Sudan Sulcatas (This never gets old...)

Tom

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My very first clutch of true 100% pure Sudan sulcatas is now hatching. I don't care how many times I see this, it just never gets old. I dig up the eggs carefully place them in my prepared shoe boxes, watch the temperature in the incubator and tend to them for months, and then...
IMG_0964.jpg

When that first pip comes, I swear I'm more excited than I was when I was a little boy on Christmas morning. After all those years of raising the parents from hatchlings, soaking, feeding, watering, cleaning, building night boxes, tending to their enclosures, locking them up every night and letting them out every morning, and then months of watching the eggs and wondering what your gonna get... When they finally hatch it is just the most amazing thing ever. Little mini versions of their parents. Walking around and ready to join the world. I recall the fun and pure joy I had raising the parents of these babies and knowing that their new owners will experience that same joy and happiness and it brings a smile to my face every time I think about it. These babies will be ready for their new homes in about a month.

For any one who doesn't know what the difference between a Sudan sulcata and a "regular" sulcata is: Sudan males get literally twice the size of regular males, and have a much higher dome. Females of both are similar in size, but Sudan females also tend to have the higher domes. Care, diet, housing and every thing else is the same. Send me a PM if you are interested.
 

iAmCentrochelys sulcata

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My very first clutch of true 100% pure Sudan sulcatas is now hatching. I don't care how many times I see this, it just never gets old. I dig up the eggs carefully place them in my prepared shoe boxes, watch the temperature in the incubator and tend to them for months, and then...
View attachment 302098

When that first pip comes, I swear I'm more excited than I was when I was a little boy on Christmas morning. After all those years of raising the parents from hatchlings, soaking, feeding, watering, cleaning, building night boxes, tending to their enclosures, locking them up every night and letting them out every morning, and then months of watching the eggs and wondering what your gonna get... When they finally hatch it is just the most amazing thing ever. Little mini versions of their parents. Walking around and ready to join the world. I recall the fun and pure joy I had raising the parents of these babies and knowing that their new owners will experience that same joy and happiness and it brings a smile to my face every time I think about it. These babies will be ready for their new homes in about a month.

For any one who doesn't know what the difference between a Sudan sulcata and a "regular" sulcata is: Sudan males get literally twice the size of regular males, and have a much higher dome. Females of both are similar in size, but Sudan females also tend to have the higher domes. Care, diet, housing and every thing else is the same. Send me a PM if you are interested.
Really interesting, they’re beautiful, the Carapace, is it hard to distinguish it from a normal sulcata?
 

Tom

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Really interesting, they’re beautiful, the Carapace, is it hard to distinguish it from a normal sulcata?
Not when they are babies. At around 8 years old the higher dome becomes noticeable. And then when a normal sulcata sort of peaks and stops growing, these just keep growing and growing and growing. I saw one that was nearly 400 pounds. I've seen more than a dozen that were over 250.
 

Tom

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Congrats! Looks like it’s gonna be a busy year raising hatchlings...
Man you don't know the half of it... If the SA leopard girls keep going, I'll have more than 200 eggs from them by November. I've got three clutches from my Burmese stars in the middle of summer, I can't imagine what they are going to do in winter when they normally lay. I finally got a male, so I should have radiata eggs this winter. I caught my red ackies breeding for the first time yesterday. I have a bunch of DT babies coming my way to start and adopt out. My roach colonies seem to be on reproductive overdrive. Plus a few other things going on...

Yeah. Busy is an understatement. Since I haven't worked for 6 months, I'm pretty happy to be busy in this way right now.
 

turtlesteve

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Man you don't know the half of it... If the SA leopard girls keep going, I'll have more than 200 eggs from them by November. I've got three clutches from my Burmese stars in the middle of summer, I can't imagine what they are going to do in winter when they normally lay. I finally got a male, so I should have radiata eggs this winter. I caught my red ackies breeding for the first time yesterday. I have a bunch of DT babies coming my way to start and adopt out. My roach colonies seem to be on reproductive overdrive. Plus a few other things going on...

Yeah. Busy is an understatement. Since I haven't worked for 6 months, I'm pretty happy to be busy in this way right now.
Yeah good problems to have for sure! I'm not sure I could handle 100's of hatchlings, but by the time I get there, the kids will be old enough to help out.
 

Tom

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I frequently complain that "most people don't start babies correctly". I figure this is a good opportunity to expand on that and explain more.

