Tortoises make delightful pets as they are not demanding but they do need care and have certain necessities. Young tortoises must be kept indoors for some years to keep them safe from birds, cats and dogs. There are certain things that should be kept in mind to keep a tortoise healthy when they are retained indoors till they are big enough to go out.
A plastic tub, trough or a glass aquarium can be used to house a young tortoise. A layer of dirt, alfalfa or aspen pellets could be used. Tortoise live on dirt in the wild, they are used to it, just make sure the dirt is free of any pesticides or any other impurities. Make sure the enclosure is large enough for the tortoise to walk around and reconnoiter the area.
Hallowed out wooden logs can be provided to them for hideouts. Tortoises are used to humid environment as their homes are underground burrows where they spend most of their time. Staying indoors might give them a dried environment and are likely to suffer from shell pyramiding. The wooden log provided for their shelter should be wet in water at least twice a week to solve their humidity problems.
The growing sulcata tortoise needs UV light for its proper growth and development. A fluorescent bulb which could be as long as 18-48 inches needs to be placed not more than 24 inches above the ground where the enclosure is placed. An additional lamp to provide heat is also required. The second type of lighting would be a heat plus UV lighting and needs to be placed in the same place as that of the first bulb. Both these lightings should not be blocked by anything else the tortoise would not get any benefit from the lights and heat. Time and again they should be taken out for natural sunlight also.
Grass hay and grasses are the best diets for your tortoise. You could also feed them fruits however keep them for occasional treats only. You can give them a shallow water bath once a week for 20-30 minutes; remember to soak them to their chin only. You can dust the greens twice a week, a calcium powder without Vitamin D3 or once a week with multivitamin powder for reptiles.
You should take them once a year to the veterinary to ensure they are growing healthy and normally.
An adult sulcata’s enclosure should be made of sod – you can use a mix of rye, fescue and Bermuda grass. They love to graze throughout the day. Sulcata’s kept outdoors are healthier than the ones kept indoors as they get a lot of nutrition from hibiscus leaves, prickly pears cactus pads and other leaves that provide them with necessary nutrients.
Sulcatas live for decades and will bond with their owners if kept properly. Many will outgrow their owners; make sure you find friends and relatives who will take care of them if you are unable to give them proper attention.