Adopting Sulcata - Would Love Guidance

KarmicEnigma

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Austin, Texas
Hi There! I'm in a number of Facebook groups about Sulcatas and this forum was mentioned there, so I've been reading for a couple of weeks and feeling overwhelmed. You guys seem much more knowledgable, so I'd love some personalized guidance on how to do this right.

We have an acquaintance that has 2 Sulcatas, 4 and 5 years old. They are outgrowing their habitat so they are looking to rehome them. Despite knowing nothing about tortoises, we bought an acre of land a couple of years ago, so we're in a good financial and environmental position to adopt and commit to the long term needs of a Sulcata. After doing some research and seeing they are solitary animals, we are only adopting the youngest one. So I've been in manic research mode trying to prepare responsibly. We live in Central Texas - so mostly ideal weather with a few weeks of cold, only a few freezing nights per year.

Right now the sulcata is the size of the current owner's hand and has been living in a tortoise table (I think? Not sure, but it has outgrown their environment). Because we have the land, we thought we'd go ahead and move him outdoors because that would be better for him and we'd like for him to grow so he can enjoy his permanent habitat. LONG TERM - we have a 25x25 fenced in area (the previous owners used it as a dog run) that we will reinforce and make his permanent habitat. But because he's still small and subject to predators, this will be his interim home so we can keep it covered and protected.

I've read so much, I'm overwhelmed with information overload. I know I'll learn more once we bring him home and start raising him (with the help of this group!) - so for now we just want to make sure our setup is right so we can finally bring him home. We built this enclosure over the weekend as his interim home - maybe a year or two? I have a heat mat on the way for what few cold nights we have left, as well as a cuttlebone. I have lots of grass, dandelions and weeds growing on the property that I'll start with for food. Not sure what would be best to use for water - lid to a rubbermaid container or large terra cotta dish, maybe?

So I'd love y'alls help - what do I do from here? Here's some photos:

IMG-3261.jpg IMG-3262.jpg IMG-3265.JPG IMG-3266.JPG
 

bouaboua

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Here is a couple of thread for you to getting start:

Beginner Mistakes

Another Effective Night Box

And Welcome to the forum.
 

KarmicEnigma

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Thanks bouaboua! I've read both of those threads already and am sad to see the photos for the night box are no longer available. Still has a lot of helpful info, but photos really help me visualize how to make it a reality.
 

Tom

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Hello and welcome. Those FB groups are nothing but bad news from everything I've seen...

First and foremost: That little one is much too small to live outside full time. They need to be mostly indoors until they reach about 10". You'll need a large closed chamber, something around 4x8', to grow this baby up to the right size for living outside. You can also have an outdoor enclosure for fair weather, but best if the baby sleeps inside and has the warm, stable indoor enclosure for weather extremes in summer or winter. A heat mat used in that sort of open enclosure will not keep this tropical species warm enough.

When the time comes, you'll need a well insulated, sealed night box for the baby to use when it lives outside full time. Here is one example:
Half this size would work for a single tortoise. The enclosure you've made can work as a nice outdoor enclosure during fair weather, but be careful that the hide area doesn't get too hot as we move in to spring time. It probably will.

At 4 years old, a healthy sulcata should be 20-40 pounds under normal circumstances. This one has not been cared for correctly. Here is the correct care info:

Come back and ask all the questions you want after taking in all this info we've linked here for you. And stay of off FB and out of any pet stores. They will steer you the wrong way.
 

bouaboua

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You did your study looks like. That is wonderful. We also have one male sulcata.

This is him in 2013, when we just got him. Enjoy the sun.

IMG_0130.JPG

And this is today.

H2lSbEaESACjdqlOjSnkUQ.jpg

And leave this for me, at least once a week for me to clean.

bNjJJLShQZGh1Qh2I4B2EA.jpg

Have fun. I know you will.......Hahaha...
 

KarmicEnigma

New Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2020
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
Austin, Texas
Hello and welcome. Those FB groups are nothing but bad news from everything I've seen...

First and foremost: That little one is much too small to live outside full time. They need to be mostly indoors until they reach about 10". You'll need a large closed chamber, something around 4x8', to grow this baby up to the right size for living outside. You can also have an outdoor enclosure for fair weather, but best if the baby sleeps inside and has the warm, stable indoor enclosure for weather extremes in summer or winter. A heat mat used in that sort of open enclosure will not keep this tropical species warm enough.

When the time comes, you'll need a well insulated, sealed night box for the baby to use when it lives outside full time. Here is one example:
Half this size would work for a single tortoise. The enclosure you've made can work as a nice outdoor enclosure during fair weather, but be careful that the hide area doesn't get too hot as we move in to spring time. It probably will.

At 4 years old, a healthy sulcata should be 20-40 pounds under normal circumstances. This one has not been cared for correctly. Here is the correct care info:

Come back and ask all the questions you want after taking in all this info we've linked here for you. And stay of off FB and out of any pet stores. They will steer you the wrong way.
Thanks Tom! The fact that they have two sulcatas while living in a small home with little outdoor space tells me they probably weren't doing all they should have to properly raise these guys. After researching and deciding to only adopt one, the owner said they loved one another and hated to separate them. So again, I don't know they've done ALL their research. Which is why it's so important for me to get educated.

So we just dropped a couple hundred dollars creating the outdoor enclosure thinking that was the best way to go. Soooo, what's the cheapest temporary option for an indoor habitat so we can go ahead and rescue this little guy? I'd like to spend as little as possible since we aren't far away from moving to an outdoor habitat and that's where I'd really like to beef up our attention?
 

KarmicEnigma

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Austin, Texas

Tom

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Thanks Tom! The fact that they have two sulcatas while living in a small home with little outdoor space tells me they probably weren't doing all they should have to properly raise these guys. After researching and deciding to only adopt one, the owner said they loved one another and hated to separate them. So again, I don't know they've done ALL their research. Which is why it's so important for me to get educated.

So we just dropped a couple hundred dollars creating the outdoor enclosure thinking that was the best way to go. Soooo, what's the cheapest temporary option for an indoor habitat so we can go ahead and rescue this little guy? I'd like to spend as little as possible since we aren't far away from moving to an outdoor habitat and that's where I'd really like to beef up our attention?
That outdoor enclosure will be great for whenever the weather is nice. That won't be wasted money.

The cheapest way to do it indoors is to build something out of plywood and 2x4s. It won't last long with all the moisture, but you'll only need it for a year or two hopefully. Here is an example:
I bought these, but it demonstrates how to do it.
 

KarmicEnigma

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Joined
Feb 23, 2020
Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
Austin, Texas
That outdoor enclosure will be great for whenever the weather is nice. That won't be wasted money.

The cheapest way to do it indoors is to build something out of plywood and 2x4s. It won't last long with all the moisture, but you'll only need it for a year or two hopefully. Here is an example:
I bought these, but it demonstrates how to do it.
I'm not sure I can talk the husband into building something else. What about something like this? I feel like it's too small, but maybe it's exactly what I need for now? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VRY6X58/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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