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5 year old sulcata - help
Posted: 24/03/2009 by tiredted

Click and drag me down to the editor Hello All,

I've just found this site when I'm at my wits end. I bought a little tortoise for my new partner from a pet shop & a year later (& much growing) realised he was in fact an african sulcata spur thighed monster! He's now 5, the size of a cat & if I'm honest I'm struggling. Every website I read gives different advice.  

He eats loads & I think he's overeating but it's difficult to know how much to give him. He doesn't like hay & grazes more on chicken pooh than grass. His diet is lettuce, cucumber, spinach, brocoli, fruit etc but I read it should be less of all of this & more of what he won't eat!

He outgrew his indoor house & now lives in a clockroom. He goes outside in warm weather but as yet does not have an outdoor enclosure, as a coldrame won't suffice. I'm thinking dog kennel with greenhouse attached. Can he share an orchard with lambs & ducks?

I live in Lincolnshire & was hoping if someone is close by you could pop around & advise.

I want to give him a happy life but feel as if i'm out of my depth.

Thanks for reading .... keeley

Re: 5 year old sulcata - help
Posted: 24/03/2009 by tpgNina

Hi Keeley, and welcome to the forum. I think it's great that despite discovering that your tortoise isn't exactly the species you thought he was, that you still want to give him a good life and are doing your best to find out how to do that.

Have you seen our care sheet for Sulcatas? Click on The Tortoise in the green left-hand column, then on Care Sheets, then on Sulcata, and then on the link at the bottom of the Sulcata page.

I won't answer your specific questions here, because I don't keep Sulcata, but I think that you should joint the Yahoo Leopard Tortoise forum. Although it is aimed at Leopard Tortoise keepers, several of the members there keep Sulcatas, including the moderator, and they give out very good advice. The link to the group is: (sorry this isn't a live link, but you can cut and paste it)
They are a really friendly group, and in fact one of my colleagues on the TPG is writing to them to tell them of your dilemma, and hopefully they will contact you soon.

Sulcata are great tortoises, but as you now know they get very large and require the right accommodation, heat and UVB light. Don't lose heart, because we want to help you, and I'm sure that with the support of other keepers we can help you to give your tortoise a really good life.


Re: 5 year old sulcata - help
Posted: 24/03/2009 by tpgadmin

Hi Keeley

Click and drag me down to the editor I keep leopard tortoises and the care is very similar to that of the sulcata.  You are right there is so much confusing information on the internet but if you stick with us for a while we can give you some good advice. 

One thing for sure it isn't good to let your tort eat poultry poo and if your ducks and hens are free range it could be a problem for you.  I'm trying to remember why they shouldn't (I'll have a sleep on it and get back to you on that one).  If you haven't done so recently it might be an idea to get your torts poo checked by your vet to see if he is carrying a worm or a parasite load in his gut.

Sulcata can be quite stubborn characters can't they.  They're like big kids really they need to have it all their own way and if they don't want to eat somehing they won't lol.  We have some tips on the leopard forum that Nina mentioned on how to encourage eating the right stuff.



Re: 5 year old sulcata - help
Posted: 25/03/2009 by linkr630

Hi Keeley
Sorry not to have been on sooner. Welcome to this wonderful helpful site and glad you found it now, you sound like your having a panic up.

I keep Sulcatas in the UK and if the truth be known it is quite a task but not impossible to have healthy happy giants. So keep calm, dont panic . Lincolnshire's a bit to far for me as I'm down south, shame we wern't closer.

Sullys really do need a diet of 85% grasses it can be freshly grazed (which they do like best) or dried. I use Ready Grass, Just Grass or Graze On, all are pretty much the same and I use it in the bedding area too where they will graze on it almost constantly. Added to the 85% grass is 15% weeds. It's fairly easy to get them to change their eating habits and when he's outside permantly you will find he will graze naturally, which is a clue to why he shouldnt be kept with lambs and ducks as he will eat the droppings which could carry other nasties for him and anything that falls from the trees would upset his gut flora as Sulcatas being a grazing creature its harmful if they have fruit of any kind.
If you chop up cucumber and Romaine lettucs and add it to a few handfuls of the dried grasses, he will be picky at first but at least he will be getting some of the dried stuff whilst he's sorting through and once he's comfortable with eating it you can start adding more weeds and less of the store brought stuff. It does work and it really is easy. It can me moistened to help it stick until they get the hang of it and bring out the sweet smell of fresh cut grass.
Your on the right track with the dog kennel but at the rate and size they grow I would go for somthing bigger, either a garden shed or a childs playhouse, both of which can be insulated and lined inside to help with keeping the heat in. Adding the greenhouse will be a huge thumbs up for autumn and spring when its a little to cold for him to go outside but it has to be raised so he wont be able to walk through the glass, which he will do if he can see through it. They need bright light to motivate and give them a feel good factor and Sulcatas have a hugh appetite as you have found and once they grow to full size will spend most of the summer just plodding around their enclosure eating, 'big appetite' just dont come close

Hope this helps for now but if your unsure of anything just give a shout.




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