The Best Way To Raise A Sulcata, Leopard, Or Star Tortoise

sarahlovedreams

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I'm sorry I just saw your post tonight.

Historically, I've been buying my expanded PVC type enclosures from Animal Plastics in DesMoines Iowa. They are a fantastic company. Quality, price and customer service are truly excellent, but... there's always a but... it takes months for them to get a cage to you. I've begged and pleaded with them to step up production, but the demand outweighs their ability to keep up. I highly recommend them, and I'm very happy with all of my cages from them, but you will wait 5 or 6 months to get your cage.

Lucky for us, our own @Markw84 decided to solve this problem for me and started making his own enclosures. Instead of a general purpose reptile cage like you'd get from other companies, Mark's cage's are designed and built with tortoises in mind every step of the way. Mark's attention to detail and precision, and his constant attempts to reach perfection make his enclosures the best tortoise housing on the market. I asked him how much he charges, and then I ran through all the materials and equipment that he puts into them in my head. My response was: "Are you losing money on every cage you sell?" I think the materials cost more than he charges! Anyhow, I've seen his enclosures in person and they are amazing. I'm taking delivery of my first one next week. Best of all, his time frame is usually two to three weeks. And his enclosures are easily expandable for a growing tortoise. The base model would be perfect for a small platynota, and as it gains size and start nearing maturity, you could add on the expansion cage and have enough room to house an adult indoors all winter.

Further still, Mark and I both breed Burmese stars, so you can take your pick and get a healthy baby from either of us.
Does he have a website where he sells the enclosures?
 

Yvonne G

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Does he have a website where he sells the enclosures?
Last I heard a website was being made for him. Have you tried finding him on Facebook? Look up Kapidolofarms on Facebook. I think he may have a reference to Mark's new website?????
 

thecrawlingchaos

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Are Hosta leaves okay to feed? I thought I read that someone was feeding them to stars, but not sure. I have tons of them and they will soon go dormant, so I could feed a few to the tort if that's acceptable.
 

Tom

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Are Hosta leaves okay to feed? I thought I read that someone was feeding them to stars, but not sure. I have tons of them and they will soon go dormant, so I could feed a few to the tort if that's acceptable.
Yes. Those are good tortoise food.
 

Michael Cao

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Yes. Those are good tortoise food.
Hi Tom, I'm new to the tortoise forum but my attention was grabbed by your post as it had quite a few contradicting arguments to others but seems very accurate. I'm getting a baby sulcata tortoise soon and I have quite a few questions if you don't mind answering.

1. Should I have a UVB light for my tortoise because it is a bit chilly outside and I don't want my tortoise to get sick.
2. When should you feed your baby tortoise (eg: Once during the day, once during the night, etc.) and what foods are okay for babies to eat.
3. Will the tortoise be able to breathe properly in a closed chamber?
 

Tom

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Hello and welcome.

1. Yes, in your climate you will need a good UV tube. Get the Arcadia HO type.
2. You should put a big pile of food out every morning. If there is any left wen the lights go out, feed a little less the next day. If its all gone, feed a little more the next day. Foods are covered in the care sheet.
3. Yes, they can breathe just fine in a closed chamber. ts not hermetically sealed and air tight. There are vents and gaps all around it.

I would urge you to reconsider your choice of species. It will be very difficult, expensive, and time consuming to house an adult sulcata in your climate. They are difficult and destructive even in a great climate. Where you are you will need indoor housing most of every year, and they need a huge amount of space and warm temperatures 24/7/365. You'll have a much easier time with a smaller species that can more easily stay indoors in your colder months, and possibly a species that hibernates in winter.
 

Michael Cao

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Hello and welcome.

1. Yes, in your climate you will need a good UV tube. Get the Arcadia HO type.
2. You should put a big pile of food out every morning. If there is any left wen the lights go out, feed a little less the next day. If its all gone, feed a little more the next day. Foods are covered in the care sheet.
3. Yes, they can breathe just fine in a closed chamber. ts not hermetically sealed and air tight. There are vents and gaps all around it.

