Enclosure advice

Use this forum to discuss any aspect of tortoise housing and enclosures. Upload and show pictures of your set ups (enclosures).
Post Reply
hngsr
Posts: 5
Joined: 28 Apr 2019, 19:22

Enclosure advice

Post by hngsr » 28 Apr 2019, 20:01

In the process of purchasing my first baby hermann tortoise I have put together two storage tubs to create my habitat for RAMBO. The size is 46'L x 36"W x 12"H on the front left size I have a small hide out for him but now I'm looking at the best way to set up the rest of the habitat and just want a second opinion if this will work or not and what I can do to make improvements. Not sure how long RAMBO can stay in this one but I plan on building a tortoise table 96"L x 26W x 13"H with a hide on one side and a screened top.


Thank you for your time and I appreciate any comments

hngsr
Attachments
IMG_5821.jpg
IMG_5819.jpg

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 787
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Enclosure advice

Post by Nina » 28 Apr 2019, 22:15

Hi Hngsr (lol, how do you pronounce that?), and welcome to The Tortoise Table!

I think the enclosure you are making has great potential! The fact that it is plastic means that it will be easy to clean, and I like the way you have joined the two tubs, as it means that it is not just one large space where the tortoise can see from one end to the other, uninterrupted (they get bored if they can do that). A couple of questions:

1. What are you going to use for substrate (a mixture of sterilised topsoil and playsand is the best substrate, and both can be bought at garden centres, Homebase, etc.

2. Will your lamp (heat and light) that I can see suspended there, be easy to raise or lower, so that you can achieve the right temperature directly under it (you will need to do this because the temperature of a room really has a great effect on the temperature in the table.

Other things you can have in that table:
-- Plants (although if they are planted directly into the substrate the tortoise might just eat them to the ground in no time, so you might want to think about pots so that the tortoise can just reach up and nibble.
-- A water dish so that he can drink when he needs to
-- Rocks and other 'furniture' -- like those 'fiddle sticks' (bendy long things that you can buy for rabbits and guinea pigs). Tortoises like to hide in them and climb up them and slide down.

Here's a link to our article on indoor tables: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... MYXMqR7m9s
I guess that is just for starters, and I think you are on your way to producing a really lovely set-up, so keep us posted and please do come back with any questions you might have.

Nina

User avatar
lin
Posts: 536
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: Enclosure advice

Post by lin » 28 Apr 2019, 23:03

Wow, I agree with Nina. That is going to be one brilliant tortoise table and your tortoise will love it... What gave you that idea?
I hope we get to see it in its full glory.

Lin

hngsr
Posts: 5
Joined: 28 Apr 2019, 19:22

Re: Enclosure advice

Post by hngsr » 29 Apr 2019, 04:36

I truly appreciate both of your responses, the name as listed is just my first, middle and last initial of name. The idea to build the habitat came after many weeks of research online. Currently I plan on using coco husk substrate mixed an organic soil or the Zoo med reptisoil.
1. I have a clay dish inside the rear tub for water
2. So far with the house set at 68 degrees the tub floor without any light or heat on has been maintaining a temp of 73 degrees.
3. The hide is located in the front tub what tub would be best for the slate basking area?
4. Also where should the clay water dish be placed? same tub as the hideout or the other?

Thank you for all information I'm reading and collecting trying to do it right.

Howard

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 787
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Enclosure advice

Post by Nina » 29 Apr 2019, 09:28

Hi Howard,

Your substrate sounds fine (I would make the proportion of soil larger than the proportion of coco husk), but do be aware that both can get quite dusty when dry, so it's a good idea to lightly spray the substrate with water every day or two. You want a substrate that is the very tiniest bit damp (not wet at all, but just barely damp), and I keep one little area pretty dry so that the tortoise can go to that section if he wants to.

It's difficult to say where the hide should go, as your construction is unusual. Normally with a rectangular table, we say that the heat and basking area should be at one end and the hide at the other end, in the cooler area, so that the tortoise can move from warmer to cooler areas in order to thermoregulate. The theory is that the tortoise goes to sleep in his hide, wakes in the morning when the light/heat source goes on and walks from his hide over to the heat source to bask. If you put the hide at the far end of the section of your enclosure, that is quite far away (but if he can see the light from there then he will walk towards it so it's probably OK). Also, you will find that he might not prefer to sleep in his hide, but just fall asleep somewhere else in the table. Also, don't make the hide to big, as they like a cozy, confined space to sleep. You can add other little hides around the table, and those things called 'fiddle sticks' -- bendy log constructions -- are good because they provide a place to hide as well as something to climb up and slide down (which they like to do too). I've attached a photo of one of my torts on top of one of those.

