Ideal Vivarium temps

Post your pictures and any questions here of European tortoises e.g. Ibera Spur Thigh, Ibera Graeca, Marginated, Hermanns, Kleinmanni and we include the Horsfield tortoise. Also, do add pictures of Mediterranean tortoises you have seen in the wild.
Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 04 Jun 2020, 17:43

Hello I’m looking for some advise, we’ve got a Horsefield tort and I’m not exactly sure what’s the best temp to keep his enclosure at, currently it’s at 28/30c but when we put his basking light in it can go up towards 43c which I think is abit to much so I don’t leave it on for long we’re getting a less powerful bulb, we also have a UVB bulb next to the he basking lamp too. Everywhere I look on the internet (usually Americans) it’s always different, we use coconut coir that we spray and dampen are bedding on 1 half and artificial grass in the other half the cooler half. We also have a little wooden cave type thing that he can hide under. Any advise and tips would be great thanks.

User avatar
lin
Posts: 679
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by lin » 04 Jun 2020, 18:15

Hi Reece. You are right about 40's being to hot. The hot spot should never be more than 30°C and there should always be a daytime cool area of 18 to 20°C. When you take the temps in an enclosure (is it a viv or table) it is best if measured with a digital thermomiter with probe and taken under the hot spot at the height of the tortoises shell.
Here is a Horsfield (only one e in horsfield) caresheet for you to look through and find some more questions.
If there is anything else we can do for you just get back to us.
https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf

Lin

Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 04 Jun 2020, 18:32

At the moment the UVB light alone seems to keep the basking area at 28-30 so is that ideal ? On the cool end where we keep the bowl of water it tends to stick at around 20ish then at night we turn the lights off. The vet we spoke to said that we should keep him 35-38°c which is ideal temp to help absorb calcium.

User avatar
lin
Posts: 679
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by lin » 04 Jun 2020, 18:57

Hi Reece.
I am afraid that those temps the vet told you are far to high. Tortoises have overheated and died in temps that high. A tortoise needs to be able to regulate his core temps to be able to digest food and absorb calcium, vitamins and other suppliments. We as carers offer the optimum conditions and the tortoise is able to take what he needs and then walk away.
Think back to tortoises in the wild. Yes, the sun might be heating the surrounding to 40 or 50°C but in his own habitat he will have a deep burrow to dig down and keep cool. In a tabletop he will not be able to dig down far enough so we have to offer what he needs.

Lin

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1117
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Nina » 04 Jun 2020, 19:07

Hi Reece,

in addition to the good advice that Lin has given, I think the cause of your problem might be the vivarium. How long have you had the tortoise? If it is very new then you can return the viv as not fit for purpose, because vivariums are very bad environments for tortoises. They are good for snakes and lizards, but there are a couple of reasons why they aren't suitable for tortoises, although pet shops persist in selling them to people.

The main drawback is that it is really difficult to get a good temperature variation in a viv, and it is essential for tortoises that they have one area, under the lamp, where it is around 30C, and another area at the far end that is 20C. They are ectothermic animals and need to regulate their body temperature by wandering in and out of warmer and cooler areas. Because of the enclosed nature of a vivarium it is very difficult to get that temperature variation, and also on warm days it can just get way too hot in a viv. At temperatures over about 36C or 38C a tortoise is at risk of dehydating and dying. And you need to measure the temperature directly under the light at the height of his shell to get an accurate measurement -- a thermometer mounted on a nearby wall will give a much lower reading.

As a temporary measure, if you could open the doors of your viv (or take them off) and put a board up across the bottom, just so that he can't climb out, that would allow air circulation and would be much better.

If you can't return the viv or get a tortoise table (which is just a box with sides high enough so that he can't climb out --think dresser drawer), you can convert the viv to make it much nicer for your tortoise. Some people take the vivarium doors off and then sit the vivarium on its back (so that where the doors were is now the top), and that allows better circulation and temperature control.

Or many people just take the doors off and sit the viv in a larger box, which allows the tortoise to come and go in the warm and cool areas at will, and I'll attach a picture of that at the end of this post.

Of if you want to build your own table, it's not too difficult and here are some guidelines on how to do that: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... tk1Sud7m9s

I am really sorry to be the bearer of disappointing news, and we have many people who have been incorrectly sold vivariums for tortoises. It's a great shame because they only want the best for their tortoise, but have been given incorrect advice by the seller. But we also see people whose tortoises have terrible health problems and lethargy and lack of appetite from being kept in a vivarium for some time. The Tortoise Trust publishes an article on why vivariums are not suitable environments for tortoises, and if you want a copy to show the seller, in an effort to get your money back, I would be happy to send it to you (and we would certainly be happy to write a letter to back that up).
[attachment=0]Viv Conversion.jpg[/attachment][attachment=1]Viv conversion.jpeg[/attachment]

Best wishes,
Nina
Attachments
Viv Conversion.jpg
Viv conversion.jpeg

Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 04 Jun 2020, 19:29

We’ve had him for 4 years now, we often let him out when it’s warm enough during the day it also helps shorten the length of his nails, recently he’s took a turn for the worse his eyes won’t seem to open the vet say it could be an infection and have given us antibiotics which we started today so we’ll see how that goes, I can take pictures of the enclosure if that helps ?

User avatar
lin
Posts: 679
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by lin » 04 Jun 2020, 20:57

Photos would be good Reece. They help us to see if there are any minor tweaks that can be made to perhaps make it easier for you and your little one. I see that Nina has sent you photos of how to transform a viv into an open area which allows great air circulation and heat flow. I wonder if that is something you could easily do?

How long has his eyes been sort of shut? Do they look gunky or swollen? and do they open again after a nice long warm bath? Sorry loads of questions but they really do help us.

Did your vet tell you that for antibiotics to work the tortoise has to have heat of a night too?

And, I know its a big ask but would you be able to tell us the name of the vet you are using, direct to me at lin@thetortoisetable.org.uk. This is only so that we can see if there is an exotic vet at the practise. Its only for our eyes.
Look forward to the photos Reece and I bet the little one really enjoys being out in the warmer weather. Well done.
Lin

Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 05 Jun 2020, 08:06

The vet we use is called ashleighs in Manchester Whalley range and yes the doc said the tort must have heat in a basking area 35-38°c but I’m being told that’s to much and the ambient temp should be around 22-25°c and a cool area of 20°c we turned the lights off last night and the temp stayed at 20°c all night I’ll attach photos soon. On recommendation I’ve took a piece of glass out and put cardboard while the heat bulb is on to stop him getting out to increase air circulation, as I say we do very often let him out the viv both outside and in the living room just so he is mentally stimulated for an hour or 2 then we get him back into the warm area. Also the eyes have been closed for a few months now they’re puffy swollen but no gunk at 1st we assumed it was hibernation but he tends to move around often so we thought that can’t be right we bath him in luke warm water every other day to stimulate going to the bathroom to check he’s actually passing urine/pooping and put some tortoise vitamin pellets in there to dissolve hoping he absorbs it

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1117
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Nina » 05 Jun 2020, 09:29

Hi Reece,

Many thanks for the extra information. I have checked out your vet practice, and they do have an 'exotics' vet there, so that should be fine, but a temperature above 35C can be dangerous -- are you sure that is what he advised? Ideally it should be 30C under the light, as Lin said. Also can you tell us how you are measuring the temperature -- is it from a thermometer on the wall or directly under the lamp?

One question. You originally said that the temperature was 28C - 30C, but when you put the basking bulb in then it goes up to 43C. So what bulb are you using when the basking bulb isn't on? You mentioned that you have a UVB bulb next to the basking bulb -- is that a bulb that gives off heat and light as well as UVB, or is it a fluorescent UVB bulb that gives off light and UVB, but not heat? If it is a bulb that is giving off heat as well as light and UVB (they are called combined mercury vapour bulbs) then you don't need a basking bulb as well.

It is very worrying that his eyes have been closed for such a long time. I can understand why you thought that with his eyes closed he might be trying to hibernate, but tortoises only hibernate when it is cold (below 10C and ideally at around 5C), and they do not hibernate when it is warm.

The fact that you are bathing him is excellent, and it will keep him from becoming dehydrated in the heat, so do keep that up.

Is he managing to eat with his eyes closed?

Sorry for all the questions, but I'm sure that we can help you sort this out.

Nina

Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 05 Jun 2020, 10:21

He’s eating sometimes but not very often probably eats about 2 cherry tomatoes worth a week we swap his food to have variation aswell but again doesn’t eat much, I believe it’s because his eyes are closed and he can’t see the food, again the vet prescribed some medicine over the next 3 weeks so I really hope that works, I’ve just been and bought a smaller bulb and have fit it so I’ll let you know what the temp caps out at I’ll be sure not to let it go over 30°c like you guys advised, I’m using a digi thermometer with a probe on it to measure temp I have it stuck on the inside of then enclosure on the wall closest to the lamp at shell height.

Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 05 Jun 2020, 10:29

Sorry guys it won’t let me upload photos but I’ll do my best to describe the enclosure with the details you need

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1117
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Nina » 05 Jun 2020, 10:35

Hi Reece,
It might be that you need to reduce the photos in size. Here are our instructions for uploading and reducing photos:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=3

Or, if you want, just send them in an email to us at contact@thetortoisetable.org.uk and we will reduce and upload them for you.

Cheers,
Nina

Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 05 Jun 2020, 10:41

Hi Nina I emailed you a photo thank you

Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 05 Jun 2020, 10:45

Also just to make everyone aware when I pick him up he is very active he constantly moves his little legs popping his head out like he wants to be put down so it’s not like he’s sluggish or lacking in energy, I’ve just put him under his heat lamp and uvb lamb to hopefully warm him through as he’s been under his little log bridge all night, currently the temp under the light is saying it’s 28.1 and it’s extremely slowly climbing now so I suspect it’ll max out soon, I’ve left the glass open on the cooler side to clean air gets in, I’ve got the window open in the room to let some fresh air in.

Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 05 Jun 2020, 10:50

This is his enclosure
Attachments
41822989-EC54-4655-84AB-E971E1FE89C3.jpeg
41822989-EC54-4655-84AB-E971E1FE89C3.jpeg (22.17 KiB) Viewed 736 times

Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 05 Jun 2020, 11:19

Once we get his eyes open and hopefully eating more we’ve decided we’ll invest into a proper tortoise table for better air flow for now I’ll use the advice you have gave regarding keeping the glass open and blocking it so he doesn’t get out

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1117
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Nina » 05 Jun 2020, 12:33

Hi Reece,

Thanks so much for the photo and also for being so caring for your tortoise and wanting the best for him.

I hope the medicine from the vet will help to get his eyes open and back to normal health. The other thing you can do with the eyes, in case they are just a bit stuck shut, is to buy some 'artificial tears' from the chemist -- ask for the ones that contain hypromellose. It is complete safe and you can dip a cotton bud or something in them and gently bathe his eyes with that -- it oftens helps to open them.

I can see that you have made a nice little space for the tortoise, and it is good that he goes outside the viv -- especially outdoors, as the UVB from the sun is of a much higher quality than any we can provide with artificial bulbs. I think it's amazing that he has such good energy - that is a very good sign.

You digi thermometer is perfect. Just as an experiment, can you take a reading of it while it is stuck to the wall, and then take it off the wall and hold it directly under the lamp, at the height of the tortoise's shell, for several minutes? It will be interesting to see if there is a different reading there.

Have you had a chance to read the care sheet for Horsfields that I gave a link to in one of the earier posts? If you do, you will see that tomatoes aren't a good food for tortoises. They won't kill him or make him very ill, but a tortoise's digestive system doesn't cope well with the natural sugars in fruit -- and tomatoes count as a fruit -- so if you can get him eating other things that would be great. Weeds, flowers, etc. are best and you can use the filter tool on our website to create a list of friendly plants to give him.

That is great that you are willing to adapt the viv. One of the other reasons that vivs aren't great is that tortoises actually need quite a lot of space to move around, and vivs tend to be high, but with not a big floor space, so adapting it, or getting a table will be great (I would get him something that has the biggest floor area that your space will permit, and in fact it is very easy to make a table (it's just a box really) and we have instructions on how to make one if you are interested. There are other good alternatives too, so when we get to that stage, let us know and we'll send you links to some tables and also some rabbit/guinea pig cages that can work really well for tortoises.

But first let us get him well. It would be good if you started keeping records of his weight, and health etc. We publish a little booklet that is designed for keeping records about your tortoise. You are trying so hard to get your little tortoise through tihs difficult time that we would like to send you a complimentary copy if you'd like one. If so, just email us your address and I'll pop one in the post.

Nina

Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 05 Jun 2020, 12:51

When I put the temp gauge under the light directly it did seem to significantly rise by a degree so I’ve pulled the light up abit higher just to avoid the light being to intense on him, right now the temp is 31 but slowly dropping since I moved the light up I think it’s just going to be abit fiddly to get the height just right

Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 05 Jun 2020, 13:04

On the box of the bulb I bought it says to roughly keep the bulb at 8 inches for 27°c so I’ve got the bulb at 6 inches above and it seems to maintain 29.7 to 31.5 with the glass on the other side slightly open for cleaner air so I’m hoping this is suitable.

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1117
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Nina » 05 Jun 2020, 13:18

That sounds fine. 6 inches seems awfully low, but if you are getting the right temperature then it should be fine. What kind of bulb is it, and what wattage? When we have warmer days again you should be able to raise it a bit, as the temperature in the room will affect the temperature in the viv. Having the door open will do wonders for air circulation.

I meant to say that your UVB bulb needs covering to protect your eyes. I can't quite see it in the photo because of the light, but is it one of those curly ones that looks a bit like a low energy bulb? If so then it won't be giving off any heat, and you can just wrap a piece of aluminium foil round the fitting to act like a lamp shade, so that you can't look directly into it. UVB can damage your eyesight, but fortunately it doesn't pass through glass, so while you have the doors between you and the bulb it can't harm your sight, but if you are looking directly at it with no doors in the way, then you need to have a reflector on it. Most of these lamps are mounted horizontally, and you can buy reflectors that sit on the top, but yours is hanging vertically, so if you take some aluminium foil and make a wide sort of lamp shade for it that will protect your eyes -- you cn just squeeze it or tape it around the fitting at the top to hold it in place.

Do try bathing his eyes with the artificial tears containing hypromellose, that I mentioned in my earlier email.

Just off to the post office to post your booklet :)

Nina

Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 05 Jun 2020, 13:27

I’ll be sure to get a lamp shade sorted, if I’m ever doing stuff with the enclosures like cleaning I tend to just turn it off for a few minutes so I’m not blinding myself it is one of those Curley tube bulbs yes, the heat bulb is only 25w it’s the exoterra brand if that helps.

Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 05 Jun 2020, 13:38

With those artificial tears could you recommend a brand or something that makes the correct type stand out ? Or can I just go to a pharmacy and tell them ?

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1117
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Nina » 05 Jun 2020, 13:51

You could go to a pharmacy and tell them, but also it on the box of artificial tears it should say that it contains hypromellose in the ingredients.
It's just an over the counter -- for example here is a Boots one, but there are lots and all pharmacies should have them: https://www.boots.com/boots-hypromellos ... l-10169330

Nina

Reece.97
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Jun 2020, 21:14

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Reece.97 » 05 Jun 2020, 15:11

We’ve also been dropping these in the water when we bath him since he doesn’t really want to eat, I assume when they dissolve the he can drink the vitamins in then too ? Just trying to think of any possible way I could get more nutrition into him.
Attachments
3109CA02-6D35-4CB1-8E89-AE8C8B0636C2.jpeg
3109CA02-6D35-4CB1-8E89-AE8C8B0636C2.jpeg (32.1 KiB) Viewed 723 times

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1117
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Ideal Vivarium temps

Post by Nina » 05 Jun 2020, 16:16

Those dry foods aren't great, but at this point I would think that anything you can get into him will help. Does he drink in the bath?

One thing that most tortoises like is cucumber. Peel some cucumber (they are usually treated with insecticides so peeling is recommended) and then offer him a really thin slice. I would hold it about half an inch from his nose, and if he smells it and opens his mouth to bite you can put it a little bit into his mouth, and he might get a taste for it. Cucumber doesn't have that much nutrition, but if he likes it then you can use it as a sandwich to get good food into him (two waver thin slices of cucumber with a dandelion leaf in between. As he can't really see with his eyes closed, I think hand feeding is a good thing to try for now.

Nina

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests