Sulcata Help - Is he okay?

JunieJuneBug

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I posted a few weeks ago about how to bathe a large sulcata (though I was informed 40lbs isn't large) for the first time. I had taken my sulcata to the vet for what sounded like a stuffy nose and she said I needed to move him indoors, and bathe him everyday. She prescribed him an antibiotic for a respiratory infection. He's been through the antibiotics and the vet would like to sedate the tortoise to draw blood for further labs. Another local tortoise owner felt like that may be extreme and also that the antibiotics aren't usually necessary when it's just a RI. There is only one vet clinic here that will see a large tort and apparently they set me up with the vet that isn't the reptile specialist.

So. I've followed her recommendations and I can't tell if he's getting better or not. He still sounds a bit congested but not always. He hasn't got a runny nose, he doesn't whistle when breathing, he eats a lot, moves around a lot, and has the occasional watery eye but only when I notice it feels dry in his room. He lives in my house now, which I don't think he likes much and his room stays between 75 and 84 degrees F. He has a heat lamp that is on all the time and a basking light during the day. He eats a mix of veg, Mazuri, and Timothy hay. I give him water that he never drinks but also soak his hay and Mazuri. He gets calcium sprinkled on his food every other day. I don't bathe him everyday as suggested because I just can't. Contrary to what some may think, putting a 40lb tortoise in your tub is rather difficult and keeping the water at 80 degrees F is not easy. When a 40lb tortoise poops in the bath it is damn near impossible to get it out before he mushes through it all. I can't imagine him swimming in poop water is terribly good for him either.

We got this tortoise last summer when he was surrendered by a previous owner. We followed all the instructions given by the pet store and pretty much just continued caring for him the way the previous owner did. I just want to do a good job and I don't want him to be sick or unhappy, and I don't want to sedate him unnecessarily. If someone can post helpful - not snarky - suggestions that would be great.
 

Tom

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I posted a few weeks ago about how to bathe a large sulcata (though I was informed 40lbs isn't large) for the first time. I had taken my sulcata to the vet for what sounded like a stuffy nose and she said I needed to move him indoors, and bathe him everyday. She prescribed him an antibiotic for a respiratory infection. He's been through the antibiotics and the vet would like to sedate the tortoise to draw blood for further labs. Another local tortoise owner felt like that may be extreme and also that the antibiotics aren't usually necessary when it's just a RI. There is only one vet clinic here that will see a large tort and apparently they set me up with the vet that isn't the reptile specialist.

So. I've followed her recommendations and I can't tell if he's getting better or not. He still sounds a bit congested but not always. He hasn't got a runny nose, he doesn't whistle when breathing, he eats a lot, moves around a lot, and has the occasional watery eye but only when I notice it feels dry in his room. He lives in my house now, which I don't think he likes much and his room stays between 75 and 84 degrees F. He has a heat lamp that is on all the time and a basking light during the day. He eats a mix of veg, Mazuri, and Timothy hay. I give him water that he never drinks but also soak his hay and Mazuri. He gets calcium sprinkled on his food every other day. I don't bathe him everyday as suggested because I just can't. Contrary to what some may think, putting a 40lb tortoise in your tub is rather difficult and keeping the water at 80 degrees F is not easy. When a 40lb tortoise poops in the bath it is damn near impossible to get it out before he mushes through it all. I can't imagine him swimming in poop water is terribly good for him either.

We got this tortoise last summer when he was surrendered by a previous owner. We followed all the instructions given by the pet store and pretty much just continued caring for him the way the previous owner did. I just want to do a good job and I don't want him to be sick or unhappy, and I don't want to sedate him unnecessarily. If someone can post helpful - not snarky - suggestions that would be great.
FIrst, where are you? I'm not familiar with Seaford.

The cure for RI is heat. 75 is too cold. 85+ all the time, day and night for at least two weeks after all symptoms cease.

Its not easy to soak in your bath tub, and I wouldn't try that for a 40 pounder. Sound in a large tub outside. 80 degree is much too cool on the water. That will make him sick. Water should be around 90-95 degrees F. Keep it warm by adding more, or soaking in the sun. Watch those temps closely so the tortoise doesn't over heat. Dump, rinse and refill if the tortoise poops.

Heat lamps are not good for larger tortoises. That will burn the top of the carapace, and not effectively warm them. Time for a different strategy. We'll need to know where you are and how you are housing him to make suggestions.

I wouldn't use Timothy hay. Too stemmy. Orchard grass hay works much better.

Calcium every other day is too much for a larger tortoise. I'd go once or twice a week.

