New Member
Jul 3, 2015
I have Sulcatas of varying ages. # smallest ones have gone dormant completely, but the 2 biggest ones---12 inches---come out daily to get some sun. My worry is----none of them eat anything!! We haveput out hay, lettuce, and even tomatoes and berries just to see if they will eat. I know these foods should not be given in winter. I live in AZ where temps have fluctuated drastically. There are 3 caves which they dig into and stay overnite. I keep them outside in a very protected area with 6 ft walls. Temps have jumped back into the 70's this week and behavior has not changed. I brought one in the house overnite and for a full day----nothing moved except her head to get more relaxed. No bubbles or discharge from her nose. She did not pee or deficate while inside luckily---so no fluids lost.
My question is ---is this normal??


Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 17, 2012
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
Welcome to the forum. I too have sulcatas but they range from 1 yr old to 26 yrs old.

To your question: it is "normal" for sulcatas kept way too cold and going into a period of inactivity they may or may not come out of. Sulcatas are amazingly tolerant of sub- optimal conditions. Some can survive conditions like you describe while most will eventually fail

They will not thrive in an environment where they are forced to deal with temperatures below 70 for extended periods. For sulcatas under 12" I would not let them be exposed to temps under 80f.

Your tortoises need a night box to use as their burrow. Most of us keep those retreats at 80f this time of year. Do a search for "best night box".and read that. Also read the posts at the top of the sulcata section.

I am so glad you joined the forum. You will love the great info here from the best tortoise keepers in the world! I also look forward to hearing more about you and your sulcatas. You are a kindred spirit as we are close to the same age and share a love for tortoises

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 23, 2008
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Hi, and welcome to the Forum!

The larger sulcatas are able to stay warm longer due to their mass. The smaller ones get cold clear through to the core, and this is not good for them. Are these tortoises new to you?

In Africa, where they come from, it doesn't get cold, and if the temp might occasionally drop down lower than they're comfortable with, they burrow deep underground where it's warmer. A sudden drop in temp in Africa doesn't last long enough to cool the earth, so it's always warm down in the burrow.

So set those guys up with artificial heat and keep them warm!

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