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Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Jan 9, 2010
Messages
47,018
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Hi Tom, I learn something new a few times a day everyday regarding Sulcata's. I'm obsessed about giving baby Myakoda the best care I can. I never thought we'd find a hatchling in the street, it's a miricle she wasn't run over. I feel we found her for a reason. X Ray--OPO and you have given me some great advise. X Ray-- OPO has been really patient lol, hope i'm not unnerving him. We're working on bringing her humidity levels up, now they are at 60+ we will get them higher. We will be getting a large outside tub with organic cocnut soil, and reptibark mixed, as well when we change her indoor substrate, we will be doing the same. The outside tub will have a thin screen on top, then half the tub in the sun, the other in the shade. Of course water, and moist substrate. If you have any suggestions, that would be awesome! We'll do this as often, and as many hours as we can. She's being soaked everyday, her teranium sprayed all the time, and her log soaked. However, you said above Sulcata's are Tropical forest species. I was under the impression they are from enviroments such as, the Sahara Desert and the Sahel, a transitional ecoregion of semiarid grasslands, savannas, and thorn shrublands found in the countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Somalia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, etc...? So just curious, being there's so much conflicting info out there. Thank you, obsessed Torty Mommy.
Any animal that is native to the area between the tropic of Capricorn and the tropic of cancer, can be called "tropical". Most of wild sulcata territory is within that range. The books list what you listed and also "forest edge" as their native habitat. Here is what the books and websites don't say: Babies hatch at the start of the hot, wet, humid, rainy season. Puddles and marshes form, and the landscape turns green with an abundance of food. Think about the conditions on a 100+ degree day with frequent and recent rain, under heavy vegetation in the sun. THAT is what baby sulcatas hatch into. Think South FL or New Orleans in summer. Oppressive heat and humidity, if you are a human, but paradise for a hatchling sulcata. This is the type of environment they hatch into and live for their first few months. Not a dry open topped enclosure with 50-60% humidity shortly after spraying.

What about after the rainy season? The "dry" season. Two things: We had a member who'd lived in India for a while. In India, the "dry season" saw humidity between 60 and 80%. The "wet season" saw humidity between 80 and 100%. The terms "wet" and "dry" are relative and depend on your frame of reference. Thing number 2: Sulcatas spend 95% of their lives underground. Not topside in hot dry conditions. Underground where their poop and pee, plus vegetation that they drag underground keeps it much more humid, and the ground temps in the region hover between 80-85 all year long all the time.

This brings me back to: We humans sometimes have a skewed view of what "wild" conditions for a given species might be. Our idea of what they need, vs. the actual wild microclimates that they find, create and exploit are often two very different things. Given this fact, how do we know what to do? I propose we look at the results of different keeping styles for clues about what works best right here in ou own enclosures, right in front of our faces, every single day. Keep them dry, in an open topped enclosure, or outside all day, and they grow slowly and pyramid. Many babies die this way. All of us did it that way for decades because that is what we were taught. It was wrong. Some of us could see it was wrong by the results, and we took it upon ourselves to figure out what was right. By contrast, if you start them in a warm humid closed chamber and soak them daily, they thrive, grow much faster on the same food, and remain smooth, as they are supposed to. Many side-by-side experiments have proven this here at my facility, and literally thousands of people all over the entire world have duplicated this "experiment" with the same positive results.

This is why I say "Most of the info you will find out in the world on tortoises is wrong." For decades, all the books, vets, breeders, and "experts" all said the same wrong stuff. We all learned it and taught it to others. When the internet came on-line, websites were created and that same wrong info was continually shared all over the world. Only in the last 10 years or so, and only here on TFO is this new and correct info being shared. More is learned and shared continuously. We are trying to spread the word, but it has been slow to spread outside of this forum. People don't want to be told that they've been doing it wrong for 30 years, and that all those babies that have died in the hands of their customers weeks or months later, died because of their ignorance and mistakes they made/make when the babies first hatch.

Who should you listen to? Look at the results. Do you want a stunted, dry, pyramided baby? Or do you want a healthy, growing, smooth baby? I can tell you how to get either, because I've done it both ways for decades. The people who argue with this info have never done it "my" way. As soon as they try, the arguing stops. The results are obvious.
 

maggie18fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
535
Location (City and/or State)
Corvallis Oregon
I am one of those who believed that I could create an environment in a cold, rainy, sometimes snowy state. It rains so much here that after a while you simply don't notice it and go about your business. The continual rain does not stop me from working outside at all. It seems that most people give advice on how to keep Sulcata in bad weather 'physically'. I saw that mentally the tortoises suffered. Kept under the best circumstances they are still inside for most of the time under artifical lights, drinking out of a dish... shifting temperatures. Nothing to do to occupy the mind in the time spent inside. Frankly I think that us Sulcata keepers need to recognize that Sulcata are out going, active, intellegent critters who need some mental stimulation as well...
 

Blackdog1714

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2018
Messages
1,698
Location (City and/or State)
Richmond, VA
@Tom-Kamp Kenan may have his flaws for proper care but I watched him helpa guy that had to use a BACKHOE to dig an injured Sulcata out of a burrow. It was easily 6'-8' underground and 10' from the above ground opening. This place was in Arizona in the summer so that just adds proof to what we now know. That you for keeping us educated!
 

