Worried about Sulcata tort

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l0velesly

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I just received a Sulcata baby about a week ago. Just recently today, I came home to see that it had made a mess. I soaked and cleaned it right afterwards for about 20 minutes.

I noticed some discoloration (green-ish) and slight swelling on its rear.
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I don't know if it's just stains from the greens or not but it doesn't seem to wash off.

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It seems to look fine, just a little dry on the face.. but it does seem more tired than usual. He's usually semi-active but mostly he sleeps a lot.

Should I be worried about it? I can't seem to figure out what's wrong with it. Could it be dehydration? I've been soaking it for about 10 minutes 3x a day. I'm really hoping it's nothing big.

And a couple more questions:

How do you know if a tortoise is stressed out?

Are leafy greens the staple diet for babies? I know their main diet should be hay/grass when they become bigger.

Is burrowing required for Sulcatas? Or just optional?

Thanks, I really appreciate it. This is also my first time owning a Sulcata and yes, I have done my research.
 

Tom

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Hello and welcome lushcious. He looks okay to me. They get stained and dirty from poop and dirt and their substrate pretty much from the time they hatch. The lethargy worries me a bit. Its all subjective though. If he's eating, basking and occasionally moving around you are probably okay. Babies do lay around a lot.

What are your temps?
Are you using one of those coil type florescent UV bulbs? If yes, turn it off right away.

I don't know what research you did, but a lot of what's on the web and in books is old and outdated. Here is how I like to care for them:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread-How-To-Raise-Sulcata-Hatchlings-and-Babies#axzz1JHHw4P16

Here's a thing I wrote to explain a phenomenon that sometimes occurs:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread-Hatchling-Failure-Syndrome#axzz1JHHw4P16
I hope none of this applies to your baby, but look for the symptoms described here and evaluate your baby's history.

Leafy greens are fine, but I like to use a wide variety. Look in the plant ID section at some of the weed pictures and see if you recognize any of those near you from a safe, chemical free area. Like weeds the best and they are free. You can introduce fresh grass at any time too, just chop it up really fine with scissors. I usually put it on the greens to start to introduce it. Also look into spineless Opuntia and Mazuri.

Finally, where are you? If its warm enough, put him out in the sun (in a safe enclosure) as often as you can. Sunshine is very good for them in many ways. Just make sure he is safe from predators, including domestic dogs, and always has some shade available to choose if he feels like he's getting too hot.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Lushcious:

Welcome to the forum!!

May we know your name and where you are?

The part you think is swelling is just normal skin on a baby sulcata. I don't know why its green. Probably stained from something.

They don't have to burrow, but they feel safer if they can get their whole body into some sort of hiding place.

I don't think you need to soak your baby more than once a day.

Leafy greens are fine. And to that you can add whatever kind of edibles from the yard that you can find. Dandelion, mulberry, grape leaves, clean grass and weeds of any kind.
 

dmarcus

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Just go with what Tom and Yvonne are saying and new hatchlings tend to be a bit nervous in a new environment, mine has peed upon being picked up a few times. As they get more comfortable with the new surroundings and with more contact, you will see less of that. And welcome to the forum.
 

Jacob

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Along with everyone else :)
Its probaly a stain from the bedding!
You should feed him cactus and sprin mix or santa barber
Mix with calcium stuff, or cuttlebone,
Dont forget the mazuri either!
 

moswen

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it could be the substrate like the others said, i don't personally know of any diseases or illnesses that cause green skin (but that doesn't mean a whole lot coming from my own personal knowledge bank haha!!!) but i did notice 2 other things about your baby: it looks like he/she has been kept pretty dry bc i can already see pyramiding on the top scute! so, keep doing what you're doing and soak him/her every day and keep the substrate somewhat moist.... i don't think you need a soak 3x a day but it certainly wouldn't hurt i guess! if you can get on top of his/her pyramiding then you can eliminate it alltogether, you can look at some of my old posts if you want, my ivory yearling mos came to me pyramided as well, but i've got a fairly recent thread up about his carapace smoothing out very nicely... so it can be done! also, DeanS has some yearlings that are smoothing out awesomely as well. the other thing is you should put a rock (or a few) down so that your baby can walk across it daily to keep those little toenails filed. it's not a huge issue at the moment, they're just a little long, but eventually (waaaaaayyyy down the road) they could grow out so horribly that they cause your sully to walk crookedly and have bone growth problems.

congratulations on your new baby sulcata! i'm so excited for you, i love sullies. the babies are especially precious.
 

l0velesly

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Thank you, everyone, for the advice and recommendations.

And sorry for not introducing myself. My name is Lesly and I live Spokane, WA. It's normally dry and hot in the summer. There's some sun out right now, but the weather is still a bit windy and cold.

My sully is doing better today. It's more active than yesterday. But for reason, it doesn't want to eat much.

The aver. temperature is about 85-95 degrees but my tort's shell seems a little cold. I'm not using fluorescent coil but I'm using the Zilla day blue light bulb (100 watt) for daytime and Zilla nocturnal (purple light - 75 watt) bulb at night time.

His diet is mostly dark leafy greens right now. He doesn't seem to eat weed or grasses. It doesn't drink water when I put it out and doesn't even touch the calcium bone.

