First time owner, tortoise not eating

bigglesuk

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We got a Hermann tortoise on Christmas eve from a local exotic pet shop here in the UK. We have a 1.2m x 0.6m tortoise table for it. Since we brought it home in the afternoon it it's barely had anything to eat (some dandelion stems), but has been out walking about and basking a bit. It seems to like climbing on one of the logs, but isn't really going near any food.

The thermometer is buried at the bottom of the substrate and reads higher if the substrate is removed from on top of it, so believe it is the required 35 degrees Celsius, the humidity sensor isn't in the enclosure at present. We were supplied a "starter kit" with the lamp (Arcadia D3 Basking Lamp 80W) and various other bowls. I'm a bit worried the ambient temperature of the rest of the enclosure might not be warm enough as the room can be between 16-19 degrees Celsius, I've read the care sheet on the forum which makes me think our setup isn't quite right. I believe we need to bury the water bowl (and food bowl?) into the substrate rather than sitting on top.

Due to the Christmas holidays everywhere is closed, but really want to make sure the tortoise is okay. Any other suggestions about what to do with the tortoise table to make it more friendly/suitable greatly accepted.
 

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Tom

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Hello and welcome. Start with this thread. There is a care sheet for temperate tortoises (Hermanni are temperate) at the end of it all:

I can see in the pics that you have the wrong substrate and its far too dry. A ceramic heating element over the open area will help warm things up, but you are going to need a large vivarium in order to make this work with your cold room temps.
 

bigglesuk

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Hello and welcome. Start with this thread. There is a care sheet for temperate tortoises (Hermanni are temperate) at the end of it all:

I can see in the pics that you have the wrong substrate and its far too dry. A ceramic heating element over the open area will help warm things up, but you are going to need a large vivarium in order to make this work with your cold room temps.
Thanks for the quick response.

The substrate is HabiStat Tortoise Bedding that is recommended by local exotic pet shops. We can try and add some moisture to it (spray). Unless you don't think that is suitable? One of the local shops is open tomorrow so we can see what they have available re: ceramic heating elements.

Do you say a vivarium over a table in order to keep the temperature higher/stable? Reading online, I've read people stating they are a bad idea, so much conflicting information.

Right now the lamp is on 24x7, but also read that it shouldn't be on all the time? But as you say, with lower temperatures we'd need something else to keep heating the table?
 

vladimir

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Thanks for the quick response.

The substrate is HabiStat Tortoise Bedding that is recommended by local exotic pet shops. We can try and add some moisture to it (spray). Unless you don't think that is suitable? One of the local shops is open tomorrow so we can see what they have available re: ceramic heating elements.

Do you say a vivarium over a table in order to keep the temperature higher/stable? Reading online, I've read people stating they are a bad idea, so much conflicting information.

Right now the lamp is on 24x7, but also read that it shouldn't be on all the time? But as you say, with lower temperatures we'd need something else to keep heating the table?

Hello 👋

Tom will give you excellent advice for your tortoise to thrive. There's a lot of conflicting info out there, and it can be overwhelming, but you've found the right place 👍
 

Tom

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The substrate is HabiStat Tortoise Bedding that is recommended by local exotic pet shops.
Right. That is the wrong stuff, as explained in the thread I linked. Its made of sand and soil with limestone bits in it. Neither soil nor sand should be used as tortoise substrate, and encouraging a tortoise to satisfy its calcium craving by eating sandy substrate is a good way to kill it.

We can try and add some moisture to it (spray). Unless you don't think that is suitable?
Its not suitable in a wooden enclosure, and it won't be effective either with an open top.

One of the local shops is open tomorrow so we can see what they have available re: ceramic heating elements.
Its generally best to stay out of pet shops. You will get a lot of bad advice and the wrong products there, as you are learning first hand...

Do you say a vivarium over a table in order to keep the temperature higher/stable?
Yes.

