New owner of Sulcata with questions

Status
Not open for further replies.

hlis93

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2008
Messages
9
Hello,

I have just recently purchased a Sulcata tortoise (1 week). I did some reading into the subject prior to purchase but owning a tortoise and seeing what behaviors it has is a different experience, meaning I have some questions that I hope the forum here can answer or make particle suggestions.

1. The first concerns the enclosure. I have covered the outside of the tank with about 6inchs of paper so the tortoise does not see outside the tank. It has stopped trying to climb. However, he/she, Piggy-wiggles, continues to borrow in the tank. I read that if hiding spot are provided this would help to eliminate that, I have used a shoe box to provide a hiding spot for the tortoise for the past week. The store owner does not have anything till later this week so I felt the shoe box would serve as a make shift hiding spot till then. Piggy-wiggles hide in there, yet, Piggy-wiggles is continually digging at the bottom of the tank even when it is hiding in the box. I don’t know if this is something that occurs normally or is a problem that I should be concerned about? I read they can hurt themselves if they continue to burrow in the tank, I do not want that to happen. Perhaps there is something else that I can do to provide a sense of safety for Piggy-wiggles that I am not yet doing for him/her when in the enclosure.

2. My children and wife are accustomed the activity and affections of a dog and cat. We no longer have a dog and are allergic to cats. We decided on a tortoise as a pet. I am concerned for the longevity of interest that my family will have in the tortoise. I have not been able to find info on what to expect as far as interaction behaviors with tortoise, meaning what sort of affections a Sulcata may or may not have. This would seem to be a question I should have considered prior to purchase. It was as I owned Ball Pythons in the past and they had little interest in me despite my interest in them, this experience is the reason that I said “no” to my family having a tortoise as a pet for some time. I lost, gave in, or just liked the tortoise in the end and we have the tortoise. Yet, I still not know what to expect for interaction with the tortoise?

My reason for asking this is two fold:

A. As my children are still very young affection showing animals are easy for them to bond with. I feel the tortoise is very shy and the interest of my children is waning as Piggy-wiggle’s withdraws to its shell every time they are near. As I do not know what to expect or what is possible to nurture is difficult to encourage appropriate expectation for my children or guidance on how they can interact to encourage a sense of comfort and trust for the tortoise in my children. This perhaps seems like a silly question but it is a concern for me as a parent. I am also concerned as it seems, if not wishful thinking, that he tortoise is bonding with me, it doesn’t emerge for it hiding till I arrive downstairs in the morning or when I come home when I am out and the tortoise is with my family. So I am a bit concerned as I would want the tortoise to feel comfortable with all of us.

B. My wife and I are capable of caring for Piggy-wiggles, I find that I am rather attached to it only have a week, yet Sulcata live such a long time I am still worried concerning what will happen when my wife and I are no longer able to care for it due to age or death, leaving care in the hands of my children. I would certainly hope that my children will have the same level of care and responsibility that my wife and I have, yet I worry about this and feel that I should have a plan B for the tortoise if the tragic happens or my children are not able to care for Piggy-wiggles for whatever reason. Any suggestion for this would be helpful in relieving some of my anxiety for care beyond my existence.

3. I have a kitty pool filled with sand for Piggy-wiggles to play about during the day when I am about the house and can monitor him/her and my children. I am concerned that I may confuse Piggy-wiggles by having so many places for it to be. I do allow Piggy-wiggles to roam freely when I am in the room, yet when I can not devote my entire attention to this I place it in the kitty pool or in the enclosure. I don’t want to confuse or stress the new member of our family, is this practice a good or bad idea? What methods are best as I live in a cold climate during the winter and Piggy-wiggles’ will have to be kept inside?

Sorry for such a long post but I am an anxious new care provider for Piggy-wiggles.

