Light and Heat Advice

E Sully

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My friend has 2 Sulcata tortoises from the time they were tiny, now about 14-16". Their getting to big to stay indoors. He asked me to build an outdoor home for them. Temps will go down to mid 20's in the winter.
What I have built is a nicely insulated, internal dimension 4 1/2' x 3 1/2', 2' tall. For a mild assist, there is an electric underfloor heat mat, but I know it will need overhead fixtures for the main heat and UVB. I want to hang the heat and UVB lighting from the flat lightly sloped ceiling.
What kind of fixtures would be recommended, led, fluorescent, incandescent, etc. I am feeding it with a 20a,120v circuit.
I'll post pictures when I get a chance.
Thanks
 

Yvonne G

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Just remember many a large sulcata shows burned new growth from overhead heat.
 

wellington

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Being in NY, they will need a large heated shed, big enough that each of them have their own space. Tortoises should not live in pairs. One will bully the other, specially Sulcatas and living together is a constant stress for them.
They can't live day in and day out in the winter in a 4x3 foot box.
 

E Sully

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The 2 tortoises did well over the winter. I did have to reinforce the walls, as the larger one was a bit aggressive looking to dig his way out on occasion. They are looking forward to the outdoor pen now that it is warming up. Fortunately there is no real aggression between the 2, they get along well.
 

Tom

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The 2 tortoises did well over the winter. I did have to reinforce the walls, as the larger one was a bit aggressive looking to dig his way out on occasion. They are looking forward to the outdoor pen now that it is warming up. Fortunately there is no real aggression between the 2, they get along well.
No they don't get along well. They need to be separated. Living as a pair is very bad for them.

What you have built for them is a night box that is great for sleeping over night when attached to a large outdoor pen, but WAY too small for a 14-16 inch tortoise to live in over an entire winter.

Here are two examples of how to safely heat a night box, but these tortoises will need a larger room sized heated area to live in over winter.

 

E Sully

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Over the years it has been my job to build his enclosures for him as they grow. I'm not the owner or expert on tortoises, but the 2 have been together with no incidence since they smaller than the palm of your hand.
The owner does have plans to give them to someone in a warm southern climate before the next winter, unless he decides to spend the money to have me build a larger enclosure. He just may ask me as he is very close to them.
I built the enclosure similar to the ones linked above, except the current one was designed using 3/8 bolts and T-Nuts so that it can taken completely taken apart with a wrench for transport. The floor is heated with an electric mat and remote sensor to a programmable T stat placed under a waterproof laminate flooring. The overhead heat is on another programmable T stat, and lighting is controlled by a digital timer. This is all contained in a removable vented wooden enclosure to keep them away. I initially tired a plexiglass enclosure, but the big one was strong enough to crack it. A remote thermometer was put in so he can monitor the temperature from his house.
I am an electrician, and do not like seeing the power cord buried as shown in the double door box link.
I brought all the electric in from a waterproof box mounted under the floor with a 12ga SO cord. Power is from a 20amp GFCI outlet I installed on the wall directly behind the unit. It is on casters so that it can be easily moved if needed.
 

Tom

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Over the years it has been my job to build his enclosures for him as they grow. I'm not the owner or expert on tortoises, but the 2 have been together with no incidence since they smaller than the palm of your hand.
The owner does have plans to give them to someone in a warm southern climate before the next winter, unless he decides to spend the money to have me build a larger enclosure. He just may ask me as he is very close to them.
I built the enclosure similar to the ones linked above, except the current one was designed using 3/8 bolts and T-Nuts so that it can taken completely taken apart with a wrench for transport. The floor is heated with an electric mat and remote sensor to a programmable T stat placed under a waterproof laminate flooring. The overhead heat is on another programmable T stat, and lighting is controlled by a digital timer. This is all contained in a removable vented wooden enclosure to keep them away. I initially tired a plexiglass enclosure, but the big one was strong enough to crack it. A remote thermometer was put in so he can monitor the temperature from his house.
I am an electrician, and do not like seeing the power cord buried as shown in the double door box link.
I brought all the electric in from a waterproof box mounted under the floor with a 12ga SO cord. Power is from a 20amp GFCI outlet I installed on the wall directly behind the unit. It is on casters so that it can be easily moved if needed.
Your build sounds awesome. I'd love to see pics so I/we could learn from it. As you can see, I'm a self taught amateur, so I'd love to learn from a pro.

What you need to understand from us and I hope you can relay to the owner, is that it is not healthy for them to live as a pair, and at 16 inches, each tortoise need somewhere around 1000 square feet of heated living space. They cannot live in the little box you built. They can sleep in something that size overnight, but they can't be confined to that 24/7 for months at a time over winter.

They are also too big for overhead heating and lighting, and tortoises that live outside don't need artificial indoor UV lighting. Basking bulbs and CHEs are not effective heating sources for tortoises of this size, and will often "slow burn" the top of the carapace.
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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