New Sulcata Owner: How am I doing so far?

alc2016dvm

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Oct 17, 2014
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First let me introduce myself. My name is Alissa and I live in Oklahoma. I am a 3rd year veterinary student at OSU and have three dogs, and recently two tortoises!

So I purchased two sulcata three weeks olds last Monday. Yes, I do know now that they do not do well in pairs. I am working on getting another hatchling. If I do not, I am also prepared to seperate them if needed. They are closely monitored and so far have no issue sharing space, however they are very young still. They are currently getting daily weigh-ins to insure that no one is losing weight.

Right now they are in an open tortoise table, which I have realized is a bad idea. This weekend I will be building a large "closed" enclosure. It will be 5' x 30". I was curious how long do you think it will be before they outgrown this size? They will not be able to go outside until at least the spring, as Oklahoma winters can be quite cold.

Diet: Their diet is a mix of spring lettuce mix (mainly romaine), collard greens, mazuri LS, grass from the yard, and small flowers from the yard. The have one cuttle bone broken in two in their enclosure. I have ordered zoo med repti cal to add to their diet a few times a week, it will be here tomorrow. I have also ordered the Sulcata Seed mix from Sulcata Grove to grow for them to graze on.

Lighting/Heating: I have purchased a Zoomed Powersun UV 100 watt MVL and a Zoomed Ceramic Infared Heat Emitter. Right now I am keeping their enclosure where the cool end is around 80*. Should I be letting it drop to 70* at night?

Humidity: The humidity right now is only staying around 60-70% due to being in an open box, I know I should be shooting for 80% and that will happen once I have their new enclosure built this weekend. I am using the ecoearth coconut fiber for their substrate.

Soaking: The babies are getting soaked for 20-30 minutes every night in warm water, 85*+, it seems the warmer I make it, the more they like it.

I have read all of the care sheets on this forum and the pinned posts. I would just like to know if any of these things should be changed, if I should add any more changes to their care, etc.

I would also like to have some feedback on how the new layout for the enclosure looks, should I add two log hide outs? They seem to like the log the best out of all of the hides. I will add the picture in the next comment, as I cannot get it to upload. The CHE will be on the end by the plastic tub and wood house, which will be the cool side of the enclosure. The CHE will be connected to a thermometer to turn on and off. The UVB light will be in the middle of the enclosure. The terra cotta saucers are for food and water. I will be adding logs, and an area for a small pan of home grown plants. The enclosure is taped off in green and measures 5' x 30". The babies are in the picture, just so you can get an idea of size.

Also, they don't have names yet, so If you have any names (female, or could be female/male) I would appreciate this too.

Any advice or suggestions will be welcomed! Also feel free to ask questions if you need any additional info.

Thanks in advance!
 

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wellington

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Do not drop the heat that low. I would keep it no lower then 80. I would also feed a lot less romaine. The enclosure size may only last a year. It's hard to say seeing they all grow at their own pace.
 

alc2016dvm

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Right now I am trying to wean them off of it, that is what their breeder was feeding, so thats what they think is food. We are working to more of a grass diet, but it is a slow transition so far.
 

Tom

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Hello and welcome. You are doing great so far. Sounds like you are pretty well up to speed.

Here are my comments after reading yours.

1. I prefer orchid bark to the coir for sulcatas. Coir can work, but o bark works better for this species.
2. Put the CHE over the middle to maintain ambient all over. You might need two in the bigger box. Your thermometer will tell you.
3. Put the MVB over one side to make a warmer brighter side, and a cooler (not below 80) side, so your tortoise can move away from the heat, UV and light when it wants to.
4. If all goes well, they will outgrow a 60x30" enclosure in less than a year. You may as well just go 4x8 and then you might make it last until Spring of 2016, but it will be crowded with 3 of them.
5. Pairs aren't bad only because they might ram, bite or bully. Just the presence of the one is enough to cause chronic stress which can hamper the immune system and change behavior. In the wild one would leave the area. They don't want another tortoise around.
6. You might need a lower wattage bulb in your closed chamber. I can only go as high as 65 watts in my 4x8x2' ones. They don't make MVBs this small, so I use regular flood bulbs for heat and Arcadia HO tubes for light and UV. A 65 watt bulb will take my enclosures ambient temps up to the low 90s after a night time low of 79-80. I tried to use 100 watt MVBs and they are just too hot.

Good luck. Glad you found us and joined. Questions are always welcomed.

Have you seen this one? More feeding ideas:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/

And this one too:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
 

tortdad

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Welcome


0.0.1 Redfoot (Spike)
0.0.1 Cherryhead Redfoot (Bruce Wayne)
1.0 Sulcata (Hal Jordan)
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Alissa, and welcome to the Forum!

Be sure to read the threads at the top of the Sulcata section. The babies need a moist/humid/warm environment.
 

Blakem

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My sulcata was in a 5'x18" until she was close to 6 inches. I based it on when I could tell she was making it clear that it was too small by pacing, etc. But, I've read here that by 6" they're less likely to be swooped up, but still possible. Good luck!
 
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