pet trade, especially when here in the U.K. the supply of imported
Mediterranean tortoises has long since been greatly restricted and
has virtually dried up.
The first sulcata offered for sale in the U.K. were produced by
a British enthusiast, but most of the hatchlings available in recent
years have originated in California (Andy Highfield, the Tortoise
Trust, pers. comm.). Pet owners who have contacted us have frequently
commented that they were not informed at the time of purchase that
these tortoises would grow so large. Hatchlings which appear at
first sight to the uninitiated to be 'normal' young tortoise
size and appearance, quickly grow in a matter of a few years to
15 to 20 cm in length. They need a lot of space and dry conditions.
Unfortunately, many of the hatchlings offered for sale during the
past five years are destined to die prematurely from incorrect care.
We are already seeing them with soft and deformed shells from incorrect
feeding and vitamin and mineral deficiency.
Care of Sulcatas
2000 saw a donation of Sulcata Tortoise to Glasgow Zoopark. About
six inches long it had a noticeably soft shell. If left untreated
this can result in a deformed shell, or death.
need calcium, in the form of powdered cuttlefish bone, or a mineral
supplement. They also need good vegetables, not just lettuce and
lighting is very important. Lights sold for iguanas are just the
thing. They are made of quartz glass, which does not inhibit the
emission of ultra-violet rays.