GoGamora

New Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Central CA
Any animal that is native to the area between the tropic of Capricorn and the tropic of cancer, can be called "tropical". Most of wild sulcata territory is within that range. The books list what you listed and also "forest edge" as their native habitat. Here is what the books and websites don't say: Babies hatch at the start of the hot, wet, humid, rainy season. Puddles and marshes form, and the landscape turns green with an abundance of food. Think about the conditions on a 100+ degree day with frequent and recent rain, under heavy vegetation in the sun. THAT is what baby sulcatas hatch into. Think South FL or New Orleans in summer. Oppressive heat and humidity, if you are a human, but paradise for a hatchling sulcata. This is the type of environment they hatch into and live for their first few months. Not a dry open topped enclosure with 50-60% humidity shortly after spraying.

What about after the rainy season? The "dry" season. Two things: We had a member who'd lived in India for a while. In India, the "dry season" saw humidity between 60 and 80%. The "wet season" saw humidity between 80 and 100%. The terms "wet" and "dry" are relative and depend on your frame of reference. Thing number 2: Sulcatas spend 95% of their lives underground. Not topside in hot dry conditions. Underground where their poop and pee, plus vegetation that they drag underground keeps it much more humid, and the ground temps in the region hover between 80-85 all year long all the time.
That is what I was looking for someone to tell me. They spend 95% of their lives in a burrow up to 10’ deep. They spend the hottest and driest days in a muggy burrow that is about 65-70° and full of urine and feces.

Someone else mentioned KampKennan and the Phoenix episode. Dozens of tortoises in deep burrows down into the 60s and 70s.

Another guy posted in 2014 about his elaborate natural burrow that he built and the temp was a constant 67° underground. He posted in April that his tortoise is 7 years old now and thriving.

So what I’m going to posit—as a professional analyst—is that a tortoise who spends 95% of their lives in a burrow that mimics the daily average ambient temps of my backyard should have no problem here. And, it’s strange that these dots have remained largely unconnected by people who say that 100°+ temps are paradise for a tortoise that arguably evolved powerful digging claws to avoid those kinds of temps. Our species is also from Ethiopia, and adapted to that climate. Yet here we are. The Sulcata may have ended up in the Sahel millions of years ago when it was a marshland that was humid bud shaded out in the 70s° by the canopy of the forest and adapted to burrow only when the trees receded and the deserts were formed. We don’t know.

The ground and surface temperatures most days here are in the mid 80s, and we do get periods in the high 70s and 80s from July-September.

So, in a couple of years I’ll be moving this tortoise outside with a heated “night box”.
 
Last edited:

Myakoda

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
67
Location (City and/or State)
AZ.
Any animal that is native to the area between the tropic of Capricorn and the tropic of cancer, can be called "tropical". Most of wild sulcata territory is within that range. The books list what you listed and also "forest edge" as their native habitat. Here is what the books and websites don't say: Babies hatch at the start of the hot, wet, humid, rainy season. Puddles and marshes form, and the landscape turns green with an abundance of food. Think about the conditions on a 100+ degree day with frequent and recent rain, under heavy vegetation in the sun. THAT is what baby sulcatas hatch into. Think South FL or New Orleans in summer. Oppressive heat and humidity, if you are a human, but paradise for a hatchling sulcata. This is the type of environment they hatch into and live for their first few months. Not a dry open topped enclosure with 50-60% humidity shortly after spraying.

What about after the rainy season? The "dry" season. Two things: We had a member who'd lived in India for a while. In India, the "dry season" saw humidity between 60 and 80%. The "wet season" saw humidity between 80 and 100%. The terms "wet" and "dry" are relative and depend on your frame of reference. Thing number 2: Sulcatas spend 95% of their lives underground. Not topside in hot dry conditions. Underground where their poop and pee, plus vegetation that they drag underground keeps it much more humid, and the ground temps in the region hover between 80-85 all year long all the time.

This brings me back to: We humans sometimes have a skewed view of what "wild" conditions for a given species might be. Our idea of what they need, vs. the actual wild microclimates that they find, create and exploit are often two very different things. Given this fact, how do we know what to do? I propose we look at the results of different keeping styles for clues about what works best right here in ou own enclosures, right in front of our faces, every single day. Keep them dry, in an open topped enclosure, or outside all day, and they grow slowly and pyramid. Many babies die this way. All of us did it that way for decades because that is what we were taught. It was wrong. Some of us could see it was wrong by the results, and we took it upon ourselves to figure out what was right. By contrast, if you start them in a warm humid closed chamber and soak them daily, they thrive, grow much faster on the same food, and remain smooth, as they are supposed to. Many side-by-side experiments have proven this here at my facility, and literally thousands of people all over the entire world have duplicated this "experiment" with the same positive results.

This is why I say "Most of the info you will find out in the world on tortoises is wrong." For decades, all the books, vets, breeders, and "experts" all said the same wrong stuff. We all learned it and taught it to others. When the internet came on-line, websites were created and that same wrong info was continually shared all over the world. Only in the last 10 years or so, and only here on TFO is this new and correct info being shared. More is learned and shared continuously. We are trying to spread the word, but it has been slow to spread outside of this forum. People don't want to be told that they've been doing it wrong for 30 years, and that all those babies that have died in the hands of their customers weeks or months later, died because of their ignorance and mistakes they made/make when the babies first hatch.

