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New tortoise owner, need a little guidance and advice please!

Discussion in 'Sulcata tortoises' started by KennyDolly, Nov 30, 2019.

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  1. KennyDolly

    KennyDolly New Member 5 Year Member

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    So I found myself in the care of my cousins very small young sulcata. She purchased him from a pet store 5 days ago and her father wouldn’t let her keep it. That said, I’m not a young kid who doesn’t care for their animals, lol. I’ve kept all kinds of animals and worked in a pet store and love to educate myself on their well being!

    Anyway, I have little Normand in a 20 gallon long terrarium. I have a 75 watt basking bulb, a UVB bulb, and a 50 watt ceramic heat emitter to keep the whole habitat warmer especially at night. Hot side temps run about 95 on the wall mounted thermometer. Cool side usually about 80. I use coconut fiber as the base and mist him often to increase humidity, including using a hide box with moss. I feed him dandelion greens and dust with calcium 3x a week, along with other greens and both Flukers and Zoo Med grassland tortoise diet offered even though he has yet to try it. I am growing wheatgrass and clover to offer to him as weeds, and soak Timothy hay pellets to offer as well. He is a picky eater so far but I’m trying! I soak him daily after I feed him in the morning as well.

    thank you to anyone who takes the time to read this! I’m really trying to make the best life I can for this little guy and raise him right! I just read so much differing opinions I wanted to run this by everyone here!

    two more questions,

    any tips to keep humidity up in a screened terrarium? I plan to buy a misting machine to keep up on it while I’m at work.

    also, does it look like his shell has begun to pyramid? I really am working hard to prevent that, I’m not sure how old he is and I don’t know what care he got before me. His shell isn’t even quite 4 inches long, but I know that is a law in NY at least if not federal to not sell hatchlings under that length.

    sorry for the long winded post, just really need some guidance and reassurance!!

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    PhxSulcata and Gijoux like this.
  2. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Lots of mistakes to point out. If you fix all of these things, you'll be well on your way to your stated goals.

    • Minimum enclosure size for a tiny hatchling is 40 gallons, but a 60 or 100 is better. A 2x4' closed chamber will work better than an open topped tank.
    • I wouldn't use a fogger. If you close everything in properly, you won't need that.
    • Screen tops block UV.
    • Looks like you are using a cfl type UV bulb. These are ineffective and sometimes dangerous. They shouldn't be used.
    • Coco coir is not unsafe, but its very messy. Fine grade orchid bark works better.
    • All tortoises are picky eaters. They eat what they've eaten before. It takes time to introduce any new food. Start with tiny amounts of the new stuff, mixed with the old favorites.
    • Babies don't eat hay, soaked or otherwise. When they do start on hay, at about 12", I would not recommend Timothy hay. Orchard grass hay or Bermuda hay will serve you best when that time comes.
    • What type of basking bulb are you using? Is it an "intense spot bulb"? If yes, those are a no go. Use a flood type bulb instead.
    • Remove the moss form the hide. It doesn't do anything and they try to eat it. Its an impaction risk.
    • There is no way to keep humidity and temps up with an open top. You'll need to buy or build a closed chamber for that. Yes, he is starting to pyramid, and the closed chamber will help stop it.
    • There are several exceptions built into the 4" law. I wouldn't worry about that.

    Here is the info all in one place for you:
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/

    Your questions are welcome.
  3. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Hi!
    What a cutie he is!

    I have never kept a sulcata, but I can get you started until other sully keepers join in.

    First, the truly knowledgeable keepers are here, on this forum. I see that though you haven't been posting, you've been a member for 5 years, so you may already know that.

    The only way to keep up the humidity is to close off the top of your tank. Keepers have come up with many ways to do that, from draping plastic sheeting to using plexiglass. It's called a closed chamber, so if you do a search of the forum for "closed chamber", you will find many threads. Once you cover the top, you won't need to buy a mister.

    It needs to be done for another reason too. If your UVB bulb is in one of those domes, UVB does not pass through screen, plastic, or glass, so the tort is not getting any benefit from it.

    Stick-on gauges are generally unreliable, especially when placed on the glass side of the tank. It would be best for you to get a temp gun, so you can check temps exactly at the right places. A thermostat controller on your CHE would turn it on and off according to actual temp.

    I do hope you know that that adorable baby will grow to 100 lbs or so, and very quickly. Your 20g tank is already too small, so you need to think about a much larger indoor enclosure. You don't say where you live (what state), so it's hard to advise you on a proper outdoor enclosure, but it's never too early to start thinking and planning.

