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Why Your Sulcata Tortoise Is Not Eating!

After publishing our article going over why a new tortoise may not be eating, we have noticed a number of people reaching out to ask why their pet sulcata tortoise may not be eating even once it has been in its enclosure for a while.

With the popularity of the sulcata tortoise species steadily increasing, we wanted to publish this article going over our thoughts on what may be causing your pet not to eat so decided to publish this article to try and help as many of our readers as possible.

The most common reasons that a sulcata tortoise may not be eating include problems with temperature, an unsuitable diet, and health issues but there are some less common problems that can cause issues.

The majority of people who have a sulcata tortoise that is not eating well often find that the issue is due to the ambient temperature that the tortoise is living in is too cold and lethargy has kicked in putting their tortoise off eating.

Problems with the temperature and diet of your sulcata tortoise are generally easy to correct making it easy to get your tortoise eating again.

Although rare, the sulcata tortoise species can have some health problems that will put them off their food but these can be difficult to diagnose correctly so we would recommend that you book a video call with a veterinarian if you do suspect that your pet sulcata tortoise may be avoiding its food due to health issues.

Is It Normal For A Sulcata Tortoise Not To Eat?

If your sulcata tortoise is new to its current habitat then it could be normal for your tortoise not to eat as they tend not to like change and will take a week or two to settle in.

In most other cases, your sulcata tortoise should be eating without issue though so if your tortoise is not eating its food then it is a good indication that there is a problem that needs fixing.

Depending on your setup, it can be difficult to work out if your sulcata tortoise is drinking or not but if you notice that your sulcata tortoise is not eating then trying to work out if it is drinking or not is a good idea.

If your sulcata tortoise is drinking water then this may suggest that the problem is due to its habitat, temperature or the food you are offering it.

If your sulcata tortoise is not drinking then it may suggest that the issue is health related and you should seek assistance from a veterinarian as soon as possible.

If your sulcata tortoise is exposed to other pets in your home then it can cause some tortoises to reduce how much they eat due to stress and anxiety.

This is often due to the family dog being close to your sulcata tortoise and even if your dog has never been aggressive to your sulcata tortoise, your tortoise does not understand this and may end up stressed, especially if your sulcata tortoise is barking lots.

Why Your Sulcata Tortoise Is Not Eating!

The most common reason that a sulcata tortoise is not eating is due to problems with its ambient temperature being too low or too high with this being a very common issue for people of all levels of tortoise keeping experience.

Second to that has to be issues with the food being offered to your sulcata tortoise with this usually only being an issue for people new to keeping the species.

A sulcata tortoise should be fed pesticide free grass for the bulk of its diet with some hay being suitable for a small amount of the overall diet.

So many people try to integrate other food sources into the diet of the sulcata tortoise such as various types of vegetables and are then worried when their sulcata tortoise does not eat them and think there may be a serious problem.

You can sometimes mix up the diet of your sulcata tortoise by offering dandelion, clover, honeysuckle, leafy but not all of them will eat these foods.

Things like carrots or broccoli are often listed as foods that a sulcata tortoise will pay little to no attention to though so if you are trying to feed these food sources to your sulcata tortoise and it is not eating them then this is totally normal and to be expected so try to switch back to suitable food sources as soon as possible.

How Long Can A Sulcata Tortoise Go Without Eating?

The length of time that a sulcata tortoise can go without eating will depend on a number of factors so it is difficult to give an exact time frame.

Just like most other tortoise species, the sulcata tortoise can go for over a week without eating with minimal issues though and during colder times of the year, this may be normal.

The sulcata tortoise species does not brumate but lethargy is totally natural for the species when it is getting colder with many people who keep sulcata tortoises as pets taking advantage of a heater if their local temperature falls below the recommended levels for a sulcata tortoise.

Problems with temperature are definitely the most common reason that a sulcata tortoise may not eat but once the temperature is corrected they will often start eating again within a day or two.

This is why your sulcata tortoise may not eat for a couple of days and then just go back to normal with the causes seeming to be random. It is probably down to a fluctuation in the ambient temperature in your local area by a couple of degrees causing lethargy to kick in and put your sulcata tortoise off their food.

Depending on how you keep your sulcata tortoise, this can sometimes be very difficult to avoid as a temperature dropping for a couple of days will often cause some sulcata tortoises to stop eating.


That brings our article going over why your pet sulcata tortoise is not eating to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you better understand the most common reasons that your sulcata tortoise may not be eating as well as how to fix the issue. As we mentioned above, the most common reason by far is due to the temperature not being within the recommended range for a sulcata tortoise but problems with the food being offer is also relatively common, especially with people new to keeping a pet sulcata tortoise.