Enclosure Review

Maxatron4000

New Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2023
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Tucson AZ
Hi All,
I've had my little dude for a month and got his enclosure to a state that I'm happy with but I would love you experts to look over it and tell me if I'm missing anything.

I started with this terrible 5 gallon glass enclosure and after reading Toms guide while looking for answers on lighting, I threw that thing out and made a new one.
The new enclosure is 21"-40" and made from old cabinet doors with the panels cut out and 3/8th plexi-glass placed in. The bottom is an old white board so I don't have to worry about anything rotting on the bottom. I ended up spending ~$100 for the plexi-glass and every thing else was scrap I had horded over the years
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Lighting and Heat:
I put water safe LEDs around the edge of the plexi-glass for ambient light and used a sconce to install a 100W incandescent bulb to give heat for the day. A UVB bulb is installed right next to the incandescent light and its switched on automatically between noon and 2pm (Should this be more?)
For heat I used a dimmer to reduce the output from the incandescent bulb to 100 degrees and pointed it at a rock for basking. The incandescent bulb is enough to keep the enclosure at 80-90 degrees all day but for at night I have 2 24W Reptile heating pads placed under the substrate which are controlled by a thermostat. These turned out not to be enough heat for the winter nights so I just added a Radiant Heat Panel on the lid which is more than enough for the job.
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For the substrate I was able to find Orchid Bark locally and I love the look and smell but I didn't think to bake and sterilize it so after a couple weeks I started seeing some springtails? and other tiny bugs in the water dish. I ordered some Isopods and while I haven't noticed the isopods since I added them I also haven't seen the buggies in the water anymore. Anther thing that I think helped with bugs is I switched from a terracotta water dish to a ceramic one; this way water isn't accumulating under the dish. The ceramic dish is only 0.5" deep so my tort has no problem getting in and out.
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I consciously put the heat lamp on one side of the enclosure so I could have a warm and a cool side of the enclosure. There is a ravine separating the two zones and a bridge connecting them; this gives a nice little track for my dude to run. I cut a terracotta pot for a humid hide and I pour water onto of this daily; I'm happy with this but after TeamZissou posted his humid hide, I think I'm going to make one of those now. I have had no trouble keeping the enclosure at 80%+ humidity even with my lid spaced so fresh air circulates through. I used anti fog films to help with visibility and while not perfect they defiantly help.
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For food I feed him greens from the supermarket at the moment, though I'm working on a garden for next year. One leaf of collared greens, dandelion greens or red leaf lettuce given twice a day. He always has a little on his plate so this seems like the right amount for now. I add a calcium supplement around twice a week.

I shoot for giving him a soak every day but honestly is more like 3x a week. I figure with the constant 80%+ humidity this is fine; am I correct?

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What do you think? Does this cover everything I need for him? Is there anything I should add or remove? Is there anything you would change ascetically or functionally?
Thanks everyone for being so supportive as I embark on this life long friendship.
 

wellington

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Do not use the heat pads. He could burrow down and get burned. They warm themselves from the sun/lights, not from below. I would also remove that rock that is on top of the others like a ceiling. He can easily knock them and get squished.
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Joined
Aug 21, 2023
Messages
884
Location (City and/or State)
Cyprus
Hello!
Thank you for taking time and describing everything in details!
The new enclosure is definitely a way ahead of the old one. I like the idea with a sconce and a dimmer the basking area.

My 20 cents on the enclosure:
1. Don't forget to turn off the heat mats :)
2. Thermometer/hygrometer and thermostat probes should be placed near tortoise shell level - that's where we need to get the readings and control the temperature.
3. UVB lamp should be on for 3-4 hours a day (2 hours might be enough, but more gives confidence that he's got his UV even when lamp UV levels start to fade).
4. You might add a spider plant or two on the warm side to give him an option to bask and hide at the same time. Pots can be hung from the top or fixed to the wall to save space in the enclosure.

Other things:
1.With store-bought greens make sense to add ZooMed Grassland or Mazuri pellets into ration (like with calcium - twice a week). And a bit more variety won't hurt either - e.g. hibiscus/mulberry/grape leaves, opuntia pads.
2. Even with high humidity it's better not skip soakings when he's a baby. It's helps him to stay hydrated (many drink water when soaking).
3. You may start a log of his weight/size (weekly or monthly measurements) to watch the trend of growth.

So far, from my inexperienced point of view, everything is done really well and you are on a right track!
 

Maxatron4000

New Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2023
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Tucson AZ
Do not use the heat pads. He could burrow down and get burned. They warm themselves from the sun/lights, not from below. I would also remove that rock that is on top of the others like a ceiling. He can easily knock them and get squished.
As he gets older and starts burrowing more I'll defiantly remove them but at the moment the orchid bark is a little to big for him to push around. I measured the bark around the heaters and nothing was getting too hot, perhaps because the with the big bark there's pathways for air to vent through.
The rock is secure now but as he gets older he'll certainly outgrow it, as it stands he likes using the bridge as a hide so I'll keep a close eye and see if he's gotten big enough to push those rocks around.
 
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