How To Take Care Sulcata Tortoise In The Winter

Knowing how to properly take care for your Sulcata tortoise during the winter months is essential. Sulcata tortoise are native to the Sahara Desert and are not well adapted to cold winter temperatures. With the correct measures taken, you can ensure your Sulcata tortoise stays in healthy and safe through the cold winter months.

Taking Care a Sulcata Tortoise In The Winter
Taking Care a Sulcata Tortoise In The Winter

As owners of the Sulcata tortoise, you must take extra care to ensure their reptilian pet stays warm and healthy during the cold months. They must be kept in an area with temperatures above 50°F, or they may become sluggish, ill, or even die. This article will provide owners of Sulcata tortoises with helpful tips and advice on caring for their pets during the winter.

Sulcata Natural Behaviors In Winter

As winter approaches, Sulcatas will adapt their natural behaviors to the changing temperatures. One of the most common winter behaviors for Sulcatas is to slow down their activity level. Sulcatas will become less active and hungry during the winter as their metabolisms slow down. This helps them conserve energy and survive cold temperatures. 

how to take care sulcata tortoise in the winter
Sulcata Natural Behaviors In Winter

Sulcatas may also become more irritable during the winter as they become less tolerant of environmental changes. During winter, Sulcatas dig burrows in the ground to keep warm and safe from predators. Sulcatas also use burrows to escape the heat of the summer months. These burrows can be up to three feet deep and are usually lined with dried grass and leaves. Sulcatas will remain in these burrows during the coldest months, only emerging when temperatures are warmer.

Another natural behavior of Sulcatas during the winter months is that they also become more solitary. It’s because they need to conserve energy during the colder months. As temperatures drop, food sources become scarce, so Sulcatas will spend more time by themselves to save energy and stay warm.

How To Build A Perfect Habitat for Sulcata In Winter?

Winter can be brutal for Sulcatas, as the cold temperature can put them at risk of hypothermia and other illnesses. Therefore, you should create a perfect habitat for your Sulcata during the cold winter months. Let us discuss building an ideal habitat for your Sulcata during winter. We will also provide tips on keeping your Sulcata warm and comfortable throughout the winter months.

how to take care sulcata tortoise in the winter
How To Build A Perfect Habitat for Sulcata In Winter

Indoor Winter Habitat for Sulcata Tortoises

During the winter months, Sulcata tortoises need a warm, safe indoor place that can provide the perfect environment. This article will discuss the elements that need to be considered when building an indoor habitat for a Sulcata over the winter months. We will look at the humidity, temperature, lighting, and the type of substrate, decorations, and furniture needed to create a comfortable and stimulating home for your tortoise.

  • Heating

Adding heating to an indoor habitat for a Sulcata tortoise in winter is essential for the overall health and well-being of the tortoise. Sulcata tortoises are native to the hot and dry climates of Africa and need to stay warm to remain healthy. A heated indoor habitat can provide temperatures more suitable for the Sulcata, prevent the tortoise from becoming too cold, and help to keep its metabolism and digestion running smoothly.

Simply installing heaters within the enclosure will eliminate the chill. The tortoises can be kept warm with an insulation pad, heating pad, and rock. As you choose and mount the heaters and pads, ensure the wirings are hidden. The risk of electrocution exists elsewhere.

  • Lighting

Sulcata tortoises’ containers must contain sources of UV radiation. Adding lighting when building an indoor habitat for a Sulcata in winter is important because it provides additional heat and light in an otherwise dark winter. 

Sulcatas need exposure to both UVB and UVA rays to stay healthy. Without access to natural sunlight, artificial lighting can help to provide these essential nutrients. Additionally, lighting can help to warm up the habitat and make it more comfortable for the Sulcata.

  • Substrate

Substrates like newspaper, indoor/outdoor carpet, coconut husk, and aspen shavings are all good choices as they are absorbent, easy to clean, and won’t harbor bacteria. They create a comfortable environment and protect your pet tortoise from contaminants or parasites. They also provide a comfortable surface for your Sulcata to move around on.

To retain more heat, switch to bedding with thermal insulation in winter. A suitable substrate is essential when building an indoor habitat for a Sulcata in winter because it helps to maintain the right temperature and humidity levels.

  • Decor

In winter, the decor should provide a safe and comfortable environment for the tortoise to rest. This means avoiding sharp or jagged rocks and branches that could cause injury. Moreover, ensure the decor mimics the tortoise’s natural habitat as much as possible. Use a substrate that mimics natural soil, providing hiding spots, and incorporating climbing and basking areas since they don’t go outside frequently.

