Sulcata introducing grass requesting advice

Tprime

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Some History: (Or skip to the question below) Our orphaned sulcata has been with us two months, came with some pyramiding, very timid, and we lavished him with spring mix, kale and occasional rose petals. It weighed 294 grams and was 4.25 inches long. It has gained 40 grams and grown .25 inch. It spends a good part of its day in the sunny (herbicide/pesticide/fertilizer free) lawn here in southern California, a 3 x 3 ft. solid sided enclosure, complete with partial shade and a hide, screened top. It roams daily after I place it in a warm shallow dish bath, which it now seems to enjoy, as he lingers in it for up to an hour. I have never seen it drink, but do not observe it continuously.

Then we started reading the forum posts. We discovered Tom, very stern Tom, with admonitions to feed sulcatas grass. We have a lots of grass. Tom, message received. Thank you.

For the last two weeks I stopped giving it the greens in the morning and just put it outside, in the lawn. When it comes in at evening to its indoor nighttime enclosure I give it some greens, sprinkled with cut grass. At first it ravaged them, skipping the grass, recently it still eats the greens, but much less. Kale is its favorite. Poops have always been irregular, every three to five days, large or small. I really don't track those very well.

Question: Should we assume it is eating grass because it is gaining weight, growing, and active? When I try to watch it, it freezes and does nothing or just retreats into its shell.

Calcium observation: Today, for the first time, it moved the cuttlebone near its hide and chewed on it, along with a piece of kale. We previously sprinkled calcium powder sparingly on some greens weekly. I guess we can stop doing that.

The picture is about one month ago. Thank you, all
 

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wellington

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A 3x3 enclosure is too small. That's a good size for a hatchling. If they can't roam and build up muscle they won't be able to walk properly.
Sounds like he is filling up more outside then you may think. As long as he acts normal and gains wait I wouldn't worry. Just give a little less at night or bring him in a little later so he can get his fill outside. Grass should not be the only thing he eats though. When I feed my leopards during the summer, it's mostly grazing on grass and weeds but once in a'while I will throw some greens or soaked mazuri down on the grass for them to eat while still getting some grass and weeds in each bite.
 

KarenSoCal

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Then we started reading the forum posts. We discovered Tom, very stern Tom, with admonitions to feed sulcatas grass. We have a lots of grass. Tom, message received. Thank you.

Calcium observation: Today, for the first time, it moved the cuttlebone near its hide and chewed on it, along with a piece of kale. We previously sprinkled calcium powder sparingly on some greens weekly. I guess we can stop doing that.
Tom? Stern? Hmmm...I've never noticed that... 🤔🙂

I would suggest that you continue sprinkling calcium on his food twice/week. You really can't trust that he'll eat enough cuttlebone to keep himself well supplied.

He's still a young tort with a huge amount of growing to do. He needs the calcium. You can also feed him high calcium foods. Spineless opuntia has lots of calcium, along with dark leafy greens.

I don't know how much is in grass, though. 🤣
 

Tom

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Due to the significant pyramiding, this tortoise needs to be in a large indoor closed chamber most of each day. Outside all day will increase the pyramiding and slow the growth rate. And the enclosure should be at least 4x8 or larger for one this size.

Daily soaks need to be in a tall sided opaque container that the tortoise can't climb out of. 30 minutes is enough, but more isn't harmful.

Yes, keep mixing chopped grass in with the grocery store greens, but also try to get away from the grocery store greens. Looks for mulberry, grape and hibiscus leaves, many types of weeds, spineless opuntia, lavatera, hollyhocks, and so many more. This time of year, you should not need much from the grocery store.

Here is more info:
 

Ray--Opo

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It took my sully 2 years before he really got the idea that grass was good. He would hardly eat any grass in the yard.When he was a little over 2 he started eating yard grass.I would grow wheatgrass in 3 different pots. Plant the seeds at different intervals so you have grass growing at different stages. Just take the scissors and hold the pot over the food and cut in 1/4" to 1/2" lengths.
 

Tprime

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A 3x3 enclosure is too small. That's a good size for a hatchling. If they can't roam and build up muscle they won't be able to walk properly.
Sounds like he is filling up more outside then you may think. As long as he acts normal and gains wait I wouldn't worry. Just give a little less at night or bring him in a little later so he can get his fill outside. Grass should not be the only thing he eats though. When I feed my leopards during the summer, it's mostly grazing on grass and weeds but once in a'while I will throw some greens or soaked mazuri down on the grass for them to eat while still getting some grass and weeds in each bite.
Thanks
 

Tprime

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It took my sully 2 years before he really got the idea that grass was good. He would hardly eat any grass in the yard.When he was a little over 2 he started eating yard grass.I would grow wheatgrass in 3 different pots. Plant the seeds at different intervals so you have grass growing at different stages. Just take the scissors and hold the pot over the food and cut in 1/4" to 1/2" lengths.

Tom? Stern? Hmmm...I've never noticed that... 🤔🙂

I would suggest that you continue sprinkling calcium on his food twice/week. You really can't trust that he'll eat enough cuttlebone to keep himself well supplied.

He's still a young tort with a huge amount of growing to do. He needs the calcium. You can also feed him high calcium foods. Spineless opuntia has lots of calcium, along with dark leafy greens.

I don't know how much is in grass, though. 🤣
Thanks
 

Tprime

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Due to the significant pyramiding, this tortoise needs to be in a large indoor closed chamber most of each day. Outside all day will increase the pyramiding and slow the growth rate. And the enclosure should be at least 4x8 or larger for one this size.

Daily soaks need to be in a tall sided opaque container that the tortoise can't climb out of. 30 minutes is enough, but more isn't harmful.

Yes, keep mixing chopped grass in with the grocery store greens, but also try to get away from the grocery store greens. Looks for mulberry, grape and hibiscus leaves, many types of weeds, spineless opuntia, lavatera, hollyhocks, and so many more. This time of year, you should not need much from the grocery store.

Here is more info:
Thank you. We digested the care sheet and changes have been made.
 

Tprime

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Did it go down smooth, or was it a jagged little pill?
Smooth, for the most part. Your advice, I have read in other posts, is direct and to the point. People should appreciate that and take it as it is intended: to have a healthy pet. We have a red slider (rescue turtle) for many years that is independent in our pond. This abandoned sulcata requires more attention and although we are oldies, we can learn new tricks.
 
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