Meet Tom's Sulcatas

Status
Not open for further replies.

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,395
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
It has been a while since I have posted anything about my adults and we have a lot of new members. I also have some new tortoises, so I thought I'd introduce them. All of my adults are the product of the old "dry" routine, where all the books and experts said to keep these guys hot and dry because they come from the "arid" regions of sub-Saharan Africa. It was not until 2007 or 2008 that I really figured out why what they said to do didn't work and what to do about it. So just be aware that my adults are not pretty, but they serve as a daily reminder of what was done incorrectly in the past, and they motivate me to try harder to educate the tortoise keeping public on our new findings here on the forum. While they are all healthy and well cared for now, their shells tell a story all their own...

Scooter and Bert: I got these guys as a pair from the late great Walter Allen of Casa De Tortuga in July of 1998 as tiny hatchlings. I went down there to get one, but Walter insisted I take two. Back then a captive bred sulcata baby was something of great value, so this was a huge gift from a very generous and kind man. They grew up in a 15x30' outdoor pen from the time I got them. They were raised totally dry and fed lightly. I would skip feeding days occasionally and they got very little grocery store foods. The slow growth, sparse food, large pen and sunshine all day every day was supposed to prevent pyramiding. Well... it didn't. It DID result in stunted pyramided adults though. Simulating the above ground African dry season, did not work for Scooter and Bert or ANY other tortoise I have ever raised.

Scooter lives alone now, since he and his brother had to be separated for fighting. He weighs 64.6 pounds now. Even in this pic you can see his personality shining through. I picked him for his personality out of a big bin with around two dozen others. He stood out then and he stands out now. He has the most outgoing inquisitive personality of all my tortoises.
2cmvvi1.jpg



Bert lives with all the girls. He is now 69.2 pounds. He has been living in a 22' long burrow all summer long. For many years I mistakenly thought he was a female. He still has a small head and small gulars. His personality is and always has been decidedly more feminine, right up until he started engaging his bigger brother in mortal combat and winning.
140yz4p.jpg



Deloris was hatched in 2000. She was given to me in 2002. She was already badly pyramided and came off of rabbit pellets in a small tank. She grew up with Scooter and Bert. She now weighs 39.4 pounds. She is the mother of Tulee, Tuck and Trey from "The End of Pyramiding" thread.
2lktr37.jpg



Bertha is my biggest female. I got her in 2010 from a friend who runs a rescue. Bertha and Chewy were living together in an 8x8' dirt pen with a 4x4' upside down fruit crate with a light bulb hanging from the ceiling for a shelter. She is now 64 pounds.
2z5og8p.jpg



Chewy is now 62.2 pounds. Chewy usually has an outgoing engaging personality, but since digging out her communal burrow this spring, I hardly see her. Seems she really likes the subterranean life. Of course our 100+ temps all summer have not been a good incentive to hang out topside. :)
fjhhec.jpg



This is Misty. I've had her around 6 weeks now. She was raised by a family who recently decided they didn't want her anymore. Lucky for me. Despite her pyramiding, she has a very high domed shell. She is also very heavy for her size. I know this because I have to carry her heavy butt to the night house every night as she just doesn't seem to wanna get with the program and go to the warm house herself. Fine for now, but this will be a problem when winter sets in... Misty weighs in at 62.4 pounds. She's in need of a beak trim, but I'm not in a hurry as she eats just fine with it the way it is. I want her to get to know me and be a bit more comfortable before I come at her with beak trimming tools.
cq6ud.jpg




Next up is Goldy. Goldy is my newest girl. I've only had her around a month. She was raised by a loving caring owner. She got a great diet, good hydration and a large yard to roam. Her owner bought two babies in 2007 and raised them together. The other one grew very fast and had some pyramiding. Goldy grew very slow at first, but suddenly caught up in the last year or two. It turned out that Goldy and her sibling were opposite sexes and the male has been hounding her constantly. The male was once a very engaging outgoing pet that would follow "Mom" around like a puppy begging for food and attention. Once he hit maturity, all he cared about was humping Goldy. She separated them, but he just paced the fence and was no longer interested in interacting with his people. Goldy's Mom hopes that with Goldy moving to another home that her old "pet" will return to normal. I hope so too. Goldy's Mom was very upset about having to let one of her babies go. She contacted me directly because she felt like I'd give her a good home, but she was really quite heartbroken. She wants everyone to see this as another example of why pairs seldom work out. Goldy weighs in at 32.4 pounds.
rhop09.jpg

j7zq5l.jpg




Daisy. Daisy is a monumental step in my life of tortoises. I affectionately called her my "guinea pig" for many years. She is the first tortoise of mine to get the "wet" routine. It was a gradual and careful process but she is the ONE that showed me that they will NOT get respiratory infections or shell rot from humidity and damp substrate. She is also the one that showed me that pyramiding CAN be stopped. She paved the way for a lot of smooth healthy tortoises and continues to do so. She holds a very special place in my heart and always will. My transition from ignorance to enlightenment is forever recorded in the angle of her scutes from heavily pyramided to smooth. I happily show this to everyone who comes to the ranch to see my tortoises.

