• Welcome! Are you interested in tortoises? If so, we invite you to join our community! Our community is the #1 place for tortoise keepers to talk online. Once you join you'll be able to post messages, upload pictures of your tortoise and enclosure, and discuss any tortoise topic with other tortoise keepers. Get started today!

Sweet Baby Sulcata

AsaPatrick-Ricard

New Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
14
Location (City and/or State)
Yuba City, CA
Hello, tortoise lovers!

My name is Aša (pronounced Asha) and I am an 8 month-old sulcata. My parents recently brought me home and I'm still trying to get adjusted to this big change. I have an older hognose sister who's lived with them for seven years, but I am their first tortoise! When their roommates leave in June ( :( ), I will have an entire bedroom full of plants to myself ( :D )- for now, I am in a very small enclosure (2' × 1.5' × 1.5') with a soil floor. The coolest spot in my enclosure is 78°; the warmest is roughly 103°. I have a hide filled with peat moss and a waterbowl I never use, and spend most of my time inside trying to burrow out. In addition to daily soaking, Mum also warms me in a wet washcloth and wipes down my face, legs, and shell at least twice daily. I much prefer being wrapped in a washcloth, but I won't fit in her palm forever! I only eat voraciously when Mum handfeeds me (Mazuri, lettuce; collards) and I only poop when she rubs my tummy.

I love being in the garden, but it's easy to get lost and there are SO MANY hawks! Dad worries I'm going to be carried away, but Mum worries about having UV lights over my enclosure, so I need all the time outdoors I can get! How can I best be protected while allowed to roam free when I'm so small?

Can I be cleaned with coconut oil? My parents have read many different accounts saying it's fine to do in small amounts if it's immediately removed OR that it can potentially be harmful. They don't want to hurt me, but they do want my entire body to be hydrated and also have the healthiest shell possible.

Mum is nuts about me and bought a clear backpack with hand/foot warmers so she can take me on adventures. I LOVE car rides in the sun! But will being carried around stress me out too much?

Will I get too lonely by myself? My parents read sulcatas can be very aggressive toward each other, but they were considering adopting an older tortoise once my gender is apparent. Will I hate having a sulcata friend?

What do I need to know to have the best life possible?

20190313_132809.jpg 20190313_132714.jpg
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
46,405
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hello and welcome.

That's a lot of questions! I'll number them to help me keep track of them all.

  1. Your enclosure is too small. They need more space. You need something at least 4 feet long, and if all goes well, that will be outgrown in a few months time.
  2. Get rid of the moss. They eat it and it can cause impaction. You don't need it.
  3. I'd bump the night temp up a few degrees and drop the basking temp down a few degrees. This will be difficult in a little bitty enclosure.
  4. Use a terra cotta plant saucer sunk into the substrate as food and water bowls. Most "reptile" bowls are not suitable for tortoises and that is why they avoid them.
  5. Soil is not a good substrate. It is messy, turns to mud, and you can't know what sort of composted yard waste it is made of. Could be toxic. Fine grade orchid bark works best.
  6. Diet needs improvement. Lettuce, collards and other store bought food are not a great diet for this grass eating species. Check this out: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/
  7. Tortoises should never be loose in the yard for the reason you mentioned. Here are some easy ways to make an outdoor sunning enclosure for little ones: http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/cheap-easy-simple-sunning-enclosure.14680/
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/simple-sunning-enclosure.104351/
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread...table-but-safe-outdoor-baby-enclosures.30683/ https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/outdoor-enclosures.121732/
  8. Coconut oil is a controversial subject. Here is my opinion: Not necessary, but not harmful.
  9. Tortoises do not like adventures. They like the security, comfort and familiarity of their own enclosures day after day. Yes, all that traveling around is a source of stress. Some get used to it, but its not good for any of them.
  10. Tortoises are solitary creatures. They do not need or want other tortoises around. Other tortoises are not seen as "friends" but as intruders, interlopers, attackers, adversaries, competitors, etc... Groups of juveniles can usually get along until the males start nearing maturity, but never pairs.
Here is more useful info in addition to the links above:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/

The info in these threads has been gained the hard way with much trial and error over more than 3 decades. I share it in the hopes that new tortoise keepers won't have to stumble around in the dark for 30 years as I did.

Questions and conversation are welcome! :)
 

Ray--Opo

Well-Known Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Oct 14, 2017
Messages
2,990
Location (City and/or State)
Palm Bay Fl
Hello and welcome.

That's a lot of questions! I'll number them to help me keep track of them all.

