New to the group!

archie2024

New Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2024
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Georgia
Hi! My name is Mia and I’m a new owner of a Red Foot Tortoise. His name is Archie and he’s around 6 months old and 2.5 inches long. I’m here to learn everything I can to give him the happiest healthiest life possible! He’s currently in 3x2 terrarium with a coco husk substrate. His temp is around 85-90 on the hot end and the cold end is around 75. I have a humidifier with a hose in the tank which keeps the humidity high around 95-99 when on but I’ve been keeping it off at night (I’m not sure if this is too high). We’re trying new foods to see what he likes to eat but his favorites so far are dandelion greens and blueberries.

Please let me know if there’s anything you may suggest - especially for humidity and food suggestions to make sure they have a balanced diet!

IMG_4418.jpegIMG_4434.jpeg
 

Alex and the Redfoot

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2023
Messages
2,342
Location (City and/or State)
Cyprus
Hello and welcome!

1. Some hints on diet can be found here: https://tortoiselibrary.com/nutrition-2/diet-plans-omnivore/ Make sure regular diet includes fruit (papaya, mango and figs are good), animal protein and some mushrooms
2. To keep humidity high, you need a closed type enclosure (if it's a glass terrarium, you will need to cover mesh top with a plastic container or wrap with tin foil). Then you just pour some water in substrate once a week or two (keep top layer dry) and evaporation will do its magic. Mister/humidifier is not necessary and can do more harm than good.
3. You need a more mild temperature gradient for a redfoot. Between 80-88F (or 82-86F) night and day. If you use a basking lamp, make sure it's a low wattage flood light - there should be no intense lights and hot spots. Redfoots can do fine without a basking lamp, just in case.
4. For a substrate you can use orchid (fir, not pine) bark, cypress mulch or coco coir (soil-like fine ground coconut shells) partially covered with mulch or bark. They are safe, retain humidity well and easy to walk/burrow.

Archie is very cute! Please ask more questions!
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2023
Messages
1,466
Location (City and/or State)
UK
Hello and welcome to the forum!🥰cute baby!

I’m going to include some information below on the correct kind of equipment to use and levels etc, you can then make adjustments if you need😊

If using a light emitting heat source it should be an incandescent floodlight(example attached)on a 12 hour timer, using a CHE(ceramic heat emitter) for night heat.

However I think ceramics as a heat source are more suited to red foot’s.

Red foot’s don’t necessarily need a ‘basking area’ they aren’t typically a basking species coming from the forest floor(some do though, it depends on the individual) there’s no need for a ‘cooler end’ and ‘warmer end’ with these guys, aim for an overall ambient temperature range of 80-86(82-84 being optimal)temps shouldn’t ever be going below 80 for one as young as yours both night&day.
Personally we rely on CHE’s(ceramic heat emitters) as our heat source 24/7, on thermostats, they’re a non light emitting bulb and I think you’ll find it easier switching to these as your heat source to keep your temps nice and stable. When using multiple hang them equal distance to distribute the heat more evenly.
Dome fittings will help project the heat down, but don’t rely on the clamps that come with them, always hang them securely.

You can then hang some ambient lighting on a 12hour timer, it can being either a led strip or a led bulb in 5000k-65000k colour range. Create lots of shady areas with safe plants and hides, red foots don’t like things too bright.

Your little one needs around 80% humidity 24/7 to thrive, the right substrate and a good closed chamber set up goes a long way in making this work.

We personally keep our red foot on orchid bark, we focus on the under layer of the substrate being nice and damp to create the humidity, then the top layer being dry, the trouble with constantly spraying is, one, it can only lasts so long, and two, keeping that top layer constantly damp will leave them more prone to a fungal infection, avoid misters/foggers for this reason. To stop that top layer getting a little too dry because you don’t want dusty substrate, we mix it now n then, which also helps gives a humidity boost without extra water🙂to maintain our humidity we simply pour some lukewarm water into the corners of the substrate, not loads! Just enough to dampen the whole under layer. You can keep an eye on your monitors&substrate to do the pours as and when needed, which in a good closed chamber set up, you shouldn’t have to do loads😊
Substrate wise never add any kind of moss, that’s something some stores think nothing of, but it can actually cause lethal impactions.
Don’t use any top soils or anything mixed with sand.
Safe substrate options are coco coir, damp and packed down by hand as a base, with orchid bark(fir not pine) on top, or forest floor on top, or just the orchid bark/ forest floor on their own, the coir you’re using is fine if that’s what you want to stick to🙂