I got her at three months old in January of 2008 from a reptile mentor of mine. She was hatched in 2007 and started in typical fashion on rabbit pellets with no water bowl and once a week soaks. At just 12 weeks old she was badly pyramided.
3492pp1.jpg

Daisy was very shy and withdrawn when I first got her. She HATED her daily soaks at first but came to totally accept them within a few months. She was raised alone and decided to be very aggressive to any new tortoises that I tried to put with her. When she was around 4 pounds, I put her in with the adults and she quickly learned a lesson in coexisting. Here she is during her transition to smoothness in March of 2011.
2mwt4t0.jpg


Here She is demonstrating that sulcatas CAN swim.
25i97bq.jpg


And here she is today, weighing in at 23.6 pounds:
2en48lz.jpg

2u9gzh3.jpg

29c2dtx.jpg



Now we move to the next generation: Tulee, Tuck, and Trey. For their whole story you can read this:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread-The-End-Of-Pyramiding#axzz1bv5qbbcz
82,886 other people have. :D
They turned two years old in May. Tuck and Trey are doing fine, growing, and loving their outdoor enclosure. I sent Tulee to live with a forum member whose baby sulcata died in the typical "hatchling failure syndrome" scenario. I felt bad for her, so I gave her one of mine. Within a couple of weeks she quit the forum and would not co-respnod with me or anyone else on the forum. No idea what happened there. These are the first babies that I started myself from literally day one as they hatched from the egg. They got the wet routine from day one with me attempting to simulate the African rainy season that wild sulcatas would hatch in to.
Here are some current pics:
155np7b.jpg

2cz622o.jpg

14nmyvq.jpg

5cf1jn.jpg



Now we have some groups of babies. These are my Sudan babies. Their parents are specifically from the Sudan. These grow bigger and and higher domed than the typical "normal" sulcatas that we usually see. Not sure how many I will want to eventually keep. The intention is to raise them to adulthood and be able to produce location specific babies. Notice the size differences. These are all the same age. More on that in another thread...
5wcj9z.jpg



These are six holdbacks of mine that are being raised side by side in the same divided 4x8' enclosure next to the Sudan babies. They are from two different clutches. I am raising them for a few months to compare growth rates and also as part of another growth experiment that you can see here:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread...ta-Husbandry-Method-Experiments#axzz27txnQOhm


2jtgec.jpg




Next we have the wild bunch. These eight little babies were accidentally incubated in the ground and hatched "naturally" all by themselves at the ranch. I could not find the nest and had no idea I missed one whenever it was laid. I am raising these guys quite a bit differently than I normally do. I am putting them outside all day everyday in a 4x8', heavily planted and irrigated enclosure. I will continue this until the weather becomes too cold. At first I was not feeding them, but now they have grazed the weeds and stuff as high as they can reach and I've started picking grass, weeds, clover and other things that I grow, and leaving it where they can reach it. They still have to run around and hunt for it, and I don't cut it up, so its still pretty close to "grazing". At night they come in and sleep in a relatively humid enclosure with a humid hide box, which they seem to like. They get soaked once a day, every day. I am very curious to see how these guys will turn out.
2hfsaqr.jpg


Here is where the wild bunch hangs out all day.
el8a6t.jpg




And finally, we have two dozen hatchlings that are now ready to go to new homes. Anybody want one?
17vn87.jpg




I guess you could say I've got a few sulcatas, huh? Most of these babies will be sold in the next few months or so, but boy are they all a handful now...
 

acrantophis

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2012
Messages
335
One complaint...not enough pictures! Great to see your group. They are all so robust and healthy! You wrote as if you had severely pyramided specimens. A hint of pyramiding is kind of cool, it makes the big ones look like ankylosaurus!
 

Jacqui

Wanna be raiser of Lemon Drop tortoises
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Aug 28, 2007
Messages
39,497
Location (City and/or State)
A Land Far Away...
:D I see you have a real beauty there in your Sudan group. :D
 

mainey34

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
3,772
Location (City and/or State)
Peoria, Arizona
Thank you for sharing your story. It was very informative. Love all your torts love the little ones they are so cute...
 

mercurysmom

New Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2012
Messages
77
This is so awesome!!! I have two hatchlings that I'd gotten from a guy who believed in hatching in his backyard, without any special care. He thought I was crazy when I told him I'd taken one to the vet (who'd ended up dying), And the humidity and indoor enclosure...Both of the ones I have now have oddly shaped shells, one has an extra scute. I kind of wish I'd held out for one of yours; they are absolutely beautiful. Thanks to your info, I hope to raise my babies as beautiful as possible despite their early upbringing and deformities...
 

mctlong

Well-Known Member
Moderator
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2009
Messages
2,658
Location (City and/or State)
SF Valley, SoCal
Great pictures Tom! I can't wait until Chief grows as big as his parents.

