Help With Converting Bedroom to Tortoises Enclosure

wellington

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UVB is most effective when the skin is also warmed, and using it in this way also simulates how UV and warmth go together when they are outdoors in the sun.
Yes, that's why I did say one by the basking spot. Personally I wouldn't and don't put both in the same spot. The sun shines all over not just one spot.
 

Yvonne G

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Ok, here's what I would do:

First of all treat the floor as if it were a newly constructed shower stall. Put down some sort of water proof barrier. Then you can add those tapes they put under floors to heat the floor, and more water proof barrier on that. Add more insulation to the ceiling and walls, either in the attic and inside the walls, or, easier, just put up rigid foam on the walls and ceiling. You would need to put up some sort of protection at tortoise level to keep him from ruining the rigid foam. It might also be a good idea to drop the ceiling to make it an easier space to keep heated. I would use the oil-filled radiator type electric space heater in the room, on a thermostat, with a couple basking lights in different locations hanging from the ceiling. He will also need a heated night box. I don't think it would be too expensive to do this. Probably the floor would cost the most.
 

Tom

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The sun shines all over not just one spot.
Yes, and the sun is always giving heat, along with UV in the middle of each day. There is never a time when a tortoise outside would be receiving UV from the sun without heat. But there are times when they can get heat from the sun, but no UV.
 

wellington

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Yes, and the sun is always giving heat, along with UV in the middle of each day. There is never a time when a tortoise outside would be receiving UV from the sun without heat. But there are times when they can get heat from the sun, but no UV.
Hmmm, and with proper temps in our enclosures, they would always be getting heat. It's not like the bulbs are going to shoot uv over the whole enclosure or ever be as intense as the sun. To have uvb over two spots you know he will be at for part of the day, ensures a better chance of getting enough. When my leopards are inside they spend more time at the food dish and finding a nice comfy corner then they do under the basking bulb. Outside the one is roaming/grazing most of the day while the other roams/grazes half the day and other half under a bush, still actually getting filtered uvb
Might be best for the OP to place them and then observe where it will actually be more beneficial.
For mine, as adults, when inside, it's not just the basking area.
 
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jaizei

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Why not over the food? The two spots you know they will go is the basking and food area. Putting both just over basking could cause too much as you mentioned you dont want.

If the animal is trying to regulate their UVB exposure, placing a UVB source over the feeding area is counteracting that. They are forced to choose more UVB exposure or not eating.
 

jaizei

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Ok, here's what I would do:

First of all treat the floor as if it were a newly constructed shower stall. Put down some sort of water proof barrier. Then you can add those tapes they put under floors to heat the floor, and more water proof barrier on that. Add more insulation to the ceiling and walls, either in the attic and inside the walls, or, easier, just put up rigid foam on the walls and ceiling. You would need to put up some sort of protection at tortoise level to keep him from ruining the rigid foam. It might also be a good idea to drop the ceiling to make it an easier space to keep heated. I would use the oil-filled radiator type electric space heater in the room, on a thermostat, with a couple basking lights in different locations hanging from the ceiling. He will also need a heated night box. I don't think it would be too expensive to do this. Probably the floor would cost the most.

If I turned a room into an enclosure, I'd do something like this. Turn the entire room into a 'wet room,' with in-floor heating doing the bulk of the heating.
 
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wellington

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If the animal is trying to regulate their UVB exposure, placing a UVB source over the feeding area is counteracting that. They are forced to choose more UVB exposure or not eating.
Never heard of them regulating their uvb exposure. That's a new one to me. Body temp with basking yes, uvb exposure, no.
 

Reggie

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Wellington, I will definitely post pics when it is complete. I'm relieved the water seal will be safe. We're trying to protect the wood from the moisture.

Great information about the overlap causing higher UV levels, Jaizei. I definitely would not have thought of that. We do have a UVB meter so I'll be careful and monitor it.

Tom, great insight about the benefit of warming the skin with the UV. Another thing I would never have known without the great support of the Forum.

I can't thank all of you enough. I'll likely be back with a few more questions as we put the puzzle together :)
 

Reggie

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Thank you for all your input and ideas. You've given us alot of help and alot to think about. So far, here's our plan. After we remove the carpet, we'll place underlayment on the floor and then a pond liner (45 mil thick). A 12 inch board border around the perimeter of the room, on top of the liner so that the liner wraps to the other side of the board. Attach the liner to the backside of board. Heat the room with oil filled radiator heater, timed to turn off at night while Reggie is in the hide. A fan with a light set in the ceiling. We'll hang all the lights from a uni-strut system (which normally used to support piping). We may need to add LED lights for ambient light. For his hide, we
are thinking of using a 46 watt Kane mat regulated on a thermastat control at night. I could use some advise about that. I'm a bit confused and nervous about how to install it properly. On the back of the mat it says not to cover it with any foreign materials. How would we keep the substrate in the hide off of it? Substrate will be coir and Reptibark or maybe only coir. The instructions with the mat say you can cover the mat only with Kane Mat covers. Should I have that cover? It also says not to have any foreign materials within 10 feet radius of the heat mat installation area. That's pretty scary. I'm thinking it may be safer to heat his hide at night with a CHI on a thermastat.

I appreciate all your help. We're pretty close to taking the leap and constructing the room.
 

NorCal tortoise guy

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Thank you for all your input and ideas. You've given us alot of help and alot to think about. So far, here's our plan. After we remove the carpet, we'll place underlayment on the floor and then a pond liner (45 mil thick). A 12 inch board border around the perimeter of the room, on top of the liner so that the liner wraps to the other side of the board. Attach the liner to the backside of board. Heat the room with oil filled radiator heater, timed to turn off at night while Reggie is in the hide. A fan with a light set in the ceiling. We'll hang all the lights from a uni-strut system (which normally used to support piping). We may need to add LED lights for ambient light. For his hide, we
are thinking of using a 46 watt Kane mat regulated on a thermastat control at night. I could use some advise about that. I'm a bit confused and nervous about how to install it properly. On the back of the mat it says not to cover it with any foreign materials. How would we keep the substrate in the hide off of it? Substrate will be coir and Reptibark or maybe only coir. The instructions with the mat say you can cover the mat only with Kane Mat covers. Should I have that cover? It also says not to have any foreign materials within 10 feet radius of the heat mat installation area. That's pretty scary. I'm thinking it may be safer to heat his hide at night with a CHI on a thermastat.

I appreciate all your help. We're pretty close to taking the leap and constructing the room.
If it was me I would skip the Kane mat and use a mini oil radiator in the night house. It’s easy to build a Guard around it to keep everything safe and when operated on a thermostat should not need to run very much.
 

Team Gomberg

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So far, here's our plan. After we remove the carpet, we'll place underlayment on the floor and then a pond liner (45 mil thick). A 12 inch board border around the perimeter of the room, on top of the liner so that the liner wraps to the other side of the board. Attach the liner to the backside of board. Heat the room with oil filled radiator heater, timed to turn off at night while Reggie is in the hide. A fan with a light set in the ceiling. We'll hang all the lights from a uni-strut system (which normally used to support piping). We may need to add LED lights for ambient light.
Sounds good. Don't forget to document this with photos to help future tortoise room makers ;)
For his hide, we
are thinking of using a 46 watt Kane mat regulated on a thermastat control at night. I could use some advise about that. I'm a bit confused and nervous about how to install it properly. On the back of the mat it says not to cover it with any foreign materials. How would we keep the substrate in the hide off of it? Substrate will be coir and Reptibark or maybe only coir. It also says not to have any foreign materials within 10 feet radius of the heat mat installation area. That's pretty scary.
I have avoided kane mat heating for this very reason. I wouldn't know how to keep it "free from foreign materials". I think others here use them no problem...? but I couldn't advise on how to do it.
I'm thinking it may be safer to heat his hide at night with a CHI on a thermastat.
This is where I'd suggest using the overhead, radiant heat panel instead. Plugged into a thermostat it will work just like the CHE (ceramic heat emitter) but cover a greater surface area. I ruined my leopard's shell by using a single CHE. The CHE created a hot spot that desiccated 2 scutes on his shell, giving him a weird pyramid. I'm all for wide coverage heat sources ever since!

Lastly, be ready to experiment with substrates. I forsee a coir and reptibark substrate being super messy and nasty. Because this isn't just in an enclosure, but a full on room that you can enter, I'd experiment with more of a mixed substrate that will actually hold together like the ground outside. More words on that if you'd like... but it's something to think about
 

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Thanks Team Gomberg. We will be sharing pictures. I hope it is soon!

So sorry for your experience with your leopard. I am definitely not going to use the CHE or Kane mat. I looked at radiant heat panels and it sounds like the best idea for his hide. I looked at them online at Retile Basics. They recommend a 120 watt panel for a 2 x 6 area. The hide will be about 2 x 5 so it is similar. The hide will actually be the bottom of the closet in the room with the doors removed. We'll line the closet sides with wood and create a top and front to make it cozy. I know zero about the size. Do you think that is the right size? How far from the tortoise should the panel be installed? Any recommendations/experience on where to purchase the panel?

