Measuring Temperatures - group project!

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Kristina

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I'm a little nervous to reopen this can of worms, lol, but I have a couple of points to make...

In another thread concerning basking temperatures, someone asked who thought that ambient/air temperatures had anything to do with basking temperatures.

*Raises hand* ;)

The reason that I think it has EVERYTHING to do with basking temperatures is based on the delivery of the advice given when someone wants to know what temperature to use for their basking area.

I posted the AIR temperatures of my enclosures for my younger tortoises.

kyryah said:
I don't use super hot basking areas myself. My enclosures for my babies run from 80* ambient (Cherryhead) to 95* on the hot side, 80* on the cool side (Sulcata babies.)

It has been a couple of years since I had larger Sulcatas, so I will tell you what I have experienced with my Russians.

During the summer, they are outside 24/7. First thing in the morning, they bask for about an hour, from 9-10 am. They rarely come out of their burrows before 9 AM. Then they graze for about an hour. Once temps hit about 80* F, they all go back to the shade, and remain there the majority of the day. In the afternoon, when it starts to cool down, and the sun drops in the sky a bit, they come out and graze for another hour or two. By 6-7 PM, they are starting to tuck themselves in for the night, even though it doesn't get dark until 10.

The ONLY time I see them out in the direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day is if I have the sprinkler on. (This is true for my Redfoots and Hingebacks as well.)

I have taken a bit more "moderate" approach to the humidity issue. My enclosures are humid, but not SUPER humid. They range from 60% to 80%. I have been misting my babies twice a day, and soaking very little, actually. I do however observe each and every one of the babies "self-soaking" in the water dish daily.

My Cherryhead's enclosure is on the higher end of the humidity scale - 80%. His enclosure is a constant 80*. There have been days when I have not misted at all, yet he has a humid hide. This baby is growing as perfect as I could ever hope for. He looks amazing, I am EXTREMELY proud of him.

My little Greek's enclosure is on the lower end of the humidity spectrum. It is about 60%. In the beginning I was raising her on a dry substrate, and misting twice daily. She began to develop pyramiding. I moved her from the open top sweater box into an aquarium, upped the humidity, and gave her a humid hide. She exhibits pyramiding along her vertebral scutes but the rest of her is smooth. I have been misting more and I am hoping she will continue to smooth out. I feel like I failed with her.

My baby Sulcatas have a humid hide that is 99% humidity and 95* inside. The cool side of the enclosure is 80* and ambient humidity is 70%. They spend most of the day in the hide, except when eating or self-soaking in the water dish (which they do, a LOT. They are TOTAL water babies, especially the darker of the two.) There is a heat source over the water dish so it remains warm all the time. I mist them twice daily, morning and night. I have not had them long, but they exhibit new growth and it is coming in smooth.

My Sri Lankan star has a humid hide and her warmest temp is 90*. She also self-soaks and I mist twice daily. Just a few days ago I posted pictures of how smooth she is. I am EXTREMELY proud of her new growth, and also EXTREMELY nervous that I am going to "screw her up."

I just received a little Leopard today. His enclosure and treatment will 100% mimic the Sulcata hatchlings.

I wish I had pictures to back this last up - in 1992 I was given my first tortoise, a Gopher tortoise that was taken out of its habitat and brought back to Michigan. He was 3" long at the time. I raised him in an aquarium that was 90* on the warm side and 80* on the cool. I used plain old yard dirt for substrate and planted grass directly in it. His hide was one of those long terra cotta wine chillers. I would take it out every couple of days and soak it in warm water, and I also misted him once every day or so.

I had him for ten years. He grew to be 10" and 19lbs. One night in 2002, a predator broke into his outdoor enclosure and killed him. I cried, HARD. I was so devastated, and I still am. I miss my Gomer terribly.

When Gomer died, he was just as smooth as any wild counter part I have ever seen. I lost all of my photos of him (and my beloved Lab, Sammy, another story) in a house fire. But I swear on everything I hold holy that what I am saying is the truth.

So, that is MY take on "moderation." I am going to continue working with my hatchlings and continue learning.

