Baby radiata enclosure set up

Dimitry

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Hi everyone. Just got my baby radiata recently. I would like to confirm with experienced keepers if I'm doing OK with my tort. So I do have enclosure 140 × 60 x 50. Temperature is controlled by termoregulator and two ceramic heaters 100w each. Humidity is between 70 to 90%. Temperature underneath the ceramic heaters between 30-33 Celsius during day time and 26-28 Celsius during night time. Overall temperature is not below 22.5 Celsius. I'm using UV Arcadia T5 12% desert species lamp for 12 hours a day. Any advice or suggestions are welcome.
 

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Tom

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Have you seen this:

My primary comment would be to only run the Arcadia tubes for a few hours mid day, and run LEDs the rest of the day for brightness.
 

Markw84

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In addition to what @Tom offered, I would be concerned the UVB is way too close to the tortoise. If the UV light is the Pro T5 kit and the fixture has a reflector, a 50cm tall enclosure with 7-8cm of substrate, 7.5cm the mounted fixture places bottom of bulb, and 6cm tortoise height you only have less than 30cm distance fixture to tortoise eyes. WIth a 12% T5 with reflector at 30cm you should get a UVI of 6.0. At 25cm almost 8.0. That is too strong for what I would be comfortable with. IF you are stuck with that height, I would remove the reflector. That would bring UV levels back where they should be for your situation.
 

Dimitry

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Thanks for replies. Let say if I mount the uv lamp 45 CM above the ground and keep the uv lamp on for 6 hours a day will be good enough?
 

Tom

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Thanks for replies. Let say if I mount the uv lamp 45 CM above the ground and keep the uv lamp on for 6 hours a day will be good enough?
Th only answer we can give is a definite maybe. The only way to know is with a UV meter. Each bulb and fixture is a little different and the bulbs offer a range of performance even when brand new from the factory. Based on previous experience with these bulbs, 45cm for 6 hours a day will probably work just fine. Probably.
 

Dimitry

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Th only answer we can give is a definite maybe. The only way to know is with a UV meter. Each bulb and fixture is a little different and the bulbs offer a range of performance even when brand new from the factory. Based on previous experience with these bulbs, 45cm for 6 hours a day will probably work just fine.
Another advice I'm looking at is about use of ceramic heaters. I've read a lot of information on the forum regarding basking lamps and their effect on pyramid of the tortoise shells. What do you think by using CHE and keeping the temperature underneath them up to 33c will it be enough for my tortoise? As of now I don't have any basking lamp at all and use CHE together with thermoregulator
 

Tom

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Another advice I'm looking at is about use of ceramic heaters. I've read a lot of information on the forum regarding basking lamps and their effect on pyramid of the tortoise shells. What do you think by using CHE and keeping the temperature underneath them up to 33c will it be enough for my tortoise? As of now I don't have any basking lamp at all and use CHE together with thermoregulator
I do not have first hand experience to draw from here, but based on the words of @Sterant and @zovick who both have MOUNTAINS of experience raising baby radiata, they do not require a basking lamp.

CHEs are less desiccating than incandescent light bulbs, and 33C at tortoise shell height is relatively mild too.
 

Sterant

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I do not use CHE's for heat as I have my enclosures in a radiant heated room so I can't speak to that too much other than to guess that the RH directly under the CHE's (where your tortoise might like to hang out) is considerably lower than the 70 to 90% you mention above. In my hatchling enclosures, I run a dual bulb fluorescent fixture with a reptisun 10.0 UVB bulb and a 6500k grow bulb. I don't use a basking lamp at all and I set the height of the UVB bulb such that I get a reading of 2 on my solarmeter UVI meter. I run that fixture 12 hours a day. The babies will occasionally bask under the fluorescent lights. The baby enclosures get up to about 92f during the day and I let them drop to 70f at night. RH is around 85% during the heat of the day and 100% over night.

