The cute young sulcata tortoise might be small in size, and fit easily in the palm of your hand, but eventually they grow big in size and weight - as big as 18 inches in shell length and as heavy as 100 pounds in weight. Hence, it is important that you study the sulcata tortoise growth chart properly before deciding on keeping sulcata tortoises as pets. As sulcata tortoises grow very quickly, one needs to keep in mind their food and housing care requirements well.
Sulcata Tortoise Care Guide
Male and female sulcatas can get aggressive, and males, when they reach their mature age, will ram with other male sulcatas. So it is imperative that you avoid keeping more than one male together.
The African sulcata tortoises, when young, can be maintained in dry aquariums. The adults are best maintained outdoors. Sulcatas are active pets, and like to climb and roam around in search of food. You can keep a dog house or lean-to house for them to move around. Protect the sulcatas from severe climates; you can install heating equipment in your house to avoid cool temperatures.
Temperature & Humidity Maintenance
The temperature maintained during the day should be between 75-100° F, and at night avoid temperatures below 70° F. When the weather is cool, you will need to provide heat to your pet tortoise if you are keeping it outdoors, . Studies show that when tortoises are maintained in dry conditions, they develop shell abnormalities. Hence it is important that you avoid dry conditions by maintaining humidity of 45-99% for good sulcata tortoise pet care.
When maintaining the sulcata tortoise outdoors, make sure they get direct sunlight, but also have shaded areas for cooling. Also provide substrate, which is a mix of soil and sand, for burrowing when the tortoises are kept outdoors. When maintaining indoors, supply 14 hours of daylight with a full spectrum UVB light, and a white incandescent basking lamp.
A shallow bowl containing water should be available to the sulcatas at all times. The shallow sides of the bowl will allow the tortoise to reach in the bowl and climb out easily.
Sulcatas have huge appetites, and hence it is important that you maintain their diet well. Food that is rich in fiber and calcium; and low in protein and fat should be provided. In the natural sulcata tortoise habitat, they graze similar to cows and sheep, and grass and hay are mostly the food they find in their natural vegetation. Providing the sulcatas with a diet which has a higher nutritional value can lead to abnormal growth and problems like diarrhea.
You can buy the grass hay and the hay flakes from pet shop. Offer the sulcatas dark green leafy vegetables, but this should form only 25% or less of their diet. Vegetables which can be provided to pet sulcatas include endive, escarole, dandelions, turnip greens, spinach, beet greens, carrot tops and broccoli. You can also feed your pet sulcata small amounts of fruits like bananas, melon, berries and apples. It is important that you provide your pet sulcata supplements of calcium regularly. Supplements of vitamin and mineral can also be provided. Remember that tortoises are herbivores and it is important that you avoid feeding them any meat based food products.
These were the care instructions for sulcata tortoise you need to maintain for good pet health. If you are keeping the hatchlings outdoors, then maintain the same care instructions you would follow for adult sulcatas which are kept outdoors.