Who should you listen to? Look at the results. Do you want a stunted, dry, pyramided baby? Or do you want a healthy, growing, smooth baby? I can tell you how to get either, because I've done it both ways for decades. The people who argue with this info have never done it "my" way. As soon as they try, the arguing stops. The results are obvious.
I want the best enviroment for her of course. yesterday, we put the tin foil on her mesh. The heat got up to 105, and humidity 90%. However, within a few hours the humidity dropped down, with the heat staying high. So, I need a second plan, it holds in heat, however not constant humidity. Like I've mentioned before, my fears are very real regarding what you've mentioned above. I am not taking her care lightly. I've even questioned the stuff I've read outside of this group. I'd think to myself, somethings just not right. If you can help me with this humidity problem, I'd really appreciate it. She's 6 months now, I still have time. Her shell thus far is smooth, however I feel anxious. I've always been worried, searching, for better, well informed info. Finally, I found it.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
47,018
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
@Tom-Kamp Kenan may have his flaws for proper care but I watched him helpa guy that had to use a BACKHOE to dig an injured Sulcata out of a burrow. It was easily 6'-8' underground and 10' from the above ground opening. This place was in Arizona in the summer so that just adds proof to what we now know. That you for keeping us educated!
Kenan is not a bad guy; Not at all. He just doesn't know how to raise babies or keep tortoises very well.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
47,018
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
That is what I was looking for someone to tell me. They spend 95% of their lives in a burrow up to 10’ deep. They spend the hottest and driest days in a muggy burrow that is about 65-70° and full of urine and feces.
Not 65-70. That is too cold and its not good for them. 80-85 is where they do best. Yes, they can sometimes survive cooler temps, but a lot of them get sick and die too.

They also do best if the ambient temps in their baby enclosure climb into the high 80 or low 90s during the day. Babies don't burrow. Again, regardless of what we speculate happens in the wild, we've seen over and over again what the results are in our captive enclosures at the various temperatures.
 

GoGamora

New Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Central CA
Good point regarding the Monterey area. For the years I lived there, I only recall it getting “hot” for one week. No one had a/c in their homes or our office space! (Not humid either)
Again, good points for the assumption that these tortoises—as adults—“live” in 85-90°+ weather that is oppressively humid. They exist there, but they are adapted to be virtually inactive until the temps come within tolerances much lower around dawn and dusk (another surprise, when predators are most active, the guy with a shield on his back is most active).

In their native range, they spend most of the day in deep winter burrows during the cold months and in slightly shallower holes during the summer. In either case, they appear active when temperatures are moderate. Their burrows tend to be in the 60-70°F range.


Not 65-70. That is too cold and its not good for them. 80-85 is where they do best. Yes, they can sometimes survive cooler temps, but a lot of them get sick and die too.

They also do best if the ambient temps in their baby enclosure climb into the high 80 or low 90s during the day. Babies don't burrow. Again, regardless of what we speculate happens in the wild, we've seen over and over again what the results are in our captive enclosures at the various temperatures.
I had seen a post of yours @Tom that argued your burrow temps were in the mid-low 70s, and that your adults dug 15’ or something like that. That seems to support what I’m saying too. Maybe it’s too hot where you live and they got down there as deep as they could so they wouldn’t roast? That is how they live in their native range. There is a study on mole rat burrows that the average for 1’7” burrows was 21°C. About 1m down it dips a little lower in the summer. In the winter months, it was pretty cool.

Again, the abundance of studies on the region, the behavior of the species, and everything I recall growing up in the hottest places on earth point to a reality where adult tortoises are most active at dawn and dusk in the high 60s to mid 70s. They avoid hot summer days by burrowing, and they burrow down deeper in the winter to find stable moderate temps coming out midday when the ambient is in the high 70s low 80s.

Maybe this post should be moved to the debate section.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
47,018
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Again, good points for the assumption that these tortoises—as adults—“live” in 85-90°+ weather that is oppressively humid. They exist there, but they are adapted to be virtually inactive until the temps come within tolerances much lower around dawn and dusk (another surprise, when predators are most active, the guy with a shield on his back is most active).

In their native range, they spend most of the day in deep winter burrows during the cold months and in slightly shallower holes during the summer. In either case, they appear active when temperatures are moderate. Their burrows tend to be in the 60-70°F range.




I had seen a post of yours @Tom that argued your burrow temps were in the mid-low 70s, and that your adults dug 15’ or something like that. That seems to support what I’m saying too. Maybe it’s too hot where you live and they got down there as deep as they could so they wouldn’t roast? That is how they live in their native range. There is a study on mole rat burrows that the average for 1’7” burrows was 21°C. About 1m down it dips a little lower in the summer. In the winter months, it was pretty cool.

Again, the abundance of studies on the region, the behavior of the species, and everything I recall growing up in the hottest places on earth point to a reality where adult tortoises are most active at dawn and dusk in the high 60s to mid 70s. They avoid hot summer days by burrowing, and they burrow down deeper in the winter to find stable moderate temps coming out midday when the ambient is in the high 70s low 80s.