Reading online, I've read people stating they are a bad idea, so much conflicting information.
This sentence makes it appear that you did not read the linked material. You are reading the wrong material, talking to the wrong pet shop employees, and "researching" in the wrong places if you want a healthy tortoise.

Right now the lamp is on 24x7, but also read that it shouldn't be on all the time? But as you say, with lower temperatures we'd need something else to keep heating the table?
It should not be daylight in the enclosure 24/7, but it does need to be warm in the enclosure at night. Click the link and read it. Lots of info on there including a heating and lighting breakdown, and a care sheet with the correct care info for your species. I've led you to water, but I can't make you drink.
 

LJL1982

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So in the UK your central heating should be keeping the temperature at around 18-20 overnight which is fine for your tortoise with no supplementary heating.

During the day a basking light should be able to maintain a temperature at a hot end of an enclosure of 35, with a cooler end at 22-23. 22 to 23 won't be far off your centrally heated temperature of your home so shouldn't be hard to achieve with your basking light on.

Are you bathing your tort regularly? Giving him a 20 min bath a day at child warm bath water will keep him moving and wanting to eat. Make sure the water stays hot for the whole 20 mins...a washing up bowl is fine, make it just deep enough to cover the first row of scutes on his shell.

The enclosure is far too small for any of the mediterranean species...the UK tortoise pet market loves these Amazon sourced type Chinese built tortoise tables and sell them on for more to make money in pet shops. You will quickly find your tort either going mad in it or becoming very lethargic at which point the shops wont want to know. An adult tortoise needs a minimum of 4ft x 8ft, however...if you only have the means you have, then at least up the humidity by changing the substrate (the UK pet market also loves to make tortoise "terrains" which are actually expensive ways to block up your tortoise...potentially fatally). If you go to pets at home, you will see an expensive and inappropriate bag of the same stuff as the habistat stuff... Ignore it and get a brick or two (I'd get two so you have a fluffy diggable base) of coco coir.

It's pretty much brick sized and next to the expensive tortoise terrain... Stick it in a washing up bowl and pour in a few pints of water...it fluffs up and can be squeezed out till a bit damp and fluffy. That's ideal. Your tort will love digging into it which promotes natural behaviour, and the bricks are £3.50 each. Make one and see how far it goes, then just spray it down with water every couple of days to keep it slightly damp. You need to make sure your temperatures are staying up enough though so tort isn't cold.

Try sowthistle, dandelion, and weed plantain...Google them, all in garden at moment. Worst case can resort to supplementing with kale, pak choi and lamb lettuce, as well as watercress and rocket from the shops.

What is his name and how old is he, he looks like he has a nice size on him. Also where UK are you based?
 
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bigglesuk

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Rule number one. Pet shops lie.

Read the FAQ Tom provided. It has no vested interest in selling you somethjng. It will answer all your questions…
Firstly, a big thanks to those replying, we really appreciate your time. I had read the link Tom posted but have re-read again in more detail. Just trying to work out what to do in the real short-term (next 24-48 hours), and also in the longer term.

Basking
Don't use the basking lamp we have, but swap out for a general flood bulb (doesn't need to be reptile). Have it on a timer for 12 hours a day. Though technically this isn't urgent as we have something that is working. Does anyone from the UK have any recommendation what to use? Just I know that it can be harder to get incandescent bulbs in the UK/Europe.

As for the basking temperature, can you clarify where that should be checked? We were also recommended to bury the thermometer prober under the substrate to monitor the basking lamp, however I'm not sure whether that was good advice or not. I've also read differing opinions on where the temperature should be checked. Some say at the floor, others say where the top of the shell would be.

UV
Use a T5, though wondering what size for a table/vivarium that is 1.2m wide? While only run for a few hours a day around the middle of the day?

Ambient light
Probably more for vivarium than table? Any LED strip, it's just lighting, not doing anything for the health of the tortoise

Ambient heat
Ceramic heating elements, would need to have enough to cover the table/vivarium but likely would need at least one of these alongside the basking lamp. This should really be controlled by a thermostat?

