Newbie Sulcata Family


New Member
Nov 12, 2019
Location (City and/or State)
Hello all. I'm Gando Salo.. Awesome forum and I am looking forward to your responses and help.

I live in Dubai and have 4 baby Sulcata Tortoises. They are very young and weigh just under 50 grams each.
They were bought from a local breeder but after reading about 50 threads here and @Tom 's detail beginner guides, I now know they were not being kept in ideal situations at the breeder. But it is the past and now hoping to give them a long life of happy tortoing.

Their current set up while they are still so small is a fountain I converted. It's about 8' x 4'. It was completely laid with fresh desert growing grass at first but now with the new ZooMed supplies flown in, its 50% grass and 50% mix of Forest Floor and ReptiBark. My Eco Earth got in this morning so I will be digging the dry side all up again and mixing in the Eco Earth as well and ill be giving them some dry eco earth to burrow into as they seem to like that a lot. They have a humid hide with moss under it and they love to sleep there. New hides will be added shortly to give everyone enough space of their own.

So far they are good. They seem happy and very playful during the day. Their pen is shaded a lot and I wanted that as the sun in Dubai can be brutal and unforgiving. There is an irrigation line that comes in and does two things - 1. fill up their water plate and 2. mists the grass. This happens three times a day in 'winter' and 5 times in the summer. They seem to like the mister for the grass and I find them just chilling while it's on with a buzzed out look on their little faces, it's hilarious.

Couple of issues that I think y'all would be able to help with.

1. Flipping. I constantly see them trying to climb the walls of the pen. The walls are earthy beige and are rough mosaics and the wall is a foot tall. There is no way they would be able to make it over, but they keep trying and then eventually push hard enough to fall back and flip. I've caught it a couple times and it seems risky as if it happened in the day with no one looking and the sun happens to be on them, they would be cooked to death especially in summer when it's 110 outside.

2. Feeding. The breeder just gave them lettuce and tomatoes. I'm trying the whole tough love approach and giving them only the foods that are recommended. Hibiscus, aloe, grass. But I feel they are not eating enough. I just got a stock of zoomed grassland but it is hard as hell and there is no way to would manage so I'm thinking of soaking it and making it mushy for them. I also got some Timothy Hay from the UK but they won't eat it, they like sleeping on it though. I've been sprinkling some ReptiCal on their leaves to help with the Calcium and will be soaking them with ReptiVite in their water to help with taking in their vitamins. But again, worried they are not consuming enough.

3. How important is the direct sun for them? We get plenty of sun here and I mean plenty. I have lived in Florida, and that too was no comparison to us here in Dubai. But does it have to be direct sun? It can get upwards of 135F under direct sun here and I don't think that is safe at all. So for now, they see a lot of daylight but just not direct. Will this be an issue.

4. Poop and Pee. I've had them for 3 weeks now, I have seen them poop twice. Is that normal? Also, I have seen them pee each maybe twice, but once for sure. I soak them every day (well my wife does) and it's in a nice warm bath which they enjoy. But no poo and no pee in there either.

5. What is the right amount of movement. I feel they will be active for an hour or so, then they get into a corner and just sleep. Its all day every day.

Hope to hear from some of the pros here. Photo of the little ones below (or above, not sure how it will come up:)



Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
May 29, 2014
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA

Good to see you are following @Tom ’s Sully guide and augmenting substrate, improving diet, increasing humidity.

Ive been to Dubai several times, owned a few torts in both KSA and Kuwait - i feel the sun, i know the heat SO BE CAREFUL with these youngsters if you plan to keep them outside like you have them! (Especially in Summer). Make sure they have shady spots, sounds like you do.

You want to soak your Zoomed pellets a bit so they are a bit soft and mushy, no tomatoes, and babies won’t eat thst really dry Timothy! Hibiscus flowers are good if you have those. Small snippets of fresh green grass.

Make sure you have plenty of humid hides. Probably best to remove the moss since some babies will eat that and possibly cause impaction & not nutritious at all.

Flipping - might indicate they need a larger enclosure. Mine went through a two week phase where our Sully flipped a few times. I rearranged a few things, and that was it.

Movement - babies like to hide to be safe, eat, soak and sleep in their hides. Staying/sleeping in a dark hide is normal.

Soaking - make sure you soak daily forever like you are.

Good Luck!

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 23, 2008
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Hi, and welcome!

I think the poop problem is also the diet problem. If they're not eating, they can't poop.

Do your markets sell pre-packaged salads? Most greens sold in the market are ok to feed your babies.