80$ 116$ and 65$ just want to make sure I’m getting what I need
 

Tom

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Awesome thank you so much I will get on this asap. Also with the UV lighting is very confusing to me. I see the T5 kit but what bulb do I need to buy? I understand it depends on my set up but still I see a bunch of desert ones and others it’s very confusing. I’m seeing some for 80$ 116$ and 65$ just want to make sure I’m getting what I need
An Arcadia 12% HO bulb is what you need. The ProT5 Kit includes the correct fixture and reflector. The 22" one is fine and will get the job done, but feel free to get the 34" or the 46" ones if you prefer.
 

Henry_andres

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An Arcadia 12% HO bulb is what you need. The ProT5 Kit includes the correct fixture and reflector. The 22" one is fine and will get the job done, but feel free to get the 34" or the 46" ones if you prefer.
I just ordered it! I know you said you use the solarmeter 6.5 to measure your UV but what do you use to measure your temperature/humidity? I need one for inside the tank and one to measure his basking spot to make sure it’s between 90-100?
 
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Tom

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I just ordered it! I know you said you use the solarmeter 6.5 to measure your UV but what do you use to measure your temperature/humidity? I need one for inside the tank and one to measure his basking spot to make sure it’s between 90-100?
I order digital thermometer/hygrometers on Amazon for around $10-15. I used to get them at the hardware store, but the price went from $11 to $24 over night, so I said "no thank you".
 

Henry_andres

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I order digital thermometer/hygrometers on Amazon for around $10-15. I used to get them at the hardware store, but the price went from $11 to $24 over night, so I said "no thank you".
Awesome I got one ordered also I made him a humid hide where the water ramp used to be. I have an open top cage so im just gonna try to spray it as often as possible until I get a new terrarium with a closed top ( should be ready next week) I gave him a 40min soak and I picked up some dust with D3. I walked around my neighborhood picked some fresh grass and some weeds for him I’m kinda of freak with the food situation cause I have never been able to just go grab stuff outside are there any plants i absolutely should never feed him if so how which ones. How do I know for sure what I have is okay for him?also how often should I be feeding him? Every other day or every day? I have my light timer to turn on at 8:30am and that turns on the tube light (which is getting replaced) and the basking bulb (which is also getting replaced) and turn off at 9:00pm is that okay? I have a very nice timer which lets me pick and choose what lights come on and off at specific times. Should I keep that light cycle or change it? I also have a ceramic heat Bulb on a thermostat set to 80 degrees running constantly.
 
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SinLA

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This is a good website to use as a guideline (it tends to run conservative so you're more than safe by using this as a guide): https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/

Just be careful that where you get them from you KNOW doesn't have pesticides or other toxins. Getting weeds and wild grown food is definitely the best way to go, but using grocery store foods until you can situate yourself and get safe weeds is perfectly OK. Don't let perfection be the enemy of the "good". I have plenty of good plants to use within my yard, but I also still supplement with organic escarole, endive, and radicchio from the grocery store. You can also do dandelion greens, though its actually different than "real" dandelion from your yard.
 

Tom

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Awesome I got one ordered also I made him a humid hide where the water ramp used to be. I have an open top cage so im just gonna try to spray it as often as possible until I get a new terrarium with a closed top ( should be ready next week) I gave him a 40min soak and I picked up some dust with D3. I walked around my neighborhood picked some fresh grass and some weeds for him I’m kinda of freak with the food situation cause I have never been able to just go grab stuff outside are there any plants i absolutely should never feed him if so how which ones. How do I know for sure what I have is okay for him?also how often should I be feeding him? Every other day or every day? I have my light timer to turn on at 8:30am and that turns on the tube light (which is getting replaced) and the basking bulb (which is also getting replaced) and turn off at 9:00pm is that okay? I have a very nice timer which lets me pick and choose what lights come on and off at specific times. Should I keep that light cycle or change it? I also have a ceramic heat Bulb on a thermostat set to 80 degrees running constantly.
I like the lights to come on when the sun is coming up, which is around 5:30 or 6am this time of year. I then set the lights to go off around sunset. Most of mine are set from 6:30am to 7:30 pm.

