Source of protein for sulcatas in the wild

franz_see

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Good day,

I've heard (from a different forum) that protein can cause sulcatas to grow faster. And with that, adding mazzuri to their diet can provide them this needed protein (among other nutrients).

But I'm just curious, in the wild though, what would their main source of protein be? Where do they normally get it?

Thanks,
Franz
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Franz:

You're forgetting that plants contain protein too.

Members have shared with us that their tortoise eats dog poop. I imagine in the wild if a tortoise happens upon a carcass he might eat some of it. I've seen my desert tortoises chasing lizards (unsuccessfully), and I have some leopard hatchlings that have eaten worms from their substrate.
 

ZEROPILOT

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Hi Franz:

You're forgetting that plants contain protein too.

Members have shared with us that their tortoise eats dog poop. I imagine in the wild if a tortoise happens upon a carcass he might eat some of it. I've seen my desert tortoises chasing lizards (unsuccessfully), and I have some leopard hatchlings that have eaten worms from their substrate.
That's still pretty tame by Red Foot standards.
 

Yvonne G

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Oh, sorry...I thought the OP had asked about sulcatas in the wild.
 

franz_see

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Insects, etc. Sulcatas don't require much protein. Very little actually.
Hi Franz:

You're forgetting that plants contain protein too.

Members have shared with us that their tortoise eats dog poop. I imagine in the wild if a tortoise happens upon a carcass he might eat some of it. I've seen my desert tortoises chasing lizards (unsuccessfully), and I have some leopard hatchlings that have eaten worms from their substrate.

Thanks @ZEROPILOT and @Yvonne G.

Right. Plants have proteins too. But if so, then which plants actually provide the most (or right amount of) protein for sulcatas. And if plants are more than necessary, then why does it seem like the best source of protein for sulcatas is mazurri? :)

Also, correct me if I'm wrong - insects, carcass, and feces are not normally part of their diet right? They might eat it accidentally, or out of curiosity, but they won't actively seek it out constantly, right?

Now, this is just a general wondering for me trying to understand these wonderful animals - but if protein allows sulcatas to grow faster, then that would mean they would be less likely to avoid other predatory animals. If let's say for example that an individual sulcata has gained a taste for insects and actively seeks them out to eat them, then that would mean this specific sulcata should be growing faster than normal, and is more likely to survive and pass on that trait to the next generation (assuming you subscribe to the evolution theory). But since majority of sulcatas do not actually hunt insects, im guessing they have a better source of protein that they're getting it from. Either that or protein intake is not as important as other factors.

Thoughts? :)
 

ZEROPILOT

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Red footeds WILL seek out the nastiest stuff on earth. Hence my comment. I do also think that Sulcatas would do the same, just not sure. It's not that Mazuri is the BEST source for protein, but it has more per volume. I think that Mazuri is not well suited for a Sulcata. Maybe the newer Mazuri LS would be better?
 

franz_see

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Red footeds WILL seek out the nastiest stuff on earth. Hence my comment. I do also think that Sulcatas would do the same, just not sure. It's not that Mazuri is the BEST source for protein, but it has more per volume.

Aren't sulcatas herbivores unlike redfoots which are omnivores? :) This is why I'm singling out sulcatas in my question (that, plus, that's the only thing I know :) hehe ).
 

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Very little is known or written about sulcatas in the wild. There is an out-of-print book called "The Crying Tortoise" that is the best resource for wild sulcata info that I have found.

I am told that animals on the verge of death will retreat into sulcata burrows to escape the scorching heat there in Africa and some of these animals die in the sulcata's burrow. The sulcatas will frequently eat these dead animals.

While I have seen or heard no reference for sulcatas, field researchers have noted that mammal feces does make up a fairly large portion of the diet for young leopard tortoises. I see no reason why it wouldn't be this way for sulcatas, even though they have not been studied as much as the leopards.

I have seen nothing in captivity or the wild to make me think they have any interest at all in eating insects. I have even offered them roaches, crickets, earth worms and meal worms a few times just to see what would happen, and none of my tortoises ever showed any interest. I once offered a dead rat that one of my snakes chose not to eat, and they all walked right by that too. No interest beyond a sniff to see what it was.

On the other hand, my friend Dave up in Ojai claims to have a sulcata that hunts gophers. He said the tortoise will sit and wait for the gopher to stick its head up and then it will snatch it and eat it.

I have also seen footage of a wild Galapagos that had its own novel hunting strategy. It would go down to the water's edge and stand tall making some shade under it. Little birds (finches, if I recall correctly) would come down to get a drink and take advantage of the big shady spot under the still tortoise. The tortoise would then suddenly plop down and smoosh the little birdies and then take a step back and eat them.

Even with all of this, there is no reason to feed our captive tortoises insects or meat. Excepting the species that need this, of course. All of their dietary needs are best met with a wide variety of plant life. Also, Mazuri is a good food. I like to feed mine some once or twice a week. I feed it more as a nutritional supplement. I don' feed it to give them protein or make them grow faster.

There is a lot that we don't know about our tortoises, and this is certainly one of those things. What I have seen is that sulcatas are highly adaptable and will thrive in a wide variety of environments and on a wide variety of feeding strategies.
 

ZEROPILOT

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Yes, but not to the extent of Red Footeds. They require a lot more protein. I've had them eat rats before. (Long story) It isn't good for a Sulcata to eat a lot of protein or to grow too quickly. They have different needs. My Red Foot comment only complicated this post. Sorry.
 

franz_see

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Very little is known or written about sulcatas in the wild. There is an out-of-print book called "The Crying Tortoise" that is the best resource for wild sulcata info that I have found.