Regarding temperature, directly under the heat source, at the height of your tortoise's shell, you want a temperature of about 86F (30C), and at the cooler end you want a temperature of about 65F (20C). And you don't need any heat or light at night, as tortoises quite like a drop in temperature (which is what they would experience in the wild (as long as the temperature doesn't drop below about 55F). If I remember correctly, tortoises need a temperature of about 79F (26C) to digest their food. (Out of curiosity, are you located in the USA? It's just that you are expressing temperature in Fahrenheit, and in Europe now most people think in Centigrade).

Remember that a thermometer mounted on a nearby wall will not give you an accurate reading of the temperature directly below the heat source. I find that a good thermometer to use is one of the digital fridge thermometers with a display unit and a probe at the end of a long cord that you can hang so that it is near the centre of the circle of light from the lamp -- a bit like this https://thermometer.co.uk/home-thermome ... gKcbfD_BwE (this one was called an 'aquarium thermometer' but it's exactly the same as the fridge ones, and if you google digital fridge thermometer you will see lots. It's good to get one with a max/min facility so that you can see how high or how low the temperature went since you last reset the feature.

Really the waterdish can be placed anywhere you like. Obviously under the light means that it would evaporate more quickly, so probably not there, but it really doesn't matter. You can also add pebbles or anything else that would provide a different texture to walk on, as they do appreciate variety.

Sorry to have run on for so long -- and looking forward to seeing that table finished and set up -- it's going to be great!

Nina
[attachment=0]IMG_9953 (Copy).JPG[/attachment]
Attachments
IMG_9953 (Copy).JPG

hngsr
Posts: 5
Joined: 28 Apr 2019, 19:22

Re: Enclosure advice

Post by hngsr » 29 Apr 2019, 21:16

Thanks Nina, your advice has been so much help I truly appreciate it. Yes I'm in the USA located in Virginia Beach, VA. I will take your advice to heart when completing the setup which should be soon. I have a thermometer with the probe but I'm also using a digital temperature gun and the Fluker's Thermo-Hygrometer Digital Gauge which will help track temp & humidity.

I have a few plastic plants for the enclosure I hope there will be no issues there. I love your tork setup what soil are you using? The rocks are a great addition you gave me a few more setup ideals.

Thank you
Howard
Attachments
silk plant 2.png
silk plant 2.png (11.51 KiB) Viewed 1964 times
digital temp humidity gage.jpg
temp gun.jpg

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 787
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Enclosure advice

Post by Nina » 30 Apr 2019, 07:51

Hi Howard,

Ahh, I thought you might be in the States -- I think the climate in Virginia Beach will be much nicer for your tortoise than my climate in Oxford, in the UK. I'm originally from Illinois and went to universities in the Midwest, but have lived in England for many years. Will you have an outdoor area for him in the summer? The UVB from the sun is the best quality UVB you can get, and tortoises really do love being outdoors.

Wow, you've certainly got the gear -- that should be great! Regarding plastic plants -- they should certainly be OK for a while, while the tortoise is young, and they might be OK forever, but juvenile and adult tortoises have an astonishingly strong bite (which you will discover if you are ever barefoot in the yard with your tortoise --they seem to love toes), and if it decides that those plants are real, it could easily bite through a 'leaf' and eat it. But I wouldn't worry about it now as it should be fine.

Nina

hngsr
Posts: 5
Joined: 28 Apr 2019, 19:22

Re: Enclosure advice

Post by hngsr » 30 Apr 2019, 23:18

Hi Nina, again thank you, I have made a few changes since we last texted here are a few pictures of the substrate and few other changes I made. The substrate I used is the cypress mulch. So far I have not added any type of soil. The back tub will have the basking lamp and the light on the back tub wall is the temp/hygrometer.

Thank you

Howard
Attachments
Hermann habitat 3.jpg
Hermann Habitat 2.jpg
Hermann habitat 1.jpg

User avatar
lin
Posts: 536
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: Enclosure advice

Post by lin » 01 May 2019, 13:37

Oh wow. Howard, this is just amazing. Getting better all the time.

Lin

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 787
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Enclosure advice

Post by Nina » 01 May 2019, 14:19

Sorry I'm late in responding -- my laptop has crashed and I'm having to use my iPad. That looks superb, and I like the neat little hide you've given him. The Cyprus mulch should be fine, but I find a soil based compost is more natural and easier to spot clean (the wee makes little damp clumps that you can easily remove with a spoon). It does look like a little tortie paradise though, and all you need now is a tortoise!

Nina

hngsr
Posts: 5
Joined: 28 Apr 2019, 19:22

Re: Enclosure advice

Post by hngsr » 03 May 2019, 03:30

Hi Nina, I understand I'm having computer issues now myself today I added the final part to the construction of the habitat now time for the tortoise. I placed a plexiglass top on both sections they both can be open/closed individually if need be. What I'm hoping is that with the tops on I can increase the humidity while keeping the visual observing of my tortoise. Please let me know if you see any problems by covering the top with the plexiglass.

I have a question about raising the humidity inside the habitat. What is the best way to accomplish this and what should the humidity be kept at for my Hermann Tortoise?