    Here are some links to care sheets. Please read them carefully as they are a wealth of info. Then come back with questions and we'll have you tip top in no time! :):tort:

    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/

    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/

    https://tortoiseforum.org/index.php?posts/716928
  4. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Ha ha! Looks like @Tom and I were writing at the same time, but he beat me to it by 2 minutes! Tom is extremely knowledgeable, and keeps sulcatas. Follow his suggestions, and your baby will do great.
  5. KennyDolly

    KennyDolly New Member 5 Year Member

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    Actually, found a wonderful Facebook group who has been absolutely wonderful in helping me in my tortoise travels.

    thanks, but I will be leaving this forum. I understand the passion for these incredible creatures. Just looking for some actually relatable people that care and actually help.
  6. MichiganMan

    MichiganMan Member

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    WTF just happened here? o_O
  7. Pure Tortoise Power

    Pure Tortoise Power Active Member

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    I wouldn't say the Facebook group's are not trustworthy (though there have been some notorious Facebook groups that give incorrect information about tort keeping), but I can ensure you that there are actual veterans on the forum that can guide you to keep your sulcata alive and healthy. I am one of the amateurs that have been given ample information about tort keeping and I can tell you that my sully Rover has been doing greatly for the past 8 to 9 months compared to before I found out about this forum. I sincerely and strongly suggest you follow the instructions given by the 2 veterans up there. I hope eventually you'll opt for this forum over the facebook groups.
  8. Mizcreant

    Mizcreant Well-Known Member Tortoise Club

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    Curious which FB group he joined. I checked out quite a few and some of the advice given was absolutely abhorrent. Not all mind you, but some.
  9. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Evidently we told the OP things they weren't ready to hear.
  10. Mizcreant

    Mizcreant Well-Known Member Tortoise Club

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    Information overload. I blame Tom. lol
  11. Lokkje

    Lokkje New Member

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    Wow! Clearly this person wasn’t really looking for advice but looking to hear how great his tortoise is and what a great job he is doing. I learn from Tom and everyone else every single time I read a post even if it isn’t about leopards or Desert tortoises, which is what I have. Even if you don’t agree with the post, there’s no reason to be rude and disrespectful and I found his “move to Facebook” posting to be rude and disrespectful. There was nothing said in any of the posts he had received that was inappropriate or wrong and all of it was just trying to be helpful. His little tortoise is cute, I wish him the best, and I hope that his tortoise doesn’t suffer for his delicate feelings. Best of luck to both of them, the tort might need it.
  12. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I am sorry that you find me and Tom to be unrelatable, uncaring, and unhelpful.

    The point you are missing is "knowledgeable". I admit that I am a relative newbie to tortoise keeping, but Tom is not. He has decades of experience, and is willing to share it.

    There is one FB group that I would recommend. It's called "Tortoise Talk", and there you will get good advice. It's a closed group, so you will have to ask to join.

    I wish you and Normand the very best. If anything does go wrong, come back and we will help you.

    Here, we do give people a second chance, with no vilification.
  13. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Usually, when we see lots of pictures especially of the enclosure, what the OP is looking for is big pats on the back about how wonderful their enclosure is. Tom calls it like he sees it. There's nothing wrong with the advice he gave, with maybe the exception that I think the aquarium is an ok size for now.
  14. Hippytort

    Hippytort Member 5 Year Member

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    Yep, it's a shame the op decided to leave. I wish I had the knowledge I've gained here when I started my tort.
    I read all sorts of "good" information on the web that I learned later to be totally wrong!
  15. jsheffield

    jsheffield Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I'm betting they found a FB group that just complimented them on the pics and cute tort, and preferred that to advice and suggestions about stuff they could improve....

    Jamie
  16. Pure Tortoise Power

    Pure Tortoise Power Active Member

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    Sigh... Human psychology, a thing that is simple yet complicated at the same time.
  17. Toddrickfl1

    Toddrickfl1 Well-Known Member Tortoise Club

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    Good luck getting good information from the Facebook groups

    Your gonna need it........
  18. Gijoux

    Gijoux Active Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Well good luck to you and your tortoise.
  19. method89

    method89 Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    This OP is just a microcosm of the world today. There clearly is something wrong with YOU, because you don't agree with ME!!!


    But I do blame @Tom as well. The guy just wanted his participation trophy and you just couldn't give it to him, could you?!?!
    Gijoux and Samantha Graham like this.
  20. Turtulas-Len

    Turtulas-Len Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    A simple way to help keep the moisture in when using a screen top is to use aluminum foil and cut out for the lights.Lay the light on the foil and mark with a marker and then cut it across in pie shape pieces and fold them under instead of cutting them off. Folding them under just adds a little strength to edge of the foil so it doesn't tear when you open the top to feed, clean, etc.Hopefully the op will see this because it's an easy, simple and quick fix to the humidity problem.
    Samantha Graham likes this.
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