What to feed a sulcata?

ChunkieMonkie

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Hey gang I have a 4/5 month old baby sulcata and I have pellets, timmy hay and also kale but my tort seems to only be interested in the kale. it wont eat anything else. Is this guide good or are there better guides out there? https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/calcium-rich-gel-food-for-supplementation.34944/ I just wanna make sure I'm giving it the right amount of nutrients and what not. I plan on making this but I wanna make sure its sufficient.
 
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Guts

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Take a look at Toms post here!

They’re too young for the hay, and pellets will need to be soaked until soft.
 

Tom

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Hey gang I have a 4/5 month old baby sulcata and I have pellets, timmy hay and also kale but my tort seems to only be interested in the kale. it wont eat anything else. Is this guide good or are there better guides out there? https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/calcium-rich-gel-food-for-supplementation.34944/ I just wanna make sure I'm giving it the right amount of nutrients and what not. I plan on making this but I wanna make sure its sufficient.
Most of the care and feeding info for sulcatas is all wrong. Its been wrong for decades and the same wrong info just keeps getting repeated and taught to each new generation. You have now found the correct care and feeding info. All you have to do is follow it. Read that thread that Guts left for you and feel free to ask lots of questions.

Hay is for adults, and Timothy hay is too stemmy. When your tortoise gets to about 12 inches, you can start to introduce orchard grass hay.

Kale should only be offered once in a while. Maybe twice a month.

If you let us, we will help you raise a happy healthy tortoise.
 

ChunkieMonkie

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Take a look at Toms post here!

They’re too young for the hay, and pellets will need to be soaked until soft.
Here’s pictures of Tiny on a scale. I read the post how many pellets do you recommend a day and what should I lay around instead of hay for Tiny to graze on? I read the post lots of good info, I plan on upgrading my enclosure in the future. I have a glass enclosure that I’m utilizing right now. I blacked out the sides and I’m using 4/5 inch deep coconut substrate (Brian barczyks blend reptile prime) I have a fogger for when the humidity gets low but it almost never kicks on (maybe once a week) because every few days I wet the substrate a little bit & my top covers the humidity. I’ve been soaking tiny every other day but tiny just tries to escape after a few minutes? Why is this the water is usually around 80f. I’m including pictures of my enclosure so you can see what I’m working with. I also have a tube uvb bulb & a basking light bulb that heats up the area really nice. I also have a Che for back up but it won’t ever kick on because it’s summer time here now. I just soaked tiny and put some wet pellets in their enclosure gonna see how it goes! I looked at both of the stores in toms post it seems like tortoise supply is out of a lot of stuff but kapidolo farms has a lot in stock! Can you link me the best item for daily feeding? Something that will be good until my tortoise reaches a decent size? I might even go down to the flower shop in town that’s run by some hippies (it’s all organic) & see if they can give me clippings to feed tiny. Any idea which flowers are good for sulcatas too?
Edit: My glass enclosure is a 40 gallon breeder I think its 36x24 I plan on upgrading to something bigger in the future, Just trying to buy some time for when I get a bigger place to be able to keep the sulcata outside 6 months out of the year. It gets real cold in Pennsylvania. :)
 