Thanks in advance,
Jonathan

picture to provide size of Piggy-wiggle as I have need been to the vet yet.
http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb41/hlis93/pigglewiggle.jpg
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
89,020
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Hi Jonathan:

Now I'm not being critical, but you've asked for our help, so I'm going to offer you some insight into a couple things I see you are doing wrong. First off, Piggy-Wiggles is too big to be in a "tank", which I'm assuming is a glass aquarium. Buy a large plastic tote. You can buy one that is rectangular in shape and quite large. The idea of putting him into a kiddie pool occasionally is a good one, but instead of using sand, buy (I know, "Buy! buy!! buy!!!" I'm sorry, but it takes a bit of money to set up a new pet.) Buy a brick of Bed-A-Beast at the pet shop. This is compressed coconut coir. You put it into a 5 gallon bucket of water and let it soak until the brick has absorbed water. Then you can break it apart. Take out enough sand from the kiddie pool so that you only have about the same amount of sand as the amount of coconut coir. You take the coir out of the water and mix it with the sand until its all mixed up. If you don't want to spend any money at this time, just mount your lights and add his hiding place to the kiddie pool. Its big enough for him to get exercise and you don't have to keep moving him back and forth. I don't believe in allowing a tortoise to roam freely in the house. There are too many hazards for him to get into: hair, dust bunnies, small bits of toy, whatever. You'll soon find out that sulcatas will eat ANYTHING, even if its not edible. As to the burrowing, I have a 100lb sulcata who lives outside. His house it right on the other side of my living room wall, where I sit at my computer. I can hear him long into the night just digging away in there. Of course, he can't go anyplace as the floor is cement covered with a rubber mat, but he digs none-the-less. That's just what they do. In the wild, they are continually modifying their burrow, making it deeper, etc. So that is ingrained into them. They dig!! A sulcata will become quite tame and look to you for interaction. This mostly involves asking you for food, but once he gets used to you and the kids, he will be a fun, inter-active pet that you can enjoy for the next 75 to 100 years!! Start thinking about building him an outdoor pen, as they grow fast and soon outgrow living in the house. By the way, Piggy-wiggles needs either a UVB light to help his calcium work, or some time outside in the sun. A tortoise eats calcium to make their bones and shell strong. But the calcium just goes in one end and out the other if they don't have the Vit.d that comes either from the sun or from a UVB light.

Jonathan, welcome to the forum. We're very glad to have you and Piggy-Wiggles here with us!!

Yvonne
 

hlis93

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2008
Messages
9
Thanks for the info. I will look into the bedding tonight. It all confusing to me as it is all new.

I will am looking to make a large enclosure in the house for winter. I just have not had the time to do so yet...I hope this weekend that I can get started on that, I am still making up plans on it this week and deciding where in the house to build it. I will not be able to keep piggy outside in the winter we live in a very cold climate in upstate NY. My concern for the enclosure is the tortoise flipping onto its shell, as it just did a little while ago in the kiddy pool. I don't want that to happen when I am out or asleep...yes, I worry quite a bit but I can't take piggy everywhere I go as I do my children. Concerning the enclosure, the kiddy pool may be to small or the sides not high and vertical enough, I don’t know. I did look at plastic tote's as you suggest but they all have angled sides which I was told not to get in an enclosure, the reason I decided to build one. Perhaps there is a special type, I will continue to seach the net as this would provide some modility for the enclosure.

Heating and the lamps are a concern right now as you point out. I have the heat lamp and UVB light, yet in a larger enclosure I am not sure how I am going to work that out. Outdoor sunlight is not really possible now as it is starting to get cool during the day. For the past week we have had piggy if it’s above 70 I take piggy out for an hour to explore and graze, always monitored.

Yes, I learned quick they will eat anything. I have kept the house spotless. But I think your suggestions to keep Piggy off the floor is best for the reasons you mention.

It is good to hear they will warm up to us. I think that will encourage the kids.

Thank you.
 