Here are the first babies to hatch enjoying their first soak:
IMG_0971.jpg

Here is the routine: I get the shoe box with the hatching babies out of the incubator and bring it to the sink. I get the water warm and turn it down to a trickle. I pick up each baby that has exited its egg and examine it's yolk sac. If the yolk sac is reasonably small, which it usually is if they were out of their egg, then I rinse them in the warm trickling tap water to get the schmutz and vermiculite off of them, and then I put them into a pre-filled warm soaking tub. I then put the lid back on the shoebox and put the rest of the eggs back into the incubator. Next I turn on the bird brooder, set the temp, and prepare their brooder boxes. Normally I limit it to 6 babies to a box, but I make an exception to 8 on day one. Tomorrow these guys will be divided up in to smaller groups of no more than six. If you don't have a bird brooder, this step can be done in the incubator, but I like the bird brooder because it gets them started on a day/night cycle with the lights, while the incubator is just always dark inside.

I used to use paper towels on the bottom of the brooder boxes, and if I don't have anything else, I still will on day one or two only. I prefer to use grape leaves, broadleaf plantain leaves, or large mulberry leaves. I alternate through these three. I also add in different grasses, weeds, leaves, baby opuntia pads, flowers, and grocery store greens for them to nibble on. In these first few days, I try to introduce them to new foods every day for at least two weeks before repeating anything. This makes for babies that will literally eat anything you put in front of them, which is why I'm always bitching at people to NOT let their tortoises have access to anything toxic with the incorrect assumption that the tortoises know better and won't eat the wrong stuff. My babies will, but I do this so they will eat a huge variety of the right stuff for their new owners.

I also leave some of their egg shells in with them for a few days. They don't seem to do anything with them, but I want them to have the option.
IMG_0983.jpg

My bird brooder box has a fan that runs 24/7. I place the tub of water directly under the fan to keep humidity up and reduce the wind on my shoe boxes. As long as I have room, I keep the rain water spray bottle in there to keep the water in it warm. I can fit up to nine shoe boxes in the brooder at once.
IMG_0984.jpg

Every day, I remove the old leaves and food, and soak them for 15-20 minutes in their brooder boxes. While they soak, I go outside and get fresh leaves and food for their new boxes. When they've soaked enough, I spray them off with my rain water and put them into their freshly made up clean boxes with a wet shell. Then they go back into the bird brooder for another day. This goes on for anywhere from 7 -10 days. Why 7-10 days? I'm glad you asked. This is about how long it takes for them to absorb their yolk sac and have the umbilical scar close up and heal. I do not think babies should be in an enclosure and on substrate until the yolk sac is absorbed and the umbilical scar completely closed up. I see many breeders making this mistake.

Here is what these babies looked like today. I'll do a daily progression on them to show how quickly it absorbs and heals up if people would just keep them in a brooder box instead of in a dry enclosure on substrate.
IMG_0973.jpg IMG_0974.jpg IMG_0978.jpg

Comments and questions are welcome. :)
 

Krista S

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Thank you for sharing all of these details and pictures. It’s really interesting to learn about what all goes into doing this the right way. If I ever get another tortoise, I will be much more prepared and have a lot more questions that will need to be answered upfront. I appreciate all of the knowledge you’re always sharing. The babies are beautiful too!
 

Tom

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@Markw84 Please chime in with any added info or details I am missing. I'm singling you out because I know your methods are similar to mine, and your attention to detail is unparalleled.
 
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Tom

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Love it Tom. The idea of using leaves as a sort of substrate in the brooder box is genius. Bet you never deal with impaction. Super cool.
Thanks. That is one of those details that I can't remember where I got it. I might have figured that one out myself, but I do remember @DeanS talking about keeping hatchings on a bed of food for substrate years ago around the same time I started doing this. I don't know which one of us got the idea from the other, or if we both just figured it out around the same time.

This is the kind of thing that I was talking about in that other thread. So much of the useful knowledge I have came from other tortoise keepers. So many little details have been shared in so many conversations over so many years, that I often can't remember where some of these wonderful ideas came from. I've been lucky to be exposed to so many inventive, innovative tortoise keepers. I'd say that the majority of this has happened either on this forum, or because of this forum.
 

Markw84

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@Markw84 Please chime in with any added info or details I am missing. I'm singling you out because I know your methods are similar to mine, and your attention to detail is unparalleled.
Tom, you and I do it almost identically. My incubators are converted wine coolers. So they have LED lighting. I do like to have a photoperiod for them once they hatch as you do with the bird brooder. The only slight difference is that I put in an extra pile of larger leaves to ensure they can hide under the leaves. I believe that baby tortoises naturally hide beneath leaf litter when first hatched. I feel this reduces stress. It always amazes me how quickly they start eating. So many have said for so long the don't need food while they are living off their yolk sac they are absorbing. We see this is not true.
 

BrookeB

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Ahhhhh they are so fricken cute 😍😍😍 I cant wait to have some ❤❤ I absolutely love the way you start your babies as there is no chance of them hurting themselves with the medium and on top of that they get so much fresh food.. oh I’m really excited.
 

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