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After you've finished your research and still decided on a sulcata, read on. They are wonderful pets for the right owner and will be a lifelong companion! You can learn more about rescuing a homeless sulcata by clicking here.

Main diet

Sulcata tortoises are exclusively herbivores - they only eat vegetation. You should be feeding your sulcata around 95% grass and weeds. This may sound boring to us, but it's perfect for them because they need a high-fiber, low-nutrient diet for slow and steady growth. Make sure that these guidelines are as diverse as possible to ensure that your turtle is getting all of the nutrition it needs. Know that a sulcata does not overeat. Provide him with hay at all times to ensure he does not stay hungry after feeding fresh grass and other foods.

Goodies

You Will Learn How To Garden While Feeding Your Sulcata! Aside from regular grass and weeds, there is a healthy way to invigorate the diet by giving them treats. Make sure none of these plants have been sprayed with pesticides or purchased within 2 months.

  • geranium
  • Sun hat
  • violet
  • mint
  • rose
  • Clarkia
  • Grape leaves
  • Marigold
  • Pumpkin (wash only before feeding)
  • dandelion
  • aloe
  • Coleus
  • mallow
  • oregano
  • Spider plant
  • hibiscus
  • Prickly pear

Calcium is a very important part of the sulcata's diet. Good sources of calcium are safe foods like dandelions, grapes, and mulberry leaves. Also, remember to always have a cuttlebone in the enclosure so your turtle can eat as needed.

It's also important to note that fruits are high in water and sugar. While it's okay to offer a strawberry, watermelon peel, or slice of tomato on occasion, it shouldn't be a regular part of your diet. Once every two weeks is fine.

never Feed your iceberg lettuce turtles as this can cause diarrhea and dehydration.

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Inner casing

It is important for the health and happiness of your turtle to offer them a home that is as similar as possible to the animal's natural environment. Sulcatas are best kept in outdoor stables in dry and warm climates. If you live in a cold, damp environment, a sulcata is NOT the right turtle for you.

If your turtle is a baby or a young adult, it is easy to provide the right enclosure right in your home. But remember, the bigger the better! Large plastic containers work well for baby turtles as well as homemade turtle tables (see below). Glass cases are not recommended as turtles cannot understand glass. You will keep trying to go through it and get stressed. In addition, water in a glass tank increases the humidity, which can lead to respiratory disease and peel rot.

For slightly larger sulcatas, a bookcase turned on its back on the floor and lined with waterproof lining is great. The possibilities are endless! Use your own creativity!

Once your sulcata is big enough to go outside in the summer, there are even more accommodation options.

Substrate and decor

Sulcatas are graves - they love to dig! The best substrate to use in your enclosure is a sterile dirt / sand mixture. Never just use sand, because if your food gets sand on it, it will eat it and bumps may occur.

You should provide a hiding hole with sphagnum moss for moisture. Remember to spray it with water from time to time. For babies, a flower pot turned on its side and buried halfway is perfect. Adults will need something larger like a plastic box or tub with a hole cut out for easy entry.

False foliage is not recommended unless it is inaccessible for the turtle (some have been known to get curious and eat it). Real plants are great! The best method is to grow several different types of plants and seed mixes outside of the enclosure and then drive them in and out. Set them up so that the individual pots are higher than the ground. This ensures that the turtle cannot eat or trample the entire plant so it can grow back. Be sure to use soil without perlite, vermiculite or pesticides! Natural fertilizers are fine.

A few plants that are easy to grow indoors and safe for Sulcatas to eat

  • Spider plant
  • Wheatgrass
  • Hosta
  • Opuntia (prickly pear)

If you want, stones can be used to build paths and rocks for climbing / basking. Make sure none of the stones are large enough to swallow as this will cause bumps and will require surgery. If you get stones from your garden, clean them thoroughly before putting them in the enclosure. Large branches can also be a nice addition! Just make sure your sulcata can't climb and fall.

temperature

A light bulb (heat lamp) should be placed on top of the tank (opposite the side with the hiding place) to provide your turtle with a warm sunbathing area. Make sure the temperature reaches 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit when the lights are on; if not, adjust the power of the bulb accordingly. A second thermometer should be attached to the other (cool) end of the tank to make sure the side is at least 10-15 degrees cooler than the basking side so your sulcata doesn't overheat. The heat lamp should be connected to a thermostat for temperature control. Using a black light bulb instead of a light bulb at night will regulate your turtle's days and nights.

