Building a new tortoise table for my hermann

DwardHermannOwner

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Jun 9, 2024
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Hi Everyone, I joined the forum a few weeks ago and I have to say the amount of information I amazing.

I am I need of help, I live in the UK so I would be so glad to have help from other people in the UK who have experience. I recently got my little testudo tortoise who was hatched in 2021, at the time I had set up a vivarium however I want him to have more space and am now thinking of building a tortoise table. I’m finding the two story tables particularly lovely and wanted to go with something like that so he has a ramp for extra room.

The help I wanted was based on materials for that table, what to build it out of, is it best to varnish the wood or coat the whole inside with pond liner, the best substrate (up to now I have been using the Prorep Mediterranean, but I hate it and I don’t think it‘s great for digging and hate the amount of dust it creates). I envy the fact that we don’t have a Homedepo but I‘d be grateful for any advice that can be given.
 

Raquel1978

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Hi Everyone, I joined the forum a few weeks ago and I have to say the amount of information I amazing.

I am I need of help, I live in the UK so I would be so glad to have help from other people in the UK who have experience. I recently got my little testudo tortoise who was hatched in 2021, at the time I had set up a vivarium however I want him to have more space and am now thinking of building a tortoise table. I’m finding the two story tables particularly lovely and wanted to go with something like that so he has a ramp for extra room.

The help I wanted was based on materials for that table, what to build it out of, is it best to varnish the wood or coat the whole inside with pond liner, the best substrate (up to now I have been using the Prorep Mediterranean, but I hate it and I don’t think it‘s great for digging and hate the amount of dust it creates). I envy the fact that we don’t have a Homedepo but I‘d be grateful for any advice that can be given.
 

Raquel1978

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49
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Hi I like in UK (Wales).. I have 2 Herman's both have their own separate enclosure we used old bookcases and wardrobes we put a few together to give them both a very large space.

We used pond lining to line it or a shower curtain will do the same job,, we also built ramps and a nice large house in their and designed it in a way that makes it interesting for them. If you need ideas have a look on here and it should help you with set ups.

I struggled to find a decent substrate but I finally found forest floor which is also known as Cyprus mulch from amazon and they seem to be both doing great with it.. I slightly damp the first layer then add another layer on top.
We don't have the best weather in UK but I've started work on a nice outdoor enclosure that hopefully they can use for a couple of hours a day when the weather improves..
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Hi I like in UK (Wales).. I have 2 Herman's both have their own separate enclosure we used old bookcases and wardrobes we put a few together to give them both a very large space.

We used pond lining to line it or a shower curtain will do the same job,, we also built ramps and a nice large house in their and designed it in a way that makes it interesting for them. If you need ideas have a look on here and it should help you with set ups.

I struggled to find a decent substrate but I finally found forest floor which is also known as Cyprus mulch from amazon and they seem to be both doing great with it.. I slightly damp the first layer then add another layer on top.
We don't have the best weather in UK but I've started work on a nice outdoor enclosure that hopefully they can use for a couple of hours a day when the weather improves..
This is a very good way to build an enclosure! Perhaps op could build their own out of some safe timber wood to go as big as they can or built in a way that can be expanded in the future, lined with pond liner, we use that in our set up👍
As for the substrate, forest floor will work or orchid bark, like you say, want be aiming for a damper layer underneath and a dryer layer on top, you can mix the substrate now n then to stop that top layer getting a little too dry(you never want dusty substrate) to maintain a damper layer underneath, simply pour some lukewarm water into the corners of the substrate, not loads but enough to dampen underneath, just check the substrate&monitors to do pours as and when needed🙂
 

DwardHermannOwner

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Hi, thank you for the replies. It’s been a big help. The current light I’m using is a red heat bulb and after doing some searching it seems that these types of bulbs may not be the best so I wanted to get everyone’s opinions on the best bulbs, humidity, etc.
sorry I know it’s a lot of questions but it seems like everything that was originally sold in the set up isn’t exactly what’s best for them. I also got told that the humidity should be about 70% but I’m not sure if that is correct.
Thanks so much for the replies above, I’m looking into a substrate. Can anyone also recommend a safe wood treatment that I can buy in the UK?
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Hi, thank you for the replies. It’s been a big help. The current light I’m using is a red heat bulb and after doing some searching it seems that these types of bulbs may not be the best so I wanted to get everyone’s opinions on the best bulbs, humidity, etc.
sorry I know it’s a lot of questions but it seems like everything that was originally sold in the set up isn’t exactly what’s best for them. I also got told that the humidity should be about 70% but I’m not sure if that is correct.
Thanks so much for the replies above, I’m looking into a substrate. Can anyone also recommend a safe wood treatment that I can buy in the UK?
Hello!
There are several types of lamps for the enclosure (each serves its own purpose):
1. Ambient and nighttime heating: ceramic heat emitter (or two or more, depending on enclosure size) + a thermostat. It's to maintain minimal temperature in the enclosure over 60-65F.
2. Basking area heat lamp: flood type incandescent lamp. Provides visible light and heat over basking zone. Used on 12 hr timer. For example, Arcadia Solar Basking Floodlight
3. UVB lamp: provides essential UVB over basking zone for vitamin D3 synthesis. Best lamps for this are T5 fluorescent tubes. For example, Arcadia ProT5 Desert 12% or ZooMed Reptisun T5 10.0
4. Ambient lightning - adds brightness all over the enclosure. Common LED strips, bars or bulbs with color temperature of 6500K are good for this.