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Tom

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Here’s pictures of Tiny on a scale. I read the post how many pellets do you recommend a day and what should I lay around instead of hay for Tiny to graze on? I read the post lots of good info, I plan on upgrading my enclosure in the future. I have a glass enclosure that I’m utilizing right now. I blacked out the sides and I’m using 4/5 inch deep coconut substrate (Brian barczyks blend reptile prime) I have a fogger for when the humidity gets low but it almost never kicks on (maybe once a week) because every few days I wet the substrate a little bit & my top covers the humidity. I’ve been soaking tiny every other day but tiny just tries to escape after a few minutes? Why is this the water is usually around 80f. I’m including pictures of my enclosure so you can see what I’m working with. I also have a tube uvb bulb & a basking light bulb that heats up the area really nice. I also have a Che for back up but it won’t ever kick on because it’s summer time here now. I just soaked tiny and put some wet pellets in their enclosure gonna see how it goes! I looked at both of the stores in toms post it seems like tortoise supply is out of a lot of stuff but kapidolo farms has a lot in stock! Can you link me the best item for daily feeding? Something that will be good until my tortoise reaches a decent size? I might even go down to the flower shop in town that’s run by some hippies (it’s all organic) & see if they can give me clippings to feed tiny. Any idea which flowers are good for sulcatas too?
Edit: My glass enclosure is a 40 gallon breeder I think its 36x24 I plan on upgrading to something bigger in the future, Just trying to buy some time for when I get a bigger place to be able to keep the sulcata outside 6 months out of the year. It gets real cold in Pennsylvania. :)
What to feed: This is best explained in the previously linked care sheet, but here is another one with lists:
The only "best" food for feeding daily is freshly sprouted soft grass mixed in with other good stuff. The best thing to feed them daily is something different daily and a wide variety of things. Don't feed them "something". Feed them everything that is suitable. Dn't buy one dried food option from @Kapidolo Farms . Buy a dozen options and rotate through them. Use both types of Mazuri and both types of ZooMed pellets. Use mulberry leaves, grape leaves, a variety of weeds, rose of Sharon leaves and flowers, gazanias, nasturtiums, dandelions, thistle, sow thistle, prickly lettuce, bristly ox tongue, fresh alfalfa, clover, pumpkin and squash leaves, etc... The hippie shop flowers sound good, but you will need to make sure they are not grown with any pesticides and nothing has been sprayed on them. Not even "hippy" all natural spray remedies. You will also have to research what flowers are safe for them to eat. Flowers should not be more than about 5-10% of the diet.

What type of pellets did you buy? If you have a good one, they can be offered once or twice a week.

You don't need food spread around the enclosure for grazing. The tortoise can graze on the food in its bowl.

A 40 is really too small. You need something larger. A large closed chamber will hold in heat and humidity. The heating and lights need to be inside.

Humidifiers should not be blowing directly into tortoise enclosures. You can use it to humidify the whole room though. Maintain humidity by covering the top and having the lights inside. A closed chamber in other words...

That water bowl is unsafe and unsuitable for a tortoise. Sink a terra cotta plant saucer into the substrate instead.

There should be no soil and no sand in your substrate. I don't know what Brian's "blend" is made of. Coco coir is safe, but its messy.

Your UV tube is a safe one, but not an effective one. You need the newer HO type if you want good UV, and the type you have needs to be no more than about 10 inches from the tortoise to get a little bit of UV. Right now, if your tortoise is getting some direct sunshine a couple of days per week in the warmer weather, you don't need a better UV bulb. That one will be fine all summer.

What type of basking lamp and what is the temperature under it? Flood, spot, "Intense reptile spot bulb"?

What is the overnight low temperature in the enclosure? Your thermostat should be set so that no part of it ever drops below 80.

Soaks need to be every day for 30-40 minutes and the water needs to be kept 85-95 the whole time. Don't worry about the tortoise trying to climb out. This is good exercise and keeps the GI tract moving. We call it "the tortoise treadmill". This is critical for small babies. Once the tortoise reaches 200-300 grams, you can begin skipping a day occasionally if you want. By 1000 grams its okay to go every other day.
 

