Is this normal shell?

BennysMom

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We got Benny a few months ago and are unsure of his age but think He’s around 5yrs old. He free roams our enclosed backyard and eats the grass. We do give him kale and romaine A couple times a week. We tried Timothy hay but he refused to eat it. We soak him daily and he’s created a burrow next to our hibiscus bush which has a dripper line. I’m assuming he liked the humidity there and that’s why he chose to dig there. We live in AZ so it’s pretty hot here and he gets plenty of sun. Before we took him in I spent hours scouring the Internet but the more I searched and the more I read the more confused I got when it came to his care as there’s so much contradictory information out there. I had tons of ppl in groups tell me that just letting him eat the grass was enough. I just wanna do the best I can for him. So any advice is appreciated
 

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wellington

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Looks good to me.
Do all your research in this forum. We have the only up to date correct info.
You might even find a few different answers on here, but they are all correct, just different ways.
In the summer months my leopards, similar care as a sulcata grazes the weeds and grass in their yards. I will feed them a couple times a month mazuri tortoise food. I wouldn't feed just grass. In AZ you have lots of optunia cactus pads they love. Also different plants you could plant and feed him.
 

ZenHerper

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Welcome!

Learning to eat new foods (like dry hay) is a learning process.

Soak the hay until it is soft, pull out any woody stems, cut the pieces small, then set a pile of it under things your pet already likes. They'll eat some accidentally, and eventually get the idea from the flavor that it is OK to eat.

Each individual figures it out in their own time - just persist.
 

Tom

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We got Benny a few months ago and are unsure of his age but think He’s around 5yrs old. He free roams our enclosed backyard and eats the grass. We do give him kale and romaine A couple times a week. We tried Timothy hay but he refused to eat it. We soak him daily and he’s created a burrow next to our hibiscus bush which has a dripper line. I’m assuming he liked the humidity there and that’s why he chose to dig there. We live in AZ so it’s pretty hot here and he gets plenty of sun. Before we took him in I spent hours scouring the Internet but the more I searched and the more I read the more confused I got when it came to his care as there’s so much contradictory information out there. I had tons of ppl in groups tell me that just letting him eat the grass was enough. I just wanna do the best I can for him. So any advice is appreciated
Hello and welcome.

Most of the care info in this care sheet also apply to older ones, but I'll throw in some extra info after:


As you mentioned there is a lot of contradictory care info. Here is why: For decades we've been caring for this species all wrong based on incorrect assumptions about where they come from and how they live there. Most of the tortoise world still uses and teaches that old, wrong info. Vets, breeders, pet shops, and "reptile experts" can all be expected to do, teach, and recommend the wrong things.

Here are some helpful tips:
1. Grass hay is good, but don't use Timothy. Its too stemmy. Use orchard grass hay. Buy it in bulk at any feed store. Sometimes they will let you scavenge the leavings in front of the giant stacks of hay for free since you don't need much. Introduce it by feeding other favorite foods, like those hibiscus flowers on a bed of it. I use plastic trays, like the type you get at fast food places, and put some loose hay on the tray. Then put the favorites on top of the hay. In time he will start eating the hay too. You can also chop up a small amount with scissors, soak it, and mix it with favorite greens. Either or both methods work, and you'll be glad you took the time.
2. They can certainly survive on grass, or grass hay, alone and the few weeds and leaves you give them, but I like to feed them other stuff too. Its all in the care sheet. For an adult like yours, grass or grass hay should be most of the diet. I add spineless opuntia pads, mulberry leaves, grape leaves, weeds, hibiscus flowers and leaves, and whatever other occasional good stuff I can find.
3. The burrow is the best place for the tortoise in the scorching hot summer months, but its too cold for winter for this tropical species. In fall, I watch the weather and wait for a cooling trend. Then I block off the burrow when the tortoise is up, and make them sleep in their heated night box. Like this: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/single-tortoise-night-box.181515/ When night temps warm back up in spring, I unblock the burrow and let them use it again.
4. Soak your tortoise. At least once or twice a week. Use warm water and leave the tortoise in its large soaking bin for 30-45 minutes. Every day is good for them, but not necessary for big ones.
 
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