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My little Atlas

Nimus

Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2019
Messages
26
Location (City and/or State)
California
I've had my hatchling Sulcata for a couple of months now and I've become more attached to him than I thought I would! I didn't weigh him when I first got him but from October 30th to November 5th he gained 15 grams (50g > 65g). I've never measured him but I'd say his shell is between 2.5-3 inches now.

October 17th right after I unboxed him:
20191017_104804.jpg

November 25th:
20191125_095901.jpg
 

Nimus

Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2019
Messages
26
Location (City and/or State)
California
Use a pencil and paper- trace his outline
I'm not sure he'd cooperate lol. He's more of a runner than a hider so whenever I pick him up or put him somewhere he doesn't want to be he's instantly on the move. He's surprisingly strong for his size (trying to push away from my hand when I'm transferring him to his morning bath). The second picture was taken right after I put him down and he was on the move a second later.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
The new growth looks great.

Time to switch from coco coir to orchid bark.

Does he shrug? HA! Couldn't resist... :D
 

Nimus

Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2019
Messages
26
Location (City and/or State)
California
Time to switch from coco coir to orchid bark.
I use Cypress mulch with sphagnum moss mixed in for moisture retention. I've been trying to find a source for cheap bulk orchid bark but haven't had any luck. I haven't seen it at the local nurseries and the hardware stores just have small expensive bags of orchid bark.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Location (City and/or State)
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I use Cypress mulch with sphagnum moss mixed in for moisture retention. I've been trying to find a source for cheap bulk orchid bark but haven't had any luck. I haven't seen it at the local nurseries and the hardware stores just have small expensive bags of orchid bark.
A friend of mine just showed me some of his young tortoises that were on sphagnum moss. The type that is like dirt in consistency. Their plastrons were being eaten away by the acidity of the substrate. Well, we assume it was the acidity. He's never had that happen with any other species on any other substrate.

Just a warning for you. I wouldn't use that stuff. And I wouldn't use the long fiber type either, as that type can cause impaction and they always eat it.

Where in CA are you? I have no problem finding it here in Santa Clarita. Maybe I can help you find some?
 

Nimus

Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2019
Messages
26
Location (City and/or State)
California
A friend of mine just showed me some of his young tortoises that were on sphagnum moss. The type that is like dirt in consistency. Their plastrons were being eaten away by the acidity of the substrate. Well, we assume it was the acidity. He's never had that happen with any other species on any other substrate.

Just a warning for you. I wouldn't use that stuff. And I wouldn't use the long fiber type either, as that type can cause impaction and they always eat it.

Where in CA are you? I have no problem finding it here in Santa Clarita. Maybe I can help you find some?
Wow, I didn't know sphagnum moss was dangerous to them when ingested. It seemed like a lot of people mixed it with other substrate to keep the humidity up. I do use the type that is almost like dirt (not the long strands) but only a small portion of the cypress/moss mixture is sphagnum moss.

I'm in Bakersfield. Unfortunately the nurseries that I visit here like to mark their products up a lot.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
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Wow, I didn't know sphagnum moss was dangerous to them when ingested. It seemed like a lot of people mixed it with other substrate to keep the humidity up. I do use the type that is almost like dirt (not the long strands) but only a small portion of the cypress/moss mixture is sphagnum moss.

I'm in Bakersfield. Unfortunately the nurseries that I visit here like to mark their products up a lot.
I come up to Bakersfield from time to time. Keep reminding me and I'll bring some up for you if you can't find it there. Or swing by my place if you come through Santa Clarita. I pay about $12 plus tax for 2.0 cu. ft. bags of it.

Orchid Bark.JPG
 

Nimus

Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2019
Messages
26
Location (City and/or State)
California
Do you think something like this would be fine? I saw this at my local hardware store nursery and it has bigger chunks than the cypress mulch but it didn't say orchid bark so I didn't get it.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Location (City and/or State)
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Do you think something like this would be fine? I saw this at my local hardware store nursery and it has bigger chunks than the cypress mulch but it didn't say orchid bark so I didn't get it.
It says its ponderosa pine and fir. Fir bark is what you want. I don't know about the pine. I wouldn't use that.
 

