Why Is My Sulcata Tortoise Not Eating? [Causes & Solutions]

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Have you ever been in a situation when your Sulcata tortoise avoids food for days? Well, you are not alone. It is a common scenario for many tortoise keepers. But the question is why your Sulcata tortoise is not eating.

Sulcata tortoises can avoid food for several reasons. For example,

  • Mouth infection
  • Post brumation
  • Impaction or constipation
  • Physical and mental sickness
  • Aging, etc.

Of course, a tortoise can not go without food for longer. In most cases, the loss of appetite is a sign of other diseases. Hence, a proper investigation and treatment are mandatory. In the following article, I will discuss the ins and outs of why Sulcata tortoises stop eating and what you can do.

Why Is My Sulcata Tortoise Not Eating?

I agree that tortoise avoiding food is definitely a matter of concern. However, it is not necessarily anything severe every time. Here I have included all the possible reasons why a Sulcata tortoise loses its appetite,

Stomatitis (Mouth Rot)

Mouth rot is not a specific disorder but more of an umbrella term for all the mouth inflammation diseases of the Sulcata tortoises. Generally, natural bacteria, viruses, and fungi are responsible for this condition.

Infectious stomatitis is one of the common mouth inflammatory diseases in Sulcata tortoises. It occurs due to cavity infection when bacteria enter any open wound or scratch in the mouth.

Usually, all Sulcata tortoises are vulnerable to mouth rot, especially those with low immunity.

Tortoise mouths are brimming with bacteria. Right? Then why and how do they get infected by bacteria again?

Well, when healthy, the tortoise’s biological system can balance the ratio of good and bad bacteria and prevent these unexpected diseases. However, this is not possible with a weak immune system.

Tortoises coming out of a brumation often get diagnosed with mouth rot due to low immunity. Also, keeping mouth wounds open can be why your Sulcata tortoise gets stomatitis. Generally, dirty habitats provoke bacterial and fungal growth in the habitat.

The Sulcata tortoises exhibit the following signs when suffering from mouth rot or stomatitis,

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Stress
  • Discomfort
  • Discharge or mucus coming from the mouth, etc.


When you take your sick tortoise to the vet, he will arrange some tests first to diagnose the reason for mouth rot. Besides, he will ask for its medical history and relevant information, for example, habitat condition, diet, enclosure temperature, etc. Once the results come, the vet will prescribe meds to heal your tortoise.

Oral cleaning and antibiotics can recover the sick Sulcata tortoise. If you have an ill tortoise, you should isolate it as soon as possible. Otherwise, your other pets will get infected too.

Also, the tortoise takes time to recover from a mouth rot. In the meantime, take good care of its hygiene and food.

Though medications can cure mouth rot in tortoises, it is always advisable to prevent this disease. You can do the following to keep your Sulcata tortoise safe from a mouth infection,

  • Maintain good hygiene in the tortoise enclosure
  • Check the habitat temperature, humidity, and overall set-up
  • Focus on the diet

Post Brumation

While turtles, the close relatives of tortoises, go to hibernation during cold, tortoises choose to brumate. There is actually a slight difference between these two.

Usually, tortoises brumate under a dead leaf dump or burrow in a hole if kept outside. But when you put your indoor tortoise up for brumation, you must select a colder space (fridge).

Tortoises usually brumate for 8 – 12 weeks, not more than that. During this period, these creatures do not eat at all. So even when they come out of brumation, they kind of avoid food for a while.

I know brumation makes the tortoises thin, and they should eat to gain their lost health. But they have more important stuff to handle first.

During the brumation period, tortoises do not drink water as much as their body requires. As a result, these reptiles focus more on rehydration than on eating.

Offering the Sulcata tortoises a fresh bowl of drinking water along with high water content foods like cucumbers, cactus pads, succulents, etc., will help them.

Sulcata tortoises might refuse food for 14 – 15 days after coming out of brumation. Yet, you have to provide them with tempting and balanced diets.

Do not raise the enclosure temperature all of a sudden. Instead, increase the heating step by step over some days. This way, the Sulcata tortoise will wake up completely and be more energetic.

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Sometimes, not eating indicates that your Sulcata tortoise is in big trouble. Take the example of impaction.