  1. Your enclosure is too small. They need more space. You need something at least 4 feet long, and if all goes well, that will be outgrown in a few months time.
  2. Get rid of the moss. They eat it and it can cause impaction. You don't need it.
  3. I'd bump the night temp up a few degrees and drop the basking temp down a few degrees. This will be difficult in a little bitty enclosure.
  4. Use a terra cotta plant saucer sunk into the substrate as food and water bowls. Most "reptile" bowls are not suitable for tortoises and that is why they avoid them.
  5. Soil is not a good substrate. It is messy, turns to mud, and you can't know what sort of composted yard waste it is made of. Could be toxic. Fine grade orchid bark works best.
  6. Diet needs improvement. Lettuce, collards and other store bought food are not a great diet for this grass eating species. Check this out: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/
  7. Tortoises should never be loose in the yard for the reason you mentioned. Here are some easy ways to make an outdoor sunning enclosure for little ones: http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/cheap-easy-simple-sunning-enclosure.14680/
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/simple-sunning-enclosure.104351/
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread...table-but-safe-outdoor-baby-enclosures.30683/ https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/outdoor-enclosures.121732/
  8. Coconut oil is a controversial subject. Here is my opinion: Not necessary, but not harmful.
  9. Tortoises do not like adventures. They like the security, comfort and familiarity of their own enclosures day after day. Yes, all that traveling around is a source of stress. Some get used to it, but its not good for any of them.
  10. Tortoises are solitary creatures. They do not need or want other tortoises around. Other tortoises are not seen as "friends" but as intruders, interlopers, attackers, adversaries, competitors, etc... Groups of juveniles can usually get along until the males start nearing maturity, but never pairs.
Here is more useful info in addition to the links above:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/

The info in these threads has been gained the hard way with much trial and error over more than 3 decades. I share it in the hopes that new tortoise keepers won't have to stumble around in the dark for 30 years as I did.

Questions and conversation are welcome! :)
Thanks Tom. I read this yesterday but wasn't feeling well enough to give my limited knowledge. You covered it all.
Asa,s mom you have just got knowledge from one of the best.
 

AsaPatrick-Ricard

New Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
14
Location (City and/or State)
Yuba City, CA
Whoa. From the man himself!
Thank you very much. We are rearranging our room to give Aša a bookcase enclosure. We must get rid of furniture to do this, but it is so worth it. Our roommates are moving to Japan soon, then our bedroom will be Aša's room, but there is simply not enough space (somehow, in my 3 bedroom/2 bathroom home?) because roommates have their stuff everywhere. They also have dogs, so we cannot allow Aša out of the bedroom at all (unless it's into the yard, which we've discussed).

Aša is not eating store-bought food. (We read your food thread. :) ) We put it in a raised garden bed and it chomped on the lettuce, arugula, and collard seedlings. We allowed this because it was friggin' heart-melting and simulates natural grazing, but I don't want to lose all of my seedlings and it won't eat in its enclosure or even in the rest of the garden unless I feed it by hand. It will eat the Mazuri if handfed, but not rose leaves or petals, nor grass. I'm mostly concerned it's not eating. I know it is hungry because it will eat if held. Perhaps the breeder handfed it? I will check in if putting it in a larger enclosure does not encourage it to eat by itself.

I can't say with any honesty that I am bummed we don't have to get another tortoise (I did worry about how we'd keep both if they didn't get along), but the travel thing is kind of a bummer. I like to take long trips of getting lost in the Nevada desert or Northern California mountains (I need sun and nature recharges or I get weak and grumpy.) I drag Dad along with. I can leave Jack (hognose) because she doesn't need to eat as often and she keeps her water clean. We obviously cannot leave a tortoise home alone.

We were going to get a kiddie pool, anyway, so I suppose we may as well rearrange the garden and do it now. Thanks, again!
 

Ray--Opo

Well-Known Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Oct 14, 2017
Messages
2,990
Location (City and/or State)
Palm Bay Fl
Whoa. From the man himself!
Thank you very much. We are rearranging our room to give Aša a bookcase enclosure. We must get rid of furniture to do this, but it is so worth it. Our roommates are moving to Japan soon, then our bedroom will be Aša's room, but there is simply not enough space (somehow, in my 3 bedroom/2 bathroom home?) because roommates have their stuff everywhere. They also have dogs, so we cannot allow Aša out of the bedroom at all (unless it's into the yard, which we've discussed).

Aša is not eating store-bought food. (We read your food thread. :) ) We put it in a raised garden bed and it chomped on the lettuce, arugula, and collard seedlings. We allowed this because it was friggin' heart-melting and simulates natural grazing, but I don't want to lose all of my seedlings and it won't eat in its enclosure or even in the rest of the garden unless I feed it by hand. It will eat the Mazuri if handfed, but not rose leaves or petals, nor grass. I'm mostly concerned it's not eating. I know it is hungry because it will eat if held. Perhaps the breeder handfed it? I will check in if putting it in a larger enclosure does not encourage it to eat by itself.

