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  1. #1
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    New Sulcata Hatchlings

    I just got two sulcata hatchlings...after a year of research I thought I had gathered enough information to care for these guys but I am worrying myself that I am not doing the best things for them.

    Here is what I have for them....a rubbermaid concrete mixing tub, with top soil and sand as a substrate. I took a feeding bucket from Walmart and cut a door in it for a hide. I also poked holes in the hide to ziptie a sponge to the inside ceiling for a little humidity. This is all under a powersun 100W UVB heat bulb. I keep the hot side at about 85-87 degrees and the cool side at 77 degrees. The lamp is on 12 hours/day, with nightime temps down to 75 degrees. I have dry orchard grass hay for them to eat however, they do not eat it. As an attempt to acclimate them to the hay I have choped it up and mixed it with kale. I also have vitamin and calcium supplement however I haven't used it yet, because I am trying to get them to eat the hay. I soak them daily for 15 minutes.

    My main question is...is this the best substrate for two sulcata hatchlings to be on.? They are a couple of months old (2.25 ins. and 2.5 ins). I am worried that they are going to ingest too much sand and dirt and it willl get impacted. The breeder that I got the sulcatas from used and suggested alfalfa pellets...from my research I found that these had too much protein and risked dehydration because it would dry out their environment. Dehydration being the same reason not to use paper towells, newspapers, etc. What would be a better substrate that would keep them from getting impacted but still assure they would stay hydrated and have the microclimates?

    If anyone has any diet suggestions or ideas that I am not doing please feel free...anything else that you read that should be improved would be appreciated as well. Many thanks.






  2. #2
    Elite Member Dragoness's Avatar
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    Re: New Sulcata Hatchlings

    Less hay, more fresh veggies like kale.

    At work (the zoo) we do not feed hay exclusively (or really at all) to any of our torts, though most have access to it from time to time, they do not eat it, they bury themselves in it. It is not a good staple diet for them.

    Many people who want a substrate that maintains humidity (and enables burrowing) swear by a mixture of organic soil and sand.

    I trust you have long term plans in place for these torts? no bin or tank is big enough for an adult sulcata.
    My name is Jen.

    "Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar."

    -Bradley Miller-

  3. #3
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    Re: New Sulcata Hatchlings

    I talked to a guy that once worked at Busch Gardens in Tampa and he said they never used hay for their sulcatas either. They fed them bananas, apples, lettuce, carrots, etc. I was surprised because what I have read says that the sugars in the fruit will destroy their gut, and not having the super high fiber diet of the hay can cause pyramiding.

    What about the soil and sand substrate? Anyone had any impaction problems? Anyone had success with it?

  4. #4
    Elite Member Dragoness's Avatar
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    Re: New Sulcata Hatchlings

    too much sweet fruit is not a good idea, like you say, because of the sugar. - we feed bananas and such as rare treats. The leafy stuff has plenty of fiber, and they DO need the fiber. Their "reptile salad" is a pile of dark greens, lightly sprinkled with colorful things like carrot, squash, sweet potato, zucchini, pepper, or various fruits.

    All out torts at work are on sand, and we have not had impaction issues with it, and they do dig, though not tunnels, usually just pits. We do not allow them to tunnel, because their enclosure is outside, and we don't want to lose them.
    My name is Jen.

    "Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar."

    -Bradley Miller-

  5. #5
    Elite Member Jacqui's Avatar
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    Re: New Sulcata Hatchlings

    Place the food on something like a tile or terra cotta saucer and it will lower the amount of substrate eaten. Also be they stay well hydrated as that also lowers the risks.

    Most of the youngsters don't like the hay, but as they grow older, add more and more of it to their diets. Not alfalfa, but orchard grass, timothy and the like. They may not like it as much as their greens, ect.., but like kids on just fast food diets sometimes they need what's good for them over what they enjoy more.


    For babies, the mixture of greens normally called Spring mix is the best single type to get, but try adding more variety of good greens like collard, mustard, ect.., Also feeding chemical free weeds is really ideal. Severely limit the amount of fruits. Careful with the veggies too, especially on little guys. Pay attention to their poop, as you want it full of fiber, not mushy runny. Having a cuttlebone (sold for birds) is helpful for them for added calcium.

  6. #6
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    Re: New Sulcata Hatchlings

    Just remember they're poop machines. Whatever substrate you go with, be prepared to clean it often. My sister just keeps hers in an open top sealed container and that be easily cleaned with a wet sponge. The only problem I have is that it's a white container and her tort likes to..."spread it around" after doing his business and it makes quite a mess lol

  7. #7
    Elite Member hennisntacanibal's Avatar
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    Re: New Sulcata Hatchlings

    I have my little guy (not for long on the "little" hopefully) on a 3'x3' tortoise table with a foot high wall. He has a towel on the floor of the table with soil around the edges and a giant pile of grass hay in one corner. He burrows in that pile and, like others said, poops a whole lot EVERYWHERE. I have a low food dish in the corner where I offer a staple of dandelion greens and usually some other sort of green leafy, such as kale, collard and sometimes romaine lettuce. On occasion I give him red, yellow or orange pepper, butternut squash and apple. In terms of humidity, these guys are from the desert! So they get most of their water from the massive quantities of food they eat. Soaking is good for them, but not often, more like once a week rather than every day. I would put the hay you're trying to get them to eat in their hide box. They like to feel (and believe it or not, the shells on these guys (especially hatchlings) are very sensitive) something on at least three sides of their shells when they are hiding to feel secure. The hay will do that for your babies quite nicely.
    Good luck with your torties! They are wonderful animals, very personable, very fun to watch and interact with (mine does tricks!) and VERY messy! Keep us updated, and try to post pics if you get the chance.
    Jenn

    A Fluffy beardie is a happy beardie!

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