I am told that animals on the verge of death will retreat into sulcata burrows to escape the scorching heat there in Africa and some of these animals die in the sulcata's burrow. The sulcatas will frequently eat these dead animals.

While I have seen or heard no reference for sulcatas, field researchers have noted that mammal feces does make up a fairly large portion of the diet for young leopard tortoises. I see no reason why it wouldn't be this way for sulcatas, even though they have not been studied as much as the leopards.

I have seen nothing in captivity or the wild to make me think they have any interest at all in eating insects. I have even offered them roaches, crickets, earth worms and meal worms a few times just to see what would happen, and none of my tortoises ever showed any interest. I once offered a dead rat that one of my snakes chose not to eat, and they all walked right by that too. No interest beyond a sniff to see what it was.

On the other hand, my friend Dave up in Ojai claims to have a sulcata that hunts gophers. He said the tortoise will sit and wait for the gopher to stick its head up and then it will snatch it and eat it.

I have also seen footage of a wild Galapagos that had its own novel hunting strategy. It would go down to the water's edge and stand tall making some shade under it. Little birds (finches, if I recall correctly) would come down to get a drink and take advantage of the big shady spot under the still tortoise. The tortoise would then suddenly plop down and smoosh the little birdies and then take a step back and eat them.

Even with all of this, there is no reason to feed our captive tortoises insects or meat. Excepting the species that need this, of course. All of their dietary needs are best met with a wide variety of plant life. Also, Mazuri is a good food. I like to feed mine some once or twice a week. I feed it more as a nutritional supplement. I don' feed it to give them protein or make them grow faster.

As always, very useful information @Tom :)

I've seen one of my hatchlings eat a small dead centipede before (by the time I figured out what he was "grazing" on, he has already swallowed it), and munching on some chicken bones that somehow stumbled upon our yard. Those two, plus the occasional crushed snail shells they see in the yard. But that's about it. I've seen my hatchlings ignore every worm, centipede, or any other bite size insect that comes their way :)
 

Tom

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I think that Mazuri is not well suited for a Sulcata.

Why do you think this? My experience with a whole lotta sulcatas has shown me otherwise. I actually started using Mazuri years ago on the advise of some of the top sulcata breeders in the country.

Mine don't like the LS, although I can fool them into eating by mixing it with other foods. And I don't like the LS version for babies because the pieces are too large and won't turn to mush wen soaked, like the regular Mazuri does.

Some protein is not only good for them, but its necessary. The biggest sulcata breeder on the planet (that I know of) uses alfalfa as the main diet for his giant herds of giants. I grow my own alfalfa and periodically feed it to all of my tortoises. I bring this up because alfalfa has a higher protein content than Mazuri.
 

franz_see

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Yes, but not to the extent of Red Footeds. They require a lot more protein. I've had them eat rats before. (Long story) It isn't good for a Sulcata to eat a lot of protein or to grow too quickly. They have different needs. My Red Foot comment only complicated this post. Sorry.

@ZEROPILOT, @Tom : Sorry. I guess I caused some confusion as well. My reference to mazuri and growth is just to highlight what protein does for sulcatas. Not that I'm advocating to feed sulcatas more protein. More like, seems like protein seems like an important part of their diet, and so far, I don't know what would be their main source of protein in the wild (in captivity, from what I can tell, seems like the main source of protein is mazuri. hehe) :)
 

Tom

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As always, very useful information @Tom :)

I've seen one of my hatchlings eat a small dead centipede before (by the time I figured out what he was "grazing" on, he has already swallowed it), and munching on some chicken bones that somehow stumbled upon our yard. Those two, plus the occasional crushed snail shells they see in the yard. But that's about it. I've seen my hatchlings ignore every worm, centipede, or any other bite size insect that comes their way :)

Hmmm... Maybe they only eat dead stuff, and not living bugs?

The late great Bert Langerwurf (I man who I liked and respected tremendously) used to toss turkey and chicken bones to his adult sulcatas and reported that they snapped them up with great vigor. While I don't advocate the practice, it didn't seem to harm his tortoises.

So much we don't know...
 

franz_see

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Hmmm... Maybe they only eat dead stuff, and not living bugs"?

The late great Bert Langerwurf (I man who I liked and respected tremendously) used to toss turkey and chicken bones to his adult sulcatas and reported that they snapped them up with great vigor. While I don't advocate the practice, it didn't seem to harm his tortoises.

So much we don't know...

hmm... interesting. Actually, I can probably easily verify that with my tortoises by offering them dead centipedes. I'm just not sure if it's "safe". Thoughts?
 

Tom

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hmm... interesting. Actually, I can probably easily verify that with my tortoises by offering them dead centipedes. I'm just not sure if it's "safe". Thoughts?

Uncharted territory. I would not do it on purpose.
 

franz_see

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Why do you think this? My experience with a whole lotta sulcatas has shown me otherwise. I actually started using Mazuri years ago on the advise of some of the top sulcata breeders in the country.

Mine don't like the LS, although I can fool them into eating by mixing it with other foods. And I don't like the LS version for babies because the pieces are too large and won't turn to mush wen soaked, like the regular Mazuri does.

Some protein is not only good for them, but its necessary. The biggest sulcata breeder on the planet (that I know of) uses alfalfa as the main diet for his giant herds of giants. I grow my own alfalfa and periodically feed it to all of my tortoises. I bring this up because alfalfa has a higher protein content than Mazuri.

Btw, just curious. Can alfalfa be fed regularly or sparingly only? Thanks! :)
 
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