Is it safe to clip the nails? And what percent should the humidity be at?
 
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Maggie Cummings

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I don't think he is warm enough. Under his basking light should be 100 degrees. The cold side should be no colder than 80 degrees. He needs a UVB light and I don't think either of your Zilla lights have UVB capabilities.
Please read Tom's care sheet and make the changes he recommends. Yes, your baby will normally sleep a lot but like I said, I think he is too cold and if he was warmer he would be more active. A good UVB light will also make him more active.
 

Tom

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There are four temps to be concerned about. Cool side, warm side, basking spot, and night time. An average temp doesn't help us much.

You need to provide some UV for your tortoise. Since the weather up there is not helping you much, you'll have to provide it artificially with a mercury vapor bulb. Mine never touch their water either, but provide it anyway. To get them to eat new foods you can chop up the usual stuff really fine and then add some finely chopped new stuff and mix it all up. Over time they will start eating everything. As long as you provide a humid hide box, soak and spray daily, and have a nice shallow water bowl, the humidity level is not that critical. In most homes, its really difficult to keep humidity high. Most people have to cover the tops and go to great lengths to keep even a moderate amount of humidity. Its all in that care sheet that I linked above.
 

l0velesly

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Well, the daylight bulb says it emits full-spectrum light and UVA rays. I still have to set up the UVB light fixture.
What's the difference between a mercury vapor bulb vs. fluorescent bulbs (containing UVA)?
 

Tom

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The bulb manufacturers use all sorts of confusing terms to sell more bulbs. What your tortoise needs is the right balance of all the UV spectrums. Not just UV A. The best way to provide this is natural unfiltered sunlight. Since your climate doesn't permit much of this for most of the year, the MVB is the next best thing. In the past the florescent types were totally ineffective, but friends and colleagues lately have informed me that they have improved over the years. All agree, however, that the MVB is the next best thing to sunshine. If you lived in a sunny warm area, I'd say it doesn't matter much what you use, since your tortoise would be in the sun so much. But up there, its pretty critical. Down here I just use cheap incandescents from the hardware store, but my torts are in the sun almost everyday. The MVB also gives you heat, light and UV all in one single bulb. Makes it much better for the tortoise since they are getting their UV from the same bulb they are basking under for heat. YOu can still use your "purple" light for night heat.

By the way. They need UV to make D3, which they need to metabolize and use calcium. Some people offer dietary D3, but there is evidence to suggest that they simply cannot use dietary D3. It just passes through the digestive system unused. They must produce their own D3 in their skin for it to be usable.
 

l0velesly

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What else is required besides MVB and a night heat bulb? I also want to know what lamp fixture is best at handling high heat. Are those long uvb bulbs required? Does the watts matter?

I'm wondering if ANY type of fluorescent light or MVB light will provide the UV rays.. or if the ones designed for reptiles are the only solution for UV.

Sorry for asking so many questions.
 

Tom

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No problem on the questions. Keep asking until you get satisfaction. That's why we are all here. To learn and share.

The long bulbs are not required, but some form of UV B IS required. The mercury vapor bulbs are the best way to accomplish this if you can't use the sun. I like to use ceramic based fixtures from the hardware store. The bulb wattage only matters as far as maintaining your temps in a given sized enclosure. For smaller enclosures the 100 watt is sufficient. As your tortoise and your enclosure gets bigger, you'll need to bump up to the 160.

I recommend using bulbs that are made for reptiles, but NOT those coil type compact flourescent ones. They can damage a tortoises eyes. We see this fairly regularly here on the forum.
 

l0velesly

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Do ceramic-based fixtures work for all types of reptile lighting, such as fluorescent to MVB bulbs?

This is so helpful! Thanks a lot, Tom.
 

l0velesly

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My sully seems to like the dark a lot too. It always walks and hides into dark places and shadows. Is this normal?
 

ADVANceNA

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lushcious said:
My sully seems to like the dark a lot too. It always walks and hides into dark places and shadows. Is this normal?

usually as hatchlings they tend to hide a lot and nap. as hatchlings the little ones are kinda of nervous to be out in the open or far away from a dark hiding spot. ive noticed that as my einstein has grown bigger and bigger he spend less time hiding. as long as the little one is eating regularly, staying hydrated, and still active a few times during the day, i think you have nothing to worry about.
 

l0velesly

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Is it okay to feed them dried veggies? I think it's safe because the hay they eat is dry but I may be wrong.
 

Tom

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The ceramic fixtures work for all the screw in type bulbs, like a MVB. They will not work for a florescent tube.

Its normal for babies to hide a lot. Just make sure those dark places are warm enough too.

I don't recommend dried or normal veggies. Weeds, grass, an assortment of leafy greens, cactus, occasional Mazuri, and leaves from hibiscus, rose, mulberry trees and grape vines are my foods of choice. I will only occasionally use any kind of veggies with my adults and even then I mix it in with a bunch of the good stuff mentioned above. A carrots worth of veggies mixed in with a whole tray of proper greens is just a drop in the bucket for a 50-70 pound tortoise, but even a little bit of carrot is a stomachful for a hatchling.
 
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