I can't say with any honesty that I am bummed we don't have to get another tortoise (I did worry about how we'd keep both if they didn't get along), but the travel thing is kind of a bummer. I like to take long trips of getting lost in the Nevada desert or Northern California mountains (I need sun and nature recharges or I get weak and grumpy.) I drag Dad along with. I can leave Jack (hognose) because she doesn't need to eat as often and she keeps her water clean. We obviously cannot leave a tortoise home alone.

We were going to get a kiddie pool, anyway, so I suppose we may as well rearrange the garden and do it now. Thanks, again!
You can leave your tort home alone if the dogs can't get to him. I was going on a 3day trip and posted here what kind of enclosure would be ok for bringing Opo. To my surprise the responses were leave Opo home. I was thinking no way! But after reading posts and understanding torts can go without food for a few days and super soak Opo the night before and morning of. But the icebreaker was Tom suggested a web cam. I could watch Opo 24/7 on my phone and even talk to him. So I cut the cord and everything went fine.
 

AsaPatrick-Ricard

New Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
14
Location (City and/or State)
Yuba City, CA
I mentioned to Tom a bit ago that there are these white spots on Aša's shell. He asked for photographs, but it is really hard to capture. I feel I already seem... overcautious... and I didn't want to come off as a paranoid android. But I finally (somewhat) got a picture. download_20190404_044028.jpg
Aša's bedding is now coco coir. (S)he eats mostly without being handfed- sometimes I have to start handfeeding, but (s)he then gets impatient and will go off to eat. I soak Aša at least once a day, but generally about three times a day, mist the shell often, and do maybe 10 minutes a day of lightly massaging/cleaning the shell with a soft toothbrush. I've been adding a bit of calcium powder to the (distilled) water because Aša tends to avoid any food with calcium powder, but will still bite at every other white spot (s)he sees. When there's no calcium, the spots seem worse. (S)he's finally started eating grass, but will mostly avoid it. Should I maybe buy some alfalfa hay or something? Is it too early?

20190402_162722.jpg
I just want to raise the healthiest tort possible.
 

AsaPatrick-Ricard

New Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
14
Location (City and/or State)
Yuba City, CA
I'll take it as a normal sign of hydration and growth, then. Thank you both!
I have tried to find a good weight chart. Aša is 9 cm/3.5 in and weighs 81 grams/2.9 ounces. The breeder said the torts were 7 or 8 months. Aša has been in my life since 13 March, 2019 and was very obviously the runt of the litter. Could (s)he be underweight?

Sorry I have so many questions. :-T
 

Reptilony

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2018
Messages
935
Location (City and/or State)
QC, CAN
I'll take it as a normal sign of hydration and growth, then. Thank you both!
I have tried to find a good weight chart. Aša is 9 cm/3.5 in and weighs 81 grams/2.9 ounces. The breeder said the torts were 7 or 8 months. Aša has been in my life since 13 March, 2019 and was very obviously the runt of the litter. Could (s)he be underweight?

Sorry I have so many questions. :-T
She is small for her age but that doesn’t mean she won’t be 50lbs or + in a couple years, mine was 143g at 8 months, most normal sulcata get to be already a couple hundred g’s at that age. With the right setup she will be just fine.
 

AsaPatrick-Ricard

New Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
14
Location (City and/or State)
Yuba City, CA
Thanks!
I posted about this elsewhere, but MY GOD, I AM TRAUMATISED BY THE POOP. How can something so little produce so much faeces!? I guess I'm grateful (s)he only goes during soaking. Does this go into adulthood?
 

Bebop Barnett

New Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2019
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
Honolulu
LOL Oh yeah, Bebop makes tons of poop! Sulcatas apparently go with more frequency than others. Beebs is about 1.5 years and does it all throughout the day while wandering around...Maybe 2-4 solid ''packages." They come out dark and shiny, but are SUPER easy to clean up! also odorless thank goodness. Asa will depend less on the soaks to poop as she gets older. You'll probably find it less traumatic then
 

AsaPatrick-Ricard

New Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
14
Location (City and/or State)
Yuba City, CA
If (s)he's defecating half her weight as an adult, my heart may stop. Ha.

Aša is now 105 grams. Slow, slow progress. I wouldn't trade this little shrimp for any tortoise in the world. 20190416_204434.jpg
 

Ray--Opo

Well-Known Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Oct 14, 2017
Messages
2,990
Location (City and/or State)
Palm Bay Fl
Thanks!
I posted about this elsewhere, but MY GOD, I AM TRAUMATISED BY THE POOP. How can something so little produce so much faeces!? I guess I'm grateful (s)he only goes during soaking. Does this go into adulthood?
My sully is 2 and will not poop. Only when soaking. Dont worry about size. He will get big soon enough.
 

New Posts

Top