We are generally pretty nice here, but when someone says something like "not snarky" its a bit offensive and make people want to be snarky. We are here to help tortoises. No one here is snarky, and we are all usually very polite and helpful. I know FB and other sites can be brutal, but not here.
 

queen koopa

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FIrst, where are you? I'm not familiar with Seaford.

The cure for RI is heat. 75 is too cold. 85+ all the time, day and night for at least two weeks after all symptoms cease.

Its not easy to soak in your bath tub, and I wouldn't try that for a 40 pounder. Sound in a large tub outside. 80 degree is much too cool on the water. That will make him sick. Water should be around 90-95 degrees F. Keep it warm by adding more, or soaking in the sun. Watch those temps closely so the tortoise doesn't over heat. Dump, rinse and refill if the tortoise poops.

Heat lamps are not good for larger tortoises. That will burn the top of the carapace, and not effectively warm them. Time for a different strategy. We'll need to know where you are and how you are housing him to make suggestions.

I wouldn't use Timothy hay. Too stemmy. Orchard grass hay works much better.

Calcium every other day is too much for a larger tortoise. I'd go once or twice a week.

We are generally pretty nice here, but when someone says something like "not snarky" its a bit offensive and make people want to be snarky. We are here to help tortoises. No one here is snarky, and we are all usually very polite and helpful. I know FB and other sites can be brutal, but not here.
What Tom said.
If you kick up the temps day and night, you may not have to soak as much.
Also, I know what a pain it is to soak a big tort. My Sulcata has outgrown the containers I have used, she’s 50 pounds now. Totally would not put her in my bath tub, the poo and she would probably tear up the sides, its not porcelain. You can try to find a kid pool, dog pool, or even planters that don’t have drainage yet. I used buckets of water and took outside, but if I were to do it now I have a water hose hooked to my bathroom sink that I can run outside if needed. This is the circle planter, but she now can get out of it.
She was about 38 pounds in that pic. The stock tank worked much better but I now have a turtle in it so I can’t use that! 😂😂 7F7CE10F-6D6B-4819-88B6-C508AA75A1CF.jpeg E14AFA89-7480-437A-B84A-6C0926AB80CB.jpeg 123C526C-831A-41F6-A412-C1FC7CFB7D5F.jpeg
 

JunieJuneBug

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FIrst, where are you? I'm not familiar with Seaford.

The cure for RI is heat. 75 is too cold. 85+ all the time, day and night for at least two weeks after all symptoms cease.

Its not easy to soak in your bath tub, and I wouldn't try that for a 40 pounder. Sound in a large tub outside. 80 degree is much too cool on the water. That will make him sick. Water should be around 90-95 degrees F. Keep it warm by adding more, or soaking in the sun. Watch those temps closely so the tortoise doesn't over heat. Dump, rinse and refill if the tortoise poops.

Heat lamps are not good for larger tortoises. That will burn the top of the carapace, and not effectively warm them. Time for a different strategy. We'll need to know where you are and how you are housing him to make suggestions.

I wouldn't use Timothy hay. Too stemmy. Orchard grass hay works much better.

Calcium every other day is too much for a larger tortoise. I'd go once or twice a week.

We are generally pretty nice here, but when someone says something like "not snarky" its a bit offensive and make people want to be snarky. We are here to help tortoises. No one here is snarky, and we are all usually very polite and helpful. I know FB and other sites can be brutal, but not here.
Thank you. I live in Seaford, VA - which is southern coastal Virginia. The tortoise lives in my house, in my den - he used to live in a house outside and has always lived in house outside - he's 11 we think. The vet said to bring him inside so he literally lives in one room of my house that he has run of. He has a cubby to sleep in. He has a carpet and matting to lay on. I understand this isn't ideal but it's what I could do. I never planned on him living inside as I was told he could always live outside.

Soaking him outside. How do you heat up the water outside? The vet specifically said 80 so that's what I was doing. Is this something you do only in the summer so that sun keeps it warm? I have a tub to soak him that can be used outside.

Heat. He has a large heater in his room that I use to keep the entire room warm and the heat lamp to get extra heat under. He's down to 75 at night. I can bump it up and keep it at 85. It gets very dry when I do this. Do I need a humidifier too? I also have an industrial reptile heating mat that I just purchased but haven't installed yet because I wasn't sure where to put it.

I can switch to orchard grass. I can get it here locally. The vet told me Timothy hay and to cut it up very fine, that's what I've been doing.
 

