Can i touch and play with my baby Sulcatas?

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Lana Dhaou

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We bought two sulcatas just four days ago, my little sister (7 year old) absolutely love to play with them and carry them, they seem ok but I'm afraid this will be bad for them, should I forbid her from doing so? Or is it ok and I can let her enjoy touching them? She's using gloves so I'm not worried about her I'm worried about the tortoises.
 

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I I wouldn't let her carry them around. But touching them or sitting with them on her lamp wouldn't hurt as long as it's not all the time. You could let her carry them to bring to the soaking tub/bowl, as long as you know she wouldn't drop them.
 

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Btw, as hatchlings toi might not see a problem right away, but tortoises should not be housed in pairs.
One will bully the other. When you see one following the other almost nonstop. Block the entry to a hide, sitting on the food so the other can't get it, etc, that is bullying and they need to be separated.
 

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We bought two sulcatas just four days ago, my little sister (7 year old) absolutely love to play with them and carry them, they seem ok but I'm afraid this will be bad for them, should I forbid her from doing so? Or is it ok and I can let her enjoy touching them? She's using gloves so I'm not worried about her I'm worried about the tortoises.
After they have had a couple of weeks to settle in and get used to the new routine, you can let her handle them some, but watch their habits and appetite. If they start hiding all the time or eating less, you will know she's handling them too much.
 

Lana Dhaou

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Btw, as hatchlings toi might not see a problem right away, but tortoises should not be housed in pairs.
One will bully the other. When you see one following the other almost nonstop. Block the entry to a hide, sitting on the food so the other can't get it, etc, that is bullying and they need to be separated.


Yes thank you for sharing, I already had information on that topic, they're currently not showing any sign, each one plays alone, eats alone, basks alone, and they sleep in different corners, if they do seem to be bullying, I'll separate the enclosures.
 
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Lana Dhaou

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After they have had a couple of weeks to settle in and get used to the new routine, you can let her handle them some, but watch their habits and appetite. If they start hiding all the time or eating less, you will know she's handling them too much.


We only bought them 4 days ago so not too much time, I'll make sure she treats them gently and when they've been here for a couple of weeks I'll let her handle them a little bit more, they're very tiny so her favorite thing to do is put them in the palm of her hand and watch them, I don't allow her to walk around with them, she carries them while she's sitting down, she's so obsessed with them 😅
 

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Yes thank you for sharing, I already had information on that topic, they're currently not showing any sign, each one plays alone, eats alone, basks alone, and they sleep in different corners, if they do seem to be bullying, I'll separate the enclosures.
Your making a big mistake not listening to the advice to separate them. As mentioned before bullying is not always observable.
 

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Fortunately I don't have small children, but I DO have a buncha animals. I am that person who does everything against what Forum members agree is a 'correct' way to keep chelonia, but believe me, you won't see bullying. YOU WON'T, until the bullied tortoise is too sick to bring back and dies. Please understand, you, in your heart, are thinking, "oh that's not me, I'll see the signs"; no you won't. And we are speaking from years of experience, please don't allow one of those babies to die before you believe us. Separate them now, don't wait until it's too late and one gets sick and dies. You say "I've already had information on that topic". Yet you got 2 tortoises anyway??? Please remember this conversation when a baby dies. Just sayin
 

Lana Dhaou

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Fortunately I don't have small children, but I DO have a buncha animals. I am that person who does everything against what Forum members agree is a 'correct' way to keep chelonia, but believe me, you won't see bullying. YOU WON'T, until the bullied tortoise is too sick to bring back and dies. Please understand, you, in your heart, are thinking, "oh that's not me, I'll see the signs"; no you won't. And we are speaking from years of experience, please don't allow one of those babies to die before you believe us. Separate them now, don't wait until it's too late and one gets sick and dies. You say "I've already had information on that topic". Yet you got 2 tortoises anyway??? Please remember this conversation when a baby dies. Just sayin


This person has lots of experience (he/she is a 10 year old member) and says it's ok, what do you think about that? (In this screenshot they weren't talking to me they were talking to another person, but they said in their reply that two sulcatas can live together peacefully) they are so cute, so we sit next to them all day until they sleep, and they've never showed a sign, today I literally looked at them for 12 hours straight, they're definitely not showing signs.
 

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This person has lots of experience (he/she is a 10 year old member) and says it's ok, what do you think about that? (In this screenshot they weren't talking to me they were talking to another person, but they said in their reply that two sulcatas can live together peacefully) they are so cute, so we sit next to them all day until they sleep, and they've never showed a sign, today I literally looked at them for 12 hours straight, they're definitely not showing signs.
You are looking for some external sign. There isn't one. This is all internal in their brains at this size. Whenever you put any two organisms together, one will be dominant and one will be submissive. The dominant one wants the submissive to leave, but it can't. The submissive wants to leave the territory of the dominant, but it can't. This creates stress for both of them. Chronic stress causes all sorts of problems, including suppressed appetite and weakened immune system.

You are not going to see one of them walk over and attack the other one at this age. If that is what you are waiting for, it won't happen. What you will see is one of them not growing as much, possibly hiding more, possibly more lethargic, and usually more pyramided. Many of them survive this way for years. Some don't. Its not good, and it shouldn't happen.

