Phoebe - first time owner!

Dubiskwii

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Firstly, hello! My name is Phoebe and I am a chef, hailing from the sunny south of England.

I recently decided to invest in a tortoise since meeting the 18 yr old Hermann's belonging to a friend - needless to say I fell in love with their curiosity and cheekiness! I wanted a pet for life that will fit in on my farm and share my herbivorous diet.

I began researching all species of tortoise, their diets, habitats and conditions - and purchased a tortoise table with heat & uvb lamps, as well as loamy soil substrate and the odd rock/log/crystal.

While searching at length for a reputable breeder of Horsefield/Herman's tortoises, I came across a pair of "yearling" Sulcatas - that from the advertisement photographs had been kept in completely the wrong microclimates.
They were living in an unfurnished tortoise table without uvb light, just a heat mat and heat lamp - being fed on "complete tortoise food pellets". Their substrate was large hay pellets.

Knowing what I knew about the requirements of Sulcatas, I couldn't pass the tortoises by. I couldn't in good conscience purchase a hatchling knowing that beautiful torts like these were being harmed by their owners' lack of information on their welfare.

So I bought them - and let me tell you a little about them, my observations and concerns:

First impressions are that they're a pair of friendly and happy torts. They don't shy from handling and are happy to explore.

The main area of concern for me is the difference in size for the pair, who were apparently bought from the same pet shop :/ at the same time.

One is 2.75" while one is 4" in length - for clutchmates is this size difference rare or down to ill nutrition? The smaller tort appears to eat a lot less than his larger friend, and is less active.

I'll upload some photos to this thread as soon as I'm home from work :)

I know that Sulcatas shouldn't be kept together after a certain age, and I wonder if the larger one will constantly dominate the smaller - and if I should separate them. Do you think that competition is responsible for the smaller tort's lack of growth?

Another concern is the skin around the face and neck of the smaller tort - it appears to be flaky and exhibit signs of prolonged soreness around his neck-wrinkle. I wonder whether this is due to the faaaaarrrr to dry habitat they were kept in, as the previous owner informed me that she only bathed them "when they were dirty".

Another worry is the shell of the larger tort - it has begun to show signs of pyramiding - which I intend to slow by finally feeding them the correct diet of calcium supplements, weeds and grasses (that they are slowly coming round to eating) and regular soaks.

Essentially I couldn't leave these gorgeous babies out in the ether, they're mine now and I only want to learn more about them, so as we may grow and change and live together for many, many years to come.

I live on a farm with more than adequate space for mature Sulcatas, but I'd very much like some guidance on how to clear up the effects of their dry, undernourished existence so far.

Any advice is very welcome, and I shall trawl this forum for relevant articles anyway.

I look forward to speaking with some of you, and hopefully Bebop and Rocksteady might go from strength to strength with a little care.

Peace out x
 

Dubiskwii

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London, UK
Here they are in their unfurnished table.
 

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Yvonne G

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Hi Phoebe, and welcome to the Forum!

Your tortoises are exhibiting the classic signs that tell us tortoises don't do well in pairs. The more dominant tortoise, the bigger one, tells the more submissive tortoise, the smaller one, to get out of his territory. Since the smaller tortoise can't get out of the territory, he tries to make himself less objectionable by hiding more, staying out of the bigger one's way, and eating less. I'd be willing to bet that if you set them up separately you'll start to see a marked improvement in the smaller tortoise's growth and attitude.
 

Grandpa Turtle 144

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Hello Phoebe welcome to the TFO from AZ, USA . Sorry I don't have Sulcatas but I do have Leopards they are a lot alike . 1st you got them to share you vegy garden ( they will eat all theirs and then start yours :) the size diff. I think is dominins . But if I was a tort I could think of a better friend to have then a chief . Well have a great tort day .


Sent from my iPhone using TortForum
 

Dubiskwii

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Thank you both, I feel very welcome and I'm in awe of the amount of knowledge in all sectors of tortoise husbandry. I feel with a community like this behind us, Bebop, Rocksteady and I will be able to make things right.

Until I can separate them I will try to feed them apart from each other.

Any thoughts on the skin-flaking?
 

wellington

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Hello and Welcome :) Boy, you jumped in with both feet getting two sulcatas:D Be sure you read Toms threads below in my post. They pertain more for hatchlings, but will give you an idea of how they should have been raised and how you can adjust for their size/age now. I would at least provide them with a humid hide of 80% humidity and that it's warmed to 80 degrees. Good luck and glad you were willing to give these guys a better life, even thought it's going to be a bigger job then a Hermanns would have been:D
 

bouaboua

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Hello Phoebe and Welcome. Looks like you have lots expert in forum jump on your case and provided lots help.

So I just here to offer our welcome. This is a great place to learn and share. Good to have you here.
 

dmmj

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Salutations.
Bebop? Rocksteady? you are a TMNT fan aren't you?
I def. agree with separation, the larger one bullies the other.
 

Dubiskwii

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Thanks for your advice guys, I'm gonna separate them as soon as possible to allow the little guy to come out of his shell (hahaa! First tortoise joke I ever made).

I feel like I can rest easy knowing the cause at least. Peace x
 
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