Sulcata or Desert Tortoise?

Tokka

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Can anyone identify this little girl? Live in AZ. We love her spunky personality. Live in an area with many roadrunners and found her in the middle of a busy road. She’s already grown 2” in a few months. Very active. C58178C6-9FAC-49BB-982C-BE44A6E7C26B.jpeg
 

Markw84

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Sulcata. Growth looks pretty good too! A little bit of pyramiding. Humidity is very important for a young tortoise. Have you read the care sheet here on the forum. Excellent advice on the latest knowledge about raising them properly.

 

Tokka

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Sulcata. Growth looks pretty good too! A little bit of pyramiding. Humidity is very important for a young tortoise. Have you read the care sheet here on the forum. Excellent advice on the latest knowledge about raising them properly.


This is extremely helpful care sheet! Thank you!! Can I ask what makes you think sulcata? The leg scales more sharp perhaps? If she is a sulcata we live on a large enough property to easily accommodate a large tortoise for her entire life. But I want to be the most informed to provide the best care. I really appreciate the care sheet and info. I can’t believe I haven’t found this forum until now in all my digging
 

Markw84

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Can I ask what makes you think sulcata? The leg scales more sharp perhaps?

Yes, the front leg scales on a sulcata are quite large and pointed creating a nice predator barrier. A desert tortoise has smooth front leg scales. The marginals on a sulcata are more serrated. A sulcata does not have a nuchal scute (A scute directly behind the neck separating left from right marginals.) while a desert tortoise would have a nuchal scute.

Here's a desert tortoise baby. Note smoother front leg scales and nuchal scute:

Desert tortoise baby.jpg

Here's another picture of a desert tortoise baby. Note the nuchal scute and the more wavy marginals. The sulcata has more serrated, pointy marginals. sulcatas are armored tanks!

Desert tortoise baby 2.jpg
 
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Tom

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One more confirmation that you have a sulcata.

Even though it is a tortoise, be careful with the summer heat. Babies do best when kept mostly indoors in monsoon conditions, which is what they hatch into in the wild. When the time comes for the ever growing tortoise to live outside full time, you will need to let it burrow in summer time to escape the above ground heat, then then close off the burrow in late fall and make it sleep in a heated night box to avoid the cold winter ground.
 

Tokka

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Yes, the front leg scales on a sulcata are quite large and pointed creating a nice predator barrier. A desert tortoise has smooth front leg scales. The marginals on a sulcata are more serrated. A sulcata does not have a nuchal scute (A scute directly behind the neck separating left from right marginals.) while a desert tortoise would have a nuchal scute.

Here's a desert tortoise baby. Note smoother front leg scales and nuchal scute:

View attachment 302370

Here's another picture of a desert tortoise baby. Note the nuchal scute and the more wavy marginals. The sulcata has more serrated, pointy marginals. sulcatas are armored tanks!

View attachment 302371

Thank you. I haven't gotten that in depth of an answer, that was really what I was looking for! I feel like its different care from desert to the sulcata. I appreciate it. She is 100% sulcata and I'm so excited. Glad I caught this early so I can give her the environment and care she needs.
 

Tokka

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One more confirmation that you have a sulcata.

Even though it is a tortoise, be careful with the summer heat. Babies do best when kept mostly indoors in monsoon conditions, which is what they hatch into in the wild. When the time comes for the ever growing tortoise to live outside full time, you will need to let it burrow in summer time to escape the above ground heat, then then close off the burrow in late fall and make it sleep in a heated night box to avoid the cold winter ground.

I have an outdoor enclosure for her set up for her morning romps. It has multiple “burrow” like caves all facing different directions if she needs. It’s completely covered with bird netting etc. I only let her out a few hours in the morning to get some sunshine and come in. When is the best time to transition to more and more outside? Less than 95? I think I’ll have to redo her indoor enclosure. Now that I know she’s a sulcata and needs so much humidity! I had no idea until that care sheet.
 

