CLASS: Reptilia (Reptiles) ORDER: Testudines FAMILY: Testudinidae GENUS: Geochelone SPECIES: sulcata Cool dens. Given the sizzling hot climate where it lives—where days can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius)—this tortoise digs dens up to 10 feet (3 meters) deep to recline in during the heat of the day. These underground havens are significantly cooler than the air above ground, dipping into the 70s (20s Celsius). These dens are often the only respite for other wildlife as well, so they reuse abandoned tortoise burrows. Housing the Sulcata Tortoise Access to a spacious outdoor enclosure is ideal for these large tortoises. They need a sturdy fence around 2 feet tall. And because they burrow quite well, the fence should be extended underground at least a foot in an outdoor enclosure.2 Shelter in the form of a doghouse or small shed is a good idea to provide protection from the elements. And a muddy wallow may be included for your tortoise to soak and defecate in. Housing adult sulcata tortoises indoors can be impractical due to their size. But you will have to provide them with a warm space if you live in a colder climate. An outdoor heated shed or greenhouse where they can live when it is cool outside can be a suitable option. If you do choose to bring an adult sulcata indoors, you likely will need to dedicate a room to it. Heat Sulcata tortoises need hot temperatures to stay healthy and active. They can handle outdoor temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, as long as they have access to a shady spot where they can go if they need to cool off.3 If the nighttime temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they'll need some supplemental heat. Maintain daytime temperatures in a room, greenhouse, or shed where your tortoise resides at around 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit with a basking lamp at around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit are typically fine. Don't let the enclosure get too cold, or your tortoise might stop eating and be more susceptible to illness. Light Tortoises housed in an outdoor enclosure don't need any special light beyond the sun. But when they're housed indoors, a UVA/UVB light is necessary for your sulcata tortoise because it won't be getting regular, unfiltered sunlight. The light will help your tortoise grow strong bones, avoid disease, and stay healthy. Be sure to place the light close enough to your tortoise for it to receive the benefits, following the product instructions. Humidity Sulcata tortoises prefer a humidity level of around 40 to 55 percent. Humidity that’s too high can lead to fungal infections and other issues.1 If you need to raise the humidity, lightly mist the tortoise’s enclosure once or twice a day. This is the Best Way to House Your Tortoise Indoors Food and Water Sulcata tortoises are herbivorous, grazing tortoises that need a high-fiber, low-protein diet. This can be provided by feeding a variety of grasses and hays (comprising at least 75 percent of their diet), along with some edible weeds and flowers, such as dandelions, clover, endive, and cactus pads. Small amounts of other leafy green vegetables are also fine.3 You avoid foods high in oxalates, such as spinach, mustard and beet greens, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. Your tortoise will nibble on the grasses and weeds in its environment throughout the day, and you should offer a salad of other leafy greens and vegetables every one to two days. Check with your veterinarian to make sure you're offering the proper variety and quantity, as this largely depends on age, size, and health of your tortoise. Many owners supplement the veggies with a calcium and vitamin D3 powder once or twice a week (or as directed).3 Do not feed fruits, animal protein, or pelleted tortoise foods from the pet store unless directed by your veterinarian. Tortoises get most of their hydration from their food, but you also should include a shallow water dish in their enclosure that you refresh daily. Common Health and Behavior Problems Like many reptiles, sulcata tortoises are prone to respiratory infections, especially if they're kept in environments that are too humid. And like other tortoises and turtles, shell rot is a common problem. This is usually caused by a fungal infection that leads to a flaky, dry shell. Metabolic bone disease is another serious ailment among tortoises and other reptiles.1 When the animal's phosphorous-to-calcium ratio is out of balance, it can lead to softening and weakening of its bones. This disease can cause deformities and eventually death if not treated properly All of these conditions are treatable by a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles if caught early enough. Don't try to treat your tortoise with home remedies unless recommended by your vet.