Impaction is when the food and liquid can not pass the bowel system and stay stuck. Though some owners confuse impaction with constipation, this intestine blockage is more alarming.

Impaction put the Sulcata tortoise in stress and discomfort, resulting in a low appetite. You will also notice vomiting, respiratory issues, lethargy, and low energy in the pet. Not to mention that the pet will stop dumping for a while.

Impaction occurs when the tortoise ingests a foreign material that blocks the gut. For example, small pebbles, stones, enclosure bedding, hair, etc., are enough to lodge in the bowel system. Besides, poor diet and dehydration can also cause impaction in the tortoises.


You have to take your tortoise to an emergency room to treat impaction. The condition will cause more harm to the pet if it goes untreated.

The vet will perform an X-ray to determine the cause of impaction. Then he will proceed with surgery, depending on the situation.

Apart from this, it is advised to soak the Sulcata tortoise in warm water. Apparently, it comforts the pet, offering some relief. Also, give the Sulcata tortoise some natural laxative and maintain a warm and humid environment in the enclosure.


Dystocia only applies to female tortoises, more particularly, the gravid ones. It occurs when the tortoise stops depositing eggs abruptly or the eggs get stuck inside for any reason. This egg-bound condition can raise many complications if not addressed promptly.

Dystocia occurs in tortoises when the pets do not get a suitable place for laying eggs. Generally, the Sulcata tortoise looks for perfectly loose soil, humid weather and a warm temperature to lay her eggs.

If you fail to fulfil such requirements, the tortoise can change her mind and roam around without depositing the eggs. It takes a few days for the gravid tortoise to understand the severity of this decision. She will feel discomfort and constant pain as the eggs stay stuck inside.

There are other reasons for dystocia, too, such as poor diet, large eggs, oddly shaped eggs, narrow passage for egg deposition, etc.

The symptoms of dystocia are,

  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritation
  • Stress
  • Discomfort moving
  • Lethargy
  • Abnormal personality


Making the tortoise lay her eggs naturally without any supplements is nearly impossible. Hence, you must take it to the clinic, where the vet will take an X-ray of the pet.

After observing the egg position and condition, he might inject a hormone to promote the egg deposition. In the worst cases, the vet will break the eggs using a needle and relieve the pet from pain.

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Stress in animals is not some myth you can ignore. In fact, it is very much real and can cause harm.

Sulcata tortoises go under stress due to many situations, for example, when they feel unsafe.

While in danger, tortoises try hiding in their shells first. It is even better for them if there is a burrowing site. These creatures will stay in the shelter for days to avoid predators. During this time, tortoises will not eat or drink.

Again, it happens even when you take the Sulcata tortoise home for the first time. The pet is unfamiliar with the new surroundings, which is uncomfortable for it. Hence, the tortoise refuses to eat and interact for a few days until it gets accustomed to the surroundings.

Do you know your touch and constant checking on the Sulcata can also make it anxious? Yes, rough handling and invading the personal space stress the tortoises. As a consequence, the pets might stop eating.

As you can see, stress is not healthy for the Sulcata tortoises. Avoiding food for longer days will weaken their immunities and make them vulnerable to diseases.

But fortunately, stress-induced appetite loss does not last long, but a few days. After that, the tortoises will make amends with their situations and try returning to normal.

No matter how swiftly your Sulcata tortoise handles stress, there are several things you should never do. Such as,

  • Do not unnecessarily play with your tortoise or shout at it.
  • While handling the pet, be gentle.
  • Refrain from touching the tortoise frequently
  • Put a fence around the tortoise habitat with a chicken wire cover so the predators can not invade it.
  • Build a hiding spot in the enclosure so the tortoise can take shelter when anxious.
  • Leave your tortoise alone if you notice it irritated or anxious.


Tortoises are also ectothermic or cold-blooded, just like their close relative turtles. It means these creatures also depend on the environmental heat to warm up their bodies. So, what if the temperature drops?

Simple. The Sulcata tortoises slow down their systems to cope with the cold.

As a part of the process, these reptiles drop their heart rate to reduce oxygen expenditure and stop doing any activity to save energy. Tortoises enter a sleepy state and refrain from eating any food the entire time. In other words, your pets brumate.

