Half viv/half table. Thoughts on design and potential issues

Sw33tp3a

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Hi all,

I'm just asking for advice on where to go with the tortoise home we are building. We have a Russian and he is currently in a 2 foot square vivarium which I know is no good. This is what he came in and not what we put him in.
I'll own up and say I got him on a whim and have read quite a bit now about their requirements and admittedly should have done all this prior to agreeing to home him.
Some things I am able to provide however I will have to compromise on others. I'll explain what and why as I continue and am grateful for advice as I want to do my best for him and am still unsure on some things such as lighting given what we are making.

Diet and general care: aware of all needs, safe feeds, supplements, slate to feed on, access to water, daily baths, suitable substrate and depth etc.

Habitat: So, here is where the compromise comes in. From reading, he should have a 6 foot x 3 ft minimum table and not vivarium. I don't have a space for that and also have a chihuahua that would harm him which is why we have opted for glass front box and not an open table. I know this is generally not accepted due to difficulties with regulating temperature and humidity but I'm confident that conditions can be made right using thermostats, using different basking bulbs to get right temp etc and I'm happy to spend what I need to to make it work.

My husband is making a 5 foot by 2 foot box but all the sides, top and back will be cut out and covered with a sqaure grid/mesh (this is to cover for the dog getting access to her due to where said new home has to be situated which is next to the settee). It is 80cm tall and will have a second tier to allow for more floor space without increasing the footprint (the 5ft x 2ft was as big as we could go for where it has to go in my living room)
The ramp to the second floor will be boxed in so he can't fall off the edge and will be wide enough to account for maximum growth so he doesn't outgrow it.

Lights: this is where I'm unsure and need advice. I was advised to buy the Arcadia T5 desert pro kit at 12% . Given the length of the box, I ordered 2 of the 54W ones (one for the top tier and one for the bottom to ensure continual exposure to the UVA/UVB wherever he decides to go). I'm aware these are very powerful bulbs and they recommend setting them at 20-24" height. We have approximately 13" of height at the top and bottom tier and this would be too small to fit those lights and would potentially burn him or his eyes.
My question is, would the same kit but the Forest 6% bulbs be adequate to fit them at that height? Would they receive enough UVB (I think the table said 4.50 at this height with this bulb) if not, do I have other options regarding the lights I.e a different brand that can be set at 12-13"?
I should point out that the basking heat lamp is on order too and will be separate as I'm led to believe this is the best way.

Sorry for the lengthy first post but just wanted to make sure it was obvious what our intentions/design/flaws are. Pics of current enclosure and unfinished box enclosed also.

Happy to answer any questions and listen to concerns or suggestions.

20200525_195010.jpg 20200524_173435.jpg
 

Yvonne G

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It's a nice enclosure, however, it's not big enough for a Russian tortoise. Yes, they're small, but they still need lots of room to wander. In a too small enclosure a Russian tortoise will dig in the corners, surf the walls, climb to escape, and generally drive you crazy with all the escaping noise he makes. Can you set him up outside?
 

Sw33tp3a

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Thanks for the reply.
He will have 20 square feet to roam? 2 feet more square feet than the recommend 6x3?
I want to get an outside enclosure eventually but he's only 7 months (from what I have been told) at the min and from what I've read, that's too young to house them outside?
 

Yvonne G

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2' x 5' is not 20 square feet.
 

Tom

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Hello and welcome.

FIrst, there is nothin wrong with a viv. These make it much easier to maintain whatever conditions you want for your tortoise since the air in the enclosure isn't freely mixing with the room air.

If the enclosure is raised off the ground, I don't see how your little dog all be able to get in there, but this doesn't matter. The way you are building it is fine and should work.

The jury is still out on the double decker style enclosures, but if that is what you ned to do then give it a go and see how he does. Watch his behavior and see if he seems content. A 7 month old CB tortoise is likely to be accepting of whatever environment you go with.

No one can answer your UV question. You plan of using the 6% times sounds reasonable and sensible, but only a UV meter can tell you if you have enough UV, too much, or just right. The Solarmeter 6.5 or 6.5R is the one you want. It will save you money in the long run because you won't be replacing expensive high quality UV tubes that are still working perfectly fine every six months, as recommended. Your meter will tell you when the UV levels fall off and the bulbs need replacing.

I also recommend a large outdoor enclosure, but I like to use the outdoor in nice weather, and then use the indoor enclosure in inclement weather. The best of both worlds.
 
L

LasTortugasNinja

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My tort is in a 6ft by 2ft enclosure and he's fine with it. Doesn't dig, doesn't go nuts. I have a camera on the enclosure and he spends his day walking around the whole pen, not just the walls. He'll spend an hour just looking at the potted spidergrass in his enclosure. Doesn't eat it, just looks at it. Then he wanders some more. He'll climb a cork log, dig a little, and wander again. I haven't seen any behavior I'd consider "bad". He's got 3 feeding dishes to keep him stimulated. His daily meals are divided among the three dishes, so he gets the mental stimulation indoors of foraging for food. One dish will have a "treat" buried under the regular "salad". Today, it's slivers of a cactus pad. Works really well. He gets to walk around, and keep busy, with the limited indoor space I can give him until I get home and can put him outside in his larger outdoor pen.

