Help please! Trying to choose a 2nd baby Sulcata and hoping for opposite sex!

nikole

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Hi all! I'm hoping you guys can help narrow my 50/50 odds some on choosing a baby Sulcata... I know it's not possible to tell the sex of a baby tortoise but I'm hoping that having a group of "comparison" ones, it'll be easier to at least have a better guess of which one is the opposite sex than the one we have now.

The first pic two pix are the one we have now - the group tortoises are the ones we have to choose from. All are about 10 months old, if that helps.

Please please please, and thank you!!!
 

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zovick

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Hi all! I'm hoping you guys can help narrow my 50/50 odds some on choosing a baby Sulcata... I know it's not possible to tell the sex of a baby tortoise but I'm hoping that having a group of "comparison" ones, it'll be easier to at least have a better guess of which one is the opposite sex than the one we have now.

The first pic two pix are the one we have now - the group tortoises are the ones we have to choose from. All are about 10 months old, if that helps.

Please please please, and thank you!!!
Sorry to disappoint you, but all of the tortoises in your photos are way to young to sex visually. Several people on this forum who breed sulcatas say that they cannot be sexed until they are 10" to 12" in length.

Just pick one you like and hope for the best.

Another point, many people on this forum will tell you not to keep two of them together. Do you plan to set up two separate enclosures for the two tortoises? If not, you should read more posts on here about not keeping two together.

And finally, do you realize how big these sulcata will get? They are the 3rd largest tortoise in the world behind Galapagos and Aldabra Tortoises. Large adult sulcatas can be 200 to 300 lbs. It is a huge job to feed an adult.
.
 
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nikole

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Sorry to disappoint you, but all of these tortoises in your photos are way to young to sex visually. Several people on this forum who breed sulcatas say that they cannot be sexed until they are 10" to 12" in length.
That's kinda what I'm expecting but was hoping there'd be something there that would at least separate them out into two groups, even if didn't know which was which! lol Thanks for your reply!!
 

wellington

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I hope you paid close attention to the other part of zovicks post. About not keeping them in pairs and how big they get.
Also the new one should be quarantined from the one you have now if you still plan on putting them together.
They also need a closed chamber high humidity enclosure.
Please read all the info we have on housing and raising sulcatas.
 

nikole

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Another point, many people on this forum will tell you not to keep two of them together. Do you plan to set up two separate enclosures for the two tortoises? If not, you should read more posts on here about not keeping two together.

And finally, do you realize how big these sulcata will get? They are the 3rd largest tortoise in the world behind Galapagos and Aldabra Tortoises. Large adult sulcatas can be 200 to 300 lbs. It is a huge job to feed an adult.
.
Hi again, yes definitely aware of how big they get - my boss has a grown female that is huge, about 100 lbs. She got out of their fence last year and met up with a male in the neighborhood - what are the odds of that?! These are all the babies from her little outing lol

They are going to my dad's which will have plenty of room for roaming when they're ready. We can build them separate runs if needed when they get bigger but for now, they'll stay in the same enclosure (unless of course it becomes an issue). I've read that two males definitely should not be housed together so we know that will be an issue if they both turn out to be boys but I will do more reading it on it though, thank you.
 

nikole

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I hope you paid close attention to the other part of zovicks lost. About not keeping them in pairs and how big they get.
Also the new one should be quarantined from the one you have now if you still plan on putting them together.
They also need a closed chamber high humidity enclosure.
Please read all the info we have on housing and raising sulcatas.
Thank you, yes I just saw that, I think it was edited to add that after I replied the first time. All good on how big they get, they'll have several acres to roam and if we need to split it up to separate them, we can. They've all been in the same enclosure up until now and seem to get along well but I'm sure that has to do with how young they are. Thanks again for pointing this out - I'm sure there are lots of people that get into this without realizing those things!
 

zovick

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Thank you, yes I just saw that, I think it was edited to add that after I replied the first time. All good on how big they get, they'll have several acres to roam and if we need to split it up to separate them, we can. They've all been in the same enclosure up until now and seem to get along well but I'm sure that has to do with how young they are. Thanks again for pointing this out - I'm sure there are lots of people that get into this without realizing those things!
The fact that all the babies have been kept together is why they have been doing OK. It isn't because they are young, it's because there are more than two in the group.. A group of babies does better together than just two. Please see below.

Just to be clear, if you only have two, the tortoises still should be separated even when small due to the dynamics of having only two in the same enclosure. One will become dominant and one will become submissive (bullied). The submissive one will be under constant stress, not get to eat as much, and will grow more slowly. The things that two small tortoises do when kept together are frequently misinterpreted (anthropomorphized) by humans as being cute. Following each other around, one climbing on the other's back,, and "sleeping together", are just a few. Those actually indicate one of the two is trying to get rid of the other one. There are a plethora of threads on this forum about this exact situation if you look for them.

If you want to keep your smaller tortoises together, it is actually best for you to get 2 or 3 more so that the group dynamic is changed. With a larger number than two in the enclosure, any single one will not be bullied constantly and as a result the group members will do better than just two would.