Brumation is a natural process for the Sulcata tortoises, especially when they live in an outdoor or wild space.

However, it takes proper preparation for the Sulcata tortoises to do brumation. They stop eating 1 month before this process.

Hence, if your Sulcata tortoise is not eating, you should check the temperature first. Your answer might be hidden in the drop in temperature.

It is not always wiser to brumate your captive Sulcata tortoise. Any mistake can lead to severe health damage.

You can avoid brumating by maintaining a suitable temperature range in the habitat. For example, the ideal daytime temperature range for Sulcata tortoise is 85 – 105 degrees Fahrenheit. During the night, 70 degrees Fahrenheit temperature is fine.

Nevertheless, you can not control the outdoor temperature in the cold season. In such a scenario, you can transfer the tortoise to an indoor set-up for those cold months. Or you may put the Sulcata tortoise for brumation maintaining the health procedures.


Sulata tortoise suffering from constipation is nothing odd. In fact, this is one of the common reasons why the tortoises avoid food for a while. Generally, poor diet options, overfeeding and intestinal parasites are the reasons behind constipation.

Tortoises can not process food as fast as we can. Hence, if you overfeed your tortoise, it will take days to digest those foods. In the meantime, the pet will refuse to eat anything.

A green and balanced diet along with quantity water can fix constipation in Sulcata tortoises. Besides, soaking the pets in warm water for 20 minutes will also help.

A Sulcata tortoise can go 2 – 3 days without pooping. If the home tricks are not effective, you have to move the tortoise to a vet. Usually, the vets perform an X-ray to diagonosie parasites and prescribe enemas or laxetive for treatment.

Leaving the tortoise untreated is never suggested. It can raise the health risk by creating complexities.

Boring Diet Chart

Would you like to have the same meal over and over? No, right? It will make your diet boring, and you will lose interest in eating. The same happens with Sulcata tortoises if you feed them the same old food repeatedly.

Sulcata tortoises refuse to eat when the meals get boring. Though they are not picky eaters, who likes the same taste every day?

The solution here is easy. First, do experiments with the tortoise diet. Try adding new vegetables, stems, plants, leaves, and fruits to the meals and note the tortoise preference. New flavours not only make the meals interesting but also boost the pets’ appetite.


You will notice an appetite loss, more or less, in every ill tortoise. Hence, a sick Sulcata tortoise also avoids eating until it recovers.

Diseases like hypovitaminosis, respiratory infection, shell rot, etc., badly affect the digestive process of the tortoises. Therefore, these creatures invest their energy to heal naturally during the sick period and refrain from eating.

However, tortoises require more nutrition to recover from diseases. As a result, the appetite loss is making them suffer even more.

But do not worry. There are tricks to feed a sick Sulcata tortoise. For example, you can hand feed the pet or use a syringe to push nutrients into its body.

Nevertheless, besides applying these hacks to feed the pet, you should investigate the reasons for the disease. It is because once the tortoise recovers, it will start eating automatically.

The reason, signs, and treatments of the common tortoise diseases are,


Hypovitaminosis occurs due to the lack of vitamin A. Insufficient vitamin A leads to lethargy, swollen and inflamed eyelids, rots, and loss of appetite in Sulcata tortoises. Vitamin A enriched diet and antibiotic shots can heal the tortoise in no time.

Respiratory Illness:

Respiratory illness involves the attack of bacteria, fungus, or viruses in the lungs. A dirty environment, prolonged hypovitaminosis, cold enclosure, etc., are responsible for this condition in the Sulcata tortoise.

Lethargy, appetite loss, sneezing, wheezing, swollen eyes, etc., are some signs of respiratory illness. The pet can be cured with antibiotics, a hygienic enclosure, and proper habitat temperature.

Shell Rot:

You know Sulcata tortoise shells are strong and carry an immense amount of leads. Yet, the scutes can get scratched or cracked due to overweight or impact. In addition, these plates get infected if bacteria or fungus make their way into the tortoise body via cracklings.

Soon the scutes turn black and spread a bad odour. You will also notice mucus discharge from the pits. Finally, the scutes fall off the structure in the worst conditions, exposing the bones and flesh underneath.