JunieJuneBug

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What Tom said.
If you kick up the temps day and night, you may not have to soak as much.
Also, I know what a pain it is to soak a big tort. My Sulcata has outgrown the containers I have used, she’s 50 pounds now. Totally would not put her in my bath tub, the poo and she would probably tear up the sides, its not porcelain. You can try to find a kid pool, dog pool, or even planters that don’t have drainage yet. I used buckets of water and took outside, but if I were to do it now I have a water hose hooked to my bathroom sink that I can run outside if needed. This is the circle planter, but she now can get out of it.
She was about 38 pounds in that pic. The stock tank worked much better but I now have a turtle in it so I can’t use that! 😂😂 View attachment 322517 View attachment 322518 View attachment 322519
Adorable. Thank you. I have something similar to this. I just didn't think it would be acceptable during the early spring. It still gets cool here. I don't have a way to run water from my sink to my out doors but can use a bucket. Though, I'd be concerned the water would get cold quick. I can find out about running a hose from my sink to my porch.
 

Maro2Bear

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@Turtulas-Len lives in the Northern Neck (VA) and has posted many threads of good info how he keeps his herd of Sullys outside full time there. Check out “Walkers” well-insulated nightbox.

I’m guessing your indoor arrangement isnt the best for you or your Sully. What kind of nightbox/housing did you have set up for his outside house? Maybe some tweaks there will help you get ur tort back outside sooner. Daytime temps are really on the rise here in our DELMARVA area. Hot summertime temps around the corner.

Good luck
 

Tom

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Thank you. I live in Seaford, VA - which is southern coastal Virginia. The tortoise lives in my house, in my den - he used to live in a house outside and has always lived in house outside - he's 11 we think. The vet said to bring him inside so he literally lives in one room of my house that he has run of. He has a cubby to sleep in. He has a carpet and matting to lay on. I understand this isn't ideal but it's what I could do. I never planned on him living inside as I was told he could always live outside.

Soaking him outside. How do you heat up the water outside? The vet specifically said 80 so that's what I was doing. Is this something you do only in the summer so that sun keeps it warm? I have a tub to soak him that can be used outside.

Heat. He has a large heater in his room that I use to keep the entire room warm and the heat lamp to get extra heat under. He's down to 75 at night. I can bump it up and keep it at 85. It gets very dry when I do this. Do I need a humidifier too? I also have an industrial reptile heating mat that I just purchased but haven't installed yet because I wasn't sure where to put it.

I can switch to orchard grass. I can get it here locally. The vet told me Timothy hay and to cut it up very fine, that's what I've been doing.
Vets know very little about tortoises and tortoise care. There is no semester on tortoise care in vet school. People learn tortoise care by trial and error and decades of hands-on experience with a variety of species and situations. Just something to keep in mind.

Sulcata come from an area of the world that is always hot. Most days are near or over 100 degrees all year long. An exceptionally cold winter day might have a high of ONLY 88 degrees. Ground temps, where the sulcatas actually live, are around 80-85 year round, and they can warm in in the mouth of their burrows in the morning sun every day. You can see them doing this in Phoenix AZ in summer when its always hot every day.

Letting them get too cool causes the sickness you are experiencing. 75 in that room is too cold. I guarantee you if the room is 75, its 60-65 down on the floor. Use a thermometer or a temp gun to check and see. Your tortoise needs warmth. All day and all night 24/7. I you want this tortoise to live, its temperature should not drop below 85 for the next month or so. The tortoise's temperature, not the thermometer at eye level in the room. Cold temps cause RIs. Hot temps cure them, if its caught early enough.

I don't know how you do this in the frozen north. I wouldn't even try it, but some people can make it work somehow. @Turtulas-Len is in Virginia and he has several healthy thriving sulcatas. He'd be the best one here to advise you. You'll need to get the tortoise up off the floor, and you need a large heated space, as well as a large heated night box. This species is very easy to keep in a warm sunny climate. It is very difficult and expensive to keep in an unsuitable climate like yours, but it can be done.
 

JunieJuneBug

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Vets know very little about tortoises and tortoise care. There is no semester on tortoise care in vet school. People learn tortoise care by trial and error and decades of hands-on experience with a variety of species and situations. Just something to keep in mind.

Sulcata come from an area of the world that is always hot. Most days are near or over 100 degrees all year long. An exceptionally cold winter day might have a high of ONLY 88 degrees. Ground temps, where the sulcatas actually live, are around 80-85 year round, and they can warm in in the mouth of their burrows in the morning sun every day. You can see them doing this in Phoenix AZ in summer when its always hot every day.