  • Daytime temperature: 75-90 ° F
  • Basking Spot: 93-96 ° F
  • Nighttime temperature: 60-75 ° F

UV lighting

UVB is important so that turtles can process calcium in captivity. Without them, turtles develop serious health problems such as abnormal mussel growth, metabolic bone diseases, and other serious diseases (see photo below). For pens with an open top, the UV light should be positioned over the top and a heat lamp should be securely clamped to one side or placed on top if there is a screen.

  • The UV lighting should be switched on for 10-12 hours a day and switched off at night.
  • For maximum efficiency, keep the UV lamp within 10 inches of the eel bulb.
  • Replace the light bulb every 6-10 months. Although the light is still working, they lose UV over time.

Feeding and watering in the enclosure

Although it is a desert species, like all turtles, the sulcata requires a lot of water. Some people think that they can go without water for a long time, but that's just not true. Not enough water can lead to kidney failure and stones, which can be fatal.

A very shallow bowl of water should be provided for babies. Make sure the baby can't drown if he falls in or falls over in the bowl. For adults, the bottom bowl of a flower pot makes a good bowl of water. Make sure that there is no way the turtle can drown.

Some turtles like to get into their water bowl to bathe in it. To make sure they can get in and out without turning around, place stones around the inside rim of the bowl. To keep the water clean longer, put stones around the outside of the bowl. This prevents the substrate from being drawn in.

Feeding a sulcata in their enclosure is pretty easy. You can just put the food on the floor. When the bottom is damp, place the food in a shallow bowl. If there are leftovers after the day, remove them to prevent insects and disease.

Soak your sulcata

Indoors, outdoors, or both, you need to soak your sulcata not only for cleanliness, but also for proper hydration and waste disposal. 30 minutes three times a week should be enough for an outdoor turtle. In warmer months, you may need to soak them more often. Indoor turtles should be soaked twice a week.

Soaking tips

  • You should use a tub that is big enough for the turtle to turn over but not climb out. You can use your bathtub, but then disinfect it thoroughly to protect yourself from germs.
  • Use warm water for a healthy turtle and slightly warmer water for a dehydrated one (more on this shortly).
  • To avoid drowning, never top up the water where the nostrils are when the head is tucked in.
  • Never leave your turtle in the bathtub while you are refilling it. It's easy to forget what you're doing and they will drown. Also, don't leave them in the shower as this can lead to a bowel movement and the stool will block the drain and overflow the tub.
  • If you leave your large turtle alone in a safe, shallow amount of water, that's fine. Babies should not be left unattended, however, and adults should be checked frequently.
  • While in the water, don't be surprised how your turtle submerges its head forever. He's not depressed; he drinks! Watch his throat and you will see him swallow.
  • For particularly dirty turtles, you can gently clean the legs and shell with an old soft toothbrush. Don't use any type of soap - just water.

Passing waste

Your turtle will most likely pass stool and urine while bathing. Your stool should be well shaped, brownish / green, and grassy. However, your urine can be amazing if you don't know what to expect.

Turtle urine contains urates, which usually look like gray cottage cheese. Some urates are fine, but if they're large or hard your turtle may be dehydrated. In this case, longer and more frequent soaks in warmer water may be required. Always call your veterinarian if you are ever in doubt. A well-hydrated, well-fed turtle should be low in urates.

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Sulcatas outdoors

If you have the right climate, nature is the best place for your new turtle! You should only keep one if you are able to spend at least half a year outdoors. Housing an outdoor sulcata is just a larger version of the indoor setup, but it's a lot easier when you have the right space. Outside you don't need any lighting other than a heat lamp for the colder night temperatures. In addition, no UVB light is required as your turtle will absorb the natural rays of the sun during the day!

