Built a Tortoise Table... Decor?


New Member
5 Year Member
Jul 3, 2014
Location (City and/or State)
I'm adopting a Russian male soon (hopefully this week. first tortoise) and just I finished building my tortoise table. It's 6.5' x 3.5', a little smaller than the recommended 4' x 8' but he will spend a lot of the summer outside in a 4' x 8' so I am not too worried.

I'm not sure how to... decorate it? I read the Russian care sheet, looked at tons of pictures of tables built, but I still have a few questions that I am hoping you all can help me with, I attached pictures of my table.

1. Should I fill it with junk? More logs, rocks, etc. or leave it more open?

2. Should I worry about him flipping upside down on with the brick or any other junk I get? I read that my exterior walls need to be 8" above the substrate. The bricks are only 3.5" wide and 3" above the substrate since they are buried half an inch, if Russians can climb 6" walls than he could easily flip himself over on the brick or the logs...

3. If yes^ to brick concern, what are some better ways to break line of sight up for him.

4. Should I plant Testudo mix or weeds/grass for him to graze on? The table won't get much natural light.

4b. I've got a 4' Reptisun 10 UVB light (recommended by the care sheet), will that provide enough light to grow grazing food? If it doesn't, would there be any harm in hanging a more traditional 'grow light' alongside the UVB so I can grow grazing food for him? I am planning to plant Testudo mix and some weeds outside and under a grow light underneath his table so I can mix up his diet from grocery store greens, but it'd be nice to have something for him to graze on too.

4c. If I plant weeds, can I fertilize them? I used organic topsoil (not garden soil) in two of the boxes and sphagnum moss in three, neither of those seem ideal for plants...

4d. If I plant stuff, how do I change out the substrate every month?

5. Has anyone seen or figured out a decent way to automatically dispense clean water? Not as a permanent solution, but it would be nice to have some sort of running-water like fixture so I don't worry about him drinking poopy-water if I leave for a weekend and can't wash his dish for 24 hours. I am thinking about rigging some sort of running water contraption with a filter and a small pump... Something like a little stream that runs through his table, pass through a solids filter (or a couple of filters), empties into a bucket, and gets pumped back into the stream.

5b. Would he be ok with running (slowly) water, or do they definitely prefer standing water like a dish?




Tim Carlisle

Well-Known Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Nov 13, 2017
Location (City and/or State)
Cincinnati, OH
Certainly a neat-looking concept. Might be good to have a couple or few potted plants in there (no worries about changing the substrate if they are potted).

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