Letting them get too cool causes the sickness you are experiencing. 75 in that room is too cold. I guarantee you if the room is 75, its 60-65 down on the floor. Use a thermometer or a temp gun to check and see. Your tortoise needs warmth. All day and all night 24/7. I you want this tortoise to live, its temperature should not drop below 85 for the next month or so. The tortoise's temperature, not the thermometer at eye level in the room. Cold temps cause RIs. Hot temps cure them, if its caught early enough.

I don't know how you do this in the frozen north. I wouldn't even try it, but some people can make it work somehow. @Turtulas-Len is in Virginia and he has several healthy thriving sulcatas. He'd be the best one here to advise you. You'll need to get the tortoise up off the floor, and you need a large heated space, as well as a large heated night box. This species is very easy to keep in a warm sunny climate. It is very difficult and expensive to keep in an unsuitable climate like yours, but it can be

@Turtulas-Len lives in the Northern Neck (VA) and has posted many threads of good info how he keeps his herd of Sullys outside full time there. Check out “Walkers” well-insulated nightbox.

I’m guessing your indoor arrangement isnt the best for you or your Sully. What kind of nightbox/housing did you have set up for his outside house? Maybe some tweaks there will help you get ur tort back outside sooner. Daytime temps are really on the rise here in our DELMARVA area. Hot summertime temps around the corner.

Good luck

Vets know very little about tortoises and tortoise care. There is no semester on tortoise care in vet school. People learn tortoise care by trial and error and decades of hands-on experience with a variety of species and situations. Just something to keep in mind.

Sulcata come from an area of the world that is always hot. Most days are near or over 100 degrees all year long. An exceptionally cold winter day might have a high of ONLY 88 degrees. Ground temps, where the sulcatas actually live, are around 80-85 year round, and they can warm in in the mouth of their burrows in the morning sun every day. You can see them doing this in Phoenix AZ in summer when its always hot every day.

Letting them get too cool causes the sickness you are experiencing. 75 in that room is too cold. I guarantee you if the room is 75, its 60-65 down on the floor. Use a thermometer or a temp gun to check and see. Your tortoise needs warmth. All day and all night 24/7. I you want this tortoise to live, its temperature should not drop below 85 for the next month or so. The tortoise's temperature, not the thermometer at eye level in the room. Cold temps cause RIs. Hot temps cure them, if its caught early enough.

I don't know how you do this in the frozen north. I wouldn't even try it, but some people can make it work somehow. @Turtulas-Len is in Virginia and he has several healthy thriving sulcatas. He'd be the best one here to advise you. You'll need to get the tortoise up off the floor, and you need a large heated space, as well as a large heated night box. This species is very easy to keep in a warm sunny climate. It is very difficult and expensive to keep in an unsuitable climate like yours, but it can be done.
I have the room up to 85 right now and am going to keep bumping the heater up to get it a little warmer. The thermometer I am using is about 24" off the ground on the far side of the room. That's where it's reading 85 but I assume it's still not quite that warm on the floor.

I will check temps and see what needs to be done to raise the temp there.
 

AgataP

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I have the room up to 85 right now and am going to keep bumping the heater up to get it a little warmer. The thermometer I am using is about 24" off the ground on the far side of the room. That's where it's reading 85 but I assume it's still not quite that warm on the floor.

I will check temps and see what needs to be done to raise the temp there.

I have one of the Bluetooth thermometers that send temps to my phone which allows me to hide it in Herbie’s enclosure.
For humidity you can possibly hang some wet towels?
What I have done when water outside was not staying warm I put heat mat under the plastic box.
I have two for growing seeds. I also just pour some h2o out and I bring”hot” water in.
I am happy to hear you took him inside and he has a cozy spot.
Can you post some pictures of your tortoise?
I love sulcatas, 🐢🐢🐢
 

Sarah2020

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You can consider insulation to try and retain heat. Some have under floor mats "pigs mats"have been mentioned before this may help. Your on the right site for advise and help to make a great environment and life for your tortoise.
 

JunieJuneBug

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@Turtulas-Len lives in the Northern Neck (VA) and has posted many threads of good info how he keeps his herd of Sullys outside full time there. Check out “Walkers” well-insulated nightbox.

I’m guessing your indoor arrangement isnt the best for you or your Sully. What kind of nightbox/housing did you have set up for his outside house? Maybe some tweaks there will help you get ur tort back outside sooner. Daytime temps are really on the rise here in our DELMARVA area. Hot summertime temps around

You can consider insulation to try and retain heat. Some have under floor mats "pigs mats"have been mentioned before this may help. Your on the right site for advise and help to make a great environment and life for your

@Turtulas-Len lives in the Northern Neck (VA) and has posted many threads of good info how he keeps his herd of Sullys outside full time there. Check out “Walkers” well-insulated nightbox.

