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RE: sulcutta growth

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Posted by: tglazie at Sat Mar 15 01:13:13 2008  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by tglazie ]  
   

The topic is not readily researchable as the answer to the nature of growth is not readily understood. Tortoises are not like humans. Their growth rate is not determined by hormonal changes, nor is there a mechanism that makes them stop growing, merely slow growing. Tortoises in general do not stop growing during their lifetime, merely sustaining varying periods of rapid versus slow growth. Growth rate is also highly contingent on food availability, temperature, humidity, and water availability. A tortoise fed on high protein foods (i.e. Mazuri, fruits, and commercial foods) with little access to grasses and other such natural graze will grow very quickly. A tortoise fed on a high fiber diet, with access to sunlight, summertime temperatures, and other natural amenities will grow at a more natural rate. My sulcata grew from a one and a half inch hatchling to a six inch juvenile, but at the time, I was keeping him indoors, feeding him a mixture of lettuce, assorted greens, and dogfood (I didn't know any better at the time, as my only sources of information were a number of books whose best advice was to offer the animals bread seeped in milk).

The following year, I was graced with a copy of Highfield's Keeping Tortoises in Captivity, and I effectively saw the light. I started keeping little Jerry outdoors, giving him two summer fasting days per week, and doing my best to replicate natural conditions while pandering to my paternal spoiler instincts. From this point, his growth slowed. After thirteen years of growth, my once small hatchling has grown into a seventy five pound behemoth. He gains between one to three pounds per year at his current growth rate.

So, the simple answer to the question is that your tortoise will have variable growth. Expect comparatively rapid growth during it's initial life. That twenty gallon aquarium won't hold him but a year or two. You will soon have to transport your little beast into a covered outdoor enclosure, the larger, the better, considering that secured covers can only be so large. Once he is beyond the eight inch mark, they generally tend to be predator proof. I've never had a tortoise disturbed by predators, despite the regular presence of racoons and oppossums in South Texas. However, I keep my juveniles covered until they are of sufficient size not to be carried off by predators.

T.G.


   

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