Enclosure Help Please!?

gilmanabc

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Dec 14, 2018
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Hi, SO I am getting my daughter a Russian Tortoise for Christmas. She has done research on them for the past year almost just waiting for one. I however have not so I am looking for help. I want to get the BASICS to get her started and we can build on it from there. I am going with a 50 gallon sterilite container I believe to start. I know I need the dishes and the hidey hut. What I am looking for is advice for lighting set ups and the exact bulbs needed that works for the container style set up. also any other helpful starter items people can give would be appreciated. I could ask her but then that would ruin the surprise ;) thank you!
 

Yvonne G

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Hi and welcome!

I don't think a 50 gallon would be big enough. When talking about plastic tubs, the 'gallons' refer to cubic space. What you want for a tortoise is floor space. So while your 50 gallon tote might hold 50 gallons of liquid, it probably doesn't have a very big floor space. See if you can find a Christmas Tree Storage Bin mfg'd by Iris. They're 4' long and will do in a pinch until you can get to building something bigger:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/IRIS-Holiday-Tree-Storage-Tote/48037028
 

gilmanabc

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Hi and welcome!

I don't think a 50 gallon would be big enough. When talking about plastic tubs, the 'gallons' refer to cubic space. What you want for a tortoise is floor space. So while your 50 gallon tote might hold 50 gallons of liquid, it probably doesn't have a very big floor space. See if you can find a Christmas Tree Storage Bin mfg'd by Iris. They're 4' long and will do in a pinch until you can get to building something bigger:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/IRIS-Holiday-Tree-Storage-Tote/48037028

thank you, everyone says something different which makes it hard to keep up. That one is out of stock, but your saying I am looking for something along the same length? Everyone I have talked to recommended the tote for the starter, anyone have some easy to find suggestions? planning on building a box setup in the spring but just looking to set up something in the meantime, Thank you!
 

drew54

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I think there are 2 types of 50 gallon tubs. One type is tall and not as long. The kind I have is 3x2x17.5" I have two of them. To be honest it won't last but a couple of months if that. My hatchling sulcata is already needing a larger space which I'm currently working on. The Christmas tree tote I believe is 4ft long and should be good for a few months or so also.
 

Yvonne G

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thank you, everyone says something different which makes it hard to keep up. That one is out of stock, but your saying I am looking for something along the same length? Everyone I have talked to recommended the tote for the starter, anyone have some easy to find suggestions? planning on building a box setup in the spring but just looking to set up something in the meantime, Thank you!
They'll be getting more in now that it's Christmas time. Keep watching for it.

"Everyone" you've talked to doesn't understand that even though the Russian is a small species, he needs a lot of room for wandering. They are hard-wired to wander great distances (because food is scarce where they come from). If you keep that Russian tortoise in a tote with a small floor space, he's going to dig and scratch at the corners, climb the walls and be terribly upset living in such small quarters.

Here are the dimensions of a 40 gallon plastic tote:

https://www.kmart.com/rubbermaid-40-gallon-tote/p-011W427700170001P

I think they have their length and width mixed up, but it's 37"x21"x18". That's 3' by not quite 2'. Way too small for a Russian tortoise. It would be like you having to live in your closet. Maybe if you buy 2 of them, cut out opposing ends and put them together, then you'd have 6' by 2'. Better, but still not big enough. But it would do until you can build something bigger.
 

drew54

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Meijer has those Christmas tree totes also pretty cheap. I'm not sure if it's 4 or 5 ft long though.
 

LaLaP

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Hi and welcome! About the lighting... incandescent flood lights from a hardware store are cheap and great for heat. For uvb you'll need a special fluorescent uvb reptile light. There is a company called Arcadia that makes bulbs that last longer and are stronger. You'll have a choice of lengths and of either T8 or T5. Also HO (high output) or standard output. Length will be determined by your enclosure size but more coverage is better. T5's are a skinnier bulb and are stronger but a bit more expensive. You can do either but you'll want to have the light closer to the tortoise if it's a T8. HO is a much much stronger light and can be raised higher and won't need to be on as long.
So in short the heat light is a simple flood light but you have some choices to make with the uvb. If you need more info and opinions look through the lighting section to see what others have done. Just make sure the light you get it a tube style fluorescent and not a coiled or bent type. Those cause eye issues even though they are marketed for reptiles.
Here are some great threads for getting started with a new tortoise...

https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/

https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/

Good luck and have fun! Ask any questions you might have also. We are here to help :)
 
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