The Desert to the Tropics hatchling care

JackieBlue

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So, I was part of this forum about 10 years ago while I was living in Arizona, the advice I received here was AMAZING. I was able to successfully raise two sulcata tortoises from hatchlings until they were about 4 years old. One escaped when the landscapers didn't close our gate. Not too long after that my husbands job moved us to Florida completely unexpectedly; so our friend and neighbor adopted our other tortoise.

So here we are 5 years later and my husband has decided he wants to get more sully's. So I've been brushing up on all of the new and updated information contained on the forum. But, I am starting to realize there is a significant difference between raising a healthy tort in the desert versus the tropics. It literally just occurred to me (as I was eyeballing humidifiers) that I have all of this naturally occurring humidity right outside of my door! I'm picking up our hatchlings tomorrow and was planning on keeping them in the house until they were big enough to roam the backyard. However, I have an enclosed lenai, is there a reason why I can't just keep them out there for the Summer (and away from the AC)? Our temps are already in the 90's and FEEL like 100 degrees because of the humidity. I have their grasses growing out there already (in a container) and I'm starting to roam my back yard identifying the weeds back there to make sure there isn't anything back there that's dangerous to them (there is a LOT of weed varieties in FL!!). Is this a terrible idea or is this a good idea?
 

wellington

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@Tom can probably answer this best. Were you planning on having an enclosure out there or just roaming the room?
 

Maro2Bear

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@Tom can surely best provide you with a thorough response.

But....your night time temps are still too cold. Maybe you are planning on building a fully enclosed enclosure (with heating) but keep that out in your protected lenai.

Temps....
4C086005-4D27-4090-9DED-097777C2840A.jpeg
 

JackieBlue

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@Tom can surely best provide you with a thorough response.

But....your night time temps are still too cold. Maybe you are planning on building a fully enclosed enclosure (with heating) but keep that out in your protected lenai.

Temps....
View attachment 324521
Yes, I know, I’ve already got the ceramic heat lamp because I was planning on keeping them inside, but the humidity with the AC only gets to 50%. Whereas if I kept them outside for the Summer and into the Fall, they’d be moist without my intervention (outside of their daily soaks) and I could still use the heat lamp on the lenai.
 

wellington

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@Tom can surely best provide you with a thorough response.

But....your night time temps are still too cold. Maybe you are planning on building a fully enclosed enclosure (with heating) but keep that out in your protected lenai.

Temps....
View attachment 324521
I deleted my response. I had the wrong species. Was thinking Russian.
 

wellington

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I was going to have an enclosure for them. I’d have to bring them in sometime in late fal.
Them? You do know they can not be housed in pairs?
Two males can not be housed together unless on acreage then still probably not. Either one Male with two or more females or 3 or more females or one male alone.
 

JackieBlue

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Them? You do know they can not be housed in pairs?
Two males can not be housed together unless on acreage then still probably not. Either one Male with two or more females or 3 or more females or one male alone.
I know males can’t be enclosed together; and as hatchlings all females should be fine until they are older. I’m getting all females.
 

wellington

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I know males can’t be enclosed together; and as hatchlings all females should be fine until they are older. I’m getting all females.
Hatchlings can't be sexed except surgically and temp sexed is no where near 100%.
All females might he fine, no guarantees on that either. Both sexes are solitary animals. Be prepared to separate all three incase. Also will need to watch for what's not obvious bullying. One growing much slower, following each other, not letting one eat, sleeping together etc.
 

Tom

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So, I was part of this forum about 10 years ago while I was living in Arizona, the advice I received here was AMAZING. I was able to successfully raise two sulcata tortoises from hatchlings until they were about 4 years old. One escaped when the landscapers didn't close our gate. Not too long after that my husbands job moved us to Florida completely unexpectedly; so our friend and neighbor adopted our other tortoise.

So here we are 5 years later and my husband has decided he wants to get more sully's. So I've been brushing up on all of the new and updated information contained on the forum. But, I am starting to realize there is a significant difference between raising a healthy tort in the desert versus the tropics. It literally just occurred to me (as I was eyeballing humidifiers) that I have all of this naturally occurring humidity right outside of my door! I'm picking up our hatchlings tomorrow and was planning on keeping them in the house until they were big enough to roam the backyard. However, I have an enclosed lenai, is there a reason why I can't just keep them out there for the Summer (and away from the AC)? Our temps are already in the 90's and FEEL like 100 degrees because of the humidity. I have their grasses growing out there already (in a container) and I'm starting to roam my back yard identifying the weeds back there to make sure there isn't anything back there that's dangerous to them (there is a LOT of weed varieties in FL!!). Is this a terrible idea or is this a good idea?
Hi Jackie. I remember you from way back when! Welcome back.

I've done several side-by-side experiments with groups of sulcata clutch mates, and also observed many others around the country. They unequivocally do better inside most of the time in a large closed chamber. Your indoor AC will be irrelevant because they are enclosed. Outside all day causes all sort of problems, even in your climate. While you've been gone, I've had this conversation with any people, and they are all amazed at the difference when they move them inside. An hour or two of sunning time is great for babies, but then a soak, and back in the indoor chamber. My general rule of thumb is an hour of outside time per inch of tortoise. Once they are around 5-6 inches, they can stay outside all day, weather permitting. I don't move them outside full time until around 8-10 inches when they just get too big and unruly to be inside.

Babies can't be sexed reliably. I know people offer "temp sexed" babies for sale, but this has proven unreliable outside of lag grade conditions. A trio or more should be fine together, but all hell might break loose if one or more are male later. You may end up having to house them all separately, or place some.

