Sulcata Tortoises, Well Started Hatchlings with Extra Scute
Sulcata tortoises, also called African spurred tortoises, originally came from hottest and driest regions of Northern Africa. Their importation ended in 2000, so nearly all available animals are captive born here in the US. Breeders now produce this species readily, and well started juvenile Sulcatas are relatively easy to work with. This species does best when kept in low humidity, but juveniles need more moisture and we soak ours two or three times each week in warm shallow water until they reach 8”(at about 4 - 6 years). Sulcata Tortoises are a desert species and should never have a water bowl. Constant access to greens and short, shallow soakings (3 times a week for hatchlings, twice a week for yearlings and two year olds, and once each week for adults) is their source of hydration. Juveniles do best between 80 f - 90 f with warmer basking areas.
As adults, Sulcatas can grow to 24, and do best outdoors in warmer climates or in warmer months. Outdoor enclosures must afford shaded areas, and protection from predators. Daytime temperatures up to 103 f, and night time lows in the high 60s are fine for larger Sulcatas. Keepers in colder climates need to provide indoor enclosures once the warmer months end. Opaque fencing is recommended, along with lots of room. They enjoy provided shelters, or will even dig tunnels to escape the cold, or wet weather.
Sulcatas are eating machines and juveniles will graze on grasses, hay, and tortoise pellets mixed with veggies for hours at a time. Adults do well on mostly grasses; and all sizes enjoy dark leafy greens fruits and vegetables in moderation. A calcium supplement is an important part of their diet. Care must be taken to be sure that foods containing protein or too much phosphorus are avoided, and that colorful, non edible items are not with in reach. Sulcatas try to climb, and care must be taken to prevent them from flipping over.