A friend of mine who has already adopted one severely neglected sulcata is about to receive a second severely neglected sulcata. It is very horrible that the sulcata's first family did not consider their care to be wrong.
The sulcata was raised in New York (a sulcata raised in the North is a big challenge). He was described as "well cared for" and "large enough to mix with kids." When the sulcata arrived in California (its new home) it was severely undersized for its age, the back flat and lumpy, and the beak completely malformed. Its lower jaw jutted past the upper like a scoop.
The current caretaker (trying to rehabilitate it for its new home at my friend's house) said they cried when she placed it in its temporary new outdoor quarantine pen. She said the pitiful malformed little sulcata was sitting in the sun, its skinny little back legs stretched out behind him and neck stretch out as far as it would just soaking up the warmth of the sun. She had the distinct feeling it was probably the first time this poor sulcata had ever seen sunlight or had a chance to walk around.
With his weaken state and deformed body it can never be around children, pets or other normal sulcata. And yet its former owner called it healthy and well cared for.
This case, and many other cases (too many cases) make me cry for the sulcata species in captivity. How very very few sulcata live in good homes and get proper care.
I plea with anyone considering a sulcata - evaluate, re-evaluate your long term situation for the sake of the sulcata. Learn about care and then re-check what you think is correct sulcata husbandry. For the sake of all captive sulcata, consider adopting a sulcata before you buy a hatchling. Do not breed your sulcata. Four of five sulcata will be abandoned, turned over to rescued groups or sold by their owners who just were not ready for the big responsibility. Very very few grow up to be healthy specimens.
I look at Frankie and almost think he is a freak of nature. He is actually healthy. But even he is not the picture of what a real sulcata should look like. After all my preparations, all my research, all I learned, I made mistakes. More than I want to admit. If I made so many mistakes can you image what happens when to a sulcata bought by someone who compulsively buys a cute little baby and has never owned any type of turtle before?