When Zoo Med’s President, Gary Bagnall, adopted an adult male Sulcata Tortoise named Truman over 10 years ago, he was well aware of what he was getting in to. Truman was nearly 130 pounds when he traveled across the country from Florida to California in the back of our iconic Zoo Med Van, and this wasn’t his first long trip. Truman was actually born in Africa and imported as a baby nearly 30 years before! When the previous caretaker offered him for adoption, he found himself on his way to a tortoise haven in sunny California. Although for the past 10 years he has lived happily on Gary’s property, this summer, a brand new yard was constructed for him at Zoo Med’s headquarters in San Luis Obispo.
The new yard is over 1,550 square feet and consists of two levels. On the upper level, there is a shallow pond for Truman to drink and bathe in as he wishes. A structure along the back wall of the enclosure ensures that shade is always available (although hardly necessary with the mild temperatures in SLO). Two ramps lead from the upper to lower level where Truman’s house provides thermostatically controlled heat throughout the year. The entire enclosure is planted with grasses, hibiscus, mulberry, and other tortoise safe vegetation. An automatic irrigation system waters the lawn and fills the pond daily. Truman made the move last week to his new crib and seems to be enjoying all of the creature comforts of his new home.
Although the outside temperatures here are generally quite mild, it is important to provide a heated shelter for nighttime and winter months. To ensure that Truman is able to stay warm enough, the walls and roof are insulated and the floor is slightly elevated from the ground. A ramp leads to the doorway that has rubber “flaps” which help to reduce heat loss while making it easy for Truman to enter and exit. Heat is provided by three Zoo Med ReptiTherm® Habitat Heaters. One is secured to the floor of the house and two are mounted to the walls. The heater on the floor is controlled by a timer, which automatically turns the heater on in the evening and off in the morning. The heaters on the wall are thermostatically controlled and set to turn on if the temperature in the house falls below 75 degrees.