Almost no breeders start these babies correctly, and most of the care advice given is still all wrong. Outside all day, dry substrate, soaked once a week if at all, and romaine every day is the norm. Don't buy one of those, or more than one. Buy from a breeder that starts them indoors in humidity, soaks daily, and introduces a huge variety of the right foods. I have some regulars and some Sudans right now. If you don't want to buy from me, then look to @NorCal tortoise guy, Austin at @Arizona Sulcata, or tortoisesupply.com for well started healthy babies.

Here is the correct care info:

Here is what happens from the typical dry start breeders:

Here is a thread I did on how I start my babies:
 

JackieBlue

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Hatchlings can't be sexed except surgically and temp sexed is no where near 100%.
All females might he fine, no guarantees on that either. Both sexes are solitary animals. Be prepared to separate all three incase. Also will need to watch for what's not obvious bullying. One growing much slower, following each other, not letting one eat, sleeping together etc.
Yep, I’m aware of all of this and am prepared to keep them separate when the time comes.
I’m looking for feedback on keeping them in the lenai for the summer - are there any potential issues with keeping hatchlings in an enclosed outdoor space?
 

wellington

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Yep, I’m aware of all of this and am prepared to keep them separate when the time comes.
I’m looking for feedback on keeping them in the lenai for the summer - are there any potential issues with keeping hatchlings in an enclosed outdoor space?
The only thing I could even think of is if it gets too hot. You dont want them in 90-100+ temps all day long. If temps can't be controlled that's a problem. In a closed chamber outside in such hot temps, will cook them. Even an open one will get to hot and doesn't work even in Floridas humidity.
 
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JackieBlue

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The only thing I could even think of is if it gets too hot. You dont want them in 90-100 temps all day long. If temps can't be controlled that's a problem.
Ok. That is something to be considered. Because I wouldn’t have ANY control of it does get too hot.
 

JackieBlue

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Hi Jackie. I remember you from way back when! Welcome back.

I've done several side-by-side experiments with groups of sulcata clutch mates, and also observed many others around the country. They unequivocally do better inside most of the time in a large closed chamber. Your indoor AC will be irrelevant because they are enclosed. Outside all day causes all sort of problems, even in your climate. While you've been gone, I've had this conversation with any people, and they are all amazed at the difference when they move them inside. An hour or two of sunning time is great for babies, but then a soak, and back in the indoor chamber. My general rule of thumb is an hour of outside time per inch of tortoise. Once they are around 5-6 inches, they can stay outside all day, weather permitting. I don't move them outside full time until around 8-10 inches when they just get too big and unruly to be inside.
Wow, Tom! I’m flattered you remember me! I was pleasantly surprised to see the same folks here as was a decade ago!

I always appreciate your advice, and really appreciate the feedback. I haven’t checked back on the forum since the day I posted this, I got my sullys from this eccentric guy up North of Tampa, a few counties away. He has this HUGE piece of land and had Galapagos torts, sulcata, and a variety of water turtles (along with chickens, goats, and god knows what else). He aged the hatchlings at the time to be 19 days old. But as I’ve been watching them and soaking them, I don’t think they are all from the same clutch - because their belly buttons were at different stages of healing, and they were different sizes. I’ll post a pic when they do their afternoon soak.
 

Tom

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I don’t think they are all from the same clutch - because their belly buttons were at different stages of healing, and they were different sizes.
This is bad news and a bad sign that this breeder doesn't know what he's doing. They shouldn't even go into an enclosure until that umbilical scar is all healed up and closed completely. There should be no sign of the yolk sac or umbilical scar when they are sold.

Here is a thread explaining and showing exactly this:
 

JackieBlue

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This is bad news and a bad sign that this breeder doesn't know what he's doing. They shouldn't even go into an enclosure until that umbilical scar is all healed up and closed completely. There should be no sign of the yolk sac or umbilical scar when they are sold.

Here is a thread explaining and showing exactly this:
I’m ashamed that I didn’t inspect them closer - between my 2 year old chasing chickens and this dude showing me around all of his torts and enclosures I got distracted. I do know he was continuing to incubate them.. but here are the photos - this was my first chance to get pics. What are your thoughts on this?
 

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JackieBlue

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I’m ashamed that I didn’t inspect them closer - between my 2 year old chasing chickens and this dude showing me around all of his torts and enclosures I got distracted. I do know he was continuing to incubate them.. but here are the photos - this was my first chance to get pics. What are your thoughts on this?
I also might add - his collection of tortoises were impressive - healthy, zero pyramiding with nice smooth shells and his oldest one was born in 1978 (older than me, thank you very much) lively, and personable. So I felt good about getting the hatchlings home until I saw their belly buttons.
 

Tom

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I also might add - his collection of tortoises were impressive - healthy, zero pyramiding with nice smooth shells and his oldest one was born in 1978 (older than me, thank you very much) lively, and personable. So I felt good about getting the hatchlings home until I saw their belly buttons.
Adults are relatively easy to care for and very sturdy. They can withstand a lot and still be fine. Someone having nice looking adults is not an indicator that they know how to start babies properly, as you've now seen.

The first pic doesn't look too bad. The other two should have still been in a brooder box for at least 3-4 more days.

How often did the breeder soak them? What sort of enclosure were they in? What substrate were they on? These things will tell you more about their chances of survival.
 

JackieBlue

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So, he says he kept them in the incubator with wet paper towels and soaked them every few days.
How old would you say they are? There’s a definite size difference
 

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