New Sulcata Owner

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chrisepperson

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Hello. I am new to the forum & new to sulcatas.

I am a teacher and athletic trainer at a high school in Florida, I teach sports medicine. I don't quite know how I got so intrigued with tortoises but I am glad I did. I have just spent a week with my new sulcatas. After a year of interest and lots of research I decided to get two. Much of that research was done through reading this forum so I wanted to share what I have and ask for any critiques and suggestions.

Here they are....Colonel & Cougar (named after my alma maters...Eastern Kentucky University & Columbus State University).



I received them at the reptile show in Sarasota. The breeder told me that he incubated them to be males, but believed that he gave me a male and a female because one has an asymmetrical scute pattern that he has recorded 90% of the time to be female. Has anyone heard the same, any truth to this? The “boy” is 2.25in. and the “girl” is 2.5in.
Here is my setup…I know they will quickly outgrow this enclosure…I have big plans for an outdoor setup.





It is a concrete mixing tub (the biggest that Home Depot stocks) filled with soil & sand. I have a feed bucket up-side-down with a door cut out for a hide. I have attached a sponge to the ceiling of the hide via zipties so to maintain humidity. I am thinking of adding some cypress mulch to the mix…is this worth it or is the top soil and sand good enough? Has anyone had a bad experience with soil/sand mix…as far as impaction issues? I can see where that could happen to hatchlings, they get it all over themselves.





This is under a Powersun 100w UVB/heat bulb. I have a thermometer on each side that reads 92â—¦ & 77â—¦ with nighttime temps dropping to 72â—¦. The heat bulb is 14 hrs/day. (I am waiting for a temp gun to come in the mail.)



I have orchard grass hay for them to eat but that was not very appetizing to them…I ended up mixing it with mustard greens. I am trying to slowly increase the hay:greens ratio so they will eat mostly hay. This may take a while…any ideas to how old they get before they enjoy to eat straight dry grass hay? I also have calcium and vitamin supplements.



Here are some more pictures of them…I try to rearranged their dirt to keep them active. I have learned the more I move the soil around the more roaming they do. I just did this today…I buried their hide and made a hill to the top of it.





I look forward to hearing your thoughts and being apart of the forum.

CHRIS
 

chrisepperson

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I am sorry the pictures did not load. I will attach them now.

Here are a few more pics. Can someone tell me why the pictures did not load in the first message?
 

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galvinkaos

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There are those pictures. FYI..everyone here is picture junkies.....So the more the merrier. I do not have Sulcatas. So there are more informed individuals that can comment and critique with more knowledge.That said.....

chrisepperson said:
Here they are....Colonel & Cougar (named after my alma maters...Eastern Kentucky University & Columbus State University).

I like their names

I received them at the reptile show in Sarasota. The breeder told me that he incubated them to be males, but believed that he gave me a male and a female because one has an asymmetrical scute pattern that he has recorded 90% of the time to be female. Has anyone heard the same, any truth to this? The “boy” is 2.25in. and the “girl” is 2.5in.
Here is my setup…I know they will quickly outgrow this enclosure…I have big plans for an outdoor setup.

IMHO..it does seem small for 2 kids. How long before they get a bigger house?

It is a concrete mixing tub (the biggest that Home Depot stocks) filled with soil & sand. I have a feed bucket up-side-down with a door cut out for a hide. I have attached a sponge to the ceiling of the hide via zipties so to maintain humidity. I am thinking of adding some cypress mulch to the mix…is this worth it or is the top soil and sand good enough? Has anyone had a bad experience with soil/sand mix…as far as impaction issues? I can see where that could happen to hatchlings, they get it all over themselves.

Try feeding on a piece of slate or rough tile. It will help with them getting substrate with food and beak and nail maintenance.

Here are some more pictures of them…I try to rearranged their dirt to keep them active. I have learned the more I move the soil around the more roaming they do. I just did this today…I buried their hide and made a hill to the top of it.

They are very good looking. Again welcome aboard.

Dawna
 

BethyB1022

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Welcome! I like your hide, I had never thought of putting a sponge on the roof (I assume that's to create more humidity) what a neat idea. Good luck with your little ones, they sure are adorable!
 

