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Varying a sulcata diet? Am I doing it wrong?

Discussion in 'Sulcata tortoises' started by MissFreshRR, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. MissFreshRR

    MissFreshRR Member

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    I have a hatchling, about 10/11 weeks old. When I got it, he wasn't really eating but now it has a healthy appetite, usually it's diet consists of mixed collard, mustard greens, and turnip greens daily. About every 3 days I'll add a little bit of shredded squash which it loves and about every 3 days I'll add calcium powder to the food. On my days off I'll take it outside to graze in the grass but it doesn't seem interested much. I also bought some mazuri tortoise diet and will mix it in with the food every now and then but I can't tell if it's eating it. I picked up some Timothy hay today and am going to try that. Can u guys chime in on what a week of feeding usually looks like for you? Am I feeding too much store bough greens? Am I over doing the squash? I'm kind of feeling lost but want to make sure I'm giving this little thing a healthy start. I also bought a cuddle bone thing but not sure if I should just throw it in there or What? Heeeelllllllppppp...


    Here it is currently pissed off at me for giving it hay for dinner lol

    20171206_183414.jpg
  2. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    I would cut back on the squash and add more grass hay and any more natural foods if you can. Also add a bigger variety of grocery greens. As big a variety as possible is best, specially if you can get more grass, weeds, etc in there.
  3. MissFreshRR

    MissFreshRR Member

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    Ok will do, when u say grocery greens can you give examples of what u might give? Would u recommend a spring mix? The mixed greens I have, s/he barely put a dent in the bag, I'd say about 1/3 and it's already going bad from the looks of it.
  4. lismar79

    lismar79 Well-Known Member

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    Spring mix is ok ish...too much spinach is not good. I buy a good amount of endive, escrole, dandelion greens, and kale in addition to what you are buying. Mostly grass and weed diet in the summer but store bought and hay in winter. If you have access to mullberry leaves those are great too.
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  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Ideally, this is what you should be feeding:
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/
    There is a long list of good food items there, but even that list is just a starter list.

    At this age the tortoise should be eating mostly weeds, freshly sprouting grass, fresh grown alfalfa and clover, flowers, cactus pads, young leaves (in spring and summer…), and Mazuri makes a nice supplement to this sort of diet. Once you learn to ID the weeds around you and find the right ones, it is much easier to feed a single baby by stepping outside your door and breaking off a few sprigs of the right weeds vs. buying bags or heads of lettuce at the grocery store. We will help you ID your weeds, or you can go to a local garden center and find the local plant nerd.

    Hay is more for older larger tortoises. I don't really even try to get them to eat grass hay until they are around 12 inches or larger. With some effort, you can certainly get them to eat some sooner than that, but there is no need for it. When they do start eating hay, I prefer orchard grass hay and bermuda hay. I find timothy hay to be too stemmy and difficult for smaller to medium tortoises to eat.


    If you must use grocery store foods, favor endive and escarole, but use lots of variety. Cilantro, collard, mustard, and turnip greens, carrot tops, celery tops, etc…

    The issues with typical grocery store foods are:
    1. Lacking calcium.
    2. Lacking in fiber.
    3. Low calcium to phosphorous ratio.
    This being the case, you'll need to amend the grocery store greens with some blended grass hay, ZooMed Grassland tortoise chow, or fresh grass.
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  6. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Ridicchio, mustard and collard greens, endive, spring mix is okay, kale, optunia cactus, as much variety as possible.
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  7. MissFreshRR

    MissFreshRR Member

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    Thanks for the quick replies! I'll have to do a little more research on the weeds and grass in my yard and take another trip down the produce aisle lol.

    I noticed after giving him some of the hay how dry and twiggy it was I'm not sure he's really gonna like it.
  8. Bambam1989

    Bambam1989 Well-Known Member

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    Take pictures of the weeds and bushes in your yard. Even the small ones that alot of people overlook can be a possible food. Then try and ID them. Alot of us on the forum like to ID weeds and are willing to help.
    I go out every other day and start gathering weeds that I know are ok into a bowl that I keep in the fridge. I'll snap a pic of anything I don't recognize so I can figure out what it is.
    I also keep a list of edible plants that I have found in my yard.
    I've also bought several tort friendly house plants. Ive changed their soil and will let them grow for at least a month before offering some of the new growth to make sure they are safe. So far I have Christmas cactus, Jade plant, wandering Jew and prayer plant. Along with aloe vera and some opuntia cactus that I'm already feeding.
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  9. MissFreshRR

    MissFreshRR Member

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    I'll do that, Thanks! I want to start growing my own stuff too. Just don't want to get too in over my head haha
  10. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Yeah, you can skip the hay for about two more years. Plenty of time for hay when he is older and bigger.

    Try the little plots of sprouted wheat grass from Petco, Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. They cost about $2 and you can trim a little off the top to mix in with the greens. If you keep it watered and in a window sill, you can get about 8 cuttings from each plot.
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  11. MissFreshRR

    MissFreshRR Member

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    Awesome, didn't even think of that!
  12. awioa

    awioa New Member

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    I am fairly new to this game as well, but I pick up about 4 different greens a week, so once a week they get changed out. This week was cilantro, kale, radish greens, and bok choy. Last week we had parsley, aloe vera, beet greens and sprouts. They also got the tops off of some strawberries we had. Parsley is not their favorite, they will eat it but not until everything else is gone. I also use Timothy hay, but since mine are only 6 months, I just use the leafy/seady part of the hay and I sprinkle it around the enclosure.
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  13. MissFreshRR

    MissFreshRR Member

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    Thanks! I don't have good grass source around so I bought some wheat grass seeds and grew that in the kitchen. I also replanted some bok choy, endive, escarole, and kale, also some carrot tops. We've also tried cilantro which he liked. I'll also include some weeds from around the back yard so we are starting to vary his diet some more which is nice. I also bought a food scale to make sure he is growing sufficiently and he seems to be steadily gaining weight. I keep looking for things I can regrow myself so that I don't have to keep making trips to the grocery store.
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