Maybe this post should be moved to the debate section.
They live in a part of the world where daytime highs are typical around 100. Sometimes higher. Ground temps are 80-85. There is no 60-70 degrees underground where they come from. The only time they would see temps in the 60s is in a different climate than where they are from.

There is no "winter" where they come from. A cold winter day would be in the high 80s. Most days are near 100.
 
Last edited:

Myakoda

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
67
Location (City and/or State)
AZ.
Any animal that is native to the area between the tropic of Capricorn and the tropic of cancer, can be called "tropical". Most of wild sulcata territory is within that range. The books list what you listed and also "forest edge" as their native habitat. Here is what the books and websites don't say: Babies hatch at the start of the hot, wet, humid, rainy season. Puddles and marshes form, and the landscape turns green with an abundance of food. Think about the conditions on a 100+ degree day with frequent and recent rain, under heavy vegetation in the sun. THAT is what baby sulcatas hatch into. Think South FL or New Orleans in summer. Oppressive heat and humidity, if you are a human, but paradise for a hatchling sulcata. This is the type of environment they hatch into and live for their first few months. Not a dry open topped enclosure with 50-60% humidity shortly after spraying.

What about after the rainy season? The "dry" season. Two things: We had a member who'd lived in India for a while. In India, the "dry season" saw humidity between 60 and 80%. The "wet season" saw humidity between 80 and 100%. The terms "wet" and "dry" are relative and depend on your frame of reference. Thing number 2: Sulcatas spend 95% of their lives underground. Not topside in hot dry conditions. Underground where their poop and pee, plus vegetation that they drag underground keeps it much more humid, and the ground temps in the region hover between 80-85 all year long all the time.

This brings me back to: We humans sometimes have a skewed view of what "wild" conditions for a given species might be. Our idea of what they need, vs. the actual wild microclimates that they find, create and exploit are often two very different things. Given this fact, how do we know what to do? I propose we look at the results of different keeping styles for clues about what works best right here in ou own enclosures, right in front of our faces, every single day. Keep them dry, in an open topped enclosure, or outside all day, and they grow slowly and pyramid. Many babies die this way. All of us did it that way for decades because that is what we were taught. It was wrong. Some of us could see it was wrong by the results, and we took it upon ourselves to figure out what was right. By contrast, if you start them in a warm humid closed chamber and soak them daily, they thrive, grow much faster on the same food, and remain smooth, as they are supposed to. Many side-by-side experiments have proven this here at my facility, and literally thousands of people all over the entire world have duplicated this "experiment" with the same positive results.

This is why I say "Most of the info you will find out in the world on tortoises is wrong." For decades, all the books, vets, breeders, and "experts" all said the same wrong stuff. We all learned it and taught it to others. When the internet came on-line, websites were created and that same wrong info was continually shared all over the world. Only in the last 10 years or so, and only here on TFO is this new and correct info being shared. More is learned and shared continuously. We are trying to spread the word, but it has been slow to spread outside of this forum. People don't want to be told that they've been doing it wrong for 30 years, and that all those babies that have died in the hands of their customers weeks or months later, died because of their ignorance and mistakes they made/make when the babies first hatch.

Who should you listen to? Look at the results. Do you want a stunted, dry, pyramided baby? Or do you want a healthy, growing, smooth baby? I can tell you how to get either, because I've done it both ways for decades. The people who argue with this info have never done it "my" way. As soon as they try, the arguing stops. The results are obvious.
 

Myakoda

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
67
Location (City and/or State)
AZ.
Hi Tom, I wrote out a whole long reply, now it's gone. I want the best for Myakoda. I agree, humidity seems vital. I'm seeing this as I go on, and reading all the misinformation that's out there. I obsess over what I can do for her that's better. This is why I'm on here. I finally found some that know what they're talking about. I thank you for the advise, I've already taken steps to up her humidity levels. Thus far, she has a smooth shell. She's 6 months old now, so I feel I got here just in time. I've always kept her wet since we found her as a hatchling in the road. My husband thought I was over doing it, however by instinct, I thought she needed more dampness. I was right, however it still wasn't enough as I am now aware of. We did soak her everyday, despite what I read to soak 2 or 3 times a week. So glad I went with my gut feeling. Also I went by how she acted after her soaks, more active and alert. I told my husband we need to keep this up everyday. Then I brought her tank up to 50/60 humidity. So I thought that was good, nope! Then I read what you say, and X Ray--OPO as well, he's helped a lot too. I thought since her tanks up in humidity, we could soak her 3 times a week or 4. We're back to everyday again. We stopped the everyday for about a month. I swear, the info I got, ugh!! This guy I spoke to at an exotic reptile store said, oh no way. They need low humidity, and rare soaks. I said ha, no way. I was then super annoyed at all the uninformed crap. I even knew as an amateur that's not right. I called him out on it, because I didn't want him to tell others with Sulcata's this wrong info. He still disagreed with me! Anyway, the only concern I have with the high humidity is her getting a respiratory infection. Any info, advise regarding that issue etc.. would be great. Thanks. :)
 

