Tortoise Table

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laurat
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Tortoise Table

Post by laurat » 19 Mar 2017, 14:54

Hello!

OK so it's time ... plans are in action to transfer Vera to a tortoise table, and not only at home but at our new caravan too.

Can I have some expert advice on the set up please?

I'm getting the tortoise table and popping the top soil/playsand mixture in with her usual plants, stones and dishes but ... it's the lighting. I'm thinking about using a combination bulb to give heat and UVA/UVB in one. Which wattage should I be looking at and do you have any links to ones you recommend please?

Laura xx

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Elaine
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by Elaine » 23 Mar 2017, 15:13

Hi Laura,
I prefer the combination bulbs, especially Megaray ( just goggle the name and Jo is very helpful too). Or Arcadia goggle Swell Reptiles for these.

My only worry with a combination bulb is that it can't be controlled with a dimming stat. So you would buy 100w bulb for a table of 3" x 2" and measure the temperature just under the basking spot, to the side at shell height and simply raise the bulb to gain desired temperature. You will also need a ceramic bulb holder too for these as they get very hot.

Now if you are going to use this in a caravan there would be a high likelihood of overheating. Caravans do generate a lot of heat in the summer.

For that reason perhaps a T5 UV strip with an ordinary house bulb on a dimming stat would be better. The benifit of this is that the stat will automatically turn the bulb on and off at the desired temperature that you've selected.

And a good thermometer. The infrared ones are excellent but lots on the market at varied costs.

Any further questions please ask
Elaine

Don't be tempted to put the table in front of the window as again you could easily over heat.
Elaine on behalf of The Tortoise Table (T.T.T.).

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Elaine
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by Elaine » 23 Mar 2017, 19:57

Elaine wrote:
23 Mar 2017, 15:13
Hi Laura,
I prefer the combination bulbs, especially Megaray ( just goggle the name Megaray for their website and Jo is very helpful too). Or Arcadia combination bulbs goggle Swell Reptiles for these.

My only worry with a combination bulb is that it can't be controlled with a dimming stat. So you would buy 100w bulb for a table of 3" x 2" and measure the temperature just under the basking spot, to the side at shell height and simply raise the bulb to gain desired temperature. You will also need a ceramic bulb holder too for these as they get very hot.

Now if you are going to use this in a caravan there would be a high likelihood of overheating. Caravans do generate a lot of heat in the summer.

For that reason perhaps a T5 UV strip with an ordinary house bulb on a dimming stat would be better. The benifit of this is that the stat will automatically turn the bulb on and off at the desired temperature that you've selected.

And a good thermometer. The infrared ones are excellent but lots on the market at varied costs.

You may also find this informative Laura, http://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tort ... NQnl2iLQ2x have a read and get back to us if you have any further questions, please just ask away,
Elaine

Don't be tempted to put the table in front of the window as again you could easily over heat.
Elaine on behalf of The Tortoise Table (T.T.T.).

laurat
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by laurat » 23 Mar 2018, 19:21

Hello my lovely bunch, how are you all? Sorry, it's been a while since I have been online, life has been a little crazy over the last year and everything was put on hold, but now, it is time for Vera to migrate to her new tortoise table which I can happily (with a big smile) say is on order and should be with me early next week, yeahhhhhhhh, I am such a good tortoise parent. Now, I need help with lighting and heating, I am still very confused. I am thinking about getting a combined bulb which does UVA/UVB, lighting and heating in one, however I have had a few people tell me that I need a guard or something to go with them as the UVB is damaging to human eyes, is this right? Would it be possible for you to post links to everything I will need so I know what I need to order so I can get Vera in her new home asap please? Lx

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Nina
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by Nina » 23 Mar 2018, 19:46

Hi Laura, and great to hear from you and glad also to hear that Vera is doing well!