ChunkieMonkie

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ERIE
What to feed: This is best explained in the previously linked care sheet, but here is another one with lists:
The only "best" food for feeding daily is freshly sprouted soft grass mixed in with other good stuff. The best thing to feed them daily is something different daily and a wide variety of things. Don't feed them "something". Feed them everything that is suitable. Dn't buy one dried food option from @Kapidolo Farms . Buy a dozen options and rotate through them. Use both types of Mazuri and both types of ZooMed pellets. Use mulberry leaves, grape leaves, a variety of weeds, rose of Sharon leaves and flowers, gazanias, nasturtiums, dandelions, thistle, sow thistle, prickly lettuce, bristly ox tongue, fresh alfalfa, clover, pumpkin and squash leaves, etc... The hippie shop flowers sound good, but you will need to make sure they are not grown with any pesticides and nothing has been sprayed on them. Not even "hippy" all natural spray remedies. You will also have to research what flowers are safe for them to eat. Flowers should not be more than about 5-10% of the diet.

What type of pellets did you buy? If you have a good one, they can be offered once or twice a week.

You don't need food spread around the enclosure for grazing. The tortoise can graze on the food in its bowl.

A 40 is really too small. You need something larger. A large closed chamber will hold in heat and humidity. The heating and lights need to be inside.

Humidifiers should not be blowing directly into tortoise enclosures. You can use it to humidify the whole room though. Maintain humidity by covering the top and having the lights inside. A closed chamber in other words...

That water bowl is unsafe and unsuitable for a tortoise. Sink a terra cotta plant saucer into the substrate instead.

There should be no soil and no sand in your substrate. I don't know what Brian's "blend" is made of. Coco coir is safe, but its messy.

Your UV tube is a safe one, but not an effective one. You need the newer HO type if you want good UV, and the type you have needs to be no more than about 10 inches from the tortoise to get a little bit of UV. Right now, if your tortoise is getting some direct sunshine a couple of days per week in the warmer weather, you don't need a better UV bulb. That one will be fine all summer.

What type of basking lamp and what is the temperature under it? Flood, spot, "Intense reptile spot bulb"?

What is the overnight low temperature in the enclosure? Your thermostat should be set so that no part of it ever drops below 80.

Soaks need to be every day for 30-40 minutes and the water needs to be kept 85-95 the whole time. Don't worry about the tortoise trying to climb out. This is good exercise and keeps the GI tract moving. We call it "the tortoise treadmill". This is critical for small babies. Once the tortoise reaches 200-300 grams, you can begin skipping a day occasionally if you want. By 1000 grams its okay to go every other day.
Dropping a couple more pictures. Don’t mind the current groove humidity, I have 2 other probes placed around the tank and both read over 80 & are only a few points off of one another. I use the groove mainly for the temp of the hot side.
I’ll update you on the temp at night I’m not entirely sure. When I run my AC it’s been 80 in the tank still Because my che bulb kicks in. But just in the tortoise tank alone I have a large uth to heat the soil and help spike the humidity when I wet the coconut soil/husk, pretty much the same thing as you coco coir, I think it’s set at 94 degrees Fahrenheit though , then my che kicks on if ambient temp goes under 80 Even my snakes in my rack system don’t go under 75 ambient with my AC & they only have a 3” belly heat uth.
I’ll soak tiny daily for now on until he/she is up to weight, gonna grab that water bowl as well, my uv bulb is 18/19 inches away from the tort (got a chance to measure my tanks height 36” x 18”) is that good enough or should I get one of those H0 bulbs? If I need to get one which should I get? I do try to get the tort out 3 times a week at least for an hour at a time. But I’d still like to have a effective set up for winter time! Also the flood light is a spot bulb 100w zoo med brand.
As for humidifier/fogger, it hasn’t kicked on at all this week. It’s see through so I can see how much water it’s using and it hasn’t moved at all. I’ve been keeping the enclosure humid by wetting the soil ever couple days because the lights & heating elements dry everything out.
As for the food I got mazuri (I mentioned I wet some this morning & it looked like 2.5 were eaten!)
Is there a way to measure what to give the tort? I don’t want to over feed! Like with my snakes I feed 15% -20% of their weight weekly to keep them healthy & good Is there a similar calculation for tortoises? I’m gonna buy a bunch of stuff from Kapidolo right now so I have it next week. Do you recommend the gel treats (gel kit on website)? They looked like something that I could feed the tortoise maybe once a week as a treat in addition to other foods? How long does Kapidolo’s dried food stay good for? I don’t want to buy a dozen different options and then have to throw it away because it went bad.
Last but not least The hippy shop wasn’t open today they’ll be open Monday so I’ll call them then to figure out if they have untreated pesticide free flower clippings that I could have for tiny.
I really appreciate all of the info you’re dropping on me though. I want my tort to be as healthy as possible!
 

