How do I get my Sulcatas to eat grass?

abissnails

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When I bought my first Sulcata I read that they were mainly grass eaters. So I just pulled some from our lawn (we do not spray any pesticides). I feed it grass mixed with a spring mixture, but it always avoided the grass. I just got 3 other Sulcatas and they all avoid grass!! So my questions are, is the spring mixture I feed them enough? Is grass necessary to a Sulcatas diet? If so, what does the grass do to help Sulcatas? How do I get my Sulcatas to eat grass?!? Should I buy a certain type of grass specifically for Sulcatas?
 

iAmCentrochelys sulcata

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One is 4 months old and the others are 2 months old.
When they are young they don’t Eat grass, they’ll rather not even look at it. You’ll just need to start adding grass into their diet slowly, cut the grass small and add them to what you feed them.
What do you feed your Tortoises?
 

abissnails

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When they are young they don’t Eat grass, they’ll rather not even look at it. You’ll just need to start adding grass into their diet slowly, cut the grass small and add them to what you feed them.
What do you feed your Tortoises?
I feed my tortoises spring mix (baby lettuce, baby greens, radicchio), arugula, and some Romain lettuce from our garden. They also get a little treat once a week or once every other week of opuntia cactus or fruit (usually strawberries and watermelon). I also spray there food once a week with calcium. Also thanks for the help with the grass I was worried it would effect there health.😊
 

Maro2Bear

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Yep, as noted above. You just need to keep getting handfuls of grass & other weeds, cut it up into small sections and mix well with the other greens you are feeding. Do it all the time, just keep cutting back on the greens & focus more and more grass. I used to get a big pile of grass, put your salad mix on top & mix some all in as well They eventually figure out that grass is a food group too. Don’t give up - you will want them eating more and more green grass, and eventually dry orchard grass. Especially when it’s Winter & you have hungry hungry Sulcatas wanting food!

ps - it’s best to leave out the treats like the strawberries & watermelon that you are providing. They arent built to process sugars.
 

Tom

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One is 4 months old and the others are 2 months old.
Mark's advice is spot on.

I would add that most breeders, sadly, do not take the time to introduce grass to baby sulcatas. This is a terrible shame and disservice to them. Regular mature lawn grass is too tough and stiff for babies. You need freshly sprouted tender young grass for a baby tortoise, and you need to finely chop it into small pieces to mix in with the other foods. Start with tiny tiny amounts at first, and keep doing this with every meal, and they will eventually begin to eat more and more of it.

If you must use grocery store foods, even home grown grocery store type foods, you need to be amending it.

Feeding:
So much contradictory info on this subject. Its simple. What do they eat in the wild. Grass, weeds, leaves, flowers, and succulents. Feed them a huge variety of these things, and you'll have a healthy tortoise. All of these species are very adaptable when it comes to diet and there is a very large margin of error, and many ways to do it right. What if you don't have this sort of "natural" tortoise food available for part of each year because you are in the snow? You will have no choice but to buy grocery store food. What's wrong with grocery store food? It tends to lack fiber, some items are low in calcium or have a poor calcium to phosphorous ratio, and some items have deleterious compounds in them. All of these short comings can be improved with some simple supplementation and amendments. A pinch of calcium two times per week will help fix that problem. You can also leave cuttle bone in the enclosure, so your tortoise can self-regulate its own calcium intake. What about fiber? Soaked horse hay pellets, soaked ZooMed Grassland pellets, Mazuri tortoise chow, "Salad style", "Herbal Hay" both from @TylerStewart and his lovely wife Sarah at Tortoisesupply.com, or many of the dried plants and leaves available from Will @Kapidolo Farms. If you must use grocery store foods, favor endive and escarole as your main staples. Add in arugula, cilantro, kale, collard, mustard and turnip greens, squash leaves, spring mix, romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, water cress, carrot tops, celery tops, bok choy, and whatever other greens you can find. If you mix in some of the aforementioned amendments, these grocery store foods will offer plants of variety and fiber and be able to meet your tortoises nutritional needs just fine. I find it preferable to grab a few grapevine or mulberry leaves, or a handful of mallow and clover, or some broadleaf plantain leaves and some grass, but with the right additions, grocery store stuff is fine too. Grow your own stuff, or find it around you when possible. Tyler and Sarah also sell a fantastic Testudo seed mix that is great for ALL tortoise species and also super easy to grow in pots, trays, raised garden beds, or in outdoor tortoise enclosures. When that isn't possible, add a wide variety of good stuff to your grocery store greens to make them better.