What you've heard about UVB is correct -- it can be very damaging to your eyes if you look directly into it (a bit like looking into the sun). So you just need to put it in metal lampshade and that should be fine. Something like these:
https://www.reptiles.swelluk.com/quick- ... tml?q=dome
If you decide not to use a combined lamp but use a separate fluorescent UVB tube plus another lamp for heat and light then you can buy inexpensive clip-on reflectors for the tube -- like this:
https://www.reptiles.swelluk.com/arcadi ... eflectors/ This illustration shows the reflector clipped onto a tube. It's upside down just to show you because when installed the reflector sits on top of the tube, so that the light is reflected down and your eyes are shielded.
I just chose that one site to give you some examples, but you can buy the domes (lampshades) and clip-on reflectors at lots of online sites as well as pet shops.

Hope that helps, and it would be great to see a photo of Vera in her new palace!

Nina

laurat
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by laurat » 24 Mar 2018, 08:22

Hi Nina, thank you so much for your post, that all makes perfect sense now. Do you have much experience if combined bulbs, how long do they last? I will definitely be uploading photos for you all to see!

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Nina
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by Nina » 25 Mar 2018, 10:26

Hi Laura,

I only have limited experience of the combined lamps, but I think they last about two years (check the manufacturer's instructions). What happens is that the UVB source inside the lamp gradually deposits a coating on the inside the glass of the lamp and it gradually builds up until the UVB can't get through (this is true of the combined bulbs and the fluorescent tubes). So although the light comes through just the same the UVB doesn't, and there is no way to tell how much UVB is getting through without a UVB meter.

I think that most people agree that the combined lamps provide the best source of UVB, but I prefer to have a fluorescent tube plus a separate light and heat lamp. The reason for this is that you need to raise or lower your heat source, depending on the ambient temperature of the room, so if it is warm in the room it might be too hot directly under the lamp and you need to raise it. With a combined bulb, if you raise it, it also means you are taking the UVB source further away. Also, I have a 4' UVB tube, so that UVB is available almost everywhere in the table, rather than just the area below the lamp. The tubes need replacing every year or so (so more frequently than the combined bulbs), but they are cheaper than the bulbs to replace. You will be fine with either the combined bulb or the tube (with the tube of course you have more wires etc. because you are using two electrical devices rather than one, so it's a bit messier). If you get a tube, get the strongest one -- 10.0 or 12.0, and the long tubes are much better than the compact ones. What sort of lighting and heating do you have now?

Also, just thought in case you hadn't seen it that you might find our article on indoor housing useful. Here's a link to it:
http://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tort ... r-housing/

Nina

laurat
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by laurat » 25 Mar 2018, 15:42

Hi Nina, thanks for your post! At the moment she has a UV tube light and a ceramic heater on a thermostatic controller. Obviously this will not be so soon. Can you tell I’m excited for this tortoise table, it will be here this coming week?! I am thinking to start with I may try a mercury combined bulb and see how it goes. If I then think not and decide against it, I’ll switch back to the UV tube light and basking bulb. The guy who’s making the table is making me two light hangers, one for a bulb, and another for a tube light in case I decide to pop one on.

laurat
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by laurat » 25 Mar 2018, 15:43

The table is in progress ...
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Nina
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by Nina » 25 Mar 2018, 20:07

Your table is looking lovely, Laura! If I had to make a small change I would make the sleeping area smaller, but that is because when I had my table built the chap put in a lovely large sleeping area and they hardly ever use it and seem to prefer something smaller and more cozy, so it's sort of been space wasted. Anyway -- your table looks great and your tortoise will probably appreciate a roomier area to sleep in then mine did!

It's interesting that you are using a UVB tube light plus a ceramic heater. I have a ceramic heater with a thermostatic control but I only use it for a few nights in the winter when the temperature might drop below about 14 in the room. The reason I don't use it more is that it doesn't give out any light, and high light levels are really important for tortoises. So I have my UVB tube and then I use an 80W or 100W household reflector bulb, or occasionally one of those reptile bulbs that give off a good spectrum of light (but an ordinary household bulb is fine) as well as heat. The thing is that those UVB tubes don't actually give off a very bright light, and you do want a nice bright light to keep your tortoise happy and active.