In the end though, it is obviously your decision. I am simply trying to point out that just because they are small, two young ones will not actually get along any better than two adult males would, which seems to be your belief judging by your comment about how they have been together since they hatched.
 

nikole

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The fact that all the babies have been kept together is why they have been doing OK. It isn't because they are young, it's because there are more than two in the group.. A group of babies does better together than just two. Please see below.

Just to be clear, if you only have two, the tortoises still should be separated even when small due to the dynamics of having only two in the same enclosure. One will become dominant and one will become submissive (bullied). The submissive one will be under constant stress, not get to eat as much, and will grow more slowly. The things that two small tortoises do when kept together are frequently misinterpreted (anthropomorphized) by humans as being cute. Following each other around, one climbing on the other's back,, and "sleeping together", are just a few. Those actually indicate one of the two is trying to get rid of the other one. There are a plethora of threads on this forum about this exact situation if you look for them.

If you want to keep your smaller tortoises together, it is actually best for you to get 2 or 3 more so that the group dynamic is changed. With a larger number than two in the enclosure, any single one will not be bullied constantly and as a result the group members will do better than just two would.

In the end though, it is obviously your decision. I am simply trying to point out that just because they are small, two young ones will not actually get along any better than two adult males would, which seems to be your belief judging by your comment about how they have been together since they hatched.

Thanks so much - yes that was my presumption, because they were small. Based on what I have read to date, I do (think I) know definitively that males cannot be housed together but it was my understanding that females may be able to be housed together and maybe even a male with a female, at least until the males start looking to breed. I will be doing more research and had already expected to watch them to be sure no issues or move them when/if it started but appreciate what you've said here and will consider either getting another one now or just keeping them separate, which would certainly be the easier/cheaper route! lol

Can I ask you on the growth rate, any guess as to which grows faster in the first year? There were sixteen hatchlings and there's a quite obvious few that were/are larger (growing faster) than the others. They are all getting the same amount of food and are able to eat as much as they want and all of the rest of their environment has been the same. They are in an enclosure in the house so they're watched pretty consistently and there have been absolutely no signs of bullying or one not being able to eat etc. They are all really active with good appetites so there's no obvious reason why one group (of two remaining) has grown so much faster than the others (now down to four). The larger ones are all approximately the same size and the smaller ones are all about the same size also.

Could that possibly have to do with gender? I know there are no guarantees of course and any guess is just that, a a guess, but I'm just hoping to improve odds a little bit of getting one of each sex lol
 

Tom

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Hi all! I'm hoping you guys can help narrow my 50/50 odds some on choosing a baby Sulcata... I know it's not possible to tell the sex of a baby tortoise but I'm hoping that having a group of "comparison" ones, it'll be easier to at least have a better guess of which one is the opposite sex than the one we have now.

The first pic two pix are the one we have now - the group tortoises are the ones we have to choose from. All are about 10 months old, if that helps.

Please please please, and thank you!!!
There is no way to sex them when they are little. You can't tell until they are around 14-16, with the exception being that some males will "flash' their penis when they are still a little smaller than 14". Since not all males do this, it doesn't mean you have a female if you haven't seen a penis eversion yet.

Also, tortoises should never be kept in pairs. Groups of juvenile sulcatas can work, but not pairs.

Next thing I'd like to share is that most breeders do not start this species correctly. They treat them like desert animals and keep them too dry. If your breeder does not soak every day, doesn't keep them inside in a humid closed chamber most of the time, or doesn't use damp substrate and a humid hide, I would not buy from them. Outside all day is not good for babies. Soaking once a week is not good either. Dry substrate in combination with these other factors often results in kidney damaged hatchings which live for weeks or months before succumbing. Here is more about that:

Here is the correct care info:


Edit: I sent this reply hours ago, but it didn't go through due to the wonky internet where I am right now. Sorry for repeating what has already been said.
 

nikole

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Next thing I'd like to share is that most breeders do not start this species correctly. They treat them like desert animals and keep them too dry. If your breeder does not soak every day, doesn't keep them inside in a humid closed chamber most of the time, or doesn't use damp substrate and a humid hide, I would not buy from them. Outside all day is not good for babies. Soaking once a week is not good either. Dry substrate in combination with these other factors often results in kidney damaged hatchings which live for weeks or months before succumbing. Here is more about that:

Here is the correct care info:

Hi Tom, thanks so much for all of the info - I want to reply specifically to this about the breeders and the kidney damage. The person that had the hatchlings is not a breeder but instead an accidental owner of a bunch of hatchlings that she knew nothing about and had no idea what to do with them! Her Sulcata escaped the fence and by random chance mated with a Sulcata down the road before she got her back.