I have never used a basking lamp in with radiata babies. Check out my care sheet on radiata - I go into more detail there:

 

Dimitry

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I do not use CHE's for heat as I have my enclosures in a radiant heated room so I can't speak to that too much other than to guess that the RH directly under the CHE's (where your tortoise might like to hang out) is considerably lower than the 70 to 90% you mention above. In my hatchling enclosures, I run a dual bulb fluorescent fixture with a reptisun 10.0 UVB bulb and a 6500k grow bulb. I don't use a basking lamp at all and I set the height of the UVB bulb such that I get a reading of 2 on my solarmeter UVI meter. I run that fixture 12 hours a day. The babies will occasionally bask under the fluorescent lights. The baby enclosures get up to about 92f during the day and I let them drop to 70f at night. RH is around 85% during the heat of the day and 100% over night.

I have never used a basking lamp in with radiata babies. Check out my care sheet on radiata - I go into more detail there:

Thanks for replying. Another question I'm a bit confused. I do have Arcadia Pro T5 desert species lamp 12% and led light for overall light in the enclosure. In the care sheet it's mentioned 2.5 to 3 UV index. But how many hours a day do you normally run your UV lamp? Another confusion for me is that back in Madagascar UV index is going up to 10+ , so by getting UV index so low for the hatchling in the enclosure is it any harm at all?
 

Dimitry

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I do not use CHE's for heat as I have my enclosures in a radiant heated room so I can't speak to that too much other than to guess that the RH directly under the CHE's (where your tortoise might like to hang out) is considerably lower than the 70 to 90% you mention above. In my hatchling enclosures, I run a dual bulb fluorescent fixture with a reptisun 10.0 UVB bulb and a 6500k grow bulb. I don't use a basking lamp at all and I set the height of the UVB bulb such that I get a reading of 2 on my solarmeter UVI meter. I run that fixture 12 hours a day. The babies will occasionally bask under the fluorescent lights. The baby enclosures get up to about 92f during the day and I let them drop to 70f at night. RH is around 85% during the heat of the day and 100% over night.

I have never used a basking lamp in with radiata babies. Check out my care sheet on radiata - I go into more detail there:

I'm keeping RH up by automatic spraying system. Humidity sensor is located just between two CHE. So enclosure is sprayed every 1 hour interval. Just a bit afraid of not creating too much dump in the enclosure
 

Tom

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Thanks for replying. Another question I'm a bit confused. I do have Arcadia Pro T5 desert species lamp 12% and led light for overall light in the enclosure. In the care sheet it's mentioned 2.5 to 3 UV index. But how many hours a day do you normally run your UV lamp? Another confusion for me is that back in Madagascar UV index is going up to 10+ , so by getting UV index so low for the hatchling in the enclosure is it any harm at all?
Sterant is using different bulbs and doing it a different way. His system works. To do it his way, which is highly recommended, you'd need to buy different equipment.

With a lower UVI reading, you need to run the bulbs longer, and since these are the only bulbs used in the enclosure when doing it this way, they need to run all day.

Humidity should be maintained by using a closed chamber enclosure. Misters and humidifiers do not work and are not necessary. Trying to maintain heat and humidity in an open topped enclosure is like trying to heat your house in winter with no roof. It doesn't work, unless you heat and humidify the entire room, which is what is suggested in the care sheet. If you can't do that, then you need a closed chamber.
 

Dimitry

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Sterant is using different bulbs and doing it a different way. His system works. To do it his way, which is highly recommended, you'd need to buy different equipment.

With a lower UVI reading, you need to run the bulbs longer, and since these are the only bulbs used in the enclosure when doing it this way, they need to run all day.

Humidity should be maintained by using a closed chamber enclosure. Misters and humidifiers do not work and are not necessary. Trying to maintain heat and humidity in an open topped enclosure is like trying to heat your house in winter with no roof. It doesn't work, unless you heat and humidify the entire room, which is what is suggested in the care sheet. If you can't do that, then you need a closed chamber.
Tom thanks for explanation. It's really hard to figure what's a perfect set-up of enclosure. The previous owner of my radiated tortoise recommended me Arcadia T5 12%, if I knew in advance I'll probably buy a 6% which gives milder UV index of 2.5 only at 50cm height. Also I'm already using an enclosed chamber for my radiata to keep humidity high throughout day and night. Do you personally run same low UVI reading for your hatchling as well?
 

Tom

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Tom thanks for explanation. It's really hard to figure what's a perfect set-up of enclosure. The previous owner of my radiated tortoise recommended me Arcadia T5 12%, if I knew in advance I'll probably buy a 6% which gives milder UV index of 2.5 only at 50cm height. Also I'm already using an enclosed chamber for my radiata to keep humidity high throughout day and night. Do you personally run same low UVI reading for your hatchling as well?
The Arcadia bulbs are fantastic! That is just not what Sterant is using in his tried and true set up. I have never done it exactly the way he does it, but I KNOW that his way works very well and produces excellent results, because I've seen it.

I am continually learning and experimenting with different ways of using indoor UV. I've learned a lot from @Markw84 and @zovick recently introduced a new concept for me to try out as well. In general, babies in the wild hide a lot and are not exposed to high levels of UV all day long. Having said that, our captive enclosures are not the wild, and we need to ensure that we are meeting ALL of their needs regardless of our thoughts and theories about the wild. In practice, I have never seen a case of MBD in a tortoise with any HO bulb at any UVI reading for any daily duration. In other words, EVERY strategy seems to work with these bulbs. High levels, low levels, long daily duration, short daily duration... It all works to meet their UV needs from what I have seen. The only cases of MBD in tortoises that I have ever seen were neglected tortoises in tiny indoor enclosures with no UV at all, and fed a diet of lettuce with no supplementation. Even in this horrendous terrible situation, it takes many months, and sometimes years, for MBD to develop. In short, from where I am sitting, it seems that a wide variety of UV strategies all work, and it is not difficult to meet the UV needs of a tortoise.

I also think this will vary a lot by species. A black Galapagos tortoise living in a cool climate (yes it is cool where they live) and basking under the equatorial sun all day will need much more UV and for a longer duration than a crepuscular Burmese star tortoise that hides in the deep undergrowth and is most active in the late afternoon when UV levels are very low or gone for the day, or a tan colored sulcata that spends almost all of every day underground hiding from the scorching African sun. Most of the pics that I have seen of radiata in the wild have been in dappled shade under a canopy of trees. Their cryptic coloration and pattern is also meant for camouflage in dappled sun. I do not think their UV needs are as high as some species, but I also don't think the a level of 2-3 UVI all day long will hurt them, as long as they also have "shady" spots available.

I choose to run my UV bulbs only for a few hours mid day to simulate what happens outside. I rely on LEDs for light, along with basking bulbs for most species, to provide bright "sunny" light all day long when the UV tubes are off. This has worked for me with my species, but I do NOT have the experience with radiata that Sterant or Zovick have. I'm not even in the same league as either of them when it comes to hatching and raising baby radiata. I am but a private in boot camp, while they are true battle tested generals when it comes to radiata. We call Zovick "The Godfather" for a good reason, and he is who mentored Sterant so many years ago.You are in good hands with either of them.

If you are using a closed chamber with the lights inside, you should to never need to mist the substrate. If things are drying out, you have too much ventilation. If things are not drying out, then regular misting will soon make it too wet.
 

Dimitry

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The Arcadia bulbs are fantastic! That is just not what Sterant is using in his tried and true set up. I have never done it exactly the way he does it, but I KNOW that his way works very well and produces excellent results, because I've seen it.

I am continually learning and experimenting with different ways of using indoor UV. I've learned a lot from @Markw84 and @zovick recently introduced a new concept for me to try out as well. In general, babies in the wild hide a lot and are not exposed to high levels of UV all day long. Having said that, our captive enclosures are not the wild, and we need to ensure that we are meeting ALL of their needs regardless of our thoughts and theories about the wild. In practice, I have never seen a case of MBD in a tortoise with any HO bulb at any UVI reading for any daily duration. In other words, EVERY strategy seems to work with these bulbs. High levels, low levels, long daily duration, short daily duration... It all works to meet their UV needs from what I have seen. The only cases of MBD in tortoises that I have ever seen were neglected tortoises in tiny indoor enclosures with no UV at all, and fed a diet of lettuce with no supplementation. Even in this horrendous terrible situation, it takes many months, and sometimes years, for MBD to develop. In short, from where I am sitting, it seems that a wide variety of UV strategies all work, and it is not difficult to meet the UV needs of a tortoise.

I also think this will vary a lot by species. A black Galapagos tortoise living in a cool climate (yes it is cool where they live) and basking under the equatorial sun all day will need much more UV and for a longer duration than a crepuscular Burmese star tortoise that hides in the deep undergrowth and is most active in the late afternoon when UV levels are very low or gone for the day, or a tan colored sulcata that spends almost all of every day underground hiding from the scorching African sun. Most of the pics that I have seen of radiata in the wild have been in dappled shade under a canopy of trees. Their cryptic coloration and pattern is also meant for camouflage in dappled sun. I do not think their UV needs are as high as some species, but I also don't think the a level of 2-3 UVI all day long will hurt them, as long as they also have "shady" spots available.

I choose to run my UV bulbs only for a few hours mid day to simulate what happens outside. I rely on LEDs for light, along with basking bulbs for most species, to provide bright "sunny" light all day long when the UV tubes are off. This has worked for me with my species, but I do NOT have the experience with radiata that Sterant or Zovick have. I'm not even in the same league as either of them when it comes to hatching and raising baby radiata. I am but a private in boot camp, while they are true battle tested generals when it comes to radiata. We call Zovick "The Godfather" for a good reason, and he is who mentored Sterant so many years ago.You are in good hands with either of them.

If you are using a closed chamber with the lights inside, you should to never need to mist the substrate. If things are drying out, you have too much ventilation. If things are not drying out, then regular misting will soon make it too wet.
Tom thanks for detailed replies. I'll stick to the idea you've mentioned originally. I've increased the height of the lamp to 45 CM above the ground and put in on timer for 7 hours a day only. I'm planning to buy a solarmeter as well to figure out what are the levels of UV I do actually have. Another question I'm interested is how quick are radiatas growing based on your experience? Will it be enough for my tortoise the size of the enclosure I have for another few years? (The enclosure I'm using is 140 CM length by 60 cm width).
 

Tom

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Tom thanks for detailed replies. I'll stick to the idea you've mentioned originally. I've increased the height of the lamp to 45 CM above the ground and put in on timer for 7 hours a day only. I'm planning to buy a solarmeter as well to figure out what are the levels of UV I do actually have. Another question I'm interested is how quick are radiatas growing based on your experience? Will it be enough for my tortoise the size of the enclosure I have for another few years? (The enclosure I'm using is 140 CM length by 60 cm width).
There are many factors that determine growth rate. 140x60cm will only last a few months. That is an okay size to start a little hatching, but if all goes well, your tortoise will quickly outgrow it.
 

zovick

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Tom thanks for detailed replies. I'll stick to the idea you've mentioned originally. I've increased the height of the lamp to 45 CM above the ground and put in on timer for 7 hours a day only. I'm planning to buy a solarmeter as well to figure out what are the levels of UV I do actually have. Another question I'm interested is how quick are radiatas growing based on your experience? Will it be enough for my tortoise the size of the enclosure I have for another few years? (The enclosure I'm using is 140 CM length by 60 cm width).
With proper care, baby Radiated Tortoises will reach 3" to 4" in one year, about 6" to 7" in two years, and about 8" to 9" in three years. The photos below show young Radiateds from my collection at one, two, and three years of age.