The nice thing about thermostatic controls though is that you can get a pretty good temperature control and you don't have to be constantly raising and lowering your bulb to get the right temperature. The important thing is to make sure that the probe that registers the temperature is directly under the ceramic heater -- or bulb -- and at about the height of a tortoise's shell.

Nina

laurat
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by laurat » 27 Mar 2018, 11:11

Hi Nina, thanks for the advice. I might put a divider in her room with a doorway on that so she has two smaller rooms then when she gets bigger I can take the divider out and she’ll have the larger area.

The ceramic heater was ‘surprise surprise’ at the advice of the shop I got her (now he) from. I may leave it in so in the winter if the temps drop at night significantly I can switch it on.

laurat
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by laurat » 09 Apr 2018, 20:06

That moment I head into several reptile shops to price up mercury bulbs and the domes for Vera’s tortoise table and I’m told that by transferring him from a Viv to a table will slowly kill him and I’m wrong for doing it and that all vets and trusted tortoise experts say the tortoise tables are bad for tortoises health and will send them into hibernation on winter nights as the house temp will drop that much, then on a morning they’ll have no appetite because their metabolism has gone! Well ... my head is spinning!!

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Nina
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by Nina » 09 Apr 2018, 21:00

Oh dear, Laura -- I'm so sorry -- what a hard time you've been having! Which reptile shops are you using? I can only think that they know a lot more about lizards and snakes than they do about tortoises. I promise you that all reputable exotics vets will tell you that a tortoise table is far better than a viv. Here is an article from the Tortoise Trust about why vivs are not good for tortoises (there are three parts to this study, and you can click on the links to the other two parts listed at the top of the article:
http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/vivreport.html
and here is an article from the Tortoise Trust on indoor habitate for Horsfields (but it's appropriate for other species too) that explains really well about the need for microclimates and space and why vivariums are bad:
http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/h ... bitat.html

There are very good reasons why vivariums (enclosed glass and wood boxes with ventilation holes) are really bad for tortoises, but the main reason is that tortoises need to thermo-regulate. Because they are cold blooded, their body temperature is dependant on outside temperature, and they need to move from warm to cool areas in order to regulate their body temperature. This is why we advise siting the heat source at one end of the tortoise's table. That is the hot end (temp. about 30C) and the other end is cool (with a temp of about 20C). The tortoise can then move from warm to cool areas as necessary. At night in the wild, temperatures drop, and they should drop in the tortoise table too (and this is why we say that in most modern houses there is no need for heat at night). If the temperature drops below about 14C at night (it could drop even lower, but I use 14C to be safe) then you can always use a ceramic heat emitter (a ceramic heater shaped like a light bulb, that gives off heat but no light), on a thermostat, and when the temps drop below a certain degree it will come on and will raise the temperature a degree or two in the table and that will be fine (but most people don't find that necessary. In the morning, the tortoise's heat and light goes on (just like the sun comes up in the wild) and he naturally moves from his cool sleeping area to the area of warmth under the lamp.

Do you have a good tortoise vet for Vera? What does he or she say? I can give you the names of the top tortoise vets in the country and they will unanimously recommend tables over vivariums. Sometimes pet shops recommend vivariums because that is what they sell and they are expensive and profitable for them, but more commonly it just an innocent mistake because they know what is necessary for lizards and snakes and assume that tortoises require the same environment, and they are wrong.

Sorry to go on at such length, but this misinformation has been going on for such a long time, and it's an ongoing battle to counteract it. I can provide lots more evidence via scientific-based studies, so let me know if you need any more information.

Nina

laurat
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by laurat » 09 Apr 2018, 21:44

Hi Nina, thank you for your post. The shops are in and around the North East of England. I was shocked, and it’s scared me a little. I just want what’s best for Vera, and this has rocked the boat a little. They informed me that the people who write the articles for the likes of the Tortoise Trust do so because they’re being paid for it but overall they don’t agree with any of it, and think that Viv’s are the best way to go. I was asked what my current set up is; I said a Viv, uv tube light and ceramic heater and they said perfect, leave it, as that is right. They also said that the information on the internet is all old hat and not to believe it. I was told a ceramic heater would not work in the table as the heat will just disperse and go nowhere near the tortoise. And I suggested fitting a heat mat to the underside of Vera’s hide lid and that was a big no too. I will ring the vets and see what they say. I trust you guys/gals 100% and know that your info is correct. Just hearing this has flipped the coin a little!