I am interested in hearing more about what you would recommend for the substrate. Coir is messy. I've not been thrilled with cypress mulch.

I'm so grateful for the help everyone.
 

Reggie

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Since Team Gomberg suggested it, I'm very interested in hearing about other substrate ideas besides the reptibark and coir. As mentioned the coir is pretty messy. What would you suggest instead? I looked at Better Gro orchid bark but the ingredients include charcoal and perilite. I thought I read to only pure orchid bark but cannot find it. We bought reptibark and can return it if we do it soon.

Also, is the ZooMed radiant heat panel 40 watt (on a thermostat) a good option for a 2 x 5 hide? How much distance between the tortoise and the panel?

I appreciate your help!
 

wellington

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I use the kane heat mat and substrate gets on it. I just sweep it off. Never had a problem. However you need a heat source over the top of it so the tort doesn't sit on it too long trying to get his top shell warm.
I would either not use substrate with the kane or use the other heating items mentioned.
 

Reggie

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Good advice, Wellington. Thank you. I think I am gravitating to the Zoo Med 40 watt radiant heat panel for his hide. The more I read, the more confused I become😜 Does this mount on the top of the hide to provide that heat source over his shell and if so, how many inches above the tortoise is safe and effective for a 2 x 6 hide? We can set the top of his hide the correct height based on that answer. We're planning to heat his hide at night and turn off the radiator oil heater at night. The house temperature is about 71 - 74 year round.

Also, looking for more input about substrate. I've purchased the reptibark and coir based on what I thought I understood from the forum but I'm hearing there are better options for this application. We use coir now and it is messy. I'd be interested in other options since this is a room we'll enter to care for Reggie.

You are all amazing. Thank you for helping me figure out this giant puzzle!
 

Reggie

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Correction - the hide is planned for 2 x 5 --we can alter adjust the size if needed. Reggie is 14 inches long
 

jaizei

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A fan with a light set in the ceiling. We'll hang all the lights from a uni-strut system (which normally used to support piping). We may need to add LED lights for ambient light.

What type of lights are you thinking of hanging from the strut? I think strut is preferable most of the alternatives (ie wood) for this type of thing so you're on the right track, but if you are attaching lights directly to the strut (instead of hanging with chain) I'd consider using 3/4 or 1" emt for the part that the lights actually attach to. Pipe hangers attached to the back of strip lights or junction boxes make mounting and moving the lights easier than if bolted to strut.
 

Reggie

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I really like your suggestion. We'll be hanging the uvb, basking lights, and maybe LEDs (if needed) from the strut using chain. The strut is planned for six feet in height in a grid so that we have some options to hang the lights. Since we've never done anything like this before, we want to be able to move the lights where they are needed as we learn.

Thank you for your help!
 

Team Gomberg

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Since Team Gomberg suggested it, I'm very interested in hearing about other substrate ideas besides the reptibark and coir. As mentioned the coir is pretty messy. What would you suggest instead?


I appreciate your help!

If I was creating a "walk in" enclosure, like you are with the bedroom, I'd want a more compact base. Something that packed down tightly so that you and your tort could actually walk around on without making huge messes. Similar to the real outdoors. Since I haven't ever done this, I can't tell you exactly how to achieve it. BUT I can promise you that would be my goal and I'd keep at it until I figured it out using soils, sands, rocks, etc.

Now, I understand why sand is argued against and labeled a terrible substrate. Loose sand sticking to loose lettuce leaves will create impaction risks when eaten, of course. But that's not what I'm suggesting either. I can see how a mixture of different elements, including sand, could hold up better as a substrate floor. Aesthetics are important to me and if I had a tortoise room, I'd want it to look like a little patch of the great outdoors. Not an ugly, dirty, empty prison cell with a light hanging in the corner.

IMHO too many tortoise enclosures look like prison cells. Plain walls with a water/food dish and a hide. Boring and ugly. I always had plants, logs, rocks, hills, etc to make it look like a mini outdoor terrain. When I mixed my substrates and packed them down with rocks and plants, I didn't deal with much mess from the tortoise. So, why couldn't this be achieved on a larger scale?

Right now I'm dealing with a mini outdoor mess from Levi. He keeps dragging the cypress bark from the bark patch by my gate, over the rock border onto the grass lawn. I just need to raise the rock line and lower the bark patch a bit and it'll fix the issue.

Worst case if you can't figure out a good substrate to use, at least place giant pavers in a pathway through the enclosure. Then you have stepping stones!
 
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