Crazy1

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Aug 21, 2007
Messages
6,069
Location (City and/or State)
Inland Empire, CA
Here is a listing of feed and grain store in NY. http://www.polocenter.com/health/feedusny.htm
If you look through the Enclosure section of the forum their are pics of Feed and water tubs that can be bought at the feed and Grain stores. This will save $$ and time. they are large and can have clip lights attached to them. I used a Christmas tree tote when I was fostering a sully search for pics of Squirt and you will see the tote they are hard to find except for at Christmas but is is a large Plastic tote. As you know children learn from their parents. So if you work with them I am sure they will love and respect Piggy-wiggles just as you do. :) Just remember to teach good handwashing techniques to the little ones. Both before and after handleing the tort. And I am sure in time Piggy-wiggles will warm up to you all.
 

Laura

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2007
Messages
7,502
Location (City and/or State)
Foothills above Sacramento CA
HI and welcome!
A few questions.. What are you going to do in a few years when Piggly gets too big to house inside? It can happen fast.. I have a 7 year old that is 25 pounds and a 10 year old that is 50 pounds.
Be sure to check his diet and not feed too much fruit. They love it, but treats only. It will help make him be friend your family tho.
Also, they are finding that Humidity is important to good shell growth.
For a Hide... try different things. He may just be a digger, which is something to consider when building an outdoor enclosure. Try larger or smaller, darker etc. I have 3 that dont dig, they just use their huts, and one that decided he wanted natural and dug his own hole. Not deep, but have to watch it.
As for your kids taking on the care when you are unable.. time will tell. If they live in the country or have a big back yard, they could do it. If not.. There will always be people who will adopt. but try to set it up before the need arises.. It can take time to place them. However, you have found this site.. so the rest is easy! :) Enjoy.
 

hlis93

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2008
Messages
9
I have considered the winters when piggy is much bigger. I have a very large finished basement that is dry as I keep my music equip there and I only use about 5% of it for that. I have planned on housing piggy there during the winter at that time, I will of couse be building something special for this purpose, which is why I started looking for forums where I can gather information and try to create the optimal habit. for the winter.

I know there are others upstate NY that have a Sulcata so I am sure they have figured something out. I hope to find some of them. I have a vet visit on Friday that can deal with piggy, so I am hoping the vet can be of some help there, as it is likely they will have seen those people in thier office.
 

katesgoey

Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2008
Messages
664
Welcome to the Forum!

You will get a good idea about enclosures in a basement at this website: www.africantortoise.com. This site gives you specific info on sulcata and leopard tortoises (similar needs). Check out the link to keeping Leopard tortoises in a northern climate: http://africantortoise.com/leopard_tortoise_care_in_the_north.htm.

Hopefully you will find the above links and this forum helpful in making your tortoise a happy one and your family's experience with him an enjoyable one!:D
 

Laura

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2007
Messages
7,502
Location (City and/or State)
Foothills above Sacramento CA
I hope you do find others to visit and talk with. That was very helpful for me. As for basement living.. it can be done. But a few things to consider: Odor. Sulcatas Poop A LOT and its not the best smelling thing. It is recomended to have 40x40 area for them. They need to excercise. Lighting of course, and how will you get a 100 pound tortoise up and down the stairs. Safely.
I know of people who have succesfully housed them outside where it snows. Not sure how cold it gets where you are, but if you build a sold enough shed/Barn with a heated room and a lounging area with access to the outside.. it can be done. They slow down a bit when its cold.
You have a few years to figure it out.
It looks like piggly is social and doing well.
 

jenrell23

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2007
Messages
1,430
Location (City and/or State)
Surprise, AZ
Hello, I have used kiddie pools and plastic totes with no problem. I have two kiddos that are 7 & 10 they both adore my torts, as well as there friends who come to see them. They actually argue over who gets what tort when I die, so I am sure yours will to, allow them to help with his feedings, watering, playing in the yard, I take mine outside in the winter as long as it is over 60 and sunny, I don't take them out for hours, but for a few minutes everyday. Keep an eye out on what you feed, and start planning now for the winter they are piggies and you won't have natural foods growing. Good Luck.
 