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Nina
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by Nina » 09 Apr 2018, 22:44

Hi Laura,

Oh dear, what can I say. First of all the people who write articles for the Tortoise Trust definitely do not get paid -- where is their evidence for that? And why would you pay someone to say that vivs are bad and tortoise tables are good unless you happened to be a manufacturer of tortoise tables and wanted to outsell the makers of vivs? I really don't understand.

It is true that there is outdated information on the Internet, and that causes a lot of confusion. But there is good information too, based on solid observation and scientific evidence (lol, I guess the problem is distinguishing which is which)! Have a read of the articles I linked to and see what you think.

Regarding the ceramic heat emitter. First of all, almost no one that I know has the need for one, because modern centrally heated houses, even with the heat turned off at night, still remain warm enough for tortoises. I used to live in an unheated flat, where on a few nights a year I had ice on the inside of my windows, and that is when I got the ceramic heat emitter. They are right in saying that most of the heat goes up and out of the table, but what reaches the table just warms it up by a few degrees, and that is all you need. If the temperature went below about 10C or 11C then I would worry a bit. The other thing that people do if it can get too cold is, as you suggested, fitting a heat mat to the ceiling of their sleeping area. That can work well, and you don't want a high wattage mat -- just something that will warm up a bit. Never put a heat mat under a tortoise, as even low wattage ones can cause serious burns if the tortoise sits on it.

You have probably told me in the past, so forgive me if I have forgot, but is your vet an exotics specialist? That is really important, as most vets get, if I remember correctly, only about two or three months total training in all exotics (reptiles, birds, etc.), so they often are not really clued up on tortoise care. But any vet who is trained to treat exotics should be fine. We have a recommended list of vets on our website if you need one.

I'm so sorry that this has turned into such a stressful time for you, and let us know how you get on. And if you like I can send you links to more information about tables vs. vivs, but I think that article on Horsfield habitats sets out the reasons pretty clearly.

Nina

laurat
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by laurat » 10 Apr 2018, 06:24

Nina, that is marvellous, thank you, you have eased my mind completely! I’ve been in complete stress hell all night over it. Just the thoughts they’ve put in my mind the cruel (I shan’t put what I want to put ha). They even went as far as saying Vera would contract Herpes and that switching suddenly from a Viv to the table would be really bad for him and they’re no good for winter (I still can’t bring myself to change his name, he’s/she’s been Vera for 5yrs)!
Geeeeee, it’s shocking! AND, what I originally asked them for was prices on mercury bulbs and the dome casing and it was just going to be on £100 for the two ... WHAAAAA, that’s ridiculous!

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Nina
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by Nina » 10 Apr 2018, 13:18

Yes, the Mercury vapour lamps are expensive -- but they shouldn't be that expensive. Here is a site that might sell them a bit more cheaply (not sure, but I've never used it myself) https://www.reptiles.swelluk.com/reptil ... our-bulbs/ , and here is another site that I have used and can absolutely recommend: https://www.evolutionreptiles.co.uk/?s= ... pe=product
Good luck with finding a reasonably priced one. And don't forget they need to be hung absolutely vertically, as if they are on a slant I think they can blow.

Nina

laurat
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by laurat » 10 Apr 2018, 18:34

Lovely thank you Nina, I’ll take a look at those links and yes I know about them needing to be hung straight, I’ll definitrly be doing that, I have the L shape hanger all ready plus the guy who made the table has made me another that goes right across in case I ever go back to a uvb tube. Would you say 12inches from substrate to bottom of bulb is sufficient, and oh, best thermometer?

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Nina
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by Nina » 10 Apr 2018, 18:53

Hi Laura,

With all bulbs like this it's really important to follow the manufacturer's instructions, as if the bulb is too close the UVB and heat could be too great and if too far away the opposite will be true. If I remember correctly 12" is the closest it could be and for new bulbs it is recommended that they are a bit further away. What wattage do you plan to get? If it's too powerful then you might have to hang it very far away to avoid the temperature in the table getting too high.