A divided enclosure can work as long as they can't see each other and their temperature and shelter needs are met.
 

maggie3fan

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This person has lots of experience (he/she is a 10 year old member) and says it's ok, what do you think about that? (In this screenshot they weren't talking to me they were talking to another person, but they said in their reply that two sulcatas can live together peacefully) they are so cute, so we sit next to them all day until they sleep, and they've never showed a sign, today I literally looked at them for 12 hours straight, they're definitely not showing signs.
It is very obvious to me and others you are gonna do what you want to do. I personally have about 15 years in my specialty Sulcata., my sister has over 30 years in turtle and tortoise rescue, Tom a revered member has 20 + years, and I could go on and on counting up the years of experience here. So in that pissing contest I win. Don't throw 'years of experience' at me. If that breeder is here why does he not come on and post about his hatchlings? That's a red flag to me. I'm backing out, this one is a lost cause
 

Lana Dhaou

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You are looking for some external sign. There isn't one. This is all internal in their brains at this size. Whenever you put any two organisms together, one will be dominant and one will be submissive. The dominant one wants the submissive to leave, but it can't. The submissive wants to leave the territory of the dominant, but it can't. This creates stress for both of them. Chronic stress causes all sorts of problems, including suppressed appetite and weakened immune system.

You are not going to see one of them walk over and attack the other one at this age. If that is what you are waiting for, it won't happen. What you will see is one of them not growing as much, possibly hiding more, possibly more lethargic, and usually more pyramided. Many of them survive this way for years. Some don't. Its not good, and it shouldn't happen.

A divided enclosure can work as long as they can't see each other and their temperature and shelter needs are met.


Ok, thanks, although it worked for many people to keep to together and I want to try so, I will listen to you because I don't want my torts to die or stress or face any problem.
 

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Ok, thanks, although it worked for many people to keep to together and I want to try so, I will listen to you because I don't want my torts to die or stress or face any problem.
It did NOT work for many people. Because their animals are still alive does not mean things were okay. It just means they survived. I've hatched and raised thousands of sulcatas. I've housed them and kept them in any way you can imagine over decades. Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of my first sulcata hatchling.

What you are seeing is someone who got two tortoises, did whatever they did, the tortoises survived, so now they get on the internet and say its fine because it worked for them. If that person sent years repeating this experiment, some percentage of their pairs would fail. If that person did side-by-side comparisons, as I have, with dozens of clutch mates over dozens of years, they would understand what works best and what doesn't and why.

Don't fall into the trap of looking for the answer you want to hear. The internet is a great place to find information, but a lot of that information is bad info and not founded in long term varied experience. I did it wrong for nearly two decades before figuring out what was wrong and why. The last decade has been spent on countless experiments and observations to learn more and more. I've tested many theories and disproven many old commonly held beliefs. Others have copied my experiments and gotten the same results, or done their own experiments and shared what they learned.

I understand your position. Who to listen to? So much conflicting info... Look at the background, experience, and success rate of the person you are talking to. Look at what their peers say about their results. Ask questions to learn more about the assertions made by anyone, and ask for them to explain why they make those assertions. Nobody here is selling you anything. We have no reason to lie to you or try to trick you. Our goal here is healthy tortoises and happy tortoise owners.
 

Lana Dhaou

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It did NOT work for many people. Because their animals are still alive does not mean things were okay. It just means they survived. I've hatched and raised thousands of sulcatas. I've housed them and kept them in any way you can imagine over the decades. Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of my first sulcata hatchling.

What you are seeing is someone who got two tortoises, did whatever they did, the tortoises survived, so now they get on the internet and say it is fine because it worked for them. If that person sent years repeating this experiment, some percentage of their pairs would fail. If that person did side-by-side comparisons, as I have, with dozens of clutch mates over dozens of years, they would understand what works best and what doesn't and why.

Don't fall into the trap of looking for the answer you want to hear. The internet is a great place to find information, but a lot of that information is bad info and not founded in long term varied experience. I did it wrong for nearly two decades before figuring out what was wrong and why. The last decade has been spent on countless experiments and observations to learn more and more. I've tested many theories and disproven many old commonly held beliefs. Others have copied my experiments and gotten the same results, or done their own experiments and shared what they learned.

I understand your position. Who to listen to? So much conflicting info... Look at the background, experience, and success rate of the person you are talking to. Look at what their peers say about their results. Ask questions to learn more about the assertions made by anyone, and ask for them to explain why they make those assertions. Nobody here is selling you anything. We have no reason to lie to you or try to trick you. Our goal here is healthy tortoises and happy tortoise owners.