The size you’re using will last you a bit, a good cost effective closed chamber set up moving forward in a year or so would be a greenhouse style enclosure, simply make your own large base out of a safe material, or even use a garden bed frame! For both these options line with some cheap pond liner, the lining going up the sides too and make sure those sides are high enough. Then simply secure a greenhouse topper on top, if you can’t find an exact fit place it over like the one with the white base in the photo, I’d place some lining under the cover and base though to avoid condensate getting on your floor.
Some people even hang their lighting and heat from the greenhouse frame! Simply wrap the wire around for the height you need(check with a temperature gun/add thermostats, roughly 18-21 inches for the uv) and secure with cable ties. Or you could make your own stands out of safe timber, again I’ll attach some pics.

For a water dish a large terracotta saucer, sitting flush with the substrate is safest, they have grip in the event the tortoise flips, most pet store options are a hazard😕

Id definitely recommend a temp gun to make sure your monitors are reading correctly. Have monitors that read both temp and humidity.

Ignore whatever else is in the photos in the enclosures, they’re just to give you an idea😊and ignore that some of the fittings in the pics are floodlights, ches will work great, just examples on how to hang your bulbs.

I’ll go into some things you can try diet wise in my next reply😊
 

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Littleredfootbigredheart

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2023
Messages
1,466
Location (City and/or State)
UK
These are some greens to feed(bear in mind the lettuce isn’t the most nutritional but fine to add as part of a varied diet);

Lambs lettuce
Romaine
Red leaf lettuce
Frisèe lettuce
Endive(chicory)
Spring greens
Kale
Rocket
Cress on occasion
The odd Brussel sprout on occasion

There’s also plenty of different weeds you can add! Providing you’re sourcing them from an area that is free of any harmful chemicals like pesticides and fertiliser, so be WARY! There’s lots of lookalikes that can be toxic, it might be best to grow your own from seeds online. We add dandelions and broadleaf plantain, I’ll add a link below you might find useful to look through🙂


Now let’s talk fruit! We remove any pips/seed/stones that are either toxic or a chocking hazard, so for my list, we’d remove the mango stone, plum stone, peach stone, nectarine stone, cherry stones(chocking hazard!), apricot stones, appel&pear seeds(toxic)

Ones we feed more regularly(but rotate cause variety is key):
Mango
Papaya
Pineapple
Raspberries
Melon
Strawberries
Watermelon(not super nutritional but a good hydration boost)
Plum
Peach
Nectarines
Cherries
Apricot
Blueberries
Figs
Guava
Prickly pear

Ones we feel less regularly:
Appel
Banana
Blackberries
Grapes
Pear

Those last ones are more of a treat basis. You can also try cherry tomatoes on occasion but not often.
We also sometimes grate a bit of carrot on our red foots food(not a lot) or some courgette, you can also add bell peppers on occasion, and they’ll also enjoy some mushroom once a week or so!

Hope this helps give you some ideas for variety🙂 we try not to give ours too much of just the one type of fruit in any given week, however she gets papaya pretty much daily, it makes up a large majority of their diet in the wild so definitely get your hands on some!

Also they’ll need some protein every 7-10 days, we personally give ours a head sized protein of steamed chicken breast, or a mouse we defrost from the reptile shop.
Calcium power can be added on 3 feeds a week.

Hope all this helps😊
 

archie2024

New Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2024
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Georgia
Hello and welcome!

1. Some hints on diet can be found here: https://tortoiselibrary.com/nutrition-2/diet-plans-omnivore/ Make sure regular diet includes fruit (papaya, mango and figs are good), animal protein and some mushrooms
2. To keep humidity high, you need a closed type enclosure (if it's a glass terrarium, you will need to cover mesh top with a plastic container or wrap with tin foil). Then you just pour some water in substrate once a week or two (keep top layer dry) and evaporation will do its magic. Mister/humidifier is not necessary and can do more harm than good.
3. You need a more mild temperature gradient for a redfoot. Between 80-88F (or 82-86F) night and day. If you use a basking lamp, make sure it's a low wattage flood light - there should be no intense lights and hot spots. Redfoots can do fine without a basking lamp, just in case.
4. For a substrate you can use orchid (fir, not pine) bark, cypress mulch or coco coir (soil-like fine ground coconut shells) partially covered with mulch or bark. They are safe, retain humidity well and easy to walk/burrow.

