Vivs

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Char
Posts: 5
Joined: 14 Oct 2018, 22:02

Vivs

Post by Char » 14 Oct 2018, 22:11

Hi we got a new tortoise Timmy he is about 18 months old, we brought him
And his whole
Set up room a reptile shop, following all there advice and now on a Facebook page Iv been made to feel like I’m
Basically killing my Horsefield, and wanting to give up before we have even started x apparently everything about his encloser is wrong
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Nina
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Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Vivs

Post by Nina » 14 Oct 2018, 22:35

Hi Char, and thanks for contacting us. Please don't despair -- you have done your best and followed what you assumed was expert advice, and you shouldn't be made to feel guilty or terrible. It is true that vivariums are not good environments for tortoises, but there are some little things that you can do to make what you've got into a better environment, and when it is convenient then you can switch to a tortoise table.

The reason why vivs aren't good is that the enclosed nature of them means that you often can't get a good temperature varation from one end of the viv to the other. Tortoises are ectothermic, meaning that their body temperature is determined by the temperature of their environment, so they need to be able to wander in and out of warm and then cooler places to thermo-regulate. Also the enclosed nature of the viv means that it's hard to get a good air flow in there. The only other thing about vivs is that they tend to not have a big floor space, but be quite high sided, which is great for lizards and snakes, who climb, but not so wonderful for tortoises, who like a lot of space to wander around. However if your Horsfield is still little then that isn't such a problem.

So those are the facts, and believe me many people are in the same position as you -- having been sold an expensive viv and then finding out that it isn't ideal. Sometimes they are sold because the shop wants to make money, but often it is that the shop just doesn't have the expertise in tortoise husbandry and they think that because tortoises are reptiles that they will be happy in the same set-up as a snake or lizard.

Some people return the vivarium to the shop as not fit for purpose, and get their money back -- and we can provide you with evidence to prove this if you want that option. But if you feel it is too late or impractical to do that then you can modify your vivarium and make it better for your Horsfield (and he -- or she -- is a lovely little tortoise and I can see that you are really fond of him!). By the way, you do have what looks to me like a good soil-based substrate (many people are sold wood chips or straw or pellets which are not good), so that is something to be happy about!

In one of the photos you sent, I can see that the doors of the viv are open. That is good, and if you can just take the doors off and tack a little board or some barrier up against them, just so that he can't climb out, that would ensure a much better air flow. Some people also just turn the viv on its back (so that the doors are on top) and then take the doors off -- thereby making an open topped box, which is more like a tortoise table. There are several places online that give you instructions on how to modify a vivarium into a tortoise table, and I could give you links to those too, but I have probably gone on too long already and don't want to overwhelm you! Just know that you should in no way be made to feel like you are deliberately harming your tortoise -- you have bought all this equipment in good faith -- and lots of other people have been in the same position. Ideally you do want to provide Timmy with an open tortoise table (which can be made easily from an old dresser drawer), but in the meantime there are lots of little things you can do to make him happy in the viv that you bought.

Nina

Char
Posts: 5
Joined: 14 Oct 2018, 22:02

Re: Vivs

Post by Char » 14 Oct 2018, 23:13

Thank you for your reply Iv already ordered a new white heat bulb. The substitute is tortoise life, we often have the doors open and have periods were Timmy is let to explain the down stairs of our home. I’m happy to buy a table but we are away for a week from tomorrow, Timmy is in holiday to nanny and grandads for a week 😂 he was brought for my sons 7th birthday who has begged for one for 3 years now, so when you think you have everything set up correctly to find out you actually don’t its quiet upsetting x

Char
Posts: 5
Joined: 14 Oct 2018, 22:02

Re: Vivs

Post by Char » 14 Oct 2018, 23:14

AlSo untill we move house in January we don’t have a great deal of space for a big table

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Nina
Posts: 805
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Vivs

Post by Nina » 15 Oct 2018, 09:34

Hi Char,

I did notice the red bulb, but didn't mention it because my post was so long already -- but it's good that you are getting an ordinary white light one. I thought it looked like Tortoise Life you have in there. It's a very good substrate, and I've used it in the past -- but it's also really expensive. If you want to cut down on expenses you can just buy a bag of sterilised topsoil from any Homebase type place or garden centre, and a bag of children's playsand and mix them either 50/50 or perhaps 60/40 with the topsoil being the higher percentage. That works perfectly well.

