For Those Who Have a Young Sulcata...

Twanderer

New Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2017
Messages
8
Over and over I type up and answer diet questions and try to get people feeding the right stuff, but I find that the "norm" is grocery store food. Grocery store food is expensive, a hassle to obtain, and very low on the list of what is best for sulcatas.

These tortoises are GRASS eaters. From the moment they hatch, until the day they die, grass should be a large part of their diet. Spring mix, romaine, kale and other greens are okay as a small part of a varied diet, but should not be the bulk of the diet. If someone must feed grocery store foods, the pile should be sprinkled with grass clippings or "Salad Style". For those who like the convenience of pre-packaged, easy to handle stuff, "Salad Style" is basically finely blended up grass hay that can be sprinkled over any other food to add bulk and fiber. I got my "Salad Style" from Tyler at tortoisesupply.com.

For those that have a lawn, or access to one: Get a tub, get some scissors, get down on your knees, and go to work! It is so EASY to cut a few handfuls of fresh, green, tender, young grass, and dramatically improve your baby sulcatas diet. Any kind of grass will work. Finely chop it for little tortoises and sprinkle it all over the other food, or feed it by itself in a pile. Do be careful about lawn chemicals and pesticides. If you have a gardener, or its not your lawn, use extreme caution. Live in a condo or apartment complex? Don't do it. Not worth the risk, no matter what they tell you. Just grow your own grass in pots on your patio or window sills. Friends, family and neighbors might be able to help you out here.

For those who still just love the grocery store: Most stores are now selling little plastic pots of live, freshly sprouted, organic wheat grass. You can find it at many pet stores too. This is a great way to add grass to the diet of a young sulcata. Get your scissors, hold the pot over the food pile and chop away. Water it and keep the pot in a window sill, and in a few days, you'll have more. You might need several pots as your baby grows, or you can buy seed from one of our site sponsors (Thank you Carolina Pet Supply) and sprout even bigger trays of it yourself.

Some of you may find that your "grass eating" tortoise wants nothing to do with eating grass. This should surprise no one, since most breeders and most keepers never even attempt to feed actual grass to their grass eating tortoise babies. So sad! I can tell you from first hand experience with literally HUNDREDS of babies, they WILL eat it. It may take a month or more to slowly introduce it, but PLEASE, slowly introduce it.

Other items that are good for babies and young sulcatas:
Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Geraniums
Gazanias
Lavatera
Pansies
Petunias
Hostas
Honeysuckle
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

Weeds:
There are soooooooo many...
Dandelion
Mallow
Filaree
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Nettles
Trefoil
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Clovers
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed
Hawksbit
Hensbit
Hawksbeard

Other good stuff:
"Testudo Seed Mix" from http://www.tortoisesupply.com/SeedMixes
Pasture mixes or other seeds from http://www.groworganic.com/seeds.html
Homegrown alfalfa
Mazuri Tortoise Chow
ZooMed Grassland Tortoise Food


When sulcatas get a little older and bigger, usually around 10-12" for me, they will start munching on plain, dry grass hay, all on their own. I like orchard grass hay the best for this, but I also used bermuda grass hay for years too. When they hit this stage, life gets MUCH easier. Just make sure you have drinking water readily available when they start eating hay, and consider soaking regularly if you are not 100% sure your tortoise is drinking enough, or if you live in a really dry area, like me.

I live in a desert and yet there is still green stuff all around me. I beg you to take a walk and learn about all the green stuff around you, INSTEAD of driving to the store again. Instead of a trip to the grocery store, take a trip to a local nursery for some weed IDs, and tips on growing your own stuff. What could be better than stepping out into your backyard and collecting all the free, healthy tortoise food you can carry? Think of the gas savings! Anyone who is a tortoise keeper, ought to be somewhat of a gardener too.