Yeah, I realize 4*8 is the recommended minimum, but 10 years ago it was 2*2, and in another 10 years it'll probably be 30*30 minimum enclosure size. Make the best with what you got. Reptiles are able to adapt and thrive in many conditions. Let us know how he handles the 2nd level. I am contemplating adding a 2nd level to my table, too, since my russian seems to enjoy climbing up logs and branches. Just trying to work out how to make it a satisfactory climb for him while being safe as well.
 

Sw33tp3a

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Joined
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Location (City and/or State)
Blackburn
Hello and welcome.

FIrst, there is nothin wrong with a viv. These make it much easier to maintain whatever conditions you want for your tortoise since the air in the enclosure isn't freely mixing with the room air.

If the enclosure is raised off the ground, I don't see how your little dog all be able to get in there, but this doesn't matter. The way you are building it is fine and should work.

The jury is still out on the double decker style enclosures, but if that is what you ned to do then give it a go and see how he does. Watch his behavior and see if he seems content. A 7 month old CB tortoise is likely to be accepting of whatever environment you go with.

No one can answer your UV question. You plan of using the 6% times sounds reasonable and sensible, but only a UV meter can tell you if you have enough UV, too much, or just right. The Solarmeter 6.5 or 6.5R is the one you want. It will save you money in the long run because you won't be replacing expensive high quality UV tubes that are still working perfectly fine every six months, as recommended. Your meter will tell you when the UV levels fall off and the bulbs need replacing.

I also recommend a large outdoor enclosure, but I like to use the outdoor in nice weather, and then use the indoor enclosure in inclement weather. The best of both worlds.
Thanks for the helpful reply.
Where the table will be situated would be next to the settee (she would just be able to jump in) so that's why we decided on a closed enclosure so to speak.
I wasn't aware you could buy the UV readers either so that's definitely something I want to look into also.
I honestly feel it can work and given what we are able to offer space wise, it seems fitting to add another level. I will obviously monitor behaviour and parameters also. Thanks again, I will post updates 😊
 

Sw33tp3a

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Joined
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Location (City and/or State)
Blackburn
My tort is in a 6ft by 2ft enclosure and he's fine with it. Doesn't dig, doesn't go nuts. I have a camera on the enclosure and he spends his day walking around the whole pen, not just the walls. He'll spend an hour just looking at the potted spidergrass in his enclosure. Doesn't eat it, just looks at it. Then he wanders some more. He'll climb a cork log, dig a little, and wander again. I haven't seen any behavior I'd consider "bad". He's got 3 feeding dishes to keep him stimulated. His daily meals are divided among the three dishes, so he gets the mental stimulation indoors of foraging for food. One dish will have a "treat" buried under the regular "salad". Today, it's slivers of a cactus pad. Works really well. He gets to walk around, and keep busy, with the limited indoor space I can give him until I get home and can put him outside in his larger outdoor pen.

Yeah, I realize 4*8 is the recommended minimum, but 10 years ago it was 2*2, and in another 10 years it'll probably be 30*30 minimum enclosure size. Make the best with what you got. Reptiles are able to adapt and thrive in many conditions. Let us know how he handles the 2nd level. I am contemplating adding a 2nd level to my table, too, since my russian seems to enjoy climbing up logs and branches. Just trying to work out how to make it a satisfactory climb for him while being safe as well.
Thank you also for your reply.

Your tortoise sounds very happy indeed and love the camera thing you have for it, I may look into this down the line :)

I just think it can't be any worse than what he's in now. I acknowledge it won't tick every box of what is recommended but damage limitation is my aim. I can't compromise on lights/heat/diet but have to compromise on build design and I don't feel this will cause him any direct harm. I'll update soon with more pics and probably more questions.
 

KarenSoCal

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My tort is in a 6ft by 2ft enclosure and he's fine with it. Doesn't dig, doesn't go nuts. I have a camera on the enclosure and he spends his day walking around the whole pen, not just the walls. He'll spend an hour just looking at the potted spidergrass in his enclosure. Doesn't eat it, just looks at it. Then he wanders some more. He'll climb a cork log, dig a little, and wander again. I haven't seen any behavior I'd consider "bad". He's got 3 feeding dishes to keep him stimulated. His daily meals are divided among the three dishes, so he gets the mental stimulation indoors of foraging for food. One dish will have a "treat" buried under the regular "salad". Today, it's slivers of a cactus pad. Works really well. He gets to walk around, and keep busy, with the limited indoor space I can give him until I get home and can put him outside in his larger outdoor pen.

Yeah, I realize 4*8 is the recommended minimum, but 10 years ago it was 2*2, and in another 10 years it'll probably be 30*30 minimum enclosure size. Make the best with what you got. Reptiles are able to adapt and thrive in many conditions. Let us know how he handles the 2nd level. I am contemplating adding a 2nd level to my table, too, since my russian seems to enjoy climbing up logs and branches. Just trying to work out how to make it a satisfactory climb for him while being safe as well.
Your RT's days seem a lot like mine the last 2.5 months. Especially the staring at the plant...I feel a real kinship with your little dude. :tort::)
 

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