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Please check out my sulcata.

Discussion in 'Sulcata tortoises' started by bdavison, Dec 31, 2012.

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  1. bdavison

    bdavison New Member 5 Year Member

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    I'm new to the forum. She is the first tortoise we have ever had. She is about two. Weighs almost 3 lbs and is almost 8" long. I live in North Florida and keep her outside all summer. She comes in whenever it is very rainy or the temps go down. When she is out, I don't feed her. Her yard is grasses, dandelions, clover, lettuces, and hibiscus( and the ever-present dollar weed. Too bad she won't touch that). When inside, she gets organic spring mix and greens. Have tried to add Mazuri many times. She won't eat it.

    I have attached several photos of her for your assessment. She is pyramiding, which I take from this site is bad. Please advise on that. I soaked her when she was teeny, but stopped. She has her own private shallow pond outside, but I never see her in it. She used to get into her water dish inside, but doesn't fit anymore. I have soaked her every few days and will up that to every day again. She does not drink when I soak her. How can I tell if she is hydrated? She just looks 'dry' to me. A silly comment from someone who owns 15 water turtles to compare her to. We have high humidity here. If she is pyramiding anyway, what can I do the stop it? Should I try to supplement calcium? Sprinkle it on her greens?

    On the welcome forum, I was advised to go ahead and move her outside year-round. I guess I can do that after this winter, but today I took her out. She went right to her sleeping spot where the heat pad is. It was 65 and sunny. ( Several RESs were basking. I use them as a guide on whether or not to try her outside)I had not fed her yet, she was all toasty from basking under her light, and she only took a few quick bites on her way to her spot. I brought her in and fed her. She ate and ran around the office while I took pictures of her. What temperature is warm enough for her to be out? Is it ok for her not to eat because its too cold? If not, should I bring her in and feed her? It worries me because I cannot tell if she doesn't eat without putting a camera on her, but when it gets chilly, she stays on her heating pad. That's when I bring her in.

    How can I tell if she is getting enough to eat? I have seen fat turtles/tortoises. Do fat sulcatas look the same? Seems easier to spot a fat one than one that isn't getting enough.

    While she's inside, how much exercise is enough? Her tub seems so small. Its a big storage bin. I see Sulcatas on YouTube that look like they can't get all the way off the ground. These are generally the same people that are feeding them fruit on the video too. I use fruit only as a treat to make sure she is acting plenty spunky. Yet, I have seen and read about so many people feeding fruit, I questioned my judgement. I feel reassured after reading up on here, but feel free to advise if you disagree. I have a good picture of her walking, so you can see her ground clearance. Please comment if that matters. I can put her on the treadmill (kidding).

    I see several references to not mixing species on here. I have unintentionally done that. A few months ago, while at the dog park, my Dane pup brought me a box turtle. He weighed nearly 100 lbs at that point and when I saw what he had, I nearly had a heart attack. I recognized it as a box turtle, but have never even seen one and didn't know what to do. She was thoroughly slimed, but unharmed from her run in with my dog, but I figured her luck would not hold out living in a dog park and took her home to figure out where to release her. Some research let me know that was not a viable option, so she is living in the same part of the yard as Charlotte. She appears to be an Eastern Box turtle. She's looks healthy and is either nowhere to be found or trucking around doing whatever it is that she does. I don't see her for weeks, and then every day for a few. I have tried to feed her, but she ignores it and the lizards get fat and happy on her food. So, I stopped worrying about her. They have come across each other several times that I have seen, and shown no interest in one another. Charlotte is a bigger than her already. Are they not going to be alright in there together? Their yard is about 15x20'. There is a huge jasmine vine covering one side of the fence which gives shade and hiding spots, we let the grass get high, have some fountain grasses, ferns, peace lillies, and an elephant ear for them to hide in. Part of their enclosure is covered and stays dry except for the rainiest times. I guess I hoped it would be big enough. Not sure what to do with the displaced box turtle. I want to do the right thing for her, but for now, this is my biggest question.

    Wow, that was a lot. Sorry, but all these questions are why I am here. No need for everyone to try to answer everything. Just please look at her and tell me if anything concerns you. Any amount of information is much appreciated. Thank you!

    Attached Files:

  2. lvstorts

    lvstorts Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Welcome! I'll give you a bump.

    There is a thread "end of pyramiding" somewhere on this site, search it and I'm sure you'll find it. Its a very 'hot' topic. Some think any is all bad and some don't think its ever an issue. My opinion is your little guy looks fine. Additionally, mild pyramiding tends to be cosmetic (if not genetic), while severe tends to be associated with metabolic bone disease (visualize a spiked hairdo!).

    On a side note, I've raised a group of 5 Redfoots from egg to 6 years in the EXACT same enclosure and 2 are pyramiding slightly.
  3. Irwin4530

    Irwin4530 Active Member 5 Year Member

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    I think that she looks great!
    I do not keep sullys, but there are many on here who do and they will be able to answer all of your questions. Deffinatly more her form where the box turtle is and if you can return the boxer to the wild then I would do that....seeing as how shw was wild and has been living outdoors anyhow. Put her back near the dog park...as close as you can to where your dog got her and let her go "home"...in my opinion :)

    Also, it my understanding the elephant ears are very TOXIC to torts so I would remove that ASAP
  4. mainey34

    mainey34 Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Exactly where is the said pyramiding? I think you have one beautiful sulcata..it might be slightly elevated, but i think it looks great. If you are concerned start using a spray bottle to spray the shell down..
  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    1. That pyramiding happened a long time ago. Offering a humid hide is about all you can do for it at this point. Soon the new growth will start coming in smoother. I wouldn't worry about it.

    2. Daily soaking is no longer necessary, and won't do much at this point.

    3. Get a large shallow terra cotta saucer for drinking water and sink it into the ground so that the lip is even with the surface. They will not use a water dish or pond that they are not comfortable with.

    4. 65 and sunny is fine to put her outside as long as the ground isn't too cold. If you don't have a temp gun, get one. If you move her out in the spring, with a dry heated house, this won't be an issue anymore. In the mean time, a little sun on the warm days is fine and her indoor enclosure should be good until spring. I would not let her run around on the floor of your office. Too dangerous.

    5. Just let her eat as much as she wants of the right foods. Outdoor grazing is best. Inside, feed her a pile as big as herself. If there is leftover, feed less next time. If she eats it all up in 2 minutes, give more next time.

    6. They need room to move. Build or buy something bigger for the indoor days. Try a large kiddie pool or a horse watering trough.

    7. I vote no on the fruit. They don't need it. Its not good for them. Skip it.

    8. Put the box turtle back in the wild. If the dog park area is not suitable, drive a short distance to a more suitable area. I don't know FL law, but it is probably illegal to collect wild ones and keep them as pets with out permits. Any FL members want to set me straight here? If you insist on keeping it, build it a separate enclosure away from the sulcata. And 15x20' is not going to last very long for a sulcata. You might get another year or two, and then you are going to need more space.
  6. Moozillion

    Moozillion Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I don't have Sally's myself, but I think she's GORGEOUS!!!! Great photos and I LOVE the caption/commentary! :)
    [hr]
    ...that should be "sullys" not "Sally's!"...darn spell check! :p
  7. bdavison

    bdavison New Member 5 Year Member

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    OK, so some disagreement on whether or not she even is pyramiding. Good. I won't worry about it. I read the article before I asked. Very helpful, but doesn't clearly define pyramiding. I wanted your opinions. Thank you.

    Get her a better, bigger outdoor hide. Check. She'll need more space that quick? Hmm. With dogs I may not be able to house her properly long term, after all. Stupid, stupid impulse buy and misinformation from the pet store:( I get dog food at that store and they sell sulcatas pretty regularly. Makes me furious. Give it to me straight. With big dogs that also need yard space, which is all I've got, a yard, not acres- am I not going to be able to keep her? We like her a lot, but I will re-home her rather than watch her die. If it is inevitable, is it better to do so while she is small? I see people on CL all the time looking to take in tortoises, but they have way smaller areas than I already have and think its fine. Its not an easy thing to do, rehome a sulcata.

    I have a temp gun. How cold is too cold for the ground temp? Does it matter if she runs to her warm spot and refuses to eat? I've heard that 65 is ok, yet she doesn't seem to agree. Advice?

    The box turtle is a problem. I would prefer to release her. Never intended to collect her and make her a pet. I will start a new thread specific to her. All the land around the dog park is being cleared and built on. Industrial area. We are decimating all their environments:( They will be gone from the wild in a blink.

    Thanks for the pile of food advice. That is helpful.

    No fruit. Check.

    Don't let her wander around my office? Why not? Her indoor pen is too small for exercise. My dogs were shut out and I was taking pictures of her and watching her. How is that dangerous? Am I missing something, or did I just clear up the dangers by being more specific? She seems to like getting out.

    Love the terra cotta saucer advice. Off to Lowe's for that. None big enough at WalMart or Target. Pity, her pond is awesome! The box turtle loves it. It even has small fish in the summer.

    All the ideas for a larger indoor pen do not keep her from the dogs. When my kids go to college, they will be mortified at how quickly I will modify their rooms. Heehee

    Thanks for the responses!
    [hr]
    Haha, have a love/hate relationship with spellcheck, especially on my phone! She is pretty cute. I love taking pictures of her and showing the details of all her varying textures, and interesting body parts and antics. Close detail shots of any animal are beautiful to me. I take them when I am having a 'stop and smell the roses' moment:)

    Glad you enjoyed them:)
    [hr]
    Elephant ear out. Check. I hate that thing anyway. Keeps coming back, so I left it. I'll be aggressive now that I have a reason.
  8. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    No. No disagreement. She IS pyramided. It's just that it's a done deal at this point. At about this size they start to smooth out on their own even if it's still too dry. Keep her hydrated and offer a warm humid hide for sleeping and hanging out. That is about all you can do once they are this size.

    They do grow quickly and they need a lot of room to roam. A smallish yard is not going to make them drop dead. But it's good for them to be able to roam. Locomotion helps with digestion. Yard space is a judgment call. There is no set rule. I have seen them living in smallish spaces, and I find it very sad. My adults have 7000 square feet and it still feel a bit too small to me. It's all relative and it's all opinion.

    Ground temp has many factors to consider. How wet? How windy? How much shelter? How sunny? Air temp? Etc... Watch your tortoises behavior. That's your best bet. I use the outdoor enclosures as fair weather enclosures, but my indoor enclosures are adequate for full time housing too. Yours needs to be also.

    Here are some reasons not to put your tortoise on the floor:
    Too cold.
    Hair, buttons, dust bunnies and other foreign objects that could be ingested.
    Electrical cords.
    They could be stepped on.
    Something could fall on them.
    A door could open and hit them.
    They could be injured by the mechanisms of any recliners.

    I'm sure I could think of more, but none of these things are a concern in a proper enclosure.

    Hope these things help. Whether or not you keep her is a personal decision. There are many factors to consider. I love the species, but they are not the best pet for everyone. Good luck.
  9. bdavison

    bdavison New Member 5 Year Member

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    OK, this is all very helpful. Thank you. You are right about watching her behavior. That is what I have been doing and I will stick with my gut. I put her out at 65, but the ground was wet from earlier rain, and was too cold for her. She didn't like it and I brought her back in.

    I agree that an acre would be awesome for adults, but not having a yard that enormous isn't exactly horrible. How big is your indoor enclosure? How can you have adequate space for housing indoors full-time if you think 7000ft is just ok? I'm imagining a big barn or something, which would be awesome! Or an entire basement. Do they have basements in CA? None here:( Floridians have serious storage issues. I REALLY belong outside city limits on a chunk of land. I would be in heaven with a tortoise barn LOL.

    Anyway, I am trying to get really creative thinking up a more suitable indoor space, even if it will be more and more temporary as she grows.

    One basic question that no one has directly answered: Does she need to eat every day? Or close to it. If she is cold, she stays in her warm spot to the point of not eating. Even if I have a nice, cozy warm dog house outside, at this point she would merely go in it and stay there. When I bring her indoors, she is cozy and eats every single day. We can have weeks at a time here that are less than 50 for highs. Usually just one stretch in winter, but how long is it ok for a sulcata to hide away from the cold? Or should her hide be big enough for feeding if she's hiding out?

    Ohmigosh, a greenhouse with a doggie door just popped into my head. Now there's a cool idea!
  10. I believe that growing tortoises need to be fed daily. If it's under a year old I offer food twice a day. Feed a good diet and kep him hydrated and he'll grow fine.
  11. bdavison

    bdavison New Member 5 Year Member

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    Thank you Maggie.

    She is over a year. When she is inside, I feed her a pile early in the day. If its gone before dark, I give her more.

    She free feeds when outdoors,I don't give her anything. Can she be overfed when indoors? Good stuff, not fruit.
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