I beg of you... PLEASE stop the grocery store MADNESS!!! :D
Yea, I need to figure somethnig out because Mine is going through Numerous heads of Romain lettuce!!! He's 7 years old... And although lives in the back yard... never thought it was enough to sustain him.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
50,387
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Yea, I need to figure somethnig out because Mine is going through Numerous heads of Romain lettuce!!! He's 7 years old... And although lives in the back yard... never thought it was enough to sustain him.
I hope this thread helps and inspires you! :)
 

SherryV

New Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2020
Messages
2
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
Over and over I type up and answer diet questions and try to get people feeding the right stuff, but I find that the "norm" is grocery store food. Grocery store food is expensive, a hassle to obtain, and very low on the list of what is best for sulcatas.

These tortoises are GRASS eaters. From the moment they hatch, until the day they die, grass should be a large part of their diet. Spring mix, romaine, kale and other greens are okay as a small part of a varied diet, but should not be the bulk of the diet. If someone must feed grocery store foods, the pile should be sprinkled with grass clippings or "Salad Style". For those who like the convenience of pre-packaged, easy to handle stuff, "Salad Style" is basically finely blended up grass hay that can be sprinkled over any other food to add bulk and fiber. I got my "Salad Style" from Tyler at tortoisesupply.com.

For those that have a lawn, or access to one: Get a tub, get some scissors, get down on your knees, and go to work! It is so EASY to cut a few handfuls of fresh, green, tender, young grass, and dramatically improve your baby sulcatas diet. Any kind of grass will work. Finely chop it for little tortoises and sprinkle it all over the other food, or feed it by itself in a pile. Do be careful about lawn chemicals and pesticides. If you have a gardener, or its not your lawn, use extreme caution. Live in a condo or apartment complex? Don't do it. Not worth the risk, no matter what they tell you. Just grow your own grass in pots on your patio or window sills. Friends, family and neighbors might be able to help you out here.

For those who still just love the grocery store: Most stores are now selling little plastic pots of live, freshly sprouted, organic wheat grass. You can find it at many pet stores too. This is a great way to add grass to the diet of a young sulcata. Get your scissors, hold the pot over the food pile and chop away. Water it and keep the pot in a window sill, and in a few days, you'll have more. You might need several pots as your baby grows, or you can buy seed from one of our site sponsors (Thank you Carolina Pet Supply) and sprout even bigger trays of it yourself.

Some of you may find that your "grass eating" tortoise wants nothing to do with eating grass. This should surprise no one, since most breeders and most keepers never even attempt to feed actual grass to their grass eating tortoise babies. So sad! I can tell you from first hand experience with literally HUNDREDS of babies, they WILL eat it. It may take a month or more to slowly introduce it, but PLEASE, slowly introduce it.

Other items that are good for babies and young sulcatas:
Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Geraniums
Gazanias
Lavatera
Pansies
Petunias
Hostas
Honeysuckle
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

Weeds:
There are soooooooo many...
Dandelion
Mallow
Filaree
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Nettles
Trefoil
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Clovers
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed
Hawksbit
Hensbit
Hawksbeard

Other good stuff:
"Testudo Seed Mix" from http://www.tortoisesupply.com/SeedMixes
Pasture mixes or other seeds from http://www.groworganic.com/seeds.html
Homegrown alfalfa
Mazuri Tortoise Chow
ZooMed Grassland Tortoise Food


When sulcatas get a little older and bigger, usually around 10-12" for me, they will start munching on plain, dry grass hay, all on their own. I like orchard grass hay the best for this, but I also used bermuda grass hay for years too. When they hit this stage, life gets MUCH easier. Just make sure you have drinking water readily available when they start eating hay, and consider soaking regularly if you are not 100% sure your tortoise is drinking enough, or if you live in a really dry area, like me.