Archie is very cute! Please ask more questions!
Thank you so much for the link to more food options! I had tried to close in the enclosure with aluminum foil and keep the coco husk wet on the bottom (it’s around a 2-3 inch layer so the top isn’t wet to prevent shell rot) but the humidity never got high enough. I saw a few other posts about better heating options and plan to get them this weekend at a reptile expo. I think that may have been my issue with the humidity but with the humidifier the humidity has been high and the spot he’s been hanging out in the most has been around 82 degrees. Do you have any ideas as to better humidify the tank without the humidifier? I had tried the aluminum foil for a few days and started to get worried the lack of humidity would cause issues. Also do you have any suggestions for a good UVB sensor and humidity reader? I think another issue is my gauge is poor quality.
 

Alex and the Redfoot

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2023
Messages
2,342
Location (City and/or State)
Cyprus
Thank you so much for the link to more food options! I had tried to close in the enclosure with aluminum foil and keep the coco husk wet on the bottom (it’s around a 2-3 inch layer so the top isn’t wet to prevent shell rot) but the humidity never got high enough. I saw a few other posts about better heating options and plan to get them this weekend at a reptile expo. I think that may have been my issue with the humidity but with the humidifier the humidity has been high and the spot he’s been hanging out in the most has been around 82 degrees. Do you have any ideas as to better humidify the tank without the humidifier? I had tried the aluminum foil for a few days and started to get worried the lack of humidity would cause issues. Also do you have any suggestions for a good UVB sensor and humidity reader? I think another issue is my gauge is poor quality.
Can you post a photo of the tank with foil attached (if you have any)? In fact, the recommended option with pouring water in substrate works really good for many keepers. For larger enclosures adding live plants also helps (in small tanks usually there is no room for them). I keep humidity between 85-100% using only these two tricks (water added to substrate every 2-3 weeks).

For measuring humidity any cheap digital (with display) thermometer/hygrometer usually works well. 10 bucks or so in hardware stores.

The only reliable UVB meter is Solarmeter 6.5 (or ZooMed Reptile Radiometer which is the same device). It's rather expensive but you can trust it. Unfortunately, there are no cheaper and accurate readers yet.
 

archie2024

New Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2024
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Georgia
Hello and welcome to the forum!🥰cute baby!

I’m going to include some information below on the correct kind of equipment to use and levels etc, you can then make adjustments if you need😊

If using a light emitting heat source it should be an incandescent floodlight(example attached)on a 12 hour timer, using a CHE(ceramic heat emitter) for night heat.

However I think ceramics as a heat source are more suited to red foot’s.

Red foot’s don’t necessarily need a ‘basking area’ they aren’t typically a basking species coming from the forest floor(some do though, it depends on the individual) there’s no need for a ‘cooler end’ and ‘warmer end’ with these guys, aim for an overall ambient temperature range of 80-86(82-84 being optimal)temps shouldn’t ever be going below 80 for one as young as yours both night&day.
Personally we rely on CHE’s(ceramic heat emitters) as our heat source 24/7, on thermostats, they’re a non light emitting bulb and I think you’ll find it easier switching to these as your heat source to keep your temps nice and stable. When using multiple hang them equal distance to distribute the heat more evenly.
Dome fittings will help project the heat down, but don’t rely on the clamps that come with them, always hang them securely.

You can then hang some ambient lighting on a 12hour timer, it can being either a led strip or a led bulb in 5000k-65000k colour range. Create lots of shady areas with safe plants and hides, red foots don’t like things too bright.

Your little one needs around 80% humidity 24/7 to thrive, the right substrate and a good closed chamber set up goes a long way in making this work.