I’m guessing your indoor arrangement isnt the best for you or your Sully. What kind of nightbox/housing did you have set up for his outside house? Maybe some tweaks there will help you get ur tort back outside sooner. Daytime temps are really on the rise here in our DELMARVA area. Hot summertime temps around the corner.

Good luck
We did have him in a house that my husband built that was heated with heat lamps. It had a deck and floor. We're remodeling it now to keep the heat in better. Also, working on a new source of heat since finding out heat lamps aren't acceptable for such a large tort. Looks like he's going to be inside for at least a couple more weeks until we can get this finished. We're also considering using a shed that we can insulate and use a larger heater in.

I've not found the specific night box you mentioned yet but I've found a lot of others so we are getting some great ideas for what works best going forward. Thanks for your help!
 

JunieJuneBug

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I have one of the Bluetooth thermometers that send temps to my phone which allows me to hide it in Herbie’s enclosure.
For humidity you can possibly hang some wet towels?
What I have done when water outside was not staying warm I put heat mat under the plastic box.
I have two for growing seeds. I also just pour some h2o out and I bring”hot” water in.
I am happy to hear you took him inside and he has a cozy spot.
Can you post some pictures of your tortoise?
I love sulcatas, 🐢🐢🐢
I will try the towels, thanks for that.

Here's June. We had him out the other weekend when we had a random 80° day for some sun and exercise.

I'll try to get a pic up. I don't have any that match the file format the site allows.
 

EllieMay

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You can build him an insulated 4x4 box with a door that’s covered by freezer tape so that he can come and go as pleases. Heat the box with a radiant heat panel or mini oil heater and a pig mat , both on a thermostat. it will be the most efficient and longest lasting solution. C7069489-5DFE-4E16-82BE-F91309F96D2B.jpeg
here’s one of mine. Temps stay between 82-92f all the time in the box.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi, and welcome to the Forum!

Please look up the posts made by @Turtulas-Len here on the Forum. He lives in the same general area as you and he keep sulcatas. You can see how he has them set up (they live outside). It may be helpful to you, and your tortoise!
 

tortlvr

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We did have him in a house that my husband built that was heated with heat lamps. It had a deck and floor. We're remodeling it now to keep the heat in better. Also, working on a new source of heat since finding out heat lamps aren't acceptable for such a large tort. Looks like he's going to be inside for at least a couple more weeks until we can get this finished. We're also considering using a shed that we can insulate and use a larger heater in.

I've not found the specific night box you mentioned yet but I've found a lot of others so we are getting some great ideas for what works best going forward. Thanks for your help!
I use a space heater with temp regulation mounted out of reach in my sully houses. I also use a remote thermometer. My female comes out sometimes when it's 45* to 50*. 70* or warmer for the male. Both 90+ lbs. You may still need to bring it in during the harshest winter conditions. It might save you from heating the whole room all year.
 

Lyn W

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I will try the towels, thanks for that.

Here's June. We had him out the other weekend when we had a random 80° day for some sun and exercise.

I'll try to get a pic up. I don't have any that match the file format the site allows.
Humidity is good as long as the temps are warm enough
humidity + right temps = healthy tort
humidity + too cold = sick tort
 

2wgasa

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JunieJuneBug said:
"I've not found the specific night box you mentioned yet but I've found a lot of others so we are getting some great ideas for what works best going forward. Thanks for your help!"

I think I posted earlier when I didn't mean to, but here's what I meant to write, which includes the URL to an exploded view.

I can't find Tom's pictures showing his actual construction but someone did create an exploded view here https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/here-is-the-4x8-rendering-of-toms-night-box-with-exploded-view.97697/

This was the 4x8 version but Tom mentions 4x4 is adequate for one Sulcata.
 

JunieJuneBug

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You can build him an insulated 4x4 box with a door that’s covered by freezer tape so that he can come and go as pleases. Heat the box with a radiant heat panel or mini oil heater and a pig mat , both on a thermostat. it will be the most efficient and longest lasting solution. View attachment 322657
here’s one of mine. Temps stay between 82-92f all the time in the box.
Thank you! This is a great reference.
 

JunieJuneBug

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Hi, and welcome to the Forum!

Please look up the posts made by @Turtulas-Len here on the Forum. He lives in the same general area as you and he keep sulcatas. You can see how he has them set up (they live outside). It may be helpful to you, and your tortoise!
Thanks. I've stalked his feed pretty thoroughly since someone told me about him. I appreciate your help.
 
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