Ceramic Heat Emitters vs. Heat Panels

Tom

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Tom and Rocco's mom (or dad?),

Thanks for this thread! So Shelly is a 40 lb sulcata female, who will live outside in Las Vegas NV. I have a 4'x6' x 3' tall in back 2' tall in front, timber with 1 1/2" foam lined walls & lined pitched tin roof "hide", in mind to build. How does this sound? 80 watt roof mounted RHP... I'm thinking. Thanks - Vince View attachment 350436
I'd go shorter inside. Even a large Sulcatas is only 16 inches tall at rest. Heat rises, so to get the air at the bottom 16 inches warm enough, the air in those top 20 inches, where the tortoise isn't sitting, will have to be heated even more. My boxes are about 20 Inches tall inside. Plenty of room for a large 100+ pound male to stand and walk in, but not so tall that I'm heating a bunch of air way above the tortoise.

A RHP by itself is not enough heat. You need the combo of a RHP and a Kane mat underneath. This is enough heat for a box with internal dimensions of 39x39x21 inches on winter nights that drop below freezing. Your box will be significantly larger inside. It gets pretty cold in Vegas on those winter nights, so you might need even more heat. Your thermometer will tell you. I'd run a mini radiant oil heater in something that size. Or you could run all three. Use the Kane mat and RHP on a thermostat set to the mid 80s in winter, and use a second thermostat set to the low 80s, for the radiant oil heater. Redundant safety. Be sure all cords and thermostats can handle the wattage.

 

GreatWest

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I'd go shorter inside. Even a large Sulcatas is only 16 inches tall at rest. Heat rises, so to get the air at the bottom 16 inches warm enough, the air in those top 20 inches, where the tortoise isn't sitting, will have to be heated even more. My boxes are about 20 Inches tall inside. Plenty of room for a large 100+ pound male to stand and walk in, but not so tall that I'm heating a bunch of air way above the tortoise.

A RHP by itself is not enough heat. You need the combo of a RHP and a Kane mat underneath. This is enough heat for a box with internal dimensions of 39x39x21 inches on winter nights that drop below freezing. Your box will be significantly larger inside. It gets pretty cold in Vegas on those winter nights, so you might need even more heat. Your thermometer will tell you. I'd run a mini radiant oil heater in something that size. Or you could run all three. Use the Kane mat and RHP on a thermostat set to the mid 80s in winter, and use a second thermostat set to the low 80s, for the radiant oil heater. Redundant safety. Be sure all cords and thermostats can handle the wattage.

Thanks Tom! So I'll go shorter. 20" front, 24" rear. Is Door opening to be 24"wide x18" tall enough? I have an oil filled radiant heater that is 23" inches tall without the wheels, so ill use that and the RHP probably. How close do you put yours to the wood & foam ( ill cover foam with 1/8"masonite i have) of the hide? I'm keeping the floor dirt and the Roof will lift up for access. Are coyotes a threat? do i have to close the door on Shelly every night like the chickens? Thanks again for your tips & posts, this is exactly the critical advise I need as an apprentice tortoise dad from a Journeyman such as your self . Sue n Vince in Vegas.
 

Tom

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Thanks Tom! So I'll go shorter. 20" front, 24" rear. Is Door opening to be 24"wide x18" tall enough? I have an oil filled radiant heater that is 23" inches tall without the wheels, so ill use that and the RHP probably. How close do you put yours to the wood & foam ( ill cover foam with 1/8"masonite i have) of the hide? I'm keeping the floor dirt and the Roof will lift up for access. Are coyotes a threat? do i have to close the door on Shelly every night like the chickens? Thanks again for your tips & posts, this is exactly the critical advise I need as an apprentice tortoise dad from a Journeyman such as your self . Sue n Vince in Vegas.
I would not want a radiant oil heater 1 inch from a wooden ceiling. That is too close. You need a mini radiant oil heater, not a full size. These can be found at Walmart.com or on Amazon for about $35.

A good door size for sulcata is 16 tall by 26 wide. Then make a plywood piece that is about 18x28 that covers the door hole. Cut out a hole a little bigger than your tortoise, and enlarge that hole as the tortoise grows until you eventually just remove the insert and use the full door.

You need an insulated floor, or this will never work. The ground is a huge heat sink and it will suck out all your heat. Some dirt on the wooden floor is great and make clean up much easier. Dirt floors also don't work because your tortoise will dig to China, and fill the entire box top to bottom with the dirt from its tunnel... Ask me how I know this... Retrofitting a box with an insulated floor after the fact, is not fun or easy. You are welcome to ask me how I know that too, but you probably already know the answer. :)

Coyotes should not be a threat because your tortoise will be closed up inside its box every night, or down in its burrow at night in summer.
 

GreatWest

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I would not want a radiant oil heater 1 inch from a wooden ceiling. That is too close. You need a mini radiant oil heater, not a full size. These can be found at Walmart.com or on Amazon for about $35.

