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African Spurred Tortoise Health Information

Because the Sulcata Tortoise can grow to such a large size (200 pounds) and can dig burrows as deep as 20 or more feet, they may be much more difficult to care for. They can be quite destructive with their burrowing habits, and they are often seen in rescues because many people are not prepared for their great size or behavior patterns. For this reason they are classified as relatively difficult, though with this aside they are average in terms of feeding and general health care. But prospective owners should be aware of the fact that they grow fast, live a very long time and dig a lot. Some people refer to the damage done by these large tortoises as "converting their yards into a Moon-Scape."

Sulcata Tortoises should be examined by a reptile veterinarian before being brought into the home. They should be checked for all parasites, especially Giardia and Hexamita Parva, which are very common among wild-caught tortoises.

African Spurred Tortoises should be provided with temperatures of 80 - 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, with plenty of shade so they can cool down when necessary. Nighttime temperatures should be cooler than daytime, but should not drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. While Sulcata Tortoises can live quite comfortably outdoors, if they are to live in an overly humid environment or when the temperatures outdoors fall below 80 degrees during the day and/or 60 at night, they should be provided with suitable indoor quarters.

Sulcata Tortoises feed primarily on grasses and leaves and do best when they are allowed to graze outdoors on a mixture of grasses. Fresh alfalfa can be given and some will also eat dried alfalfa, but it should be fed sparingly, as it is relatively high in protein. A steady diet of store produce is not recommended because store produce usually has less roughage than their natural diet. Store bought produce is best used as a supplement to outside vegetation. Always get the proper feeding instructions, so your tortoise will be healthy. They need extra calcium when young, as they grow quickly and need the calcium to encourage shell growth and proper bone development. They can be given a supplement of finely powdered calcium carbonate by lightly dusting their food with it. While tortoises don't require much water, they do need some. Juveniles up to 1 year old should be soaked about three times per week, and older tortoises about once a week. Alternatively, Spur Thighs can be provided with a shallow dish for soaking and drinking, and they will defacate in it, so it will need to be cleaned often. If the tortoise is not housed outdoors and exposed to natural sunlight , fluorescent full spectrum lighting is necessary for the tortoise's development. Your tortoise should be given some material for burrowing. Alfalfa pellets and timothy hay make good bedding material, and will not harm the tortoise if they are ingested.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "African_Spurred_Tortoise".
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