We personally keep our red foot on orchid bark, we focus on the under layer of the substrate being nice and damp to create the humidity, then the top layer being dry, the trouble with constantly spraying is, one, it can only lasts so long, and two, keeping that top layer constantly damp will leave them more prone to a fungal infection, avoid misters/foggers for this reason. To stop that top layer getting a little too dry because you don’t want dusty substrate, we mix it now n then, which also helps gives a humidity boost without extra water🙂to maintain our humidity we simply pour some lukewarm water into the corners of the substrate, not loads! Just enough to dampen the whole under layer. You can keep an eye on your monitors&substrate to do the pours as and when needed, which in a good closed chamber set up, you shouldn’t have to do loads😊
Substrate wise never add any kind of moss, that’s something some stores think nothing of, but it can actually cause lethal impactions.
Don’t use any top soils or anything mixed with sand.
Safe substrate options are coco coir, damp and packed down by hand as a base, with orchid bark(fir not pine) on top, or forest floor on top, or just the orchid bark/ forest floor on their own, the coir you’re using is fine if that’s what you want to stick to🙂

The size you’re using will last you a bit, a good cost effective closed chamber set up moving forward in a year or so would be a greenhouse style enclosure, simply make your own large base out of a safe material, or even use a garden bed frame! For both these options line with some cheap pond liner, the lining going up the sides too and make sure those sides are high enough. Then simply secure a greenhouse topper on top, if you can’t find an exact fit place it over like the one with the white base in the photo, I’d place some lining under the cover and base though to avoid condensate getting on your floor.
Some people even hang their lighting and heat from the greenhouse frame! Simply wrap the wire around for the height you need(check with a temperature gun/add thermostats, roughly 18-21 inches for the uv) and secure with cable ties. Or you could make your own stands out of safe timber, again I’ll attach some pics.

For a water dish a large terracotta saucer, sitting flush with the substrate is safest, they have grip in the event the tortoise flips, most pet store options are a hazard😕

Id definitely recommend a temp gun to make sure your monitors are reading correctly. Have monitors that read both temp and humidity.

Ignore whatever else is in the photos in the enclosures, they’re just to give you an idea😊and ignore that some of the fittings in the pics are floodlights, ches will work great, just examples on how to hang your bulbs.

I’ll go into some things you can try diet wise in my next reply😊
Thank you so so much!!! I appreciate all of your suggestions and will definitely be changing the heat lights I have been using. I did have issues with humidity when I kept the lower level of the substrate wet and the top dry though. Could this be because I was using the wrong heat fixtures? I have been using a 100 watt ceramic heat emitter but that only got the temp to 72 so I got a 100 watt infrared basking spot lamp that has been heating the tank pretty well. Would you suggested a higher watt CHE?
 

Alex and the Redfoot

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2023
Messages
2,342
Location (City and/or State)
Cyprus
Thank you so so much!!! I appreciate all of your suggestions and will definitely be changing the heat lights I have been using. I did have issues with humidity when I kept the lower level of the substrate wet and the top dry though. Could this be because I was using the wrong heat fixtures? I have been using a 100 watt ceramic heat emitter but that only got the temp to 72 so I got a 100 watt infrared basking spot lamp that has been heating the tank pretty well. Would you suggested a higher watt CHE?
100W CHE should be enough to heat 2x3 terrarium. Definitely, some photos of the tank would be useful.

Deep Heat Projectors and spot lamps are not recommended for tortoises, especially for babies, especially for redfoots because of desiccating effect on their shell.
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2023
Messages
1,466
Location (City and/or State)
UK
Thank you so so much!!! I appreciate all of your suggestions and will definitely be changing the heat lights I have been using. I did have issues with humidity when I kept the lower level of the substrate wet and the top dry though. Could this be because I was using the wrong heat fixtures? I have been using a 100 watt ceramic heat emitter but that only got the temp to 72 so I got a 100 watt infrared basking spot lamp that has been heating the tank pretty well. Would you suggested a higher watt CHE?
No problem at all!😊

The humidity issue is more likely to be if your enclosure is open topped in some way, doing pours in a proper closed chamber set up does wonders for the humidity, you don’t want to have that top layer constantly wet because red foots are particularly prone to fungal infections. I would also remove the humidifier, they can make the air too wet and cause respiratory issues.