There are thousands of plants that you should not feed your tortoise outside. Use the threads linked here for ideas about which weeds and leaves are good, and then learn to ID them. I use the PlantNet app, and its been pretty good. If you take samples to a local nursery, they usually have a resident plant nerd that can ID anything, and probably also tell you about toxicity or other concerns.
 

Henry_andres

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I like the lights to come on when the sun is coming up, which is around 5:30 or 6am this time of year. I then set the lights to go off around sunset. Most of mine are set from 6:30am to 7:30 pm.

There are thousands of plants that you should not feed your tortoise outside. Use the threads linked here for ideas about which weeds and leaves are good, and then learn to ID them. I use the PlantNet app, and it’s been pretty good. If you take samples to a local nursery, they usually have a resident plant nerd that can ID anything, and probably also tell you about toxicity or other concerns.
Nice I’ll change it to those times. I’m gonna go to a plant nursery store today and pick up a few things to add to my garden specially for him. Do you have a recommendation for plants I should I add I have been using the website @SinLA give me and made a pretty big list of things I think can thrive in my area. But I am and curious to know what you all have in your garden that your tortoise loves. What plants do you feed regularly I know variety is key but I know there had to be a couple plants that you throw in there more than others.
 

Tom

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Nice I’ll change it to those times. I’m gonna go to a plant nursery store today and pick up a few things to add to my garden specially for him. Do you have a recommendation for plants I should I add I have been using the website @SinLA give me and made a pretty big list of things I think can thrive in my area. But I am and curious to know what you all have in your garden that your tortoise loves. What plants do you feed regularly I know variety is key but I know there had to be a couple plants that you throw in there more than others.
Here is the next bummer of a problem to work around: Lots of plants in a tortoise enclosure are great, BUT.... Anything purchased at a plant nursery is grown with systemic pesticides that last for a year and can't be rinsed off. Changing out the soil does nothing, as the toxins are already absorbed into the plant's tissues. You have to grow your own plants from seeds, or you have to grow them from cuttings off of long established plants.
 

Sarah2020

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The water dish is gone! Thank you for helping me! My dad is actually a carpenter and I told him what I need and we’re gonna start on it asap. I looked up a couple models online most have an open which In the guide says no. So I was gonna take Tom’s set up and basically make 1 big enclosed set up. I’m gonna try to make it as big as possible cause I know once I get him on track he is gonna grow fast. But I’m gonna have everything his guide mentions.
Hi as another idea some use enclosed vivarium type set up to trap the humidity and you can also also use a bookcase upturned on it's back and then line with sticky back plastic to protect the wood from rotting. The soft shell is lack of calcium so ensure you provide a cuttle fish (simar to what parrots have) in the enclosure and a light dusting on fresh food. Ask for ideas we are happy to suggest / help.
 

Henry_andres

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Here is the next bummer of a problem to work around: Lots of plants in a tortoise enclosure are great, BUT.... Anything purchased at a plant nursery is grown with systemic pesticides that last for a year and can't be rinsed off. Changing out the soil does nothing, as the toxins are already absorbed into the plant's tissues. You have to grow your own plants from seeds, or you have to grow them from cuttings off of long established plants.
Okay no nursery. so for now I’m just gonna have to pick plants I know haven't been sprayed and buy some from the grocery store? I wasn’t planning on putting any plants in the cage with him until I get a new cage. When you started your garden what seeds did you pick out? Also did you just use regular soil in the back yard or did you buy a special kind? I know I might sound dumb. But eventually I went to have my own garden I can pick from and give to him I did want some very small plants in his new cage cause it’s gonna be huge he could eat it and it will look good but that’s not my main problem right now. I wanted to get started on the food situation but I don’t know where to begin I wanna make sure when I do it I do it right the first time.
 

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