Tortoise heat and light

Sarahlou2676

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Hello, I’m new here. I recently got two baby sulcata tortoise that are probably 2 months old. The people at the pet store are not very helpful so I came here! As of right now I have them in a 20 gallon tank with a screened in top which very soon I am going to upgrade. I really need to figure out the lighting and heat situation. I am so unsure based off everything I’m reading. The pet store sold me the zoo med desert and uvb lighting kit. I live in south Florida so I get them outside in the sunlight a couple hours a day but they spend most of their days in the tank. Also, is it required to have any of the lights on at night?
 

KarenSoCal

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Welcome to the forum!

Unfortunately, almost all pet stores are completely clueless on proper care for tortoises. They sell you expensive items that are not suitable for tortoises at all, and some that are downright dangerous.

First, a 20 g tank is too small for 1 baby, much less 2 (more on that later). They must have a closed chamber type of enclosure in order to have control of the temps and humidity. This requires specific types of lighting and heating. I'm not sure exactly what's in your desert kit, but I am pretty sure it's not the proper equipment.
You asked about lights at night...all lights should be off so it's dark, but the CHE (ceramic heat emitter), controlled by a thermostat set at 80°, will come on and off as needed.

You cannot keep 2 torts together. Each must have its own enclosure, not only now, as babies, but all their lives. Sometimes groups work, but never pairs. There is always a stronger, bigger, more dominant one that bullies the weaker, smaller, more submissive one. It shows up as following (chasing), sleeping together (hogging the best sleeping spot), eating together ("this is my food, not yours"), and many other ways that we as humans think are cute and sweet. Torts are solitary animals...they don't want or need friends. Another tort is an interloper on his territory and needs to be removed. After the "cute" behaviors, it gets nasty, with serious injury and eventually death of the submissive one.

I am going to give you a lot of links to threads on this forum. These are a culmination of many years of research and experimentation by expert members here. Forget everything you've heard and read and use these as your guides. It's the best way to raise your babies into smooth, healthy adults. After reading, come back and ask questions. We are happy to explain why we do what we do.







 

Sarahlou2676

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I feel very mislead by the reptile store I got them from. They sold me completely wrong everything and when I called them to confront this issue they were so rude and insisted that they gave me everything I needed for these tortoises and that they were very low maintenance. I also wish I was smarter about this and did my own research. I do not think I can provide what it takes for these young torts. :( feeling pretty awful about this.
 

Maro2Bear

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I feel very mislead by the reptile store I got them from. They sold me completely wrong everything and when I called them to confront this issue they were so rude and insisted that they gave me everything I needed for these tortoises and that they were very low maintenance. I also wish I was smarter about this and did my own research. I do not think I can provide what it takes for these young torts. :( feeling pretty awful about this.
Agree. Pet stores really are there to SELL you stuff, anything & everything. The more sales, the better. Buy two Sullys, not one, they will be buddies.... wooden log hides, coil bulbs, aquariums as enclosures, etc. It’s a shame.

Sullys, when properly cared for grow quickly! Turn into mini-bull dozers. Need lots of secure space, food. One thing you have going for you is heat & humidity of Florida.

Our Sully checking on my deck work construction

976DD044-C96E-4F9E-B287-554FA9D793B2.jpeg
 

maggie3fan

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Agree. Pet stores really are there to SELL you stuff, anything & everything. The more sales, the better. Buy two Sullys, not one, they will be buddies.... wooden log hides, coil bulbs, aquariums as enclosures, etc. It’s a shame.

Sullys, when properly cared for grow quickly! Turn into mini-bull dozers. Need lots of secure space, food. One thing you have going for you is heat & humidity of Florida.

Our Sully checking on my deck work construction

View attachment 296195
I just love that photo...Big Sam was scared by the saw so he hid all day in his sleeping box...he was not interested in the construction at all...Bob woulda been right in the middle of it all...

100_3975.JPG
 

Tom

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I feel very mislead by the reptile store I got them from. They sold me completely wrong everything and when I called them to confront this issue they were so rude and insisted that they gave me everything I needed for these tortoises and that they were very low maintenance. I also wish I was smarter about this and did my own research. I do not think I can provide what it takes for these young torts. :( feeling pretty awful about this.
You are not alone. Few people find this forum before buying and get the correct care info. The wrong info has been perpetuated by pet stores, breeders, vets, book authors, and other "experts" for decades. We know better now, but some still follow the old wrong ways because they haven't learned better yet.

We will help you figure this out. There are cheap ways to cut corners if need be. I know its overwhelming at first, but after you read all that info in Karen's links and take a minute to let it all sink in. Come back and ask us all your questions. We'll help you get them set up correctly and as easily as possible for you.