Monitoring
Need to get a thermometer for the cooler end of the table, while longer term look at having a solar monitor for the UV(?).

Housing
As for the housing itself, the tortoise table isn't suitable unless we can keep the ambient temparate up? Also, trying to work out whether or not you can fit a T5 to our table, it's a VivExotic Deluxe. If we had to change it, the VivExotic Repti-Home Maxi Vivarium may fit onto the base we have.

Substrate/bedding
On the substrate side of things you'd recommend something like https://www.reptilia.org.uk/habistat-orchid-bark-fine-11973-p.asp over https://www.reptilia.org.uk/habistat-tortoise-bedding-10l-11911-p.asp though I'd look around at other suppliers/garden centres etc.
 

LJL1982

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Firstly, a big thanks to those replying, we really appreciate your time. I had read the link Tom posted but have re-read again in more detail. Just trying to work out what to do in the real short-term (next 24-48 hours), and also in the longer term.

Basking
Don't use the basking lamp we have, but swap out for a general flood bulb (doesn't need to be reptile). Have it on a timer for 12 hours a day. Though technically this isn't urgent as we have something that is working. Does anyone from the UK have any recommendation what to use? Just I know that it can be harder to get incandescent bulbs in the UK/Europe.

As for the basking temperature, can you clarify where that should be checked? We were also recommended to bury the thermometer prober under the substrate to monitor the basking lamp, however I'm not sure whether that was good advice or not. I've also read differing opinions on where the temperature should be checked. Some say at the floor, others say where the top of the shell would be.
Your tortoise isn't likely to bury in the substrate while basking so neither should your thermometer be.

To an extent all bulb manufacturers publish the temperature and solar level on their websites...at different heights from the tortoise back. I think I would be referencing those most especially in a smaller enclosure.

You can also use a temperature gun. Available surprisingly cheaply on amazon but also in Lloyd's pharmacies and Well pharmacies etc post covid. Point it at where your tortoise will bask. We'll worth a buy if you have a tortoise.

Tortoises need over head light. So I would run with incandescent...banned in the UK other than reptile. I don't have the box on me but pets at home do an incandescent flood for about £4.95.

Get an Arcadia ProT5 kit for UVB, I would go their smallest 24w it's about 12 inches long. Try to hang it along the shortest side above the enclosure (it's fine if it's by the basking lamp)...that will leave a slightly darker cooler end up the hide side.

He can manage short term with the combined D3 but they do dry shells so bathing lots is key, you can't overbathe.

Longer term consider converting some furniture...Billy book cases or knoxhult kitchen cupboard, £65 from ikea screw the doors on as a base.

You can interim buy perspex in b&q to keep heat and humidity up. You really shouldnt be encountering low enough temps for ambient heating beyond your basking light unless your room is a lot less than 18.

Two pieces of batten across perspex, or without, the T5 is super light and could be mounted above a bookshelf, or the knoxhult is a foot or so deep...so you might need to consider then getting one of the lower UV lights. Mine has a lower wattage one but due to shallow table/ enclosure has is 11 inches from shell and UV at that distance is still 4.5

I'll send photos.

UV
Use a T5, though wondering what size for a table/vivarium that is 1.2m wide? While only run for a few hours a day around the middle of the day?

Ambient light
Probably more for vivarium than table? Any LED strip, it's just lighting, not doing anything for the health of the tortoise

Ambient heat
Ceramic heating elements, would need to have enough to cover the table/vivarium but likely would need at least one of these alongside the basking lamp. This should really be controlled by a thermostat?

Monitoring
Need to get a thermometer for the cooler end of the table, while longer term look at having a solar monitor for the UV(?).

Housing
As for the housing itself, the tortoise table isn't suitable unless we can keep the ambient temparate up? Also, trying to work out whether or not you can fit a T5 to our table, it's a VivExotic Deluxe. If we had to change it, the VivExotic Repti-Home Maxi Vivarium may fit onto the base we have.