Kevin (kbaker) commented to me that based on my AIR temperatures, that my basking areas are probably hotter than I think. I agree with that statement. The problem here is the difference between AIR temperatures and SURFACE temperatures and the tools used to measure those values.

When someone registers here at the forum and wants to know what the basking area for their Sulcata should be, they are told 120*. So they take their cheap little dial thermometer, stick it to the side of the tank, and adjust the bulb so that it is reading 120*. See the problem here?

Even a good digital thermometer isn't going to give an accurate surface reading, because the material that the thermometer itself is made up of is very different than the material the tortoise is made up of.

So, if the air temp is 120*, what is the temp of the shell of the tortoise? What is the actual goal here?

Here is what I want to do. I want to take some measurements, and I want help doing it. I bought myself a temp gun just for this purpose.

What I want is for the folks that have temp guns to take temperatures in two different ways. I want you to state the type of thermometer you are using, the placement height, and the AIR temperature of the basking area of your enclosure. Then I want measurements of the basking surface AND the tortoise's shell using a temp gun. I want to see what the correlation is. I want to know, how warm does the AIR temp have to be, for the tortoise's shell to be 120*?

I will do my own measurements and post those as well. If we can figure out what the correlation is between air temp and the actual temperature of the tortoise and the basking area, then we can better advise people on temperature based on the equipment they have.

And last but not least...


Keep it civil, people. This is something I am genuinely interested in and something I want to discuss with others, but I will be the first one to shut this puppy down if there is ANY personal name calling or any other form of BS, got that? ;)
 

exoticsdr

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Sunday...ambient air temp outside was 79F (verify at Weather.com) bright sunny day, 14mph winds from southwest, measured my torts as they were basking, 12pm, with laser thermometer and took several measurements along the lenght of the shell (lots of variation, but these were approx averages, temp gun about 8" from subjects, ground temp?):

Leopards- 98 & 99F
Black Mountain Tort (in shadey area, filtered sun) 89/90F
Aldabs- 102 & 104
Redfoots (shade, filtered sun) 88-92 depending on where they were sitting
 

Kristina

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FANTASTIC! Thank you!

That shows that the Leo's and Aldabs were +/- 10 degrees above the ambient temperatures, with the darker colored Aldabs being a bit higher (which also plays into the theory of color aiding with thermoregulation.)
 

Balboa

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Curious about this stuff too, so glad you're asking for it Kristine.

I had some surprises when I checked my temps just now. BAD KEEPER, its been a while since I checked temps, and either the thermostat drifted or got bumped. Looks like air temps are 100 degrees, I had set them for 90! The basking tile read at 122 degrees with my Ryobi temp gun. Not surprisingly, I don't catch my torts basking often, and when they do its off to the side (good thing they're smarter than their keeper, duh, a little clue there when their habits change). Luckily Rocky was basking just now and her shell measured 96 degrees, which is a fairly common measurement for her.

I discussed the topic of heat lamps recently with a friend and experienced keeper. His method of temp setting seems sensible. If he sees the torts directly under the bask, its too cold, if they bask from a significant distance too hot. Fairly simple eh?

Air temps versus basking tile temps could be a tricky comparison between setups. Other factors could make a drastic difference (ambient temps, airflow, etc).
 

Balboa

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BUMP!!! Sheesh.

With all the hub bub over this topic you'd think there'd be plenty of contribution here. How can we all be of such strong opinion but never take measurements :)
 

exoticsdr

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Balboa said:
BUMP!!! Sheesh.

With all the hub bub over this topic you'd think there'd be plenty of contribution here. How can we all be of such strong opinion but never take measurements :)

Maybe that's what happening. I haven't had a chance to do any more measurements with my schedule, but planning on doing some more this weekend..supposed to have sun, overcast and possibly some showers. Doc
 

Tom

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I posted my outdoor temps the other day. 67 degrees ambient, sunny and 104 on Scooter and 98-99 on each of the small leopards.

But isn't this more about inside temps? I'll get those tomorrow.
 

Kristina

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Sorry I haven't replied, I know I started things but I have been really busy, lol. Monday I am off work and I will get some measurements then.

I would prefer to make this more about inside temps, but seeing the outside temps helps still give an understanding about how much warmth the torts really are absorbing.
 

