How to ensure the best lighting and enclosure for my marginated tortoise

Glasslady

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Hello I have a year old marginated tortoise Mija who has been thriving up to now but recently her appetite has dropped and she seems sleepier then usual so I have been looking at the advice on this forum and I think I need to rethink her enclosure and lighting but I’m not sure where to get the best advice can you help Trudy
 

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MarginatedMooney

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Hi there,
Is your tortoise still acting sluggish and not eating much?
If so, what are your temperatures underneath the heat lamp? It needs to get to 90-100F. If it's colder than that, that's typically what will cause that behavior but there could be other factors.
 

TammyJ

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She really can't hide in that wide open flowerpot. Needs to be darker. What's her diet, temps and humidity?
 

Tom

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Hello I have a year old marginated tortoise Mija who has been thriving up to now but recently her appetite has dropped and she seems sleepier then usual so I have been looking at the advice on this forum and I think I need to rethink her enclosure and lighting but I’m not sure where to get the best advice can you help Trudy
Here is all the correct care info. Most of the info you get from pet shops and the internet is all wrong.

There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. In most cases you'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night. Some people in colder climates or with larger enclosures will need multiple CHEs or RHPs to spread out enough heat.
  3. Ambient light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in LED bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In colder climates, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12% HO bulbs from Arcadia. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html A good UV bulb only needs to run for 2-3 hours mid day. You need the basking bulb and the ambient lighting to be on at least 12 hours a day.
Questions are welcome! :)
 

Glasslady

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May 29, 2022
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Wellington
Here is all the correct care info. Most of the info you get from pet shops and the internet is all wrong.

There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. In most cases you'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night. Some people in colder climates or with larger enclosures will need multiple CHEs or RHPs to spread out enough heat.
  3. Ambient light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in LED bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In colder climates, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12% HO bulbs from Arcadia. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html A good UV bulb only needs to run for 2-3 hours mid day. You need the basking bulb and the ambient lighting to be on at least 12 hours a day.
Questions are welcome! :)
Thankyou for your help I did not realise that I only needed the uv bulb for 3 hours I have been using it all day will this have caused harm to Mija? I will get a solar meter ASAP.
She really can't hide in that wide open flowerpot. Needs to be darker. What's her diet, temps and humidity?
 

Glasslady

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May 29, 2022
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Wellington
I feed her a mixed range of weeds such as convolvulus, cranesbill geranium, plantain,sedum and dandelion from the garden. I think I had the temperature too low at 26 degrees centigrade and have increased it to the temps recommended by Tom. I have also added more ambient lighting which also seems to please her.She seems much better now her appetite has improved and she is more active. You are right about the flower pot she doesn’t use it. She has a length of bark with hollows underneath and also a dark area further back in her enclosure. Thankyou for your response,
Trudy
 
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