Worried about my Sulcata

Khorngor

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Hey,

Im a new reptile owner and bought a Sulcata from a market here in Thailand back in June, when i got him he was 38g he quickly (1 month) gained weight up to around 54g and now we are in february, aka 9 months later and he is hovering around 53g - he peaked at 58g but been settling around 52-54g for the better of 6 months now.

I have taken him to a local vet (not many in this city touches reptiles), and he says to bring him back in 6 months and until then just keep doing what im doing.

He got UVB, he got a heat lamp aswell in a seperate area, i do 4-5 soaks of 20-30min on average a week - i feed him junior tortoise diet and used to feed him veggies aswell, but the vet told me stop doing that as he might get too much protein. I started growing some grass and put that together with his pellets, but doesnt seem like he really eats it.

He used to eat more actively, but these days i rarely see him eat, even when i put him down right next to his food after the soak - i can see that he goes to the food as its moved around/smushed but i rarely observe him eating myself.

Besides not being super active he is otherwise healthy from what the vet says, his eyes are clear - his bottom shell is a little soft but the vet told me this was normal for his size/age - i do cover his food in calcium powder but if he doesnt eat it then its hard to get any in him.

Im kind of at a loss for what i can do other than wait for a slow demise, the vet tells me its "normal" and that he says that "its the weather" and other turtle owners has come in with the same problem in the last few months - just doesnt make much sense to me. The first time i went back in december i did get some dewormer that i mixed in with his food, just in case that was an issue, but besides that he has not recieved any treatment of any kind - he told me he was too small to xray.

You guys got any idea's or is it just to wait it out?
 

Yvonne G

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My first thought was he's not warm enough.
 

Khorngor

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My first thought was he's not warm enough.
I live in Thailand and the room he is in doesnt have AC turned on - the room temp is all year around 27c/80f - and at his heating lamp, at the very center its 44c/111f - he used to bask in the heating lamp before, but again these days i don't see him go over there much - he got a large enclousure for his size, i made it in a cement mixing tub thats 80x130cm (2.6ftx4.25ft) - put some coconut shavings and regular soil as bottom, and the cyprus mulch for the top layer and some plants spread around.
 

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Yvonne G

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In my opinion, if you jury rig some sort of cover to enclose it, lights and all, you may see an improvement.
 

Khorngor

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In my opinion, if you jury rig some sort of cover to enclose it, lights and all, you may see an improvement.
That would be a ridiculously large cover, i used to have him in a semi transparent "moving" box that is a lot smaller and with a lid. It was for sure warmer and more moist in that box, i still got it, so i could move him back into it.
 

dd33

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Are it’s poops really watery/runny or filled with undigested food?
 

zolasmum

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If you put calcium powder on his food the texture may be putting him off - try rubbing a little bit into the leaves or stem of something he used to like. He doesn't need a lot - just a tiny pinch once or twice a week.
Angie
 

Khorngor

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Are it’s poops really watery/runny or filled with undigested food?
No, whenever he does poop (rarely these days as he doesnt eat a lot), its always solid pellets.
If you put calcium powder on his food the texture may be putting him off - try rubbing a little bit into the leaves or stem of something he used to like. He doesn't need a lot - just a tiny pinch once or twice a week.
Angie
I don't put a ton, and i have for a while not put any and it didnt change his feeding behaviour - i also swapped his food to some diffrent sized pellets and brands in case he was picky.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

My girlfriend went on a short holiday back to her "village" a week ago, and she asked if she could bring him - which initinally i thought was a bad idea as he is so small, and seemingly unwell - but as i was at my wits end i figured a "holiday" might do him good - on the trip (4 days) he actually did poop in his little travel box, aswell as her sending me videos of him eating salad and being seemingly active - but once he got back home it was all the same again.

Full disclosure is that i work nightshifts, so i usually put food/water before i go to sleep (7am-3pm), and when i wake up its about 4 hours before his lights turn off (i sync'd them to the local daylight cycle here which is 6am-7pm), so he might be more active than i know of, as im sleeping during what i guess is the most active hours.
 

wellington

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Wouldn't be much to cover the enclosure, it's not that big. In fact if you can purchase a green house like is in the pic below, add a tarp for floor and you can set the enclosure inside it and when he gets bigger, you will have the greenhouse to house him in until he is big enough to live outside. They come 3 feet wide by 6,9 and 12 feet long. Maybe even bigger

Screenshot_20231228-154220.png
 

Megatron's Mom

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What did the vet tell you to stop feeding the pellets or the veggies?
Sounds like on his vacation he liked the salads. I'd give him as much of the right veggies as he wants.
 

