Building an Outdoor Habitat for a Sulcata Tortoise
How to Keep a Large Tortoise Outside
Housing an adult sulcata tortoise is definitely different from housing a juvenile one. There are many things to consider and planning will help you and your pet in the end. In this article, I will go over what you need to know to house both a juvenile and adult one. I will also provide instructions on how to build your tortoise habitat, with important things to keep in mind that will help prepare the transition from juvenile to adult living.
With a lot of planning and work, your tortoise can live an amazingly fulfilling and long life in your home—for generations to come, hopefully.
How to Tell If Your Sulcata is Ready to Move Outside
Obviously your tortoise cannot live in a tank forever. It will grow to the size of the habitat you give it, actually. One thing I always keep in mind is that it is only temporary to house them inside. Mine was only inside for two years from the time I got him. Tortoise care is actually much easier once you are able to move them outside. It is absolutely vital to their health to move them outside as early as possible. There is nothing better for one than natural sunlight. So how do you know when your Sulcata Tortoise is ready to be moved outside?
So how do you know when yours is ready to be moved outside? When several things happen:
A Tortoise Is Ready to Move Outside When...
- it outgrows its 100+ gallon tank.
- its shell is about a foot long, about 6-8 inches wide, and stands 4-6 inches tall.
- it's able to burrow.
- it's healthy.
- it eats and excretes regularly.
- its habitat is built and free from hazards.
Ants Are Serious Predators to the Geochelone Sulcata Tortoise
Never leave your juvenile tortoise unattended outside for long periods of times. Ants can attack and kill them!
Building a Habitat
I suggest making a habitat enclosure inside your yard, rather than letting it roam the yard freely—until they are just too big to escape the yard.
Over the past year or two that you have had your tortoise, you may have observed certain trends about where he likes to hide and dig, eat, sleep, and poop. Taking these into consideration, as well as considering shade and burrowing, you can embark on your habitat creation.
Be Careful What You Put Inside
Be careful when adding other elements to the cage, such as a shelter. A tortoise will climb whatever is in their cage, and it is not uncommon for them to flip onto their backs by accident. A tortoise cannot right themselves, and this will eventually lead to suffocation and death. You should check on your tortoise often to make sure this does not happen.
Building a Winter Habitat
Snow is any tortoise's great enemy. They prefer temperatures above 70 degrees, at the lowest. Otherwise they will look for a den and go into hibernation mode. Since not all types will need to hibernate, and most cannot survive cold temperatures and snow, you will need to build them a large house enclosure with proper lighting on a timer, as well as heating elements to keep them warm.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.