hlis93

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2008
Messages
9
I don't know about a 40x40 space...well, 40x40 square or running? I have 25x14 running open. I can use more of the basement but that would require some doing to remove my studio (it can be done if needed when that times comes...) I have considered the poo smell it will have to be something I workout as I get expereince with piggy-wiggles. I have elaborate plans designed already but I am sure that will be simplified as we get to know him/her and know what works and what doesn't.

I saw that sight early today but was not able to save it so I am glad you posted it again so I could get another look. Thanks.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
89,020
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
hlis93 said:
I don't know about a 40x40 space...well, 40x40 square or running? I have 25x14 running open.

As small as Piggy-Wiggles is right now, 25x14 is probably big enough. And if you keep up with the poo, it doesn't smell that bad. Its when you leave it in there and they start walking through it or eating it that it starts to smell.

Yvonne
 

hlis93

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2008
Messages
9
Something 40x40 running ft I think will require a building permit around here, meaning I would have to get the nieghbors to agree to it. They are not easy going folks I don't see it happening. Its not a shed that can be tuked in the corner. I can extend my area in the basement by another 10 ft making it 35x15. But that is the entire finished area of the basement. The rest is behind a fixed wall, its another 10ft but it houses the heating, water etc... Things a curious tortoise shouldn't get into and that I would like to keep seperate form the living space as it is now.
 

hlis93

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2008
Messages
9
1am measured the yard. Ok the outdoor enclosure sounds best and is do-able leaving plenty of room for summer and the family. Other things I will have to look into over then next year. Had me frantic for a little bit :D. I am getting a better picture of how I can do things. I am a more underprepared then I though or hoped, I feel that I can manage it.
 

sushisurf13

Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
May 8, 2008
Messages
287
Location (City and/or State)
Huntington Beach, CA
Welcom to the Forum!!!!!

Piggy is a beautiful tort!
I have two Sulcatas that live outside. I live in Huntington Beach, CA and the weather is mild pretty much all year. I bring them into my garage on cold (under 65) or rainy nights. They have half of my 2 car garage to roam and cruise.
It sounds like you're off to a great start. But be prepared, Piggy will get huge. In about 5 years, Piggy will be a monster. But one large sulcata isn't very hard to care for. As long as you know the basics. They can be very stuborn. And strong. They eat (and poop) alot. The area in your basement sounds like its more than enough. I would suggest that Piggy goes outside as much and for as long as possible. Every Day. Even in the cold weather. I'm a big believer in sunshine makes happy, healthy reptiles. And humans.
I have a 3 year old daughter (Emma) and a 13 year old son (Jaidon). They are complete reptile lovers. The Greeks belong to Jaidon and the Cherryheads belong to Emma. Jaidon also has an adult Bearder Dragon and 3 Leopard Geckos. Emma cant wait to get lizards of her own. They are both very involved in the care of the reptiles.
They love all of our animals very much.
I think your kids will LOVE having a tortoise!!
The really do get much more personable over time. Piggy will become a big part of your family.
You have found a GREAT resource for information. Please keep us posted on Piggys status. Ask any questions you may have, we are here to help.
 

hlis93

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2008
Messages
9
Yvonne,

You totally correct that my current enclosure far to small. With a hiding space there is just not enough room for food and play, need to upgrade the size significantly.
 

K9KidsLove

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
586
Hi...Congratulations on the new family member. I have 3 Sulcatas-- one weighs about 18-20 lb, one is 7"-8", & the other is about 4". Just had one suggestion. Don't let any girls put red toe nail polish on & go where your PW can see it. He will think it is edible & try to eat the toe!
Good luck and have fun
Patsy
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top