Dbrocato2

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If you post pictures of indoor and outdoor enclosures the team here can help with suggestions on how to improve. Your shell baby is adorable
 

Tom

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I have an outdoor enclosure for her set up for her morning romps. It has multiple “burrow” like caves all facing different directions if she needs. It’s completely covered with bird netting etc. I only let her out a few hours in the morning to get some sunshine and come in. When is the best time to transition to more and more outside? Less than 95? I think I’ll have to redo her indoor enclosure. Now that I know she’s a sulcata and needs so much humidity! I had no idea until that care sheet.
My general rule of thumb is an hour of outside time per inch of tortoise. Contrary to what you'll read and hear everywhere, tortoises do not do "better outside". The opposite is true for baby tortoises. I've done several side-by-side comparisons of clutchmates to prove this. They absolutely 100% do better when kept inside in a large closed chamber most of the time. By the time they are about 6 inches long, I will put them out in the morning and bring them in in the evening, weather permitting. Temps over 95, is not "weather permitting" for me. Once it gets too hot, they are just going to hide in their burrow and wait out the heat anyway, so what's the point of having them outside? Better for them to be inside with stable temps that are less extreme, and all that healthy humidity.
 

lxsnmls

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SO glad you rescued her from deadly roadrunners and cars, not to mention a plethora of other perils! Since it is a sulcata and not a DT, did you try and find out who might have lost her?
 

lxsnmls

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Baby Sulcuta! Adorable!
Did u post on your local Facebook lost and found pages/groups, and tortoise group pages, and/or check with local tortoise groups? I'm sure you're hoping nobody claims... she is absolutely ADORABLE and it seems like it might be fate that you found her ;-)
 

Tokka

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Yes, the front leg scales on a sulcata are quite large and pointed creating a nice predator barrier. A desert tortoise has smooth front leg scales. The marginals on a sulcata are more serrated. A sulcata does not have a nuchal scute (A scute directly behind the neck separating left from right marginals.) while a desert tortoise would have a nuchal scute.

Here's a desert tortoise baby. Note smoother front leg scales and nuchal scute:

View attachment 302370

Here's another picture of a desert tortoise baby. Note the nuchal scute and the more wavy marginals. The sulcata has more serrated, pointy marginals. sulcatas are armored tanks!

View attachment 302371

I have literally taken screen shots of your post to show people. Exactly what I was looking for
 

Tokka

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Did u post on your local Facebook lost and found pages/groups, and tortoise group pages, and/or check with local tortoise groups? I'm sure you're hoping nobody claims... she is absolutely ADORABLE and it seems like it might be fate that you found her ;-)
[/
My general rule of thumb is an hour of outside time per inch of tortoise. Contrary to what you'll read and hear everywhere, tortoises do not do "better outside". The opposite is true for baby tortoises. I've done several side-by-side comparisons of clutchmates to prove this. They absolutely 100% do better when kept inside in a large closed chamber most of the time. By the time they are about 6 inches long, I will put them out in the morning and bring them in in the evening, weather permitting. Temps over 95, is not "weather permitting" for me. Once it gets too hot, they are just going to hide in their burrow and wait out the heat anyway, so what's the point of having them outside? Better for them to be inside with stable temps that are less extreme, and all that healthy humidity.

Thank you! I was only keeping her out for a few hours at a time in the cooler mornings for sun time. But looks like I’m going to have to make a brand new indoor inclosure! I’ve got all the wood, plexi glass, and humidifier just need to construct now 🤔. Might have to post the finished product for approval
 

Tom

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Thank you! I was only keeping her out for a few hours at a time in the cooler mornings for sun time. But looks like I’m going to have to make a brand new indoor inclosure! I’ve got all the wood, plexi glass, and humidifier just need to construct now 🤔. Might have to post the finished product for approval

You should not need a humidifier. A closed chamber will stay humid with damp substrate in it.
 
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