Cyrtomium - Holly Fern OK in an enclosure?

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123graced
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Cyrtomium - Holly Fern OK in an enclosure?

Post by 123graced » 16 Jun 2018, 10:59

Hi, I've just built a home for a 2 yr old Herman. It is an outdoor enclosure connected to a greenhouse with a tortoise 'house'. I want some structure/shade plants and bought a Holly Fern and a French Lavender. Neither are listed on TT. Are they safe to plant in the enclosure? Thanks

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Nina
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Re: Cyrtomium - Holly Fern OK in an enclosure?

Post by Nina » 16 Jun 2018, 11:48

Hi and thanks for contacting us. We do have an entry for Lavender (and French Lavender would be included in that), and here is a link to it:
https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/pla ... yTqWyAnaM8
I've had a quick look and your Cyrtomium should be fine to plant in an enclosure as I can't find that they are toxic in any way (but I've only had a quick look and have to go out now, so if no one else comes in on this I'll have another look when I'm back and let you know.

As with all plants, remember not to plant it next to one of the sides of your enclosure, as tortoises are notorious for using plants as ladders to climb up and escape!

Cheers,
Nina

123graced
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Re: Cyrtomium - Holly Fern OK in an enclosure?

Post by 123graced » 19 Jun 2018, 00:28

Thanks Nina, that's helpful. Can I also ask about the 'house' we have for our 2 yr old to sleep at night - it's in the greenhouse but he/she hasn't climbed into it yet! Just sleeps on the soil beside it. Do I need to get the night temperature in the house to stay above a certain temp (say 10C) by getting a heat mat for the roof or a heat bulb? Thanks

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Nina
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Re: Cyrtomium - Holly Fern OK in an enclosure?

Post by Nina » 19 Jun 2018, 08:02

Hi (sorry, I don't know your name). Tortoises often don't sleep where you want them to! I have a nice sleeping area in my indoor enclosure, and they almost never use it.

What sort of house is it that you have in your greenhouse? Tortoises do like a snug little area to sleep in, so if your 'house' is too big that could be the problem (I think my sleeping area is too big and that is why mine often prefer to snuggle up in a corner). You could try putting him in the house at the time that he has taken himself off to sleep once, and see if he likes it and uses it again, but otherwise I wouldn't worry.

Yes, you do need to keep the temperature from falling below about 10C, as at that temperature he will start to go into hibernation mode -- although if there is a nice warm area for him to warm up in the morning that might be OK. Do remember that tiny torts don't retain the heat as well as large ones. Does he have an indoor enclosure (other than the greenhouse) with a lamp where he can warm up when the weather gets too cold for him to be outside, or a heat source in the greenhouse for days when the weather is cold and miserable? You certainly can fix a heat mat to the roof of the house, or a heat source somewhere in the greenhouse, but this time of year you shouldn't need it as he should wake up in the morning and then head towards a nice warm place to bask and warm up before going outside, so if your greenhouse gets the morning sun or you have a basking lamp in there he should be fine. It might be that your set-up just needs a slight tweaking to become perfect, so if you can post a photo that would be great.

Nina

123graced
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Re: Cyrtomium - Holly Fern OK in an enclosure?

Post by 123graced » 19 Jun 2018, 18:01

Thanks again Nina. I've attached a photo of the outdoor enclosure and the greenhouse setup which is attached. I'm thinking of sawing off the legs of the 'house' so it sits on the top soil and putting a smaller'shelter' inside to make it cosier. We have a heat/basking lamp just outside the house. The tortoise belongs to my son, Jesse, but it's been a combination ed project setting it up![attachment=1]20180619_174749.jpg[/attachment]. [attachment=0]20180619_174824.jpg[/attachment]
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Nina
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Re: Cyrtomium - Holly Fern OK in an enclosure?

Post by Nina » 19 Jun 2018, 19:58

Well, I have to say those are lovely set-ups you've got! Lots of interest for the tortoise and nicely laid out -- so well done to you and Jesse. I have a similar house to yours in my outdoor enclosure, and I wonder if that ramp is a little steep for your little one to climb up. I think my 'house' has longer legs than yours, so maybe my ramp is at a steeper angle, but I've got the end of my ramp resting on two tiles, and then one tile on the ground up against those, so it makes a sort of gradual step up to the ramp and the ramp itself isn't at such a steep angle. I have attached a photo of it a couple of years ago, but I don't have so many tiles leading up to it now and it looks a bit neater! I think the first time I installed the house I tempted my Doris up the ramp with some tasty food, and then she would happily use it after that.

Your heat lamp looks fine -- do you know what temperature it is giving directly under the lamp at the height of your tortoise's shell on a cold morning? It can make a real difference if the temperature isn't warm enough and the general temperature in the greenhouse will have a great effect on how efficient that lamp is.

Is your lamp on a timer? The only reason I ask is that if it gets hot in that greenhouse on a warm day, then you definitely don't want the lamp on in there as well as it could give you too high a temperature. Because tortoises don't use food to produce their body heat like we do, but are completely dependent on the outside temperature to regulate their body heat, it's a really important factor in husbandry. If I remember correctly, their body has to be at about 26C just to be able to digest their food, but if it is hotter that 35C or 36C for any length of time they can dehydrate quickly, but as your tortoise has access to the outdoors that should be a problem. If he (or she) is getting up in the morning and wandering around, eating and generally alert, then it is probably fine.