Substrate/bedding
On the substrate side of things you'd recommend something like https://www.reptilia.org.uk/habistat-orchid-bark-fine-11973-p.asp over https://www.reptilia.org.uk/habistat-tortoise-bedding-10l-11911-p.asp though I'd look around at other suppliers/garden centres etc.
 

bigglesuk

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Its generally best to stay out of pet shops. You will get a lot of bad advice and the wrong products there, as you are learning first hand...

This sentence makes it appear that you did not read the linked material. You are reading the wrong material, talking to the wrong pet shop employees, and "researching" in the wrong places if you want a healthy tortoise.

Learning fast, and trying to correct mistakes as fast as possible, really grateful for your knowledge. Hopefully can get some things ordered today and hopefully most things sorted by the end of week.
 
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bigglesuk

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So in the UK your central heating should be keeping the temperature at around 18-20 overnight which is fine for your tortoise with no supplementary heating.
Ours goes into an eco mode which means it will allow it to go down to 13 degrees and then kick in. However, I've increased that in the short-term given the issues with the tortoise habitat.
During the day a basking light should be able to maintain a temperature at a hot end of an enclosure of 35, with a cooler end at 22-23. 22 to 23 won't be far off your centrally heated temperature of your home so shouldn't be hard to achieve with your basking light on.
Our heating goes to 21 degrees celcius in the evening but mainly around 19 degress during the day.
Are you bathing your tort regularly? Giving him a 20 min bath a day at child warm bath water will keep him moving and wanting to eat. Make sure the water stays hot for the whole 20 mins...a washing up bowl is fine, make it just deep enough to cover the first row of scutes on his shell.
We have been giving her a bath, every other day. Though I can't seem to find a recommended temperature for the water (unless I've missed the info somewhere), we have a liquid thermometer so can check the temp easily if we know what it should be. I think it was around 26 degrees last time, but again, not sure if that was too cold.
The enclosure is far too small for any of the mediterranean species...the UK tortoise pet market loves these Amazon sourced type Chinese built tortoise tables and sell them on for more to make money in pet shops. You will quickly find your tort either going mad in it or becoming very lethargic at which point the shops wont want to know. An adult tortoise needs a minimum of 4ft x 8ft, however...if you only have the means you have, then at least up the humidity by changing the substrate (the UK pet market also loves to make tortoise "terrains" which are actually expensive ways to block up your tortoise...potentially fatally). If you go to pets at home, you will see an expensive and inappropriate bag of the same stuff as the habistat stuff... Ignore it and get a brick or two (I'd get two so you have a fluffy diggable base) of coco coir.

It's pretty much brick sized and next to the expensive tortoise terrain... Stick it in a washing up bowl and pour in a few pints of water...it fluffs up and can be squeezed out till a bit damp and fluffy. That's ideal. Your tort will love digging into it which promotes natural behaviour, and the bricks are £3.50 each. Make one and see how far it goes, then just spray it down with water every couple of days to keep it slightly damp. You need to make sure your temperatures are staying up enough though so tort isn't cold.
Thanks, will take a look at that :)
Try sowthistle, dandelion, and weed plantain...Google them, all in garden at moment. Worst case can resort to supplementing with kale, pak choi and lamb lettuce, as well as watercress and rocket from the shops.
We have plenty of dandelion and other weeds in the garden right now, which is helpful and have kale and lambs lettuce available.
What is his name and how old is he, he looks like he has a nice size on him. Also where UK are you based?
It's actually a she, when we purchased her we weren't aware that it's better to have males. Found that out from a book I was reading the other day. My wife had previously done the research from what turns out to be poor sources of info.

She sort of doesn't have a name yet, it's been argued about! My son has named her Shelly, but the wife doesn't like it. She's approximately 2 years old, born in 2020 and we're based in West Sussex.
 

LJL1982

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Ours goes into an eco mode which means it will allow it to go down to 13 degrees and then kick in. However, I've increased that in the short-term given the issues with the tortoise habitat.

