As you now know, sulcata tortoises are better off living outside since these creatures are originally land dwellers or grassland species. Once they become huge, the best habitat for them is outdoors so that they can also get direct heat from the sun to make them healthy. Artificial UVB bulbs or lights may not be sufficient for them anymore, ultraviolet rays from the sun is now a necessity because it will aid in the production of Vitamin D3 which will help your tortoise absorb the calcium that they need to keep their body and shell healthy.
If your sulcata tortoise becomes too large for your house inside, it’s time to relocate them by creating a tortoise or turtle pen. The bigger the pen, the better for your tortoise, this is because it will replicate their habitat in the wild which is much ideal for them.
When building a play pen, you also have to make sure that they are not overcrowded; this is for owners who are considering of keeping more than one sulcata tortoise or housing them with other tortoise or turtle species. Overcrowding can lead to poor hygiene and even territoriality issues among inhabitants.
The ideal pen size for tortoises in general should be 3 sq. ft. per each inch of its shell. Juvenile or growing sulcatas can be housed in a pen that’s about 4 x 3 feet in size; adult tortoises should be double or triple than the recommended size.
Building a play pen for your adult sulcata tortoises is just like designing their enclosure when they were still young and small. You can basically get creative and just let your imagination and taste for aesthetic run wild. There are no specific rules but the guidelines below can give you an idea on how to build one or where to place one if you have a larger space outside.
- Build your pen in a space where your tortoise can have lots of sunshine
- You can also choose to place it in a sort of slope or elevated soil if you have one so that your tortoise can easily turn itself back up if it gets flipped over. If you
- Place it in a spot where it is safe from any hazard or drainage since it can be prone to flooding
If you are located in a place where the climate has hot summers and relatively cold winters, you can possibly let them stay outdoors all year round because that could be an ideal temperature for your pet sulcata. If that’s not the case and the condition may be too harsh for your pet especially at night, you can still let them play outside every morning or at least throughout the day to catch some sunlight and also get some exercise.
If you have enough space outside, you can try building a green house where your tortoise can bask in and stay heated if the temperature outside are too cold for them. You can choose to build something that has a plastic roof on top so that the sun’s infrared rays can still pass through and still benefit your tortoise.
The basking spot should be around 90 degrees Fahrenheit or a bit higher than that since these creatures prefer warmer temperature just like in the desert. If you built a green house, the sun can still heat up the enclosure at about 18 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the cooler temperature outside the green house.
Aside from the recommended size of the pen or green house enclosure that you will build outside for your adult tortoise, you also need to think about the ratio of the male and female tortoise if you’re going to house them in the same enclosure. If you don’t want them to breed or if you only have a limited space outside, you should just stick to keeping female tortoises. This is because female tortoises get along better than their counterparts. If you own a couple of male tortoises, you should also make sure to separate them or as much as possible not housed them in one enclosure as they tend to become aggressive towards other male tortoises.
If you house both male and female tortoises together, make sure that the ratio is 1:4 (one male to 4 females); this is because male tortoises are known to chasing female tortoises constantly, if the female tortoise is always getting chased, she can get stressed out and this could lead to her getting sick. As much as possible, don’t house different tortoises or turtles in one enclosure unless you have a really huge backyard where they can have more than enough space to be separated from one another.
The main disadvantage of letting your pet roam around outside is that you won’t be able to always supervise them, and while you can eliminate the risks of hazards by placing the pen or green house in a safe location, they could still be at risk because of predators – this will include your other household pets like cats or dogs, smaller pests like ants and real outside predators like raccoons, birds or other wild animals.
One of the biggest threats to tortoises are dogs, there have been many cases where a dog is housetrained and properly socialize to get along with other pets but because of animal instinct for some reason, owners often end up finding that their dog has caused serious injury to their pet tortoises or turtles. Make sure to supervise your dog if you’re going to let him mingle with your tortoise and never leave your pet sulcata on its own devises. This is why your tortoise pen should preferably have a fence or a border as well as a rooftop of some sort for added protection against other animals.
Another common threat for tortoises living outside is pests and insects like fire ants, bees and other poisonous creatures. Your tortoise will surely munch on the grass or plants nearby but the problem is that this is also where such harmful insects hang out or lives to prevent this from happening; you can use a bait trap so that these ants will die or use other alternatives. Don’t spray pesticides because your tortoise can absorb these chemicals and cause them to get sick.