So because of that, the hatchlings almost certainly didn't get ideal treatment at first but we learned a lot as quickly as possible and made changes where it was needed. They are not outside, they are inside in a warm humid environment with heat lamps and they get soaked for about 15 mins 2-3 times a week although it's sounding like that may not be enough either? Is there anything to look for in regards to the kidney damage? The hatchlings are now ten months old and they all seem to be healthy, all are very active and alert with good appetites. Could that be why one group of growing so much faster than the other group? Is there anything we can do to address it without knowing for sure if it's an issue??
 

zovick

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Thanks so much - yes that was my presumption, because they were small. Based on what I have read to date, I do (think I) know definitively that males cannot be housed together but it was my understanding that females may be able to be housed together and maybe even a male with a female, at least until the males start looking to breed. I will be doing more research and had already expected to watch them to be sure no issues or move them when/if it started but appreciate what you've said here and will consider either getting another one now or just keeping them separate, which would certainly be the easier/cheaper route! lol

Can I ask you on the growth rate, any guess as to which grows faster in the first year? There were sixteen hatchlings and there's a quite obvious few that were/are larger (growing faster) than the others. They are all getting the same amount of food and are able to eat as much as they want and all of the rest of their environment has been the same. They are in an enclosure in the house so they're watched pretty consistently and there have been absolutely no signs of bullying or one not being able to eat etc. They are all really active with good appetites so there's no obvious reason why one group (of two remaining) has grown so much faster than the others (now down to four). The larger ones are all approximately the same size and the smaller ones are all about the same size also.

Could that possibly have to do with gender? I know there are no guarantees of course and any guess is just that, a a guess, but I'm just hoping to improve odds a little bit of getting one of each sex lol
In my experience, gender has little or nothing to do with growth rate. I would be more likely to think that perhaps the bigger ones are the more dominant ones which are eating more than the smaller ones even though that may not be evident to the people who have them.

They do grow quickly when kept in the right conditions! There is a recent post on this forum of a person with a yearling sulcata he got from Tom that weighed 2 lb. 14 oz. on its birthday March 7th, then 4 lbs in late April, over 5 lbs. on June 1st, and by June 29th was over 6 lbs. The owner thinks this one may be a female, though it is still early to tell. Here is a link to the thread: https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/thomas-is-one-year-old-today.190064/page-2
 

Tom

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Hi Tom, thanks so much for all of the info - I want to reply specifically to this about the breeders and the kidney damage. The person that had the hatchlings is not a breeder but instead an accidental owner of a bunch of hatchlings that she knew nothing about and had no idea what to do with them! Her Sulcata escaped the fence and by random chance mated with a Sulcata down the road before she got her back.

So because of that, the hatchlings almost certainly didn't get ideal treatment at first but we learned a lot as quickly as possible and made changes where it was needed. They are not outside, they are inside in a warm humid environment with heat lamps and they get soaked for about 15 mins 2-3 times a week although it's sounding like that may not be enough either? Is there anything to look for in regards to the kidney damage? The hatchlings are now ten months old and they all seem to be healthy, all are very active and alert with good appetites. Could that be why one group of growing so much faster than the other group? Is there anything we can do to address it without knowing for sure if it's an issue??
Daily soaks are a must for every species. I soak daily every day until they reach at least 100 grams. After that I'll skip a day now and then. By the time they reach 1000 grams, I'm down to soaking 3 times a week.

Following that care sheet will give all of them the best chance of survival.
 

Markw84

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Hi Tom, thanks so much for all of the info - I want to reply specifically to this about the breeders and the kidney damage. The person that had the hatchlings is not a breeder but instead an accidental owner of a bunch of hatchlings that she knew nothing about and had no idea what to do with them! Her Sulcata escaped the fence and by random chance mated with a Sulcata down the road before she got her back.

So because of that, the hatchlings almost certainly didn't get ideal treatment at first but we learned a lot as quickly as possible and made changes where it was needed. They are not outside, they are inside in a warm humid environment with heat lamps and they get soaked for about 15 mins 2-3 times a week although it's sounding like that may not be enough either? Is there anything to look for in regards to the kidney damage? The hatchlings are now ten months old and they all seem to be healthy, all are very active and alert with good appetites. Could that be why one group of growing so much faster than the other group? Is there anything we can do to address it without knowing for sure if it's an issue??
A lot of good information already posted. I will add however, that the tortoises you picture are quite small for 10 months old. I've raised 100s of sulcatas and the ones you picture look like a 2-3 month old in growth and size. So they do appear that they have been affected by a drier start. With proper care, they should start growing well. WHat you want to look for is consistent growth. If you see decent growth consistently, they are doing well. I would look for at least 10% added weight per month with a young sulcata. One's started properly in good conditions grow much faster than that.

With sulcatas, I have seen no correlation between growth rate and sex. There are a few species of tortoises I do find that - normally more in their 2-3 year. But with sulcatas, all my data shows no relation as to growth rate/sex what-so-ever. Males do get much larger than females, and what you see is that once sexually mature and at anywhere from 30-50lbs+the male will continue to grow at a faster rate while a female will slow down often. Especially if the female is beginning egg production.
 
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