TortieGal

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Welcome! They are so cute and they look great. I like your house and hide very good idea. Do you mix water with the substrate its hard to tell in the pic if its dry. I mix water with the substrate every couple days under the lights to keep the moisture up. My Sulcata loves spring mix and Mazuri and every now and then some zucchini he doesnt want anything to do with hay. He is still a baby two. Some members will chop it up and put in on spring mix to get them to eat it. I'm glad you found the forum lots of good info here.
 

chadk

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Very cute little sullies.

I think the sand ratio is too high. Will tend to dry out too fast and get dusty. I'd have about 2/3 soil to 1/3 sand. Or even just a 1/4 sand. And it should be the safe "children's play sand".

You could also just mix a brick of the expanding coconut (sp) fiber stuff they sell in pet stores with what you have now.

You need a shallow water dish they can easily climb in and out of. And I agree on adding some slate or flagstone for them to walk and eat on. I think the size of the bin will be fine for while. I'd keep an eye out for a good book case that you can lay on it's back and remove the shelves and turn into a tort table.

Give them a variety of leafy greens. Mix in the orchard grass, but don't be surprised if they are not interested too much. Spring mix and dandilion greens would be good. Sprinkle with some calcium powder.

Best of luck!
 

Yvonne G

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chrisepperson said:
Can someone tell me why the pictures did not load in the first message?

I think when you copy the IMG code, you have to have [img.......img] in other words, the [img at the beginning of the run of numbers and img] at the end. This tells the computer what to do.

Hi Chris:

468871fsj3ofc85v.gif


to the forum!!
 

chrisepperson

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I agree, the sand ratio is too high. It was pretty dusty yesterday before I watered it all down. Should I add more soil or get some cypress mulch? Can you buy the good cypress mulch anywhere besides a pet store (cheaper)?

What is a slate rock? And where can I get one? I feed them on a ceramic tile.

My timer I have my light on just burned out, after only a week? It was a cheap one from Home Depot...any suggestions on a better one that is still cheap?
 

Meg90

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I get 4$ timers from walmart. I've had one glitch once or twice, but not burn out yet.
 

chadk

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chrisepperson said:
I agree, the sand ratio is too high. It was pretty dusty yesterday before I watered it all down. Should I add more soil or get some cypress mulch? Can you buy the good cypress mulch anywhere besides a pet store (cheaper)?

What is a slate rock? And where can I get one? I feed them on a ceramic tile.

My timer I have my light on just burned out, after only a week? It was a cheap one from Home Depot...any suggestions on a better one that is still cheap?

You can get slate tiles in the same places you get ceramic tiles. I prefer flagstone that us used to make natural looking walk ways \ garden paths. Ceramic is OK, but does not have a very rough coating for helping grind down nails and beaks.

I'd add more soil or the coco fiber stuff (expandable bricks found in pet stores). I tried adding bark to soil mixtures but did not like how it turned out.
 

sammi

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I would suggest adding some "furniture" for them. The more empty space you can eliminate, the better. It keeps them interested, and keeps them exploring. You can get fake plants at a craft store [which also work as hides], and add rocks/stones for them to climb on. I get my rocks from the beach and just give them a good wash at home. Theres a lot of good setup ideas along with pictures in the "Enclosures" part of the forum :)
 

chrisepperson

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I went to Home Depot today to get a slate tile...I also looked mustard greens in the garden area. After explaining to a worker what I have going on he thought that it could grow in my enclosure on the cool side. Anyone have any thoughts or experience with this? The plant doesn't have any pesticides on fertilizers.
 

aktech23

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emysemys said:
chrisepperson said:
Can someone tell me why the pictures did not load in the first message?

I think when you copy the IMG code, you have to have [img.......img] in other words, the [img at the beginning of the run of numbers and img] at the end. This tells the computer what to do.

it looks like your link is wrong, as you have a missing image font. To add to what emysemys what you do is this, but without the spaces:

[ i m g] /url/to/image [ / i m g]


The closing img tag has a slash.
 

dmmj

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I actually grow mustard green from seed, but mine grow outside of my guy/girl's enclosures. but I know a lot of people that grow plants inside their enclosures.
 

janiedough

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i am thinking you might need calcium and some sort of thing for them to soak themselves, but i could be wrong

but ask people on here and if you don't get answers keep asking. but i am sure some one will give you an answer to that soon enough.