The other thing I was going to mention is that it is important to measure temperatures in the viv accurately, and a thermometer mounted on a wall doesn't give you an accurate picture of what the temperature is directly below the heat lamp, at the height of Timmy's shell. So you should either hold a thermometer there for several minutes or, better yet, get one of those digital fridge thermometers, with a display unit that sits outside the viv and has a probe at the end of a long cord that you can hang in the viv so that the probe is directly under the lamp, at about the height of Timmy's shell -- something like this: https://tinyurl.com/yah3lfyo (but you can get them lots of places).

That is lovely that your son is interested in tortoises, and of course if Timmy has a good long tortoise life (in excess of 75 or 80 years), then your son will eventually be Timmy's sole guardian!

Yes I know how upsetting it can be to go on these forums and FB pages and be bullied or told very bluntly that you have got it all wrong. The same thing happened to me when I got my first tortoise, and it is why we set up The Tortoise Table to be a friendly, helpful and sympathetic place to go for advice. There is so much misinformation on the internet that you don't know where to turn.

I hope you have a super week away, and that Timmy enjoys his holiday with the grandparents! Do get in touch with us when you are back, and we can give you some more advice on small changes that would be easy to make to Timmy's environment. In the meantime, here is a link to a care sheet for Horsfields: https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf and maybe it is something that you could print out and your son could read together.

Nina

Char
Posts: 5
Joined: 14 Oct 2018, 22:02

Re: Vivs

Post by Char » 18 Oct 2018, 00:34

Thank you we now have a white light but seems very bright 🙈🙈 and is about to order a table but now not confident If it will be ok or how I’d keep little Timmy warm, he is also a climber which panics Henry a lot x Iv attached a photos of the table I’m looking at x
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lin
Posts: 536
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: Vivs

Post by lin » 18 Oct 2018, 02:04

Hi Char. I am sure Nina will be on later but for now I can say that I have seen this table used with good resu;to for tortoises in the past.
Can you let us know the size of the table and roughly the size of your tortoise.
Do not worry about him being warm in there. It’s the heat we provide that allows them to be warm enough so he will find his own happy place in their.
Lin

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Nina
Posts: 805
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Vivs

Post by Nina » 18 Oct 2018, 07:56

Hi Char,

That bright light is great -- the brighter the better! Think of the bright midday sun out in the desert or something. Bright lights are much more likely to encourage your tortoise to be active, so well done.

The table you are looking at is fine. Like Lin says, it would help to know the size as the larger the table the better, because tortoises get really bored in small areas after a while. The sleeping area at one end is nice to have, but you don't necessarily need that, as tortoises are perfectly happy to snuggle up into a half a flower pot on its side, or one of those bendy log things that you already have. You can make a perfectly good tortoise table out of a very large drawer with relatively high sides, a set of bookshelves with the shelves taken out (here is a link on how to do that http://tortaddiction.blogspot.com/2013/ ... ut-of.html -- although I don't think you need to cut the hole in it), or even an old wardrobe if you want something really big. But that table you are looking at would be fine for now, for an 18 month old tortoise.

Climbing out can be a problem, so you want to ensure that the sides are high enough (if you think they aren't then you could tack a bit of wood all around it to make the sides higher, and make sure that there isn't anything right up against the side that Timmy could use as a ladder to crawl out. Having said that, most of those purpose built tables are fine.

Speaking of extra room for Timmy to explore, you could always get a table with a ramp leading up to a second level. Here is a link to a page with photos of some. https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/3353071 ... 2/?lp=true. It enables you to have a smaller overall table, but the tortoise gets lots of exercise walking up and down the ramp. I have a second level in my table and my torts are always walking up and down the ramp because I tend to feed them on the top levei (have attached a photo)

I think you're doing a really good thing in switching to a table and Timmy will definitely appreciate your efforts.
Nina


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Char
Posts: 5
Joined: 14 Oct 2018, 22:02

Re: Vivs

Post by Char » 18 Oct 2018, 11:22

It’s 20cm high I do like the look of the one with the ramp. We are due to move house in the new year we’re we would like to get a big enclosure, for now hopefully we can get something that will keep him happy x

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