Outdoor Winter Habitat for Sulcata Tortoises

Winter can be a tricky time for many animals, especially reptiles who rely on the sun to regulate their body temperature. Sulcata tortoises are no exception, and providing them with a safe, comfortable outdoor habitat during the winter months is essential for their health and well-being. For those pet owners who use a dog house as the Sulcatas’ outdoor habitat, a little house makeover should be done during winter. Here are some tips you should try!

  • Install Heaters

Similar to the indoor habitat, you should maintain the temperature in the outdoor place. You must install heaters in the pens for the winter. Depending on the intensity, you can add two or more heaters to the cage.

  • Set up The House In The Right Position

The Sulcata tortoises require sunshine to survive in the frigid months. Additionally, it supports the Sulcata tortoises’ biological functions. We recommend placing the habitat in a half-shady, half-sunny spot when setting it up. But as we all know, the sun deceives us in the winter. It makes sense to relocate the dog houses to a location with maximum sunshine.

  • Protect Them From Rain

Rain is another issue with which you should use caution. The worst rains occur throughout the winter. For example, a Sulcata tortoise can withstand intense cold or rain. However, they cannot handle the cold and rain alone. To prevent the water from entering the dwellings, you must cover them with a sheet. In addition, construct a barrier around the space to stop any intrusions.

What Is The Best Winter Diet for Sulcata Tortoises?

Winter is a difficult season for Sulcata tortoises as many of their natural food sources become difficult. It is essential to take special care to ensure your tortoise gets the proper nutrition during this time of year. However, you must choose your food carefully. For instance, grasses don’t thrive in the cold. Thus, you should steer clear of it whenever possible.

how to take care sulcata tortoise in the winter
What Is The Best Winter Diet for Sulcata Tortoises

Feed your Sulcata tortoises 15% to 20% greens, a piece of hay, Mazuri, and pumpkin instead. Remember to add vitamin and calcium supplements to your meals. You can continue to feed Sulcata tortoises according to the recommended schedule. For instance, 5-day meals for adults and daily meals for young tortoises.

Moreover, keep your Sulcata tortoises’ food and water near them in the winter. So, the Sulcata tortoises can eat whenever they are hungry and won’t have to expend much energy on it. Do not keep the tortoises’ food and water bowls away from them. It will make the animals less likely to eat or drink.

Tips To Take Care of Sulcata Tortoises In Winter

Winter weather can be a challenge for Sulcata tortoises, as they are tropical animals that prefer warmer climates. To ensure your tortoise stays healthy and happy during the colder months, here are some tips for taking care of Sulcata tortoises in winter:

Tips To Take Care of Sulcata Tortoises In Winter
Tips To Take Care of Sulcata Tortoises In Winter

1. Provide a Warm Shelter

During the cold winter months, it’s essential to provide your tortoise with a warm shelter. This shelter should be large enough for the tortoise to move around and be protected from wind and rain. Consider adding a heat lamp and thermometer to the enclosure to ensure the temperature remains between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Monitor Diet

During the colder months, your tortoise’s appetite may decrease. Be sure to monitor their food intake and adjust their diet accordingly. Offer them a variety of vegetables and fruits, as well as high-quality tortoise pellets. Make sure to offer a calcium supplement high in vitamin D3 to help them absorb the calcium.

3. Offer Outdoor Access

While you should avoid exposing your tortoise to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you can allow them to spend time outdoors in the sun. Natural sunlight is essential for Sulcatas’ health. In addition, make sure they have access to a shallow water dish and a warm environment on a sunny day. It may increase their appetite and mood during winter.

4. Exercise and Socialization

These are important for the health and well-being of your Sulcata tortoises. Exercising helps to keep your sulcata’s muscles strong and burns off excess energy. Socializing allows your Sulcata to interact with other animals and humans safely, which helps reduce stress and boredom. Additionally, this helps to prevent your Sulcata from becoming too used to being alone. Both activities are essential for keeping your Sulcata healthy and happy and should be done even during winter.

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How To Take Care of Baby Sulcatas In Winter?

Taking care of a baby Sulcata in winter can be challenging, but with the proper precautions and knowledge, you can ensure that your pet remains healthy and happy during the cold season. They do require some extra care during the colder months. Let us give you some tips on properly taking care of baby Sulcatas in winter.