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Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Joined
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Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
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Dropping a couple more pictures. Don’t mind the current groove humidity, I have 2 other probes placed around the tank and both read over 80 & are only a few points off of one another. I use the groove mainly for the temp of the hot side.
I’ll update you on the temp at night I’m not entirely sure. When I run my AC it’s been 80 in the tank still Because my che bulb kicks in. But just in the tortoise tank alone I have a large uth to heat the soil and help spike the humidity when I wet the coconut soil/husk, pretty much the same thing as you coco coir, I think it’s set at 94 degrees Fahrenheit though , then my che kicks on if ambient temp goes under 80 Even my snakes in my rack system don’t go under 75 ambient with my AC & they only have a 3” belly heat uth.
I’ll soak tiny daily for now on until he/she is up to weight, gonna grab that water bowl as well, my uv bulb is 18/19 inches away from the tort (got a chance to measure my tanks height 36” x 18”) is that good enough or should I get one of those H0 bulbs? If I need to get one which should I get? I do try to get the tort out 3 times a week at least for an hour at a time. But I’d still like to have a effective set up for winter time! Also the flood light is a spot bulb 100w zoo med brand.
As for humidifier/fogger, it hasn’t kicked on at all this week. It’s see through so I can see how much water it’s using and it hasn’t moved at all. I’ve been keeping the enclosure humid by wetting the soil ever couple days because the lights & heating elements dry everything out.
As for the food I got mazuri (I mentioned I wet some this morning & it looked like 2.5 were eaten!)
Is there a way to measure what to give the tort? I don’t want to over feed! Like with my snakes I feed 15% -20% of their weight weekly to keep them healthy & good Is there a similar calculation for tortoises? I’m gonna buy a bunch of stuff from Kapidolo right now so I have it next week. Do you recommend the gel treats (gel kit on website)? They looked like something that I could feed the tortoise maybe once a week as a treat in addition to other foods? How long does Kapidolo’s dried food stay good for? I don’t want to buy a dozen different options and then have to throw it away because it went bad.
Last but not least The hippy shop wasn’t open today they’ll be open Monday so I’ll call them then to figure out if they have untreated pesticide free flower clippings that I could have for tiny.
I really appreciate all of the info you’re dropping on me though. I want my tort to be as healthy as possible!
There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. In most cases you'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night. Some people in colder climates or with larger enclosures will need multiple CHEs or RHPs to spread out enough heat.
  3. Ambient light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in LED bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In colder climates, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12% HO bulbs from Arcadia. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html A good UV bulb only needs to run for 2-3 hours mid day. You need the basking bulb and the ambient lighting to be on at least 12 hours a day.
The spot light will cause pyramiding. Switch it out for a flood bulb, but you will have get one from out of state somehow since we can't get them here any more.

UTHs should not be used with tortoises. It goes against their instinct to dig down into the cooler earth when they feel too hot. Many have overheated, been burned or died this way.

For indoor UV in an 18 inch tall tank, a ZooMed HO 10.0 T5 tube is the way to go. I only run them for about 2 hours mid day. That is all that is needed. You need a Solarmeter 6.5 to set the height of any UV bulb correctly, and to periodically check to make sure is it still producing enough UV. Used 2-3 hours a day, they will last for years before needing replacement.