Our heating goes to 21 degrees celcius in the evening but mainly around 19 degress during the day.

We have been giving her a bath, every other day. Though I can't seem to find a recommended temperature for the water (unless I've missed the info somewhere), we have a liquid thermometer so can check the temp easily if we know what it should be. I think it was around 26 degrees last time, but again, not sure if that was too cold.

Thanks, will take a look at that :)

We have plenty of dandelion and other weeds in the garden right now, which is helpful and have kale and lambs lettuce available.

It's actually a she, when we purchased her we weren't aware that it's better to have males. Found that out from a book I was reading the other day. My wife had previously done the research from what turns out to be poor sources of info.

She sort of doesn't have a name yet, it's been argued about! My son has named her Shelly, but the wife doesn't like it. She's approximately 2 years old, born in 2020 and we're based in West Sussex.
OK...so when you wash your clothes at 40 it's cold water. 26 is cold. You need the water verging on the temperature you bath yourself...bit a bit colder so you don't scald them...if you are someone like me and just burn their legs to get in 🤣

So literally if you would put a child in it, then that's spot on and keep it hot for the whole 20 mins.
 

Lyn W

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Hi and welcome,
Pet shops worldwide rarely know about tortoise care but are happy to sell unsuitable and unsafe equipment for profit. There is also a lot of out dated care information online and in older books so forget what you've been told or read anywhere else and make this the place to learn about torts and their care - you'll only get up to date advice here from keepers with decades of experience who thankfully share their methods and research with us.

Torts hate change so s/he may be settling in at the moment.

Weeds are best for torts but are hard to find in the UK right now so you may have to rely on shop bought salad bags, but lettuces like iceberg have little nutritional value or too much sugar.

Aldi have a good crispy leaf bag for about 60p which has a good mix of leaves.
1672162980194.png
Morrisons also has a good crispy salad bag often 2 for £1
1672163106267.png
I sometimes use Lidl too 1672163210110.png

Florette Classic Crispy Salad bags have a great mix but they can be very expensive.
Avoid any Bistro or Italian mixes which tend to have beetroot and other leaves which aren't great.

I take out any white stalky bits and just feed the leaves. Soaking in water for a while will rehydrate them. Variety is needed so you can add in things like lambs lettuce, pak choi, kale, spring greens or Romaine (dark leaves rather than pale hearts). No fruit as tort systems can't handle sugars.

www.thetortoisetable.org.uk is a good guide to tort safe foods, and will help you find which parts of plants are best to feed, but try to find the leaves with best nutritional value.

Think of the shell as a bowl and feed that much to start but if s/he wants more offer more.
 

Lyn W

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You could use a CHE run through a thermostat for night and extra heat when needed to save heating your whole house. The thermostat will turn it on and off so that your tort doesn't cook.

I think this is included in the thread already linked but just in case, this will help you
 

bigglesuk

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OK...so when you wash your clothes at 40 it's cold water. 26 is cold. You need the water verging on the temperature you bath yourself...bit a bit colder so you don't scald them...if you are someone like me and just burn their legs to get in 🤣

So literally if you would put a child in it, then that's spot on and keep it hot for the whole 20 mins.
Got it, again, read some poor advice online. Will give her a warmer bath tomorrow morning once she's up.
To an extent all bulb manufacturers publish the temperature and solar level on their websites...at different heights from the tortoise back. I think I would be referencing those most especially in a smaller enclosure.
I will refer to the info on the bulb to work out which will be suitable.
Tortoises need over head light. So I would run with incandescent...banned in the UK other than reptile. I don't have the box on me but pets at home do an incandescent flood for about £4.95.
Seems like you mean one of these? https://www.petsathome.com/shop/en/...cadia-reptile-solar-basking-spot-lamp-75-watt

Get an Arcadia ProT5 kit for UVB, I would go their smallest 24w it's about 12 inches long. Try to hang it along the shortest side above the enclosure (it's fine if it's by the basking lamp)...that will leave a slightly darker cooler end up the hide side.
One shop I spoke to recommended a Zone 3, 875mm tube, I think that was to go across the enclosure, but from what you say, that isn't really needed just in the basking area? Basking and UVB to be on one timer (I've got a good one we use for the Xmas lights each year) for 12 hours a day, with CHE on the thermostat.

I'm trying to work through the basic layout re: UVB but also with placement of the food/water with people having different opinions about where they should be re: cold/warm. I've attached a basic diagram of what the current plan is, but happy for people to say what should be changed.

Any thoughts on the Exo Terra Dimming/Pulse Thermo with Day/Night setting? Looking like it will be the cheapest one available, the Microclimate ones look nice, but expensive.
 

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Tom

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Basking
Does anyone from the UK have any recommendation what to use?

As for the basking temperature, can you clarify where that should be checked?
Arcadia makes good flood bulbs in several wattages available in Europe and the UK.

Check basking temp by laying a digital thermometer on its back at tortoise shell height, and letting it bake for an hour or two. Who cares what the temp is buried under the substrate? You need to know what the temp is on your tortoises back. Jeez... There is so much bad info out in the world. Your tortoise is lucky you found us! :)

UV
Use a T5, though wondering what size for a table/vivarium that is 1.2m wide? While only run for a few hours a day around the middle of the day?
The 22 inch one will be fine, ad you can also use it when you get a bigger enclosure. The UV tube does not need to cover the entire enclosure. They will go to it when they need/want it. There is zero UV coming from the sun in the early morning or late evening. It slowly ramps up and reaches a peak mid day. It makes not sense to have mid day summer levels of UVB over an entire tortoise enclosure for 12+ hours every day. It doesn't happen that way anywhere in the world outside.

Ambient light
Probably more for vivarium than table? Any LED strip, it's just lighting, not doing anything for the health of the tortoise
Ambient lighting absolutely does something for the health of the tortoise. Our indoor enclosures are supposed to be simulating a bright sunny day for our tortoises. A dim incandescent bulb of the wrong color spectrum does not accomplish this task alone. Good ambient lighting makes it look like daytime for them. The mid day UV bulb simulates the intense bright sunlight of mid day. Strong ambient light is essential for the tortoise's well being, mood, appetite, and circadian rhythm maintenance. I suspect dim lighting to be a main contributor to many of the problems we see in captive torts.

Ambient heat
Ceramic heating elements, would need to have enough to cover the table/vivarium but likely would need at least one of these alongside the basking lamp. This should really be controlled by a thermostat?
Yes. Ambient temps should be controlled by a thermostat.

Housing
As for the housing itself, the tortoise table isn't suitable unless we can keep the ambient temparate up?
Correct.

Substrate/bedding
On the substrate side of things you'd recommend something like https://www.reptilia.org.uk/habistat-orchid-bark-fine-11973-p.asp over https://www.reptilia.org.uk/habistat-tortoise-bedding-10l-11911-p.asp though I'd look around at other suppliers/garden centres etc.
The orchid bark is ideal. The loam and sand mixture should never be used for tortoises. Neither soil nor sand should ever be part of the substrate for housing an indoor tortoise.
 

Lyn W

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Arcadia are one of the best makes and readily available online and in reptile stores. I and many others use the T5 HO tube kits for usb. I have a 22 inch kit. I also use their flood basking bulbs in a wide dome hood (also used for CHE) They can get too hot in deep domes and burn out more quickly.
If you use a mini portable green house over your table to help contain heat and humidity you can hang the lamps inside from the bar across the frame
 

bigglesuk

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The 22 inch one will be fine, ad you can also use it when you get a bigger enclosure. The UV tube does not need to cover the entire enclosure. They will go to it when they need/want it. There is zero UV coming from the sun in the early morning or late evening. It slowly ramps up and reaches a peak mid day. It makes not sense to have mid day summer levels of UVB over an entire tortoise enclosure for 12+ hours every day. It doesn't happen that way anywhere in the world outside.
Having the UV switching the same time as the basking lamp will be short-term until I sort out another timer, can then have them operating independently.

Looking at the height of the Vivarium we're likely to swap to in the short-term, it's just under 20" in height. With Tortoises being Zone 3 it looks like the 6% forest kit is what I'd need, as the 12% output would be too high?
Ambient lighting absolutely does something for the health of the tortoise. Our indoor enclosures are supposed to be simulating a bright sunny day for our tortoises. A dim incandescent bulb of the wrong color spectrum does not accomplish this task alone. Good ambient lighting makes it look like daytime for them. The mid day UV bulb simulates the intense bright sunlight of mid day. Strong ambient light is essential for the tortoise's well being, mood, appetite, and circadian rhythm maintenance. I suspect dim lighting to be a main contributor to many of the problems we see in captive torts.
Would you recommend LED strip lighting or LED bulbs? Would have thought bulbs would generate a better spread of light.
Arcadia makes good flood bulbs in several wattages available in Europe and the UK.
I take it you mean these? https://www.reptiles.swelluk.com/arcadia-solar-basking-floodlight

That would go along with one of their CHE's (https://www.reptiles.swelluk.com/arcadia-ceramic-heater) in a lamp cage, just need to work out the W required.
 

bigglesuk

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Arcadia are one of the best makes and readily available online and in reptile stores. I and many others use the T5 HO tube kits for usb. I have a 22 inch kit. I also use their flood basking bulbs in a wide dome hood (also used for CHE) They can get too hot in deep domes and burn out more quickly.
If you use a mini portable green house over your table to help contain heat and humidity you can hang the lamps inside from the bar across the frame
I don't think the Mrs would sign off on putting a portable greenhouse over it, but a good idea 😆
 

LJL1982

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Jan 28, 2022
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Location (City and/or State)
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That
Got it, again, read some poor advice online. Will give her a warmer bath tomorrow morning once she's up.

I will refer to the info on the bulb to work out which will be suitable.

Seems like you mean one of these? https://www.petsathome.com/shop/en/...cadia-reptile-solar-basking-spot-lamp-75-watt


One shop I spoke to recommended a Zone 3, 875mm tube, I think that was to go across the enclosure, but from what you say, that isn't really needed just in the basking area? Basking and UVB to be on one timer (I've got a good one we use for the Xmas lights each year) for 12 hours a day, with CHE on the thermostat.

I'm trying to work through the basic layout re: UVB but also with placement of the food/water with people having different opinions about where they should be re: cold/warm. I've attached a basic diagram of what the current plan is, but happy for people to say what should be changed.

Any thoughts on the Exo Terra Dimming/Pulse Thermo with Day/Night setting? Looking like it will be the cheapest one available, the Microclimate ones look nice, but expensive.
That layout would work. Possibly unpopular opinion but a. The deep sided reptile water dishes if a tortoise flips are hard to get out of and a possible drowning risk (a terracotta plant saucer with shallow slope sides is better), but my torts don't have enclosure water.

They have good urates (the white stuff that comes out with their wee and should be runny toothpaste constituency) and they are bathed frequently. I both see them drink in the bath (submerging their head fully under the water) and also I lean towards tortoises taking most of their water consumption up their cloaca (the hole in their tail where they toilet)...and so I am sure their frequent bathing allows enough water intake.

Some tortoises like a water bowl to poop and wee in though (it's their natural behaviour which hides their scent).

Be interested to see if others think you can remove water bowl if daily bathing.

Also forgot to mention but in case it freaks you out...torts obviously need supervision in bath, but they also can hold their breath for up to ten mins or more relatively comfortably. My tortoise often chills out with his head under and it use to freak the hell out of me. Don't be afraid to tap or rouse them but also consider a minute or so under to drink perfectly normal if not frightening.
 

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