Yvonne G

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Wa-a-ah! I can't play! :( I don't have a temp gun!
 

John

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well I tried posting this same theme thread awhile back got limited response,balboa has made a good point and its something that has been overlooked here and on my thread,that being the tortoises proximity too the basking source,does the tort sit directly under the light or a distance off the perimeter,if so how far?
 

ChiKat

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I have a temp gun but I recently put away Nelson's cheap little thermometer. I'll put it in his enclosure again so I can play :)
 

Edna

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This morning my basking Leopard had a shell temp of 92, and the basking surface was 98. The air temp in the enclosure was 80, on a Petco dial thermometer. My temp gun is a Raytek Raynger ST. She was right under the lamp, distance maybe 12-13 inches.

Just now, my basking Hermanns' shell temp is 97, basking surface 97, air temp of the enclosure is 75. She's right under the lamp, distance 12-13 inches.
 

HLogic

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Outside observations:

Ambient: 77-78°F - shortly after a strong low front passed, ~2" rain, clear sunny skies, ~15 mph breeze from the North.
Substrate temps: 77 - 109° F

Random Sampling (Avg carapacial temp):
G. carbonaria: 85° F - non-basking, at rest, in shade / 90° F - basking, moving, pursuing my toes
G. denticulata: 77° F - non-basking, at rest, in shade / 90° F - basking, moving, pursuing toes
M. e. emys: 84° F - non-basking, at rest, in shade / 89° F - basking, moving, pursuing toes
M. e. phyarei: 88° F - moving after returning to hide then back out to pursue toes / 88° F - in shade after basking
I. elongata: 89° F - returned to hide after basking / 94° F - basking
I. forstenii: 94° F - moving (toward hide)

I also did a little more investigation performing carapacial, plastral and substrate temps on some of those that were basking, had basked and were moving about or had returned to the hide:

G. carbonaria:
c = 91, p = 86, s = 78 (moving)
c = 87, p = 83, s = 79 (moving)

G. denticulata: c = 95, p = 82, s = 80 (moving)

M. e. emys: c = 90, p = 85, s = 82 (moving)

I. elongata:
c = 94, p = 84, s = 80 (basking)
c = 89, p = 83, s = 77 (post-basking, in hide)

Bear in mind that the IR temp guns read surface temp only. An eighth of an inch below could be a considerably different temp. I think it is important to note both the plastral and substrate temps under the tort. Without those temps, it seems to me, it could be equated to taking the temp of a Baked Alaska - 200 on the outside with ice cream inside...which I think is part of what Kristina was saying. With a plastral temp you can better determine the average temp of the tort as a whole and the degree to which it differs from the substrate (directly underneath it). I haven't gone as far as attempting to get a 'core' temperature - yet...

I have a feeling that there will be a few things that will ultimately be shown:

1. There is a Preferred Body Temperature which varies by species and part of the time, sex.
2. There is no real correlation between air temp and basking (carapacial temp) other than it will take longer to reach to the PBT from a specific starting temp.
3. There is a critical body temp below which basking can lead to burns from a heat source of too great an intensity.
4. If the ambient temps are high enough to approximate PBT, little basking will occur.
5. Outside and inside environments will not alter the findings provided both environments allow normal thermoregulation.

Just my $0.02, but I have found that on cold days, say 50 - 60° F, the torts have carapace temperatures approaching 90 - 95° F in relatively short order but require longer to get the entire body to PBT before moving out of the sun. I am sure that a lower ambient, particularly that low, will delay the warming slightly but barring wind or rain, it seems to be mostly a function of starting temp. They are well designed solar energy collectors with built-in controllable shunts to redirect circulation to more effectively distribute the heat.

It just rained here for the second time today! Not common in the thick of the dry season...

Ambient: 68, overcast, 20 mph wind - about 30 minutes after the rain stopped.

Substrate: 70

All torts carapace and plastral between 68 and 75 with one degree warmer for the plastron vs. the carapace.

The only real variation was one yellow-foot that had a carpace of 71 and a plastron of 75.

The other interesting reading was of the male Mep: carapace 70, plastron 71 and an axial ('arm pit') temp of 73.
 
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