Winter diet for Sulcata

Anna Westphal

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Dolores, Colorado
I have a newly acquired 5 year old sulcada female. Stella is a magnificent creature. She was living in a bathtub previously, and I couldn't bear the thought of her spending one more day in a tub, so now she's mine and I want to do everything I can to make her life good.
I have previously had box turtles, but I know their requirements are different than Stella's are. I have made two really big outdoor enclosures for her, and she has free range of the backyard during the day to graze. She's a good eater, and I am confident that the diet I am providing her so far is a good one.
However, I live in high desert and know that she will need to be inside over the winter months. I intend to set her up in a roomy enclosure with proper heating and lighting, but my main concern is about her diet over the winter months without her being able to access fresh grass. We have 5 acres and lots of prickly pear cactus, so my question is can I freeze the cactus for winter use to add to her diet? Also is grass any good for her when it is dried or does it need to be fresh for her to benefit from it? I have timothy hay for her, but so far she has not eaten any. What do I need to do to prepare for a winter diet for my girl when her grazing time is over? Thanks for any advise.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Anna, and welcome!

Cactus doesn't freeze well, but you can buy dehydrated cactus chips. I believe Kapidolo Farms sells it online. Try to find a feed store that sells grass hay. Orchard grass is the most palatable. If you can get the tortoise interested in eating hay, that goes a long way towards filling him up during the winter. You can also use Mazuri Tortoise Diet. So supplement grocery stores greens with hay and Mazuri, and that should get you through the winter. I like to use endive, escarole, romaine and green leaf lettuce along with the hay and dried foods that Kapidolo Farms sells.
 

Turtulas-Len

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I use lawn clippings that I dry out. My sulcata will eat hay but would rather not. I use an electric mower with a bag and when the bag is full I dump it out and run the mower over the clippings again to get a finer mix. then I dry the clippings in one of those nylon laundry baskets, or spread them out on the driveway if no rain expected. you will need to mix it around so that it drys completely without molding. after drying I store the clippings in paper bags in a dry area. When feeding I moisten the grass with some mazuri mixed in with it. As for your cactus just cut a pad off what you have growing when you want to feed some .You may have to let it thaw out before feeding (i do). I know some cactus are very tough after dehydrating naturally getting ready for the winter rest. You can cut the pieces to a size that fits your sulcata if the cactus you have growing seems to tough for it to eat off a pad. Walker, (my sulcata) during winter also eats the fallen leaves from the maple and mulberry trees in his yard.
 

Anna Westphal

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Dolores, Colorado
Excellent advise. I wasn't sure about the cactus being a viable option during the winter, but I hate to waste good food if there is a way to preserve it for future use. Thanks for taking the time to help me. Anna
 

Anna Westphal

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Thanks for asking for pictures of Stella. I think she's fantastic. She's been with us for a almost three weeks and seems to be doing very well. She is getting the outdoor grazing time and soakings that I am not sure she got in her previous home. I'm going to start building her indoor winter enclosure and am thankful for all the great tips I've found in this forum. I raise Dachshunds, and the gang are all fascinated by her. One of my dogs in particular has adopted her and follows her everywhere. Jordan jumps in the wading pool when Stella is soaking just to sit with her. Stella, of course, is ambivalent about the companionship.
 

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Maro2Bear

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So...there are a ton of warnings and horror stories here on the Forum regarding dogs and torts. The end result is never happy.

Please don’t mix torts with pups.

Good luck with your Sully!
 

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