Myakoda

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
67
Location (City and/or State)
AZ.
Hi Tom, I wrote out a whole long reply, now it's gone. I want the best for Myakoda. I agree, humidity seems vital. I'm seeing this as I go on, and reading all the misinformation that's out there. I obsess over what I can do for her that's better. This is why I'm on here. I finally found some that know what they're talking about. I thank you for the advise, I've already taken steps to up her humidity levels. Thus far, she has a smooth shell. She's 6 months old now, so I feel I got here just in time. I've always kept her wet since we found her as a hatchling in the road. My husband thought I was over doing it, however by instinct, I thought she needed more dampness. I was right, however it still wasn't enough as I am now aware of. We did soak her everyday, despite what I read to soak 2 or 3 times a week. So glad I went with my gut feeling. Also I went by how she acted after her soaks, more active and alert. I told my husband we need to keep this up everyday. Then I brought her tank up to 50/60 humidity. So I thought that was good, nope! Then I read what you say, and X Ray--OPO as well, he's helped a lot too. I thought since her tanks up in humidity, we could soak her 3 times a week or 4. We're back to everyday again. We stopped the everyday for about a month. I swear, the info I got, ugh!! This guy I spoke to at an exotic reptile store said, oh no way. They need low humidity, and rare soaks. I said ha, no way. I was then super annoyed at all the uninformed crap. I even knew as an amateur that's not right. I called him out on it, because I didn't want him to tell others with Sulcata's this wrong info. He still disagreed with me! Anyway, the only concern I have with the high humidity is her getting a respiratory infection. Any info, advise regarding that issue etc.. would be great. Thanks. :)
PS, I think higher humidity, = higher heat not exceeding 105? I need to get this right, I'm so anxious about it. I drive hubby nuts lol.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
47,018
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Anyway, the only concern I have with the high humidity is her getting a respiratory infection. Any info, advise regarding that issue etc.. would be great. Thanks. :)
Respiratory infections only happen when it is cold and wet. Keep the tortoise warm and it won't happen. Also, just to be clear, constant wetness isn't good. Damp substrate and higher humidity is good, but not all wet all the time. This is why the orchid bark is best. The lower layers can be kept damp to help keep humidity up, but the upper layers will remain dry-ish.

If you ever switch to a closed chamber, you'll be astounded at the difference. It makes it so easy for you, and so much better for the tortoise.

I was just like that pet store guy. I was taught the same wrong stuff that he was taught, and I repeated it back to customers just like him. When all the books, websites, vets, breeders and "experts" are all saying the same thing, it becomes pretty hard to refute. The problem was that all of them were wrong, and none of them could tell me how to do it right. It did it their way for nearly two decades with nothing but failure. It took a long time, many people and conversations, and a lot of puzzle pieces coming together to figure this thing out. People like the pet store guy haven't caught on yet. He'll call the breeder that he buys from and they'll commiserate and agree that you are a lunatic, and the babies they breed and sell will keep on dying and pyramiding. You've planted a seed. Some day, down the road, that seed will bear fruit. You will likely never see it. You may be the first person to tell him that stuff. Over time, others will tell him the same thing, and in time, he'll learn. Hopefully.
 

GoGamora

New Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Central CA
Ground temps are 80-85. There is no 60-70 degrees underground where they come from. The only time they would see temps in the 60s is in a different climate than where they are from.
I respectfully disagree. This is not true.

The region is narrow, but long. The mean annual temp for the whole region is 64F because temperatures swing dramatically. It could be in the 90s today, but that temperature will drop to 66F or lower before the Sun comes back up the next day.

These tortoises are most active at dawn when the temperatures are in the 70s. They are in burrows for the rest of the day when the temps are high.

They are at their most active during the rainy season when the temperatures can drop by 30F in winter when food is most abundant.

If you want to think in the context of a hominid, the Sahel is a wasteland similar to that stretch between Tucson and Phoenix and nearly as hot. For a tortoise that is out grazing before it gets hot or during the cool rainy winter, its not so bad. Again, your adults dug a burrow about 12' below the surface on a "mild" Summer day and you said it was still 76 or so down there. Did you go back down into that hole at 12AM or 2AM or 5AM? I don't know if they ever slept down there overnight, but they certainly would have in their native range and I have my doubts that it would be 80-85F.

On a side-note, as someone that's new I see a lot of panicked owners--one hijacked my post--and they are being told to keep nighttime temperatures at 90F+ or more. Oddly enough, there's a peer reviewed article that suggests pyramiding has more to do with excess heat treatment of enclosures overnight than humidity / protein. If you just think about thermodynamics and regulating temperature... pyramiding looks a lot like a heat exchanger in the way the surface area increases. Some suggest they need to be much cooler in the evening.

I think we have to agree to disagree.
 

Myakoda

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2020
Messages
67
Location (City and/or State)
AZ.
Respiratory infections only happen when it is cold and wet. Keep the tortoise warm and it won't happen. Also, just to be clear, constant wetness isn't good. Damp substrate and higher humidity is good, but not all wet all the time. This is why the orchid bark is best. The lower layers can be kept damp to help keep humidity up, but the upper layers will remain dry-ish.

