How to care for a Sulcata Tortoise

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Things You'll Need

  • A large area

  • Grass

  • Grass Hay

  • Dandelion

  • Prickly Pear Cactus


Never feed your Sulcata Iceberg lettuce.


Always provide shade in the outdoor enclosure. Always provide water. Turtle proof your enclosures.

Sulcata Tortoise

A sulcata tortoise, native to a semi-arid environment, are demanding animals to care for. They will grow to weigh over 80 pounds and live for over 75 years. A basic aquarium is not an adequate habitat for your sulcata tortoise. You will need a lot of expensive components to make the right habitat. Correctly caring for your tortoise is essential to its well being.


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Step 1

Provide a proper outdoor enclosure for your Sulcata tortoise. It should be at least 200 square feet. Sulcatas are strong and stubborn. They will try to escape from their enclosures. Make sure that the sides of your enclosure are at least as tall as your Sulcata. If the tortoise can not see out they will spend less time trying to escape. You will also need to provide a smaller shelter for your tortoise. This should be just big enough for your tortoise to turn around in. Also make sure this shelter has a roof to provide shade and shelter from rain.

Step 2

Ensure your Sulcata has the right temperature at all times. Your tortoise will feel most comfortable between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The enclosure should have some shade at all times of the day. This way your Sulcata can regulate its temperature by going in and out of the shade. Your Sulcata can easily stand night time temperatures of 60 degrees. If it gets colder than this you will need to heat the tortoise's small shelter. A heating pad is an easy way to do this. Make sure that it is impossible for your tortoise to get wrapped up in the electrical cords.


Step 3

Feed your Sulcata properly, this is the most critical part of their care. Sulcata's need food that is high in fiber and low in protein. Diet is why it is critical that you house your Sulcata outdoors for as much of the year as possible. Their ideal food is lawn grass. Make sure that your grass is free from any chemicals. Don't worry about dandelions. Dandelions are actually a great food for your tortoise to snack on. Always provide your tortoise with access to water. You can give your tortoise a treat of a dark leafy green such as Romaine lettuce but no more than once per week.

Step 4

Plan for an acceptable winter diet. Dry grass hay is the best alternative to live grass. Make sure this is grass hay and not Alfalfa hay. Cactus pads are the easiest food to get other than grass hay. Most grocery stores will have cactus pads or can order them. Cactus should not make up more than a quarter of your Sulcata's diet. In the winter it is okay to feed a little more than this but try to get him eating grass hay.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.