Supplements:
I recommend you keep cuttle bone available all the time. Some never use it and some munch on it regularly. Some of mine will go months without touching it, and then suddenly eat the whole thing in a day or two. A great diet is paramount, but it is still a good idea to give them some extra calcium regularly. I use a tiny pinch of RepCal or ZooMed plain old calcium carbonate twice a week. Much discussion has been given to whether or not they need D3 in their calcium supplement. Personally, I don't think it matters. Every tortoise should be getting adequate UV exposure one way or another, so they should be able to make their own D3. I also like to use a mineral supplement. "MinerAll" is my current brand of choice. It seems to help those tortoises that like to swallow pebbles and rocks. It is speculated that some tortoise eat rocks or substrate due to a mineral deficiency or imbalance. Whatever the reason, "MinerAll" seems to stop it or prevent it. Finally, I like to use a reptile vitamin supplement once a week, to round out any hidden deficiencies that may be in my diet over the course of a year.

Is spring mix enough. No. Not even close.

Is grass necessary? No. They can survive without it. But its still very good for them. It adds fiber to the diet, and it is what they are designed to eat.

When they are older they will happily eat any kind of grass, and grass hay too. This will save you when they start to gain some size. As babies, you need to find them tender soft young grass. They sell little plots of sprouted wheat grass at pet shops and some grocery stores. If you keep it watered and in a window sill, you can get 8 or 9 cuttings from one $3 plot. I've never tried to re-pot it, but I bet that would give you even more cuttings.
 

abissnails

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Yep, as noted above. You just need to keep getting handfuls of grass & other weeds, cut it up into small sections and mix well with the other greens you are feeding. Do it all the time, just keep cutting back on the greens & focus more and more grass. I used to get a big pile of grass, put your salad mix on top & mix some all in as well They eventually figure out that grass is a food group too. Don’t give up - you will want them eating more and more green grass, and eventually dry orchard grass. Especially when it’s Winter & you have hungry hungry Sulcatas wanting food!

ps - it’s best to leave out the treats like the strawberries & watermelon that you are providing. They arent built to process sugars.
Okay, that’s good to know. Thanks 😊.
 

abissnails

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Mark's advice is spot on.

I would add that most breeders, sadly, do not take the time to introduce grass to baby sulcatas. This is a terrible shame and disservice to them. Regular mature lawn grass is too tough and stiff for babies. You need freshly sprouted tender young grass for a baby tortoise, and you need to finely chop it into small pieces to mix in with the other foods. Start with tiny tiny amounts at first, and keep doing this with every meal, and they will eventually begin to eat more and more of it.

If you must use grocery store foods, even home grown grocery store type foods, you need to be amending it.

Feeding:
So much contradictory info on this subject. Its simple. What do they eat in the wild. Grass, weeds, leaves, flowers, and succulents. Feed them a huge variety of these things, and you'll have a healthy tortoise. All of these species are very adaptable when it comes to diet and there is a very large margin of error, and many ways to do it right. What if you don't have this sort of "natural" tortoise food available for part of each year because you are in the snow? You will have no choice but to buy grocery store food. What's wrong with grocery store food? It tends to lack fiber, some items are low in calcium or have a poor calcium to phosphorous ratio, and some items have deleterious compounds in them. All of these short comings can be improved with some simple supplementation and amendments. A pinch of calcium two times per week will help fix that problem. You can also leave cuttle bone in the enclosure, so your tortoise can self-regulate its own calcium intake. What about fiber? Soaked horse hay pellets, soaked ZooMed Grassland pellets, Mazuri tortoise chow, "Salad style", "Herbal Hay" both from @TylerStewart and his lovely wife Sarah at Tortoisesupply.com, or many of the dried plants and leaves available from Will @Kapidolo Farms. If you must use grocery store foods, favor endive and escarole as your main staples. Add in arugula, cilantro, kale, collard, mustard and turnip greens, squash leaves, spring mix, romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, water cress, carrot tops, celery tops, bok choy, and whatever other greens you can find. If you mix in some of the aforementioned amendments, these grocery store foods will offer plants of variety and fiber and be able to meet your tortoises nutritional needs just fine. I find it preferable to grab a few grapevine or mulberry leaves, or a handful of mallow and clover, or some broadleaf plantain leaves and some grass, but with the right additions, grocery store stuff is fine too. Grow your own stuff, or find it around you when possible. Tyler and Sarah also sell a fantastic Testudo seed mix that is great for ALL tortoise species and also super easy to grow in pots, trays, raised garden beds, or in outdoor tortoise enclosures. When that isn't possible, add a wide variety of good stuff to your grocery store greens to make them better.