Yes I believe you and ill separate the enclosures,you're right, I might be fallen into the trap of looking for what I want, I just really wished that would work out because its adorable to see two baby tortoises in one enclosure, I've seen pictures online and thought it's adorable so i decided to buy two, I don't regret buying two, they're both super adorable, what I regret is thinking I could put them together, the person who sold them to me said "they'll get lonly, you should definitely buy two, you can keep them together, its ok, see I have them together here in the store and they don't fight, its ok" and i believed, but it's apparent to me now that he, unfortunately, said that for money, I dont regret buying two cuties, but ill learn from others experience and seperate them, im glad i knew this information early on before accidents happen, (I only bought them 3 or 4 days ago) and I'm very glad I found people like you to guide me early on, thank you so much for all the help, don't worry, ill seperate, i was just hopin they could live together, but apparently they can't😔 its ok though! I can still enjoy them both! Just not in the same enclosure😄 one more question, when they're grown (10 year old or more) can the be kept together? Cause I've seen massive sulcatas live together, but again, I learned to not trust all sources, I trust you as a resource of course.😅😆
 

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This person has lots of experience (he/she is a 10 year old member) and says it's ok, what do you think about that? (In this screenshot they weren't talking to me they were talking to another person, but they said in their reply that two sulcatas can live together peacefully) they are so cute, so we sit next to them all day until they sleep, and they've never showed a sign, today I literally looked at them for 12 hours straight, they're definitely not showing signs.
I would like to point out that the screen shot you shared is from 2009. In the 11 years since, a lot of knowledge from research and experience has been gained regarding tortoise husbandry.I know that I am a better owner now than I was 11 years ago, but it is because I kept learning and researching and didn’t settle for what was convenient.
 

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Yes I believe you and ill separate the enclosures,you're right, I might be fallen into the trap of looking for what I want, I just really wished that would work out because its adorable to see two baby tortoises in one enclosure, I've seen pictures online and thought it's adorable so i decided to buy two, I don't regret buying two, they're both super adorable, what I regret is thinking I could put them together, the person who sold them to me said "they'll get lonly, you should definitely buy two, you can keep them together, its ok, see I have them together here in the store and they don't fight, its ok" and i believed, but it's apparent to me now that he, unfortunately, said that for money, I dont regret buying two cuties, but ill learn from others experience and seperate them, im glad i knew this information early on before accidents happen, (I only bought them 3 or 4 days ago) and I'm very glad I found people like you to guide me early on, thank you so much for all the help, don't worry, ill seperate, i was just hopin they could live together, but apparently they can't😔 its ok though! I can still enjoy them both! Just not in the same enclosure😄 one more question, when they're grown (10 year old or more) can the be kept together? Cause I've seen massive sulcatas live together, but again, I learned to not trust all sources, I trust you as a resource of course.😅😆
They can live together now and later in GROUPS. Its pairs that are the problem. They should never live as a pair.
 

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Can I keep them in the same enclosure with some sort of barrier in between? (The enclosure is big enough don't worry)

I agree with what the other members are saying. They don't always show signs of "bullying" one another, but it does happen a lot. Tortoises are solitary creatures who are actually territorial of their space. Putting a barrier won't stop them from being able to see each other, and still has the other's scent. Please take the advice of these members because all they ( and I as well ) want is for your torts to be safe and happy. Housing them together may be fine one day, and the next its not. You never know when one will make the other angry, or when its mating season, even the babies can be aggressive. Even as adults they should not be in pairs, sometimes groups are an exception, but generally they should be alone. We are not here to judge you, we just want you to correct this mistake.
 

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Sharing my experience that my small daughter is not allowed to hold our baby hermann.
I’m encouraging her to help in other ways.
She helped me plant seeds for Miguel’s food garden for ex. She waters some plants. She helps me pick fresh leaves from different plants in the morning, and regularly peeks into the enclosure to check on the food plate and make sure Miguel hasn’t flipped.
Sometimes Miguel will take the tip of a leaf from her hand, that gets her really excited.

I’m of the mind that the pleasure of having a pet is doing things right by it and getting to watch it thrive. Playing with a tortoise doesn’t come to mind.
So for us, only helping and attention that doesn’t involve touching the tortoise.
 

Helena F.

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Also you really shouldn't let your sister hold them. Honestly these guys are a "look don't touch" animal. If its necessary or when you have a tight bond, that is one thing, but generally, kids should not touch them. Kids are not reliable, and they get scared if the tortoise moves a certain way, or they lose their grip, and they will drop them. Also kids have tons of germs on their hands, and that can make a tort sick, especially as babies. Think of it the other way around too. Tortoises have a big chance of carrying salmonella. Kids will touch it, and then put their hands in their mouth and could get really sick and even die. It scares the babies, especially when they are in a new enclosure.

Here's an example of what happened from personal experience: when I was about twelve ( my tort was three) I would take him with me to a private beach to walk around on ( side note I know I shouldn't have done that. ) where there were no dogs or other animals. At the time I didn't know any better, and I let this little kid of about three touch my tort. He wanted to pick him up and his dad kept asking, so I gave in. The boy was standing in a pool of water, and he picked my little guy up. I started to get uncomfortable and ofc my instincts were right, because the boy dropped him. Thank god that he fell in the water, because he would have been so hurt. I never let any kid hold my tortoise again. It was 100% an eye opener for me ( even at 12 years old ) and I felt terrible. The point of the story is that it will happen if you let kids hold them, and you may not be so lucky as I was.
 
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