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Turtles/Sulcata tortoise penis

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Question
I just adopted a sulcata tortoise.  Spud is about 60 lbs and about 18 inches across. I have no clue how old he is but he has been sticking his penis out.  No biggie but he often does this in a sandy area of the yard and he gets sand stuck all over it.  Is this harmful when it is retracted as the sand is still on it.  Also, is there any way to tell his age?
Thank you.

Answer
Hi Allison,

Congratulations on adopting a sulcata!  As you probably know, there are many of them in rescue, so you've done a very good deed.  And as you also obviously know, males tend to flash--a lot.  Getting debris on it generally isn't harmful because it works its way back out, but make sure he stays well-hydrated by providing him with water and wallows.  It's possible for males to get penis prolapses, which definitely need vet attention but are usually treated successfully, and dehydration seems to be a factor.  

It's really not possible to tell his age for sure.  He's clearly mature, since he's flashing, so at least five years old.  If his shell is fairly smooth, he may be closer to ten years.  Probably not older than that, based on his size.  I've seen 16-18 year old sulcatas with very smooth shells that were 150+ pounds, so I'd guess that males probably reach full growth at around 20 years, if they grow moderately.  So he has some growing to do, although 150+ pound sulcatas are pretty big and there's no way to know if he'll actually grow that much.  Enjoy him--you're in the perfect climate for a big tortoise!

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Jeannie

Expertise

Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.

Experience

I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

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My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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