If you ever switch to a closed chamber, you'll be astounded at the difference. It makes it so easy for you, and so much better for the tortoise.

I was just like that pet store guy. I was taught the same wrong stuff that he was taught, and I repeated it back to customers just like him. When all the books, websites, vets, breeders and "experts" are all saying the same thing, it becomes pretty hard to refute. The problem was that all of them were wrong, and none of them could tell me how to do it right. It did it their way for nearly two decades with nothing but failure. It took a long time, many people and conversations, and a lot of puzzle pieces coming together to figure this thing out. People like the pet store guy haven't caught on yet. He'll call the breeder that he buys from and they'll commiserate and agree that you are a lunatic, and the babies they breed and sell will keep on dying and pyramiding. You've planted a seed. Some day, down the road, that seed will bear fruit. You will likely never see it. You may be the first person to tell him that stuff. Over time, others will tell him the same thing, and in time, he'll learn. Hopefully.
Respiratory infections only happen when it is cold and wet. Keep the tortoise warm and it won't happen. Also, just to be clear, constant wetness isn't good. Damp substrate and higher humidity is good, but not all wet all the time. This is why the orchid bark is best. The lower layers can be kept damp to help keep humidity up, but the upper layers will remain dry-ish.

If you ever switch to a closed chamber, you'll be astounded at the difference. It makes it so easy for you, and so much better for the tortoise.

I was just like that pet store guy. I was taught the same wrong stuff that he was taught, and I repeated it back to customers just like him. When all the books, websites, vets, breeders and "experts" are all saying the same thing, it becomes pretty hard to refute. The problem was that all of them were wrong, and none of them could tell me how to do it right. It did it their way for nearly two decades with nothing but failure. It took a long time, many people and conversations, and a lot of puzzle pieces coming together to figure this thing out. People like the pet store guy haven't caught on yet. He'll call the breeder that he buys from and they'll commiserate and agree that you are a lunatic, and the babies they breed and sell will keep on dying and pyramiding. You've planted a seed. Some day, down the road, that seed will bear fruit. You will likely never see it. You may be the first person to tell him that stuff. Over time, others will tell him the same thing, and in time, he'll learn. Hopefully.
So I was thinking a Tortoise table. Is that a good one? If so, we'll get one, if not, what sort of closed chamber would you recommend? Also, with a closed chamber, where does the heat lamp, and UVB lights go? Oh lol, when I said wet, I meant soaking, I re- read that, I see what you saw. Ya, she wasn't wet all the time. Also I meant I sprayed her enclosure a lot. I have reptibark in there now. So I was going to get coco soil, however I will check out the orchid bark, perhaps I can mix them? So warm, humid, enclosed, new substrate? My husband works with a few people that have Sulcata's, I will be passing this info on for sure. I think I've done a better job as an amature. They feed there's stuff, I'd never feed Myakoda. So on to spread the word, also they keep them in way less humidity from what I've concluded from the info from hubby than Mya. Thank you, looking forward to what type of indoor enclosure you recommend, I always knew her taranium was going to be temporary, until I could research everything. I'm so glad I found the Tortoise forum! I know Myakoda will be even happier too. This is all I've wanted for her, it's about her. I love her, and want her to be healthy, happy, and live and grow to be a big girl. :)
 

Tom

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I respectfully disagree. This is not true.
Where are you getting this data? It contradicts everything I've read for temperatures in that region, and it also contradicts what I, and other keepers, have seen with regard to temperature regulation with hundreds of tortoises. I've been tracking the weather in that part of the world in several different cities that are near the areas where sulcatas are still said to occur in the wild since 2011 and there is no winter with 30 degree drops. Their winter is similar to my summers with daily highs around 100 and nighttime lows as low as the high 60s, but typically in the mid 70s, with their summer temps just hotter all around. Ground temp data from the area is 80-85 all year long with these daytime highs and nighttime lows which is similar to the ground temp data here in our deserts in summer from the US Geological Survey. @Markw84 has posted links in the past. Perhaps we can get him to share them here.

How do you know when the wild tortoises are most active in the Sahel? Many of us have studied sulcatas for decades and never found this info. What source of info on wild sulcata behavior and temperatures have you discovered that the rest of us have missed?

You keep mentioning what my tortoises experienced here in my burrows in North America. What does that have to do with anything? Its cooler here than it is in the Sahel. The temps between Phoenix and Tucson are only similar to the Sahel in our summers. The annual averages are completely different due to the lack of "winter" over there.

And again, whatever our perceptions and ideas about what is, or isn't, happening in the wild, it doesn't supersede the cold hard experience based facts about what temperatures work best for them here in our captive enclosure in North America.

Who is panicked? Who has told anyone to keep a tortoise at 90+ over night? No one here would say that.

We've seen all the pyramiding studies and refuted them one by one. Pyramiding is caused by growth in conditions that are too dry. Excess night heat in conditions that are too dry will cause more growth and more pyramiding. A tortoise kept cold and dry doesn't grow much, and so doesn't pyramid much either.

