Sulcata Owners in New England

JerrodR

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Nov 9, 2023
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1
Location (City and/or State)
Massachusetts
Hello!

Recently acquired a 2-4 year old Sulcata tort from the reptile convention. He’s been living with us for around 2 months or so. He has pretty severe pyramiding from the breeder who is from CT. I did some research before purchasing and I’m very aware of the potential reasons people give them away. However, I’m always looking for improvement to make sure I’m doing the right thing for my Ozzy dude.
Videos on YouTube and much of the research on sulcatas is based out of Southern United States. So it’s very hard to gain advice from people who live in a climate that becomes so cold in the winter simply because not many of us own them up here!
He has a tortoise table inside for now. Since he’s still on the small size. I have UV lights and a heat light that comes as a package deal from the pet store or whatever. His bedding is made of Cyprus mulch for the floor and then I added a lot more in his hide as well as hay that he can burrow under to conserve heat. He seems to be doing alright with that. The heat under the light is about 95 degrees and in the back where he sleeps get from 70 degrees to around 72. His humidity level is consistently around 50-70.
His food is obviously supplemented with calcium regularly. I’d say every other day. He does not eat the orchid grass hay that I add in there. He doesn’t seem to eat lawn grass either (I know that there are not harmful chemicals added to the grass.) His diet has been a mix between dandelion greens, turnip greens, Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, and I’ve also given him mustard greens as well. His treats that he gets MAYBE once or twice a week are cactus pads I bought, once a week I give him a handful of alfalfa that he seems to like. Besides that, I haven’t really tried anything else.
He’s a little older so I give him a nice long soak lasting 20 or so minutes twice a week, and he always has water readily available.

If there are changes I should make or if I’m doing stuff that works, I need the reassurance haha. I just want to be positive.
Thank you guys!!! IMG_7834.jpeg
 

wellington

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You need to do research on here. Much improvements needed.
Temps should never go below 80-85 day and night. Basking should reach 95-100.
Hau should not be used as a substrate and humidity needs to be 80%.
 

wellington

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Also, calcium twice a week, small pinch. Too much is as bad as too little.
Give more cactus and less of the grocery greens. Slowly add chopped up soaked hay to start and add it to his favorite greens. As he eats the hay more, use less greens when possible. Also better greens is arugula, ridicchio, dandelion. He needs a big enclosure, a room size or eventually he may not be able to walk good. Do not let him walk the floors of your house.
 

Chubbs the tegu

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Ma
Hi, its hard to tell what size ur sully is. Do you have a large back yard where u can make an outdoor enclosure for warmer months? Do you have a basement that you could build a good size overwintering enclosure or a spare room? 75 for winter ambients are not bad as long as he gets that 95-100 basking area. 50-70% humidity (looking like hes not that small) is not terrible but i would offer a humid hide.
 

wellington

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I beg to differ depending on the size. An older sulcata will do fine in 75 ambient during the winter when it has a warmer area to get to.
The suggested temps all over this forum for Sulcatas and leopards actually are 80-85, usually 85. He shouldn't have to sit under the basking to keep his body temp where they should be.
Short stints in colder temps I don't think will hurt, like those living in the north, but an enclosure should not be colder than 80-85 day and night.
 

Chubbs the tegu

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The suggested temps all over this forum for Sulcatas and leopards actually are 80-85, usually 85. He shouldn't have to sit under the basking to keep his body temp where they should be.
Short stints in colder temps I don't think will hurt, like those living in the north, but an enclosure should not be colder than 80-85 day and night.
I agree for babies but for an older individual i think it’ll do just fine
 

2wgasa

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May 23, 2017
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Location (City and/or State)
Carlsbad, CA
Hello!

Recently acquired a 2-4 year old Sulcata tort from the reptile convention. He’s been living with us for around 2 months or so. He has pretty severe pyramiding from the breeder who is from CT. I did some research before purchasing and I’m very aware of the potential reasons people give them away. However, I’m always looking for improvement to make sure I’m doing the right thing for my Ozzy dude.
I don't think I have any constructive advice as I just noticed the high in MA is lower than the overnight lows here, but I searched Massachusetts and CT and there actually seem to be people raising sulcatas up there. Also, often see posts by @Maggie3fan who is in the Northwest but apparently is very successful contending with cold conditions (snow) as well.

Regardless, can you post his size and weight with picture(s) of his current living arrangements, please? You'll undoubtedly get more tips on food, shelter and heat. Also, I hope you have a yard.

