Are Sulcata tortoises hard to care for?

Answered by Cody Janus

Sulcata tortoises, also known as African spurred tortoises, can indeed be challenging to care for. While they are adaptable to different living conditions, they have specific care requirements that need to be met in order for them to thrive. It is important to consider these factors before deciding to bring a Sulcata tortoise into your home as a pet.

1. Lifespan: One of the most important things to consider is their long lifespan. Sulcata tortoises can live for over 50 years, with some individuals even reaching 100 years or more. This means that they require a long-term commitment and you need to be prepared for the responsibility of caring for them throughout their entire lives.

2. Space and Enclosure: Sulcata tortoises are the third largest species of tortoise in the world, with males reaching sizes of over 30 inches and weighing up to 200 pounds. They need ample space to roam and explore. Providing them with an outdoor enclosure is ideal, but it should be secure and escape-proof, as they are excellent diggers and climbers. Indoor enclosures should also be large enough to allow for natural behaviors such as walking and digging.

3. Climate: These tortoises are native to arid and semiarid regions of Africa, so they require a warm and dry climate. Maintaining proper temperatures is crucial for their health and wellbeing. They need a basking spot with temperatures around 90-95°F (32-35°C) and an ambient temperature of around 75-85°F (24-29°C). It is important to provide them with UVB lighting to help them synthesize vitamin D3, which is essential for calcium absorption and overall shell health.

4. Diet: Sulcata tortoises are herbivores and require a high-fiber diet consisting mainly of grasses, hay, and leafy greens. They should have access to fresh water at all times for drinking and soaking. It is important to avoid feeding them excessive amounts of high-protein foods, fruits, and vegetables, as this can lead to health issues such as shell deformities and organ damage. A proper diet is crucial for their growth and overall health.

5. Veterinary Care: Like any pet, Sulcata tortoises require regular veterinary care. Finding a reptile-savvy veterinarian who is experienced in treating tortoises is essential. Regular check-ups, fecal examinations, and blood tests are necessary to ensure that your tortoise is in good health and to catch any potential issues early on.

6. Long-Term Commitment: As mentioned earlier, Sulcata tortoises have long lifespans, and it is important to consider this before bringing one into your home. They require a significant investment of time, money, and effort. You need to be prepared for the long-term commitment of providing proper care and attention throughout their entire lives.

While Sulcata tortoises can adapt to various living conditions, they are not easy pets to care for. Their long lifespan, specific care requirements, and need for a large space make them a challenging choice for many individuals. It is crucial to thoroughly research and understand their needs before making the decision to bring one into your home.