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Temperature question

Posted: 16 Apr 2019, 23:04
by SilverWings
I have a question about temperature! I have a mercury vapour bulb that obviously cannot be used with a thermostat, so it took me a few days of adjustment to get it right. i suspended a thermometer probe to about Bella's shell height, so about 2 inches off the substrate, and got that to about 32, which is what she seemed happiest at. She would do some basking, some trundling, some more basking etc.

The other day, she pulled the probe down so it was sat on the soil. When I checked the thermometer I was shocked to see it at 42 degrees!!! I immediately hoisted the light up a few notches (it's on a chain) and misted the enclosure to cool it down, thinking that was far too hot. However, I then noticed since then, bella has been miserable. She's not been eating, or basking, when I get her out and put her under her lamp she just goes to a corner and digs down. The air temperature was showing 28 ish, the soil temp 36.

I dropped the light back down yesterday to see if it made a difference, and she a new tortoise. Active, exploring, trashing the place. But the soil is hot!!!

Is it okay to have such a high soil temperature?? She seems to like it, and she can escape it easily, but I'm so worried!!

Re: Temperature question

Posted: 16 Apr 2019, 23:26
by lin
Hi SilverWings

I would say if she is happy then who are we to say... :D 32°C is fine because you have the probe at the right height, and the shell temps are fine. On the ground, if we walk barefooted from a shaded area to a sunny spot we can immediatley feel the burning on the underside but not on the upper part of the foot. That tells us the ground is much hotter because it is stationary. If the tortoises underside is to hot they will walk away and try and find a cooler area so as long as the shell is reading good temps, thats fine.
As you say she comes and goes from the hotspot, this means she is regulating her own temps and seems to be very happy in doung that.
The only thing you need to worry about in my opinion is that as our temps outside raise then so will the indoor ambient temps so you might have to watch over that and lift the light those couple of extra notches you spoke about..

Hope thats helpful.


Re: Temperature question

Posted: 17 Apr 2019, 07:56
by Nina
Oh dear, I wrote a reply late last night but think I must not have pushed 'submit' as it isn't here, so I'll try again.

Basically you are aiming at the air temperature, and the substrate will always be a bit hotter as it absorbs and retains the heat -- but 42C is very hot. When your probe is hanging down, it is directly under the lamp, or is it a bit off to the side?

What is the temperature of your table at the cooler end (I'm assuming she is in a table and not a vivarium)? Presumably your lamp is at one end of the table, so the tortoise can go into and out of the circle of light, moving from warmer to cooler temperatures and thus regulate her body temperature, which is what they do in the wild, and what you say she is doing.

I think that if Bella seems happy at the higher temperature then it is probably fine, and I wouldn't worry, but I would ensure that she has regular baths to allow her to rehydrate, as dehydration can occur quickly in high temperatures.

Also, we are due some warmer temperatures this week, and the room temperature can have a big effect on the temperature in the table. I find that I am constantly having to raise or lower my lamp, depending on how warm or cool it is in the rest of the room, so it's a good idea to monitor temps in the table regularly as they will vary, according to whether it is generally a warm or a cooler day.


Re: Temperature question

Posted: 17 Apr 2019, 10:19
by SilverWings
The lamp is actually in the middle of the table because it came with a built in arm.

it looks like this one; ... E&usqp=CAc

But I took out the divider to the dark side because she never used it and I figured it was a lot of space wasted. Both of the far sides drop close to room temperature which is anywhere between 17 and 23. The probe hangs slightly to the side but when I check it I push it right under for a couple minutes (usually while Bella gets some butt scritches, do all torts like that?).

I have been a bit concerned about the coming warmer temps but if it's that nice, she has an outdoor pen and will hopefully be able to get some proper sun :D

Re: Temperature question

Posted: 17 Apr 2019, 12:06
by Nina
It sounds perfect to me. As long as there is a cooler place (and 17 - 23 is perfect) she will be fine. I have found in the past that if we have really hot weather, and the room is very warm, then occasionally I have had to turn off my heat lamp altogether (but that is only when it gets very hot) and for some reason I have to have them indoors. I have a heat/light bulb and a separate UVB fluorescent strip, so they can get UVB but not get too hot. But the mercury vapour lamps are excellent and I think you will be fine -- especially if she can go outdoors in the nice weather. Mine are outside this morning and loving it.


Re: Temperature question

Posted: 18 Apr 2019, 11:47
by SilverWings
Wonderful, thank you both! I feel reassured now :)