One thing you need to be able to do is to raise and lower the lamp to get the right temperature. The ambient temperature in a room can have a huge effect on the temperature in the table, so if the room is cold or warm then the lamp might need raising or lowering.

Best thermometer. Whatever you do, don't get one of those cheap little thermometers that you can stick on the wall of the table -- you will get a false reading because what you really want to know is the temperature under the lamp. You need to measure the temperature directly below the heat source, at tortoise shell height, so I prefer one of those fridge thermometers with a digital display unit (that can be sited outside the table) and then a probe on a long wire that goes into the table and you can suspend that so that it is as close as possible to the circle of light under the lamp. They often also have Max/Min facilities, so that you can see how hot and how cold it got since you last reset it. Something like this: https://tinyurl.com/y9tfq5uh but you can get them cheaper.

Nina

laurat
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by laurat » 10 Apr 2018, 20:35

Hi Nina, whoop, great! Just been on to Amazon and found one for as cheap as a £1 and it’s got a great write up from customers who use it for tortoise tables and bearded dragon set ups. It’s got both Fahrenheit and Celcius settings too. And oh I so know what you mean about those stupid stick on round ones, grrrrr, hate them, they’re rubbish! So, quick question, the probe is quite long on these digital thermometers I’ve ordered so if I hang it over the L shape arm which the bulb hangs from and I drop the probe to Vera’s shell height, that’ll work fine?
The bulb is a 100w mercury vapour.

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Nina
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by Nina » 10 Apr 2018, 22:22

Sounds perfect, Laura -- hanging it over the L-shaped arm should work fine. In the past I've wound it round a chopstick that was taped to the side of my table so that it extended out to the middle under the lamp -- lol very high tech I am!

It's amazing what the difference in temperature is if you hold a thermometer directly under the lamp as opposed to a few inches away. We had someone once who had a viv, but was thinking of changing it to a table as her tortoise was listless and always trying to scratch its way out of the viv. She swore that the temperature at the hot end was exactly 30C and sent us a photo of the viv and you could see that the thermometer was registering 30C, but it was a circular thermometer stuck to the wall of the viv about five inches away from the lamp. I asked her to take the thermometer off the wall and hold it under the lamp at the tortoise's height, and the result was a temperature of either 42C or 46C (I can't remember which now) -- but that poor tortoise was being roasted.

Ooh, could you send me a link to that thermometer you found for £1 -- sounds a very good deal!

Nina

laurat
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by laurat » 11 Apr 2018, 06:23

Yikes, the poor little thing, no wonder it was trying to scratch its way out!!

I ended up not going for the £1 thermometers, when I got to the checkout the cheeky beggars added a while load of postage. Instead, I opted for this one from eBay (right bargain hunter me ha) and got 2 so I can check the cool side too or the temps in the actual room. I got the two for £5.94 with free postage!

LCD Digital Aquarium Fish Tank Vivarium Reptile / Fridge Freezer Thermometer UK https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre ... 1606585413

I’m looking at getting it all set up this weekend, I cannot wait, so excited!

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Nina
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by Nina » 11 Apr 2018, 08:34

That looks good, but I do like the ones with Max/Min facilities, as they are especially useful in telling you what the temps have been while you were away, and also I use them when the torts are hibernating so that I can monitor the range of temperatures in the fridge. It should work fine for you though. Very excited to see the tortie palace when it's up and running!

Nina

laurat
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by laurat » 11 Apr 2018, 18:03

Nina you won’t believe how excited I am!
I spoke to the vet and the expert there said she doesn’t know and has not heard any negativity over tortoise tables ... hurumph to that guy!!

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Nina
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Re: Tortoise Table

Post by Nina » 11 Apr 2018, 19:32

Ooh, that's me vindicated then :D -- glad your vet agreed about the tables!
Your excitement is contageous -- I'm excited too and really looking forward to those photos.

Nina x

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