Supplements:
I recommend you keep cuttle bone available all the time. Some never use it and some munch on it regularly. Some of mine will go months without touching it, and then suddenly eat the whole thing in a day or two. A great diet is paramount, but it is still a good idea to give them some extra calcium regularly. I use a tiny pinch of RepCal or ZooMed plain old calcium carbonate twice a week. Much discussion has been given to whether or not they need D3 in their calcium supplement. Personally, I don't think it matters. Every tortoise should be getting adequate UV exposure one way or another, so they should be able to make their own D3. I also like to use a mineral supplement. "MinerAll" is my current brand of choice. It seems to help those tortoises that like to swallow pebbles and rocks. It is speculated that some tortoise eat rocks or substrate due to a mineral deficiency or imbalance. Whatever the reason, "MinerAll" seems to stop it or prevent it. Finally, I like to use a reptile vitamin supplement once a week, to round out any hidden deficiencies that may be in my diet over the course of a year.

Is spring mix enough. No. Not even close.

Is grass necessary? No. They can survive without it. But its still very good for them. It adds fiber to the diet, and it is what they are designed to eat.

When they are older they will happily eat any kind of grass, and grass hay too. This will save you when they start to gain some size. As babies, you need to find them tender soft young grass. They sell little plots of sprouted wheat grass at pet shops and some grocery stores. If you keep it watered and in a window sill, you can get 8 or 9 cuttings from one $3 plot. I've never tried to re-pot it, but I bet that would give you even more cuttings.
Thank you so much for the help I really do appreciate ☺.
 

Maro2Bear

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Okay, that’s good to know. Thanks 😊.
Also, feel free to add in hibiscus and rose of sharon flowers, some finely chopped grape leaves, a few zucchini or other flowers, and some well soaked Mazuri. Even some very fine chopped up opuntia cactus pads. You want to keep adding more and more wild things, plants, flowers, grasses, dandelion leaves & blossoms. As much variety of wild stuff as you can. I routinely add chopped up banana leaves for our Sully. Grape leaves, all kinds of safe weeds. Tall & short grasses too. Variety is the key. It’s easy to feed store-bought lettuce & romaine BUT later on, you will be wishing your Sully just ate bales of hay!
 

Kapidolo Farms

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I have found if you use the cat grass available at big box pet food stores (it's organic) and cut that up, it works, as it is very soft. Then they will just eat it if you put the container on its side. To be honest I have not done this with sulcata, but have with different Testudo and Leopards. Someimee when I get new babies from somewhere else this will push them to eat in the first place.

There is Wheat and now a combo of oat, rye, and barley.

https://www.bellrockgrowers.com/. This is good stuff.
 

Renrogo

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Mark's advice is spot on.

I would add that most breeders, sadly, do not take the time to introduce grass to baby sulcatas. This is a terrible shame and disservice to them. Regular mature lawn grass is too tough and stiff for babies. You need freshly sprouted tender young grass for a baby tortoise, and you need to finely chop it into small pieces to mix in with the other foods. Start with tiny tiny amounts at first, and keep doing this with every meal, and they will eventually begin to eat more and more of it.

If you must use grocery store foods, even home grown grocery store type foods, you need to be amending it.

Feeding:
So much contradictory info on this subject. Its simple. What do they eat in the wild. Grass, weeds, leaves, flowers, and succulents. Feed them a huge variety of these things, and you'll have a healthy tortoise. All of these species are very adaptable when it comes to diet and there is a very large margin of error, and many ways to do it right. What if you don't have this sort of "natural" tortoise food available for part of each year because you are in the snow? You will have no choice but to buy grocery store food. What's wrong with grocery store food? It tends to lack fiber, some items are low in calcium or have a poor calcium to phosphorous ratio, and some items have deleterious compounds in them. All of these short comings can be improved with some simple supplementation and amendments. A pinch of calcium two times per week will help fix that problem. You can also leave cuttle bone in the enclosure, so your tortoise can self-regulate its own calcium intake. What about fiber? Soaked horse hay pellets, soaked ZooMed Grassland pellets, Mazuri tortoise chow, "Salad style", "Herbal Hay" both from @TylerStewart and his lovely wife Sarah at Tortoisesupply.com, or many of the dried plants and leaves available from Will @Kapidolo Farms. If you must use grocery store foods, favor endive and escarole as your main staples. Add in arugula, cilantro, kale, collard, mustard and turnip greens, squash leaves, spring mix, romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, water cress, carrot tops, celery tops, bok choy, and whatever other greens you can find. If you mix in some of the aforementioned amendments, these grocery store foods will offer plants of variety and fiber and be able to meet your tortoises nutritional needs just fine. I find it preferable to grab a few grapevine or mulberry leaves, or a handful of mallow and clover, or some broadleaf plantain leaves and some grass, but with the right additions, grocery store stuff is fine too. Grow your own stuff, or find it around you when possible. Tyler and Sarah also sell a fantastic Testudo seed mix that is great for ALL tortoise species and also super easy to grow in pots, trays, raised garden beds, or in outdoor tortoise enclosures. When that isn't possible, add a wide variety of good stuff to your grocery store greens to make them better.

