Will my sulcata survive 31 degrees in his burrow??

LucyJane

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Hi, I have a one and a half adopted tortoise named Tonto Marie. He's enjoyed the habitat we made for him all summer and is gaining weight. However, tonight I found out that our temperatures in southern AZ will be 31 degrees tonight and tomorrow night. Tonto is hidden in his tunnel, hasn't eaten the vegs we gave him in two days, and I'm trying to figure out what to do! Should we dig him out of the tunnel, or leave him alone? We have plenty of heat in his habitat, but he prefers the tunnel. I'm afraid he won't survive because he won't go to the heat source and will probably spent the night in the tunnel. I'm also worried about him/her not eating for two days, but we have grass and flowers, plenty of water around, and a nice habitat. He was healthy four days ago when I gave him a bath, but I haven't seen him since. Please give me info about whether I should dig him out of his tunnel and bring him inside, or if he will be okay. Thank you so much for reading this and for helping if possible. This is a great site!
 

MichaelL

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I think you should definitively bring him inside and dig him out of the tunnel. Sulcatas definitely do not do well in even temperatures below fifty let alone freezing temps.
 

Markw84

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Hi, I have a one and a half adopted tortoise named Tonto Marie. He's enjoyed the habitat we made for him all summer and is gaining weight. However, tonight I found out that our temperatures in southern AZ will be 31 degrees tonight and tomorrow night. Tonto is hidden in his tunnel, hasn't eaten the vegs we gave him in two days, and I'm trying to figure out what to do! Should we dig him out of the tunnel, or leave him alone? We have plenty of heat in his habitat, but he prefers the tunnel. I'm afraid he won't survive because he won't go to the heat source and will probably spent the night in the tunnel. I'm also worried about him/her not eating for two days, but we have grass and flowers, plenty of water around, and a nice habitat. He was healthy four days ago when I gave him a bath, but I haven't seen him since. Please give me info about whether I should dig him out of his tunnel and bring him inside, or if he will be okay. Thank you so much for reading this and for helping if possible. This is a great site!
You need to get him out. Sulcatas have no concept of cold ground. Their instinct is to go into the burrow whenever temperatures get too hot or too cold. They "know" down there it is between 80° and 85° depending upon time of the year. That allows their body to keep metabolizing foods and the gut microbes to stay alive and work. Here in the US we don't have those ground temps. Right now in his burrow it is the average of your daily high and low. Where you live that is now about 65°. Toss a thermometer down there and check. At 65° a sulcata looses a lot of mobility. It stops metabolizing. The gut biome is dying off. Food left in the gut will start to rot and enteritis will set in if this continues. The catch 22 for your tortoise is the solution it knows is to let the ground heat him up. Where we have put our tortoises in the US - that won't work. YOu need to block burrows in winter when daily average temps drop below 75°. He needs a heated night box to be his burrow where he can seek out the proper temps.
 

Tom

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I agree with Mark here. Burrows are great for helping them escape the extreme summer time heat, buy you have to block them out of them and make them use their heated night house when the weather begins to cool in fall.

I blocked off my sulcata burrows last week. Timed it perfectly this year.

Here is an example of the type of box you need:
 

LucyJane

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Markw84 and Tom, I can't thank you enough! Hopefully you saved Tonto's life. My husband, who has not researched these tortoises and continues to believe that they are like desert turtles, refused to believe me when I said we had to get him out and inside the house. But reading your replies convinced him, and we dug him out--he was pretty far down and completely buried in dirt. I took him inside in a towel and placed him, turning him frequently, on the hearth, in front of the fireplace. It took some time to warm him, but I had a chance to pet him and talk to him, and now he is on the floor near the fire, still warming, but apparently doing well. I will of course take him to the vet tomorrow. And we've brought in his inside habitat and have the heaters on. Thank you again, so much--you're both lifesavers!
 

Tom

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Markw84 and Tom, I can't thank you enough! Hopefully you saved Tonto's life. My husband, who has not researched these tortoises and continues to believe that they are like desert turtles, refused to believe me when I said we had to get him out and inside the house. But reading your replies convinced him, and we dug him out--he was pretty far down and completely buried in dirt. I took him inside in a towel and placed him, turning him frequently, on the hearth, in front of the fireplace. It took some time to warm him, but I had a chance to pet him and talk to him, and now he is on the floor near the fire, still warming, but apparently doing well. I will of course take him to the vet tomorrow. And we've brought in his inside habitat and have the heaters on. Thank you again, so much--you're both lifesavers!
I don't think anything good will happen at the vet. If he's showing no symptoms, no need for a vet visit. Most vets know very little about tortoise care and tend to give bad advice and do unnecessary medical procedures like "vitamin injections",

Southern AZ is a great place for them to live, and they can live outside full time once they reach about 8-10 inches, but they need that heated night box. Temps regularly drop into the 30 where I am too, and occasionally into the 20s, and all of my adult tortoises live outside. Their heated and insulated boxes keep them warm and safe on a cold winter's night. I let them burrow in summer, and they use their heated night boxes during the colder winters.
 

LucyJane

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I don't think anything good will happen at the vet. If he's showing no symptoms, no need for a vet visit. Most vets know very little about tortoise care and tend to give bad advice and do unnecessary medical procedures like "vitamin injections",

Southern AZ is a great place for them to live, and they can live outside full time once they reach about 8-10 inches, but they need that heated night box. Temps regularly drop into the 30 where I am too, and occasionally into the 20s, and all of my adult tortoises live outside. Their heated and insulated boxes keep them warm and safe on a cold winter's night. I let them burrow in summer, and they use their heated night boxes during the colder winters.
Thank you, Tom. Tonto has remained in his plastic burrow all day, so we are leaving him alone, while providing fresh water and vegs. I just checked on him again and he's eaten most of his vegs, came out of the burrow, and looks well. Im soo glad! BTW-- a couple of weeks ago he was 91/2 inches long as well as wide, and 2.7 lbs. When we got him, he weighed less than half a pound. Thanks for your help and advice. Ill post pics of him and his habitat soon.
 

queen koopa

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Thank you, Tom. Tonto has remained in his plastic burrow all day, so we are leaving him alone, while providing fresh water and vegs. I just checked on him again and he's eaten most of his vegs, came out of the burrow, and looks well. Im soo glad! BTW-- a couple of weeks ago he was 91/2 inches long as well as wide, and 2.7 lbs. When we got him, he weighed less than half a pound. Thanks for your help and advice. Ill post pics of him and his habitat soon.
Great news!
I also had to dig my Sulcata out this time year when I first got her. I’m in Las Vegas. Blocked that s*** off and made sure her shed is the right temps and very “attractive” to her. My Sulcata is much larger than yours though!! Your little one was gettin down on the digging!! 6B0561DA-69D1-4B76-99C1-240BC95716A2.jpeg E0F5639D-0956-4F0F-8F22-2DAE1260800B.jpeg
 

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