Khorngor

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Wouldn't be much to cover the enclosure, it's not that big. In fact if you can purchase a green house like is in the pic below, add a tarp for floor and you can set the enclosure inside it and when he gets bigger, you will have the greenhouse to house him in until he is big enough to live outside. They come 3 feet wide by 6,9 and 12 feet long. Maybe even bigger

View attachment 366375
His enclosure is under my kitchen table, and my condo isn't that big to house that - so if the closed enclosure is needed id move him back to the "box" I originally first housed him in - he hasnt outgrown it as he is same size as when i got him.

What did the vet tell you to stop feeding the pellets or the veggies?
Sounds like on his vacation he liked the salads. I'd give him as much of the right veggies as he wants.
Vet told me to stop veggies - to be fair he didn't have access to the pellets either on holiday, so he might just have eaten whatever was available.

I just attached 2 pics and a video from this morning. After his soak i placed him next to his food and he did actually start eating a bit. He did stop shortly after the video but better than nothing I guess. Also the lamp over the food is UVB not the basking area.
 

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Maggie3fan

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That would be a ridiculously large cover, i used to have him in a semi transparent "moving" box that is a lot smaller and with a lid. It was for sure warmer and more moist in that box, i still got it, so i could move him back into it.
Yvonne who told you he's not warm enuf is one of our resident experts on Sulcata...I would not put a basking light over the food...I would put him in a smaller container with a lid, the temp in your house does not help him at all. Sulcata are cold blooded animals, they need to get under a hot (basking) light and in order to digest their food he needs his insides 85 degrees. That means a hot direct light on the tort, not on the food. Do not cover his food with calcium powder, just give a 'pinch' twice a week. What do you mean by 'vegetables'? He should be eating leafy green and grass...grape leafs, weeds, dandelions..


read this..

For Those Who Have a Young Sulcata... and this

The Best Way To Raise A Sulcata, Leopard, Or Star Tortoise
 

Khorngor

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Yvonne who told you he's not warm enuf is one of our resident experts on Sulcata...I would not put a basking light over the food...I would put him in a smaller container with a lid, the temp in your house does not help him at all. Sulcata are cold blooded animals, they need to get under a hot (basking) light and in order to digest their food he needs his insides 85 degrees. That means a hot direct light on the tort, not on the food. Do not cover his food with calcium powder, just give a 'pinch' twice a week. What do you mean by 'vegetables'? He should be eating leafy green and grass...grape leafs, weeds, dandelions..


read this..

For Those Who Have a Young Sulcata... and this

The Best Way To Raise A Sulcata, Leopard, Or Star Tortoise

The temperature in my condo is 85f+ during the day and maybe 80f at night, and he is inside the condo in an enclosure.

As i wrote the lamp over the food is not heated, its just a UVB bulb, he got a seperate basking area with a heat/uvb combo bulb in another corner.

Veggies i mean green salads, i don't have as good access to a diverse diet as i would in my home country, but deep green salads from local market is what we used to feed him until the vet said to do pellets. Right now its been pellets + some random grass that I've been growing on the balcony.

I must admit i have a hard time understanding he should be too cold, with the tempatures in this country, and with my friends sulcata being outside 24/7/365.

But i will put him back in the smaller enclosure and see if his condition improves.
 

Maggie3fan

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The temperature in my condo is 85f+ during the day and maybe 80f at night, and he is inside the condo in an enclosure.

As i wrote the lamp over the food is not heated, its just a UVB bulb, he got a seperate basking area with a heat/uvb combo bulb in another corner.

Veggies i mean green salads, i don't have as good access to a diverse diet as i would in my home country, but deep green salads from local market is what we used to feed him until the vet said to do pellets. Right now its been pellets + some random grass that I've been growing on the balcony.

I must admit i have a hard time understanding he should be too cold, with the tempatures in this country, and with my friends sulcata being outside 24/7/365.

But i will put him back in the smaller enclosure and see if his condition improves.
I am trying to tell you the ambient temperature in your condo won't help him...please reread what is there...he needs certain things in order to live...you are NOT giving him the necessary things...he will die unless you change the things you are told about. You came here for help, yet you argue with that help...possibly you need to find a better home for him if you are not going to make the suggested changes stop feeding him pellets, he obviously does not like them...where do they get pellets in the wild???
 

Mr. RussianTortoise

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The temperature in my condo is 85f+ during the day and maybe 80f at night, and he is inside the condo in an enclosure.

As i wrote the lamp over the food is not heated, its just a UVB bulb, he got a seperate basking area with a heat/uvb combo bulb in another corner.

Veggies i mean green salads, i don't have as good access to a diverse diet as i would in my home country, but deep green salads from local market is what we used to feed him until the vet said to do pellets. Right now its been pellets + some random grass that I've been growing on the balcony.

I must admit i have a hard time understanding he should be too cold, with the tempatures in this country, and with my friends sulcata being outside 24/7/365.

But i will put him back in the smaller enclosure and see if his condition improves.
If It is a UVB bulb is it a coiled bulb? You don't want the small cheap ones like the 2 photos below Zoo Med 10.0 UVB Mini Coil Bulb 13 Watt - MyTurtleStore.com Exo Terra Reptile UVB 200 High Output Bulb, Coil Compact Fluorescent -  Feeders Pet Supply
This shouldn't be used since it can hurt your tortoise's eyes and it doesn't emmitt the right amount of UVB. Instead get a Reptisun hood, I think that a 14 inch might suffice for that size of enclosure. The hood when you buy it will come with a 5.0 lighting for free but you need 10.0 lighting, so you'll have to buy that seperatly. (I might be wrong about this information since I don't know much about Sulcatas) :)
61v1Ei5y+WL._AC_UF894,1000_QL80_.jpg
 

Megatron's Mom

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Seems that vet didn't help much by telling you to stop the vegetables and give pellets only. Get back to the leafy greens. I'll leave the heat comments to those who know more than I.

He needs the leafy greens, try to find radicchio, endive, dandelions, hibiscus leaves, flowers are good too, cilantro, escarole. There is so much more out there I'm sure your market will have something that is really good for him.
 

Tom

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I am trying to tell you the ambient temperature in your condo won't help him...
If the room temp is 80-85, and he has a basking lamp that is 111 degrees (that is a little too hoy by the way...), then the temperatures should be fine. Do you mean to say that humidity will be too low in an open topped tub? That might be the case, even in a humid climate.
 

Tom

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The temperature in my condo is 85f+ during the day and maybe 80f at night, and he is inside the condo in an enclosure.

As i wrote the lamp over the food is not heated, its just a UVB bulb, he got a seperate basking area with a heat/uvb combo bulb in another corner.

Veggies i mean green salads, i don't have as good access to a diverse diet as i would in my home country, but deep green salads from local market is what we used to feed him until the vet said to do pellets. Right now its been pellets + some random grass that I've been growing on the balcony.

I must admit i have a hard time understanding he should be too cold, with the tempatures in this country, and with my friends sulcata being outside 24/7/365.

But i will put him back in the smaller enclosure and see if his condition improves.
It looks like you are using the wrong type of UV bulb. Those are ineffective UV sources and some of them burn their eyes. Does this tortoise ever go outside and have access to direct sunshine? If not, you may have a calcium deficiency. Even if you supplement with a lot of calcium, they can't use it without D3. They can't produce D3 without UVB, and that type of screw-in cfl UV bulb is not a good UV source.

Your temperatures sound fine to me. Your tortoise should be eating loads of leafy greens and weeds at this age and size. Protein is not the enemy. They NEED some plant protein to grow. Babies should be soaked every day until they pass 100 grams.