A good door size for sulcata is 16 tall by 26 wide. Then make a plywood piece that is about 18x28 that covers the door hole. Cut out a hole a little bigger than your tortoise, and enlarge that hole as the tortoise grows until you eventually just remove the insert and use the full door.

You need an insulated floor, or this will never work. The ground is a huge heat sink and it will suck out all your heat. Some dirt on the wooden floor is great and make clean up much easier. Dirt floors also don't work because your tortoise will dig to China, and fill the entire box top to bottom with the dirt from its tunnel... Ask me how I know this... Retrofitting a box with an insulated floor after the fact, is not fun or easy. You are welcome to ask me how I know that too, but you probably already know the answer. :)

Coyotes should not be a threat because your tortoise will be closed up inside its box every night, or down in its burrow at night in summer.
Tom,
Ok. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom! I'll go with an insulated floor and a "Kane' and OHP. About the door.. so I'm closing Shelly up at night like the chickens except I thought they had a night time mode too? And it sounds like she will borrow somewhere else for daytime respite. She already is digging where we fostered a male for a friend who started a tunnel (?).
Food -She can reach the grass hay bales, has fescue turf and gets treats. Is there a possibility of her getting obese? She is always on the move and pretty fast. One other thing. She can see out the perforated gate screen and try's to get out , so I was going to add solid sheet for the bottom 18" to mitigate her wanderlust. Sound about right?
Thanks Again,

Sue n Vince
 

Tom

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Tom,
Ok. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom! I'll go with an insulated floor and a "Kane' and OHP. About the door.. so I'm closing Shelly up at night like the chickens except I thought they had a night time mode too? And it sounds like she will borrow somewhere else for daytime respite. She already is digging where we fostered a male for a friend who started a tunnel (?).
Food -She can reach the grass hay bales, has fescue turf and gets treats. Is there a possibility of her getting obese? She is always on the move and pretty fast. One other thing. She can see out the perforated gate screen and try's to get out , so I was going to add solid sheet for the bottom 18" to mitigate her wanderlust. Sound about right?
Thanks Again,

Sue n Vince
They should only be allowed to burrow during the time of year when daytime highs are 90s or higher, and night time lows are staying 60s or higher. With those temps, the ground temperatures where the tortoise is in its burrow over night will stay close to 80, which is where you want it. This time of year, when days get shorter and day and night temps start getting lower, I would not let them start a burrow. Just fill it back in and cover that area with a sheet of plywood.

Night time mode? Sulcatas do not need or benefit from a night time cool down like a Desert tortoise or a testudo does. They need it warm day ad night.

She will not get obese eating hay, grass and weeds while motoring about in a large enclosure. Obesity in sulcatas is almost unheard of. I say "almost", but in all my years I have never seen one single case of it.

You definitely want a visual barrier around the bottom of the entire enclosure ASAP. Many people have tried to not do this, and it ends up injuring and disfiguring their tortoise.

You are really covering all the bases and doing a great job here. You asking these questions here on the forum is probably helping other people reading too. Thanks for the conversation and keep it coming. :)
 

GreatWest

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They should only be allowed to burrow during the time of year when daytime highs are 90s or higher, and night time lows are staying 60s or higher. With those temps, the ground temperatures where the tortoise is in its burrow over night will stay close to 80, which is where you want it. This time of year, when days get shorter and day and night temps start getting lower, I would not let them start a burrow. Just fill it back in and cover that area with a sheet of plywood.

Night time mode? Sulcatas do not need or benefit from a night time cool down like a Desert tortoise or a testudo does. They need it warm day ad night.

She will not get obese eating hay, grass and weeds while motoring about in a large enclosure. Obesity in sulcatas is almost unheard of. I say "almost", but in all my years I have never seen one single case of it.

You definitely want a visual barrier around the bottom of the entire enclosure ASAP. Many people have tried to not do this, and it ends up injuring and disfiguring their tortoise.

You are really covering all the bases and doing a great job here. You asking these questions here on the forum is probably helping other people reading too. Thanks for the conversation and keep it coming. :)
Tom Thanks for the encouragement. I know i'll have more questions & appreciate you taking the time. The floor - I'll go 4x4 treated frame, w 3/4 ply floor, 1 1/2 foam under floor with masonite over that. the masonite should be 1 1/2 above the dirt then. What litter you like over the plywood? I was thinking washed play sand but heard that is bad? Thanks again. Vince
 

Tom

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Tom Thanks for the encouragement. I know i'll have more questions & appreciate you taking the time. The floor - I'll go 4x4 treated frame, w 3/4 ply floor, 1 1/2 foam under floor with masonite over that. the masonite should be 1 1/2 above the dirt then. What litter you like over the plywood? I was thinking washed play sand but heard that is bad? Thanks again. Vince
I just use a thin layer of the native dirt on the bottom of the boxes. This makes clean up really easy with a flat head shovel.
 

Tom

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I am firmly on the CHE side. I hate panels.
CHEs are fine for smaller species indoors, and when controlled by a thermostat. They are not suitable or effective for larger tortoises in outdoor housing and will damage the carapace over time.

I don't know why anyone would hate panels, but okay...
 
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