A 100w CHE should be able to heat a 3x2, what’s the thermostat that it’s on set to? I’d personally stick to just ceramics as they aren’t as desiccating on red foot shells. A dome fitting might help to project the heat downwards more in your set up, just never rely solely on the clamp fittings those come with, always hang securely.

If sticking with the tank until you can upgrade, perhaps fashioning some sort of topper like this(attached) will help you temp and humidity, it doesn’t have to be the roof shape, just make it so it’s high enough to hang your bulbs properly🙂

Also any photos of your set up would be super helpful😊
 

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archie2024

New Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2024
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Georgia
These are some greens to feed(bear in mind the lettuce isn’t the most nutritional but fine to add as part of a varied diet);

Lambs lettuce
Romaine
Red leaf lettuce
Frisèe lettuce
Endive(chicory)
Spring greens
Kale
Rocket
Cress on occasion
The odd Brussel sprout on occasion

There’s also plenty of different weeds you can add! Providing you’re sourcing them from an area that is free of any harmful chemicals like pesticides and fertiliser, so be WARY! There’s lots of lookalikes that can be toxic, it might be best to grow your own from seeds online. We add dandelions and broadleaf plantain, I’ll add a link below you might find useful to look through🙂


Now let’s talk fruit! We remove any pips/seed/stones that are either toxic or a chocking hazard, so for my list, we’d remove the mango stone, plum stone, peach stone, nectarine stone, cherry stones(chocking hazard!), apricot stones, appel&pear seeds(toxic)

Ones we feed more regularly(but rotate cause variety is key):
Mango
Papaya
Pineapple
Raspberries
Melon
Strawberries
Watermelon(not super nutritional but a good hydration boost)
Plum
Peach
Nectarines
Cherries
Apricot
Blueberries
Figs
Guava
Prickly pear

Ones we feel less regularly:
Appel
Banana
Blackberries
Grapes
Pear

Those last ones are more of a treat basis. You can also try cherry tomatoes on occasion but not often.
We also sometimes grate a bit of carrot on our red foots food(not a lot) or some courgette, you can also add bell peppers on occasion, and they’ll also enjoy some mushroom once a week or so!

Hope this helps give you some ideas for variety🙂 we try not to give ours too much of just the one type of fruit in any given week, however she gets papaya pretty much daily, it makes up a large majority of their diet in the wild so definitely get your hands on some!

Also they’ll need some protein every 7-10 days, we personally give ours a head sized protein of steamed chicken breast, or a mouse we defrost from the reptile shop.
Calcium power can be added on 3 feeds a week.

Hope all this helps😊
Thank you so much for the food suggestions!
Can you post a photo of the tank with foil attached (if you have any)? In fact, the recommended option with pouring water in substrate works really good for many keepers. For larger enclosures adding live plants also helps (in small tanks usually there is no room for them). I keep humidity between 85-100% using only these two tricks (water added to substrate every 2-3 weeks).

For measuring humidity any cheap digital (with display) thermometer/hygrometer usually works well. 10 bucks or so in hardware stores.

The only reliable UVB meter is Solarmeter 6.5 (or ZooMed Reptile Radiometer which is the same device). It's rather expensive but you can trust it. Unfortunately, there are no cheaper and accurate readers yet.
Here are some pictures of his tank, I removed the humidifier and added the foil again. I will also be removing the moss after a few threads I saw earlier. I’m currently using a 100 watt ceramic heat emitter, 13 watt UVB mini compact fluorescent lamp, and recently added a 100 watt infrared basking bulb. I will remove the basking bulb and possibly be replacing the basking bulb with another CHE and upgrading the UVB based on the suggestions I’ve gotten. I will also be adding a layer of orchid bark on top of the husk as the coco husk is a bit chunky for how small he is. I also got a hanger for the lamps in this morning which I am about to set up rather than having them resting on the lid
 

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Littleredfootbigredheart

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2023
Messages
1,466
Location (City and/or State)
UK
Thank you so much for the food suggestions!