As a consequence, the tortoise stops eating and any other physical activity. As a result, the pet undergoes immense pain and channelizes its energy to heal.

Soaking the shell with antibiotic creams and disinfectant can quicken the healing process and make the tortoise return to normal life.


Tortoises are curious by nature. They will taste small pebbles, the sandy substrate, and everything in the habitat. As these supplies are not sterilized, tortoises consume worm eggs and fall victim to a parasitic attack. A dirty and unhygienic surrounding, food area, and water bowl also infest the tortoises with worms.

A sick tortoise suffers from diarrhoea, vomiting, loose poop, weakness, and lethargy. It is because the worms live off the nutrients of the tortoise system and leave nothing for them. As a result, you notice weight loss and appetite loss in the pets.

Tortoises sometimes also poop out these worms. But of course, you can not spot parasites with your naked eyes. Hence, you must take the pet to a vet for proper diagnosis. Deworming the tortoises once or twice a year will prevent and cure them.


Refusing to eat is one of the many signs a tortoise shows before dying. Usually, a Sulcata tortoise lives about 100 – 150 years. However, with growing age, these tortoises lose appetite, and in the end time, they will stop eating at all.

How Long Can A Sulcata Tortoise Go Without Eating?

A Sulcata tortoise can go 3 to 6 months without food. Surprisingly, there are claims of tortoises living 3 – 30 years without eating. But yes, the tortoises must have access to fresh water.

How long can a tortoise live without food depends on several factors. Freshwater access, heat, UV ray percentage, humidity in the air, species, age, diet, habitat, health conditions, etc., are some of them.

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Like all other creatures, water is inevitable for tortoises too. Lack of water dehydrates these creatures raising physical complexities. Different data indicate that a Sulcata tortoise can live 1 week without drinking water if the environment is cold or humid.

Tortoises can collect humidity from the environment, which contributes to rehydrating. Thus, they will survive longer in a humid region.

On the other hand, heat has the opposite impact on tortoises. The temperature rise dehydrates the tortoises quickly and makes them suffer.

Again, age and health conditions have a similar effect. For example, a baby Sulcata tortoise can not survive long without food, whereas the adults can. It is because the young have a developed body and less appetite.

Similarly, the weak tortoises can not starve for months. But, again, it is because they already have a weak immune system, and malnutrition will hit them even more.

What Should I Do If My Sulcata Tortoise Is Not Eating?

A Sulcata tortoise can lose appetite because of the temperature drop, physical or mental condition, poor diet management, etc. Instead of speculating, you should investigate what has made the tortoise stop eating. Later, take steps to solve that issue, and your pet will start eating soon.

We have already seen several conditions that make the Sulcata tortoises lose their food interest. You have to go through each one to find out the root of the less appetite. Here are different scenarios and probable approaches,

Temperature Drop:

I always suggest checking the temperature first if your Sulcata tortoise stops eating. A drop in temperature, even by a few degrees, can slow down the metabolism of this species, making it avoid food.

In an indoor setup, maintaining habitat temperature is smooth and easy. All you need is an enclosure heater.

However, you can not regulate the weather if you raise your Sulcata tortoise in an outdoor habitat. As a result, cold weather affects the food habits and daily activity of this creature.

Move the pet to an indoor space with warmth and a suitable temperature to restore the appetite. Nevertheless, you must make the tortoise brumate if you do not want it to transfer into an indoor setup. In such a case, prepare the tortoise one or two months before the brumation period.

Physical Injury:

Wounds of any type, whether a crack or scratch, can make a Sulcata tortoise avoid meals. If a tortoise falls in an accident or suffers from a physical abnormality, a negative impact is observed in its appetite. The reason can be stress, shock, or the healing process why the tortoise avoids eating in that time frame. However, the pet will start eating once the wound is healed.


Most sicknesses like hypovitaminosis, respiratory illness, shell rot, shedding, white patches, mouth rot, MBD, etc., have a common sign, appetite loss in the tortoise. As a result, you observe a noticeable weight loss in the pet.

Each of these illnesses has distinguishing symptoms. For example, abnormal shell and bone growth indicate metabolic bone disease. Similarly, discharge from scutes, smelly odor, and black pits are signs of shell rot.