What species is the tortoise? Some species can withstand colder temperatures better than others, but all will need a hot spot of around 30C to wander in and out of to regulate their body heat.

Sorry to have rambled on for so long! Basically I think you have produce a really nice environment for your tortoise (what's his name by the way), and I wouldn't worry too much about him sleeping in his house -- they do have minds of their own and often seem to enjoy doing exactly the opposite of what we would like and expect them to do!

Nina
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lin
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Re: Cyrtomium - Holly Fern OK in an enclosure?

Post by lin » 19 Jun 2018, 19:59

I know Nina is dealing with your question but I would just like to say this is looking very good to me and I wouldnt cut the legs of because I think it would be cozier with the legs and he can still get in and out via the ramp.
Well done for all your efforts.

Lin

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Nina
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Re: Cyrtomium - Holly Fern OK in an enclosure?

Post by Nina » 19 Jun 2018, 21:09

I just remembered something -- I nailed some roofing felt (the stuff that covers shed roofs and has a sandpaper feel to it) to my ramp because the wood was so smooth on it that my tortoises were nervous because it was a bit slippery. You could try that -- or just glue some narrow strips of wood (like matchsticks) on it to give some traction when he is climbing up. Also, I agree with Lin that it would be better if you didn't saw the legs off the house.

Cheers,
Nina

123graced
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Re: Cyrtomium - Holly Fern OK in an enclosure?

Post by 123graced » 20 Jun 2018, 10:49

Thanks again for the advice. We won't saw the legs of the house off! I will try and get some roofing felt and use the graduated idea with some tiles or wood to encourage the tortoise up! The lamp is on a timer for 8am - 9.30am to warm him/her up after waking. I'll get a zapper thermometer to check the temp of the stone underneath. My son can't decide on a name! Our family have contributed lots of ideas, including Strider, Herbie, Herman (it's a Hermann tortoise!), Hermie and Thor! Personally I like all of those except the last one (my daughters idea!). Here's a photo of him/her. What is your vote?!![attachment=0]20180619_190553-1-1.jpg[/attachment]
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lin
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Re: Cyrtomium - Holly Fern OK in an enclosure?

Post by lin » 20 Jun 2018, 12:58

S/he is adorable and a name will come in time.

Lin

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Nina
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Re: Cyrtomium - Holly Fern OK in an enclosure?

Post by Nina » 20 Jun 2018, 13:32

That is one handsome little tortoise you have there! Hmm, names are difficult. You probably can't tell the sex yet (you often can't sex tortoises until they are five or six years old, when the male's tail suddenly develops), but if you want to send us a photo of his/her underside, clearly showing the tail, we could have a go (but it is probably too early). My Doris used to be called Boris, until she started laying eggs. I think Strider is nice. We had a corn snake that my son named Cornelius for many years, so incorporating the species name into the given name (like Herman because he is a Hermanns) sounds good and of course you could always change it to Hermione if he turns out to be female. Always difficult, but like Lin says, perhaps his personality will eventually dictate what his (or her) name should be.

Nina

123graced
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Re: Cyrtomium - Holly Fern OK in an enclosure?

Post by 123graced » 27 Jun 2018, 08:55

Hi Nina, another question! Our little 'Strider' (calling him that until my son comes up with a name!) has dug himself into the soil outside for the last 2 nights. He has an indoor greenhouse enclosure to go to, but chooses to be outdoors. It's been about 12C at night - should we put him in his indoor bit if he keeps doing this? He also rejects all plants except clover and dandelion (which are only meant to be in moderation). Thanks, Grace

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Nina
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Re: Cyrtomium - Holly Fern OK in an enclosure?

Post by Nina » 27 Jun 2018, 10:20

Hi Grace,

Normally I would say to bring him in at night, as there are predators (rats and foxes about) who can prey on tortoises, but your enclosure looks reasonably secure so he is probably all right (but don't underestimate the ability of rats and foxes to get into an enclosure). 12C is fine, as that is the air temperature and if he is dug in he will be a bit warmer than that, but if it drops to below about 10C then it might be best to bring him in.

Food preferences -- to the exclusion of other food -- is common in tortoises, but he should be getting a more varied diet so you need to have firm resolve and get him to eat a more varied diet. Here is a link to our article on switching your tortoise to a healthier diet: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... zNViSAnaM8
Have a read and see what you think. Basically it involves perseverance and trickery on your part. You cut up his favourite food up into teeny tiny pieces and wetting it thoroughly. You then cut up the new food you want to introduce into teeny tiny pieces and add a small amount. Because it is wet the pieces will stick to each other and when he goes for some dandelion he will also get some of the new food. You gradually add a greater proportion of the new food and reduce the quantity of the favourite food until he is eating a mixture that has the majority of new food in it. He might be stubborn, but you should persist and he will give in at the end (probably just before you succomb to a nervous breakdown) :roll:

Nina

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