Here are some pictures of his tank, I removed the humidifier and added the foil again. I will also be removing the moss after a few threads I saw earlier. I’m currently using a 100 watt ceramic heat emitter, 13 watt UVB mini compact fluorescent lamp, and recently added a 100 watt infrared basking bulb. I will remove the basking bulb and possibly be replacing the basking bulb with another CHE and upgrading the UVB based on the suggestions I’ve gotten. I will also be adding a layer of orchid bark on top of the husk as the coco husk is a bit chunky for how small he is. I also got a hanger for the lamps in this morning which I am about to set up rather than having them resting on the lid
No problem!😊

Yeah definitely continue with the planned changes, those infrared bulbs can cause the substrate to look like food through the tortoises eyes because of the red light, which is concerning because of the moss too, so yes sooner you can get things switched up the better. The red bulbs are no good in general tbh, they’re hopefully getting more and more phased out for tortoises. The t5 fluorescent bulbs definitely work best as a uv source so glad you’re switching that too🙂

Try putting your CHE in the middle once you remove the basking bulb and see if that heats the enclosure properly, if not maybe two slightly lower watt CHE’s hung either end on a thermostat might work better for you. I’m thinking heat might possibly be an issue because you’re having to leave some of it open topped for your bulbs, if you need time to plan a different enclosure, perhaps try fashioning that topper I mentioned for the tank, hopefully that will sort the issue whilst you’re using it🤞if you do, screw hooks into the wood securely to make sure your bulbs are hung safely and hold strong👍
 

Alex and the Redfoot

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2023
Messages
2,342
Location (City and/or State)
Cyprus
Thank you so much for the food suggestions!

Here are some pictures of his tank, I removed the humidifier and added the foil again. I will also be removing the moss after a few threads I saw earlier. I’m currently using a 100 watt ceramic heat emitter, 13 watt UVB mini compact fluorescent lamp, and recently added a 100 watt infrared basking bulb. I will remove the basking bulb and possibly be replacing the basking bulb with another CHE and upgrading the UVB based on the suggestions I’ve gotten. I will also be adding a layer of orchid bark on top of the husk as the coco husk is a bit chunky for how small he is. I also got a hanger for the lamps in this morning which I am about to set up rather than having them resting on the lid
Thank you! Now I see why moisting substrate didn't work for you.
1. Use a sticky tape to cover ventilation holes in the front doors. You may leave 1-2 open on the sides.
2. Cover area around domes - cut the foil and make a little overlap on the dome.

As you get the lamp stands you will need a greenhouse top to keep humidity high and place all heating/lights inside.

As you plan to do some changes with substrate - you can either use only orchid bark or replace coco husks with coco coir (large bricks are usually sold in gardening centers or plant nurseries) and lay some bark on top.
 

archie2024

New Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2024
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Georgia
No problem!😊

Yeah definitely continue with the planned changes, those infrared bulbs can cause the substrate to look like food through the tortoises eyes because of the red light, which is concerning because of the moss too, so yes sooner you can get things switched up the better. The red bulbs are no good in general tbh, they’re hopefully getting more and more phased out for tortoises. The t5 fluorescent bulbs definitely work best as a uv source so glad you’re switching that too🙂

Try putting your CHE in the middle once you remove the basking bulb and see if that heats the enclosure properly, if not maybe two slightly lower watt CHE’s hung either end on a thermostat might work better for you. I’m thinking heat might possibly be an issue because you’re having to leave some of it open topped for your bulbs, if you need time to plan a different enclosure, perhaps try fashioning that topper I mentioned for the tank, hopefully that will sort the issue whilst you’re using it🤞if you do, screw hooks into the wood securely to make sure your bulbs are hung safely and hold strong👍
Ok! Thank you so much for your advice. Does the thermometer you attached before help control the temperature of the bulb? Or will it just turn it off if it gets to hot? Also Is there a different terrarium you would suggest? I am going to try a tented top like you had attached before but I am a bit concerned about how that may restrict air flow. If there is a different tank with a more well suited top I would be happy to get it I just had been told the one I currently use would be a good fit and it has not been.
 

archie2024

New Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2024
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Georgia
Thank you! Now I see why moisting substrate didn't work for you.
1. Use a sticky tape to cover ventilation holes in the front doors. You may leave 1-2 open on the sides.
2. Cover area around domes - cut the foil and make a little overlap on the dome.

As you get the lamp stands you will need a greenhouse top to keep humidity high and place all heating/lights inside.

As you plan to do some changes with substrate - you can either use only orchid bark or replace coco husks with coco coir (large bricks are usually sold in gardening centers or plant nurseries) and lay some bark on top.
Ok! Thank you so much. I had left it open for air flow but I see why that wouldn’t work. With covering all but two of the ventilation holes is there any concern for air flow? And thank you for the substrate suggestion! I need to double check as I did get the coco husk in a brick but I forget exactly what it was but I do think the bark on top would be better to keep the substrate out of his eyes. Do you have any suggestion for a different enclosure that may be better suited for him? I’ve found a green house type tent to put over the current enclosure but this seems like a bandaid for a bad purchase on my end.
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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The habistat thermostat I added is what makes sure your enclosure doesn’t over heat with them CHE’s, I wouldn’t run them without personally, you’ll simply set the thermostat for around 82 plug both CHE’s into it(the thermostat usually only has one socket so you’ll need an extension lead) then plug the thermostat into the mains, place the probe between the ceramics, the probe should be slightly away from the wall and as low as you can get it without the tortoise disturbing it. The thermostat will turn the bulbs on and off as and when needed so the enclosure doesn’t overheat or get too cool🙂

Don’t worry about the air flow side of things, that used to be my worry lol, but it’s not air tight and opening the enclosure to do daily husbandries is more than enough air exchange😊a topper over this tank should work too until you can build a bigger base. If it’s not the perfect fit just place some lining under your base to stop condensate dripping down to your floor👍 essentially just place it over like the one photographed below(imaging that white base is your tank) you may wish to make stands for your lighting depending how sturdy the greenhouse frame is you go for/how high it is, the uv i suggested needs to be around 18-21 inches from the substrate, it’s tricky to tell exact height without a meter but somewhere around there should be ok🙂

Also for substrate you could try coco coir, dampen and firmly packed down by hand, then put the bark on top, hopefully it’ll be a little less messy for you😊
 

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Alex and the Redfoot

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Ok! Thank you so much. I had left it open for air flow but I see why that wouldn’t work. With covering all but two of the ventilation holes is there any concern for air flow? And thank you for the substrate suggestion! I need to double check as I did get the coco husk in a brick but I forget exactly what it was but I do think the bark on top would be better to keep the substrate out of his eyes. Do you have any suggestion for a different enclosure that may be better suited for him? I’ve found a green house type tent to put over the current enclosure but this seems like a bandaid for a bad purchase on my end.

Perhaps, the best enclosure type for redfoots is a PVC or HDPE enclosure. If you have DIY skills you can get expanded PVC sheets from HomeDepot or signage company (this material is often used in making advertising signs) and make your own. If you prefer pre-built - check Animal Plastics, Kages, ToadRanch or send a message to a forum member 'markw84' (he makes great Smart Enclosures).

A cheaper option are hydroponic grow tents - aren't very fancy but cheaper, lot of them are on Amazon. Look for AC Infinity to get an idea. The downside is that they lack windows and you can't watch your tortoise.

The cheapest, but nevertheless good option are plastic raised garden beds (you can get a kit of two 4x4 beds with a tent made by "Lifetime" for 100-110 bucks). But some DIY will be required to make them work (lining the floor, adding cover for the second box).

A good starting size for a few years is 4x2, better 6x3 ft. However, a fully grown redfoot will require much more space when kept indoors. I would say around 90 sq.ft. or more.
 

archie2024

New Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2024
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Georgia
The habistat thermostat I added is what makes sure your enclosure doesn’t over heat with them CHE’s, I wouldn’t run them without personally, you’ll simply set the thermostat for around 82 plug both CHE’s into it(the thermostat usually only has one socket so you’ll need an extension lead) then plug the thermostat into the mains, place the probe between the ceramics, the probe should be slightly away from the wall and as low as you can get it without the tortoise disturbing it. The thermostat will turn the bulbs on and off as and when needed so the enclosure doesn’t overheat or get too cool🙂

Don’t worry about the air flow side of things, that used to be my worry lol, but it’s not air tight and opening the enclosure to do daily husbandries is more than enough air exchange😊a topper over this tank should work too until you can build a bigger base. If it’s not the perfect fit just place some lining under your base to stop condensate dripping down to your floor👍 essentially just place it over like the one photographed below(imaging that white base is your tank) you may wish to make stands for your lighting depending how sturdy the greenhouse frame is you go for/how high it is, the uv i suggested needs to be around 18-21 inches from the substrate, it’s tricky to tell exact height without a meter but somewhere around there should be ok🙂

