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DIY Sulcata Tortoise Enclosure

Sulcata tortoises are among the largest and strongest tortoises that are popular as pets. So it becomes essential to have a good and sturdy enclosure for them. Read on till the end as I share everything you need to know to make a DIY Sulcata Tortoise Enclosure.

How To Make A DIY Sulcata Tortoise Enclosure?

To make a DIY Sulcata tortoise enclosure, ensure the walls are at least more than 24 inches above the ground and 12-24 inches under the ground. You can use concrete masonry walls and cement them in place or also use strong wood walls to make the enclosure.

Watch this video to see how to build a DIY Sulcata Tortoise Enclosure:

Size And Walls

It is OK to keep Sulcata Tortoises indoors when they are only small hatchlings.

An ideal Indoor Sulcata Tortoise Enclosure dimensions would be like this:

Length18 inches
Width18 inches
Height12 inches

For your Sulcata tortoise’s first year, the above-mentioned enclosure size should be enough. However, it is essential to note that the sulcata hatchlings tend to outgrow their enclosures pretty quickly.

So it won’t be long enough when you need a bigger enclosure for them. If you plan on getting a baby, you should check out how to care for a baby Sulcata tortoise.

Enclosure for an adult Sulcata tortoise

The adult sulcata tortoises need a lot of space. Typically, you will need at least 100 sq. ft space for each adult tortoise.

If you live in a temperate climate, you can keep the sulcata tortoise outdoors, which also suits them well (because they love exploring).

Using sturdy walls as the enclosure for these tortoises is a must as they can topple over standard wooden fences. So it would be great to have something sturdy like a concrete wall or sturdy wood.

Also, avoid any see-through walls because the sulcata tortoises tend to get away through or over the walls.

Sulcatas are burrowers, and their burrows can be 3ft to even 10 ft or more. 

So it is essential to have the enclosure walls be around 12-24 inches below the ground to prevent digging. And the height of the wall should be at least 24 inches.

Substrate

Usually, most sulcata keepers have their adult sulcatas in an outdoor enclosure with a desert feel.

Since the Sulcata Tortoise is native to the Sahara desert, it makes sense to recreate their natural habitat and set up a desert environment.

The ideal substrate for Sulcata Tortoise would be standard dirt or sand. This way, they can easily dig in and rest in the burrow whenever they need to relax away from the sun. I also suggest that you sprinkle some tortoise hay on top.

For an indoor sulcata enclosure, there are many different options. For instance, you can have cypress mulch which works nicely as the bedding (it generally costs less and is safe). Or else, you can also use hays, peat moss, or coconut coir.

For outdoor enclosures, natural soil is good, and you don’t need anything fancy.

You can learn more in my article on the best substrate for a Sulcata tortoise.

Plants

Sulcata tortoises are typically grazers and so nibble away almost any grass or plant you could have in the enclosure. 

Tough desert plants are the best plants to include in their enclosures. Personally, I have found the best are aloe and Bermuda grass. This tortoise grass is also pretty cool.

You can also plant mature trees to add enough shade for warm afternoons.

Avoid planting weak plants as they are likely to be destroyed once the sulcata becomes big enough.

Water Source

For outdoor enclosures, you can have small water dishes. Usually, sulcata tortoises tend to soak in their dishes and can defecate too. So it is vital to clean the dishes regularly.

For hot months, you can also make mud holes or puddle areas so that the sulcatas can remain cool. 

Mainly sulcata tortoises hydrate themselves by soaking. 

Also, it is noteworthy that the baby sulcatas dry out faster than the bigger tortoises. Therefore, ensure they are hydrated accordingly as per their needs.

If you want to learn more about their diet, check out the best food for Sulcata tortoise.

Temperature And Basking Light

For outdoor sulcata tortoises, you don’t need to worry much as they are tolerant to wide temperature ranges. If you have some shaded areas for the Sulcata Tortoise, it would be fine even if there is a high temperature.

Moreover, Sulcata Tortoises can tolerate very low temperatures (as low as 45°F). 

However, if the temperature goes way below 50 degrees, it is good to have a heated hide box that can maintain 55-60° temperature at night (or you can bring them in during such periods).

The normal room temperature would work well for Sulcata tortoises that are kept indoors. But it is good to have a heated basking area for them using an overhead basking light.

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