The light the left will have a UVA/UVB blub and the light on the right will be a heat lamp for basking what do you think about this setup?

Also what do you feed your tortoise? I was think of feeding him the Mazuri Tortoise LS Food

Thank you
Howard
Attachments
Habitat finish 3.jpg
Habitat finish 2.jpg
Habitat finish.jpg

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 787
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Enclosure advice

Post by Nina » 03 May 2019, 09:49

Hi Howard,

It's looking good, but I think there are a few problems here.
First of all -- and most importantly -- the UVB.

UVB does not pass through glass or through most types of plastic/acrylic, and Plexiglass is a form of acrylic. There is a type of acrylic that is UV transmitting (rather than UV filtering), but it is quite expensive and unless you have specifically asked for a UV transmitting Plexiglass then your top will prevent the UVB from reaching your tortoise.

A second problem with a plexiglass top is that you will effectively have created a vivarium (in the sense of it being an enclosed box). You might just get away with this because your enclosure is so big, but basically tortoises are ectothermic (they need outside sources of heat to regulate their body temperature), and in order to properly thermoregulate they need a good temperature gradient in order to move frequently from cooler to warmer spots in their environment. So you want a warmest spot of about 86F or 87F and a cooler area of about 68F. When you have a sealed roof on your enclosure it is difficult to get that temperature variation. An open top is far better, and tortoises prefer an open environment with an exchange of air (it's always good to think how they live in the wild).

Secondly Hermanns tortoises, like most Mediterannean species, do not need a very humid environment. In fact they should have a rather dry environment with some humidity, and that is usually achieved by spraying the substrate with a light water mist every couple of days. I have Horsfields and once or twice a week I pour some water on my substrate (which is about three or four inches deep), and mix it around, but I only put in enough water to make it the teeny tiniest bit damp. It is very important that it is not wet at all, and should only be the slightest bit damp, and I leave one area dry so that the tortoises can choose that if possible. Also, of course, if you have a sealed top on your enclosure,the humidity will build up and run down the sides and this would be very bad. Because you are using a cyprus mulch as your substrate, there is also the possibility that if it is too humid then mould and fungus could grow in your substrate, so you do need to be careful, as mould or fungal spores can be dangerous for a tortoise.

Regarding humidity levels, there is a difference of opinion, but I think that for a Hermanns around 50% should be fine, and a light spray every day or two should accomplish that. Humidity is more important for hatchlings and young tortoises that for adults, and some people recommend keeping the general environment fairly dry (not totally dry), but building a humid hide for the tortoise to go into. This can be accomplished by affixing a moist sponge or some spaghnum moss to the roof of the hide and keeping that moist. Editha Kruger has some interesting ideas and if you google' Editha Kruger, moist root shelters' you will get links to the pdf of her article. It is also a good idea to bathe your tortoise several times a week in warm water that comes up to his chin (or where the top shell meets the bottom shell), in a container that he can't see out of, for about 15 to 20 minutes, and that way he can rehydrate.

I think your set-up with heat and light sounds fine. The UVB bulb will provide heat and light, and is your basking bulb just an ordinary household bulb that provides heat and light (but not UVB)? That sounds fine, but remember that UVB bulbs only last a year or two before you have to change them (the light still comes through, so you unless you have a uvb meter you won't know that the uvb isn't getting through. What happens is that the UVB gradually causes a coating to be built up on the inside of the glass of the bulb, and eventually that coating will stop the UVB from getting through, even though the light does get through. Will your tortoise also have an outdoor enclosure? The UVB from the sun is the best source there is, and they do love being outdoors.

Regarding food. I know that many people swear by Mazuri, but personally I prefer a diet of natural foods for my tortoise, and many commercial food is way too high in protein (not sure about Mazuri). Tortoises need a high fibre/low protein diet and weeds and other plants are by far the best source. On our website you can filter the database (which has over 1,000 entries) to just show plants that can be fed freely or in moderation to your tortoise and they do love pulling at leaves and flower petals, etc. when eating. Here is a link to the How to Use the Database section of our website, and if you scroll down there is a section on how to filter. https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/pla ... Mv_TKR7m9s We have lots of people who live in the USA who prefer a more natural diet for their tortoses, and it is relatively easy to find a variety of plants to feed to them.

I really commend you for doing all your research and putting your set-up together before you get your tortoise -- so many people don't and they end up with problems afterwards, so well done for working so hard at this! You probably already have a good care sheet for Hermanns, but if you don't then here is a link to one: https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf It's aimed at UK owners but applies equally to tortoise keepers in the USA (lol, except that you have a better climate than we do).

Nina

User avatar
lin
Posts: 536
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: Enclosure advice

Post by lin » 03 May 2019, 21:24

Hi Howard.
I am still boweled over with your enclosure, however I do have to agree with Nina regarding the perspex top. Maybe you can remove the half that is not under the lights giving the covered top part the heatlamps and as long as they are controlled by thermostats I think that might be good and easier to regulate.

Lin

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests