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New Sulcata Hatchlings

Discussion in 'Tortoises' started by lorir, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. lorir

    lorir New Member

    About 2 weeks ago I purchased 2 sulcata hatchlings. I've been reading different articles, care sheets, forums etc. I've even called a couple of breeders. There seems to be a lot of contradiction on the care. I have them in a 60 gal glass tank...some people like this some don't - I know! The substrate is rabbit pellets. I have a couple of questions... first of all... I'm only feeding them once a day. They will not eat arugula so I've been giving them live butter lettuce - they LOVE this. The weather is a little cooler now, so I haven't put them outside on the grass to roam and graze (I have an enclosure for this), so they're not really getting fresh cut grass. Today I fed them spring mix and carrot shavings... trying to mix up the diet a bit. Is this food sufficient? Also, I purchased some powered calcium from petsmart. I was told this is good for them, however it's for anphibeans... is this ok to give them?
    I'm not chopping the food, should I be? They're eating everything I put out...should I be feeding them more?
    Also, what is pyramiding? These hatchlings are about 6 weeks now, one has a smooth shell and one has a bumpy shell.... they came this way.
    One other thing, I was told from the breeder that I purchased them from that I got a male and female.... is it even possible to sex them at such a young age? I was told a vet sexed them.
    Thanks for your anticpated responses!!
  2. JoeyG

    JoeyG Subscribed User Premium Member

    Don't know much about them but tortoises in general, but can be sexed by their shells. The bottom has an indention on the males, it enables for mounting of the female. Surest way to tell, there are a few others depending on the species but yes they have it when they're young.
  3. lorir

    lorir New Member

    Thanks for replying! They're about 6 weeks now..both are flat on the bottom. I think they don't get the indentation until they're a little more mature. I love them regardless of what sex they are... just curious is all! :)
    Again... thank you for replying so quickly!! :">
  4. jarich

    jarich Elite Member

    Wow, brave soul! You purchased a living dinosaur that will outlive you and probably outgrow you. ;)

    Pyramiding is what happens to their shell when they are improperly fed. Basically the shell starts to deform and degrade and each scale starts to look like a pyramid. It is probably worth a trip to the vet if one of them is already showing signs of this. Im not sure by your description if that is the case, so what do you mean by bumpy?

    As for your calcium supplement, just check it to make sure there is no phosphorous in it. They need LOTS of calcium and but they pretty much get all the phosphorous they need from the food you feed them.

    Regarding the diet, you need to get them other foods besides what you are feeding them. Butter lettuce, and pretty much all lettuces, are really devoid of nutrition. They are pretty much just water. They also contain very little fiber, which these guys need lots of. They need grass/hay. Depending on where you live, you should be able to find it at a place that sells horse feed. You can supplement it with things like kale and collard greens when they are small. Feeding them once a day is fine, maybe even too much, depending on how much you are giving them. Overfeeding is the larger issue with these creatures, as with most reptiles. You can feed them every other day and that should be fine.

    Do you have a good source of UVB for them? That is very important for these guys. They grow quickly and with a lot of shell, so that means they have to be able to use that calcium you are giving them.

    From what I understand its pretty hard to sex them at that age, but if the vet did it then I suppose its possible.
  5. justor

    justor Elite Member

    I believe hydration and humidity play a role in pyramiding as well. Owners who keep their hatchling sulcatas in moist conditions tend to experience less pyramiding. The thing about that though, is that they must be kept warm at all times. Excess moisture + too low temperatures = respiratory infection. I would recommend you switch your substrate to something that will hold moisture better, and allow for burrowing. a mixture of sand and soil/eco earth should be good.
  6. lorir

    lorir New Member

    Thanks guys!! I really appreciate the feedback! I have one more question (at the moment...I'm sure I will have more as time goes by!), I read somewhere to feed them pumpkin puree once a week and sprinkle some calcium in it. I did this.. they want nothing to do with it. The only thing these guys will eat is spring mix and butter lettuce. I did give them some dandelions from the yard yesterday as well. How can I give them calcium if they will only eat leafy things? Also, they're biting the leaves... is this ok or do I need to chop it up to help them digest their food? Any other suggestions on what I should try to feed them? The most important thing now is giving them the calcium. I've had them for 4 weeks now and have not given them calcium? Is this ok? How often should they get this?
  7. justor

    justor Elite Member

    You can simply sprinkle the calcium on the greens. Some will fall off, but they will eat some. Cutting the greens up into thin strips will help them eat more efficiently. A broad leaf will take multiple bites to be eaten, but a long thin strip can be vacuumed up in seconds.
  8. justor

    justor Elite Member

    And as far as the pumpkin puree goes, you don't want to feed the canned pumpkin stuff. Fresh pumpkin is the way to go. Unfortunately these are a seasonal item which in most places is only available for a short period each year. The good news is they can be cut up and frozen, and then thawed as needed throughout the year.
  9. methos75

    methos75 Elite Member

    I have to add that there is no way at all at this size to sex them, they do not start to differate from each other until around 4-5 years of age.
  10. methos75

    methos75 Elite Member

    And they love Pumpkin, just be advised that it does tend to give them the squirts if fed too much
  11. lorir

    lorir New Member

    thanks so much for the info and feedback... if they love pumpkin, what about other squash that is in season? I'll definitely sprinkle the calcium on their leaves and will cut the leaves into long strips! This morning they ate dandelions and those leaves.. seemed to like them! Thanks again for the great feedback! It's so nice to have a resource of valuable information!
  12. justor

    justor Elite Member

    Yes, other squashes can be fed. Acorn and butternut squashes are good options. Dandelions are great too.

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