Help with my Sulcata Tortoise

ToryTort

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
21
Location (City and/or State)
Liverpool:Merseyside
Hi all


I purchased a Sulcata Tortoise from what I thought was a responsible breeder, When purchased he provided me a small tort table with a bad fluorescent bulb.

I had done a lot of research before hand and read that it was ok to spray the terrain etc to keep the humidity up.

After doing a lot more reading on humidity I read that tortoises that have a dry start suffer later in life and should be kept in a glass viv.

This contradicts a lot that I have been told and read as most Sulcatas I’ve seen come with a table.

After reading this it worried me and I immediately contacted the breeder to see how he reared them only to find out he has reared them in a table.

Here is his response.


Breeder

Housed in TORTOISE table top with d3 lighting


Me

Don’t they need to be kept in a viv for their first year and kept humid ?


Breeder

No not sulcattas


That would be true of redfoots which I also sell



Me

I’ve read they are born in the rain season and need to be in a humid environment for at least the first year otherwise they have health problems later in life.

Then on the other hand i am told to keep them in a table in basically a dry arid environment.

I’m a little confused.


Breeder

In the UK breeders do both it doesn't honestly make much difference as they are UK bred.


This has made me more alarmed, I can’t find no information to deny or confirm if uk bred tortoises don’t need to be kept humid.

I can’t see it being true but wondered if anyone else has heard this.

I am extremely worried about him, since I’ve had him he seems completely healthy and happy.


I purchased him when he was 6 months old he is now 10 months old.

He is 3.2 inches in shell length

And 140 grams


My questions are.


Does my tortoise look healthy ?


Is he small for his age ?


Are the bumps on his shell early signs of pyramiding ?


Is it true or false that Sulcata Tortoises basically adapt when bred in the UK ?


Is a dry start irreversible, If not how likely is it that he will have problems.


Thank you very much if you made it to then end.

I just don’t want anything to happen to him, especially as the whole family love him so much.

I really appreciate any feedback and if any who has a lot of experience share some guidance.


At the moment he is in a large bookcase we have converted to a tort table.

He is in coco coir terrain with a layer of Timothy hay on part “ he sleeps in this and never in his house” he had a hide with spag moss soaked daily, we also mist him and his terrain a lot each day.

Soaked for 20 mins every other day although sometimes twice per week

He uses his cuttlefish, I also have a calcium supplement at hand.

He eats a lot of weeds dandelions etc. He isn’t keen on grass unless I chop it and mix it with other chopped greens.

I try to keep to the 80% Grasses 20% weeds ratio.

He has treats now and then but not many.

A06AD52F-AF1C-4614-A5C6-753D8CAF0B9E.png
 

Yvonne G

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10 Year Member!
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Messages
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The new growth on your baby (the spaces between the scutes) seems very dry and cracked. Also he seems quite small for his age.

All I know is Tom (who wrote most of our care sheets) had been in contact with Tomas Diagne (sp?) who has a sulcata enclave in Africa where he studies sulcatas and is trying to keep them from going extinct in their native range. Mr. Diagne informed us that sulcatas hatch during the monsoon season.

It doesn't matter if they were hatched in the UK, the U.S. or in Africa. They have evolved to live in a very warm, wet environment during their first year.

Our Tom did extensive experiments with his hatchling sulcatas several years ago and he learned that sulcatas grow nice smooth shells if kept in a humid, warm environment during their first year, while the hatchlings he raised in open-topped tables grew pyramided.
 
Last edited:

Miscally

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Joined
Jun 23, 2017
Messages
248
Hi all


I purchased a Sulcata Tortoise from what I thought was a responsible breeder, When purchased he provided me a small tort table with a bad fluorescent bulb.

I had done a lot of research before hand and read that it was ok to spray the terrain etc to keep the humidity up.

After doing a lot more reading on humidity I read that tortoises that have a dry start suffer later in life and should be kept in a glass viv.

This contradicts a lot that I have been told and read as most Sulcatas I’ve seen come with a table.

After reading this it worried me and I immediately contacted the breeder to see how he reared them only to find out he has reared them in a table.

Here is his response.


Breeder

Housed in TORTOISE table top with d3 lighting


Me

Don’t they need to be kept in a viv for their first year and kept humid ?