Supplements:
I recommend you keep cuttle bone available all the time. Some never use it and some munch on it regularly. Some of mine will go months without touching it, and then suddenly eat the whole thing in a day or two. A great diet is paramount, but it is still a good idea to give them some extra calcium regularly. I use a tiny pinch of RepCal or ZooMed plain old calcium carbonate twice a week. Much discussion has been given to whether or not they need D3 in their calcium supplement. Personally, I don't think it matters. Every tortoise should be getting adequate UV exposure one way or another, so they should be able to make their own D3. I also like to use a mineral supplement. "MinerAll" is my current brand of choice. It seems to help those tortoises that like to swallow pebbles and rocks. It is speculated that some tortoise eat rocks or substrate due to a mineral deficiency or imbalance. Whatever the reason, "MinerAll" seems to stop it or prevent it. Finally, I like to use a reptile vitamin supplement once a week, to round out any hidden deficiencies that may be in my diet over the course of a year.

Is spring mix enough. No. Not even close.

Is grass necessary? No. They can survive without it. But its still very good for them. It adds fiber to the diet, and it is what they are designed to eat.

When they are older they will happily eat any kind of grass, and grass hay too. This will save you when they start to gain some size. As babies, you need to find them tender soft young grass. They sell little plots of sprouted wheat grass at pet shops and some grocery stores. If you keep it watered and in a window sill, you can get 8 or 9 cuttings from one $3 plot. I've never tried to re-pot it, but I bet that would give you even more cuttings.
 

Renrogo

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Tom & Mark, sorry to jump on this thread but I literally rescued a large sulcata (guessing 25 lbs) that was dropped on a friend’s doorstep in a large Rubbermaid container without any info. I’m a newbie and things have gone well first year (followed the good advice in this forum). My question is this dude hates eating any type of grass orchard etc I’ve tried it all but eats like a champ outside grass weeds from Late May- Late September. Why so finicky?? I’m attaching a photo cause have no idea how old.
 

Maro2Bear

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They get spoiled & finicky & are so accustomed to getting & doing & eating what they want. As the keeper, your job is to mix things up, introduce the cut green fresh grass. More & more grass, less the other. Always lay down a lbed of the grass, pile other mixed stuff on top. Doesnt hurt to let them get hungry & offer more grass.

Good luck.
 

Tom

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Tom & Mark, sorry to jump on this thread but I literally rescued a large sulcata (guessing 25 lbs) that was dropped on a friend’s doorstep in a large Rubbermaid container without any info. I’m a newbie and things have gone well first year (followed the good advice in this forum). My question is this dude hates eating any type of grass orchard etc I’ve tried it all but eats like a champ outside grass weeds from Late May- Late September. Why so finicky?? I’m attaching a photo cause have no idea how old.
Photo didnt come through.

Tortoises eat what they've eaten before. It takes a long time to introduce them to grass or hay. I would begin by feeding him on a bed of hay for a while. After a couple of weeks of that, you can get some hay, chop it up super fine with scissors, soak it to re-hydrate it, and mix in a very small amount with the day's greens. Over time, you can add more and more re-hydrated or fresh cut grass to the mix. In time, the tortoise will recognize the grass and the grass hay as food.
 

abissnails

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Also, feel free to add in hibiscus and rose of sharon flowers, some finely chopped grape leaves, a few zucchini or other flowers, and some well soaked Mazuri. Even some very fine chopped up opuntia cactus pads. You want to keep adding more and more wild things, plants, flowers, grasses, dandelion leaves & blossoms. As much variety of wild stuff as you can. I routinely add chopped up banana leaves for our Sully. Grape leaves, all kinds of safe weeds. Tall & short grasses too. Variety is the key. It’s easy to feed store-bought lettuce & romaine BUT later on, you will be wishing your Sully just ate bales of hay!
I also forgot to mention I feed them flowers from our garden as well (hibiscus and geranium) every once and a while. Thanks for all the options, I’ll try them out some time 😊.
 

abissnails

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I have found if you use the cat grass available at big box pet food stores (it's organic) and cut that up, it works, as it is very soft. Then they will just eat it if you put the container on its side. To be honest I have not done this with sulcata, but have with different Testudo and Leopards. Someimee when I get new babies from somewhere else this will push them to eat in the first place.

There is Wheat and now a combo of oat, rye, and barley.

https://www.bellrockgrowers.com/. This is good stuff.
Thanks!!😊
 

abissnails

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Joined
Jun 16, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
ND
They get spoiled & finicky & are so accustomed to getting & doing & eating what they want. As the keeper, your job is to mix things up, introduce the cut green fresh grass. More & more grass, less the other. Always lay down a lbed of the grass, pile other mixed stuff on top. Doesnt hurt to let them get hungry & offer more grass.

Good luck.
Thanks a bunch 😊!!
 

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