Another primary cause of this sort of thing is breeders treating this species like it comes from a dry desert, which it does NOT, and damaging their kidneys through chronic dehydration right after hatching, before you even get it. One of the tell tale signs is a tortoise that eats fairly well for weeks or months, but never passes 50 grams. Do you know how the baby was started? Was it on dry pellets for substrate? No water bowl? Not soaked? Here is more explanation of that:
 

Khorngor

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I am trying to tell you the ambient temperature in your condo won't help him...please reread what is there...he needs certain things in order to live...you are NOT giving him the necessary things...he will die unless you change the things you are told about. You came here for help, yet you argue with that help...possibly you need to find a better home for him if you are not going to make the suggested changes stop feeding him pellets, he obviously does not like them...where do they get pellets in the wild???
The tempature im describing is inside his enclosure, which matches the ambient tempature very closely within a few degrees.

The pellets were recommended by the vet, thats why i changed over to pellets only, prior to that i did a mix of pellets + greens or greens only, his appetitte declined before the pellets were introduced - but its harder for me to see if he has eaten the pellets than the greens, as he tends to walk ontop of the pellets smushing them, making it impossible to tell how much is eaten or not.
If It is a UVB bulb is it a coiled bulb? You don't want the small cheap ones like the 2 photos below View attachment 366383 View attachment 366384
This shouldn't be used since it can hurt your tortoise's eyes and it doesn't emmitt the right amount of UVB. Instead get a Reptisun hood, I think that a 14 inch might suffice for that size of enclosure. The hood when you buy it will come with a 5.0 lighting for free but you need 10.0 lighting, so you'll have to buy that seperatly. (I might be wrong about this information since I don't know much about Sulcatas) :)
61v1Ei5y+WL._AC_UF894,1000_QL80_.jpg
I got the coiled bulbs, UVB 10.0 - also please remember im not in the US - i don't have access to as many of the brands as you guys have - a lot of it sure, but not all of it :)
If the room temp is 80-85, and he has a basking lamp that is 111 degrees (that is a little too hoy by the way...), then the temperatures should be fine. Do you mean to say that humidity will be too low in an open topped tub? That might be the case, even in a humid climate.

Humidity is in the 60-70% range - from my probe - when i used to have him in the closed lid box it was closer to 90-95%, either way i don't think humidy should be an issue.

It looks like you are using the wrong type of UV bulb. Those are ineffective UV sources and some of them burn their eyes. Does this tortoise ever go outside and have access to direct sunshine? If not, you may have a calcium deficiency. Even if you supplement with a lot of calcium, they can't use it without D3. They can't produce D3 without UVB, and that type of screw-in cfl UV bulb is not a good UV source.

Your temperatures sound fine to me. Your tortoise should be eating loads of leafy greens and weeds at this age and size. Protein is not the enemy. They NEED some plant protein to grow. Babies should be soaked every day until they pass 100 grams.

Another primary cause of this sort of thing is breeders treating this species like it comes from a dry desert, which it does NOT, and damaging their kidneys through chronic dehydration right after hatching, before you even get it. One of the tell tale signs is a tortoise that eats fairly well for weeks or months, but never passes 50 grams. Do you know how the baby was started? Was it on dry pellets for substrate? No water bowl? Not soaked? Here is more explanation of that:

He got 3 sources of UV - he got the UVB lamp above the food area - he got UV/UVB/Heating in the basking area - and then whenever he is soaking i do it in a tub that i place in the sun on my balcony - though he usually goes to the shaded part of the tub. He walks freely on the balcony once or twice a week for an hour or so.

I assume that when i got him at 38g he was only around 4 weeks old, though i have no way to confirm this - for sure the breeding and care conditions in Thailand when bought at a market is not the best, but my friend bought a Sulcata from the same vendor at the market and his is about 3 years now and id reckon 30lbs - ironicly i know that he raised his "worse" than i did, basicly entire start of its life it was showed in a wooden box, sure as hell didnt buy all the stuff that i have done, which is also why its fustrates me that im having these issues.
__________________________________________________________________________________

I am considering moving the enclosure outside on the balcony and drop the UVB lights all together - its a bit windy on the balcony at times, but would give him access to plenty of natural sunlight for many hours of the day, and tempatures at night are never lower than 70f (usually 75-80), and day time its 85-95f. Humidity outside is in the 60-75% range year round.

What are your guys thoughts on that?

As for the diet together with the pellets (which i give him 3 diffrent kinds so he can pick which ever he likes), i also give him the grass, but he doesnt seem to want to eat it - i can go back to buying whatever green salads are available at the market and offer them to him - i live in a city so i don't have easy access to dandilions etc.
 

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