Nimus

Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2019
Messages
26
Location (City and/or State)
California
Atlas has grown 55g since October 30th!

(Picture is blurry because he wouldn't stop zooming around)
20200108_071246_fixed (1).jpg

This past weekend I set up a webcam inside his tote so I can see what he's doing during the day. I also added some small aloe plants to add some variation to his enclosure (they were offshoots from my large aloe plant). Today is Mazuri/ZoomMed grassland pellet day for him and he absolutely loves both.
Atlas Cam - 2020-01-08 15.24.21.jpg

Here's what the top of his setup looks like. The two larger lamps are CHE connected to a thermostat to maintain around an 82-84*F ambient temperature and the small lamp is a regular heating bulb that comes on during the day.

20200108_160817.jpg
 
Last edited:

KatApril

Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2018
Messages
85
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago
A friend of mine just showed me some of his young tortoises that were on sphagnum moss. The type that is like dirt in consistency. Their plastrons were being eaten away by the acidity of the substrate. Well, we assume it was the acidity. He's never had that happen with any other species on any other substrate.

Just a warning for you. I wouldn't use that stuff. And I wouldn't use the long fiber type either, as that type can cause impaction and they always eat it.

Where in CA are you? I have no problem finding it here in Santa Clarita. Maybe I can help you find some?
Aww atlas looks like a little angel in the first pic lol i so wish there was a mini version of the sulcata lol

Tom any reason you dont do coco coir but opt for the orchid bark? Think ive asked before but i cannot recall......

Sphagnum moss is neutral it wont do anything to your tortoise unless it ends up eating it. I use it and its just fine, when i wet it i leave it a couple days to gas off. i get mines from a dart frog guy who makes sure there are no chemicals....

Peat which is the dirt kind, most of it is acidic. I wouldnt chance it with peat. Its nothing but decomposing organics, the problem which is the carbon content. With a bunch of tortoise excrement and chemistry i wont explain but essentially you create things that can eat away at the tortoise shell over time.

As long as you change the substrate regularly as in once a month (or watever your schedule) in a closed system you shouldnt have issues....
 
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Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
47,096
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Aww atlas looks like a little angel in the first pic lol i so wish there was a mini version of the sulcata lol

Tom any reason you dont do coco coir but opt for the orchid bark? Think ive asked before but i cannot recall......

Sphagnum moss is neutral it wont do anything to your tortoise unless it ends up eating it. I use it and its just fine, when i wet it i leave it a couple days to gas off. i get mines from a dart frog guy who makes sure there are no chemicals....

Peat which is the dirt kind, most of it is acidic. I wouldnt chance it with peat. Its nothing but decomposing organics, the problem which is the carbon content. With a bunch of tortoise excrement and chemistry i wont explain but essentially you create things that can eat away at the tortoise shell over time.

As long as you change the substrate regularly as in once a month (or watever your schedule) in a closed system you shouldnt have issues....
I don't use coco coir for sulcata babies because its too messy. I do prefer it for DTs and Testudo babies. Orchid bark works better.

The problem with long fibered peat moss is that every tortoise species I've ever kept all try to eat it eventually. It can cause impaction. Its always fine, right up until the day you realize its not fine and your tortoise is all blocked up. This doesn't have in every case all the time, but it happens often enough that we shouldn't be using it in our tortoise enclosures.

The moss that caused the shell rot in my friends tortoise was fresh stuff. Those tortoises are soaked daily so there was little to no waste in the enclosure.
 

Nimus

Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2019
Messages
26
Location (City and/or State)
California
I set up Atlas's outdoor pen a few weeks ago and today was the first day he got to use it (it was a beautiful day outside!). I planted a pasture grass mix for him to roam in but he wasn't too sure about the grass since it was his first time experiencing it. I'm hoping to keep him in his pen for a few hours a day as many days as the weather will allow. I do usually have a board over part of it for shade but I took it off for the pictures (he also has his green hide). Do you guys have any tips for things that I can add to his pen for enrichment?

Atlas.png

Screenshot.png
 
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