I don't know what the point of this argument is. If you want to read info off the internet and house your tortoise your own way, that is your prerogative. We've had this argument dozens of times here, we've done the experiments time and time again to prove what works best and what doesn't. We've raised hundreds of individual tortoise both the way you seem to think is right, and also in the way that we know know is right. In time, when you actually do the things you are talking about here, you'll see this too. You are questioning me and respectfully disagreeing based on info you've read on the internet. I'm disagreeing with your internet info based on first hand experience with 100s of my own animals that I've personally raised over three decades, and the experiences of thousands of people all over the globe actually raising tortoises with a variety of keeping styles and methods.

Go ahead and do your own experiments with a few dozen tortoise over the next decade or so, and then lets have a meaningful conversation about what you learn during that time.
 

GoGamora

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Where are you getting this data? It contradicts everything I've read for temperatures in that region, and it also contradicts what I, and other keepers, have seen with regard to temperature regulation with hundreds of tortoises. I've been tracking the weather in that part of the world in several different cities that are near the areas where sulcatas are still said to occur in the wild since 2011 and there is no winter with 30 degree drops. Their winter is similar to my summers with daily highs around 100 and nighttime lows as low as the high 60s, but typically in the mid 70s, with their summer temps just hotter all around. Ground temp data from the area is 80-85 all year long with these daytime highs and nighttime lows which is similar to the ground temp data here in our deserts in summer from the US Geological Survey. @Markw84 has posted links in the past. Perhaps we can get him to share them here.

How do you know when the wild tortoises are most active in the Sahel? Many of us have studied sulcatas for decades and never found this info. What source of info on wild sulcata behavior and temperatures have you discovered that the rest of us have missed?

You keep mentioning what my tortoises experienced here in my burrows in North America. What does that have to do with anything? Its cooler here than it is in the Sahel. The temps between Phoenix and Tucson are only similar to the Sahel in our summers. The annual averages are completely different due to the lack of "winter" over there.

And again, whatever our perceptions and ideas about what is, or isn't, happening in the wild, it doesn't supersede the cold hard experience based facts about what temperatures work best for them here in our captive enclosure in North America.

Who is panicked? Who has told anyone to keep a tortoise at 90+ over night? No one here would say that.

We've seen all the pyramiding studies and refuted them one by one. Pyramiding is caused by growth in conditions that are too dry. Excess night heat in conditions that are too dry will cause more growth and more pyramiding. A tortoise kept cold and dry doesn't grow much, and so doesn't pyramid much either.

I don't know what the point of this argument is. If you want to read info off the internet and house your tortoise your own way, that is your prerogative. We've had this argument dozens of times here, we've done the experiments time and time again to prove what works best and what doesn't. We've raised hundreds of individual tortoise both the way you seem to think is right, and also in the way that we know know is right. In time, when you actually do the things you are talking about here, you'll see this too. You are questioning me and respectfully disagreeing based on info you've read on the internet. I'm disagreeing with your internet info based on first hand experience with 100s of my own animals that I've personally raised over three decades, and the experiences of thousands of people all over the globe actually raising tortoises with a variety of keeping styles and methods.

Go ahead and do your own experiments with a few dozen tortoise over the next decade or so, and then lets have a meaningful conversation about what you learn during that time.
Your experiences are based solely on your own climate. That’s the problem. So when you say “ground temps stay x” all year long. That isn’t true. Soil density and makeup have a lot to do with that. Ground temperatures in the Sahel are no 80-85F year round.

It’s basic climate data available to anyone. You really are looking at all of the data like a diurnal species. When someone says the high today is X and the low is Y, you’re holding the X out as a constant in this argument. That’s incorrect. When you say “they don’t see temps in the 60s, that just is not true. It’s the end of winter right now and today’s low is 66°F in parts of Chad. Senegal is hot as anything in the summer but average day highs for winter are 78° and lows in the mid low 60s. There is an active tortoise preserve in Senegal...

The point of the argument is that you are discussing an area 5,000km long and 1,000km wife and cherry picking daily high temps and the highest average low somehow and holding it out as a fact of climate. I’m just saying, that it’s incorrect.

I don’t plan on killing dozens of tortoises. I don’t know why anyone would “experiment” but apparently they—you—have for decades? I don’t understand the point of that comment.

Do you guys really think Crepuscular tortoises, who evolved to be out when the predators are hunting, is out during the hottest part of the day in the Sahel? They come out at the cooler end of each day and spend their days in a cool slightly more humid burrow. That’s not even a debatable fact...

As for 30 lows in winter I did not say that. I said in the rainy season the temp swings 30 degrees lower, and it does. They are most active when food is abundant in that season. Again, available.

I appreciate experience, but your mileage varies. The Ojai sanctuary keeps them in a barn... they seem to be fine. Core temps in the 60s. The point being, climate takes adaptation. It’s 118° in Phoenix and you don’t see 90% of the wildlife outside of the dawn hours.

As for what’s read on the internet, every day people come here and read your advice on the internet.

You refuted someone else’s ground temp claims in the past by saying your 12’ below surface burrow was in the 70s. Why’d they have to get that deep if they love the heat so much? Was the burrow really in the 70s or did you probe it when you are most active and not take a mean temp over the year at three different times during the day?
 
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Markw84

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I respectfully disagree. This is not true.

The region is narrow, but long. The mean annual temp for the whole region is 64F because temperatures swing dramatically. It could be in the 90s today, but that temperature will drop to 66F or lower before the Sun comes back up the next day.