How To Take Care of Baby Sulcatas In Winter
How To Take Care of Baby Sulcatas In Winter

1. Provide Warmth

Provide adequate warmth for your baby Sulcata tortoise during the cold winter months. This can be done by providing supplemental heating, such as a reptile heat lamp or ceramic heat emitter, to keep the ambient temperature of their enclosure at a consistent level.

2. Offer a Humid Hide

Provide a humid hide in a baby Sulcatas enclosure, such as a damp substrate box or a moss-lined box. This helps to provide additional humidity and warmth for your baby Sulcata.

3. Offer Additional Nutrition

During the winter months, offer additional nutrition and supplements to ensure that your Sulcata gets the nutrients it needs. Offer fresh vegetables, fruits, dark leafy greens, and a high-quality commercial tortoise diet.

4. Provide Indoor Housing

Your baby Sulcata cannot stay outdoors during the winter. So, you should create an indoor enclosure with adequate temperature, humidity, and lighting. This will ensure that your baby Sulcata stays warm and safe during the cold winter months.

5. Monitor the Temperature

Baby Sulcatas are very sensitive to the cold, and if their environment is too hard, they can become sick or even die. It’s essential to keep the temperature in their enclosure between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and not let it drop below 60 degrees at night. Monitoring the temperature helps ensure that your baby Sulcatas stays healthy and comfortable during winter.

Common Health Issues In Winter

As the temperatures drop during the winter, Sulcata tortoises can experience various health issues due to the colder temperatures. Here are some common health issues that Sulcata tortoises may suffer in the winter months and what you can do to help prevent them.

Common Health Issues In Winter
Common Health Issues In Winter

1. Dehydration

One of the most common health issues Sulcata tortoises may experience in the winter is dehydration. As the temperatures drop, these tortoises may drink less water than they usually do and can become dehydrated. 

To prevent dehydration, it is essential to ensure that your Sulcata tortoise has access to a shallow dish of clean, fresh water at all times. It is also important to mist your tortoise with water once or twice a day to help keep it hydrated.

2. Slow Metabolic Rate

Sulcata tortoises may experience a drop in their metabolic rate. This can be caused by the colder temperatures and can lead to various health problems, including weight loss and a weakened immune system. They may even stop eating altogether until warmer temperatures return. 

Additionally, their metabolism will slow down, which can cause them to become lethargic and weak. If a Sulcata tortoise is not receiving proper nutrition during this time, it can lead to serious health issues such as metabolic bone disease. During the colder months, providing your Sulcata tortoise with plenty of food is vital to keep its metabolic rate up. 


Taking care of a Sulcata Tortoise in the winter requires special attention to ensure they stay healthy and happy during the colder months. By providing them with an appropriate indoor enclosure and a temperature-controlled environment, providing adequate nutrition, and meeting their exercise needs, you can ensure your Sulcata Tortoise is well taken care of in the winter. We hope our article can give you more insights into adequately caring for Sulcatas in winter.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What do you do with a sulcata tortoise in the winter?

When it starts to grow cooler outside, or there are extended periods of chilly rain, Sulcatas should be placed in warm, dry shelters. When nighttime temperatures fall below 60°F, many Sulcatas have been kept outdoors without any additional heat; however, this does put some people in danger of having health issues. It is essential to check on your tortoise periodically during winter to ensure it is healthy and safe.

What do sulcata tortoises eat in the winter?

Sulcata tortoises should be provided with various foods during the winter, including dark leafy greens, collard greens, turnip greens, and grasses. They should also be given a variety of vegetables, such as squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes. A high-fiber, low-protein, low-calcium commercial tortoise food can also be offered. In addition, you can offer them some hay, as well as some fruits, such as apples, pears, and melons.

How do you take care of a tortoise in the winter?

In winter, keep their enclosure away from drafts and provide plenty of bedding to help keep them warm. Provide a heated indoor chamber with access to a UVB light. Remember to feed a diet of leafy greens and other vegetables, supplemented with a calcium and vitamin supplement. Additionally, it is vital to regularly check on your tortoise during winter to ensure it is healthy and safe.

Do sulcata tortoises hibernate in the winter?

No, Sulcata tortoises do not hibernate in the winter. They are native to the arid regions of Africa, where the temperature does not drop low enough for them to hibernate. Instead, they may become less active in the winter and burrow into the ground to stay warm.

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