Tory1871

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Joined
May 28, 2019
Messages
8
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Liverpool
Hello

I purchased a Sulcata Tortoise a few months ago, he’s around 9 months old now.
I have him in a tortoise table made from a book case, I used the hide from his original table that I purchased him with as it seemed small to keep him in.
He is 3.5 inches long his enclosure is 2ft by 1ft.
I try keep his hides humidity above %90 with spag moss and Timothy hay, The problem I have is he hardly uses it.
He sits in or burrows into the Timothy Gay in the corner near the ceramic heater. His substrate is coco coir about 7 inches deep with some bark around the rocks.
I have his basking temp set to 36 degrees his hide/the cooler end is about 26/27 degrees.
Night temp 24 degrees.
I was thinking of swapping his ceramic and D3 bulb fitting around to try and heat his hide up to encourage him to use it more or at least sleep in it.
Also his light is on for 13hrs 7am to 8pm. I wondered what is my best option as when his light goes off the living room lights are still on to around 1pm, do you think this will affect him.

I would welcome all suggestions how I can improve this set up. Online info is very conflicting.
Please see attached photos for set up etc

59ED5E7B-07FF-4752-A9DF-F0D7E0EA94FD.jpeg 3C8F9C7D-BB82-4BB6-9BD5-6FB2E4F810E1.jpeg 760AA554-FB9E-4FF3-871F-531382EBF43D.jpeg 98E61C9C-45F4-46CC-A901-C3E00C7BEAF2.jpeg 4F15D18D-F6C9-4076-BD84-CDB64D025A47.jpeg 011427DA-C321-4380-830D-9B8A98D4D8CC.jpeg 627AC53C-3CC1-49BC-B613-BF19F888300E.jpeg 1419252A-86FD-41CC-A59E-6E34D80B059C.jpeg 0022CD3F-C7CD-46C2-9BB7-27FE002E4677.jpeg 0C8E4621-0DF6-4831-9DFE-71160FD3FAA4.jpeg 73556813-0B80-4BEC-B217-BFDFEB8729EC.jpeg 568EB7FA-43DD-448F-80DB-336157C09472.jpeg
 

Tory1871

New Member
Joined
May 28, 2019
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Liverpool
Hello

I purchased a Sulcata Tortoise a few months ago, he’s around 9 months old now.
I have him in a tortoise table made from a book case, I used the hide from his original table that I purchased him with as it seemed small to keep him in.
He is 3.5 inches long his enclosure is 2ft by 1ft.
I try keep his hides humidity above %90 with spag moss and Timothy hay, The problem I have is he hardly uses it.
He sits in or burrows into the Timothy Gay in the corner near the ceramic heater. His substrate is coco coir about 7 inches deep with some bark around the rocks.
I have his basking temp set to 36 degrees his hide/the cooler end is about 26/27 degrees.
Night temp 24 degrees.
I was thinking of swapping his ceramic and D3 bulb fitting around to try and heat his hide up to encourage him to use it more or at least sleep in it.
Also his light is on for 13hrs 7am to 8pm. I wondered what is my best option as when his light goes off the living room lights are still on to around 1pm, do you think this will affect him.

I would welcome all suggestions how I can improve this set up. Online info is very conflicting.
Please see attached photos for set up etc

I also have a temp outdoor enclosure for him that I dug into the ground for the days that we have good weather. “Not today”

98673D3D-EB21-4C16-A05C-E3F8C09B5871.jpeg AB63CF5E-F4F3-4CB8-93A5-D6D591B12389.jpeg
 

Yvonne G

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I would remove the hay. Place him inside the shelter every time you see him burrowed into the wrong corner. He'll eventually get used to it. Any way you can move the shelter to the corner he likes?
 

Maro2Bear

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Definitely remove the hay, the warm humid conditions are perfect for mold and mildew. Like Yvonne said, keep moving into the hide or move it.

You need to bump up your night time/cool temp, 24c is only about 75f, you need a minimum ambient of 80F.

Try to get a roof/lid on your enclosure. All the heat and humidity is escaping.