Thanks
 

Tom

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I beg to differ depending on the size. An older sulcata will do fine in 75 ambient during the winter when it has a warmer area to get to.
75 is too cool. Yes, they can survive at 75, but that is not good for them. In the wild, the burrows that they sleep in every night are 80-85, and they warm up above that temp in the sunshine daily.

Another factor is that when people in the north keep larger ones, they always house them on the ground in some way or other. I know that YOU know this, but many of the people reading will take that 75 degrees as the room temp up on the wall where the thermostat is, and not realize that its 10-15 degrees colder down on the floor where the tortoise is. In that scenario, your 75 is now 60 and sickness is likely.
 

Tom

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Hello!

Recently acquired a 2-4 year old Sulcata tort from the reptile convention. He’s been living with us for around 2 months or so. He has pretty severe pyramiding from the breeder who is from CT. I did some research before purchasing and I’m very aware of the potential reasons people give them away. However, I’m always looking for improvement to make sure I’m doing the right thing for my Ozzy dude.
Videos on YouTube and much of the research on sulcatas is based out of Southern United States. So it’s very hard to gain advice from people who live in a climate that becomes so cold in the winter simply because not many of us own them up here!
He has a tortoise table inside for now. Since he’s still on the small size. I have UV lights and a heat light that comes as a package deal from the pet store or whatever. His bedding is made of Cyprus mulch for the floor and then I added a lot more in his hide as well as hay that he can burrow under to conserve heat. He seems to be doing alright with that. The heat under the light is about 95 degrees and in the back where he sleeps get from 70 degrees to around 72. His humidity level is consistently around 50-70.
His food is obviously supplemented with calcium regularly. I’d say every other day. He does not eat the orchid grass hay that I add in there. He doesn’t seem to eat lawn grass either (I know that there are not harmful chemicals added to the grass.) His diet has been a mix between dandelion greens, turnip greens, Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, and I’ve also given him mustard greens as well. His treats that he gets MAYBE once or twice a week are cactus pads I bought, once a week I give him a handful of alfalfa that he seems to like. Besides that, I haven’t really tried anything else.
He’s a little older so I give him a nice long soak lasting 20 or so minutes twice a week, and he always has water readily available.

If there are changes I should make or if I’m doing stuff that works, I need the reassurance haha. I just want to be positive.
Thank you guys!!! View attachment 363815
Sulcatas need what they need no matter where in the world they live. In warmer climates they can live outside as adults, and that makes it infinitely more convenient, but their requirements do not differ from place to place.

The pet store lights are likely all wrong. Not only will they be ineffective for your tortoise, but they can also do harm.

That tub is way too small to use as an enclosure.

His pyramiding is really not bad. If you want to prevent it from getting worse and make it start to grow in better, you will need a large humid closed chamber for this little guy.

Start here and look for the sulcata care sheet near the bottom:

Its a lot to take in, so I recommend reading it at least twice.
 

Maggie3fan

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Here is something I have recently noticed in my tort shed...it is 20'x12'...I run an oil filled radiator that is on the wall about 2 feet up, there's 3 basking lights hanging around, and 2 che's and a black lightbulb. Normally in the winter my bigger tortoises are easy to care for. I have recently had heating problems, the ambient temperature in the low 70's, the tortoises are not eating and Mary Knobbins is f'ing impossible to push outside. A couple of weeks ago out of nowhere (California), we had an unexpected hard freeze. Normally my shed does it's job...but with no tort eating I started investigating. The torts were cold to the touch and 3 tortoises aren't eating...now picture this...I am a short old lady and to get the tortoises out of their sleeping boxes I gotta get down. I'm on my knees and pulling hard and Mary is fighting me as much as she can. So I wrestle with her a bit, losing the battle, so I sat down on the plywood floor pulling by her top pyramid and pushing against the box. Darn her! I lose my breath so I got up and holy crap!!! There is 10 degrees or MORE difference between me standing up, 5'5", how hot my face is compared to my lower body stomach on down. Well...my mother didn't raise any fools....I got a fan put it on top of the sleeping box and preceded to blow the hot air from the ceiling down...24 hours later every body is warm, eating and all is right in my world

mod...if you need to move this...ok...I ramble...lol 100_0781.JPG
100_0780.JPG
 

Yvonne G

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I beg to differ depending on the size. An older sulcata will do fine in 75 ambient during the winter when it has a warmer area to get to.
I think this is a good time to remind everyone to think about human temperature. Humans do well when their body temperature is 98.6F. So when you think in terms of tortoise body temperature and compare, 80-85F degrees isn't really all that hot is it?
 
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