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Sulcata Tortoise Basics

Updated on April 8, 2013
Just after picking up 'Frankie'.
Just after picking up 'Frankie'.

Keep it Clean!

When I recently purchased my male baby Sulcata Tortoise from a nearby pet store, I realized that he had not been under the best of care. I realized right off-the-bat that this little guy was going to require a bit of attention! When I got home and began to examine my little fellow I realized that he was not as distinct as the tortoises I had seen online, his tail looked like a over-fried french-fry, and he was having a hard time keeping his little beady eyes open.

I immediately began to scour the web for information on what might be wrong with him, but nothing profitable was turning up. Finally, after a couple of days, I found a YouTube video of some young Sulcata Tortoises being scrubbed down! I went to the bathroom sink, grabbed an old toothbrush, began to scrub his shell with warm water and sure enough the distinct lines began to show through! The bottom of his shell began to clear up, his tail started to look more like a tail and less like stale crust, and he instantly perked up and got feisty. I noticed that it increased his livelihood tremendously, as he began to patrol his tank (which he continued to do until he wore himself out).

Needless to say, give your tortoise a bath! Keep him clean, but only clean him once a month or so unless he gets really dirty. It is also important to make sure that he has a water dish that he can crawl down in to in order to soak himself. Providing a place for him to soak his shell will help him keep his shell damage free and prevent him from drying out.

Diet, Diet, Diet!

One of the hardest thing to regulate for the Sulcata is his diet. It is nearly impossible to produce a diet identical to that which they would receive in the wild. There are many vitamins that these tortoises intake from their natural diet of wild desert plants that aren't easy to dose out properly with our processed and not-so-organic produce.

As I mentioned previously, my tortoise tot was having eye-problems. They were very watery and a little bit swollen; he looked like he was falling asleep 24/7. As I did some research on various vitamin deficiencies commonly found in tortoises, I began to attribute his swollen eyes to a vitamin A deficiency. I began to mix some carrot shreds into his twice weekly salad to try to provide more vitamin A and sure enough, his eyes began to perk up along with his overall happiness!

It is very important to to provide your Sulcata Tortoise with too much produce, as it can be too watery and have an unnecessary amount of vitamins, which can cause a multitude of digestive problems.

Do Your Research

Even after all of my findings, I am still learning about my little tortoise. It is very important to do your own research on the subject of your pet! Taking care of a Sulcata Tortoise is not always an easy task, so take the time to do plenty of research and study up on them. It is very common for people to go out and buy a baby tortoise or turtle without any previous knowledge of taking care of them, often resulting in the death of the pet. It is always wise to go the extra mile in familiarizing yourself with your newest pet before purchasing them!

The Desert Tortoise

If you desire to care for a Sulcata, you want to make sure that you live in the proper environment. The Sulcata Tortoise is naturally adapted to the dry, desert climate and needs to be kept in a large open space once they grow older. When a male Sulcata is fully grown it can easily reach over 150 pounds, usually closer to 200, so they need quite a bit of space! A good sized yard with a fence is necessary for a happy tortoise.

Being a Sub-Saharan species, most places in the world do not provide the year-round dry, warm climate that these tortoises need in order to survive. If you live somewhere that it gets cold in the wintertime you will most likely need a barn or other large enclosure in which you can keep the temperature and humidity at least somewhat regulated. Because the Sulcata Tortoise does not hibernate or adapt to new elements well, it is crucial that the temperature and humidity is kept regulated year round.

Let me know what you think of this article, as I have just started using Hubpages! Thank you!


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    • profile image

      Tchotchke 19 months ago



    • Jacob Wittrock profile image

      Jacob Wittrock 4 years ago from Goodyear, Arizona

      Thanks for reading, Kbdare! Love to get feedback on my hubs. Glad you enjoyed my article!

    • Kbdare profile image

      Kbdare 4 years ago from Western US.

      Greatly informational Hub! Thank you for emphasizing that individuals do their research before purchasing a turtle (doing research before purchasing any kind of pet is probably for the best). Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Jacob Wittrock profile image

      Jacob Wittrock 4 years ago from Goodyear, Arizona

      Thank you wyomom!

    • wyomom123 profile image

      Allison Felton 4 years ago

      Nice hub, I love your pictures.

    • Jacob Wittrock profile image

      Jacob Wittrock 4 years ago from Goodyear, Arizona

      Thank you very much! Good to know my Post is being viewed.

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      Dil Vil 4 years ago from India

      Good hub, Tortoise looks so cute.