For adults you don't need any special tricks, they will do fine with room humidity if some opportunities for burrowing and a "humid hide" are provided.

For younger tortoises (going through active growth) you can aim for a gradient from 50-60% to 70-80%. This naturally happens with correct temperature gradient and damp substrate in "closed chamber" enclosures.
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Hi, thank you for the replies. It’s been a big help. The current light I’m using is a red heat bulb and after doing some searching it seems that these types of bulbs may not be the best so I wanted to get everyone’s opinions on the best bulbs, humidity, etc.
sorry I know it’s a lot of questions but it seems like everything that was originally sold in the set up isn’t exactly what’s best for them. I also got told that the humidity should be about 70% but I’m not sure if that is correct.
Thanks so much for the replies above, I’m looking into a substrate. Can anyone also recommend a safe wood treatment that I can buy in the UK?
Yes definitely switch out those red bulbs for all the ones Alex suggested, here of some photos of the examples he provided for what you’re going to need👍
The CHEs need to be on a thermostat with the probe in the coolest end🙂
 

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DwardHermannOwner

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That’s great thank you for the light recommendation and the pictures, it’s a big help to know exactly what type I need now. I’ve been looking for fittings for them that would clamp onto the sides but I’m finding it tricky because some of them have quite bad reviews. I thought something like the clamp one would be good but I’m not to sure about buying it as some of the replies weren’t great.
For the flood light/heat. I’m thinking the best fitting for that would be a ceramic bracket but then I would probably have to get an adjustable stand would probably work best?
 

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DwardHermannOwner

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Sorry a thousand and one questions I know but I’d rather get it all right the first time and appreciate all the replies
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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That’s great thank you for the light recommendation and the pictures, it’s a big help to know exactly what type I need now. I’ve been looking for fittings for them that would clamp onto the sides but I’m finding it tricky because some of them have quite bad reviews. I thought something like the clamp one would be good but I’m not to sure about buying it as some of the replies weren’t great.
For the flood light/heat. I’m thinking the best fitting for that would be a ceramic bracket but then I would probably have to get an adjustable stand would probably work best?
Hello!
Avoid using clamps if possible. Sooner or later it will fall if the clamp is not fixed. Also, you can only adjust lamp angle, not height and that's not what you need with basking lamps and heaters.

Ceramic brackets are usually used in vivariums and some of them can't be disassembled to add a lamp shade.

This leaves us with probably the best option:
1. Wide aluminium lamp domes (lampshades).
2. Either lamp stands or a simple wooden/PVC pipes frame to hang the domes. Frame is probably cheaper and more flexible as you can use it for UVB tube and all other equipment.
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Thank you for the replies it’s a big help, does the ceramic infrared heater also need a lampshade?
It works better this way. Ceramic heat emitters (CHE, for short) are not directed heat sources, so much of the heat is dissipated in the air. A wide lampshade helps to direct heat output below CHE and have a large enough area covered. In "vivarium style" enclosures a CHE without a lampshade can work too, yet I would opt for 2-3 less powerful heat sources in that case to ensure more even heating.
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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These are some examples of the stands people buy/make to fit the uv you need, just make sure it’s the right height for your enclosure🙂same with the floodlight, which I’ve also included a few examples of, there’s multiple ways you could go about it but maybe these will inspire an idea😊
 

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DwardHermannOwner

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Thank you for the replies I’m looking into all the equipment and wanted to get everything all set up and ready for my little Alexander before moving him in. I know that the arcadia heat/flood light will need the thermostat which I’ve attached a picture of the one I’m thinking of getting.
I wanted to ask as I don’t already have a CHE (could be a couple of dumb questions) does the CHE also need to be on a thermostat as only the 1st socket can be used for heat so I wanted to know if I have to get two.
Also the flood light I’m thinking of putting outside his warm hide, do I place the CHE close to that or more towards the middle of the table?
 