If you decide this is more than you can handle, that is okay too. There are other reptile pets that are much easier to care for than a baby tortoise. If you can get through a year or two of the baby stage, then having these guys outside in your warm climate will be a piece of cake.

Whatever you decide, we will do our best to help you and make life as easy as possible.
 

Maro2Bear

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✅ 👍on everything Tom said. That said, how large of an outdoor area do you have to kind of dedicate to large roaming tortoises? As you ponder what you have, it might be easier & best to just raise one. One large Sully is a lot of tortoise to handle. Food, heat, humidity, enclosures, lighting & fencing, etc. Multiply all of this by 2 in ur case.

Good luck!
 

KarenSoCal

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I feel very mislead by the reptile store I got theLast nightm from. They sold me completely wrong everything and when I called them to confront this issue they were so rude and insisted that they gave me everything I needed for these tortoises and that they were very low maintenance. I also wish I was smarter about this and did my own research. I do not think I can provide what it takes for these young torts. :( feeling pretty awful about this.
Last night when I wrote this post I thought about you, asleep in FL, having to face what I had written.

And I cried.

I cried for all the baby tortoises that are bought by people who never find this forum. Some of those babies, if they survive, go through a living h**l until one day their terrible care rears itself in some awful manifestation, and many times, it's too late to help.

And I cried for you, and the many, many like you. Good well intentioned folks who buy a baby, and rightfully so, ask the store (or outdated "breeder") for advice. Folks that never find the TFO, and have to suffer the excrutiating agony of watching that baby grow some, then slowly decline, without ever knowing why. So these good folks who fell in love with a tiny face blame themselves.

Fortunately, you've found us! :) Like Tom said, whatever you decide to do, it's OK. We understand overwhelmed. If you don't want to keep 2, do you have a family member or friend who would enjoy this journey? Somebody who can go through this process with you? Have him/her join the forum with your 2nd baby.

Raising a tortoise is an adventure, especially a sully. Their huge personalities, huge bodies and huge imaginations are a delight.
 

Sarahlou2676

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Thank you every one, I have had to take a lot of information in these passed few days and I’m just worried sick over these guys. I am constantly checking them. It’s definitely not what I was expecting. I have 5 acres and plenty of room for them but I don’t know if I will be keeping them both. 😔 I just noticed one of my tortoises eyes is swollen and having a hard time keeping open. I’m concerned with it. I hope it’s not from the light. I have attached a photo.
 

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KarenSoCal

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I know exactly what you mean...posting after @KarenSoCal...is kind of a waste of time...she just said it all...
Oh Maggie! I have some book learning, but nothing is as valuable as the years of experience that you and other forum members have.

Please, post! Real, hands on advice! That where I
learn!
 

KarenSoCal

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I just noticed one of my tortoises eyes is swollen and having a hard time keeping open. I’m concerned with it. I hope it’s not from the light. I have attached a photo.
I just looked up the lighting kit they sold you. Both of those bulbs are not good. But for the eyes, it's the curly style UVB bulb. Turn it off now, and leave it off. His eye should be better before long. We can tell you what kinds of lights to get them if you want.

I don't think you have to be worried sick over them. I know you're concerned about what to do, but they are fine for right now. Enjoy them...they won't be this size for long!
 
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Sarahlou2676

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Is there any type of enclosure i could build that I can keep these babies outside? I don’t like the idea of them constantly in artificial light and the weather outside seems a lot better for them. I know the risk of predators but if I could build something that nothing could get into would that be possible? I would much rather do that but I’m reading a lot of contradicting advice about keeping babies outside.
 

KarenSoCal

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Is there any type of enclosure i could build that I can keep these babies outside? I don’t like the idea of them constantly in artificial light and the weather outside seems a lot better for them. I know the risk of predators but if I could build something that nothing could get into would that be possible? I would much rather do that but I’m reading a lot of contradicting advice about keeping babies outside.
No, they need to be inside in a closed chamber. At this size, they can be outside for about an hour a day. They need the climate control in the chamber.
 

Sarahlou2676

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Okay so let me make sure I have this straight. No uvb bulb if I take them outside an hour a day or so, I need a basking bulb that’s a flood light and a CHE ?
 

solidsounds17

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Okay so let me make sure I have this straight. No uvb bulb if I take them outside an hour a day or so, I need a basking bulb that’s a flood light and a CHE ?
Yes, Both combined on timers and a thermostat would keep your closed chamber enclosure at the right temperature with the proper humidity levels. If you get lost or confused, always go back to the care sheets for the proper guidance.
 

Toddrickfl1

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Okay so let me make sure I have this straight. No uvb bulb if I take them outside an hour a day or so, I need a basking bulb that’s a flood light and a CHE ?
Yes, just a few hours a week and you don't need artificial UVB.
 

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