You have to look for abnormal symptoms in the Sulcata tortoise’s behavior and physique. Then, see if those signs can lead you to any specific health condition. Otherwise, you can always consult a vet for proper treatment and guidance.

The Sulcata tortoise will get back to its normal feeding routine once it is cured.

Mental Trauma:

As you know, Sulcata tortoises get affected by mental stress, which messes up their food habit. Rough and constant handling, threats of the predators, chaotic environment, new surroundings, congested and improper housing, etc., can make these creatures anxious and avoid meals.

You have to provide the Sulcata tortoises with enough space, hiding spots, tight security, etc., to calm them mentally. Also, do not touch these pets unless it is necessary. Again, while handling the Sulcatas, be gentle.

Tortoises will eat once they feel secure and out of threat.

Poor Diet Management:

A boring meal chart can be behind the less hunger of the Sulcata tortoise. So, include different items (of course, the safe ones) in the tortoise diet. It will boost their appetite and make them eat whole-heartedly.

How Do I Get My Sulcata To Eat?

Sulcata tortoises avoid food due to several issues. It can be because of the cold weather, sickness, mental trauma, or an improper diet. However, eliminating the cause restores the appetite of the pets and makes them eat again.

By now, you know the causes of appetite loss in Sulcata tortoises and how to undo them. Generally, these tortoises stop eating whenever their routined life goes out of balance or because of the surroundings.

Let it be a physical condition or a habitat issue. In each case, you will notice the pets avoiding meals. Thus, for many owners, less appetite in tortoises indicates irregularity.

Sulcata tortoises throwing off signs of less appetite can be either severe or a minor health issue. But of course, you can not ignore them. Prolonged diseases make the tortoises suffer and deduct years from their lifespan.

Lack of Appetite

Let’s talk about how you can make the tortoise eat when they have no appetite.

Well, first of all, you have to look into the issue. If it is something you can resolve now, then do it. For example, the temperature. Though it is impossible to regulate the outdoor temperature, you can control the indoor ones with an enclosure heater.

Again, do not force it to eat if the tortoise has just come out of brumation. Instead, offer the pet plenty of water so that it gets hydrated first. The sooner the tortoise gets hydrated, the sooner it will start eating.

Similarly, you can leave the tortoises alone to have their own space so that they do not feel stressed. Building a protecting fence around the habitat is a smart move to keep the predators away. For more comfort, put hiding spots in the enclosure for the tortoises that will keep them calm.

Moreover, change the meal planning if it is making the tortoises avoid foods. For example, a Sulcata tortoise does not eat protein but greens. This species is a big fan of grass, hays, and weeds.

Stuff the meals with grass and hays of different kinds along with green vegetables and plant leaves. You can also offer pallets but not more than 10 – 15%.

Sulcata tortoises eat fruits. Treating these tortoises with fruity snacks will bring a change in their palate and boost their appetite.

Life threatening Issues

Well, these issues are not alarming for the Sulcata tortoises. However, some other conditions can be proven life-threatening for these tortoises. For example, impaction, vitamin A deficiency, shell disease, respiratory infection, infectious diseases, shell diseases, etc., are no joke.

In any of the above conditions, you have to take immediate steps. Only then can you make the tortoises eat.

Take the example of impaction. It is a state where the gut of the tortoise gets blocked because of the consumption of gravel, pebble, or substrate. As a result, the pet can not consume or digest anything. You can try home treatments, but those are mostly not effective.

Yes, you can soak the tortoise with warm water to relieve its pain. But at the end of the day, you have to take it to a vet.

The expert will do a few tests or X-rays to determine the cause and proceed. Depending on the situation, surgery or shots will resolve the issue. Once the clog is opened, the tortoise will gradually return to its natural feeding routine.

It is the same with almost all physical conditions of the Sulcata tortoise. Take another example of hypovitaminosis.

The lack of vitamin A causes this disease in the Sulcata tortoise. Consequently, the pet will suffer from mouth rot, swollen eyes, pits on the eyes, etc. Insufficient vitamin A also weakens its immunity, making the creature vulnerable to infectious diseases. The tortoise stops eating as a part of the symptom.

If you do not treat hypovitaminosis in the Sulcata and let it live with weakened immunity, a dirty environment will cause respiratory infection.

Do you know that respiratory illness is not completely cured and damages the pet’s health? Also, this disease becomes pneumonia if untreated, which is more dangerous and life-threatening.

You can stop this sequel in the first place by adding more vitamin A to the tortoise food besides antibiotics. Then, once cured, the tortoise will have meals just as usual.

In short, do not worry or freak out if your tortoise avoids food. Instead, explore the cause first and take action to resolve it. Once solved, the pet will start eating again.

See also  Baby Sulcata Tortoise Feeding Guide For Beginners

How Do You Force Feed A Sulcata Tortoise?

Tortoises require more nutrition during the sick period. But unfortunately, it is impossible to make them eat anything as they lose their appetite. For such reason, vets suggest adopting force-feeding techniques to fulfill their nutritional lackings,

  • Hand-feeding
  • Syringe feeding
  • Stomach tube feeding, etc.

The feed force techniques might sound distressing, but the reptiles do not feel that way. If you can be gentle enough, these methods can actually be effective when your tortoise is not eating anything.

There are three force-feeding techniques, hand feeding, syringe feeding, and stomach tube feeding. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. So let’s talk about them.

Hand Feeding

Hand feeding is a method to encourage the tortoise to eat food. You can apply this trick when your tortoise is not in serious condition and can eat.

The hand-feeding technique is quite easy and convenient for the owners. All you have to do is to open the mouth of your pet Sulcata tortoise and place food within.

Well, considering the giant size of a Sulcata tortoise, hand feeding the pet can be tricky. So, to finish the task more efficiently and safely, grasp the tortoise from behind the ear flaps.

Next, place your thumb and one finger on the upper jaw of the pet and then force open the mouth by moving the lower jaw with the thumb and finger of another hand. Finally, take help from someone who will place the food in the tortoise’s mouth.

The tortoises will struggle and may initiate an attack if you are not gentle. Rough touch can even stress the pets. Hence, you have to be very careful when hand-feeding the tortoise.

Sometimes the Sulcata tortoises throw up right after the feeding. Take a break and try feeding the tortoise afterward.

Syringe Feeding

Syringe feeding is less time-consuming and less struggling for both parties. This technique is more applicable for mildly sick tortoises.

Buy a 5mL or 10mL syringe from the local pet store, or get one from your vet’s office. Then open the tortoise’s mouth manually, following the guidelines above, and place the tube inside the mouth. Now syringe a small amount of liquid food, which is easier for tortoises to consume.

Stomach Tube Feeding

Stomach tube feeding is only for severely ill tortoises who can not move or swallow anything. You should avoid this technique as much as possible if you are a newbie. It is because stomach tube feeding has a higher risk of physical damage and infections.

To feed your Sulcata tortoise with this technique, you have to make the pet sit on its tail in an upright position. Next, hold the head of the tortoise with your fingers and provide support to the neck. Next, open the mouth of the tortoise manually and proceed to the final step.

Press the tube notch through the tortoise’s mouth against the back throat. Lubricate the tube beforehand so that it slips smoothly into the stomach. Now pass liquid food with the tube.

Be careful while pressing the tube and the length you push in. You should take measurements (cranial to jugular notch) beforehand to avoid any incident.

Why Is My Sulcata Tortoise Not Eating After Hibernation?

Sulcata tortoises can show no interest in food after coming out of brumation, at least for a week or two. It can be because the pets are dehydrated and require water. Another reason can be improper habitat temperature.

Sulcata tortoises crave water after coming out of the sleeping period. Therefore, soaking these tortoises consistently for 10 – 14 days is recommended as a post brumation ritual. Once hydrated, the pets will start eating again.

Tortoises also have a sticky eyelid after brumation. Closed eyelids mean these creatures can not see food, nor can they eat. You should not force open their eyes, but bathing them will help here.

Furthermore, the temperature is a crucial factor here. The Sulcata tortoise brumates at a freezing temperature. So they need a warmer temperature to come out of the sleeping period. But yes, you can not raise the temperature all of a sudden. Instead, do it slowly.

The ideal post-brumation temperature is 78 degrees Fahrenheit. You can install a basking light and habitat heater to attain that temperature.

The no food mood can continue for 10 – 14 days. Then the pets will start eating again like usual.

Many of us get confused while choosing the post brumation food for Sulcata tortoises. Generally, foods with high water contents are a better choice for the pets as these will hydrate the tortoise. For example, cucumbers and cactus pads.

However, fibers are equally important for these tortoises. So you can offer them leaves, plants, weeds, and grasses. Also, sprinkle the vitamin and mineral supplements to cover up any deficiency. And yes, do not forget to provide the tortoises with a bowl of water so that they can stay hydrated.

Sulcata Tortoise Not Eating In Winter

If your Sulcata tortoise stops eating in winter, the chances are that it can not cope with the falling temperature. It occurs when you raise your tortoise in an outdoor space. However, you can not eliminate other possibilities of sickness, injuries, parasites, etc.

Sulcata tortoises are ectothermic. It means they require warm temperatures to conduct their everyday lifestyle. If the temperature drops by any chance, they will stop eating as a part of slowing down their metabolism.

Hence, the pet might be preparing for brumation if it is winter and your tortoise is outside. Thus, bring the tortoise to an indoor space and make arrangements for heat to keep them normal.

Now, if your tortoise is already in an indoor space with a suitable temperature, you have to look for other issues.

A physical injury is too obvious to notice, which can mess up the appetite of the Sulcata tortoises. Similarly, respiratory infections, rots, parasites, etc., make tortoises stop eating food. Offering proper treatments can reverse these conditions restoring the appetite of the tortoises.

Sulcata Tortoise Not Eating In Summer

In most cases, the temperature is not an issue if the Sulcata tortoise is not eating in summer. However, you must focus on other factors, such as physical injury, infectious diseases, illness, mental health, diet plan, etc.

If your tortoise has just come out of brumation, it will avoid eating for 10 – 14 days. After that, there is nothing to worry about.

However, you have to provide the pet with water, soak its shell, and maintain a warm temperature in the enclosure using a basking light or heater.

If the tortoise has not eaten, you must consult a vet. The chances are the tortoise is suffering from post-brumation anorexia.

For other issues, you need to track down the symptoms of the Sulcata tortoise. Generally, appetite loss, weight loss, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, discharge from mouth, eyes, or nose, trouble breathing, etc., are signs of sickness in tortoises. Of course, the pets will return to the usual feeding routine as soon as they heal from the diseases.

If your tortoise has a physical injury or wound, the chances are it is behind the appetite loss. Take actions to heal the pet to restore its eating habit.

Nevertheless, a boring diet chart also can be responsible for the lost food interest of the tortoises. In such cases, changing the meals will boost the pets’ appetite and make them eat again.

What Do Sulcata Tortoises Eat?

While many tortoise species eat protein besides a vegetarian diet, the Sulcata tortoise is entirely herbivore. The species meal includes mainly grass, weeds, hays, plants, and hays. Here are the available food options,

  • Aloe vera
  • Basil
  • Bramble
  • Butter lettuce
  • Cactus pads
  • Chicory
  • Clover
  • Chickweed
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion green
  • Hebe
  • Hawkbits
  • Hawkweeds
  • Malva
  • Red clover
  • Viola
  • Chard
  • Escarole
  • Endive
  • Mushroom
  • Red cabbage
  • Pumpkin
  • Zucchini
  • Yam
  • Alfalfa hay
  • Grass hat
  • Meadow hay
  • Bermuda grass
  • Sowthistle
  • Ryegrass
  • Timothy hay, etc.

Sulcata tortoises are not a fan of fruits. But offering them bananas, melons, berries, etc., once in a while will boost their food appetite. Besides, you have to sprinkle the meals with supplements to back up any mineral deficiency.

You can check this article to get a detailed guideline on the tortoise diet.


Any irregularities in the Sulcata tortoise life will make it lose appetite. In most cases, avoiding food is an indication of an underlying disease. The pet returns to the usual feeding routine after the issue is resolved.

Sometimes Sulcata tortoise not eating for days signals a more severe disease. Hence, you have to look into this matter more sincerely and determine the cause. Any prolonged illness affects the tortoise’s health and lifespan. Consult a vet if you have doubts.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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