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Alex and the Redfoot

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Thank you for the replies I’m looking into all the equipment and wanted to get everything all set up and ready for my little Alexander before moving him in. I know that the arcadia heat/flood light will need the thermostat which I’ve attached a picture of the one I’m thinking of getting.
I wanted to ask as I don’t already have a CHE (could be a couple of dumb questions) does the CHE also need to be on a thermostat as only the 1st socket can be used for heat so I wanted to know if I have to get two.
Also the flood light I’m thinking of putting outside his warm hide, do I place the CHE close to that or more towards the middle of the table?
Hello!
Questions are always welcome!
1. Using a dimming thermostat with a basking bulb is not required. Perhaps, even better is not to use it: dimming changes lamp output spectre (more yellowish light, less infrared A) and blinking light is not good. Just set up lamp once (wattage and height) to get proper temperature and basking area size. After that you can tweak it a bit in cold/hot seasons.
2. CHE should be placed in the middle to make whole enclosure warmer. For larger enclosures (6x3 and more) 2 or 3 lower wattage CHEs (instead of one high wattage) may be preferred to provide more even heat distribution. Using a thermostat with CHEs is highly recommended. A simple on/off thermostat (like Habistat Classic, 600W) will work fine.
 

DwardHermannOwner

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Hello!
Questions are always welcome!
1. Using a dimming thermostat with a basking bulb is not required. Perhaps, even better is not to use it: dimming changes lamp output spectre (more yellowish light, less infrared A) and blinking light is not good. Just set up lamp once (wattage and height) to get proper temperature and basking area size. After that you can tweak it a bit in cold/hot seasons.
2. CHE should be placed in the middle to make whole enclosure warmer. For larger enclosures (6x3 and more) 2 or 3 lower wattage CHEs (instead of one high wattage) may be preferred to provide more even heat distribution. Using a thermostat with CHEs is highly recommended. A simple on/off thermostat (like Habistat Classic, 600W) will work fine.
Hi thank you for the message.
I’ve been looking into all of the above and had a couple of thoughts the thermostat I’m using at the moment is is like the one from my previous picture so it controls the heat for day to night temperature. So if I’m right in reading what you said above do I no longer need one for that or does it just stay on all the time or I turn it off ?
the light I’ve got at the moment is a red light so I wondered if changing to the flood it’s going to be on constantly.

I looked into the thermostat you said Habistat Classic. I’ve attached a picture because I’m thinking the one you mean is the middle one? So how long out of the day do you keep a CHE on for?
 

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Littleredfootbigredheart

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Hi thank you for the message.
I’ve been looking into all of the above and had a couple of thoughts the thermostat I’m using at the moment is is like the one from my previous picture so it controls the heat for day to night temperature. So if I’m right in reading what you said above do I no longer need one for that or does it just stay on all the time or I turn it off ?
the light I’ve got at the moment is a red light so I wondered if changing to the flood it’s going to be on constantly.

I looked into the thermostat you said Habistat Classic. I’ve attached a picture because I’m thinking the one you mean is the middle one? So how long out of the day do you keep a CHE on for?
For the new floodlight you’re installing, that won’t need to be on a thermostat, just check with a temperature gun to check how high it needs to be and put it on a 12hr timer🙂
The CHE needs to be on a thermostat at all times, you simply set the temperature you’re wanting for night and place the probe at the end of the cooler side, plug it in at the mains, and plug the CHE into it.
Its always plugged in and switched on at the mains, but the thermostat will only turn the CHE on when the temperature drops, or in the even the floodlight isn’t warming the cooler side enough in winter, it’ll help make up the heat, you just plug it in and let it do its thing😊
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Hi thank you for the message.
I’ve been looking into all of the above and had a couple of thoughts the thermostat I’m using at the moment is is like the one from my previous picture so it controls the heat for day to night temperature. So if I’m right in reading what you said above do I no longer need one for that or does it just stay on all the time or I turn it off ?
the light I’ve got at the moment is a red light so I wondered if changing to the flood it’s going to be on constantly.

I looked into the thermostat you said Habistat Classic. I’ve attached a picture because I’m thinking the one you mean is the middle one? So how long out of the day do you keep a CHE on for?
Hello! Littleredfootbigredheart explained how things should be set up. And yes, the second (white) thermostat is fine.

Don't worry if something's still unclear and ask questions.
 
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