I would urge you to reconsider your choice of species. It will be very difficult, expensive, and time consuming to house an adult sulcata in your climate. They are difficult and destructive even in a great climate. Where you are you will need indoor housing most of every year, and they need a huge amount of space and warm temperatures 24/7/365. You'll have a much easier time with a smaller species that can more easily stay indoors in your colder months, and possibly a species that hibernates in winter.
Thank you so much for your response, I actually did consider getting a smaller tortoise but I always wanted a big one and I have dedicated my entire basement and a large section of land in my backyard for once he/she gets bigger. I do have one more question though: What is the main food I should feed my sulcata? Hay? Plants I can get my hands on? Vegetables? Could you let me know what mix you feed your baby sulcatas... thank you!
 

Tom

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What is the main food I should feed my sulcata? Hay? Plants I can get my hands on? Vegetables? Could you let me know what mix you feed your baby sulcatas... thank you!
Feeding:
So much contradictory info on this subject. Its simple. What do they eat in the wild. Grass, weeds, leaves, flowers, and succulents. Feed them a huge variety of these things, and you'll have a healthy tortoise. All of these species are very adaptable when it comes to diet and there is a very large margin of error, and many ways to do it right. What if you don't have this sort of "natural" tortoise food available for part of each year because you are in the snow? You will have no choice but to buy grocery store food. What's wrong with grocery store food? It tends to lack fiber, some items are low in calcium or have a poor calcium to phosphorous ratio, and some items have deleterious compounds in them. All of these short comings can be improved with some simple supplementation and amendments. A pinch of calcium two times per week will help fix that problem. You can also leave cuttle bone in the enclosure, so your tortoise can self-regulate its own calcium intake. What about fiber? Soaked horse hay pellets, soaked ZooMed Grassland pellets, Mazuri tortoise chow, "Salad style", "Herbal Hay" both from @TylerStewart and his lovely wife Sarah at Tortoisesupply.com, or many of the dried plants and leaves available from Will @Kapidolo Farms. If you must use grocery store foods, favor endive and escarole as your main staples. Add in arugula, cilantro, kale, collard, mustard and turnip greens, squash leaves, spring mix, romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, water cress, carrot tops, celery tops, bok choy, and whatever other greens you can find. If you mix in some of the aforementioned amendments, these grocery store foods will offer plenty of variety and fiber and be able to meet your tortoises nutritional needs just fine. I find it preferable to grab a few grapevine or mulberry leaves, or a handful of mallow and clover, or some broadleaf plantain leaves and some grass, but with the right additions, grocery store stuff is fine too. Grow your own stuff, or find it around you when possible. Tyler and Sarah also sell a fantastic Testudo seed mix that is great for ALL tortoise species and also super easy to grow in pots, trays, raised garden beds, or in outdoor tortoise enclosures. When that isn't possible, add a wide variety of good stuff to your grocery store greens to make them better.
 