Also for substrate you could try coco coir, dampen and firmly packed down by hand, then put the bark on top, hopefully it’ll be a little less messy for you😊
Ok great thank you so so much! I will order the thermostat now. I was also curious if replacing the mesh lid with plexiglass may be a good solution? I will be building Archie a larger enclosure when he grows a bit and the greenhouse seems perfect for anything bigger than his current tank but my roommate suggested just switching the top. I also ordered the new UV so hopefully that will be delivered soon.
 

archie2024

New Member
Joined
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Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Georgia
Perhaps, the best enclosure type for redfoots is a PVC or HDPE enclosure. If you have DIY skills you can get expanded PVC sheets from HomeDepot or signage company (this material is often used in making advertising signs) and make your own. If you prefer pre-built - check Animal Plastics, Kages, ToadRanch or send a message to a forum member 'markw84' (he makes great Smart Enclosures).

A cheaper option are hydroponic grow tents - aren't very fancy but cheaper, lot of them are on Amazon. Look for AC Infinity to get an idea. The downside is that they lack windows and you can't watch your tortoise.

The cheapest, but nevertheless good option are plastic raised garden beds (you can get a kit of two 4x4 beds with a tent made by "Lifetime" for 100-110 bucks). But some DIY will be required to make them work (lining the floor, adding cover for the second box).

A good starting size for a few years is 4x2, better 6x3 ft. However, a fully grown redfoot will require much more space when kept indoors. I would say around 90 sq.ft. or more.
Thank you for all the options I’ll be sure to do my research and get him a bigger enclosure. I plan on moving him so a much much larger enclosure when he reaches around 5 inches and will be on the lookout for the best fit. I appreciate all the feedback y’all have given! It’s been so hard to get a good answer on what’s best for red foots this past week and this is the most help I’ve been able to get!
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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The problem is the open top. Someone sold you the wrong type of enclosure and all the wrong lighting too. Trying to heat and humidify an open topped enclosure is like trying to heat your house in winter with no roof. You need a large closed chamber with all the heating and lighting inside. This will contain your heat and humidity. Using foil or plexiglass on top still creates a chimney effect if the heating and lighting is outside the enclosure.

Once you have a closed chamber, you will need lower wattage bulbs to keep it from over heating, and that thermostat will make your CHE keep it just the right temperature day and night.

Infrared and other colored bulbs should never be used over tortoises.

Compact cfl bulbs should not be used over tortoises or any other reptiles. They are ineffective UV sources and sometime burn their eyes. Use a HO type T5 florescent tube for UV

Cocofiber is not safe for tortoises. They will eat some of those fibers, either accidentally or on purpose, and it can block them up. Coco coir can work, but orchid bark is best for red foot tortoises because you can keep the lower layers damp, while the upper layers remain relatively dry, which will prevent the typical shell rot in this species that is caused by constantly wet substrate in a futile attempt to keep humidity high with an open top. Once you have a closed chamber, it will be easy to maintain high humidity and a dry substrate.

Closed chambers are not air tight. There is still plenty of airflow and oxygen reaching your tortoise. The idea is to reduce ventilation and airflow enough to be able to maintain warmth and humidity. To use the house/roof analogy again, you close your windows on a cold winter night to reduce ventilation, don't you? But you can still breathe, right?

This thread will explain why you've gotten such bad advice previously, and also catch you up to speed on the most current and correct tortoise care info. We should have started you with this:


Questions are welcome! :)
 

Littleredfootbigredheart

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Joined
Dec 28, 2023
Messages
1,466
Location (City and/or State)
UK
Ok great thank you so so much! I will order the thermostat now. I was also curious if replacing the mesh lid with plexiglass may be a good solution? I will be building Archie a larger enclosure when he grows a bit and the greenhouse seems perfect for anything bigger than his current tank but my roommate suggested just switching the top. I also ordered the new UV so hopefully that will be delivered soon.
The only problem with that option is you’ll still have to have some of it open for your light and heating, whereas with the topper it can all be contained within if that makes sense🙂
 

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