Horsefield tortoise: Newbie advice

Tom

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I have read that info sheet thank you and I will be making changes. I have ordered a humidity tester and will take out the soil/substrate. I think I am feeding him correctly, it is mainly the light/heat I need to sort out (and quickly).

How can I tell if I am getting the right bulb? This doesn't say MVP on it anywhere.
There are four elements to heating and lighting.:
  1. Basking bulb. I use low wattage flood bulbs from the hardware store. Usually 65 watts will do it, but let your thermometer guide you. Raise or lower the fixture to get the correct basking temp under it. Set it on a timer for 12-13 hours a day. Adjust the times in fall and spring if you hibernate your tortoise. Don't if you don't. No spot bulbs, halogen bulbs, colored bulbs, and no MVBs.
  2. Ambient light. This one is not always needed. If the room is very brightly lit, you can skip this one. I use LEDs and set them on timers for additional light when needed.
  3. Ambient heat. If the room temperature is warm enough, you can skip this one. I find that most people in the UK let their houses get colder than most people here in the US. If your house stays above 65-70F at night, you don't need ambient heat over a temperate species. If your house is dropping down to 50 on a winter night, then you do need some night heat for a baby Testudo. You can use a ceramic heating element or a radiant heat panel set on a thermostat to control the ambient temp. Place the thermostat's probe as far from the heating and lighting elements as possible. In an open topped enclosure, this one can be difficult. In a closed chamber set up, this is easy.
  4. UV. If climate allows it, I prefer to let baby tortoises get UV directly from the sun in outdoor sunning enclosures. Your climate doesn't allow this for most of the year. Get an Arcadia 12% HO tube in a reflector hood. Length of the tube doesn't matter. Mount it about 18-20 inches over the enclosure, and set it on a timer from 11am to 2 or 3 pm. Best to use a "Solarmeter 6.5" to check UV levels and set the mounting height.
 

Brayo

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Definitely NOT good. Ingredients are loam, sand, and calcium. All bad. You don't want any of those.
Omg, why do they sell these things advertised and suitable for tortoises ?
Is the Bark okay?
Should I just avoid soil completely?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Joined
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Messages
63,859
Location (City and/or State)
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Omg, why do they sell these things advertised and suitable for tortoises ?
Is the Bark okay?
Should I just avoid soil completely?
We've been caring for tortoises incorrectly for decades. Many here on this forum have spent years doing experiments to figure out what works best and why. Outside of this forum, most people follow the old wrong ways, keep preaching the old wrong info, and keep selling the wrong products.
 

KronksMom

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347
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For substrate, just orchid bark is great, as long as it's small pieces. Russian tortoises are incredibly good at both burrowing and climbing. A quote I saw once, that I fell in love with, goes "If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know someone put it there. If you see a tortoise on a fence post, you know its a Russian." They're tiny persistent little ninjas.
 

Brayo

New Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
14
Location (City and/or State)
Skelmersdale
There are four elements to heating and lighting.:
  1. Basking bulb. I use low wattage flood bulbs from the hardware store. Usually 65 watts will do it, but let your thermometer guide you. Raise or lower the fixture to get the correct basking temp under it. Set it on a timer for 12-13 hours a day. Adjust the times in fall and spring if you hibernate your tortoise. Don't if you don't. No spot bulbs, halogen bulbs, colored bulbs, and no MVBs.
  2. Ambient light. This one is not always needed. If the room is very brightly lit, you can skip this one. I use LEDs and set them on timers for additional light when needed.
  3. Ambient heat. If the room temperature is warm enough, you can skip this one. I find that most people in the UK let their houses get colder than most people here in the US. If your house stays above 65-70F at night, you don't need ambient heat over a temperate species. If your house is dropping down to 50 on a winter night, then you do need some night heat for a baby Testudo. You can use a ceramic heating element or a radiant heat panel set on a thermostat to control the ambient temp. Place the thermostat's probe as far from the heating and lighting elements as possible. In an open topped enclosure, this one can be difficult. In a closed chamber set up, this is easy.
  4. UV. If climate allows it, I prefer to let baby tortoises get UV directly from the sun in outdoor sunning enclosures. Your climate doesn't allow this for most of the year. Get an Arcadia 12% HO tube in a reflector hood. Length of the tube doesn't matter. Mount it about 18-20 inches over the enclosure, and set it on a timer from 11am to 2 or 3 pm. Best to use a "Solarmeter 6.5" to check UV levels and set the mounting height.
Thank you so much! That is amazing help.

Our house never goes lower than 19°c (66.2°f - kids have asthma and low temps can irritate).
I have ordered the solar meter 6.5 and a humidity tester.

We let him out on the lawn for an hour if it is not raining, but worry it is too cold here for him, so don't let him out for longer.

Just need to sort out the substrate/bedding and as soon as we can, the hubby is building a better/ bigger enclosure.

I really appreciate all your help and time, thank you.
 

Brayo

New Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
14
Location (City and/or State)
Skelmersdale
I read so much and watched nearly every video even those by Kamp Kenan (apparent tortoise expert) and so much of what I learnt is wrong. Kamp said soil, coconut bark, orchid bark and hemp was good for their beds :-(
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
63,859
Location (City and/or State)
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I read so much and watched nearly every video even those by Kamp Kenan (apparent tortoise expert) and so much of what I learnt is wrong. Kamp said soil, coconut bark, orchid bark and hemp was good for their beds :-(
I've met Kenan. Seems like a nice guy, and he knows how to produce videos with a high production quality with good sound, lighting and editing. But the content and the advice he gives is usually that same old wrong info. That is what he learned years ago and he hasn't figured out that its wrong. I learned that same wrong stuff back in the 80s and 90s, and when it failed time and time again, I began an obsessive quest to figure out why that info didn't work, and to figure out what DOES work and why. I'm still on that quest. I've learned a lot, but there is always more to learn.
 

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