Plants for adult Sulcata enclosure (How to establish self-sustaining food source)

Jenna524

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We're preparing our yard for adopting a Sulcata tortoise this summer. We are hoping to add some plants or interest to the yard space. I have access to many good plant choices that are safe for the tortoise. Now I am interested in knowing which plants are safe to keep in the enclosure, verses which plants need to be raised or separated from the tortoise so he doesn't devour it in one day? (How to plant the plants in the enclosure so the tortoise doesn't ruin them--and which plants, when established, are less likely to be ruined in a day.)

For example: We would like to plant a couple of Hibiscus bushes in our Sulcatas pen area. Will he eat them down to the nub? Is it best to surround them with something for protection? Or is this a plant that will one day be able to stand on it's own in the enclosure?

Basically, does anyone have recommendations for plants that are tasty and good for the tortoise to eat that I can plant in the enclosure, and they will still flourish? And which plants should I plant that I need to raise high or protect? I'm hoping that we can get some bushes/plants established in the next few months before our adult Sulcata arrives. (I will already have ample grass/lawn available to the tortoise for his main food. I am hoping to plant an abundant supply of other plants to supplement. My hope is to have a yard with self-sustaining plants to reduce need for store purchased food for the tortoise).

Any suggestions along this route are appreciated!

Thanks!
 

ZEROPILOT

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Hibiscus bushes are 100% edible. Stems. Leaves. Flowers.
I reccomend planting several of them outside of the enclosure area.

I don't keep Sulcata. But I would imagine things like Elephant grass can outgrow and outlast a Sulcata and look good and provide cover.
 

Chubbs the tegu

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So yeah.. any small plants are gonna be eating down or bulldozed over. What size area do u have?
 

Lyn W

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Sadly sullies (or any tort) don't appreciate aesthetics - why go around things if you can go through or over? :)
www.thetortoisetable.org.uk will help you ID tort safe plants.
It is a uk website but many of the plants are common to US and UK

Just make sure you have as large an area as possible for him/her with sturdy boundaries.
You may find ideas in the Enclosures thread.
 

Tom

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Mulberry trees are great, but you'll have to protect the bark from rubbing.

Most anything will be eaten or trampled. Large mature hibiscus can survive, but the tortoise will eat anything it can reach.

Plant lots of spineless opuntia outside the pen.
 

Jenna524

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So yeah.. any small plants are gonna be eating down or bulldozed over. What size area do u have?
I'm making two areas. One will be a pen area that's about 350 sq. ft. This is where we will keep the heated house and where I'm hoping to plant some tortoise food, along with some grass, etc. But the entire yard is about 4500 sq ft., and we will be opening the pen gate daily to allow the Sulcata to roam freely throughout the day in the bigger yard/lawn, etc. I will be dedicating a significant portion of the yard to plants for the tortoise. I am trying to plan if I can plant on the ground, or if I will be raising everything or securing everything behind bricks or whatever.
 

Jenna524

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Mulberry trees are great, but you'll have to protect the bark from rubbing.

Most anything will be eaten or trampled. Large mature hibiscus can survive, but the tortoise will eat anything it can reach.

Plant lots of spineless opuntia outside the pen.
What type of containers do you use for your spineless opuntia? How many is "lots" for one sulcata?
 

Chubbs the tegu

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I'm making two areas. One will be a pen area that's about 350 sq. ft. This is where we will keep the heated house and where I'm hoping to plant some tortoise food, along with some grass, etc. But the entire yard is about 4500 sq ft., and we will be opening the pen gate daily to allow the Sulcata to roam freely throughout the day in the bigger yard/lawn, etc. I will be dedicating a significant portion of the yard to plants for the tortoise. I am trying to plan if I can plant on the ground, or if I will be raising everything or securing everything behind bricks or whatever.
350 sq ft for an adult male sul
I'm making two areas. One will be a pen area that's about 350 sq. ft. This is where we will keep the heated house and where I'm hoping to plant some tortoise food, along with some grass, etc. But the entire yard is about 4500 sq ft., and we will be opening the pen gate daily to allow the Sulcata to roam freely throughout the day in the bigger yard/lawn, etc. I will be dedicating a significant portion of the yard to plants for the tortoise. I am trying to plan if I can plant on the ground, or if I will be raising everything or securing everything behind bricks or whatever.
350 sq ft will be eating down quickly by an adult sully. Letting him out to roam free could cause problems Also ( once they know there is a new world out there they will try to get back to it) i had 350 sq ft for my 9 inch sully and he used every inch of it
 

Tom

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What type of containers do you use for your spineless opuntia? How many is "lots" for one sulcata?
I've successfully used slumpstone blocks to protect plants from them, but there are many ways this could be done.

Sulcatas eat a lot. Grass hay will be the main diet, but you'll have fun watching all sorts of other good stuff disappear too. I prefer orchard grass hay or Bermuda. Don't like Timothy. I'd plant at least a dozen spineless opuntia pads around the yard. You won't have too much. @NorCal tortoise guy will take your extra if ever there is any! :)

IMG_1321.jpg
 

Jan A

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I'm making two areas. One will be a pen area that's about 350 sq. ft. This is where we will keep the heated house and where I'm hoping to plant some tortoise food, along with some grass, etc. But the entire yard is about 4500 sq ft., and we will be opening the pen gate daily to allow the Sulcata to roam freely throughout the day in the bigger yard/lawn, etc. I will be dedicating a significant portion of the yard to plants for the tortoise. I am trying to plan if I can plant on the ground, or if I will be raising everything or securing everything behind bricks or whatever.
Welcome to the forum!! It's great that you're planning in advance. If you want to see a great outdoor yard, check out @NorCal tortoise guy, whose yard is a work in progress. Of course, he has more than one tort.
 

shellcior

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Mine loves rose petals as well as hibiscus, optunia, etc... I have 2 very large knock out rose bushes that provide petals and shade. They are planted 3' from the fence so Tank can do his security patrols. Plant all of your plants away from the perimeter of the enclosure or they will be quickly trampled. Anything I grow for him to eat is planted in a large container.
 

Buckeye Girl

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Sulcatas are going to eat all of the good stuff down to the ground. When planting out vegetable garden this year we transplanted several dandelions into the sulcata area and he gobbled them up. He does have a decent sized grass area so he hasn't eaten it ALL down, but as soon as he finds it, he'll gobble it up. As my daughter says, they are gremlins when it comes to eating. :)
 

Buckeye Girl

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Mine loves rose petals as well as hibiscus, optunia, etc... I have 2 very large knock out rose bushes that provide petals and shade. They are planted 3' from the fence so Tank can do his security patrols. Plant all of your plants away from the perimeter of the enclosure or they will be quickly trampled. Anything I grow for him to eat is planted in a large container.
I love "security patrol"! The first enclosure I built for my sulcata didn't have enough perimeter as he spent all of his time on the edges and NOT in the open grassy area. So I redesigned it with a raised area in the middle of it so it has more perimeter to patrol. I also planted yummy stuff on the outside of the fence because he LOVES to trim the edges. Now if only I could get him to edge the flower beds and not eat the flowers!
 
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