Michael Cao

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Feeding:
So much contradictory info on this subject. Its simple. What do they eat in the wild. Grass, weeds, leaves, flowers, and succulents. Feed them a huge variety of these things, and you'll have a healthy tortoise. All of these species are very adaptable when it comes to diet and there is a very large margin of error, and many ways to do it right. What if you don't have this sort of "natural" tortoise food available for part of each year because you are in the snow? You will have no choice but to buy grocery store food. What's wrong with grocery store food? It tends to lack fiber, some items are low in calcium or have a poor calcium to phosphorous ratio, and some items have deleterious compounds in them. All of these short comings can be improved with some simple supplementation and amendments. A pinch of calcium two times per week will help fix that problem. You can also leave cuttle bone in the enclosure, so your tortoise can self-regulate its own calcium intake. What about fiber? Soaked horse hay pellets, soaked ZooMed Grassland pellets, Mazuri tortoise chow, "Salad style", "Herbal Hay" both from @TylerStewart and his lovely wife Sarah at Tortoisesupply.com, or many of the dried plants and leaves available from Will @Kapidolo Farms. If you must use grocery store foods, favor endive and escarole as your main staples. Add in arugula, cilantro, kale, collard, mustard and turnip greens, squash leaves, spring mix, romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, water cress, carrot tops, celery tops, bok choy, and whatever other greens you can find. If you mix in some of the aforementioned amendments, these grocery store foods will offer plenty of variety and fiber and be able to meet your tortoises nutritional needs just fine. I find it preferable to grab a few grapevine or mulberry leaves, or a handful of mallow and clover, or some broadleaf plantain leaves and some grass, but with the right additions, grocery store stuff is fine too. Grow your own stuff, or find it around you when possible. Tyler and Sarah also sell a fantastic Testudo seed mix that is great for ALL tortoise species and also super easy to grow in pots, trays, raised garden beds, or in outdoor tortoise enclosures. When that isn't possible, add a wide variety of good stuff to your grocery store greens to make them better.
Could I grab some grass from my front lawn (no pesticides or anything used on it) and just put it in a pile for my tortoise to eat mixed with some other veggies?
 

Tom

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Could I grab some grass from my front lawn (no pesticides or anything used on it) and just put it in a pile for my tortoise to eat mixed with some other veggies?
For babies you need freshly sprouted tender young soft grasses. Older mature blades are too big and tough for babies.

I wouldn't use veggies. I'd use the leafy greens described above.
 

Michael Cao

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For babies you need freshly sprouted tender young soft grasses. Older mature blades are too big and tough for babies.

I wouldn't use veggies. I'd use the leafy greens described above.
So to summarize I should give my baby sulcatas a pile of leafy greens every morning mixed in with some grassland tortoise pellets (how much pellets exactly?) And I should leave some cuttlebone for him to munch on if he wanted to.
 

Michael Cao

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For babies you need freshly sprouted tender young soft grasses. Older mature blades are too big and tough for babies.

I wouldn't use veggies. I'd use the leafy greens described above.
Sorry to ask so many questions but if im using a 10.0 uvb light how far from the substrate should it be? 10-12 inches?
 

Tom

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Sorry to ask so many questions but if im using a 10.0 uvb light how far from the substrate should it be? 10-12 inches?
Questions are welcome. That's what we are all here for.

There are many types of 10.0 UV bulbs. What type have you got? T8, T5 HO, cfl?
 

Michael Cao

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Those should never be used over reptiles. We.ve seen many cases or burned eyes from them. Use a long tube for UV. The HO tubes work the best.
good thing i checked with you before buying it then. What about this its the

Zoo Med FS524 Reptisun 5.0 T5-Ho Uvb Fluorescent Lamp-24 W-22"

 

Tom

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good thing i checked with you before buying it then. What about this its the

Zoo Med FS524 Reptisun 5.0 T5-Ho Uvb Fluorescent Lamp-24 W-22"

Nope. Keep trying. :)

The 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. Get the 10.0 HO tube instead.
 

Michael Cao

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Nope. Keep trying. :)

The 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. Get the 10.0 HO tube instead.
This one i think fits the requirements its the Zoo Med 26062 Reptisun 10.0 T5-Ho Uvb 39W Fluorescent Lamp, 34" If I get this one how far away from my tortoise/the substrate should it be?
 

Tom

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This one i think fits the requirements its the Zoo Med 26062 Reptisun 10.0 T5-Ho Uvb 39W Fluorescent Lamp, 34" If I get this one how far away from my tortoise/the substrate should it be?
That is a good one. You could do the 22" one if you wanted to.

We can only guess the distance. Every bulb, fixture, and enclosure is different. Somewhere around 18-20 inches is probably a good distance, but you need a UV meter to check it.
 

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