Aged Group Side.jpg Aged Group.jpg
 

Dimitry

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There are many factors that determine growth rate. 140x60cm will only last a few months. That is an okay size to start a little hatching, but if all goes well, your tortoise will quickly outgrow it.
I'll consider a bigger enclosure in a recent year or two. Also I have a small pyramiding with my radiata and already applied higher humidity policies to stop it. I've read on the forum information that extra Virgin Coconut oil might also help to halt pyramiding. Tom, do you personally recommend use a Coconut oil? Another debatable subject is protein intake for the radiata. Previous owner recommended to feed my radiata with small half mice or half chicken heart once in the two weeks. Is it a correct recommendation?
 

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I'll consider a bigger enclosure in a recent year or two. Also I have a small pyramiding with my radiata and already applied higher humidity policies to stop it. I've read on the forum information that extra Virgin Coconut oil might also help to halt pyramiding. Tom, do you personally recommend use a Coconut oil? Another debatable subject is protein intake for the radiata. Previous owner recommended to feed my radiata with small half mice or half chicken heart once in the two weeks. Is it a correct recommendation?
Coconut oil should not be necessary, but a light coating once in a while does no harm. The way to prevent pyramiding in a young small growing animal is to use a large closed chamber with all the heating and lighting inside, and then don't use a bulb that will desiccate the carapace, like a spot bulb or a MVB. In the case of radiata, no heat lamp is necessary for basking, so there should be no carapace desiccation from any bulb.

I've never heard of giving meat protein to a radiata. The only way to give you a definitive answer would be to try it both ways, with multiple clutchmates, over several years, keeping all other variables the same, and then compare and contrast the results. I know of no one who has done this. I certainly have not. I can tell you that it is absolutely NOT necessary. I cannot tell you if it is beneficial or harmful for radiata. @zovick or @Sterant might have insight into this question.

I know of a situation where a breeder was told to give some occasional dog food to his hatchling tortoises of a different species 25-30 years ago, and the results of that were very bad. He keeps those disfigured animals around and points this out to visitors. Those tortoises are loved and well cared for, but that damage cannot be undone. That example plants a firm "NO" in my mind about giving meat protein to anything other than C. carbonaria or Indotestudo sp. when it comes to tortoises.

I use occasional small amounts of clover, fresh grown alfalfa, soaked alfalfa horse pellets, broad or narrow leaf plantain, Mazuri, and other such things to get protein into my tortoises. This has produced excellent results for me over many years with many species, including adult radiata.
 

zovick

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Coconut oil should not be necessary, but a light coating once in a while does no harm. The way to prevent pyramiding in a young small growing animal is to use a large closed chamber with all the heating and lighting inside, and then don't use a bulb that will desiccate the carapace, like a spot bulb or a MVB. In the case of radiata, no heat lamp is necessary for basking, so there should be no carapace desiccation from any bulb.

I've never heard of giving meat protein to a radiata. The only way to give you a definitive answer would be to try it both ways, with multiple clutchmates, over several years, keeping all other variables the same, and then compare and contrast the results. I know of no one who has done this. I certainly have not. I can tell you that it is absolutely NOT necessary. I cannot tell you if it is beneficial or harmful for radiata. @zovick or @Sterant might have insight into this question.

I know of a situation where a breeder was told to give some occasional dog food to his hatchling tortoises of a different species 25-30 years ago, and the results of that were very bad. He keeps those disfigured animals around and points this out to visitors. Those tortoises are loved and well cared for, but that damage cannot be undone. That example plants a firm "NO" in my mind about giving meat protein to anything other than C. carbonaria or Indotestudo sp. when it comes to tortoises.

I use occasional small amounts of clover, fresh grown alfalfa, soaked alfalfa horse pellets, broad or narrow leaf plantain, Mazuri, and other such things to get protein into my tortoises. This has produced excellent results for me over many years with many species, including adult radiata.
Way back in the 70's and 80's when I was breeding snakes as well as tortoises, I used to offer my egg laying female Radiateds pinky mice about once a week or so during the egg producing season. Some of them ate the pinkies ravenously, others never touched one at all.

Whether it did them any good or not is unknown, since both those that ate the pinkies and those that did not each laid roughly the same number of fertile eggs per clutch (fertility was 95-100% as a rule).
 

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