How Do I Warm 2-80 Lb Sulcata Tortoises?

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

Ruzabell asks


I have two Sulcata tortoises aka African spurred tortoise (approx 80 lbs each) which I recently took in when their owner could no longer care for them.



These tortoises originate from the hottest driest area of Africa and need to be kept at around 80 degrees in the winter months so I built them side by side stalls (like a mini two car garage) -each stall being 32 inches wide, 48 inches deep, and 36 inches high.


The opening is made of those clear vinyl strip curtains you see at zoos.


They came with two heating pads but I cannot know what temperature they keep the tortoises at and they do not create ambient warmth so I would like to switch to ceramic heat emitters.


Can you tell me what you would recommend for that size space?


And also if there is a particular thermostat controller you could recommend that would work with the heat emitters?


I am so appreciative of any help you can give me. Thank you.


Hi ruzabell


This is not my area of expertise thus I don’t want to provide improper information.

I am going to refer you to Dr. Byron at Animal House of Chicago.

Dr. Byron DeLaNavarre, aside from being a world-renowned exotic pet specialist and surgeon, has a very large tortoise I have met.

You’ll see an introduction at 9:55 in this video – he mentions your species –  Sulcata tortoises.


[videopress MZ2M4gLL]


Reach out to him at this link

I hope that helps.


Please share with us the solution.


Happy holidays.




While I am at it, I also have an outdoor aviary for little birds who needed for all kinds of reasons to not live in the wild.


The aviary has an upper chamber that is a five-foot cube that sits above the 12-foot cube below.


Many of the little birds choose to roost in this cube which is protected from the weather by heavy-duty plexiglass, but the bottom is open to the lower area (there are vinyl covers over the sides of the lower section but it isn’t well insulated.)


Right now I have three 150 watt heat bulbs to warm that area but am thinking of switching to the ceramic heat emitters. Does that seem like a reasonable idea?




The problem with “warming” bulbs is their propensity for failure, especially when coming in contact with moisture.

I know many people who have tried to keep their shallow well pumps warm in insulated pump houses but find over the winter the bulb has shattered eliminating the heat causing the pump to fail due to freezing.

We don’t have those problems with infrared bubs 

Happy holidays.



Mitch Rezman

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