These tortoises are most active at dawn when the temperatures are in the 70s. They are in burrows for the rest of the day when the temps are high.

They are at their most active during the rainy season when the temperatures can drop by 30F in winter when food is most abundant.

If you want to think in the context of a hominid, the Sahel is a wasteland similar to that stretch between Tucson and Phoenix and nearly as hot. For a tortoise that is out grazing before it gets hot or during the cool rainy winter, its not so bad. Again, your adults dug a burrow about 12' below the surface on a "mild" Summer day and you said it was still 76 or so down there. Did you go back down into that hole at 12AM or 2AM or 5AM? I don't know if they ever slept down there overnight, but they certainly would have in their native range and I have my doubts that it would be 80-85F.

On a side-note, as someone that's new I see a lot of panicked owners--one hijacked my post--and they are being told to keep nighttime temperatures at 90F+ or more. Oddly enough, there's a peer reviewed article that suggests pyramiding has more to do with excess heat treatment of enclosures overnight than humidity / protein. If you just think about thermodynamics and regulating temperature... pyramiding looks a lot like a heat exchanger in the way the surface area increases. Some suggest they need to be much cooler in the evening.

I think we have to agree to disagree.
So much is incorrect here. Almost every point:

"The region is narrow, but long. The mean annual temp for the whole region is 64F because temperatures swing dramatically. It could be in the 90s today, but that temperature will drop to 66F or lower before the Sun comes back up the next day."

Seems to be a bit of confusion about the climate of sulcata territory. To say the mean annual temp for the whole region is 64°F is not even close. That is close to the mean lowest temp across the region. However, the mean average Temp is 82°. The best way to categorize the native lands of the sulcata would be the band across africa, just below the Sahara that falls between the 200mm and 800mm isohyets. That is where sulcatas were historically found. I don't have the room here to show all the data, but I'll show some samplings across that region and you can see how very similar the climate is across that whole band of Africa.

These tortoises are most active at dawn when the temperatures are in the 70s. They are in burrows for the rest of the day when the temps are high.

These tortoises emerge from their burrows typically when the sun hits the burrow. By 8AM the temp is normally already above 80°. They barely bask raising their body temps from the 82° of the burrow to the high 80°s they prefer. They are most active when temps are in the 80° - 90° range. When temps quickly climb above 90° they retreat to their burrows. In spring (the hottest time of year, the burrows themselves are often 90° even overnight.

They are at their most active during the rainy season when the temperatures can drop by 30F in winter when food is most abundant.

The rainy season is summer. Food is most abundant during the rainy season and their prime time is June through Oct. The increase in cloud cover during the monsoons cools summer temps from the oppressively hot spring temps that rarely drop below 80° on the "coldest" night.

Again, your adults dug a burrow about 12' below the surface on a "mild" Summer day and you said it was still 76 or so down there. Did you go back down into that hole at 12AM or 2AM or 5AM? I don't know if they ever slept down there overnight, but they certainly would have in their native range and I have my doubts that it would be 80-85F.

12" below the surface ground temperatures swing only 2°-3°F day to night. That swing is controlled by daily average weighted towards annual average. At 15 feet below surface the temperature only swings 4°-5°F around the average mean ANNUAL temperature. The burrows are often well over 8 feet deep.

Here's a snapshot of the temperatures of a tortoise nest just 7" deep in the full sun in July in So Calif. This is the temperature range similar to the most active time in the sulcata's natural range. Ground temperatures are affected by solar exposure, daily temperature and all moderated by the lower ground temperature that stays withing a few degrees of the average annual temperature of the region. Where this nest is, the average annual temperature is 62°. In sulcata's natural range it is 82°. Even so, we see on days where the temp has highs close to 100° and drops to the mid 60°s the nest temperature rarely will drop below 80°.

This is a cut of the full year so axis label doesn't show. The green bar is 60° to 70°, the red bar is 80° - 90°.

Tom's nest.jpg

Oddly enough, there's a peer reviewed article that suggests pyramiding has more to do with excess heat treatment of enclosures overnight than humidity / protein. If you just think about thermodynamics and regulating temperature... pyramiding looks a lot like a heat exchanger in the way the surface area increases. Some suggest they need to be much cooler in the evening.

This "peer reviewed" article has been discussed many times. Peer review actually was not favorable for this article. Too many variables were not considered. In that same room with temp drop automatically comes a substantial rise in relative humidity. The slower growth means less width of exposed keratin at the growth seams. This article's conclusion has been pretty much disproven.

As far as back-up for assertations with real examples, here is a sampling of real weather data for sulcata ranges.

If we look at Kassala, Sudan in the east, that is where the big sulcatas are found and historically quite a high density of sulcatas:

Kassala, Sudan.jpg
Going west to Chad, one of the remaining higher populations of sulcatas is found near N'Djamena and around the reserve at Lake Chad.

N'Djamena Chad.jpg
West further to Niger, probably the biggest exporter of sulcatas historically. In fact my first breeding pair of sulcatas we imported directly from Niger

Niamey, Niger.png

And the the more western part of the range where we still see sulcatas - Mali:

Bamako, Mali.jpg
 

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