I live in a desert and yet there is still green stuff all around me. I beg you to take a walk and learn about all the green stuff around you, INSTEAD of driving to the store again. Instead of a trip to the grocery store, take a trip to a local nursery for some weed IDs, and tips on growing your own stuff. What could be better than stepping out into your backyard and collecting all the free, healthy tortoise food you can carry? Think of the gas savings! Anyone who is a tortoise keeper, ought to be somewhat of a gardener too.

I beg of you... PLEASE stop the grocery store MADNESS!!! :D
Tom, I have read that a sulcata over 1 year should only be fed 3 times a week, not daily? Do you agree with that thought?
 

glitch206

Active Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2020
Messages
207
Location (City and/or State)
Seattle, WA
I am setting up pots with grass to grow for my new incoming baby T.
I seen wheat grass is ok - I want to have something ready when he/she arrives. I luckily I have grass and weeds in my yard.
Is it ok to "transplant" a dandelion to the enclosure to help with humidity ? Probably in some container, and I can provide a new plant pretty much every day.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
50,387
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Tom, I have read that a sulcata over 1 year should only be fed 3 times a week, not daily? Do you agree with that thought?
No. Not at all. That is preposterous. That is old incorrect info from someone who still mistakenly believes that food causes pyramiding. It doesn't. In the wild they graze daily at will. Babies hatch in the monsoon season when it ir wet, rainy, humid, and there is green growing food everywhere. On their first birthday, those monsoons come back and they eat as much as they can in their second year too.

Any other information from the source that told you that should also be suspect. There is a lot of old, out-dated, incorrect info out in the world for this species.

Read this for the correct care info:
 

SherryV

New Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2020
Messages
2
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
No. Not at all. That is preposterous. That is old incorrect info from someone who still mistakenly believes that food causes pyramiding. It doesn't. In the wild they graze daily at will. Babies hatch in the monsoon season when it ir wet, rainy, humid, and there is green growing food everywhere. On their first birthday, those monsoons come back and they eat as much as they can in their second year too.

Any other information from the source that told you that should also be suspect. There is a lot of old, out-dated, incorrect info out in the world for this species.

Read this for the correct care info:
Thank You !!!!
 

Sue Ann

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2019
Messages
335
Location (City and/or State)
chapin , South Carolina
@Tom Dexter is 18 months old, 10 in. long, 5 1/2 lbs. I recently moved him outdoors full time. He is allowed to roam in a 40x44 ft fenced in area with a 4x4 heated night box. he is locked in every night at dark and released in morning between 7:30 and 9:00am. we feed him around 5PM after his daily soak.
how much food should we be giving him daily? Is evening the best time to feed? I wanted to encourage him to graze daily, but he seems to mostly like to got to his favorite plant and sit all day.
any advice about how to manage his transition to outside would be much appreciated.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
50,387
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
@Tom Dexter is 18 months old, 10 in. long, 5 1/2 lbs. I recently moved him outdoors full time. He is allowed to roam in a 40x44 ft fenced in area with a 4x4 heated night box. he is locked in every night at dark and released in morning between 7:30 and 9:00am. we feed him around 5PM after his daily soak.
how much food should we be giving him daily? Is evening the best time to feed? I wanted to encourage him to graze daily, but he seems to mostly like to got to his favorite plant and sit all day.
any advice about how to manage his transition to outside would be much appreciated.
No need to soak every day anymore, but it will do no harm if you want to.

I'd feed in the morning. Let him eat as much as he wants of the right foods. Now would also be a good time to introduce hay. I use a fast food restaurant type tray, put a layer of Bermuda or orchard grass hay on it, and put the food on top of that. Within a few months, they usually start eating the hay by itself.

His behavior will likely change with the weather.
 

glitch206

Active Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2020
Messages
207
Location (City and/or State)
Seattle, WA
This baby is going wild on weeds, some flowers and the grass. He really loves when the grass is stuck like it’s growing, same with the flowers. Yes he has a whole plate of small chopped pieces but seems like he really enjoys walking through the “garden”. 8D506752-FA52-484E-BE80-F4079FB22AE7.jpeg
 

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