Breeder

No not sulcattas


That would be true of redfoots which I also sell



Me

I’ve read they are born in the rain season and need to be in a humid environment for at least the first year otherwise they have health problems later in life.

Then on the other hand i am told to keep them in a table in basically a dry arid environment.

I’m a little confused.


Breeder

In the UK breeders do both it doesn't honestly make much difference as they are UK bred.


This has made me more alarmed, I can’t find no information to deny or confirm if uk bred tortoises don’t need to be kept humid.

I can’t see it being true but wondered if anyone else has heard this.

I am extremely worried about him, since I’ve had him he seems completely healthy and happy.


I purchased him when he was 6 months old he is now 10 months old.

He is 3.2 inches in shell length

And 140 grams


My questions are.


Does my tortoise look healthy ?


Is he small for his age ?


Are the bumps on his shell early signs of pyramiding ?


Is it true or false that Sulcata Tortoises basically adapt when bred in the UK ?


Is a dry start irreversible, If not how likely is it that he will have problems.


Thank you very much if you made it to then end.

I just don’t want anything to happen to him, especially as the whole family love him so much.

I really appreciate any feedback and if any who has a lot of experience share some guidance.


At the moment he is in a large bookcase we have converted to a tort table.

He is in coco coir terrain with a layer of Timothy hay on part “ he sleeps in this and never in his house” he had a hide with spag moss soaked daily, we also mist him and his terrain a lot each day.

Soaked for 20 mins every other day although sometimes twice per week

He uses his cuttlefish, I also have a calcium supplement at hand.

He eats a lot of weeds dandelions etc. He isn’t keen on grass unless I chop it and mix it with other chopped greens.

I try to keep to the 80% Grasses 20% weeds ratio.

He has treats now and then but not many.

View attachment 276403
I'm also in the UK and I know that my UK bred sulcata has done so much better since I found this forum and moved him into a humid Viv and now a big enclosed house we built ourselves. Please, please follow the care sheets here, it really is the best place to get advice and to help you have a happy, healthy tortoise.
 

ToryTort

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
21
Location (City and/or State)
Liverpool:Merseyside
The new growth on your baby (the spaces between the scutes) seems very dry and cracked. Also he seems quite small for his age.

All I know is Tom (who wrote most of our care sheets) had been in contact with Tomas Diagne (sp?) who has a sulcata enclave in Africa where he studies sulcatas and is trying to keep them from going extinct in their native range. Mr. Diagne informed us that sulcatas hatch during the monsoon season.

It doesn't matter if they were hatched in the UK, the U.S. or in Africa. They have evolved to live in a very warm, wet environment during their first year.

Our Tom did extensive experiments with his hatchling sulcatas several years ago and he learned that sulcatas grow nice smooth shells if kept in a humid, warm environment during their first year, while the hatchlings he raised in open-topped tables grew pyramided.
Thanks for your reply. Do you know what the raised line is going down his back.
I have been trying to follow the care sheets and keep him humid, as you know there’s a lot of conflicting information and a lot of it.
I thought best to take a pic of him dry so you could all see the shell at its very worst looking.
Do you think it is to late for him as the damage is already done.
I am worried about him dying more than anything as I’ve read a few horror stories.
 

Ben02

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2018
Messages
1,842
Location (City and/or State)
Brighton, Southcoast, UK
Thanks for your reply. Do you know what the raised line is going down his back.
I have been trying to follow the care sheets and keep him humid, as you know there’s a lot of conflicting information and a lot of it.
I thought best to take a pic of him dry so you could all see the shell at its very worst looking.
Do you think it is to late for him as the damage is already done.
I am worried about him dying more than anything as I’ve read a few horror stories.
I like your willingness to make things right, it’s not your fault anyway, we all started from somewhere and we all make mistakes. The mistakes I’ve made in the past has definitely made me a better animal keeper.

So one thing that I need to make clear to you, your tortoise is not necessarily going to die, not all hatchlings die from being raised dry. As long as you follow all the advice given above, which sounds like you are going to do. Your tortoise should be soaked everyday in Luke warm water up to the underside of his shell for 30-45 mins.

Is he putting on any weight at all?
 

ToryTort

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
21
Location (City and/or State)
Liverpool:Merseyside
The new growth on your baby (the spaces between the scutes) seems very dry and cracked. Also he seems quite small for his age.