Good luck
 

Tory1871

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May 28, 2019
Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
Liverpool
I would remove the hay. Place him inside the shelter every time you see him burrowed into the wrong corner. He'll eventually get used to it. Any way you can move the shelter to the corner he likes?
Thanks for your reply. Do you think he wants to be under the heat or it’s more about he is attracted to that direction/corner.
With you saying to move his shelter to the other corner.
If it’s about the heat I could swap the ceramic nearer to his shelter because it would be easier for me.
I did try moving the hay but he was walking around his enclosure like a headless chicken so I felt sorry for him and put it back.
 
Last edited:

Tory1871

New Member
Joined
May 28, 2019
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Liverpool
Definitely remove the hay, the warm humid conditions are perfect for mold and mildew. Like Yvonne said, keep moving into the hide or move it.

You need to bump up your night time/cool temp, 24c is only about 75f, you need a minimum ambient of 80F.

Try to get a roof/lid on your enclosure. All the heat and humidity is escaping.

Good luck
Thanks for your reply. I will up the night temp, what do you recommend as an exact night temp, maybe 27 degrees ?

Are you sure about removing the hay, I only say because I’ve read a lot people using it as an edible bedding and claiming it’s good to use. He also seems to like it. What would you recommend for bedding if any.
Sometimes I cover 2 3rds of his enclosure to keep the humidity in, I will make something more permanent.
 

Maro2Bear

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Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
Thanks for your reply. I will up the night temp, what do you recommend as an exact night temp, maybe 27 degrees ?

Are you sure about removing the hay, I only say because I’ve read a lot people using it as an edible bedding and claiming it’s good to use. He also seems to like it. What would you recommend for bedding if any.
Sometimes I cover 2 3rds of his enclosure to keep the humidity in, I will make something more permanent.

Minimum 27c. Even a few ticks more given you don’t have a lid on your enclosure. Also, make sure you are taking the temp at tort level (and the tort itself).
 

Maro2Bear

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Maro2Bear

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Thanks for your reply. I will up the night temp, what do you recommend as an exact night temp, maybe 27 degrees ?

Are you sure about removing the hay, I only say because I’ve read a lot people using it as an edible bedding and claiming it’s good to use. He also seems to like it. What would you recommend for bedding if any.
Sometimes I cover 2 3rds of his enclosure to keep the humidity in, I will make something more permanent.


Right from @Tom ’s Sully care sheet:

  • Substrate: I recommend coco coir, orchid bark, cypress mulch, plain additive free soil, or yard dirt if yours is suitable. All of these can be purchased in bulk at most hardware or garden center stores at a tremendous savings. I recommend against wood shavings or chips, ground walnut shell, corn cob bedding, rabbit pellets, compressed grass pellet bedding, newspaper pellets, hay, cedar, or any amount of sand.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Location (City and/or State)
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Thanks for your reply. I will up the night temp, what do you recommend as an exact night temp, maybe 27 degrees ?

Are you sure about removing the hay, I only say because I’ve read a lot people using it as an edible bedding and claiming it’s good to use. He also seems to like it. What would you recommend for bedding if any.
Sometimes I cover 2 3rds of his enclosure to keep the humidity in, I will make something more permanent.
Most people still mistaken believe that sulcatas are a desert species and need dry conditions. Back in the old days, we used hay for breeding because we kept things all dry all the time. This was wrong. We are lucky any survived. We now know better and there is a bit of a transition going on with a mixing of the old info and new. Its confusing as heck for any one new to tortoise keeping. Get your info here. Other sources are still parroting old, out-dated and incorrect care info.

You cannot keep hay in a damp environment. It gets moldy and mildewy in short order and that is dangerous for your tortoise. The environment needs to be damp to simulate the African rainy season that they hatch into in the wild. Also, while grass hay is a good food for larger sulcatas, babies don't usually eat it. Its too coarse and dry for them.

The sphagnum moss is a problem too. They see it as food and eat it. It can cause an intestinal blockage. It should be removed.

You need a much larger enclosure and it should be a vivarium style to hold in the heat an humidity. Soon you will need a 4x8' indoor closed chamber, and within a couple of years, even that will be much too small. At that point you will need a heated space that is 1000 sq. feet or more.

Good advice above from the other members. Here is all the sulcata info in one place for you.
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/
 

Tory1871

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Joined
May 28, 2019
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Liverpool
Most people still mistaken believe that sulcatas are a desert species and need dry conditions. Back in the old days, we used hay for breeding because we kept things all dry all the time. This was wrong. We are lucky any survived. We now know better and there is a bit of a transition going on with a mixing of the old info and new. Its confusing as heck for any one new to tortoise keeping. Get your info here. Other sources are still parroting old, out-dated and incorrect care info.