36x18 is really too small for sulcata babies. Once you put in the furniture, food and water bowls, and the hide, there is hardly any room to walk, and room to walk is important for tortoises. Keeps the GI tract moving. I start clutches of babies in 48x36 inch closed chambers. I don't keep them long enough to need larger than that, but I used to use 96x48 closed chambers to raise them up until they were large enough to live outside full time with ah heated night box.

You can't over feed tortoises if you are feeding the right foods. Torts are grazers. They need to be able to nibble all day. Feed them as much as they will eat daily. If they eat it all, you didn't give them enough.

I don't know about the gel thing, but Will @Kapidolo Farms is an extremely intelligent man and very experienced with tortoises. I would take his advice for the gel food thing.

The dried goods last years at room temp. It won't go bad for a long time.
 

ChunkieMonkie

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Joined
Apr 26, 2022
Messages
7
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ERIE
There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. In most cases you'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night. Some people in colder climates or with larger enclosures will need multiple CHEs or RHPs to spread out enough heat.
  3. Ambient light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in LED bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In colder climates, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12% HO bulbs from Arcadia. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html A good UV bulb only needs to run for 2-3 hours mid day. You need the basking bulb and the ambient lighting to be on at least 12 hours a day.
The spot light will cause pyramiding. Switch it out for a flood bulb, but you will have get one from out of state somehow since we can't get them here any more.

UTHs should not be used with tortoises. It goes against their instinct to dig down into the cooler earth when they feel too hot. Many have overheated, been burned or died this way.

For indoor UV in an 18 inch tall tank, a ZooMed HO 10.0 T5 tube is the way to go. I only run them for about 2 hours mid day. That is all that is needed. You need a Solarmeter 6.5 to set the height of any UV bulb correctly, and to periodically check to make sure is it still producing enough UV. Used 2-3 hours a day, they will last for years before needing replacement.

36x18 is really too small for sulcata babies. Once you put in the furniture, food and water bowls, and the hide, there is hardly any room to walk, and room to walk is important for tortoises. Keeps the GI tract moving. I start clutches of babies in 48x36 inch closed chambers. I don't keep them long enough to need larger than that, but I used to use 96x48 closed chambers to raise them up until they were large enough to live outside full time with ah heated night box.

You can't over feed tortoises if you are feeding the right foods. Torts are grazers. They need to be able to nibble all day. Feed them as much as they will eat daily. If they eat it all, you didn't give them enough.

I don't know about the gel thing, but Will @Kapidolo Farms is an extremely intelligent man and very experienced with tortoises. I would take his advice for the gel food thing.

The dried goods last years at room temp. It won't go bad for a long time.
Okay so I just had a big issue. I got home from work and the new water bowl that you told me to buy, My tortoise was flipped inside of it :( They're still alive but it seemed like they pooped out everything that was in them and were hanging on by a thread. I don't know how long they were flipped for or what to do now. I have it soaking in some warm water to rehydrate if needed. Please get back to me asap thx!
Edit: now that I've calmed down a bit. tiny didn't seem interested in water or food after that traumatic experience. I left him/her alone to go lay down in the hide. I also got that new light you recommended as well as the flood bulb. New food is coming in as well.
 
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Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Joined
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Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
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Okay so I just had a big issue. I got home from work and the new water bowl that you told me to buy, My tortoise was flipped inside of it :( They're still alive but it seemed like they pooped out everything that was in them and were hanging on by a thread. I don't know how long they were flipped for or what to do now. I have it soaking in some warm water to rehydrate if needed. Please get back to me asap thx!
Edit: now that I've calmed down a bit. tiny didn't seem interested in water or food after that traumatic experience. I left him/her alone to go lay down in the hide. I also got that new light you recommended as well as the flood bulb. New food is coming in as well.
Show a pic of the new bowl as it sits in the enclosure?
 

ChunkieMonkie

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ERIE
Is it too big? Also the dirt was a little higher around the lip but I kinda freaked when I saw it upside down in there and there’s a lot less coco substrate in there now.
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