they do need to be soaked
 

tortoisenerd

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Welcome to the group! You have a great start to a hatchling enclosure, but that size won't last you long at all. I suggest you think about building a huge tortoise table out of wood, and then block off most of it and expand it as they grow. You may also want something with significantly higher sides so you can have deeper substrate for them to dig/burrow in. I agree that a water dish and a slate tile would be great additions. I also think you should have a huge for each of them in at least the warmer and cooler areas of the enclosure. Hides can be half logs, plastic containers, boxes, fake or real plants, a pile of timothy hay, etc. Having a warm hide will encourage them to bask while knowing they can safely retreat. Having a hide for each of them available will make sure that one will not avoid using the hide because the other is not already in there. I also agree to have more of the coir than the sand in there. Try a new one out next time you change it (likely every few months if you keep up with the daily messes) to see what works best for you and the torts, if you are considering the mulch. Just make sure it is pure Cyprus and no aromatic woods. The substrate you are using, especially with less sand, has a low risk of impaction unless you notice them eating it by the mouthful. Substrates we recommend here should pass right through if eaten in small quantities. Feeding on a tile should eliminate a lot of the risk as eating is the primary time they could ingest substrate. I find the substrate with the larger particles like the mulches or barks are tougher for hatchlings to walk on as their have larger particles.

You need not worry if you can't get them to eat hay the first few years. Sure, add a little in to the food, but don't expect it. Very few owners can get their hatchling Sulcatas to eat it. Focus on weeds if you can do that, otherwise greens and lettuces. Variety is key. I start with about half spring mix and the other half a rotation of greens and lettuces. Keep in mind you don't want to only feed the greens with high oxalic acid content (like mustard/collard/dandelion greens) because this binds to calcium and can increase urates and potentially cause stones. I suggest a pure calcium supplement. No D3 and no vitamin supplements (unless natural and just ground up weeds and healthy stuff, such as Total Nutrition for Tortoises from carolinapetsupply.com). This is because it is nearly impossible to know a safe dose of vitamins to give a tortoise. Some are fat soluble (like D3) not water soluble (like calcium), and thus can build up to toxic levels. Focus on a varied diet. Also know that in the wild tortoises have a very low nutrient rich diet of weeds and grasses.

If you do want to try and grow any plants in the enclosure, I suggest using small pots or trays (even cat litter boxes work), organic potting soil, and sinking them into the substrate. This way you can remove them, maybe rotate a few in and out, so they have a chance to grow back after the tortoises trample them, and they can get some sun. I had no luck doing this but don't have any gardening abilities. Even trying to grow stuff out of the enclosure was tough for me. If you are planting seeds, I recommend focusing on things you cannot buy in the supermarket. Turnip greens are a great food because they are low in oxalic acid but high in calcium and other nutrients. I wouldn't want to grow mustard greens since they are easy to find in the supermarket, and instead grow weeds, safe vegetable seeds for the leaves (anything but the nightshade family which has toxic leaves), grape leaves, etc. Also, if you can grow edible flowers they love that (such as hibiscus). You don't want to pick up something from a garden center and feed it right away as especially the flowers are very full of chemicals. If you don't buy organic, I would let the plant sit for at least 6 months to leech off the systemic chemicals.

Looking good! Like you noticed, the more you can add to the enclosure and re-arrange it (as long as it does not cause stress) the better captive environment they will have. Breaking up the line of sight can help with the enclosure boredom and make it seem bigger. Do you have a huge yard for when they are big enough? Two Sulcatas is a lot to handle! Good luck and best wishes.
 

chrisepperson

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Where can I get a calcium supplement without vitamin d3? I have RepCal calcium with d3 as well as RepCal vitamin supplement. I have been using the calcium with every feeding, but have currently stopped. I have looked for a calcium without vit d3 but have not found it.

Where can you get fresh dandilion weeds?
 

Meg90

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You need to keep using it at every feeding. I would suggest that you do this until they are two years old. The body starts to break down bone and shell matter is the blood Ca levels are not where they should be, whereas, if there is too much Ca in the body, it is just harmlessly excreted. Here is a site where I got mine from: http://www.petmountain.com/product/reptile-supplements/513260/zoo-med-repti-calcium-without-d3.html the 8oz jar is HUGE. Its 4.5 inches tall, and 3.5 inches in diameter. It will last for a lonnnnng time. I would say, go with that. If you also order from PetMountain, you can get a 3pack of eco earth for like 4.25$ instead of the 11$ and up they sell it for in stores. http://www.petmountain.com/product/reptile-bedding/510332/zoo-med-eco-earth-3-pack.html
 
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