You cannot keep hay in a damp environment. It gets moldy and mildewy in short order and that is dangerous for your tortoise. The environment needs to be damp to simulate the African rainy season that they hatch into in the wild. Also, while grass hay is a good food for larger sulcatas, babies don't usually eat it. Its too coarse and dry for them.

The sphagnum moss is a problem too. They see it as food and eat it. It can cause an intestinal blockage. It should be removed.

You need a much larger enclosure and it should be a vivarium style to hold in the heat an humidity. Soon you will need a 4x8' indoor closed chamber, and within a couple of years, even that will be much too small. At that point you will need a heated space that is 1000 sq. feet or more.

Good advice above from the other members. Here is all the sulcata info in one place for you.
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/
Thanks for the info, I noticed I made a typo his enclosure is 3ft by 2ft. This is temporary, I plan on building him a new one very soon.
How long do you recommend housing them in a closed chamber environment, 18 months ?
My plan is as he gets older to have built a sort of house within a house.
Within the smaller house I would have his lights, heating etc with a bigger inside area for him to roam around in with a lockable flap so he can go out into the garden.
 

Tory1871

New Member
Joined
May 28, 2019
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Liverpool
Right from @Tom ’s Sully care sheet:

  • Substrate: I recommend coco coir, orchid bark, cypress mulch, plain additive free soil, or yard dirt if yours is suitable. All of these can be purchased in bulk at most hardware or garden center stores at a tremendous savings. I recommend against wood shavings or chips, ground walnut shell, corn cob bedding, rabbit pellets, compressed grass pellet bedding, newspaper pellets, hay, cedar, or any amount of sand.

I already have him in coco coir with Timothy hay as bedding, I’ve read sand is no good for them because it gets in their eyes.
What do you use for yours.
The hay seems a lot more comfortable for him but I’ve been told it’s no good because of mould.
I’ve had no mould yet besides when I’ve changed his water bowl I’ve seen some under it.
 

Tory1871

New Member
Joined
May 28, 2019
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Liverpool
Most people still mistaken believe that sulcatas are a desert species and need dry conditions. Back in the old days, we used hay for breeding because we kept things all dry all the time. This was wrong. We are lucky any survived. We now know better and there is a bit of a transition going on with a mixing of the old info and new. Its confusing as heck for any one new to tortoise keeping. Get your info here. Other sources are still parroting old, out-dated and incorrect care info.

You cannot keep hay in a damp environment. It gets moldy and mildewy in short order and that is dangerous for your tortoise. The environment needs to be damp to simulate the African rainy season that they hatch into in the wild. Also, while grass hay is a good food for larger sulcatas, babies don't usually eat it. Its too coarse and dry for them.

The sphagnum moss is a problem too. They see it as food and eat it. It can cause an intestinal blockage. It should be removed.

You need a much larger enclosure and it should be a vivarium style to hold in the heat an humidity. Soon you will need a 4x8' indoor closed chamber, and within a couple of years, even that will be much too small. At that point you will need a heated space that is 1000 sq. feet or more.

Good advice above from the other members. Here is all the sulcata info in one place for you.
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/
I wondered if you had any links with examples of big enclosed chamber set ups. I’m thinking a wooden frame with maybe pvc front.
I’m guessing I would need an extractor fan, similar set up to a plant crop ?
 

Tory1871

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Messages
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Liverpool

Maro2Bear

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Messages
12,429
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
I already have him in coco coir with Timothy hay as bedding, I’ve read sand is no good for them because it gets in their eyes.
What do you use for yours.
The hay seems a lot more comfortable for him but I’ve been told it’s no good because of mould.
I’ve had no mould yet besides when I’ve changed his water bowl I’ve seen some under it.

All of these substrates are bad and should not be used - wood shavings or chips, ground walnut shell, corn cob bedding, rabbit pellets, compressed grass pellet bedding, newspaper pellets, hay, cedar, or any amount of sand.


I don’t think a tortoise needs a “comfortable” substrate, they require a substrate that provides good footing, holds in moisture, isnt eaten.
 

Tom

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