Big. Armored. Destructive.
Does that sound like the description of a good pet?
It’s more like the description of a kaiju. Yet many people are fanatic about their pet sulcata tortoise.
In case you’re not familiar with this animal, adult sulcatas can weigh up to 200 pounds. That is not an exaggeration.
And what about the destructive part? Well, let’s take a look at just what it means to own a sulcata tortoise...
They dig. A lot.
Sulcatas are a burrowing species. And since an adult is 100 to 200 pounds, it’s going to need a burrow big enough to fit itself.
That means that if you put a sulcata in your backyard, your yard is going to get torn up.
We are talking holes that can be as much as 8 feet deep.
They will escape
Tortoises are not dumb. In fact, they are highly intelligent and get restless.
That means your massive tortoise will try to escape its area at some point. Or all the time.
If you put them in a bottomless pen, they will dig under the fence and escape.
If you put them in a pen with low walls, they will climb the walls and escape.
If you put them in a flimsy pen, they will tear down the fence and laugh maniacally (okay, maybe not the last part, but they will act like your fence is ridiculously inadequate).
Heck, sulcatas have been known to figure out how to open sliding doors and get into the house.
The upside is that smart pets like this can be rewarding because they learn to come when called by name and will play with new objects put in their enclosures.
They can be aggressive
As with pretty much any animal, sulcata tortoises are territorial. That means they will stand their ground and defend their territory.
This can be a problem if your tortoise starts to see you as encroaching on their turf. Or if you plan to let it share a yard with another pet.
Tortoises are not the slow and helpless creatures that stereotypes have made them out to be. They will fight. And they can cause serious injuries to other pets. Again, they weigh a hundred or more pounds.
Are they any more aggressive than other species? Nope. They are just tanks on legs that want their own space, just as you do.
You will need to dispose of lots of poop
Big animal equals big bowel movements. Any pet you acquire will need to be cleaned up after.
Are you prepared to scoop massive quantities of poop?
FYI, sulcata feces does not smell pleasant, and you probably don’t want to just let nature take its course, even if you keep them outside.
Remember, in nature, a tortoise would have much more area to disperse waste. As a pet, they depend on you to keep their area sanitary.
So why do so many people buy them? Because sulcatas are intelligent, unique-looking, and friendly pets.
It does take a unique kind of person to commit to their needs. But they are unquestionably amazing creatures.
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