Just curious, have you noticed any difference in growth or activity level between your incubated hatchlings and your eight "wild" ones.
 

sibi

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2012
Messages
6,483
Location (City and/or State)
Florida, USA
Hey Tom--what a great job you've done with all your torts. I'm so glad that you decided to retell your story because from the very beginning of starting this forum, I was very much interested in what you had to say about "humidity" in raising baby sulcatas. I'm so in love with the two babies I have now (Beasty Boy and Honey Girl). I have been thinking of getting one more, though. I guess I'll wait and see what needs to be done with Beasty Boy because of his bladder stone. He's eating, pooing, and still peeing although with some discomfort. I will take him back to the vet to get one more x-rays. If the stone is still the same size, I'll have to go to Univ. of Florida in Gainsville for surgery. That will be a 2-3K dollar bill!
 

dcwolfe

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2012
Messages
111
Location (City and/or State)
Mesa, AZ
Great pics and tortoises, you have a little bit of everything, high dome, low dome, smooth, slightly pyramided, big tortoises, and small ones. All of which are amazing and very impressionable. I was curious though why you don’t have any albino or Ivory, is there a reason for that or is that a project coming soon?
 

jpmcclure

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2012
Messages
294
Location (City and/or State)
Modesto (Northern) California
What a great thread!! I love ALL your babies. If I had the space for more, I'd jump at one of those. Thanks for sharing. This was my first time seeing all yours. :)
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,395
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Jacqui said:
:D I see you have a real beauty there in your Sudan group. :D

You are amazing! Eagle eye! I'll sell that one if you want her.
 

DeanS

SULCATA OASIS
10 Year Member!
Joined
May 6, 2010
Messages
4,405
Location (City and/or State)
SoCal
dcwolfe said:
Great pics and tortoises, you have a little bit of everything, high dome, low dome, smooth, slightly pyramided, big tortoises, and small ones. All of which are amazing and very impressionable. I was curious though why you don’t have any albino or Ivory, is there a reason for that or is that a project coming soon?

BUUUUUUUUUUUUWAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!:rolleyes:
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,395
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
mctlong said:
Great pictures Tom! I can't wait until Chief grows as big as his parents.

Just curious, have you noticed any difference in growth or activity level between your incubated hatchlings and your eight "wild" ones.

I haven't weighed the wild bunch yet, but I can see they are growing. Activity level is similar, but the wild bunch are much more reserved in my presence. My artificially incubated hatchlings all seem to know me. Some run for the hills when I come to get them for a soak or sun, while others just sit there, but the wild bunch get real still and pull their legs and head in. Not any real big differences so far. I'm seeing a recurring thing here though. Little sulcatas, all of the ones I have ever raised, do not like holes in the ground. They avoid them. Sometimes they will dig themselves a little palette, but they will not use or go near an existing hole. Not gopher holes, not adult burrows, not man made burrows that I make for them. It really takes some time for me to "train" little ones to go underground to escape the heat.

:D
DeanS said:
dcwolfe said:
Great pics and tortoises, you have a little bit of everything, high dome, low dome, smooth, slightly pyramided, big tortoises, and small ones. All of which are amazing and very impressionable. I was curious though why you don’t have any albino or Ivory, is there a reason for that or is that a project coming soon?

BUUUUUUUUUUUUWAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!:rolleyes:

Should I tell them Dean? Two words...
 

Tortuga_terrestre

Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Feb 19, 2010
Messages
538
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Very nice! I have a question tom; How do you know those hatchlings parents are of sudanese origin? I apologize if this is a dumb question, I look at all your threads but don't read everything. I was under the impression that all captive bred sulcatas and leopards are mutts. Since no one has documentation to prove the country of origin of wild caught animals.
 

DeanS

SULCATA OASIS
10 Year Member!
Joined
May 6, 2010
Messages
4,405
Location (City and/or State)
SoCal
What?!?!? Ivory Sudans? OH SH*T! I said it first...;)
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,395
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
DeanS said:
What?!?!? Ivory Sudans? OH SH*T! I said it first...;)

GIANT IVORIES!!! :D

Tortuga_terrestre said:
Very nice! I have a question tom; How do you know those hatchlings parents are of sudanese origin? I apologize if this is a dumb question, I look at all your threads but don't read everything. I was under the impression that all captive bred sulcatas and leopards are mutts. Since no one has documentation to prove the country of origin of wild caught animals.

They are from a reputable source who is also a member here on the forum. I didn't ask to see the paper work, but I have no reason to doubt him. I have also seen pics of the adults.
 

BodaTort1

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2012
Messages
264
Location (City and/or State)
Houston, Texas
Sulcatas can swim??? Really ? Tom your tort are so amazing and so impressed with all your experiments with the various torts to determine best way to raise them. Thank you for all the info you give out to us newbie tort parents.
 

Biff Malibu

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 26, 2012
Messages
202
Location (City and/or State)
Los Angeles
Tom. Wow. You have a lot of Sulcata's brother!

I think its awesome your able to care for so many, you must have a lot of fun with them. :)
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top