All I know is Tom (who wrote most of our care sheets) had been in contact with Tomas Diagne (sp?) who has a sulcata conclave in Africa where he studies sulcatas and is trying to keep them from going extinct in their native range. Mr. Diagne informed us that sulcatas hatch during the monsoon season.

It doesn't matter if they were hatched in the UK, the U.S. or in Africa. They have evolved to live in a very warm, wet environment during their first year.

Our Tom did extensive experiments with his hatchling sulcatas several years ago and he learned that sulcatas grow nice smooth shells if kept in a humid, warm environment during their first year, while the hatchlings he raised in open-topped tables grew pyramided.
Here are more photos

9977DDA1-AEBC-431A-B602-3F50EEDDD0FC.jpeg C95C5411-652A-46C6-B8D5-D0EC78BF6852.jpeg BF5C613C-3874-4F73-B014-5216945DCC47.jpeg D4C79F28-0C24-4379-9034-92EF10E2DCD9.jpeg
 

ToryTort

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
21
Location (City and/or State)
Liverpool:Merseyside
I like your willingness to make things right, it’s not your fault anyway, we all started from somewhere and we all make mistakes. The mistakes I’ve made in the past has definitely made me a better animal keeper.

So one thing that I need to make clear to you, your tortoise is not necessarily going to die, not all hatchlings die from being raised dry. As long as you follow all the advice given above, which sounds like you are going to do. Your tortoise should be soaked everyday in Luke warm water up to the underside of his shell for 30-45 mins.

Is he putting on any weight at all?
Thanks for your reply, it’s reassuring. I have a few notes in my phone of his weight.

103 grams 22/4/2019


112g 13/06/19


114g 11/07/19
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
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Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
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Thanks for your reply. Do you know what the raised line is going down his back.
I have been trying to follow the care sheets and keep him humid, as you know there’s a lot of conflicting information and a lot of it.
I thought best to take a pic of him dry so you could all see the shell at its very worst looking.
Do you think it is to late for him as the damage is already done.
I am worried about him dying more than anything as I’ve read a few horror stories.
A tortoise's spine is fused to the underside of the top shell. That's what you're seeing.
 

ToryTort

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
21
Location (City and/or State)
Liverpool:Merseyside
I'm very happy about that, weight gain is a good thing even if it is a little bit. Does he eat well?
Not really, He has a fair bit in the morning, I put a pile about the same size as him out, he eats a bit over half.
The rest of the day I have to entice him with red by chopping red rose petals with hibiscus grass and dandelion leaves etc.
It’s like he homes in on anything red, other wise he is very picky, He sniffs the food a lot and picks out what he likes unless I chop it all up and mix it.
 

Miscally

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Messages
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Not really, He has a fair bit in the morning, I put a pile about the same size as him out, he eats a bit over half.
The rest of the day I have to entice him with red by chopping red rose petals with hibiscus grass and dandelion leaves etc.
It’s like he homes in on anything red, other wise he is very picky, He sniffs the food a lot and picks out what he likes unless I chop it all up and mix it.
They can be fussy but keep going with the good things and he'll gradually start to eat more variety of grasses and weeds. Rose petals are a good treat [emoji4] [emoji257]
 

Ben02

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2018
Messages
1,842
Location (City and/or State)
Brighton, Southcoast, UK
Not really, He has a fair bit in the morning, I put a pile about the same size as him out, he eats a bit over half.
The rest of the day I have to entice him with red by chopping red rose petals with hibiscus grass and dandelion leaves etc.
It’s like he homes in on anything red, other wise he is very picky, He sniffs the food a lot and picks out what he likes unless I chop it all up and mix it.
He sounds like a little naughty tortie to me:D
 

Donna Albu

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 15, 2014
Messages
69
He sounds like a little naughty tortie to me:D
He's beautiful! I miss those days with tiny sulcatas! I would recommend that you take a fresh poop sample to a vet for a fecal float. Parasites are pretty common, and they will sap the nutrients contributing to his not growing as quickly as he would being parasite free. If he does have parasites, ask the reptile vet if he/she would administer the two doses of medication. It tastes bad, and when you mix it with their food, they pretty much stop eating altogether.
 
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