Our babies are kept in 36"(L)x14"(W)x16"(H) rubbermaid enclosures for the first six months to year of life. They are kept on cypress mulch substrate with a hidebox at one end. It is very important that the heated area be at only one end of the enclosure. Tortoises naturally thermo-regulate their bodies and need a cool location if daytime temps are too warm (basking area). The warm end of the enclosure should never be 'hot' to the touch. An overhead, reflective incandescent light fixture with a bulb of 40 Watts is used to provide a daytime basking temperature of approximately 95 to 98 degrees F in order to aid digestion. We turn lights on and off with the natural light cycle. Night warmth is provided by our animals being housed in a temperature controlled environment. If this cannot be provided and the night temps will drop below 70 degrees F, we recommend a low wattage heat pad under approximately 25% of the enclosure. The hide box is placed over the heat-pad location. The heating pad should only be on when the basking lamp is off. Adequate hydration and humidity is possibly the most important factor to maintaining healthy Elongated tortoises. Elongated tortoises can dehydrate quickly and easily when young. Lightly mist Elongated tortoises with room temperature drinking water every other day. Enclosures can be provided with a very shallow water dish. Deli cup lids work well for small babies and the base from a small terra cotta type pot works fine for larger animals. Shallow is the key.
A diet that has worked well over the years for Elongated tortoises in our collection is as follows: Our food items are dusted with Rep-Cal brand calcium supplement containing Vitamin D3 twice a week for the first two years of life and once every week for the rest of the animal's life. Food items offered: Natural grasses, true leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, endive, escarole, red-tip leaf lettuce, tomato, small amounts of green beans, yellow squash, small amounts of soaked monkey biscuits and canned cat/dog food (once every four to six weeks), assorted soft fruits (ex. banana, melon, papaya), washed hibiscus leaves and flowers (no pesticides) and fresh cuttle bone. We feed Elongated tortoises at least 3 to 4 times a week for the first year. Elongated tortoises greater than a year are fed at least 2 times a week in addition to natural grass and weed grazing.
Elongated offspring are generally put outside after six months to a year of age. There is no substitute for natural sunlight, rain and temperatures. Once outside it becomes critical that your tortoise live in a secure enclosure safe from predators and the elements. Ensure that animals and children cannot get to the tortoises. We build enclosures with hardwire screen tops to keep out unwanted guests (animals). Adequate shade is probably the most important factor in an outdoor enclosure. Young tortoises can die when exposed to full-sun for periods of time as short as 15 minutes, so be careful! We provide well planted enclosures with a hidebox to create more cooling and security options for the tortoises. Recommended temperature limits are a low of 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night up to a daily high of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Fresh water must be available at all times.
Space is something every Elongated tortoise will need in the future. Size of the enclosure will play a key role as the tortoise grows. Our adult colony is kept in an enclosure that measures roughly 32' x 32'. If kept outside, we recommend building a small insulated and heated 'dog house' for the tortoise to seek shelter in. Train the animal by placing it inside the house each evening. We hope this guideline gives more insight into Elongated tortoises and their care.