Outdoor living is not recommended for babies and young adults. Their smaller size leaves them open to attacks from animals such as hawks, owls, dogs and rats. An adult should be fine if his night “house” is predator proof. Remember that even a tiny rat can chew off a sleeping turtle's arms. Before you decide to leave it outside day and night, its shell should be at least three feet long, six to eight inches wide, and four to six inches tall.

preparation

  • You will need to build or buy a shed large enough to hold your sulcata. Dog houses often work just fine as long as they are easy to get in and out of and they are lifted off the ground when it rains.
  • It is necessary to put in a "pig blanket" or heat lamp as well as insulation to keep the temperatures down (unless you bring them in at night and in inclement weather). They will want to fill their home with Timothy or orchard grass for ease of cleaning and convenience.
  • If your turtle is too big to move in and out of your home, you'll need to winterize your outdoor enclosure. Check out this fantastic example and manual.
  • An adult sulcata needs a large garden to graze and roam. You should make sure you have a fenced off area. The fence must be one and a half times higher than the turtle when it is upright, and it cannot be see-through. If they can see through to the other side, they will keep trying to find their way. Sulcatas are extremely strong and stubborn, so never underestimate them!
  • You want to include a safe soaking area. A large kiddy pool (see photo above) with a side cutout or even a mud hole that you dig yourself is great. Sulcatas need to be able to cool off or rehydrate whenever they want. Often times on a hot day you will see them climb into their alcove and throw mud or water on their backs!
  • Obviously they'll need much Grazing grass and weeds. These turtles can eat large quantities in a day, and if kept in a pen that is too small they will eat the grass in the dirt. Even if they graze outside in the summer, be sure to supplement their diet with some of the safe foods listed above and a cuttlebone for calcium.
  • Frequently look for signs of digging along the fence line and in corners, under buildings, etc. These holes must be filled in for the turtle's safety as fences can collapse or the turtle escape when it rains. It is in these places that the females lay their eggs as well, but this article does not cover breeding. Also, check the fence itself for strength and damage, or for holes for a predator to enter.
  • Providing hideouts and / or decorations will help keep your turtle occupied and enriched. Keep this in mind when adding items to these turtles can climb. Avoid large objects that could allow the turtle to escape while climbing or that could fall. An upside-down turtle can quickly overheat and die if you're not around to help. Always check your outside turtles several times a day to make sure everything is okay.
  • You can reduce your workload by growing your plants in your own garden. Place a hanging basket over the base plant so the turtle can only eat the leaves that are stuck outside the basket. Make sure the basket is attached to the floor with barbed hooks. Watch out for heavy turtle feet. Larger plants or plants that you plan to grow in pots such as prickly pear or hibiscus are good choices. The flowers can be easily snapped off during the week or can drop straight to the floor for your happy ordeal to find.

Accommodation of a full-grown adult indoors

The only way to keep adult sulcata indoors is for emergencies to arise when fences or houses are erected outdoors and you need another safe space to keep them. In this case, you can leave your very large turtle at home temporarily.An adult sulcata is not only huge, but also huge very rough and inadvertently damaging floors, drywall, and furniture. If you need to keep your heavy sulcata around your home, the basement is ideal.Concrete floors are easier to clean and less harmful. You can use a large dog kennel with plywood lining the underside of the interior walls to keep the illicit from breaking through. Hang up the lamps (UVB required in winter) and put the pig blanket and hay in them. Be sure to keep a cool side so your turtle can escape the heat when needed. Also, make sure to keep all cables away from the turtle (string them through PVC pipe if necessary). If your basement is drafty, cover the top of the cabinet with a large piece of plywood with holes for the lamps. A draft of air can cause severe upper respiratory tract infection in a desert animal.

Sickness and sickness

Eventually, your sulcata can get sick. Tortoises and tortoises, like dogs, often do not show many signs of illness, and when they do they are very subtle. Often times, turtles wait until they are very sick to show you any signs.

To avoid wasting time and dangerous disease progression, take the time to watch your turtle and familiarize yourself with its actions and routines throughout its life. When you do this, it will be easier to notice if your turtle is behaving differently. If you notice these signs, you can quickly see the vet. To learn more about the most common turtle problems, please click here.

I highly recommend Kamp Kenan on YouTube for an in-depth look at these amazing animals!Hope you enjoyed learning how to care for your sulcata. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

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